Profile: Cloud-coloured electronic music from under an Estonian tree
I first met Profile right after his gig in Tallinn Music Week – he was the part of The Baltic Scene showcase, and his manager, Henrik, very much wanted me to be there. So I was! And it was great. I also met Margus Löve (aka L-OW and 1DERL&) from Processed label that has released Profile on the same night, and told me a lot of interesting things about the producer that comes from a town called Viljandi.
Fast-forward three months to the future, and Profile’s coming to perform in Sūpynės, Lithuania’s grandest electronic music happening. I think he’ll suit perfectly there, with his mellow techy sounds that invite you to lay down, look at the sky and guess the shapes of clouds. So, please, meet Madis and his beautiful musical world.
But first there's an upcoming single by Profile on First Music.
'Profile' is a very google-unfriendly name… What is the story behind it?
Ease of access doesn’t have to be a priority for everything. Me as Profile in side view exemplifies my being in the music world. There’s only so much you can learn from a 2D image and too much hype would ruin the picture. I’d rather swim against the stream and do my thing than put too much thought into what others think and being available.
What did your childhood in a relatively small town of Viljandi look like? What did you use to do after school?
This city is like paradise for a kid - a lake, medieval hill fort, all sorts of sports and leisure activities. I went to football practice my whole childhood; played tennis, swam all day... Since our home was below the old town, 100m from the lake, we would pass the whole summer summer spending days in it and nights by it, catching fish. During winter we would go mountain skiing ‘cause my grandpa was really into it and would build tracks on the hillside of the lake. Boredom and doing nothing wasn’t an option, we would always think of something to do. We weren’t dependent on the batteries of our phones or waiting around for a new Xbox game.
When did you start making music? Did you learn to play any instruments when you were a kid?
Earliest memories come from playing under the grand piano of our old house. I didn’t learn to play it, because my fingers would often get caught in the lid and that threw me off. But we would get a kick out of creating a hut beneath the piano and I’d enjoy knocking and tapping on it – every hit would resonate differently. Seems I’ve returned to these sounds in the music I create today.
First recordings I did were with a high school band where I played the electric guitar. We didn’t have much patience, though, and it was a short-lived thing. I’ve never been to music school but rather learned about music in quite an organic DIY style.
I got to electronic music production quite late, around 2007-08, after a ride that’s been oh-so tough... Me being here doing what I love is thanks to the liberating and therapeutic effect of music – with all the vices that go along parties, there have been rough patches in my life...
As I understand, your first tracks were released by Margus Löve on his Processed label. How did you meet him? And how did you get into talking with other labels from foreign countries?
Margus and me met at party where I was booked to play. I played some of my own stuff, and he seemed to enjoy it. Not long after, he started Processed and offered me an opportunity to release my music on the imprint. Genre-wise I’m not doing pure techno, which is the direction of the label, so I’m scintillating somewhere in the periphery of the imprint.
With other imprints, I’ve usually initiated the correspondence cautiously, skimming the surface, finding out who’s who and in search of what. No point in soliciting yourself with countless demos having sky-high ambitions in mind. It’s off-putting for people with this kind of mailbox traffic. Younger artists might stop what they’re doing, because nothing happens during the first years but hope doesn’t have a place in this field next to a sense of purpose and perseverance.
Who are your heroes in the world of electronic music? Did you learn the technique from anyone or rather develop your own means of production?
There are no concrete examples. There are many people from various fields and scenes. In music, a lot of these heroes are rather jazz, alternative rock, even old school hip-hop related. As a self-taught producer I’ve put a lot of thought into the way of making things. Upside of the info era is that the web provides the means that help learn, understand and develop. Whereas it’s clear that a machine like that can’t replace the human ear and a sense of style
What are the biggest limitations you encounter - as Margus told me, you work with headphones, is that correct?
Yes, that’s true. But is using headphones such a big problem nowadays that something will be left undone? At the end, the material will end up in the studio, and in Estonia at Margus’ place in Sudu the conditions ae excellent.
