tonkPROJECT - DECEMBER 2005 - ENGLISH VERSION
Tonkproject December 2005
CM>>>What’s the meaning of the word tonkproject? And is the project a one man project or are there more persons involved? When did you start this project? Is there a special concept behind it?
Zarzu>>First of all tONK doesn’t mean something in particular for me. It came at a time when i was quite low and couldn’t produce something good. None of my musical projects were close to the market expectation. I decided at the first stage that I needed an orientation and the only way was to create a variety of genres and see what actually fits me better. Working at the radio station for quite a while put me in contact with a variety of genres - a fact that later had a big influence in my music. At that time, I was more involved in producing house music but quality talking they were not so great. Later I changed my style totally and I started producing ambient music. I produced two tracks that even today I’m very proud about them. Anyway, after a one year break, I bought new gear and started again producing new material but couldn’t find a proper name. So, one day I was walking in London and I saw on a wall written with graffiti : TONK-BONK. Arrived home I start producing and in a matter of days the next track that came out was already under the tONKPROJECT name.
CM>>> May you allow me to ask you something about Romania. How old have you been 1989 when the revolution in Romania took place? What have you experienced 1989? Where there any chance for a cultural live before the revolution?
Zarzu>> In December 1989 I was only 10 years old and didn’t understand (to) much of what was going on at that time. From what I remember it was a sunny day in December and I was playing football with my mates. At one stage, one of them came running, telling us us that there is a TV program running - quite funny 'cause usually we used to get only two hours of tele a day (even on weekends). I ran into the house to see my parents stuck to the tele watching the events...then I remember them telling me to stay indoors and to get in contact with anyone because they were scared that maybe the revolution would not succeed and repercussions could follow. Until 1989 there wasn't any freedom of speech available so most of the artists used to run out of the country with a slight chance of ever coming back and the rest of them who couldn’t follow that road remained in the country and blessed the regime and hoped for better days at the same time. All that belong to the cultural life was controlled by the regime and not many of us used to have access to outside world and culture and those who tried, risked their family life and freedom. Media practically didn’t exist, only a few daily newspapers, two radio stations and one national tv channel, all of them aiming for one thing: brain washing.... and the only way to get informed about the true events was to listen Europa Liberia Romanian radio station broadcasting from France a few hours daily. In school, every classroom had at least a picture of the dictator and his wife and all the manuals on the first page also present the family with a few notes about how great they are and how important they are for the future of Romania. Shows, theaters or movies had their scripts censored so that the public didn’t raise too many questions about that. Music wise, again the same problem, every lyric was first approved by the regime and maybe after could be released. Foreign music almost didn't exist and those who had it made big sacrifices in order to get it.
CM>>> What came first your work as a DJ or producing music with electronic instruments? When did you buy your first electronic instrument? What type of instrument was it?
Zarzu>> DJ'ing was not my thing in the beginning...besides my show on the radio station THE BEAT, I was working as light engineer and from time to time mixing. My first electronic instrument came 10 years ago when my mother bought me an YAMAHA QY-22 sequencer. The keys were the size of a cigarette filter but that didn't bother me. I made that time a few songs and I remember appearing on national TV. My first real instrument bought, beside softsynths, was the Microkorg. Two years ago, at that stage, I realized the difference between soft and hard synth. Of course I used to play with them in the shops but it makes a big difference when you have them in your bedroom and add a couple effects.
CM>>> What was the reason for moving to London? Do you miss Romania sometimes? What's your day job in London? Do you still work in an artistic profession like radio station or something like that?
Zarzu>> I left Romania like most of Romanians because of the financial situation and of course for a new life experience. When I left Romania four years ago I was quite upset about everything and decided never to comeback, but after my VISA expired I realized that I couldn’t stay illegal. I tried getting a proper job in the media area or clubs but it seems I didn't have too much luck so I start working in construction like most Romanians there.
CM>>> How does it come to your collaboration with Oh! Records in Canada?
Zarzu>>Well, after years of producing I decided finally to try the market with some new material. I had around 5 tracks but only 3 of them were actually mastered. So I went online and check a few sites that are selling online music. I listen some tunes that were around my target, wrote down their LABEL and I made a list of 60 LABELS. I sent around 25 demos by email and maybe 4-5 by cd and after one week I got two answers. Both of them sounded interesting and what do you know, first was from OH! RECORDS :)...
CM>>> Other countries you would like to visit?
Zarzu>> I’ve been until now almost in all the western European countries. I left Romania when I was 18 and went for a few months to Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Paris and ended up in Spain where I visited Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. After another few years spent in Romania, I left again and went to Paris, Cork, Dublin, Belfast and my final destination was London where I stayed for the last 3 years. Now I’m back home and maybe next year I will leave for another continent . . . nothing sure yet but who knows....
CM>>> Is the Triple Mistake kind of a debut album? And what about the names of the tracks...double, triple mistake. What’s behind the concept and idea of these tracks? What do you need for your inspiration? What’s your definition of a mistake? Is a mistake something that other people judge or is a mistake the bad feeling someone gets as a result of a low self opinion?
