A chat with Manuel Tur...

Manuel Tur is about to release his Intertextural Remix EP on Spaced Repetitions, the label he established in 2021 amidst the time of global uncertainty. The Mild Pitch label head has released on many esteemed labels such as Freerange, Compost, Ovum, Innervisions, Poker Flat, and Mule Musiq. With his own releases getting remixed by Pepe Bradock, Ian Pooley, Isolée, Jimpster and Steve Bug.

He has worked with Jazzanova, Solomun, Dennis Ferrer, Ane Brun, Skylark, Nick Holder, Boris Dlugosch, and Roisin Murphy, and his huge production portfolio has resulted in the Ibiza native becoming an demand club DJ playing Robert Johnson, Space, Panorama Bar and Fabric. On the week of the release, we get the chance to talk this much respected producer.

Manuel Tur

Thanks for talking to us. Where are you this moment and how are you spending the day?

Right now I'm at home in Germany. It's Monday morning and I usually do all admin work at the beginning of the week before hitting the studio on Tuesday.

Where were you born? Where are you based now?

I was born in Essen, Germany where I also live most time of the year but also have a base in Ibiza, where my dad was born and where I have family. I'm currently going back and forth between the two places.

What do you love most about where you are living?

Essen is at the center of Germany's largest urban area, the Ruhr Area, so you have the infrastructure of a big city, yet it feels rather small. It's not particularly expensive to live and work here and, besides the annoying traffic, it's rather quiet.

If money was no object, and you could choose anywhere in the world to live, where would that be and why?

That's a question I've been asking myself a lot over the last couple of years, and I haven't come to a conclusion. There is no particular place that I feel drawn to at the moment that would make me want to leave. As a well-known German author from this area once said, roughly translated: ‘Somewhere else sucks, too’. Besides, the difference between the German Ruhr area and Ibiza is so big that it's confusing enough not to think about other places.

How long have you been making music?

Not knowing what I was doing, I started to toy around with sequencers and DAWs almost 25 years ago and then in 2002, when I was 16, my first record was released.

What came first Djing or production?

I started buying records before creating them, but in my mind I certainly was a producer first.

What kind of artists, DJs, genres were you into growing up?

When I developed an interest in electronic music in the late 1990s, I was certainly mainly influenced by the wave of French artists at the time; Cassius, Alex Gopher, Etienne de Crecy, Daft Punk, AIR, Laurent Garnier, but also the many lesser-known artists and labels that did not enjoy the same commercial success.

Where were the first gigs that you played?

I can't remember the first gigs I played in my hometown, but I do remember that my first ever gig abroad was in Liverpool and it was a party with Darshan Jesrani of Metro Area at a historic venue and for a party that Maurice Fulton had just played at before. Certainly a good start to a DJ career! My vibe was the sort of slower deep house from that time with a disco hint, always a bit more on moody side.

What was the most recent gig that you played?

I was already playing fewer gigs before 2020 and focusing mainly on studio work, but with the pandemic my DJ career pretty much ended and I'm not too sad about that. I'm no longer working with an agency and I'm no longer looking for gigs. So my last gig as a professional DJ was probably just before Covid, when I was in South Africa, playing in Cape Town with Charles Webster. I have played a few smaller parties since but as I said, nothing spectacular, and I don't know if I will ever return to professional Djing.

How much do you feel what you play in a DJ set has changed across the years? Are there some things that have stayed or have your tastes completely changed?

Having always enjoyed mixing things up, I never liked to stay in one groove or mood for too long in my sets. This led to some fantastic, memorable nights, but also sets where people just didn't get into it because they expected more of the same thing. Towards the end of my DJ career, I became more confident in this respect and certainly a better DJ than I was in my early years. An anecdote about this: Last summer I saw Carl Craig play at Pikes in Ibiza and thought: Wow, he switches between different kinds of movement and tension all the time, just the way I loved to do it. It felt a bit like a retrospective vindication of something I'd often doubted about my own DJing, hearing a legend like him play like that.

What was the first record you ever bought?

The first vinyl record I bought was Alex Gopher's “Party People”, the single from his album “You My Baby & I”, which had a great influence on me becoming a music producer.

What was the first record you actually released?

A two-track record called “Caissa / Italo Fake” on London's Mada Music label in 2002.

You have made a lot of great records Manuel. What do you think was your most successful record or perhaps the one that made the biggest bang?

Thank you, I think the most successful track I did under my own name was “Deviate” which I released with Dplay on Drumpoet in 2008. It struck a chord at the time and the slow and warm, low-key form of Deep House was just what people needed after years of electro and minimal bangers. It earned us a few award nominations and sold fantastically well, especially by today's standards.

What are some of the challenges you have faced putting out music over the years?

It has become increasingly difficult to make a living from making music alone. Most people would rather not pay for records or downloads at all but are happy to spend hefty ticket prices for events. This benefits a certain type of artists and performers. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.

You have made music under many monikers, and in many genres.  Is it important to you not to be confined to a genre.

