Gear Talks: Mittere

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Gear Talks: Mittere

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Mittere is the ambient project of producer Dan Frizza, with a forthcoming album: Variations On A Theme Vol. 1.

Mittere is a way to categorise and document of the sonic explorations of producer Dan Frizza. While working on other people’s music takes a lot of his time, the rest is dedicated to sculpting soundscapes, with emotive frequencies ebbing and flowing through his sparse arrangements. How does writing such ambience and emotionally immersive music compare to more traditional forms? Let’s find out.

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Dan, thanks for taking the time. When and where did writing for Variations On A Theme Vol. 1 begin?

The writing for this album begun shortly after I had finished my previous album, sometime during 2021 I believe, in my apartment in Coogee, Sydney. It would have been during some form of lockdown, I had managed to develop a bit of a nice balance between writing, producing and the ocean as part of my daily routine. I think it helped me maintain my sanity and also kept me highly productive by managing to avoid zooming in too far on any particular song I was chipping away at.

We have to ask, for ambient music that bucks more traditional musical form, how does a writing session start?

Generally I would just sit down with an instrument, for this particular process its usually a synth or piano. I would usually just fiddle around until I found a melody, a chord, or succession of chords/melodies that spoke to me, from there it all kind of falls into place relatively quickly. I would usually break the day up with a visit to the ocean, or some form of exercise to help process what had just happened and usually make sense of the song I might have under my belt during that outing.

Mittere synth

Have you got any tips and tricks for starting an ambient piece? Maybe just something that helps kick it off for you?

That’s a hard question to answer as its such a personal process for every individual, I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to go about music but generally if I’m not feeling inspired or have some kind of reaction for what I’m doing I generally wont be able to take it any further than that moment. I think I’m always looking for new inspiration; something to excite me about the writing process, sometimes it’s an instrument, other times it’s a film, a piece of recording software, a memory of something or an experience in the real world. I feel inspirations constantly in a state of flux but you gotta find a way to keep it fresh and not get too stuck in your own little world of things.

Keeping a relatively strict process helps me not elongate things so I don’t fall into too many rabbit holes, which can easily be done especially with this kind of music and especially creating it predominantly on your own.

How does your work as a producer influence your own music? Do you think it would be different if you’d only ever made your own music?

I feel like I can draw parallels, inspiration and most importantly lessons from both sides of the glass (so to speak) I believe my production work informs my writing and my writing informs my productions especially the human/collaborative side of things, I feel like I can have a more direct understanding as to where an artist is coming from because of this and I try keep in mind how I would want to be navigated throughout the journey if it was me I was dealing with, I think I’ve even treated myself throughout these projects in 3rd person, possibly a little schizophrenic in theory but to disconnect those 2 parts of your brain so you can maintain perspective throughout I’ve found quite useful to making difficult decisions throughout the project and maintain that flow on energy.

Was a there a piece of equipment you feel made Variations On A Theme Vol. 1 what it is?

Absolutely! But it would be more specifically a coupla humans, as opposed to equipment! – the string players I got involved, Monique Irik (Violin) & Freya Schack-Arnott (Cello) really helped make sense of the entire album. I had inclinations and ideas as to what I wanted the direction of the record to go in, sound, and feel like but it really came together once I got these guys in for our recording day, which solidified the album in my mind like ‘Yep, this is the sound and direction its going in’ before that day I wasn’t sure if I wanted strings on all, or any songs, or even if it would work but they really managed to help complete a lot of my ideas and rid any reservations about this record, without them I don’t know how it would have turned out.

The single “Storm Lines” is out now. What is it about? Do you songs have specific, song-by-song subject matter or are they something else entirely?

It’s hard to articulate what the songs on this album are about, the best I can describe there is the imagery that I felt suited to each song, I had artist Alexandra Neville help piece together some short loop style videos for each song, ‘Storm Lines’ to me was always a song that gave me images of a storm out at sea, waves crashing, thunder, drama, rain etc. I feel each song to me had a kind of feeling or landscape attached to it but this is only in retrospect that I am able to make sense of it like this, at the time it’s more of an expression of a particular feeling that was important to me in that moment.

Thanks for your time! As a closer, what is the them that Variations On A Theme Vol. 1 is a variation of?

Each song in my mind is a loop style repetition of a particular melody or round of chords that slowly develops throughout each song, weaving in and out and varying the initial theme, or idea the song starts with. Enveloping and building upon itself through each track.

The name of the album to me seemed fitting to describe the way I saw each song was made. Quite a literal translation to the title I guess! It also allows me to start an ongoing theme here with volume 1 being what I hope to be the first of many more volumes to come.

Keep up with Mittere and Dan Frizza here.