SASU RIPATTI, on new conceptual endeavours for open explorations of sound
Based in Hailuoto, a Baltic Sea island in northern Finland, near the Arctic Circle is Vladislav Delay (aka Sasu Ripatti), an important name in the global scene of electronic music, with over 20 years of making music under different monikers and around a wide variety of styles that range from ambient, to techno, glitch or footwork, all published in important labels such as Raster, Planet Mu. Chain Reaction, and Mille Plateaux, among others, always delivering a mixture of fine sonic structures with unique timbric, percussive and melodic explorations.
Delay’s latest project has been published under the name of Ripatti Deluxe, with Speed Demon being his first release, published in October on the also-new label Rajaton, which will be solely dedicated to the artist’s works. The label is conceptually all about the dissolution of restrictions and boundaries, both physically and mentally, approaching listening as a way of expanding and new thinking.
As the artist states, Speed Demon is an exploration of the way we live time and how aware of it we are, involving Deluxe’s own struggles and revelations from the idea of speed as such, both internally and collectively, thus delivering a powerful sonic and conceptual statement around acceleration, an idea which is also present in the way the music as such found its way in the album, which is full of complex patterns and heavy rhythmic exploration.
The whole work is a unique adventure around frenetic structures and heavy sampling, oscillating between many dimensions, close to some industrial fantasy, with a renewed perspective around glitches and the constant acceleration of percussion and fragments that include all kinds of sonic structures, from recognizable hardcore styles to unique and unknown explorations only able to be conceived on its own world, crossed by a constant game of chopped voices and variations among the accelerated repetitive explosion.
Ripatti Deluxe arrives as a solid conceptual endeavour aimed towards an open exploration of sounds, being true to the intuitive and raw process the artist is often looking for. As he tells us below in this exclusive interview, he doesn’t like to rationalize sound and overthink it, and although being technically prolific in his productions, he is not so concerned about placing the instrumental stuff in the centre, rather focusing on the listening process, preferring to be apart of technicalities, over-intellectualization, and even out of the worldly concerns sometimes, since at the end, as his upcoming EP series state, he likes to be “hidden behind the silence”.
Interview by Miguel Isaza
Where are you settled now, and how do you think the place where you live influences and/or has influenced your creative process over the years?
Working and living on a Baltic Sea island called Hailuoto (Shark Reef), in northern Finland near Arctic Circle. To me the surroundings and life itself and the ways I can live it hugely influence my work. I pay plenty of attention to this sort of stuff and stay aware of how it influences me. It’s something I can’t buy as a plugin from the internet.
Which one(s) do you consider has been the most radically changed aspect(s) of your work in the evolution of your musical process?
A few come to mind. Leaving Berlin (I lived there 7 years during the early 2000s) was certainly one, relocating to Finland. Stopping drinking. Becoming a father. It’s never music-related, I think. Music comes from life and personal experiences, after all.
Maybe the biggest one, in the end, was a rushed decision without any premeditation or thinking to sell all the studio gear I had collected some 10 years ago. That allowed me to take a long break from music and work, especially from the vicious cycle of what’s left of the so-called music business. It made me reconsider things a lot and re-evaluate things. What I do nowadays and how I do things are hugely influenced by that reset.
What led you to start this new label, and where do you have your curator side projected musically? Will it be specifically for your work, or do you plan to publish other artists? What kind of sounds can we expect to find there?
The label came from necessity more than anything. I was trying hard to find outlets for my music left and right, but it seemed quite so so. If you ask me, nobody seems excited about music, and everyone’s struggling. That leads to less and less innovation and inspiration, more safe choices and so on.
It seemed not worth trying to salvage a few remaining sales by trying to play safe with the kind of music we’re talking about here. Where I’m at with my so-called career and life above all else, I think I want to try some other things. I also feel it’s my responsibility to do something that makes people question things. I’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century, while others out there started last year. I don’t want to give them silly examples of how to be an artist or creative person. I want to inspire and challenge, make people question things, not offer them pre-chewed answers.
