Dino Spiluttini (Islands Of Light) on 'Ruebke'
On the 26th of September we will be releasing the Islands Of Light debut 'Ruebke'. Islands Of Light is the work of Dino Spiluttini, and 'Ruebke' is a masterpiece in piano shorts, subtle fuzz, and evocative melodies. Dino very kindly took some time out to talk a little about 'Ruebke' among other things.
Photograph by Volker Buchgraber (copyright©VolkerBuchgraber2014)
How are you doing? Where are you at right now and what are you up to?
I'm fine today. Right now I'm at the office where I work as a freelance graphic designer. I'm listening to a soothing mix of Gregorian chant on Youtube and the weather is okay-ish. Things are actually pretty good at this very moment.
Please tell us a little bit about your background in music, both growing up and professionally.
I have been into music almost as long as I can remember, but my first really serious attempts (in terms of ambition at least) were around age 21, when I started getting into (listening to and making) electronic music.
I attended a 3 year university course for "serious" electronic music (avantgarde, electro-acoustic music etc.), which was very formative in regards of assuring myself that I would be a musician when I "grew up".
I started my own netlabel Beatismurder in 2005, originally as a platform for releasing my own music under various monikers, but then quickly opened it up for other artists as well.
A year after that I turned it into a real label with physical releases, which was very fulfilling and I had a great ride, but I'm happy that I recently (in 2012) decided to quit selling and promoting music, and shut down the label in order to focus on creating music instead.
Around the time I founded the label, I also started my first serious band, Liger. We actually became semi-successful, constantly touring around Europe and releasing a couple of records. In 2011 I decided to move on and quit Liger. I have been making music mainly alone since.
How did Ruebke come about? What is the concept behind it? Is there any significance to the name 'Islands Of Light'?
Ruebke is the name of a little village near Hamburg, Germany. I lived there with my girlfriend and a friend for about three years. We had a lot of animals, who I somehow preferred to humans as company, so I became quite isolated. My unconditional love for these beautiful creatures, and the cruelty of nature (deathly predators, sickness) and humanity (cars) which constantly took these creatures away from us definitely formed this album. Ultimately, Ruebke is a record about love and death, as corny as this might seem.
I chose the project name Islands Of Light, because my given name was already taken for my "career" as an experimental/ambient musician. At first I thought it was a pretty random choice, but I guess it does make sense somehow.
I have been working on Ruebke for about 4 years, through debilitating bouts of depression and anxiety. I was only able to create in those short periods when I wasn't crippled by those handicaps. So these times of relief and creation might have been my 'Islands Of Light' so to say.
Can you tell us a little bit about your recording process. What tools do you use? How do you go about creating each work you do?
This greatly depends on the project. But i think we are talking about Islands Of Light now, so let me try explain what I did when I made Ruebke.
Most pieces I would compose on the piano. Sometimes really slowly, one note at a time. I'm kind of forced to work like this, because I am in fact a terrible pianist. Whenever an idea or sketch seemed good enough I would then switch to a midi controller keyboard and work out the piece bit by bit until it was a fully formed composition. So yeah, I did use quite some MIDI programming on the record.
I tried to use electronic elements as subtle as possible, but I still wanted them to be a part of the overall aesthetic. My goal wasn't to make a pure solo piano album, but something bigger, fuller.
In the meantime - it has been 2 years since I have finished working on Ruebke - I have switched my studio to almost fully analog equipment. Outboard gear, vintage synths, a mixing desk. It's just so much more fun, and I'm sure my music greatly benefits from both the new workflow and the more natural textures.
How do you feel about the current independent music scene?
Ah, let's not open that can of worms.
I guess it's fine. Everyone can upload music and promote it. Democracy and all.
But then again there's this over saturation of music and culture in general. Independent music has lost almost all of its value. This of course applies to music on the Internet.
It's a bit different when it comes to local scenes. I like the energy of stuff that actually happens and grows around me. Even if I'm not part of it. There's a lot of energy in Vienna right now for example. This is good. It makes me want to create.
What are some of your favourite listens right now?
I have spent the first half of 2014 mainly listening to drone, ambient, and minimal music. I kind of just discovered this scene 2 years ago and dived right into it, listening to little other stuff.
But I guess I need some more attention grabbing, juvenile, energetic stuff in my life right now.
My favorite album at the moment is Under Color of Official Right by Detroid based post punkers Protomartyr. It's as nihilistic, self destructive, and resigned as I like my music to be. At the same time it's very concentrated and draws a lot of power from restraint. It's the perfect growing up album for depressed middle aged white man, haha. Also, Joe Casey, the singer, is probably one of America's most skilled poets, and he doesn't even know it!
The other thing I can think of is LP1 by FKA Twigs. Everybody loves a good dose of 90s R'n'B, but this album takes it all to a new level. It's minimalistic but yet very groovy, it's sexy and at the same time uncomfortable by being aggressively explicit instead of displaying "booty", and at times it is genre-bendingly sincere, almost to the point of being confessional.
What works do you have coming up?
I have two releases as Dino Spiluttini coming up: A cassette EP called Desire on Jehu & Chinaman in Winter, and a full length vinyl release named "All I want is to be a Happy Man" early next year.
Another track of mine, "The Hostile Sea", will be on the next Air Texture compilation, curated by Steve Hauschildt.
Right now I'm writing songs for my secret, yet unnamed, post punk band project. I just need this in my life now!
Also, quite some stuff that I mixed and mastered for other people is coming out these months. I'm super happy that people ask (and pay!) me to do this!