Pulling up a chair and getting nice and comfy, Max Richter faces our quick fire question machine…
Sooooo ‘Behind The Counter: Max Richter’, is a mixtape. Blimey eh?
Yes! I’ve been wanting to do this for ages. I’m really happy to have the chance to work with Rough Trade, especially considering what a pivotal role the store played in my musical education as a kid… but I didn’t really need an excuse to dig around in Rough Trade.
We imagine you’re the sort of person who’s been making tapes forever?
I do love mixtapes. Whether it is receiving them from friends or a stranger at a gig, its always interesting to see the connection people make. I was a very shy kid and the mixtape is a great way to communicate for people like me.
What was the set-up at home when you were young? A nice JVC stack?
It was vinyl to tape via one of those “music centre” systems, but I also saved up for a massive ghetto blaster with two tape decks, plus there was the strategic “tape in pause mode for the John Peel show”.
And your preferred cassette tape? TDK? Maxell? BASF?
TDK D60 was/is my standard format. In my teens I got quite into the exotic BASF chrome tapes (black and silver boxes) for a while. They did sound great, but tended to get shredded rather often.
So there’s two sets here, and both work beautifully. They’re a tantalising glimpse into your world of classical/electronics.
I tried to make a collection that reflects my enthusiasms. I’ve never accepted the idea that music fits into categories. It seems to me that music, and humans, are more fluid and multi-dimensional than that.
Did you unearth anything you didn’t know about/had forgotten about?
I think a mixtape is at some level an act of autobiography, and new connections pop into your brain that reflect how you are now as opposed to how you were when you first heard a thing. New music also recontextualises old, so all sorts of unexpected things come up.
The way Godspeed, Mogwai, Aphex and Boards Of Canada sit alongside Bach, Schubert, Rachmaninov is uncanny isn’t it?
I deliberately chose individual works that had some sort of structural kinship.Bach wrote over a thousand works and Schubert wrote many hundreds. Finding the meeting points between individual works and, say Mogwai, takes a bit of thinking about, but it is possible.
Did you enjoy seguing Bach into your own ‘Dream 3’ into Schubert?
I did! This kind of stuff is what gets me out of bed in the mornings.
In terms of staples, Bach is the man isn’t he?
Bach is indeed the man. Not only an unbelievably brilliant composer, but he also sorted out the musical language we are all using. Hats off.
Instrumental music really hits the spot doesn’t it? How come?
Our world is full of text and we are saturated with media these days. Maybe instrumental music offers a text-free zone? It transports us in another way, like those “quiet” coaches on the train.
Might be wrong, but you might have just invented classical DJing…
Sounds good. I’m looking forward to emptying dance floors across the nation soon.
‘Behind The Counter: Max Richter’ is out on Rough Trade Shops