Jul 2023 19

2nd Face founder Vincent Uhlig speaks with ReGen about the artistic development of his sound and vision to become one of Dependent Records’ most exciting artists.


An InterView with Vincent Uhlig of 2nd Face

By Guy Lecoq (GuyLecoq)

Vincent Uhlig comes from a musical tradition of progressive and exploratory attitudes, which he has aptly and amply demonstrated across his two album releases as 2nd Face. With the release of utOpium, he continues to refine and push the parameters of electro/industrial songwriting and production. With this InterView from contributing writer Guy Lecoq, the artist is provided the opportunity to explain his processes in-depth and prepare listeners for what utOpium holds in store, as well as hints toward his live performances, and his fruitful collaborations with fellow visual artists to enhance the look alongside the sound of 2nd Face.


What was your first encounter with electronic music?

Uhlig: I was introduced to electronic music quite early, when I was still going to middle school, in the form of :Wumpscut:’s Wreath of Barbs. Up until that point, I had played piano for several years and my musical interest consisted of soundtrack, classical music, krautrock, and classic rock. Wreath of Barbs opened up a whole new world for me, which is why I have the album cover tattooed on my arm.

With this new album, utOpium, we can feel a true evolution and affirmation in your project. There are a lot of tones and atmospheres, and new ones can be discovered with each listen. How did you manage to create such a balance between all these effects and soundscapes?

Uhlig: When creating the album, I was quite aware of the fact that for the most part, it deviates from traditional song structures. I had a more ‘progressive’ approach in mind, deliberately breaking the rules of songwriting. I didn’t want it to be ‘easy’ to listen to, just as today’s society isn’t ‘easy’ to exist in – the constant shifting and changing in the music can be seen as a direct metaphor for modern society’s ‘over paced marathon.’ The creation of utOpium took about five years, but I can say that the last two years of production, which involved the final arrangement, mixing, and mastering, were the most intense. I can’t say how many times I listened to each track, trying to figure out the exact ratio of all elements, ensuring that they all flow into each other in exactly the way I wanted them to. The ProTools sessions usually contained about 100-150 tracks, so as a result, the mixing was a very surgical back-and-forth process. I only used a subtle amount of compression during mastering to maintain the dynamics and transparency of the mixes. And, obviously, I don’t care about the loudness war at all and suspect that it will blow over anyway… in given time. Why would I spend thousands of hours on my compositions just to crush them with a limiter? That would be insane.



How do you translate such sound work in your live shows?

Uhlig: As a matter of fact, I’m in the midst of preparing the upcoming live shows. utOpium features a lot of small elements that especially come through when listening on headphones. For the live tracks, this richness in detail will be toned down a bit as it wouldn’t translate very well to a big PA. So, you could say the tracks will be somewhat simplified and the mix will be slightly adjusted to fit with the live drums. My drummer Maxagon has a very unique and brutal drumming style, giving the gigs a somewhat ‘organic’ feeling and an almost metal-esque heaviness.
For the upcoming gigs, we will be joined by Martin Sane (Fix8:Sed8) on the keys, who will also contribute backing vocals and vocoder parts. Our first gig will be at the NCN Warm-up Party in Deutzen near Leipzig (with NER\OGRIS, Jihad, and Statiqbloom). Two weeks later, we will be premiering utOpium in its entirety in my home area Frankfurt (together with Placebo Effect and Pyrroline). We will also be playing at the Fourscher Festival in Erfurt in November, as well as the BIMfest in St Niklaas/Belgium in December.

2nd Face is a very thought-provoking name. What inspired this name? Would you say that each of us, as human beings, has a second face, a nightmarish side that we hide or repress on a daily basis to better fit into the mold of our modern societies?

Uhlig: In the broadest sense, 2nd Face is a metaphor for the ambivalence of the human nature. So yes, repressing or hiding certain facets for the sake of ‘fitting in’ makes us the adaptable species that we are.

Your texts pay a particular attention to this ambivalence. We also find a strong emphasis on visuals with your artwork and your recent video for the track ‘Life(l)over.’ How do you work to match lyrics and visuals with your music to create this unique atmosphere, and how do you work with your collaborators to bring your vision to life?

Uhlig: I definitely emphasized a lot on the lyrics and their ambiguity. Compared to my Nemesis debut, my goal was to perform and design them in a more diversified way to complement the complexity of the music. I definitely went out of my comfort zone, especially with the ‘cleaner’ singing parts.
I’ve been extremely lucky to work with such talented artists like artwork designer Vlad McNeally, photographer Sinan Jafan, and video editor Kain (NER\OGRIS), all of which are absolute masters in what they do. I had a very cool photo session with Sinan last year in an industrial area in Frankfurt. Instead of post-editing the shots with photoshop, he utilizes practical effects like glasses or foils, and the results are always amazing.
When Daniel Myer (Haujobb) posted a new shirt design that I really liked, I immediately asked for the designer’s contact – that’s how I met Vlad. For the album front cover, I already had a specific idea in mind, which he pretty much nailed immediately (he is fast!). Apart from a few suggestions, I let Vlad unfold his creativity to design the rest of the artwork in the style of the front cover, and his visualizations captured the album’s themes perfectly.

In many ways, utOpium goes against the grain of the music market since the rise of streaming platforms. There’s the album itself, of course, but also all the work that’s gone into the physical editions, with their extensive artbook and booklet. How do you perceive the evolution of the music industry and its consumption patterns for years? Are you feeling a little nostalgic?

Uhlig: I think that it’s nice to have an actual product with a visual aspect to go with the music, especially when lyrics are involved – it just completes the work of art. Obviously, looking at streaming platforms, the trend appears to go in a different direction at the moment. Luckily, the large majority of my supporters are people who never stopped buying CDs and vinyl.
Artists seem to release shorter tracks these days, which is, at least partly, due to Spotify’s monetization system and a shame, really. Our fast-paced world progressively cripples our attention spans, which of course reflects in the music people create and listen to. I’d like to take things back a bit, to when music still had time to breathe.



Is it harder for an artist to exist nowadays than it was back then?

Uhlig: I think that it has always been hard to exist as an artist, for one reason or another. The CD market’s ongoing demise didn’t help, that’s for sure. It was certainly easier to earn money with music; on the other hand, we nowadays have an incredible marketing range spanning across the planet. I think that we’re in a somewhat weird in-between spot right now, adjusting to the ‘new game.’
Back in the ’70s, my dad was a Krautrock musician (Hanuman, Murphy Blend) and way ahead of the curve with his progressive approach. He was then faced with a decision: should he align his art with people’s expectations, or do something else entirely? He chose the latter with no regrets, which, believe me, is a shame.
In that respect, artistry and how it is perceived hasn’t changed at all.

Music has always followed trends that are coming back into fashion as new generations reappropriate the styles and classics of their elders. What do you think tomorrow’s music will be like?

Uhlig: At a certain point, everything has been said and done. That was probably also the common narrative when the grand masters of classical music had passed away. Then came The Beatles, and then techno music – two phenomena that respectively opened up new dimensions, altering the perception of music in general. Now there’s an abundance of cross-genre style fusions, electronic experimentation, and genre revivals, but not really anything new. The next best thing that might yet have an impact on the evolution of music is A.I…. isn’t that ironic?



2nd Face
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Dependent Records
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Photography by Plastic Hand Druck – provided courtesy of 2nd Face and Dependent Records


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