Producer Sessions 009: Liquid Stranger reveals how his eclectic 30-track ‘INFINITY’ LP came to be [Interview]
Producer Sessions is a series from Dancing Astronaut meant to shine a brighter light on the producer community. Each volume will guide producers toward professionals in their field.
Liquid Stranger‘s immersive INFINITY LP off his Wakaan imprint is a 30-track project that spans themes from serene introspection to savage madness. The esteemed “freeform bass” producer, DJ, and label boss commenced 2019 with its first single, “Burn Like The Sun” featuring Leah Culver, with a variety of other strong cameos from the likes of CloZee, Dion Timmer, and Chee; and features from Christian Acamo, CoJaxx, Hard Knock, KJ Sawka, Laura Brehm, Malin Staaf, MC Shells, Pistol, SoDown, Spear, Vern Knows and Warrior Queen also making the cut. This LP offers a myriad of styles the versatile transnational bass artist (real name Martin Stääf) has worked with over his years in the genre.
In a press release, Liquid Stranger expresses,
Creativity stems from powerful life experiences, and my inner processes have been very intense during the writing of this record for the past year and half. This journey urged me to learn how to self love, and unleashed some of the strongest emotional peaks I’ve ever experienced. INFINITY is a result of this process, which I’m extremely honored to share with you.
Toward the end of 2018, Liquid Stranger unveiled plans for the inaugural Wakaan music festival, with a save the date for Oct. 3–6, a next step for the freeform bass veteran and his collective of talented expressionist producers. Read the full Liquid Stranger interview below about the album’s production and journey to completion.
What made you decide on a 30-song album?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision per se. I make a lot of songs, and am working on something new most every day. Somewhere along the process, the INFINITY project took on a life of its own and formed into a much bigger body of work than I expected. It wasn’t very difficult to make a lot of songs, but I was very challenged by my own emotional processes throughout the journey. The general themes are outer space—the expanding consciousness of the human mind, and the vision quest we undertake in order to discover ourselves, and conflict—the obstacles we encounter along the way toward becoming a balanced human of power.
Why did you call the album INFINITY?
It represents the soul’s journey as infinity awareness. Musically, it encompasses so many different styles that it can be applied (at least in part) to most situations.
You showcase a lot of variety on the LP, is there a specific reason harder songs are at the beginning and while the end shifts the energy down a bit?
The tunes can be listened to in any order, or extracted and put into playlists based on the listeners’ preferences. The order I decided on starts off very soft, melodic, and uplifting. Then it ramps up in intensity for the middle portion, and expands toward the end into more trippy and freeform material… and concludes on a darker note, reflecting on the current state of our collective consciousness.
Do you have a typical production process? If so, what is it?
I don’t have a process. I kill my ego and let inspiration lead me. Nowadays, inspiration is a force I can call on at will. It’s always there for me as long as I trust in its guidance. My songs tend to start by developing a strong theme, usually a vocal hook or a lead melody.
You have a massive amount of collaborators on this project. What is your collaboration process like?
There are only three bonafide collaborations on the album: “Zero Frontier” with Chee, “Ceremony” with CloZee, and “Spastic Elastic” with Dion Timmer. The rest are vocal/instrumental features. The process is always different. Most of it was done remotely, meaning we sent stems back and forth.
What is your go-to synth these days?
I use a lot of vintage, analogue equipment and acoustic instruments. I try to avoid sitting in front of a computer screen too much, since it’s kind of boring. I have a pretty good collection of equipment, so my favorite depends on what I’m trying to accomplish.
For a full list of credits, lyrics and the equipment I used, please click here and check out this website we built for INFINITY.
What was your go-to MIDI controller and why?
I’m a pianist, so I like using a keyboard for most of the work. It’s really just a way to interface with the music, and varies depending on the situation. Sometimes I use a launchpad for drums. On stage, I use CDJs.
Any special VST that really took the production home?
Not really, I’d say my vintage hardware synths, the drum set, my voice, and flutes/kazoo were the dominant sound sources on this album. I used Native Instruments Massive and Xfer Records Serum quite a bit too.
Which song took the longest work on and why?
Probably “Murder on the Freeway,” due to all the lyrics/vocals, and acoustic instrumentation.
How would you define your sound?
Music is an emotional language. The style, and vibe will vary depending on my mood. I’m all across the board. This album is a good example of that. Personally, I have no interest in fitting my art into a genre, or trend. I just create with an open mind—trying to be as honest as possible with my expression.
What DAW do you use and why?
I use Cubase. It’s stable, and has all functionality I need. I’ve worked with this software since I was 16 years old, so I know it like the palm of my hand and can work fast without any hesitation.
What was the most difficult sound to conquer on the project?
To me, the human voice is by far the most challenging instrument to record and process.
Do you have any unique studio habits?
I see my studio as a sacred sanctuary. It’s filled with little things of beauty that I love and help put me in the right frame of mind. I kind of view my machines as “friends” (for a lack of a better word), and arguably spend more time with them than I do with humans.
What was your most memorable in-studio moment while producing the album?
Working with my house mate and best friend Spear. We had some wonderful sessions where we just went in on the microphone without too much thinking, and I’m very happy with the result.
Another darker, but very memorable aspect, is how depressed I’ve felt throughout parts of the journey—battling with existential thoughts and quandaries. I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t want to lean on anyone, or use anything as a crutch. I’d rather face the enemy within full on. I’ve spent a lot of time in solitude, and was celibate during the making of INFINITY, which gave me a lot of free time to work. More importantly, it helped me get clarity on the state of my mental/emotional self reliance.
I’m convinced creativity stems from powerful life experiences, and my inner processes has been very intense this year. The inability to find comfort and healing in intimacy from a significant other has forced me to learn how to self love on a much deeper level.
What is your favorite in-studio snack?
I normally fast while making music. I usually go in for 1-2 day sessions without any food or sleep. I do drink coffee, and a remedy I make from fresh lemon, honey, and ginger.
What is next for Liquid Stranger?
God knows :)