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Beatportal interviews Petar Dundov

By Joshua Glazer
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From his earliest mid-’90s rave singles to ambient albums for Jeff Mill‘s Tomorrow imprint, Zagreb producer Peter Dundov has always taken in the breadth of electronic music and exhaled it in a sound that fits the current times. It’s a seemingly easy task for this “sound designer” and studio fiend who doesn’t necessarily avoid trends, but rather makes each stage of his almost two-decade career feel utterly natural and of the moment. Perhaps that’s why his newest album, Ideas From The Pond, sounds instantly familiar, yet fresh and new. Beatportal asked the producer how the creation of Ideas From The Pond came about.

Ideas From The Pond is chock-full of bleeping melodies in almost every song. Do you feel you focused on that particular sound for this release? 

I have been playing with various sequencing techniques for quite some time, and there is something magical in interaction of simple melodic structures. On this album I tried to explore this phenomenon. What is particularly interesting is that when you have two elements playing in sync, a third element appears out of nothing. We perceive it as relation, a distance between two, and there is strong emotional response that we produce when it happens. This is particularly obvious in the song “Together,” where two main themes spiral towards one another until the end of the song. Every song carries this concept, and that is the main idea behind this album.

In a lot of ways it has a very classic ‘70s electronic feel, as well as ‘90s trance. Who were some of your influences in that particular vein? Any we might not expect? 

My main instruments are from that era. I still work analog, and most of synthesizers are from ‘70s. I discovered electronic music very early in my life, and I fell in love with it instantly. I listened to pretty much anything electronic that I could grab. There isn’t anything special or unexpected; I just absorbed most of ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s electronic music, and recently, when all music started to appear on internet, I discovered even more stuff from the beginning of the last century onwards.  

What are you using to produce these sounds in the studio? 

Most of the sounds come from Roland System 100 and 100m synths. I have quite a collection of synthesizers, samplers, and rhythm machines that I picked up over the last 15 years. I also use digital stuff—anything that is suitable for the sound I want to accomplish. In the studio there is everything that I find interesting in music technology, ranging from the ‘70s until today. The major thing was to get everything to work together.

Is there an actual pond that’s referred to in the title, or is it a metaphor? If so, where is it, and what ideas come from it? 

Yes, there is an actual pond and it is a metaphor for consciousness. There is an inner world that we are building through life. It exists in our mind and it is full of memories of past experiences. For something to become a memory, it has to have emotional response, otherwise we just forget it. So how do new ideas come about? For me, it is usually when I do not think about anything—for example, when I walk my dog, or just before I go to sleep. When nothing is going on, the unconscious mind starts to fire those neurons, shuffling all those memories until it strikes some meaning and throws it to the conscious mind. That is when you become aware of it and grab a piece of paper or keyboard and write it down. If you do it long enough, you do not even need to write it instantly; you learn how to keep it in memory.

You’ve had a couple of lucky breaks in your career, like Jeff Mills deciding to release you home ambient records unexpectedly. What’s made you feel “lucky” lately? 

I personally do not believe in luck. I saw too many people fail to realize their talent waiting for luck to turn on their side. I felt honored that Jeff decided to release my album—that was unexpected. Eventually things happen. You can call it a lucky break, but without substancem your break doesn’t last too long. I feel happy every day going to my studio since this was my dream for many years, to have a place to work with sound and composition. It is all about spending time on things that make you feel like you are moving in the direction you want to go.

Despite a lot of good music coming from Zagreb, do you think it’s more difficult to operate out of an Eastern European city as opposed to the major hubs like London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Berlin when it comes to making your sort of music? 

Zagreb is nice place to live. Ten years ago I could agree that it was more difficult to operate since flight connections were not so good. Today, when Croatia is becoming part of EU and borders are disappearing, it doesn’t matter anymore. From Zagreb you can reach any European city within two hours. The world today is interconnected to the level that you can reach almost anyone instantly. I believe for any musician, the place to be is the place where he can feel inspired and work on fresh new ideas.

There isn’t anything on the album that is really obviously suited for modern dancefloors. Is there anything on the album that you’d play out yourself?

When I did music for this album, I wanted to do pieces people can enjoy while dancing and listening. There are a couple of dancefloor songs, like “Silent Visitor,” “Brownian Interplay,” or, for example, “Distant Shores” that we released as a single before, and it was already in heavy club rotation. I do not see the album format as a compilation of just club tracks; you have 12” singles for that. For me, the album is an opportunity to express a wider range of ideas, push some boundaries, make people aware that there is a space for new kinds of expression. 

The second half of the record slows down further with each track. Is this by design? What are you hoping the listener experiences with such a drawn-out reduction in tempo. 

If you listen to the whole album in one take, you will see that it doesn’t slow down in tempo; it just takes you off of the ground in more abstract space. You can look at it as taking off in a plane. You roll on the ground, speed up, take off, and fly away to the stratosphere and beyond. Sure, in the first half you can feel the ground, but later there is no ground anymore and you start to enjoy the view from above. That drift was intentional, and I hope people will appreciate the ride.