Today we’re speaking with Fireberg (real name Dan Berg), who is soon making his debut on Eyedyllic Music with Undoing The Future; a diverse and strikingly fitting EP for the dystopian times we find ourselves in. The EP also features an outstanding remix from fast-rising South African talent, FKA Mash.
When asked about the creative process behind the EP, Fireberg described how the EP “involved a solitary journey inward, as well as a deepened relationship with the machines integral to my creation process. Through this, I express my belief that by regaining the present moment, and bringing the imaginary future into an embodied Now, we manifest the path towards rightful living.”
Catch our interview below and learn more about this talented artist!
Interview With Fireberg
1.) Hello Dan! Thank you for speaking with us today! First up, can you tell us where you’re based at the moment and how the last few months have been for you given the global situation?
What’s up MI4L, thanks for offering this interview! I’ve been based out of Brooklyn, New York for over ten years now. It’s been an incredible growing experience. New York has always been a hotbed for many different music scenes and I’ve met a lot of musicians over the years. I’ve also seen a lot of those musicians move out because of higher rents and the general cost of living. A lot of dope music venues that I loved have closed down (Zebulon and Rose Wine Bar are two that I remember quite fondly). Now with Covid, the opportunities are even fewer without the ability to collaborate in-person or go out and see live music in large crowds. At the same time, I know there’s lots of new channels opening up in the virtual spaces. I’m eager to find new avenues for connecting to fans and other musicians through online communities, though it’s definitely a challenge to adjust to a new paradigm. Besides working on music, I’ve been spending the quarantine trying to expand my spiritual practice, and also hanging out with my girlfriend and getting out into nature as much as possible. I’ve also been working on my cooking and gardening skills.
2.) Fireberg may be a new name to our readers’ ears, but it’s one they should know about! Tell us a bit about the project!
I’m really excited to release music again as I’ve been tucked away in the studio for several years, reimagining the sound. I like to call the Fireberg “electronic” because it draws from a wide array of influences, including indie rock, world pop, disco, psychedelic funk and sleepy soul. I love getting lost in the infinite world of sound and kind of letting the machines I work with speak for themselves. But it’s also my responsibility, as the producer, to constrain the infinite and bring it all into a presentable package. Sometimes that can be kind of sad and sometimes it’s quite empowering. At the end of the day, coming from a pop music upbringing, I want my music to hint at something more esoteric but still be strongly grounded in the tangible and comfortable song formats of the mainstream.
My musical training is in jazz and those harmonies and melodies will always run deep in my veins. At the same time, the minimalist sound of the underground house and techno scenes in New York and Berlin really move my soul in a completely different way. Drawing from these diverse inputs, I try to make something even-tempered and balanced, but activated, which is kind of how I want to show up in the world, as well. I think, ultimately, Fireberg is about an inner search to understand myself and perhaps something higher than myself. Hopefully, in sharing that process I can connect to other people and maybe help a few people on their journey, as well.
3.) The release also features an awesome remix of Aside For The Woke from the up and coming FKA Mash! What was it like for you to hear another artist providing their take on a piece of your work?
I’m super honored to be in collaboration with FKA Mash. FKA’s remix is bumpin’ and super dark. It’s a nice complement to my original track. It’s cool to have the international link, too. South Africa seems like an amazing place that I’d love to visit. I’ve heard the music scene in Capetown is super vibrant.
When I was growing up listening to r&b and hip-hop from the 80’s and 90’s, a remix was a slightly different thing. It meant you kind of kept the structure of the song but changed up the backing track. Dub music has had a similar tradition. It took me a while to cozy up to the way things worked in the electronic music world, where a remix could easily have almost no correlation to the original, or so it seemed. But I realized, after a while, it just involves a more fragmented and “momentary” reading of the original and an attention to sounds and phrases over song structures.
FKA did something really interesting with his remix of “Aside for the Woke”, where it almost feels like he put the whole thing through some kind of transmogrifier (shout out to Calvin and Hobbes) and the result was this twisted, glitched-out expression of the original sample and melodic material. He created a whole different message in the track. I really appreciate the dialogue going on there.
Big thanks to FKA and Eyedyllic for putting that together!
4.) Congratulations on your upcoming release Undoing The Future on Eyedyllic Music! The release has some super interesting sounds and we love the range of feelings conveyed across the tracks. Tell us, how did the release on the label first come about and what was the inspiration behind it?
Thanks. Yeah, I’ve released a bunch of tracks and records on my own in the past but this is the first release on another label. It’s been cool to see how Kev and Mik at Eyedyllic handle the process. It’s so valuable to work with people who have genuine and sincere connections in the industry. I’m really excited to grow my audience through this new outlet.
I met Kev through a good friend of mine, Joseph Alpern, who also released on Eyedyllic with his projects, J Gabriel and Chuffing Buffy. Since then, Kev, Joseph and I have had a couple fun nights at Resolute parties in Bushwick. There’s nothing like an abandoned warehouse to provide a laboratory for studying some of the great DJs and producers on the planet doing their thing in the afterhours.
