Marvin Uhde, AKA Qnete, has taken an unexpected stylistic turn on his next release. Coming out on London’s X-Kalay, the German producer opts for a decidedly proggier approach with Devils in the Dust, drawing from a wide palette of lysergic, tripped-out sounds commonly associated with psychedelia and euphoria. All trance motifs, tribal rhythms and dubwise dynamics, fans of his output for Lobster Theremin, 777 and Uncanny Valley sub-label Shtum might consider this a curveball of sorts.
Alongside an appetite-whetting mix that journeys through the progressive fringes of his record collection, the Bremen native answered talks about what inspired the change in approach, record shopping and plenty more.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix?
I was very happy when Sam from X-Kalay proposed the idea to make a mix for If-Only. This was 2 weeks before I recorded it. In that time, I put together a pile of records of the proggier side of my collection. And I finally got myself over to do an iTunes playlist called “prog house” to feed from whenever I am in the spontaneous situation to play some progressive tracks.
The compilation part of this mix took rather long for my measures, so I had the time to dig deep and found some surprising candidates. For example the last track by Marius Våreid. I bought that record when it came out in 2012 and never really cared about it. My tastes have changed greatly since then, but suddenly this record fit what I had in mind for the mix.
I gave the mix it’s name because I realised that I drew some inspiration from the the tracks I played. Some unknowingly, some intentional and hopefully some future!
When and where was it recorded?
I recorded the mix at home with 2 turntables, an XDJ and my old Pioneer mixer that badly needs service. I am pretty free in how I play my days most of the time. The day I recorded the mix I did a small mixing session in the morning, which I always really enjoy. In that session I discovered how greatly the Sam Traxx and the Freaky Chakra track fit together – the transition of the two tracks became almost three minutes in the end. Surfing on that wave of excitement I decided to postpone my other day activities and record the mix. I did some sonic post-processing, mostly balancing out the levels and the panning, because one of my cartridges has some problems with that. There’s also some minor parts where you can hear me working on the beat-matching.
How would you recommend listening to it?
It’s not really a listening mix I thought at first. My general reception of the “progressive” vibe is that those tracks are mostly carried by a driving force – so a driving situation with with the world passing by your view might be a good listening situation. Besides one part there’s no vocals. This was not intentional, it just happened. So no words to interrupt your stream of thoughts, except for this sentence: “In a time and place called now, I and I must come together and live as one.” I see this quote a little ironic, much like you can look at many 90s tracks from the progressive/trance/goa spectrum. But there’s also something in me that takes this kind of esoteric way of thinking very seriously.
It’s dropped just ahead of your X-Kalay debut, Devils in the Dust. A proggier release compared to some of your others, what inspired this change in direction?
I don’t know really. I found out that I really enjoy working with samples. It should be no secret to the trained ear that I heavily used the classic Jungle Jungle pack – the breaks are pretty boring now to me though and I promise that ‘Air Progression’ will be my only track using this Woo-Woo-Break. But some of the other samples in there are nice too and sometimes it just makes “click” and I realise that this start of a track I did could become something nice in the end. Theres only one quarter of my tracks that go past that beginning stage, the rest stays unfinished.
The two ‘Progression’ tracks are one year old now. I showed the demos to a friend and he said “Well that reminds me of the new Rudolf C on X-Kalay!” That’s one record I enjoyed, so I sent Sam the tracks and he immediately was into it. Atacama Behemoth was already finished too and I thought it’s a nice addition to the story of the record. ‘Touching Down, Taking Off’ is in a BPM range I never really worked in before. It’s maybe dubstep, some friends also said trap even. I found that idea really tempting to try something new. I wanted to stick to some formulas of that style, but added some euphoria to it to make it really interesting for me.
What are your favourite spots to go digging?
So, right now it’s Discogs actually. I used that site so much that I have a really fast workflow now. Knowing where to click by pure muscle memory. There’s some sellers I keep getting back to. I don’t really have a wantlist, so I scroll and scroll and listen to things.
There’s also a nice record store here in Leipzig called Vary. They carry a lot of new records and I really like their music taste. Sadly I moved to a different part of town, so I don’t go there as often anymore as I did before. I think because of the German history, Leipzig is not the best place on earth when it comes to second hand record digging. The type of music I enjoy was just not so widespread in eastern Germany, so there’s no old DJs or collectors with music I like selling their collections.
How about the last record you bought?
I just had a nice Discogs rush in the last two weeks. The last record that arrived must have been the DJ Zinc remix record with ‘So damn fresh’ and ‘Super Sharp Shooter’. I think this is the greatest DnB party record ever made! I hope there ever comes the day where I can play it out. It’s hard here in Germany cause I feel people don’t really know how to dance to DnB haha.
How did you source the music played in this mix?
It’s all in there: current favourites, 90s till 2019, old forgotten stuff from my shelves, undiscovered b-sides, some rips from Soulseek of records I can’t afford or that are only available as CDs. Lots of dollar bin records from either real crates in record stores or the cheap side of Discogs.
With the X-Kalay release on the way, is there anything else on the agenda?
I just released my first track on a Smallville Records compilation. That label is one of my all time favorites. I am also a huge fan of Stefan Marx’ artworks, so I am so happy that I now have one of my tracks out there featuring his graphics!
There should be another solo record on 777 at the end of the year and some contribution to a compilation here and there.
Devils in the Dust is out July 19th on X-Kalay – pre-order here.