Producer and remixer Fritz von Runte is back after 11 years with new original material. His album The Last Album is packed with his experimental sounds and spiral away from the mainstream. Working with a cast of amazing collaborators, he hits you with weighty synths, acoustic bass, off-beat tones and electronic brass. We sat down with Fritz von Runte to talk about the album, connecting with collaborators, his music, creative process and much more!
OSR: Was there a moment or experience that made you realise you wanted to make music?
von Runte: Not really. I think the transition from “I consume music” to “I make music” was gradual and a bit indistinct. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have music in my life. I got a mono portable record player when I was only 5, but even before that I already had a few records. At 14, I was already a professional DJ and at 18 I was making music.
OSR: Your latest album The Last Album is your first original music in 11 years, why the long gap?
von Runte: I’ve worked with music and released quite a lot of things actually. But when I produce other people, or remix known artists, the whole part of the business I don’t find too exciting disappears. Which is promoting, licensing, talent management, etc.
When I remixed New Order’s entire Music Complete album, I only had to spend time in the studio. The original channels were already laid out, the songs written, etc. I could just immerse myself in re-arranging the tracks and re-recording bits. The only paperwork was a healthy exchange with Daniel Miller. Bearnoises, an experimental project I produced with local artists, was also different from a normal release. I didn’t do any promotion, the people in Japan did some but none from me. Hence, no one knowing about it.
OSR: The album continues your experimental ethos, but were there any challenges getting back into making original music?
von Runte: No. I’m constantly writing new music, but there’s a difference in writing demos in your home-studio, to actually making them into a record, recruiting talent to do the parts you can’t (or shouldn’t) do, budget, licensing, distribution, etc. The challenges are not music-related, but industry-related.
OSR: What was your creative process for the album? Did you start with a concept or work around a single track?
von Runte: I always start with a concept. The Last Album one is that an “Album” is an outdated format and I may not ever do another one. So what musical ideas I wanted to do that I haven’t done yet? What would I do if this was my last ever album? I think I accomplished that.
I worked with some people I’ve always wanted to do something with but never did. Gary Asquith and Vincible, for example. I overlooked ideas that I’ve done before and pushed for things that I would love to do but never explored, like the very jazzy grooves of Kombucha!, Baby and Telly Funk.
OSR: You work with a cast of collaborators on the album, how did you connect with them?
von Runte: Most have been friends or colleagues for years. Gary and I have known each other since 2003. Graham introduced me to my wife, I’ve known him for many years. I met Bill Drummond from the KLF many years ago in Salford during his ‘The 17’ tour, and I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but we’ve exchanged some emails since then. Leslie Winer knew my work beforehand. Apparently, she loved some things I’ve done, which is so incredible to me that I need to remind myself not to become a bighead ever since she told me so. Beca was a direct contact, so it had to be a bit more professional since she hadn’t heard about me.
OSR: What was the biggest hurdle you overcame while creating the album?
von Runte: I wouldn’t call it a hurdle, but the challenge was to wear all these hats having only one head. I was very fortunate to find an audio engineer, the amazing Daisy Edwards, and she helped a lot. But running my anti-war label, Marshall Records, managing the talent, being my own A+R, deciding which songs would be on the album, which versions, preparing the art, finding distribution and publishing was intense. I was doing 12 hours a day 6 days a week in the last 3 months before release day. I frankly had an amazing determination. I’m extremely proud of the result but it’s not something I’d like to do by myself again.
OSR: If people could only listen to one track, which would you recommend and why?
von Runte: Oh that’d be very hard. People into Radio1 pop music should listen to ‘Dance Party In The Living Room’. People into indie, ‘After Tomorrow’. Japanese speakers should listen to ‘Baby’. Hip-hop fans should try ‘Oh Dear! Oh Dear! Oh Dear!’. Maybe rap on top of it and send it over to me, as I’d love that! But people that want to know what I really am about should try ‘Musique Magique’, ‘Kombucha!’ or ‘Dark Street’.
OSR: While the album has been released on streaming services, you are also releasing a Limited-Edition CD for the Japanese market, what prompted this?
von Runte: I’m still a CD buyer, and Japanese CDs are the most coveted ones for a music collector. The market over there still appreciates the format and expects it. Since Bearnoises, I’ve started a conversation with Japanese fans, which is very apt since I’m hugely inspired by their music and I constantly visit the country to buy music myself.
OSR: Over the years, you have produced music for films, art installations and other acts, how different is this from creating your own music?
von Runte: It’s not. It’s always about me being in the studio with pen, paper, a keyboard and my ideas. It’s all my own music or musical ideas and arrangements on someone else’s original composition, but the activity of being a studio artist doesn’t change.
OSR: Do you have anything else planned for the next 12 months?
von Runte: Yes I do.