Published Sep 28, 2009With 17 EPs and two albums under his belt since 2003 as Bruno Pronsato, Seattle's Steven Ford has steadily built a reputation for being amongst the few North Americans to break through the tightly knit Euro-centric circle of minimal techno. Be that as it may, Pronsato's star has risen above many of his contemporaries with his latest outing, The Make Up The Break Up, which many are calling one of the finest long-form minimal outings of the year. In girth, complexity and arrangement, The Make Up The Break Up picks up right where Ricardo Villalobos's "Minimoonstar" left off last year. Clocking in at a gargantuan 39 minutes, this single track breaks down into seven suites and like Villalobos's recent work, as well as that of Moritz Von Oswald and Vladislav Delay, borrows its percussive influences from the offbeat syncopations of jazz drumming, making for a rhythmic bed that jitters and writhes underneath the main centrepiece, an extensive sample from Nico's "It Was a Pleasure Then." Pronsato has started his label just to put this out, and this album-length work has highlighted the fact he's ready to do things on his terms.
How long has The Make Up The Break Up been in the making and what influenced you to go this route?
Well, the track was originally created during the era when I was making my album Why Can't We Be Like Us. It was a much shorter version. I sort of gave up on it as I moved forward with more tracks that were consistent with the theme of the album. I worked on it in various forms since 2007 and arrived at a completed version in mid-2008.
An extended Nico sample makes up the centre of this piece. Why the decision to use such a recognizable piece of music and why for so long?
I was going through a very extended Nico phase, listening nearly everyday. I felt like the track I was working on needed something more. I wasn't sure if it was a vocal or some kind of percussion, some kind of strange sound. I just knew it was missing something. I remember listening to "It Was a Pleasure Then" and thinking that was what it needed. I just put it in the track with no warping or anything; it really just sort of magically fit. The funny thing is, when I sent the track out for the usual round of criticism to my friends and colleagues there were only a handful that recognized it. Honestly, it was really something pretty magical that it fit. I am not typically the producer that samples at all. But in this case I just felt like it was too perfect to forget.
Why the decision to start Thesongsays, your label, at this point in your career?
Well, there are many reasons. The main reason, however, was to release The Make Up The Break Up. I have been releasing on Hello?Repeat for quite some time now. I felt like that track was something that should be on a more experimental label, a label that didn't have a sort musical expectation from the public. I think H?R would have released it but I felt like it wasn't the right label for the track. Originally it was to be released on Catenaccio Records. After the European distributor, Neuton, went bankrupt, it put the track on yet another delay. I had almost given up on releasing the track until I had a conversation with some of the guys at Word and Sound distribution in Berlin. They agreed to allow me to start my label, distribute it and produce it. So I was incredibly lucky, actually, to get that track and start my label.
The seven parts of this piece sound like they could form an album. Why the decision to go the singles route?
Well, the track was always meant to be one long piece with "movements," for lack of a better word. It is based upon one musically evolving theme. It's not really a collection of different moods. I felt like it maintained this ever-present sense of gloom without really moving into too many directions, a sort of evolving gloom. I think an album is a collection of moods and ideas. This was always intended to be a track; I divided it to really emphasize the changing sounds and ideas, not to specify an actual track change.
What's on the horizon from you?
At the moment I am really focusing on touring and working on Thesongsays. I have a new release coming out from a duo from Washington, DC called Benoit & Sergio. The EP is called What I've Lost. Also, another release from an artist named Ninca Leece. Both EPs are in-line with the sort of vision of The Make Up The Break Up, this sort of musical emotional brooding. I like to call the future releases "romantic techno." The titles of the tracks start the story and the music finishes it. (The Song Says)