Rico Loop. The magic of the moment
Rico Loop is a Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist, beatboxer and musician, a one-man show and orchestra. His approach to creating music is a new technique of live-producing, that is, teaching the audience how music is compiled and arranged, and exploring how rhythms and melodies interact. Rico creates musical compositions using many different instruments and objects, including guitar, bass, keyboard, harmonica, and glass bottles, along with his amazing skills in beat-boxing and singing. He plays and records with the help of a loop station, which is the backbone of his musical production, creating his unique sound. His live shows are a kind of must-see for those who are looking for new forms of musical expression.
This lovely person performs in varying types of places all over the globe. He can be easily noticed in Berlins techno-mecca ‘Berghain’, theatrical and outstanding ‘WooMooN’ parties that happen in Ibiza, Barcelona and Mexico, ‘Tulum’. He can also be found in of the best summer clubs in Europe ‘Scorpio’ on Mykonos, and famous musical festivals like Fusion, Garbage, Kongsburg Jazz Festival and Riskilde. Rico finds the right connection with these different audiences, charms them and brings a party vibe while creating each time a different live show full of unique, experimental sounds. These abilities are based on his passion to convey music and emotions in music in his own unique way that puts a receptive listener into a deep musical trip.
After a smashing summer full of colorful gigs we found Rico in Berlins studio. He was kind enough to talk to all-andorra.com about what he did over the summer, his artistical background and roots, views on modern music, his favorite places, festivals and party’s and about the possibility of bringing his outstanding live experience to Andorra.
Interview by Dmitry Tolkunov
Hi Rico! How was your summer? It looks like you had many gigs – was there a particularly memorable one during the season?
I had a weekly slot in the club ‘Scorpios’ on Mykonos, which is really one of the best and most successful clubs in Europe now. It is a summery, open-air club on the beach that is combined with a great restaurant. Everything about it was amazing; it was professionally organized, the vibe was great there, and the owners of the venue were really nice and friendly. I’m really happy that Scorpios gave me a great platform to express my music.
I also played at a few WooMooN events in Ibiza, which is a well-known party that brings fantastic people together. I have played a few times before at WooMooN events – at Sonar festival in Barcelona and Tulum in Mexico. This party has a lot of art content inside that is produced by an art group called Ritual. They put together all these fantastic performances that are the trademark of WooMoon events and really reflect Ibiza’s style. The party only takes place during full moons, which gives it a special vibe. It’s really cool that WooMooN organizers respect and trust me, playing there helps me to grow as an artist and that is fantastic.
Also this summer I played at some of my favorite festivals in Germany, Fusion and Garbage, which I really love and don’t like to miss.
You perform at such a variety of events and for different kinds of audiences. Which kind of gigs do you like most of all – big festivals or smaller ones?
Well, you know the most beautiful places for me to perform are usually the most intimate. Often it’s not big festivals and parties. I prefer to perform on smaller stages rather than on big ones. Actually, at Garbage and Fusion festivals, which are big events for many thousands of people, they still have smaller stages, which are best for me. On them, you can feel the proper level of intimacy with the audience, which brings our my more sensitive side and the best of me. And the audience itself at these festivals are more musically advanced than at events that are more around big name DJ’s and partying. People there really appreciate my music, they know it and are interested, that is why the atmosphere on the floor during my shows is magical and as if everyone was part of one big family.
At some big parties and on larger stages, I have a feeling that sometimes people do not understand what I am doing. They can go and ask me to play a particular song, they don’t get the point that I’m improvising and creating my own music in a new way. I try to educate the audience and see a big challenge in it, this is why I’m developing my video-channel, it is a good form of communication that brings people into the wonderful world of my live production and helps them to understand how I create music that comes from the moment.
Also, for me, and as for any live musician, the quality of the sound system is very important. If it is balanced and I can hear every sound and feel the vibe, then I can relax, feel comfortable and paint and sculpt my music well, using all the tools that I have. But you have to be careful. Sometimes subsystems are not so suitable for my shows. It can be comparable to renting a car, sometimes you can rent a great car, which drives wonderfully and can take you to wonderful places, but sometimes you get a shifty car and it’s not a pleasure at all, it becomes stressful with a lot of technical problems.
You have a unique approach to live improvisation. Your live sets are a kind of shamanic ritual, a kind of pure and deep musical journey that is made with great technical skills and always sounds different. Is your music always pure improvisation where you never know what you will do next, or do you use some pre-prepared musical pieces?
It is always a total improvisation. Of course, I practice a lot in the studio and have some musical forms in mind that I use. In some moments I think: “This rhythm will go perfectly with my Indian table or here it will be great to put a funky bass-line”. Sometimes I have my lyrics and feel that now is the right moment to sing them. But I’m always trying to take a step further, to be courageous. If I realize that I’m just repeating what I have done before, I start all over again and try to do it in a different way. The tools that are used in my live productions are like brushes, paints and canvases for a painter, and with them, I can create a new musical picture every time.
