59 Perlen

Sonic Storytelling, Performing and Coaching

59 Perlen says:

There’s a unique satisfaction in the act of creation

Storytelling is an attempt to convey feelings or moods through texture design

Ableton Live suits my needs perfectly

Coaching, in my opinion, is a highly personal experience

Matthias is a musician (his project is named ’59 Perlen’), a performer and a tutor with over 20 years of experience in the industry. Let’s find out what he has to say to The Electronic Corner. Photos by @atlascastledk.

Sir Joe: You are a music artist, a performer and a mentor. If you were forced to stick with only one activity, which one would it be and why?

59 Perlen: Oh, that’s a tricky one. Without overthinking it, I’d lean towards the musician side simply because that’s where it all began.
The education aspect only came into play about four years ago. Performance is pretty much aligned with the musician part.
If you ask me, I’d likely go for the audio musician producer role because I’ve been doing that for 20 years—I can’t even recall when I started.
So, that’s my path, and I believe that’s what I’d choose.

SJ: So the creative part, making songs and releasing new material is what you are most into. Can we say that?

59 Perlen: Absolutely, no doubt. Whether it’s releasing material or just making music, the whole creative process is what gets me.
No matter if you put it out there or play it somewhere, there’s a unique satisfaction in the act of creation.
Educating others with my experiences feels more like revisiting what I’ve learned in the past, wanting to transfer or share it with others. That’s a separate thing altogether.
But the creative process, that’s what will always fascinate me, I suppose.

SJ: Sonic storytelling seems to be a must, in your idea of making music. Which factors are most influential when you tell a story through music?

59 Perlen: I’m constantly grappling with the question of whether I’m telling a story because, well, I don’t sing. Vocals are absent or pretty sparse in my songs, so the vibe and mood ride on the choice of instruments and sounds.
I like to craft my own sounds by recording field snippets—nature sounds or stuff from my surroundings.
Occasionally, I throw in voices from friends, but that’s not the major player. It seems the distinctive sound people recognize is somewhat rooted in the past.
After a recent gig in Copenhagen, folks came up and shared that the way my music touched them was fascinating. They mentioned it’s not your typical once-upon-a-time kind of story, more like a touching of moods and hearts with various elements of a track.
That’s how I define storytelling in my context. It’s not a concrete tale, but an attempt to convey feelings or moods through texture design, a significant part of my sound creation process.
There’s always a bit of crackling or noise in the background: I aim for constant movement in the tracks, an evolution of sorts.
I liken it to a perfume. When you spritz it, there’s that initial impact on your nose and senses, and with time, it morphs into something different. I always envision my music in that way, and it seems to be striking a chord with listeners.

SJ: So your tracks are always evolving, you don’t have a theme that repeats from the beginning to the end. Can we say that?


59 Perlen: Yes, that’s correct. Evolution is crucial, and it’s a lesson I try to share with others too, to create something that maintains interest, especially in longer tracks.
It becomes vital, especially in specific genres like mine, since I’m not diving into the EDM scene or anything.
Keeping the music interesting is a significant challenge, and I believe evolvement plays a pivotal role. Yeah, it’s a big part of the game.

SJ: As a gay man, I was fascinated by the cover of your latest single ‘Horizon’, and even more by the canvas of the two versions of the song on Spotify, whose theme is clearly gay romance.
Can you enlighen us on the connection between the theme of the song and the visuals? Also, how did you make the accompanying video?

59 Perlen: Honestly, the reason you see two guys getting intimate is a result of a prompt I typed in.
As for my current release phase leading up to the album, I decided to venture into using artificial intelligence for all the artworks. From Midjourney and other tools, I experimented with generating images.
In contrast, the previous singles’ videos were shot with a camera, not using AI. The video for ‘The worst thing to live without’ was actually created using a screensaver.
Lots of singles feaute faces, so for the ‘Horizon’ artwork I wanted to do the same. The choice of two guys getting intimate stems from my perception of ‘Horizon’ as a stream of feelings without a defined melody or anything concrete. It’s a fluid stream of sounds and textures. I felt this intimate connection would complement the mood I aimed for.
I experimented with various prompts involving girls, black guys, white guys, gays, and more. I chose the representation of gays because I am gay myself, and I liked the way the program composed the elements.
However, I want to clarify that I don’t shout from the rooftops about being gay. While I’m perfectly comfortable discussing it, it’s not something I emphasize in the focus of my art.

SJ: What was the reaction from your fans?

