Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Zhivago's "Deep Versions": Euphoric Electronic Music by Way of Remote Wisconsin

By Evan Rytlewski
eduard vocke zhivago deep versions
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A young man, rattled by a recent breakup, retreats to a cabin in Northern Wisconsin, channeling his emotions into the music he records in solitude. Eduard Vocke is plenty aware he’s not the first musician to take that journey, which Justin Vernon practically patented with Bon Iver, but there’s no mistaking the music Vocke recorded during his nine months in remote Bayfield County for the woodsy folk of For Emma, Forever Ago. Instead, Vocke’s preferred style was lush, beat-heavy electronic music, the kind that usually comes from homes with lots of outlets, not cabins.

“I house sat three cats for a couple that owned an online video game who wanted to travel southeast Asia for five to nine months, so I was just sitting up in this cabin chopping down trees to keep the wood stove furnace going, not talking, and making electronic music,” Vocke recalls.

Though Vocke recorded much of his debut album as Zhivago, Deep Versions, after leaving Bayfield County, the long stretches of isolation he endured at the cabin set the tone for the predominantly instrumental album.

“I think a good portion of the album's lack of lyrics was based on the fact that I spoke very little for that period of time, and for all intents and purposes lost my personality, which was the point of living in seclusion,” he recalls. “After that it took me a good long time acclimating to being a normal functioning social human being again, and instead of like say, writing a manifesto and wearing tinfoil hats, I went back down to Northeast Wisconsin to take care of my aged grandfather in his country home outside of Manitowoc and to slowly bring myself back personality wise.”

He continued working on new music, and found a long-distance collaborator in Light Music’s Shae Lappen, who he traded song stems with back and forth over the Internet. “We never once met in person to work on a song, though it wasn’t a very difficult process as we’ve both been making music together since we were 14.” Altos/Light Music player Brendan Benham also lent some distinct synth lines to one of the Deep Versions’ stickiest songs, the trancy “Timbo Bounce.”   

The product of years of scattered sessions across the state, Deep Versions finally arrived in February. Now Vocke is in the early stages of plotting Zhivago’s first live shows, which he describes as “electronic music in rock music clothes.”

“I’m not the type of person to stand in front of people and press buttons and do DJ sets and like drink Red Bull,” he says. “The plan is to have a fully functional band, with a live bass player, drummer, auxiliary percussionist, a couple of synthesizers players and guitars. Just a live band setup, with musicians playing real music, something along the lines of Soulwax or LCD Soundsystem. That’s in the works. I’ve had a few acts ask me to play with them but I’m still ironing out the details and getting it right.”

You can stream Zhivago’s Deep Versions below, via Soundcloud.


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