When I put less homework into my sets, when there is more space for challenge and improvisation, I really feel that it puts more magic into the show.
Last year you made your first solo album “Flower To The Moon”. Was this your first experience in recording your work in the studio and trying to catch this magic and put it on record?
Yes, it was. Last year we selected, with my brother Marcus, 50 of the best loops from 200 that were recorded during live sets and stored in the loop-station. My brother is the co-creator of the album, he helped to put it all together, as he has strong studio production skills and he is a great arranger. The album is like a combination of live music and studio work. The name was inspired by WooMooN parties, when it was starting I was one of the co-creators of the event and I recommended this name for it. Bringing a flower to the moon is like a metaphor for doing something that seemed to be impossible. And I’m really proud of this work. I think it’s a really nice album that makes you want to listen to it again and again.
Tell us about your musical and artistical background before you became Rico Loop. What did you do before inventing these exciting solo live shows?
Well, when I was 10 I started to learn to play the piano. Another big inspiration and an impulse for developing a taste in music was the fact that my father was in the music business too. He had a box office in Berlin that sold tickets for all the top concerts, and, as my childhood was during the 80’s, in my opinion, it was one of the most innovative periods for music and pop-culture. So, I had the possibility to see some of the top acts of that time. I went to one of the first Depeche Mode shows in Berlin in 1983, and saw Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Simple Minds, Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as visiting the cult jazz club Quasimodo for Miles Davis and Stanley Clark sessions.
When I was 20, I began to live the life of a street musician. I started playing in subways in Berlin at the beginning of the 90’s and discovered that this kind of living was much better for me then some dull work at the office and it could actually be more lucrative if you really put a lot of effort into it. Also, it was a great experience with regards to liberating myself. When you first go to perform on the street you are afraid and stressed, and then after a while, you find the right balance between posing in front of an audience and really enjoying what you are doing. Also, this kind of work really upgrades your professional music skills. When you are singing for 3 hours for people on the streets every day, your voice gets better and stronger and during the process, you learn a lot of new techniques and tricks. For a while I had a friend, he was a really good guitarist and had a great voice, so we formed a duet and travelled as street musicians to many places. I have been to Japan, Canada, America and all over Europe. It was a kind of hippy lifestyle, we were hitchhiking, leaving in cheap hostels. Actually, during that period of time, I figured out that big audiences weren’t always the best ones. Many street musicians are looking for crowded places to perform, but I discovered that at the not so overcrowded spots the performances could be much better in terms of creating an intimate feeling and getting energy from the audience. And it can be much more lucrative.
When I was 33 I discovered the loop-station. When I first used it I thought: “Wow, this is how God created butterflies”. I found a perfect device for releasing all my musical ideas. Before, I was thinking about starting a band, but when I discovered the loop-station I saw no need for a band. A loop-station gives you the ability to be a one-man band and orchestra. And it was the moment when project Rico Loop was born. Rico is my real name, and Loop –because composing and recording loops is one of my favourite things in life. I started to perform as Rico Loop as a street musician too. I went every Sunday to Berlin’s flea market to do shows – this how I got famous locally and started to get invitations to play at some art galleries, birthdays, weddings and then step by step it all developed into a growing career of a musician who plays at big festivals and nightclubs all over the world. And of course, if I hadn’t had this experience as a street musician, it wouldn’t have happened.
Have you traveled as a musician all over the world? Do you have some favorite places that you would really like to return to?
I love all the countries that I visited. Of course, the vibe could be different, but that the point I’m looking for. For example, I can’t say where I like to play more – Ibiza or Moscow. There are different vibes and cultural experiences, but the empathy of the audience and respect for my music is really high in both places, like in many others… So I really don’t have a favorite country to perform, but I still have a passion for travelling and discovering new places. But I actually respect my roots, my country. I live in Berlin and I really understand and love this city, it’s people and culture.
You must have many gigs at home too, as Berlin seems to be one of the world’s leading club capitals?
Yes, there is a lot of happening in Berlin. The club scene is really wide and there always the possibility to do something here. But I became more picky about gigs. I’m trying to look for something really lucrative at the moment. Trying to save my energy, to spend more time in the studio and also I have a small daughter, she lives in Ibiza and I spend a lot of time with her.
Have you ever performed in Andorra?
No, not yet. However, it looks like a great country. I love mountains and I’m very into snowboarding and skiing. So it looks like a great place to perform, where I can combine my show with sports, beautiful nature and fresh air and this is really what I love.