This isn’t our first time speaking with Sonarpilot; in fact we chatted with them in November last year. They are however quite prolific when it comes to music and videos, and when the opportunity arose to speak to them about their latest release, ‘Strange Flowers’, how could we refuse?
We talked to you back in November after you released ‘Pandora’, and the start of Season 2 of the Mirage Project. Back then we asked about the overall concept of the Project. Now we’re up to the fourth release, ‘Strange Flowers’ – how long do you expect this season to last, and how many seasons do you anticipate to release?
It’s great to be back and chatting with you again! Season 2 consists of eight episodes, and we are currently gathering ideas and materials for the next season. The Mirage cosmos is vast and there are many regions that we have not yet explored. As always, our focus is on creating something that is fresh and innovative.
At this point, we do not have a set plan for how many seasons we intend to release. As long as we continue to discover new, interesting, and inspiring places within the Mirage cosmos, we will keep producing.
The Mirage Project has become our own particular niche in a highly competitive music industry. It started as an experiment and has turned into an ongoing exploration of sound and space that allows us to build a narrative context for our work. We look forward to continuing this journey with our audience!
We’ve commented before about the length of your tracks, and how although they average around 7 minutes long, it never feels that way, and always takes us by surprise when a track ends. How do you set out making music that never gets boring? How do you know when a track is *enough*?
First of all: A big thank you! In an age dominated by social media, there’s an intense pressure to create content that grabs the audience by the throat in the first three seconds, never lets them go, and is over in under three minutes. It makes me very happy to hear that you appreciate the slower pace of my work!
Your question is something that I often ask myself. I put a lot of work into my tracks. Some people produce a dance tune in one afternoon. I am the opposite: Completing a track can take me weeks.
A new Mirage soundtrack usually starts with visual fragments that my co-producer Roger Maeder generates. Based on these early elements I try to figure out what might be the character of this particular world or journey. I put together the first ideas, do a quick montage of the initial video elements and combine the two. In the meantime, Roger generates more animations. I integrate those in the initial sketch, and begin to write a longer score for the track. At that stage, the Mirage begins to develop a life of its own. My job is to help it grow and make sure that the visuals and the music support each other in an optimal way. I continue to finetune the visuals and the details of the music until they are both working together like a well-oiled machine. The last stage is to clean up some leftover stuff that might be cluttering the musical journey or the video.
And then, it’s done. It is a process that amazes me every time. At the beginning, I have no idea what the final Mirage will look like or sound. It takes a lot of work to find that out. Ultimately, the track and the video find their shape in front of my eyes, I just have to treat it properly and with enough care and trust in the creative journey. I love this process. It has something magical, because in the end there is something that I know I have created, but at the same time it is presented to me as a kind of gift.
Your tracks have a very space-y quality to them – do you believe we’re alone in the universe, or do you feel there’s more to it out there? Have we made contact with aliens yet, do you think, or are they still just observing us?
I love that question! It is a portal into everybody’s imagination – exactly the place where we want to be with The Mirage Project.
Personally, I have no doubt that the universe is teeming with life. The sheer size of the cosmos is so completely overwhelming. Just imagine: There are more than 200 billion stars in our own galaxy. And current estimates say that there are certainly more than 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. There might be more. There are more stars out there than grains of sand on all beaches on Earth. It seems impossible that our world is the only one out there with life.
When it comes to the question of alien visitors, I am rather doubtful. Given the vastness of space and the enormous time spans involved, it’s unlikely that we will make direct contact with another alien civilization. The distances between stars are so vast and the challenges of interstellar travel are so enormous that the chances of two intelligent species evolving near enough to each other in time to make contact are extremely slim. We may be looking at civilizations that existed millions or billions of years ago or ones that will arise millions of years in the future.
