It has been almost one year since Igor Cvitković and his close friend Filip Šćekić blew us away with their field recording submissions our #LocalAudio project collab with Dimensions Festival. Armed with recorders, they gathered sounds from infamous trams and buses in Zagreb to create drum-style hits and percussions, well as gathering atmospheric sounds from church bells and marinas in Rovinj, Croatia. We spoke to the pair to find out where one starts with gathering field recordings, how to think creatively when recording sounds, as well as their experience being part of the project and then getting to head over to Dimensions Festival in August last year.
How did you get into field recordings? When and where did you record your first ever sounds?
Igor – I think it was 2003, by getting a first cellphone (Sony Ericsson T610) with voice memo. Maybe even before but not so experimental.
Filip – Last year when we took part in the Local Audio contest. Accidentally, I recorded some of my first sounds in my hometown. Very satisfying as well. From what I can remember, I also used the voice memo as a kid on my Siemens C65 but nothing remotely serious until now.
What tools do you both use for your field recordings?
Igor – Whatever we get our hands on! There are always nice people who are willing to help you achieve the project and borrow you things you need.
Filip – Like Igor said, whatever we borrow and get our hands on. It has worked out rather well for us since we don’t have the money to buy our own recorders, and there are some nice people letting us borrow their stuff for our projects (shouts to Danijel and Matija). We won’t complain, we’ll record with everything we can. If we had not have borrowed the recorders for this and last year, we were seriously thinking of going all-in with our phones.
How can people think creatively when gathering sounds?
Igor – It depends on a lot of reasons, but one thing is certain – every idea has to be new. So do not use artificial intelligence, rather, take the recorder and record what you think no one has heard before had.
Filip – The first step is getting your head out of the box. Don’t record the usual stuff like walking on pebbles, taking the trash out, ask yourself what always thrills you when you hear it. Start from that sound, some unusual sounds from the city will come after that. Avoid moulds of any sort. Second step is finding yourself in some interesting situations; try and be in the centre of it all, crazy stuff can be heard simultaneously.
How do you use field recordings to inspire your own productions?
Igor – Here we had to serve artificial intelligence. By assembling sounds to describe the atmosphere that we had recorded and thinking about the atmosphere so that the final outcome would describe our idea.
Filip – Usually I start with the setting or mood I wish to create; I do not throw in random samples. I like loopy things, be it vocal recordings or some atmospheres that have some sort of a melody (but not to distinct in order to not steal the attention from the main theme) so that’s the first thing that goes into a track. Then, I use a shorter sample that can also be looped, but then used as a proper synth. The final steps are the one-shots, like the ones Igor did from the bus, and they are used for percussions, melodic stabs or whatever. If possible, I like to use a single sample for every element of the track, and I think that distinguishes my tracks from the rest; strangeness and experimentation in exchange for a mainstream-like sound quality, loudness etc.
Being a finalist in Local Audio 2014 you received tickets and camping to the wonderful Dimensions Festival. Were you inspired by particular moments at the festival? What were some of the highlights for you?
Igor – The highlight moment for me was at Fort Arena during Funkineven’s performance (who is among my favourite artists) and having small talk with Tony Nwachukwu where I thanked him for letting us come to the best festival in the region and other wonderful things that we have received from you!
Filip – Maaan, I’ll just say I’m very proud to be a part of Dimensions festival in every way. The whole festival was inspiring and eye-opening. Music-wise (and life-wise), you know that feeling when you soak everything in, all the influences, the people and the mood, but it’s not copying, copycatting or whatever? Just pure energy for creating. That was it.
I was with Igor at the time, Sev Davis Jr. was there doing live vocals with Funkineven and I remember that all of the CDR crew came to the FA1, dancing with us. Magic. I also miss the Moat. Igor and I had a knack of missing all the big names, but then showing up to the sets of those not so famous and having a blast, repeating it almost every time. In fact, I think the only major headliner we heard was Roy Ayers and his band on The Clearing. We’ll do our best and try to come back this year.
What words of advice do you have for people who have not recorded sounds before who are wanting to enter Local Audio 2015 but are unsure where to begin?
Igor – Take the recorder in your hand and record first thing of what you think of is a specific for your environment.
Filip – Even if you have never recorded something on your own, you surely have an idea stuck in your head in terms how it’s supposed to sound. Like he said, just take the recorder and do it, that’s the thing we did last year. Start from your surroundings, something you’re familiar with, but someone else is not, that oughta make things interesting.