59 Perlen: Honestly, when I developed this artwork and the video, I expected some reactions, comments, or surprises from people, but there was nothing.
You’re actually the first to mention being touched by the artwork on the cover and by the canvas on Spotify. It’s like my fan base found it normal, and no one really reacted.
When I post things on social media, I never expect much from anyone, so I wasn’t disappointed. It was just surprising that no one brought it up.
However, I did receive some nice comments on the artwork itself, and I was pleased with how it turned out.
The tool I used for the video is an app called Kyber. It’s a software that some bigger music acts used last year to generate videos.
It allows you to create canvas size and landscape size videos. It’s a bit like a wheel of fortune, working well sometimes and not so well at other times.
In this case, it worked pretty smoothly, even with different formats and such.

SJ: Since we were talking about love and romance, I would like you to tell us something about ’59 Lovers’. What is it?

59 Perlen: At its core, it’s a mailing list. A few years back, I faced a situation where my Facebook and Instagram accounts were compromised, and despite investing a lot of money, time, and effort, I couldn’t recover my Facebook account.
That incident prompted me to shift my focus towards my website and establishing direct connections with fans. The mailing list is a platform where people can sign up, and in return, I send them weekly jams in the form of MP3 files.
Typically, I release one jam per week on my YouTube channel, and those on the mailing list receive two MP3 files as a little bonus.
It’s a way for me to maintain a direct connection and keep in touch with fans.

SJ: What are the biggest challenges of a DAW-less live set up?

59 Perlen: The most significant challenge lies in the pattern-based arrangements. Many individuals find it challenging because it can feel like you’re trapped in an Ableton loop, risking the track becoming monotonous quickly.
As we discussed earlier, my approach is to keep elements evolving, constantly changing, and exploring new textures to counteract this. It’s a substantial challenge with DAW-less setups.
When playing live with DAW-less setups, you face the issue of lacking a mastering chain. While you can route everything through a computer, it defeats the purpose of being DAW-less.
To maintain a DAW-less setup and compensate for the absence of a mastering chain, you need clever sound design.
Adding some effect pedals at the end can help, and there are mastering chain simulating guitar pedals or boxes from companies like Elektron that offer some compression. Nevertheless, it remains a significant challenge.

SJ: However, you are not an enemy of digital production, in fact you are coaching for Ableton Live.
What do you like about this particular DAW when you compare it to Logic, FL Studio, and others?

59 Perlen: I opted for Ableton due to my focus on live performances. My ultimate goal is to share my tracks with audiences in a live setting, and Ableton is fantastic for that purpose.
Its clip mode allows me to produce tracks in a way that seamlessly translates to live performances. The flexibility of using MIDI controllers adds to the ease of execution.
I’ve dabbled with other DAWs like Reason, but I never quite connected with it, even though I’ve been a user since version one.
I also gave Maschine a try, which comes with its own DAW, but I found it challenging to handle.
Ableton Live suits my needs perfectly. It’s highly performative, doesn’t demand excessive resources from my Mac, and is incredibly reliable in live situations, precisely because it was designed with that in mind.

SJ: What kind of musician, dj or producer could be interested in your coaching sessions?

59 Perlen: I’ve got a very specific target group. In the vast sea of free content on YouTube, people often come to me because they’re looking for answers without the time to sift through endless videos.
Typically, these individuals have families or hectic schedules, and they seek a coach who can streamline the learning process. Interestingly, my clientele tends to be around my age, not the typical 20-year-olds. Most are in their 40s, 50s, or 60s.
Then, there are the seasoned musicians who appreciate my music or want to learn how to create music in my style.
Coaching, in my opinion, is a highly personal experience. That’s why I always offer a free introduction call—this way, people can get to know me, and we can establish a strong connection, which I find crucial for effective coaching.

SJNow I challenge you to get rid of all your gear except one. What would it be and why?

59 Perlen: That’s a good question. While it might sound a bit counterproductive, I think I’d go with my Mac.
Considering the nature of all this gear you see here, especially my preference for Electron boxes (which need power connections), I believe I’d have more flexibility with the MacBook.
Although, if I had to choose another option, the Digitakt holds a special place for me—it’s like my little baby that can do everything.
So, after a bit of deliberation, I’d go for the Digitakt.

(Now I invite you to watch the following video, starting at 25:04, where we can see the “arsenal” in 59 Perlen studio).

We say thanks to 59 Perlen for this very informative interview.

Don’t forget to visit his official website

You are also welcome to check the other interviews for The Electronic Corner

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