“Transformation” is X Marks The Pedwalk tenth full length album and for sure a milestone in André Schmechta’s aka Sevren Ni-Arb’s career. Five albums were released before the band’s break while “Transformation” is the fifth new opus since the band’s come back in 2009/2010. “Transformation” has been introduced as an album dealing about ‘moments of personal change’. Just as on the previous work “Secrets” Estefania (André’s wife) is the lead singer. Sound-wise X MARKS THE PEDWALK remains driven by Electro-Pop structures, which have been reinforced by some EBM bass lines.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Three years ago now after the “Secrets”-album you said it was ‘the most mature and professional release of X MARKS THE PEDWALK in any aspect so far’. I think “Transformation” even moves a step further! How do you perceive this new work and how did it saw the daylight?
André: We are proud to have mastered this section of our musical journey as well. We are very, very happy with the result and the feedback. The first song ideas for “Transformation” came up in 2018. But due to my professional situation as an entrepreneur, I can only spend available time in music production. Since I also have a private life, it is really limited. In times of Corona, we also spent more time at home. We had actually booked a lot of events and short trips with our sons. And a vacation was already planned. All that fell into the water now. So I decided to push the production on the album. As a result, “Transformation” was completed three months earlier than originally planned.
Q: I think to remember you were seriously improving your studio, buying new equipment and analogue gear to compose the “Secrets”-album. How does the studio looks like today and what’s the impact of new –and eventually analogue equipment, on the song writing?
André: As with “Secrets”, 90% of the songs on “Transformation” are produced with hardware / analog equipment. It is a more physical approach on producing Electronic music.
The list of instruments in my studio is long: Modular system with modules from i.a. mutable instruments, Make Noise, Dreadbox, Waldorf, Doepfer, Pico, Zaoc. Synths: Sequential OB-6, Sequential PRO-2, Vermona PERfourMER MKII, Moog SUB 37, Arturia Matrixbrute, Arturial Minibrute 2s, Novation Peak, Novation Basstation II, some Behringer synths such as B. Deepmind12, Pro1, KS2, Neutron, NordLead A1r, Korg Prologue 16, Arturia Drumbrute, Vermona Lancet, Elektron Analog Heat etc. In addition, there are of course various digital tools and plug-ins in my production environment. I love both worlds digital and analog and I basically love to explore new gear. Any new gear is a new trigger for creativity.
Q: “Transformation” seems to deal about moments of personal change, which I think is an interesting subject considering our world is actually changing as well. Can you give us more details about the subject/concept and do you see a parallel with the current world situation?
André: “Transformation“ deals with inner barriers. It’s about ourselves. It’s about people and behaviors that restrict us emotionally, from which we want to free ourselves. But it deals also with the knowledge that I can bring about changes myself. Often we accept our weaknesses, as if it were irreversible. But recognizing our own weaknesses enables us to transform them into new energy, which is an important aspect of change. But I don´t want to see a parallel with the current situation.
Q: “Transformation” sounds to me as an album featuring several potential hits, but you seem to no longer release EP’s/Singles. That’s an interesting aspect as I hear more and more people active in the music business affirming that singles are more interesting than albums today. What’s your opinion about it and how do you expect things evolving?
André: Producing and releasing a single means to focus on one track only. That´s ok, but I prefer to work on conceptual ideas for a complete album. Nine or more songs are telling a bigger story and I can take the listener on a longer emotional journey. It is always an exciting challenge to bring all songs of an album into an overall context, to coordinate and integrate the dramaturgy.
Q: “Secrets” also was the first album released by your own label Meshwork Music. How do you look back at this experience so far and do you have an idea about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic will have on the music industry and especially small labels?
André: My own label gives me all the freedom I need. I’m glad I don’t have to make a living from music anymore. Today I am an entrepreneur with two companies that are active in the field of digital communication and marketing. I have a lot of employees and of course the responsibility is immense. Fortunately, my companies have not been in any distress from Covid-19. Things are very different with artists and many small businesses in the music industry. It is not yet certain when normality will return. Is it going to be as diverse and agile in the field of music as it was before Covid? That remains to be seen.
Q: You last year came up with this interesting, but challenging concept “Music.For.Books” releasing three Soundtrack-driven releases for books. What have been the reactions to this concept and tell us a bit more about the achievement of the music?
André: Today there are four volumes and I hope to release volume five in the next year. Of course, “Music.For.Books” is different from producing an Electro-Pop album. When composing, mixing and arranging the tracks, it was important to consider that the music should primarily accompany the reader and create a suitable soundscape. Nevertheless, there should be a certain dramaturgy that tries to take up different scenes atmospherically.