All this sounds grandiose if you want to see it that way. I see it from the other extreme; there’s nothing much left. It’s just myself and what I do, and few sold vinyl copies. Anyone can do the math. No benefits, just pure intention. What do I really want to do, and how? How do I stand behind what I do the most? Is it really honest? Am I following my instinct and heart, or am I scheming some shit to get ahead with my rent? Do I want to scheme that sort of shit with my own artistic activity? Where do I want to get enough money to pay rent? It’s just super annoying basic shit I’m dealing with that most of us are having to deal with, and just trying to leave most space for my creativity regardless. And leave some artefacts behind.
Above all else, I want to release music I feel like when I feel like (relatively speaking). I kind of have an idea of what I want to do musically and want a trustworthy outlet to put it all out. I have decided to go and do it myself, with a few people helping me out.
I’m not thinking about sound or other fancy stuff. Even the label’s name makes it clear (to me) that it should be without borders, restriction, and forethought. I have a few ideas to go through the first steps, but I have no bigger plan except to keep it open. Nothing seems to make sense for a long time; things are changing fast. I try to do something that makes sense to me, and I can hopefully tag along for a while. It’d be nice to counter the “nothing lasts for more than a second” kind of thing going on. Stand and fight the test of time. That’s certainly interesting today. Seems we’re quite focused on the moment, not necessarily in the best way.
I’m trying to do something that inspires me and hopefully others. I won’t have the capacity to release other people’s music purely from a financial point of view, but then again, I already heard something played live out there that was so good I’d love to release it regardless (they declined).
I want to defy the logic a little bit with the label. Logic doesn’t hold any longer.
Would you consider that Rajaton has an intention that is socially and politically critical? There seems to be in this a marked intention about hierarchies and a kind of epistemological position regarding the abolition of limits and the expansion of knowledge. Could you expand a little more on this conceptual aspect of the label?
I have always tried to keep politics away from music and art, not use them as a vehicle… But it seems a bit naive position these days. It’s just too hard to ignore or separate all the idiocy and horror around us. I have no answer, really, at all. I have no idea what the world will look like in two years. I guess I’m processing my own take on this all, what my responsibility is, and if it’s ok to hide behind the art and all that and not take any action. That’s actually something I’ve been meditating on quite a bit, and one of the forthcoming EP series is called “Hide Behind The Silence”.
I admit I have been fully cowardly, just escaping the world in the safety of the studio and reading books about all the madness, history, and current happenings but never actively doing anything. Are the music and creative action worth anything in this bigger picture? That’s what I’m going about privately and maybe a little bit with the label. The label will not be anything except an outlet for my own works, so I can safely say the label won’t be political or such, but I’m not sure about my own work. I try to resist actually putting a political shadow over my work. But let’s see.
Is there anything in particular that you find in the idea of an alias? For example, any freedom or limitations? Specifically with Ripatti Deluxe, what are the foundations of this new sonic fiction and its relationship with Rajaton’s idea?
I gave up on aliases a long time ago. I just thought Ripatti Deluxe is so off already that nobody would consider it or treat it as an alias anymore. I didn’t want it to be called anything I had used before, as it didn’t make sense to me. Aliases are quite annoying and also restricting, but they, of course, have their uses. But this Deluxe thing is fully a one-off, a conceptual thing.
And what about Speed Demon? What’s this new album’s core idea and sonic intention, and how does it relate to the process with Ripatti Deluxe and Rajaton as a whole?
Speed is everywhere. It’s quite suffocating at times. But it’s also amazing. I don’t speak about drugs, bungee jumping, meditation or anything like, and about all of them. I have been hugely influenced by speedy drugs and all kinds of speedy things, but they also totally destroyed me in the end. I tried the opposite, went zero speed and meditation and nature’s own speed. All that has left quite a bit of mark and influences from which I quite literally draw influences, both extremes. So on the album, there’s an underlying personal connection with a speed of all kinds, and also the response to a fast lifestyle and whatever people do in cities and the urban world; hectic is the word, I guess.
But also musically, I have always been influenced by really fast music (grindcore, fast bebop, African stuff…) but equally very slow stuff. But on my own solo work, the tempo has gotten faster and faster since I think I released my first album on Raster Noton. There’s one track on that album that goes quite fast, and that somehow started a quite deep interest in faster tempos and felt this wall of rhythm, or wall of bas drums or whatever. Fast tempos also feel so natural today. The pace is so much faster. But musically speaking, Speed Demon is just a complex soup of stuff; I guess I went all over the place, revisited my past with grindcore drumming, looked at beats from that perspective, and just had a creative blast on unexpected musical idiom.
