Vortex Rikers is a solo-project managed by Chris. He’s from Dortmund in Germany and makes his music with the help of a midi-keyboard and Reason, I’d call his music something in between ambient, chillwave and post-dubstep. I asked him these questions a while ago and received an answer recently. You should check his material out at the bottom, he’s released a bunch of material already and seem to be fascinated by certain aesthetics. Well, what are you waiting for? Push the button and find out for yourself. It’ll be worth it.
Why did you pick the name Vortex Rikers? What does it mean and what’s the history behind it? Have you been in any other band prior to this one? Who are you?
- Hi, I’m Chris and I live near Dortmund in Germany. Vortex Rikers is the name of the prison ship that crashes in the beginning of the game unreal. I chose it because, well, I think its a really awesome name! I loved the game and especially the Vortex Rikers part because of its amazing atmosphere and It really set the tone for what followed, so.. yeah. Its all about the atmosphere.
It seems like your releases sell out in no time, why do you think it’s like that? To what country did you sell the most?
- I’m really really happy that people seem to enjoy the music. I don’t know who buys the tapes because that’s all handled by the label.
When will you be releasing new material again? Since it seems like you’ve had a steady string of releases so far? What are you thinking about for the near future?
- I’m slowly starting to work on new stuff now and hope to release it sooner than later. Oceanic is gonna be released on tape some time later this year, that’s what I know for sure!
Could you tell me more about your first release Untitled EP? What was your main influence for it and how did it proceed through the studio? Could you tell me a little bit about the in-studio making of it? Did it turn out the way you’d expect it to?
- So, where do I start. At first, I made electro-type stuff because I listened to a lot of music from German indie label Audiolith (egotronic, frittenbude) and thought „maybe you can do this too!“. Well, I couldn’t. But at least I learned something about production software. So I just started experimenting. Some time in 2010 (the witch house hype was still going), I had these tracks that clicked together atmospherically and would shape up as the Untitled EP. I send them out to some blogs just stating „maybe you like this!“ and well, some did.
Then followed by The Untitled Tape – what makes this one different from the first release?
- The Untitled Tape has tracks on it that were written shortly after the Untitled EP, to make it like… a full album and worth a tape release.
What other band(s) or artist(s) would you recommend that you like very much?
- I’m looking forward to that new Holy Other and How To Dress Well records. Also: ∆Aimon , Vagina Vangi and Daterape.
With three releases later and some additional videos, you’ve added Nullpunkt EP, The Story So Far… and later on even Oceanic EP - what have happened since then? How have you evolved? Where do you think the ship will sail now?
- I’ll answer these question at once. With every release, I try to capture a certain mood. As I said before its all about atmosphere. I write stuff and sometimes it works, sometimes not. If I have a collection of songs that seem to fit together aesthetically, I think of a theme and a little story that ties them together. I don’t have lyrics most of the time, so it really depends on the artwork and the song titles. I hope to create something like a movie that’s created in your head when you listen and it doesn’t matter what I think about when the songs are created. I just point in a direction and everything else is open to the interpretation of the listener. I at least hope it works this way.
Time will tell where the ship will sail.
Seems like your scenery on the covers always are about black and white nostalgia, what do you make of it yourself? What do you consider to be your main influence aesthetically?
- I like this whole black and white aesthetic, vintage stuff, old films and music and so on.
Why did you choose to have your releases on tape? Does that make them more of a collectable rather than something you’d listen to?
- I was approached by sweat lodge guru if I would be interested in releasing some music on tape and of course I didn’t think twice about that. A lot of people seem to be into tapes and vinyl again. I don’t buy CDs anymore because I see no point in buying a CD when I can download an MP3, but having a tape or a vinyl record is something different. I think its more personal. Having said that, I really hope to release music on vinyl one day.
You’ve also released a bunch of videos for the tracks Dreams, Nightmares, Wake Up And Smell The Ashes, Ghosts On Ibiza and Serenade – could you tell me a brief story about all of these? Which one is your favorite? What is the thought behind them, do they follow each other or are they separated thematically?
- Dreams and Nightmares both use footage from Maya Deren. I first heard about her in an art-history course at university and was fascinated from the start, shes really inspiring. I thought the visuals somehow fit the music. As with the artwork and the song titles, the visuals in the videos are part of the „story“. My favorite is Serenade, but judging from the hits on YouTube nobody else likes it.
What would you consider to be your main influence music-wise? Have it evolved in any way, shape or form since you started out?
- Nine Inch Nails. Best band, like… ever. Trent Reznor is a genius. I listen to a lot of stuff and everyhing is an influence, but the main one… yeah, Nine Inch Nails probably.
Now you’ve also got free downloads for all releases, why have you made it that way? What is the purpose of it? Is it to spread your music?
- Yeah, spread the music. Music is free anyway, like it or not. If someone wants your music for free, they will get it for free. So I decided to give it away from the start. There are still ways to support, like buying tapes or shirts or whatever. Some people buy the music from Bandcamp even though its there for free, that’s amazing! But it would still be okay if they just take it and, even better, share it with their friends.
Have you ever been playing live or do you consider yourself to be a studio-musician? If so, what gear do you have when you produce your material? What do you normally use in your songs?
- I only use Reason and a midi keyboard. I try to think of a way to perform live, I hope that will happen some day. I just don’t want it to be just me, standing there turning knobs. It should be more like an art installation, haha. I don’t know yet how to pull that off, so time will tell.
Of all the songs that you’ve produced yourself, which ones do you prefer the most?
- I don’t listen to my music that often because that just feels awkward, but I like oceanic.
What songs should you listen to when entering summertime? Could you recommend any of your own songs and also songs that you listen to yourself when summer is coming?
- Ha, I don’t think it’s summer music. Besides that, it depends on my mood which music I listen to not the time of the year.
When will you do a split with any other band or artist? Or is that not even taken into consideration by you?
- There’s nothing like that on the radar, besides some remix stuff here and there.
You’ve gotten pretty good reviews and a warm welcome from journalists and independent blogs alike – but which description that you’ve gotten so far do you think resembles what you really are?
- If someone sees and hears something in the music, they are probably right because as I said its all open to interpretation. I don’t want to influence that. But I can say I am happy everytime I see an article or post about Vortex Rikers.
Where would you like to showcase your music in the future? What plans do you have for the year of 2012?
- I’m going to put out new music and I hope to play a show sometime in the future, but I don’t know when and I don’t know where.
Thank you for this interview, it was a pleasure! What band or artist do you think I should interview next and what would you want me to ask them?
- I have to thank you! Check out „Shoreline Is“ from Dortmund, they are some friends of mine and they are really, really awesome.
Listen to his latest song Drown:
And his latest release Oceanic EP:
You can also find him over here: