Just yesterday we had the special opportunity to bounce a dozen questions off the legend of bass, Liquid Stranger. Born Martin Stääf, Liquid Stranger has produced music since he was seven years old, and launched his professional career in 1997 at the Swedish commercial studio, Bohus Sound Recordings.
These things said, Martin has refined and tuned his craft for about 30 years, and has pushed the boundaries of bass music throughout his musical journey. We got in touch with Martin as part of our extended coverage of next week’s ELEMENTS Music & Arts Festival, which he’ll be headlining alongside heRobust, who we interviewed last week (check out that interview here). We can’t wait to see some of your faces at ELEMENTS in Brooklyn on Saturday, August 22nd. Learn more about the festival here, and get your tickets here.
So, without further ado, bump this fresh new Liquid Stranger track, “King of the Hill,” which we’ve incessantly repped for the past few weeks, and take a peek inside the mind of this humble musical icon.
Liquid Stranger: I’m the Liquid Stranger. I don’t consider myself being either strange or special. I’ve just been fortunate enough to live a very rich and varied life where I’ve had a chance to try a lot of different paths. I’m very driven and I have big dreams.
SF: We’re covering ELEMENTS this year, and are pumped to catch your set in Brooklyn. How did ELEMENTS find you, and what do you have in store for the festival?
LS: I just play my own tunes at shows, so I have to work consistently on new material to present to the crowd. I’m in the process of making around 20 new tunes this past month that I’m adding to my set. I also do realtime requests at shows, so my fans can tweet me their favorites tunes that they want me to play.
SF: You’ve been in the game since the 90’s. How has this culture you’ve been a part of for so long evolved since the inception of “Liquid Stranger”?
LS: It has changed a lot. It started out as a small, tight-knit group of people with a passion for exploring new music. It was an underground culture that scared a lot of people, and the authorities tried to stop us from throwing parties. Most people back then didn’t even consider it art, but just some weird noise made by talentless button pushers. Today it’s a mainstream culture with celebrity DJs and multimillion dollar stage production. It’s great that we have a solid platform to stand on today, and I’m just hoping that people don’t stop being inquisitive explorers.
SF: One of our readers wanted us to ask you how you got into this profession.
LS: I started making electronic music when I was around 7 or 8. I never really set out to be a professional musician or anything like that. I just kept making tunes as a means of self-expression. It serves as a great way to vent. Music is a catalyst for our feelings – a language of emotion.
SF: What does it take to achieve the status you currently sit in?
LS: It’s about manifesting. First, you need to know what you want. Be as specific as possible. Then develop the necessary skills and abilities. After that it’s time to work your ass off. Finally, move on. That last step might seem obvious, but it’s hard to let go sometimes. It’s really about not over-analyzing and clinging to a project, but instead complete it and let it start working for you.
SF: Over the past 20 some-odd years, what has been the best story from a concert or festival in your bountiful memory bank?
LS: Every single gig is important to me and every time I go somewhere there are most definitely crazy things happening. It’s more so the entire journey that interests me, and seeing how our culture is fortified throughout the years.
SF: How would you describe your music, and how has it evolved over the years?
LS: I’ve always been interested in the search for new sounds and emotions. I’ve never stopped looking for different ways to express myself musically. It’s a dynamic and ever-changing process where I honestly have very little conscious control. It’s not even intended as a product for anyone to enjoy, but if they do- that’s amazing! It’s just me going through emotional experiences and transcoding them into sound.
SF: What is your favorite song to perform that you have produced, and what’s your favorite song to perform that someone else produced?
LS: As we were talking about earlier, I only play my own tunes at shows. Not because I think I’m superior, but because it’s the only way I can have integrity on stage. If my fans are traveling from far and wide and paying good money to see me – well, then it’s my responsibility to give them something special that no one else can do.
SF: This is pretty standard, but always interesting. Where do you draw your musical inspiration and influence?
LS: Everything in life gives inspiration. It’s not always the fluffy, pleasurable things either – I draw a lot of inspiration from the darker periods of my life. I would even go as far as saying that making music is a form of therapy – a way to stay sane.
SF: When you first launched the “Liquid Stranger” outfit, you intended to keep your identity secret. We follow UZ, who follows the same train of thought. What lead you to start off Liquid Stranger as a secret music project?
LS: I’ve always wanted the focus to be on the music instead of on me as a person. I figured if I remained anonymous there would be less distractions for the audience. It ended up being too complicated for me to stay hidden though, so now I don’t even try.
SF: Next, what does Liquid Stranger mean? Is there an interesting story or meaning behind the alias?
LS: Liquid – formless and adaptive. Stranger – different and unpredictable. It’s a name that celebrates the journey into the unknown.
SF: So you’re on a plane and have to choose five “offline” songs for your Spotify playlist to get you through the flight. What are those 5 songs?
LS: I’ve actually never used Spotify and I don’t listen to music on flights – I either work or sleep. But I understand what you’re getting at – my favorite music. I just started my own record label, Wakaan. It’s a very exciting chapter for me where I finally have a chance to give back to the community in a new way. So, lately I’ve been going through a lot of demos to find new artists to work with. Currently I love the stuff from Nanopulse, Space Jesus, Perkulat0r, and Mr Bill.
SF: What new music do you have in the oven for your followers?
LS: Thanks to the label start, I have a lot of music planned both from myself and other artists. I’m going to continue releasing Liquid Stranger EPs for the Nomad series and it will probably end up as a full-length album as well. I’m doing similar EP-series for a bunch of other artists as well with all kinds of freeform music.
SF: After ELEMENTS, what concert are you most looking forward to?
LS: It’s a constant journey for me – and honestly I look forward to every single show, because it’s an opportunity for me to reach new people and create a stronger legacy. I’m really stoked for early next year, as I’ll be embarking on a big headlining tour.
SF: To wrap things up, we want to open this forum up to you. Anything you’d like to leave your fans with?
LS: Never stop searching. Never stop learning. We live in a crazy world where we constantly get bombarded with the opinions of others. Don’t forget to look within and listen to your own voice. Don’t allow your dreams to get swallowed up by the flood of information.
Cover Photo Credit to Tony Colasurdo: http://tonycolasurdo.net/