The tracks on Undoing the Future were such a departure from my previous release, I wasn’t sure where to place them. I’m really glad Eyedyllic took an interest. I’m grateful there are labels out there that are looking for out-of-the-box art. It’s not that the music is super weird, it’s just not as focused on the club experience, like a lot of the tracks that get picked up these days. I think of this EP as more like the music that you space out to on the subway or walking in the forest. The remix, on the other hand, has a real club vibe to it, which really balances out the record.
The title of the album has gone through a series of evolutions in meaning since I first jotted it down. I think, originally, I was thinking about the state of our planet and impact that humans have had on our environment. But later in the process, I started thinking it had to do more with the question of free will. I think, ultimately, I like the openness of it. And it’s taken on a whole new relevance in this midst of the pandemic when so many people are trying to figure out what their future looks like, and perhaps where we went wrong as a nation or on a global scale.
5.) Undoing The Future marks your first label-release and builds upon your existing self-released works. Can you tell us a bit about those?
The previous Fireberg release, The Drive, was a series of collaborations with vocalists. I wrote a lot of the lyrics for that album, which were inspired by my personal interests in introspection and philosophy. I realized though, that as incredible as it is to collaborate with other artists, it also feels like I’m somewhat alienating myself from my own art when I rely on other singers to communicate my words for me. Since the quarantine began, I actually started vocal lessons over Zoom with the hope of one day singing on my own tracks, but it’s definitely gonna be a long journey for that. Singing is such a vulnerable act. But it’s also super therapeutic.
Earlier in my career, before The Drive, I was making a lot more downtempo tracks. I think, coming from my years of playing jazz and listening to hip-hop artists like The Roots and Nas, it took me a while to feel comfortable at the faster tempos of house and techno. You’d think it would be as easy as setting the MPC to 120 BPM, but it also involves a lot of listening, dancing to it, and just adjusting your idea of what’s cool, what’s groovy, what’s beautiful and sentimental.
6.) We hear you love to combine a mixture of acoustic and electronic sounds in your work. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process when making music?
The main acoustic instruments I work with these days are the piano, percussion, drum set and the human voice. On my last record, for the track, “Your Light,” featuring Black Tortuga, I wrote parts for a horn trio and then recorded them at my studio. That was really fun and it sounded awesome. I’ve also gotten really into electro-acoustic instruments like the rhodes and wurlitzer piano and I love working with electric bassists on anything that’s more funky.
As far as the rest of my process, I try to find shortcuts that let me work on my own and not have to rely on a band, while still keeping the music pretty dynamic. For example, with drum machines that tend to make a more static loop, I’ve found that using filter modules like the Moogerfooger Low-Pass Filter and the Dreadbox Epsilon can do wonders to emulate some of the dynamics that a real drummer can make. The ASR-10 sampler has also been a mainstay in my music for taking snippets of sound, often from vinyl, and expanding them in many different directions, be that pitch, timing, or tone. Finally, I’ve invested a lot into my synth collection and it has paid off immensely. The vintage synths I own and a few modern synths like the Dreadbox Abyss are incredible works of art with infinite potential to express all different types of sounds and feelings. I’m so grateful to be able to use these tools.
7.) Can you share with us some of your main musical influences?
It’s funny how innocent a question that is despite it being a massive can of worms to think about! There’s different categories of influence. Some people’s music I just love to vibe on, some I like to study and some I appreciate for the artists’ careers and branding and marketing, etc. An artist like Bob Marley has always been an example of the ideal career, to me, where everything seems to be in the right place — the production, the message, the musicianship, the lifestyle. But whether that has actual influence on the music of Fireberg, I’m not sure. Likewise, Four Tet is someone that has formulated a beautiful sound and mixes it with nuanced and driving beats.
All the iconic figures have imparted one thing or another. Lee Scratch Perry taught me about being aggressive and taking risks; Miles Davis taught me to push the sound further and reinvent yourself; Kanye West was a big influence for me, when I was starting out, for how he marries the worlds of pop, club and experimental music. And then, in terms of electronic artists, Georgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, Prefuse 73, Air, Bjork, Aphex Twin and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith are just a few of the many great creators I love.
8.) Thank you for speaking with us today! We’re excited for the Eyedyllic release and we wish you well with it! Before we go, is there anything else coming up from yourself soon that we should keep an eye out for?
Thank you so much for your interest and providing this platform. I hope you guys continue to flourish as an organization!
I have a music video coming out, also with Eyedyllic, for one of the tracks on Undoing the Future, “Lone Beholder.” I’m also finishing up a full-length album which includes a mixture of songs in the pop framework, and then some tracks that are even more dark and mysterious than the ones on Undoing. Hopefully that will also get picked up, but if not, I’ll release it in 2021 on my own indie label, Euphonix Records. I’m also working on my live set and hope to be doing livestream performances within the next couple months.
Follow Fireberg & Eyedyllic Music! >>
Undoing The Future is out 8/28/2020 on Eyedyllic Music
Turn it up & enjoy!