Minimal Mag sits down with Rico Friebe, also known as Rico Puestel, to discuss his hugely personal album ‘Jenni’ on Time in the Special Practice of Relativity. We talk about the process behind the LP, music as medicine, his label and more…
Rico Friebe - Interview
For our next Minimal Mag interview we’d like to welcome German musician, composer and producer Rico Friebe. Thank you for speaking with us Rico, what have you been up to these past few days?
First of all, thanks for having me. The last few months have been quite a challenging journey for me. On the one side, I haven’t been producing any new music for almost 5 months now, because I got physically assaulted in a very devious way last year and lost most of the hearing on my left ear. While being a (hopefully temporary) deathblow for music production, I intensively found my way back to the instruments, especially the piano. Feels like the dualism of anything worldly and beyond happening in weird ways. But there’s always a way – at least until there’s none…
You are releasing an experimental LP called ‘Jenni’ on your label, ‘Time In The Special Practice of Relativity’, on which you’ve released previous projects under your other alias, Rico Puestel. What’s the ethos behind the imprint with the fantastic name?
Time – in our conceptual, common understanding and perception – is something manmade and I have this constantly growing urge inside of me to redefine my personal routine with the feeling and living of time itself. Music seems to be the perfect example of how relative time actually is. That has been the basic motivation to create the label, forwarding this personal notion, idea and plan to anyone out there, focusing on the bigger and time-consuming projects like albums and musical single creations/experiments with excess length – like the debut release ‘Heptakaideka’ as Rico Puestel with a track length of 41 minutes. I still have a lot more of those ready to be released on Time In The Special Practice Of Relativity as well as more finished albums.
What was the reason for releasing the album under Rico Friebe?
It just felt right and brings the right amount of contextual and stylistic distance to all my previous releases as Rico Puestel and those to come under that name. Besides, I have been planning my Rico Friebe debut album for years, but ‘Jenni’ actually isn’t that album – this happened out of the pressing situation, confounded my initial plans and stalled the initially planned full length (if it will ever be released). It also feels like representing a deeper level of connection to the outcomes of my creative work as Rico Friebe and this album definitely falls right into that place.
You started your musical journey at a very young age, what has it been like seeing the scene evolve through such a prolonged period of time? Can you share something about this early exposure?
I might say that it has been some kind of golden opportunity to grow with the scene while actually growing myself. Being into the scene that early, made everything a profound axiom of my personal being, still keeping something of that childlike perspective and magic towards the early beginnings that never really got lost. All these trials and tribulations nowadays ricochet away from a firewall built back then. But there’s always been a downside to interacting with the scene at a very young age – it made me a social outcast in my childhood days. But it’s ok like that.
Rico Friebe - Soundcloud
You are also a multi-instrumentalist and musicologist, as a result the album is filled to the brim with different influences. Could you please cite some of the things and people that inspire you?
Everything around me is absorbed by the senses. And it just happens like an unconscious reflex that always seems to be manifesting, shaping ideas and structures during sleep, ready to diffuse into consciousness and action the next day(s). In the case of ‘Jenni’, all the inspiration and input came out of one person – the person I dedicated the album to. There’s has been a very close and impetuous connection between the things around me and the resulting sound in the guise of this album. The idea of empathy and its intricacies have been a driving force here. I never aspired and planned to make the album sound like anything specific or forcefully different or multi-influential. It just happened and resulted in something I’ve never ever done before, defining the conditions of its origins.
You have said writing the album served as a form of therapy to deal with a tumultuous period in your life. Could you share something about the process of using music production as a way of maintaining personal life and mental health?
For me, music is able to conserve a highly complex mixture of memories, (sensory) experiences and emotions. I always felt the urge to create something that stands the test of arising from something true inside and serving my personal expectations as a plain recipient at the same time – like being a sincere fan of your own music. This concept holds a self-fulfilling purpose of something therapeutic. While writing and recording ‘Jenni’, I was in a deeply shattered and unstable state of mood and mind and each song, each moment, each sound, each melody became the scoring of real events, observations and inner contentions (the video of ‘27 Sq M’ e.g. is just a glimpse into my sense of storytelling). Creating it distracted me from a downward spiral and listening to it helped me re-live and re-evaluate everything, drawing new perspectives. This is the therapy within, still needed.
When drawing inspiration from experiences, do you feel like general music conventions fly out of the window?
I absolutely don’t care about any conventions when it comes to music. If experiences are unable to inspire something beyond convention, the way of experiencing might be something to reconsider.
What’s next for Rico Friebe, Puestel & your label?
Later this year, a further Rico Friebe album with piano compositions will see the light of day on Time In The Special Practice Of Relativity. The completely improvised pieces on that one were recorded in Summer 2021 in an old mansion near the town I grew up in. The label itself will host more albums and those special excess-length singles in 2022 and 2023. The Rico Puestel side of things is set for a new Techno-savy EP on Break New Soil with remixes by Alexander Kowalski and Joyhauser and a subsequent remix EP from the ‘Obi Thine Xi’ album on one of my other labels, Exhibition.