It's a small piece of freedom that I allow myself not to care too much about genres and sub-genres, although in my opinion the field in which my records fall is already narrow enough.

Are you still actively involved in any of your other production collaborations like Amberoom and Clavis? What’s going on with these partnerships?

I still run my studio together with Adrian, my production partner in both projects but we currently don't have any new releases lined up.

Where do you find the most inspiration when it comes to discovering new music?

Since I no longer DJ professionally, I don't go record hunting as often as I used to. Also, I'm one of those people who would rather listen to one great record 100 times than 100 new records once.

What is the most recent record you purchased or downloaded?

I recently bought the new albums by Château Flight and Dua Lipa on vinyl. They are quite different, but at the same time they're not.

Who are the artists that you follow right now?

Recently I've been particularly enjoying the work of the three remixers of my new release, which is why I invited them to remix tracks from my downtempo album ‘Intertextural’: Yuu Udagawa, All Is Well and DJ Counselling.

Tell us a little about Spaced Repetitions.

During the first year of the Covid pandemic, I received some artist relief funding from my city's cultural council to work on new music and self-release it. I then realized I needed a label name or brand to put the music out under and that's when I came up with Spaced Repetitions. The first release was successful enough to turn it into a longer-term project.

This remix EP is made up of tracks lifted from the album Intertextural. Can you tell us about the album first?

The album was also recorded during the pandemic, during lockdown. I put it out digitally on Bandcamp for Christmas 2021 and I still like it very, very much. That's why I have now re-released it in physical format and with new remixes. It's more of a study in layering textures and rhythms, not dancefloor material.

Have you managed to achieve what you hoped for with the album release?

My aim was to make this record available in the form of a nicely cut and pressed 180g vinyl edition, and I am very happy with the final result. The album is now a physical fact in this world.

Was it an easy choice to select the remix tracks?

I let the artists choose the two or three tracks they liked the best to avoid any doubles. The process was really smooth.

How did you come across DJ Counselling?  How do you feel about the remix, what has he done to the track?

I've been following DJ Counselling's music for some years now and I think I just wrote him a message one day, just to congratulate him on his work. He also was a big fan of a track by my Clavis project, “Art Of Duplicity”, and he remixed that for a label anniversary compilation earlier this year, too. What's interesting about his remix for my track here is that the filtered one-chord synth sound he used sounds actually quite similar to my 2008-2010 releases with Freerange (“Acorado”, “Portamento”) or Compost (“Clock Shift”), although I believe he didn't even know those. I'm really pleased with the outcome, as it strikes a perfect balance between atmosphere and energy. To my ear it's rave, but with style.

All Is Well, tell us a little about this artist and his remix.

All Is Well is a moniker of Frédéric Blais aka Fred Everything. Fred was a big inspiration for me in the early and mid-2000s when I discovered his records on 20:20 Vision, which I studied in depth. His technique has really influenced the way I work and I was lucky enough to remix one of my favourite classics of his, ‘Light Of Day’, for his label Lazy Days. By the time I was thinking about doing remixes for ‘Intertextural’, his new project All Is Well was already taking shape and luckily he was up for the task and had the time to contribute a remix. I gave him the choice of doing a Fred Everything or All Is Well remix, and I think the way it worked out in the end is just perfect. His remix of 'Flakon' is just fantastic and I absolutely love the groove on it.

Yuu Udagawa is a new name. Tell us about this artist and the two remixes.

This is now the third of fourth time I work with Yuu. I first encountered her work when my main monitor speakers at my studio were making funny noises. I sent them off for inspection to the manufacturer, a small brand in Germany, and to my disappointment I wasn't happy with their service at all. I went on their Instagram profile to check out the comments and see if perhaps any other users were experiencing the same problem. What I found though was a repost of a story by a Japanese artist, Yuu, using monitor speakers by the very same brand, and I absolutely loved what I was hearing and had to reach out. I then helped Yuu get in touch with Freerange/Cyphon and Compost to release her music and I'm happy to see how she is quickly and deservedly making a name for herself on the scene. Her latest remix for All Is Well (coincidence!?) on Compost is a real gem, and I've just finished two new remixes myself for her upcoming release on the same label. Her two remixes for “Intertextural” are a showcase of her trademark beautiful, floating and shimmering style. I absolutely love both versions.

You have been making music a long time.  If you could give your younger self some advice about a life in music, what would you say to a 20 year old Manuel?

It was probably best for my 20-year-old self not to know or think too much about what would lie ahead. Naivety can sometimes be a blessing, and the music scene has changed quite dramatically since then. That said, I would definitely advise my young self to pay less attention to what other people think.

What drives you to continue to create music?

By now, making music has become a habit in the best sense of the word.

What can we hope to see next from Manuel Tur?

The last couple of years have been fairly taxing for me outside of music. I'm looking forward to taking a little break, recharging my batteries, and hopefully getting back to making music that excites me and hopefully listeners, DJs, and dancers alike.

Thanks for the talk.

Thank you!

Check out Manuel Tur's music on Bandcamp

Listen/buy the release here