Martyn Heyne: “You make your thing the universal thing.” Interview by Ruth Bailey


Berlin-based, Lichte studios, is perhaps best known among the global music fraternity as a world class production studio responsible for synthesizing sounds and arrangements, supporting acts as highly regarded as The National, Tiny Ruins, along with the Erased Tapes stable of artists. The man who founded the studio and who oversees the production desk, Martyn Heyne, is himself an accomplished musician. A former founding member to Danish indie act Efterklung, the native German who counts fellow German-based artists Nils Frahm and Dustin O’Halloran among his ‘musical family’ has built up his connections within these influential musical circles to forge a career where for many years he’s put his heart and soul behind other people’s compositions. In 2016, however, Heyne has decided it’s time to release his very first solo collection – an EP, Light and Shady. This initial foray on his own has heralded some pretty interesting results which Heyne himself is encouraged by.

“I’m excited about it, obviously, because it’s something that I have done under my own name rather than as a collaboration or as part of another band or, what I do a lot, as part of a production of somebody else that I’m just helping with, you know? For the first time it’s something I really have the artistic direction on and could do whatever I wanted.”

The arrangement of six tracks, unique in sound and flavour, offers listeners an insight into the mastery of Heyne from his somewhat voyeuristic appreciation for guitar. His fascination with the instrument began when he was studying music The Conservatory of Amsterdam, and from here his ongoing adoration for the instrument has truly grown.

“That it can do harmonic and melodic material at the same time, and rhythmic things, it’s a lot like a vibraphone, I feel. You can play more notes, but not like a lot of notes, not like a piano, you have to be sparse with your arrangement,” says Heyne, of the nuances associated with the instrument.

In its purest form, the solo debut is a celebration of, according to Heyne, the oft overlooked guitar. Citing its apparent falling out of favour through the decades because of the nature of rock and electronic music, Heyne has chosen to focus this work around the infinite possibilities the guitar offers.

“It’s not such an old instrument as people think, it’s actually, really, quite new, and there isn’t so much written for it,” says Heyne.

Mindful of the length of his offering Heyne maintains that he has ultimately happy that each song appears as it should on the EP.

“I think this album is very short, it has very few things on it, but I wouldn’t feel right about the collection of songs if one were missing and there’s not one that shares a function with another one, If the last one for example were missing from the bunch then I think the message of the whole record would be very different but there is also not a similar one that does a similar thing for me, you know.”
For Heyne, his aspirations in making this EP are very clear, and he was resolute in not wanting to jump aboard any particular trend, quite the opposite in fact.

“I am an absolutely firm believer of the artistic concept that you make your thing the universal thing, I think that there is no other way. I’ve been working with so many musicians and so many records over the years now, that I really see now that whenever anyone really starts to guess as to what somebody could like or what it is that could be a good idea to do now, that this will not be useful,” he says.

“If you’re calculative to whatever you think someone’s reaction is going to be, I think you’re always stepping completely into the dark with that kind of thought. And if you rely on what you get excited about for yourself, and always use that as a compass entirely, that’s the most fun, the most productive, and I see that people who do that make better work than when they don’t.”

And, thanks to what is now many years developing an intimate insight and understanding into what makes for a successful record, Heyne feels more qualified than most to comment on the future of his industry. Attributing the apparent globalisation of music to a shifting paradigm.

“It’s become so normal, I think, that somebody will record a little bit on the road and then they’ll go to a studio in Sweden, record a choir, and then they’ll go to a studio in New York and they’ll record a drummer, and then they’ll send it over here, and then they’ll come here and produce it and then it’s being pressed in Australia, or whatever. It’s how things are going these days, and I think, right now, I’m loving it because I think at this takeover point, people still know the old way of making music, of getting together.”

His concern is, instead, for the next step, when he believes people will stay at home and little physical interaction across the globe may take place. Despite this, Heyne feels the way artists collaborate will remain business as usual, for the time being.

“I think right now, in between systems and travel, people have a much broader possibility of who to work with and who to interact with from all different parts of the world and different cultures. I think that it is a very good time right now for this kind of thing.”

Martin Heyne’s EP: Light and Shady is out now via his own label,


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