Zarzu>>> Basically the name just came up after I realize that the tune is made from 3 parts...MISTAKE supposed to be the original name and imo every man has at least one chance in his life to do something. Well, in my tune has three and all of them turned up to be ruined. The concept behind the song is borrowed from life and it came up after years of traveling and living far from home. In every city I’ve been, you could find people that are heartbroken or poor and your first reaction when you see them is to feel sorry for them but deep down I believe that those people either missed their chances, didn’t take advantage of them or their chances didn't come yet. The second track was supposed to be named ME but after negotiation with OH! RECORDS, we decided to name it DOUBLE MISTAKE.
CM>>> What do you use for DJing: vinyl or CDs? Ever used some of the new DJ techniques like Final Scratch? What's your opinion about these new techniques ..MP3 and all those other formats/tools?
Zarzu>>> I recently bought new gear: 2 STANTON T 80, STANTON M 303 and FINAL SCRATCH 2.0 and I believe that it will be the future of DJ'ing. Four years ago, I was mixing on CDs but nothing can be compared with vinyl. I think you have much more feeling when you release the tune, slow it down or scratch a loop. I’m using TRAKTOR 2.6 on an IBOOK G4 and until now, after the last update made by NATIVE, I would say that it is 99% perfect. I've seen the kit in FABRIC (London) and I was quite impressed about that and I hope in the near future more clubs will follow this road.
CM>>> Technique Part II :-) What about your working progress... Do you produce with hardware or do you prefer the software-based studio? And what do you use for the recording? Do you have a favorite instrument or software you essentially need for your music?
Zarzu>>> I worked for the last two years with Ableton and I will never go back to Cubase for nothing in the world. It makes my work very easy and it’s the simplest interface ever. I created my dream studio while I was in UK and most of my savings went there. I like to work with hardware but since midi controllers came on the market, I don’t mind some softsynths. As my main synth, I use VIRUS POWERCORE and I was so impressed by TC, I bought all their software and to be honest with you I don't feel sorry at all. My JP 8080 comes second and the Microkorg finally with this retro sound. For mastering, I use UAD and I would recommend to everybody who is into producing to buy that card. It changed my sound totally but nothing of that could be possible without my RME 9632. I had probably three soundcards until now and none of them came close to the RME level. Dramatically I would say that DOUBLE MISTAKE couldn’t be finished with my previous soundcard. I was stuck at min 3:75 and my cpu couldn’t go further. Well, I bought the RME and what do you know...the tune went up to 8 min and with 33 vst effects on it, my cpu was around 45%. As effects I use a lot of the TC powercore reverbs and Character and very often the ping pong delay from Ableton. On each channel I use 1 of the UAD compression plug-ins and an Ableton eq. which is almost CPU free.
CM>>> Any plans for represent the "Triple Mistake"? As A DJ or as a kind of a live act?
Zarzu>> Never thought about that until now...but for sure when I will get a chance and a proper crowd I will put it on the decks and raise the volume up to maximum :)
CM>>> The year 2005 is nearly through. What about your feelings about 2005: Tsunami, Pakistan, the bombs in London... Do you celebrate New Years day or do you say it doesn’t bother me? In Spain people always eat twelve grapes with every chime at twelve and with every grape they wish something for the next year. (I'm doing this for the last 9 years.) Do you have a similar ritual?
Zaru>> 2005 I can say that had quite a big impact over my musical career. The Last Morning was actually my first song produced this year and it was inspired by Tsunami tragedy. It came in a period of musical blackout in my life and hearing the stories before and after the Tsunami inspired me in a positive way. Incredible how nature transform a piece of paradise in a nightmare in a matter of minutes. Being in London, I felt the pulse of London bombings and realized what actually means a terrorist attack. Pictures or videos seen on the news about other terrorist events came into my head and none of them can be compared to the ones that you are into. Everybody was aware about the situation but at the same time nobody could realize that the danger is so close to us. Comparing to other events, the media in UK was non-stop working on keeping the population informed and that helped a lot the authorities in establishing the order and keeping the chaos away. About the New Year's day and Christmas time, I think they are very important and one of the reasons that I left UK was to spend this time of the year together with my family and my friends. Compared to other countries tradition is kept alive and the winter is as it should be with a lot of snow and cold weather. Different areas of the country have different ways of celebrating Christmas and New Year's eve.
CM>>> What's your opinion about the radio staions in England? Are they better than in Romania ;-)? Do you sometimes watch Music Television ? ... I must admit the Music television in Germany is so boring.
Zarzu>>>> To be honest with you I didn’t have to much time when I was living in LONDON .... I used to listen every now and then VIRGIN RADIO ...but commercial radio stations are not my thing. TMF and THE HITS were way too commercial and the only thing that made me watch them was a few shows like CRIBS and maybe to check what is new on the market.
CM>>> Can you describe me a perfect day in your life? I mean as a"person" not just a musician...
Zarzu>> Well, I would say that waking up around 8 o'clock (not like usual around 1-2 in the afternoon), having a small snack (some oranges, cheese...something light) and after a light coffee and three cigarettes (1 after the other) in front of the computer, checking my emails and some newspapers. Most of my time is related to music so I would say that if I am not producing nothing, maybe I would mix a small session on the decks or listen to some music (the genre depends on what mood I am at the time).................
Interview: Michael Mück
All rights reserved cuemix-magazine