Interview: Weldroid Makes Robots DanceIntroduction

I know I have gushed over the way Weldroid makes robots dance before.  I’ve mentioned that he was one of the artists that I discovered on the Kahvi Collective netlabel when I was first getting into Creative Commons music and netlabels.  So, it’s no wonder that I am thrilled and honored to have been given the opportunity to do an interview with him.

Weldroid is the invention of Tamás Zsiros. Originally from Budapest, Hungary, he now resides in Stockholm, Sweden.  Over the past eighteen years, he’s released recordings on Khavi Collective, Softphase, tonAtom and Soun Records.  All of his releases are available from Weldroid World Headquarters, along with some of his live sets.

We conducted this interview a few weeks ago, prior to the release Silicate Garden.

The Interview

Part One: General Questions

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I am an engineer, graphics artist, sound designer and electronic musician (or more precisely: digital musician) in no particular order.  I have also developed the Weldroid character, and that I am using as an alter-ego and excuse to make alien, mechanical and harsh noises for other robots to dance to.

How long have you been performing / recording?

Now that I think about it I sort of started in 1996. Back then the hot thing was Scream Tracker 3, but of course I wanted to do things differently, so I used Cakewalk. Eventually I found my way back to ST3, and finished my first tracks in that.

How did you get into Netaudio / Creative Commons? 

Well, around 2005 I got fed up with not being able to get my music out to people (the electronic music scene in Hungary was pretty closed to someone like me with a strange style and without the right connections) so I started sending my first album out to netlabels.  Kahvi Collective was something I had just discovered and I was super-excited to find a label specialising in a genre of music not so far away from mine. So I have sent my first album (Stranglehold) to Nik (aka. 4T Thieves), the head of the label, and waited. And waited. And waited.  And then I got a mail from Nik, and he said he is going to release it!  So long story short, the license just came with the label and I was fine that it back then, and ever since.

Do you focus on specific styles of music?

I produce electronic (digital) music of the distorted/bitcrushed and generally troubled kind. In the IDM <-> EDM coordinate system that comes very much to the left, so I would rather consider my music to be art rather than a reliable tool to get people dancing (although it is not impossible). Every now and then I play around with classical orchestral arrangements (for my own entertainment mostly, read: no one ever hears that crappy stuff, it goes right into the proverbial drawer 🙂

What are you working on at the moment? 

Silicate Garden is my new album, but it’s almost finished now (needs some fine-tuning when it comes to the art department but otherwise it is as ready as it will ever be), so I am mostly experimenting with new techniques not yet concentrating on a new release, but rather trying to refresh my own sound.

[Ed: Between conducting this interview, and publishing this article, Silicate Garden has been released.  Check it out!]

In parallel I have just finished a remix for Xenoton (fellow electronic musician and head of tonAtom) and I am also working on a brand new Weldroid track for the upcoming Touched compilation, a fantastic initiative by Martin Boulton with all the profit going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Last year’s Touched compilation was a huge success with high-profile participants like Plaid (along with my humble contribution). It is definitely worth having a look.

[Ed: We mentioned another recent release in support of Macmillan Cancer Support by Cousin Silas last week.]

Last, but definitely not least, a collaborative EP/Album with Jani Ürögi (aka. Illl, head of Soun Records) along the lines of our previous release Wrath of the Gods.

What inspires you?

Not an easy question. I am sure that many things inspire me that I absorb 24/7 (dreams included 🙂 and it all comes back up when I am composing/producing. But, I need to get into that elusive flow state to be able to do things that survive the quality control of the next morning. Once I get into the flow I cannot analyse or think about things like cause and effect… it is almost impossible to identify what input led to a particular sound, rhythm or melody.

What drives you to create music?

It’s part of me, part of who I am today. I couldn’t stop, even if I wanted to. Of course a lot of motivation comes from enjoying fellow artists works, be it music, film, literature, theatre, etc… but even if I would be living on an island alone and isolated I would not stop creating. Provided that I would have a power outlet of some kind…  otherwise I would be building a big mechanical sequencer I guess :-).

What values do you wish your creativity to express?

I do not have direct control over the art I produce. And every time I try to constrain myself to a certain mood or genre, I get an immediate writer’s (composer’s?) block. So I don’t do that. There is a minimal amount of conceptualism that doesn’t interfere with my creative process, I can usually tolerate a conscious selection of the core theme, but that’s it, any other (forced) control destroys that fragile state in which I can create new things.

What role does community play in what you do?

It’s a great thing to be among like-minded people, ones that understand you as an artist (or can understand you through your art), so naturally community is very important for me. My music is not for everyone, and so this community is scattered around the world, but that just makes for a more exciting and diverse crowd, isn’t it? With all the audio/video streaming services available today and the instant two-way communication between artist and audience that the connected chat rooms provide you get immediate feedback and a much closer relationship with your listeners compared to yesterday’s “broadcast” model. And that is awesome.

Part Two: Creative Commons

Do you release all your work under a Creative Commons license?

Yes, although sometimes I forget to set the license correctly on YouTube or Soundcloud. Sorry for that (laughs).

[Ed: YouTube and SoundCloud are a pain for setting the license. I wish they’d make it easier.  In YouTube’s case, I wish they would do it correctly.]

Any neat stories about using a Creative Commons license?

Not sure if these things happened because of the license (since I have not released anything under any other license), but I have had a lot on interesting and exciting collaborations with some of the most awesome people around the world.

Any negative stories about using a Creative Commons license?

Nothing, really. I just do not see the downside.

Part Three: The Future

Do you have any upcoming events or release you’d like to mention?

On the 9th of October, just five days after the release of my 10th album Silicate Garden I will perform live at Thumpin’ Thursday.

Is this going to be the last Weldroid release? 

Probably not, although I might take break from this character and invent a new one. It all depends on the kind of material my built-in random generator comes up with 🙂 After 18 years and 10 albums it feels like it is time for a change, but then whether that change is more evolutionary or rather something radically new (and therefore more suited for a different persona/alias) is yet to be seen.

If not, are you going to use another alias? Or are you going to use your own name? 

Probably not my own name, real superheroes do not operate under their own names 🙂

In Closing

It’s amazing to realize that Weldroid has been around for eighteen years!  I’ve only been listening to his work for six years or so, and I thought he’d been around a bit longer, but i didn’t realize just how long.  It’s also amazing to realize that he was trying to get the attention of other record labels, and they ignored his prodigious talents.

I’m really excited to hear what Tamás has in store for us in the future…  Whether as Weldroid or another character, I know that he will bring something to the world that will be uniquely his own.  And I, for one (along with many others) will likely be astonished.

Posted by George De Bruin