We are currently making huge advances in the exploration of exoplanets, and I believe that we will one day be able to detect traces of life and even technological societies in the atmospheric footprint of such planets. But I think a direct encounter in the foreseeable future is unlikely. And I believe that this is a good thing. A civilization that has the technology to travel between stars or even galaxies would be so much more powerful, our fate might be that of a colonized or accidentally extinguished species.
That said, the search for extraterrestrial life is a highly important endeavor, and it’s exciting to think about the possibilities of what we might discover. Who knows what kind of life could exist on other worlds, or what kind of societies they might have developed? These are the kinds of questions that inspire me as an artist, and I hope that our music can help to transport listeners to a place of wonder and imagination as they contemplate the vastness and mysteries of the cosmos.
The video for your latest release, ‘Strange Flowers’ has a very deep sea feeling to it. Was that intentional?
Our previous video “Gorgon” was inspired by the fast development of Artificial Intelligence, its fascination, and its dangers. In “Strange Flowers,” we take this topic one step further and ask what might happen if we combine AI and cutting-edge bio-sciences with robotic technology. What implications would arise from the creation of authentic synthetic lifeforms? While this may seem like science fiction, the rapid advancement of technology makes this scenario a real possibility in the not-too-distant future.
Pretty soon we will be faced with synthetic life forms that show a high degree of intelligence, maybe even a consciousness. How will we treat them? How will they treat us? Imagine a synthetic life form that is more intelligent and stronger than we are.
Just reverse the roles: Imagine what would happen if we found out that we have been created by a race of rather dumb, weak aliens. What would we do if we found ourselves in that position? I guess that the outcome for the aliens wouldn’t be that great.
Who inspires you musically? And what about in your every day life, who are your inspirations?
I don’t have a set list of individuals who inspire me. Rather, my sources of inspiration come from a diverse group of people who represent specific fields that I’m interested in, such as composers, musicians, artists, scientists, or philosophers.
I listen to a pretty eclectic mix of music, ranging from 11th century church music to contemporary leftfield electronica. I am always looking for musical interesting structures, sounds, tonalities and atmospheres. And I have a couple of heroes that I keep coming back to, such as Bach, Miles Davis, the Beatles, Brian Eno – music that I grew up with and that keeps inspiring me.
Then there is visual art. I go to museums, visit exhibitions, and follow trends in digital art. I look for interesting ideas, new perspectives, for structures that I can relate to when I create my Mirages.
And in my everyday life it’s the big questions that I keep coming back to: Who are we? Where do we come from? What is the nature of the cosmos, of reality, of our consciousness? I watch documentaries, read books and I have a long list of podcasts to stay informed about these topics.
But ultimately, inspiration is something that is hard to describe. It is a force of its own that is out there, and I am simply happy when I sit in my studio and create music or work on a Mirage. It is this creative process that is at the core of my inspiration.
What’s next for Sonarpilot?
Season 2 of The Mirage Project is the focus of 2023. We just released “Strange Flowers” and we have another four Mirages in the pipeline.
Alongside this, we are exploring a range of new ideas to expand on the wealth of material we have created for this season – online and offline. One of these ideas is to showcase the Mirages in larger spaces, such as cinemas or immersive environments where viewers can walk around and fully immerse themselves in the experience. We also have discussions with art galleries that are interested in exhibiting NFTs that are based on The Mirage Project. This is an exciting opportunity to reach new audiences.
Additionally, we are thinking about a series of remixes with electronic artists from around the world, which will showcase the rich soundscapes of The Mirage Project. We have done such collaborations in the past and it was always a great experience.
Looking ahead, we are thinking about Season 3 of The Mirage Project. How can we create even bolder, wilder, and more abstract worlds for future seasons? In this context we are also considering the possibility of using Artificial Intelligence to create elements of new worlds.
As you see: we have a very full pipeline of ideas and projects, and we look forward to continuing our exploration of the Mirage cosmos and sharing those strange journeys with our audience.
Watch the glorious music video for ‘Strange Flowers’ below and find out more about Sonarpilot and their music online on their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.