In White Rooms

An interview with Casi Cada Minuto

Casi Cada Minuto is a one-man project of Slavo Herman from Bratislava, Slovakia, who is also a member of the Noise Konspiracy collective. Casi Cada Minuto combines unique sonic textures with ambient landscapes, interwoven with ominous drones, loops and noises. Quite minimalist in nature…

What is your musical background and did you ever play in any punk/grunge bands in your late teens early twenties like many of your peers?

I grew up attending classical guitar lessons as a pastime activity selected for me by my parents when I was a kid. Of course, as any stubborn kid, I hated it and gave up on guitar lessons after a couple of years. I had a short flirt with a garage punk band when I was 17 or so, but it was more of a binge drinking activity than a serious music practice. But back in those years I realized I wanted to do something about music – I just didn’t know what specifically.

What is the origin of your moniker Casi Cada Minuto?

At unversity I took Spanish lessons. In a lecture book I stumbled across this phrase and instantly said to myself: “OK, if I ever start working on music, this is going to be how I will call myself“. It has a bit of a mysterious aura about it, I guess.

What is your studio set up, in terms of equipment, programs and the recording and mixing process?

I have been recently rebuilding my studio setup. For quite a long time I used only the Yamaha RS7000 workstation, a Boss Loop pedal, a couple of guitar pedals and a mix board, and I recorded all the stuff into Ableton Live. It was quite primitive, but on the other hand, quite handy for live performances. Recently I have discovered the wonderful Swedish machines by Elektron and purchased the Analog Four synth, which really expanded my sonic capabilities.

You are part of the Noize Konspiracy, which was “founded in 2005 as a split-cd collaboration of Gule Tvojho Fotra (avoided), Žebrota (total trash) and 0N0 (twisted). The releasing of CDs became a tradition, with new compilations coming out 2 or 3 times a year, motivated by hedonic listening parties following the release.” Alas, the collective seems to have grounded to a halt in 2011. What happened to that project and is any of that material still available? Also, what did you learn from that experience?

I wouldn’t say we have grounded to a halt. A new Noize Konspiracy CD compilation hasn’t seen the light of the day in quite some time, but the idea keeps going – for example we had quite a successful one night festival in Bratislava in 2012 where many of the Noize Konspiracy members played a gig and this event was well attended. I guess we’re just all busy with our own projects and are too old for the hedonistic parties now.

Together with Mišo Ormos you are, or were, also part of the beats duo Jesus Stickers. How did that collaboration came about and is the project still ongoing?

No, Jesus Stickers are no more. It was nice when it was happening and we’re still friends with Ormos, but musically speaking, each one of us is seeking his own path. Ormos now has built quite a reputation with his own hip-hop project Prezident Lourajder and I’m still polishing my own drones.

Your first album In White Rooms was released on the Slovak Exitab label. It is a carefully constructed and multilayered album. It opens with Milk, a collaboration with ::.: aka Daniel Thoth, and progresses from a rougher, “dirtier” sound with a brooding quality to a lighter “ambienty” atmosphere with Daysaver. The brief loops and wordless voice of Mallory Knox, strangely reminiscent of Andy Stott, on Waves then give way to the fragile and fractured melody of Chievo culminating with the seductive and melancholic violin line of Pavol Matej on the bittersweet and hypnotic closing track Lies & Goodbyes. Did the structure of the album come about quite naturally or was it something you had to work on quite intensively?

The songs were created over quite a stretch of time, so I can’t really say there was a concept related to the structure of the album. For example, the oldest track is definitely “Waves“, dating back to 2009 or so. I am generally a very lazy and non-productive person, hence I need more time to produce something cohesive.

When I first heard the second track from the album, Hibiki, I thought I could hear some gamelan playing and that Jonáš Gruska might’ve had something to do with it. However, I then realized it is probably some processed bells. The track has a minimalist sound pulse and points to your “zero gravity sound” approach. Who or what would you say has had a greater impact on the way you’ve come to shape your sound?

Basically, I like repetition and take great pleasure in the old 80s sound such as Tangerine Dream, which had quite an impact especially on this particular track. I have also been heavily influenced by the more recent projects trying to recreate the hazy druggy 80s atmosphere such as Sand Circles or VHS Head, although I don’t really intend to sound similar to them.

In White Rooms is dedicated to Kedilek Fais, aka Cadillac Face. I first came across his work quite by chance a couple of years ago and was struck by how brutal, exhilarating, honest and fragile it sounded. The recent and excellent compilation Noizy Days, thoughtfully put together and remastered by Duro Durcek, provided a good occasion to revisit his back catalogue. The music of Cadillac Face still resonates with me, and while rough around the edges, it is also humorous and genuine in a way that is rare to find. What is your memory of him?

Kedilek was a dear friend of mine. We started being friends before the big boom of social networking and forged our friendship by listening to the same bands, trading CDs, going out for beers and endlessly talking about music. He was a very shy and reclusive personality, yet a guy with warm heart and a great talent for music. It’s a terrible tragedy that he passed away the way he did.

What are you currently working on and when is your new album coming out?

I have been working on a split LP recently and as far as I’m concerned, it should be out towards the end of this year. It will definitely be a pleasure for me to release some music on vinyl.

Playing live seems to be a large part of what you do. How do you approach a live set, and how much room for manoeuvre do you leave for improvisation?

Yes, playing live is an integral part of Casi Cada Minuto. Most of my tracks are being created in the way that I prepare myself for gigs and suddenly I come up with some good ideas that I save for later. As for the ratio between improvisation and and pre-prepared stuff, it’s about 70%/30% in favor of pre-prepared tunes. It was especially hard for me to improvise in the times when I played from computer, as I don’t really consider myself a computer person. Nowadays I tend to get back to live performances based on HW Instruments, which leaves more space for live manipulation of sound.

There seems to be quite a vibrant electronic / ambient scene in Slovakia, not exclusively centered in Bratislava, with people like Jonas Gruska, Avoided, and Dead Janitor. What is the actual situation on the ground in terms of festival, venues, labels and what do you think could be done to raise the profile of Slovak experimental music?

I’m extremely happy for the current state of electronic music scene in Slovakia. There are many people who commit themselves to creating music, though I think we could use a bit more media support so that more people would be coming to the gigs organised around here. Sometimes I get the impressions it’s just friends and friends‘ friends.

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