TSOH | Learning Curve: Tripeo champions the process of taking risks

Tripeo, also producing and DJ-ing under his birth name Darko Esser, has been one of the leading figures of Dutch techno for a while now. As a programmer for several authorative venues in The Netherlands over the years–most notably the legendary Doornroosje in Nijmegen, where he has now worked for 18 years–Tripeo has developed a broad and distinct vision on electronic music.

In the studio and on stage, both as a DJ and a live act, Tripeo has been able to manifest his quirky take on techno. We thought it was about time to ask him for some valuable learnings. He told us about his new live act The Leap, his Lyra 8 organismic synthesizer and his eternal love for electro.

Written by Aron Friedman

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve recently learned or discovered?
I’m working with my friend Han Frissen, aka Doka, on a brand new live show for our new joint venture called The Leap. It’s a wonderful learning proces. This live show is different from any other live show I’ve done before, because we’re taking a lot of risks between the two of us. The aim is to have more than 50% of the show become improvisation. It may take a while, but we’re trying to be as flexible as possible. And we can also use this process as the basis for new tracks.

One of the things we’ve done, is we both bought Maschine Mikro MK3. We load it with many of our own drum samples. This way, we can record on the fly, and make new patterns with the note repeat function for example. It’s a complete new way of working for me. I’m not used to live finger drumming, but I think it will enhance the live feeling, to physically make the drum patterns as we go along.

Is that also why you’ve called yourself The Leap, because of the leap into the unknown?
That’s definitely the idea. We want to live up to our name, which means taking risks. It can turn out fantastic, but it can also fail. By lack of a better word, I see what we are doing as jazz, because it’s all a bit more loose and more abstract. I find that fascinating. The tryout is in Merleyn end of December. A little pre-leap, before we really start touring.

Is there something you’d still like to learn?
Two things. I have modular synthesizers at home. I’d love to learn more about them, because it will make my understanding of my other instruments much better. I know how sound synthesis works, globally, but not very specific. I think I’ll get to understand the idea a lot better, because it’s such a physical process. You literally have to connect things with plugs for anything to happen.

The other thing I’d love to learn about, is this new synth I bought from a Russian manufacturer called Soma Laboratories. It’s called a Lyra8, and it’s something you really need to learn how to use. That’s something I’m having trouble with sometimes. I’d rather be creative than trying to figure out how something works. And I think I should try harder. Once you truly know what you’re doing, you can get more out of your machines, and you can create something unique, that no one else is doing. You want to have your own sound signature.

What’s your most valuable source of information?
I watch a lot of things on YouTube: tutorials, reviews of music instruments. Before I buy something, I want to know how it sounds. There are a few channels, like Sonic State, that delve deeper into things. And there are a bunch of tutorial sites, where you can learn something. For troubleshooting, I always just use Google, and it can take me to forums like Gear Slutz or Ableton and Elektronauts. I always end up finding a solution.

How important is a sounding board, and who’s part of yours?
I have a few people close to me, whom I send my music to. But a sounding board is not very important to me. It doesn’t change my opinion about my ideas. Once I like something, no one is really going to change my mind, I’m a very stubborn person in some aspects lol. And when I have my doubts, it’s usually for a good reason. Then it’s usually just to get an assertion of what I already know.

But I will sometimes get tips on production techniques that are very helpful. People like Han (Doka) and Jeroen (Cadans) are guys who really have valuable tips for me sometimes.

What’s your most recent musical discovery?
Genre-wise, I’m really blown away by electro again. I’ve always had a soft spot for it, but the last two years, I’ve noticed a real surge, new artists with a fresh take have made everything more current. And there’s a few key artists who’ve worked as a catalyst. It’s never been away, just off the dance floors, which I’ve always found odd. Now, thanks to people like Stingray, Helena Hauff and Objekt, it has emancipated also on the floor, spawning a new interest by many people who are noticing an entire world behind it, and a wave of producers with a different angle. Who are making it sound super fresh.

What’s the most important learning point you have for aspiring producers?
It’s a question I have answered before, and will keep standing by: don’t be afraid to fail, make mistakes. Try everything, it will help you find your own voice. Especially from the things that go wrong, something beautiful can emerge. If you play it safe, you’re only risking to sound like everybody else. Don’t try to sound like anyone else, do wherever your feelings and fantasy take you.

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