Brazilian producer Saskia Peter’s ‘Aquí’ is a glitched out minimalist musing on community and home
We interviewed the Porto Alegre producer about her inspiration and process behind the track and claiming 4th prize in the Broken Orchestra competition.
Saskia Peter is a young musician, producer and composer from Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil. Saskia collaborates with many different collectives, a few independent labels (Hérnia de Discos, Zona, Fitarec) and has opened for Brazilian bands such as Negro Leo, Letrux and Carne Doce.
How did you hear about the Broken Orchestra project and what made you decide to make a track?
I worked with Gabriel Cevallos, in a project that he curates, KinoBeat Festival, several times. He’s been catching up with my work, always warning me about competitions out of Brazil. I wanted to subscribe the minute that I read the instructions. It’s been some time that I have been beatmaking, so a task like this was very appealing to me. Especially because it was not ordinary, it was broken sounds, pieces of noise to build a story there. I didn’t think much, I downloaded it, even not winning, I would have those samples to work with.
Have you ever created a song entirely from samples or done a similar project before? What experiences did you draw from to complete the challenge?
Entirely — No. I started recording with guitar and keyboard… so all my songs used to have a little bit of that. I discovered sampling late when I started fooling around on Ableton for the first time. It was easier to cut and glue audio— better than Reaper. And it’s actually more loopable than Fruity Loops. My first sampled song I think it was Shell. I finally got to see how we can distort audio to make it sound weird. But I also did a beat on this song with a lot of FL’s drums . When I opened the Broken Orchestra folder, I was first in love with all winds. I had just very recently discovered samplers in life, so it was a lot fun to work with those samples. But I was addicted to the idea of other sounds that a regular instrument can do. Organically, the improvised creativity that we dominate first in our lives are voice and drum. I find it crude and rude but true.
When making your Broken Orchestra track you said you didn’t use any pads or controllers. Can you talk a bit about the process behind making your song?
It was the first song I actually built from the ground up in Ableton. I was very used to Fruity Loops, and I did not have access to electronic equipments besides my guitar and keyboard. I was getting to know Ableton and what it can do. To cut and extract from a track this little frames to increase on a drum set, was something that I only found out on Ableton. So, for me, as I was more into drum-racking the little pieces. And when I am doing that is almost if I put out a rhythm that was inside of me but I couldn’t do it on my own. I got this giant folder, unsectioned, full of different noises to put in a song. I did record a lot of stuff with that, I kept saving different drum racks to add some organic tunes on my current songs. The samples came in little cracked loops of rhythms and it is a lot fun for creativity to mess with them, but I didn’t want to loop a full rhythm because I don’t usually loop drums like this, it’s less flexible for the story of a song like this. So I tried to extract even more little pieces but not always on the limit of just one hit. I took a lot of snares, a few toms, tuba, trombone, violin, what I tried to sound like a bass was Euphonium Starwars, awesome name! Same on strings Expressivo2 and Woodwings Foghorns too. I actually had started 2 other projects : Direita(right) and Esquerda(left). After that I got to Aquí (Here ) with all my favorite samples on the Broken Orchestra pack. The name of the track didn’t come with the lyric but with the track itself, but it fits with what I was saying then.
You provided a translation to the lyrics of your track “Here”. The words as I read them address feelings of alienation and commodification, am I getting that correct? Can you explain a bit about their meaning and what inspired you to write them?
This is an old lyric I had never used. It’s when I moved to this house in the 4th district of Porto Alegre. It’s a neighborhood next to the seaport of “Happy Port” (Porto Alegre). And its spread mostly on 3 avenues: 1st ; Av Cristovão Colombo, with elegant big houses, a lot of trees, fancy buildings, high-priced restaurants, right in the very end of one of the most rich neighborhood so, it’s a place that rich people go to the mall or supermarket. 2nd ; Av Farrapos, which is a road for all the north busses and low cost buildings, tire shops, hardware stores, and a lot of traffic. The 3rd and the last one next to the actual ports is Av Voluntarios da Patria, the “homeland volunteers” is an avenue that is supposed to have residence. A lot of big factories throwing shit on our river. But one day the government created a household there, which became “A vila dos Papeleiros”. “Papeleiro” is an office of most of the people living there, which is to collect trash on the fancy streets and sell the matter to the factories — copper, wood and glass.
I lived for 8 months between Farrapos and Voluntarios. A lot of misery there, crack, trash, prostitution, shooting, arguing, vomiting, angering, asking for money, for food, for clothes, for blankets. This track is about that. About the people in that block of few, without focus, distorted, and yet the pillars of the block of all. “ Não vá com sede demais ao pote” (Don’t go to thirsty on the cup”) And they are thirsty but they don’t have a cup. They are hungry but they don’t have food. They want to sleep but there are not enough houses. My position is that I do suffer but do not starve, I’m broke but have a place to live, I felt guilty for those people, felt guilty for the discrepancy between those streets. So I tried to embrace that using the rest to make the next, like them, like they and me had to explode to feel a solid among those concrete examples.
How did you learn to self-produce and record your own music? If you had one bit of wisdom for someone who wanted to learn how to produce music, what would it be?
I started producing because it was fun, and if you can see music as a play it’s enough to go far with. I did learn all instruments and softwares like this playing, like a game, the more you play, the more you get good at it. Internet is here for few, but those few who have access to a computer, can do anything. If you focus on it you can do it. The main thing is amusement.
Do you think you learned anything or came away with a lesson after creating this track?
Wow, maybe I make a list. I learned sampling, learned a lot of what I can do to a drum rack, my thirst for samples just grew. Thanks to being a winner in the competition I got Ableton 10 original so I’m learning slicing now! It really did something great to me as a producer, because I went out of my comfort zone to try new things, things that would change my work from there. Aquí is a piece that represents change in my art.
‘Suites for A Broken Orchestra’ out on Found Sound Records May 1st
Follow Saskia on Social Media:
Instagram and Twitter: @salnasalada