I came across some interesting-sounding stuff, happy hardcore and all kinds of stuff I had never really listened to before. I sample lots of stuff these days for fun and inspiration, and somehow that stream of silly rave music turned into something quite interesting, and it certainly had that speedy vibe all over, and I just went along with it.
Do you have any rituals or personal processes to stimulate or maintain your creative process? How do you usually get your ideas, and what do you do to develop them?
Well, that’s the biggest thing, isn’t it? How do you get creative and stay creative? For me, if I don’t reach that state and have that inspiration flow – I’m not really existing. I can have the gear and whatever, but it will just say nothing. So yeah, that’s what I care about most, along with my family, and I try to cultivate and take care of it. I guess I’m subconsciously worried the tap will close at some point. I’m quite particular and specific on how I work on that stuff; at least, some people seem to think so. I protect my sphere quite viciously, protect my creative space. I have somehow managed to build this small world I can exist, for which I’m very grateful.
I work all the time, but on my own terms. And I reduce the incoming signal to the bare minimum most of the time. I live in a remote place and don’t hang out on the internet or use media. I don’t read the news. I stay shut to these things most of the time, though I often use nature. Animals inspire me a lot. Anything raw and primitive usually works well. I (try to) take care of my physical and mental health much more than I used to. I’m advanced in yoga enough that I can do beneficial things in quite a short amount of time, and I can do basic pranayama stuff, which I’m totally huge fan of. I have always been eating well, also know about everything there’s to know about redox/detox/supplements etc.
I think all this stuff plays a huge role in whether you can stay sharp and with an open mind for 4 hours or 10 hours a day. I want to stay sharp, open mind, and in creative flow as many hours as I can every day and not burn out from that, so I really try to cultivate that on and on. When all that works, I seem to have endless creativity coming so far.
How do you conceive sound and its materiality? And how does the process with sonority relate to the conceptual stages of your work? Do these appear before to influence the sound, or do they arise after listening to what you are creating? Or a swing with a little of both perhaps??
I honestly don’t really understand what you are asking. But again, I do not analyze too much, and I try to keep any theories and such mind stuff very far from the studio. I go with intuition, brutal and innocent feelings. Usually, that takes me to places I want to go or plan to go. If I start thinking and being a smart and calculative modern person, it all goes to shit. I can smell and feel dishonesty in music very well, I think, and I wouldn’t say I like all that stuff. Is it honest? Is it honestly coming from the right place, with the right purpose? Are you really involved? Are you fully there? If these things are in place, I usually can do things, and they fall in place.
I have done stuff in the studios for so long that I have more than enough skills to allow creative stuff to happen, and I don’t have to think about the technical stuff; I don’t want to think about technical stuff at all. I am becoming less and less interested in equipment and technology in certain ways; they can get in the way of things as much as they help you get anywhere. It’s also gone completely mad how the production stuff and studio stuff have ended becoming; it’s honestly making me ill. We only seem to want simple and fast ways to do something that sounds exactly like something else, with minimum effort involved. Fuck us all; we’ve lost it. So, that was a long answer to a question I didn’t understand. The short one is I go with the flow.
What is silence for you, and how is it manifested in your life and work?
It’s super precious. And it’s something I have the advantage and luxury of having here. As we live in nature, there’s no noise around us, except if nature decides to make noise. But often, it’s dead silent, and it’s beautiful. No city noise whatsoever. If you have never experienced it, you don’t know what I’m talking about. But it’s nicely quiet. In my own work, I’d have to say I haven’t given silence too much space for 2 decades and rightly so; I’m still too busy exploring all the notes and tones I can fit together in a piece 😉
But ye maybe one day I’ll be more interested in leaving notes out, that would be good. Right now, I fully embrace the natural silence, and it’s beautiful enough for me, and I’m good to fill in the canvas with full sound.
What’s your chief enemy of creativity?
Thank you, this is a great question. And something I think about it a lot myself. I’m totally unsure, but a few things start making sense. I think we are at least partly ourselves, the greatest hindrance and enemy. It’s easy to blame anything and everything, but I think, hey! Let’s take some credit ourselves.
You couldn’t live without…
no attachment, my friend.