Image: Better Lost Than Stupid
Martin Buttrich, Davide Squillace and Matthias Tanzmann; three artists who are successful and renowned for their own individual musical triumphs, have come together to create Better Lost Than Stupid, a new alias in which the trio will conquer new sounds, venues and techniques.
Martin Buttrich is one of house and techno's most prolific producers, with 20 years experience at the heart of the scene, the German-raised has raised his profile with key releases on the likes of Planet E and Cocoon, all the while exploring the realms of productions and musical technology.
Davide Squillace, a Circoloco resident and all-round Ibiza don, has become a firm favourite at festivals and clubs across the globe, consistently delivering standout sets framed by his unique blend of percussion-heavy house and soft-edged techno.
The two artists interviewed each other for Skiddle to discuss the new project, family life, productions and much more before the tour stops off at Yousef's Circus clubnight in Liverpool as Better Lost Than Stupid host The Loft.
Martin: Hey Davide, the last time we toured together was in 2014 – are you worried about or looking forward to spending a lot of time with myself and Matthias and how are you preparing for this tour?
Davide: I’m not really worried, I mean we’ve known each other for such a long time now, I’m sure there’s not going to be any problems. It will be the first time that we’ve had this proper set-up that we haven’t trialled yet, but I’m more excited than worried about that.
Martin: Yes I agree. I don’t think we have anything to worry about, we’ve been on the road together before, maybe not so much as Better Lost Than Stupid but we all somehow end up playing the same gigs together. I think we have a pretty good idea of what it will be like touring together. It’s not like we’ll be together all the time as our dates are on the weekend – if we did have to spend everyday together though I think we would kill each other haha!
Martin: During our tour we will be visiting places like Bucharest and Beirut where we haven’t played that much. What tour date are you most excited about playing?
Davide: I’m really excited about all of them as like you said, we’re playing dates we wouldn’t usually get to visit if we were just playing odd shows here and there. I really love the Uberhaus club in Lebanon, it’s pretty amazing. Everything from the sound system to the crowd is incredible. The people are really knowledgeable there, which most people would find surprising considering they’re quite far away from the main scene. But they do actually go out to listen to the music rather than just for a night out or dance.
Davide: We’ve played B2B sets a lot in the past and it just works really well. What do you think is important to consider before organising a B2B set with someone?
Martin: I think the most important part is to go into the set with an open mind. You can’t control what’s going to happen and that’s all part of the fun of it. You need to respect the path that the other person is going down and just go with it.
Davide: I would agree. We always check at the beginning of our set what we’re each going to play and what our vibe is going to be for the set. Going in with an open mind is definitely the most important part though – you can’t programme how the set is going to go. We also try to not just play music that we would include in our individual sets.
Davide: What do you think makes Better Lost Than Stupid work really well?
Martin: We all share the same taste of music and we’ve worked together so many times before that everything just runs smoothly. We follow each other’s lead so if someone wants to switch up the rhythm, then we will follow them. It was probably the right time to switch up the tempo or mood.
Martin: Let’s move onto our own work. What was it that inspired you to found a label? What would you say your ‘label ethos’ is?
Davide: It was inspired by music I was producing but didn’t want to send out to record labels to release. That wasn’t because they weren’t good enough. I just don’t like the idea of somebody else deciding for me if my music is good enough to be released. You can send a really great track to a label and the guy who is listening to it can be in a really bad mood or not really paying attention to track and that would affect the outcome of whether your track will be released or not. I wanted to cut out that process. I wanted to be the one that decides whether my record is good enough to release or not.
Davide: What about you Martin, what was the inspiration behind Rhythm Assault and the ethos behind it?
Martin: All the labels that I’m working on at the moment came together because I was sitting on so much good music that I didn’t know what to do with it or how to even go about releasing it. Obviously we had to consider whether it was financially the right thing to do but it’s definitely worked for what I had in mind for the label. Rhythm Assault is simply the outcome of me wanting full control over my music. I’m not really interested in releasing other artists; I just use it as a platform to release my own music and experiments.
Davide: You’re an audiophile who has an interest in sound engineering, does this affect your approach to production at all?
Martin: Well with sound engineering, I don’t really have any professional experience or education in it. It was something I just kind of fell into but it has helped to know certain rules when it comes to sound and production, you can end up with some really great results. I would say it has affected my productions though, because I can sometimes find myself limited with what I can do creatively when I write tracks – the technical aspect always tends to creep in and will stop my thought process. It isn’t easy to put both of them in one aspect of work.
Davide: How about your collaboration with Ruark Audio? Why did you decide to get involved with their speakers?
Martin: When I first plugged into their Ruark Audio MR1s I was astonished at what I heard! A friend had suggested I try them out and I was completely blown away that this small speaker sounded so clear and precise. They have become something I rely on as an extra pair of reference speakers for the music I create when on the road, so I wanted to give something back to those guys.
Davide: Coming from Germany, have you ever felt that as a producer you’ve had to live up the reputation that the country holds with it’s ‘German techno’ sound?
Martin: That’s not something that’s ever crossed my mind. To me Germany is very cold and dry and there’s that industrial sound, I would like to say that doesn’t sum up my music or myself.
Martin: You’ve got all these amazing projects going on and now you’ve recently become a father with another one on the way – how do you balance work and family life? Do you think fatherhood has changed the way you approach your career?
Davide: I don’t think it has had a direct effect on my career but it definitely has changed my outlook on life. As cliché as it sounds, having children really puts your life in perspective. My decisions now are based on my future and every action I take has a purpose.
Martin: We’ve both made the move to Barcelona, what inspired you to move there?
Davide: Before I moved to Barcelona, I had lived in London for 4 years and was getting restless. It was a choice between Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona of where to move to next and Barcelona suited me better with their city vibe. Quite a few of my friends have moved there as well so it feels homely. It’s a very active city so every 4 to 5 years, new amazing clubs are opening but then there’s loads closing down so the scene is on in a middle ground where it’s not really thriving but not failing either.
Martin: Do you feel that Barcelona fits really well with the This and That ethos as the label has a very artistic side? Do you think the city is the right home for that ethos?
Davide: London probably would have been better for This and That. When I lived there I was immersed in culture all the time. I was surrounded by music and art but mentally, I wouldn’t have felt as good living there. Having the office in Barcelona is good as a home base as I work with people from all over the world.
Davide: We’ve started working on an album together – what are you most enjoying about this process?
Martin: Having this album gives us more creativity and fun and that’s what our ethos is all about and how music should be. Finishing the album is a whole different conversation, but starting it is a wonderful thing.
Davide: Do you feel that as a group we bring different aspects production-wise?
Martin: I think we steer away from what we produce individually but we bring the skills and experiences that we’ve learnt to our productions and hopefully this will help produce a great album. At the moment, it’s going really well so let’s hope the final outcome reflects that!
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