Janus Rasmussen is the name of great Faroe Island born music producer who currently resides in the cold north of Reykjavík, Iceland. With long and vast musical experience spanning many different genres, he's been a singer in an electro-pop band, is part of KIASMOS and now focuses wholeheartedly on his solo project.
Following his successful debut EP "Vín" released in 2019, a journey of organic textures, hauntingly beautiful melodies and dark soundscapes, he just released his second single, "Neyð." And we have one word for it. Mindblowing.
Interview: Janus Rasmussen
Of course, we wanted to learn the secrets behind Janus masterful sounds. How does it all sound so organic, how does he do his percussion and where does he get his inspiration from? Thankfully, we got a chance to catch up with him, right from his studio in Reykjavík.
Let's dive in, on behind the sound — with Janus Rasmussen.
For how long have you been producing/making music?
I first started making music when I was around 12 years old. I started playing the guitar and developing my skills with my first DAW (which was Cakewalk at that time) so that I could make electronic music. I've been producing music professionally since around the age of twenty. So it's been a while now.
How did you first start?
Growing up in the secluded Faroe Islands, it was quite hard to get a hold of music software growing up. This was before the internet was a thing, so I had to order CDs with samples and software that would sometimes take months to arrive.
I did it mostly as something to pass the time with at first. A friend and I approached writing music like it was a game. Oh man, we were having a lot of fun doing it.
How do you usually start a new track?
First, I do a short improvisation session where I work swiftly to get down as many ideas as possible. After that, I go through everything and see if there's something there for me to work with.
Sometimes I'll find something there right away, but usually, I try this method a few times before I like the idea enough to proceed with it.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration mostly comes from my environment, friends, and the talented people I'm surrounded by. I've always loved to collaborate, so I do as much of that as possible. Of course, It's a little bit harder this year, which is a shame.
Your percussive elements are mostly very organic. What's the secret behind that?
My secret is to record percussion sounds of my own. After that, I go through them and clean them up so that I do use them as loops or one-shots.
I try not to fix anything too much because I want to keep the sounds raw and imperfect. Although I do go quite crazy with my processing. The trick is to not have many rules and to frequently have sessions only to try out new things.
Do you finish all your ideas into tracks? If not, how do you decide which one makes the cut?
Some ideas will finish themselves in a relatively short amount of time. Other times, I'll drop something only to get back to it much later and then realize that it had great potential.
It's extremely frustrating never to know when you'll have a song on your hands or not. You'll have to keep at it regularly and always be trying out new and different ideas. Sooner or later, a good one will turn up.
How did you come up with your new track/single?
The initial idea came from some field recordings I did outside of my studio, where there used to be a fish factory. They had recently gone bankrupt and had simply left everything behind.
There were many machines and containers lying around, which seemed like the perfect thing to go and record. I then sliced up the recordings in Ableton and came up with this messy percussion loop that starts the song off.
After that, I played some bass on my newly MIDI retrofitted Korg MS-20 and layered it up a few times to get a giant wall of sound out of it. The vocal line came to mind almost instantly, yet I didn't record it until very late in the production of the song.
Once I finally recorded it and heard how well it worked within the song, then it was a very straightforward and quick track to finish.
Considering that it's the first track with your vocals, how did this change your production process?
I've done a lot of singing before in my career. I used to be the singer in an electro-pop band called Bloodgroup. We quit in 2013, so it's been a while since I've recorded myself singing.
However, I'm still pretty comfortable with the process. I've also produced a lot of vocal-based projects throughout the years, so I have a good grip on working with them.
We'd like to thank Janus for talking to us at PML, and will continue to play his new single Neyð on loop. It's the perfect music for this rainy autumn weather!
See you in the next article.