QEK Junior

Interview With Dominic Daub: Minimal Wave Secrets Revealed

Dominic Daub (QEK Junior) says:

Often our lyrics seem to be a bit dadaistic

It’s not so bad when the music is very repetitive

I never thought that one day I would record synth music

MySpace was very, very important for us

We met Dominic Daub of QEK Junior and we had a very nice chat about minimal wave and much more.
Let’s find out what he had to say in this exclusive interview for The Electronic Corner.

Sir Joe: QEK Junior: Where does it come from and why you decided to call your project like that?

Dominic DaubQEK Junior is the name of a small trailer produced in the former East Germany.
We decided to name our project after this trailer because it’s very minimalistic, just like our music.

SJDo you sing in German because you feel more comfortable writing lyrics in your native language, or is it because for the kind of music you make, you feel that a hard sounding language like German is more appropriate than a mellow sounding language?

DDI guess it’s both, because when we started making music we were influenced a lot by bands like DAF, who sang in German, so we started to use German vocals too. And of course, as a German native speaker, for me it’s much simpler to speak and sing in German.
So, you can say it’s because we are German and we are influenced by German bands like DAF, a bit of Kraftwerk, of course by Depeche Mode, but mostly by DAF and Nitzer Ebb.

SJAnother question for those who don’t understand German: Do you have recurring themes in your lyrics, or do you just write about anything that comes in your mind?

DD: I would say that often our lyrics seem to be a bit dadaistic, or nonsense lyrics, as some people say, but the thing is that all our lyrics have a deeper meaning.
For example, our latest album, ‘Anomie’, deals with politics, but you don’t get it at the first hearing.
I don’t like to write lyrics that are quite obvious. For me, it’s important to have lyrics where people have to think about, because their meaning at the first hearing is not obvious.

SJAs you mentioned yourself, your songs are quite minimalist in terms of sounds and melodies. In fact, ‘minimal wave’ is the label given to the sub genre of electronic music that you do.
Somebody may think that you like to make your life easy in the studio because, of course, fewer melodies and fewer sounds mean that the recording process, the mixing, the mastering, everything is easier compared to when you have something more complex.
What these people don’t consider, though, is the risk that the song becomes too repetitive and boring.
That’s why I think minimal wave is quite challenging and also that’s why I would like to ask you what kind of tricks you use, during the recording process, to make sure that a song doesn’t become too repetitive and people are hooked to it from the beginning to the end and want to hear more from you.

DD: Well, I guess it’s not too bad if the music is very repetitive, and when you’re influenced by bands like Kraftwerk, DAF or Nitzer Ebb, it’s inevitable that your songs, like theirs, are quite repetitive.
Having said that, when I do some recordings in the studio, I often introduce very light changes using filters cut offs, for example, or a different drum pattern for part of the song.
These differences are very, very difficult to notice, but they are there. We seldom use only one sound for the whole song from the beginning to the end.
So, it’s got a lot to do with filters, attacks, stuff like that.

SJSo, it’s like subtle changes that people don’t realize are there, but actually they are what keep them interested until the end.

DDYes. However, when you listen to songs like ‘Verschwende deine Jugend’ or ‘Der Mussolini’, by DAF, you notice that they are very repetitive and the sounds never change. Yet, they work, and they are great for dancing. We also do some sort of music for dancing, so to speak.
I want to add that, in the last few months, I started using gear that is not a typical synth but more a sort of noise generator, to add noise to the sound. I think you will hear it in the next album.

SJGreat. What you just said fits perfectly with my next question, which is: Are you more an analog musician, meaning that you rely mostly on hardware in your studio and live, or a digital musician?

DDI never use computers in the studio, the main reason being that I work the whole day in an office, so I already spend the whole day with computers. I just have a Tascam multitrack recorder, with 24 tracks, and I use a very old Yamaha QY 700 sequencer, and only hardware synths.
My first synth was a Quasimidi Quasar, from Germany, I guess it’s about thirty years old now, and the last is a Behringer Toro. It’s a Moog Taurus clone, it has just arrived and I will check it later.
I use different kinds of hardware, things like MeeBlip.
I just use strange synths, not the mainstream ones.

SJActually, you started your career as a guitarist, didn’t you?

DDYeah, that’s true, and when I started to record synth music, it came as a sort of unexpected thing.
When I left the band I was playing with as a guitarist, I finished my master degree and then I decided to build up my own little studio, with an 8 track recorder by Tascam and a sequencer, because I wanted to have some tracks to play guitar on.
Then, I realized it was much simpler to play and record this kind of music, than using guitars.
However, I still write a lot of the music on the guitar, and when I write a bass line, I do it often on an electric bass.

SJCan you tell us about your live setup? What you use, if you bring your stuff with you or if you mostly rely on what is available in the venue you play in, and so on…

DDSince in the studio we record everything with hardware analog synths, playing live with this kind of gear would be quite difficult because, when you put an analog synthesizer on stage, if you play for example in a summer festival it’s quite hard to get the tune right, among other challenges.
So, when we play live, we use a computer for the backing tracks and do the vocals live.
We also add some additional effects on the spot, or maybe use some samples over the playback tracks.

SJDo you feel that the arrival of streaming platforms like Spotify, which now dominate the market, represented more a curse or a blessing for a project like yours?
By the way, just let me add that I loved how you re-released your debut album ‘Ausverkauf’ in mint green vynil.

DDI really don’t know. All our albums are available on Spotify and Amazon music, but I have no idea how many people listen to our music there or download it.
When we started doing music, we used MySpace. That was about 15 years ago, when MySpace was quite huge.
I never planned to play live with QEK Junior, but after we released our first three or four songs on MySpace, a minimal wave label from Germany contacted us for releasing a single.
Then, a mate in England asked me if we wanted to play in Leeds or in Nottingham, and at the beginning everything was managed via MySpace.

So, I don’t think these platforms are a curse, because for example MySpace was very, very important for us and it’s a pity that it isn’t active anymore.

SJ: Last year, you released a brand new album 11 years after the previous one. I know that in between you did some live performance, so the project was not totally dormant, but can we hope that we will not have to wait another 10 years before we can hear some new material again?

DDActually, I have just finished recording the first 4 tracks of a brand new album. We played live a lot in the last 2 months, so I didn’t have much time for studio work, but I hope it will be released next year.


(Now I invite you to watch the following video, starting at 12:57. We will assist to the unboxing of a new synth).

We say thanks to Dominic Daub of QEK Junior for the very interesting conversation.

Don’t forget to visit QEK Junior official website.


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