I’ve used means that most people wouldn’t hold possible to create music with. For example, my first vinyl release came out on Serie Limitee. The track “25th” was done on a computer that was 10 years old and rendered a 6min file in ca. 1 hour. So I could only dream of hearing the track in real time. It was some kind of a Zen state and patience building exercise time.
Technical side of things boils down to the mindset. For me, searching for a simple solution is an endless process. In the middle of creating my second LP, I’ve used bits of programs that are freeware. Just to prove myself that it’s possible, and you don’t have to have the sauciest and grandest tools to create something. If something looks or feels simple, then the path to get there might’ve been complicated.
What are your feelings towards Arvo Pärt, the best known Estonian musician of all time?
I don’t keep track of the maestro’s work daily but being an Estonian it suggests a warm feeling knowing that the most influential living classic comes from our small country. It’s a high level playing field and I’m sure, that with time his creative footprint will only grow and deepen. I feel proud that a person like that comes from the folk of Terra Mariana!
Electronic music is not a natural thing per se. Yet, yours sounds very natural or nature-based. As if it was made sitting under a tree. Probably that’s why I thought you’d suit so well for Sūpynės. How do you manage that?
Since I was a toddler, nature has been a big part of my life, and it has spontaneously become a part of my works, too. Natural sounds are as important as rhythmics or overall structure of the tracks.
Trees are nice and sitting under them is even nicer. Wind, water, birds, people, night noises and morning sounds – it’s all very inspiring and accompanies me on a daily basis. It’d be nice if everybody had time to stop and listen what’s going on around them. I’d like to invite people to step out of their daily surroundings and soundscapes. Variety enriches!
I was quite surprised to find out your 'live set' is actually you DJing from your own vinyls! It’s kind of cool, really. Is there a deeper meaning behind the concept? Are you planning a more hardware/software-based live set?
Well, isn’t spinning records an enjoyable thing? Especially if you can present 100% of your own works on vinyl. Apparatus and software are nice, but as curious as it might sound, LIVE to me, means a band and the synergy they create with the audience.
I’m not planning to bring gear into this project. I’ve made a habit out of ordering a dubplate with my tracks monthly, and I put a lot of thought into how I string together 10-12 min pieces of music. So I invite listeners to a journey that’s different and, with most of the tracks unavailable digitally, exclusive every time.
What are your ambitions in terms of electronic music? Foreign tours? Signing major label? Movie soundtracks..?
In regard to ambition I prefer to let the universe unfold as it should, not hoping too much. High expectations might reverse the order of things making you feel indifferent when something finally comes to you. If I had to bring out something I’d like to be a part of then I gotta mention Freerotation Festival which is a community driven festival, not for profit but rather a meeting ground for likeminded electronic music people.
What do you think is the current state of Estonian electronic music?
In Estonia, I’d need help of my neighbor’s fingers and toes to count how many party series and labels there are active at the moment. Most of the scene is focused in Tallinn but people outside the capital city are starting to realize that there’s more to electronic music than raving to 90’s vocal house in a beach bungalow.
Tell me about the best party in your life. Where was it, who played..?
Good question. At parties the atmosphere is created when the artist and listeners understand each other. Sometimes when the energy flow is strong a few dozen people might beat a few hundred and the experience stays with you for a long time. Best experience was in Tartu, in the old club called Tallinn that was ahead of its peers during the opening years both for the music and looks.
What do you think about showcase festivals, like Tallinn Music Week? What made you apply to perform there? What benefits can a young artist expect from participating in events like that?
Honestly, I can’t really say much about an event like that... especially if it’s not free for the audiences. My reason behind performing at TMW was purely because of a promise I made to a friend, and I didn’t expect anything else to come from it. But the positive side is exactly that I’m answering to your questions at the moment and can play my music in the forests of Lithuania at Sūpynės Festival!
D.D. 2004 - 2016
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