Citty: In Focus
For our third In Focus we have asked local talent Citty (Martin) to perform for us in our space at Krymska 14. While Citty is an established producer in the Czech scene for many years, with releases on numerous labels both here and abroad, our request for his contribution came thanks in part to the ongoing live jam series he operates at premium coffeespot Acid Coffee.
Within this series, “Zkouška Sirén” (Siren test, likely loaning this name from the monthly emergency siren tests in Czechia), Martin invites local live hardware-based musicians to join him in an unrehearsed setting, opening up a platform for musicians both to meet, and exchange ideas, and also practice spontaneous production and on-the-fly beat-making.
In this short interview we ask Citty a little more about “Zkouška Sirén”, as well as his history in the Czech scene, and finally looking under the lid of some of the many instruments which he brought for the In Focus set: a 20-minute jam reflective of the textures heard in Acid Coffee during the events; dramatic atmospheres, fluctuating percussion and driving syncopated rhythms.
Hey Martin! Thanks a lot for coming in and recording the In focus session with us. Obviously, we have quite a few questions about your gear, but first I’d like to start by asking you to explain (to those who may not know) a little more about you as a musician here in Prague. Can you give us a brief introduction?
Yeah, thanks for inviting me :D So I’ve been making music for the last 19 years or so. I started a project with another weirdo at high school, we made the Insect Elektrika project and had fun with it for many years. The sound was minimal techno with groove basses, but lately I continue my own Citty project, more focussed on hypnotic and experimental techno. As Citty I joined with great visual artist Aeldryn and we have a nice AV show we presented at Lunchmeat Festival, Rome cinema festival, etc. Recently I released vinyl on nice spanish label Alpenglühen and an EP in South Korea on Artscope.
I believe we still have an old record of yours in the shop, with a Samuli Kemppi remix no less! Are you still operating a label at all? Do you have plans to restart that?
Yes we are still doing that, any day the third release should be out! All great Italian artists .)
We are just taking it easy.
Prague locals might recognise you from performances with others at various hardware jams that have been popping up throughout the city. Is this a new thing for you, or is it something you have been doing for a while?
Actually that's been my thing lately, true story. I love that. At the moment I have the “Zkouška Sirén” event at Acid Coffee. I am trying to bring different artists every time and we jam few hours without any rehearsals and I am trying to make it good sounding :D So I am choosing artists to fit each other musically and I think mostly it's successful.
Onto the session itself: Firstly, there’s a huge amount of gear here! We’re guessing you wanted to be very prepared. Can you talk through some of the more essential pieces of kit to what you played today?
Haha, actually not that much prepared :D I took it is a jam and I brought different setup than usual, but my usual is very fragile :D I love changing live gear all the time, Elektron octatrack, digitone, heat and modular are essentials, but rest I take always different by the mood. And my optional gear for live is: syncussion, dfam, lyra, GR-1, behringer 808, 909, 303, sherman, Pulsar 23, jomox xbase and more. Really depends on the mood.
This time I took 808 thru sherman filterbank for distortion on percs and Pulsar for main kick and noise fxs.
We have to pry a little into that massive modular case. You must have been buying modules for quite some time to have a collection that large?
Hmm Its been 8 years now, it's not that massive :D but I don't wanna go bigger. I limited myself with this case, its MDLR case 4 rows, 125 HP I think. But I am still changing modules.
What was it that kickstarted the interest in modular, specifically?
Two things. Surgeon’s live show, there I found the magic, and the other is why I still love it: everytime you patch it you can create new instruments and sounds you have never heard of.
Can you share some of your favourite modules from this setup?
Ok my list of top modules:
1. 4ms Matrix mixer - that thing is epic, you can route 4 signals into 4 outputs through 16 VCAs, it has mutes and levels, that module is how I play the modular.
2. Xaoc Belgrad - rough filter with dual peak, I love using a series of filters on one sound so I have at least 3 filters in the row connected on one sound and this filter gives the most charakter in my sounds.
3. 4ms DLD & Noise Engineering Desmodus Versio as a master FX combo on my output, DLD is so clean and I love that with my sounds and desmodus is a thunder verb :D
4. Bastl knit rider, such nice and easy for use drum sequencer
5. Varigate 4+, that seq is so cool, so small and with so many possibilities!
But I love all of my modules :D
And now I am waiting for Verbos Bark filter, have to make space for that :D
What about this orange box we saw you using — can you talk to us a little about it, it looks interesting!
It's the Pulsar 23! Guys, listen to me! That thing is INSANE! It's nonsense, by far the best synth I ever had! That's galaxy of analog sound in just 4 sound “drum machine” I am taking it with me for small jams for myself at the evenings and I can play with it hours and ours discovering new things, it's not like you always know what happens, they took the inner circuits out and you can bend them and somehow many times what goes from some output pin to input pin is taking feedbacks back to that output and affecting that.
This is really the instrument you need to play and learn and have high knowledge of synths, but then it gives you everything. Honestly I need to spend much more time on that to learn it properly and then I will take it out more often.
Your set reminds a lot of some of the techno we hear in nightclubs (depending on the party!) — Has the genre been a long-term favourite of yours?
I don't know man :D I would love to hear more of this kind of music in the clubs. Usually I hear much harder stuff or more simple stuff. What got me to this kind of music? It was probably older tracks of Rrose.
Do you explore making music outside this tempo and range?
Oh yes, all kinds of music from extremely slow ambient and downtempo to harder dnb. In my main focus techno throughout corona I went almost to 100 bpm and now I am climbing back up :D
Have you got any good links for those that want to find more from you?