Growing up as a teenager in the mountainous and lush landscape of The Black Forest, Berlin-based musician Hainbach would listen to English disc jockey John Peel on the radio, who he described as “a lifeline,” and dream of the day when he could find a music scene where he would belong.
Now, he’s a successful electronic composer and performer with fans around the world, a YouTube channel where he talks about esoteric music equipment, and a Patreon page where he’s connecting with his listeners.
“There are so many tools available that you can find the people who appreciate what you are doing,” he shared with us when we met with him at his home studio. “Patreon is one of those.” In fact, he believes tapping into platforms like Patreon, which allows you to engage with a community of like-minded people who support your work, is paramount.
“If I were to describe Patreon to someone else I would say it’s one of the best things for artists to support themselves. It enables you to focus more on what you want to do versus what you think you ought to do.”
Hainbach has organized meetups for his patrons and loves how passionate they are about music and giving feedback about their shared “weird interest”. By building a close-knit creative community who are all interested in the same sub-genre of explorative electronic music and unusual instruments, Hainbach has finally found that connection he so longed for as a teenager back in the Black Forest. Now he’s able to create full-time and not worry about living paycheck to paycheck, something he refers to as a “calming experience.”
Finding a like-minded community is just one of the reasons he loves sharing his music and his process online. He started making videos about his unusual instruments, which include esoteric synthesizers like the Folktek omnichord, as a way to force himself into improvisation and practice.
At first, his camera was the audience and later a way to document all of the many different instruments, sounds, and tracks he was creating. The videos began to attract attention and when he found the endless questions from his fanbase were going unanswered, he realized the educational potential for this new medium. That’s when Hainbach started offering explainers and holding workshops.
First and foremost, Hainbach is a creator. However, the educational component of his videos naturally complements his enthusiasm and curiosity for experimental music-making.
“I'm definitely more of an artist but I like to share and show what's actually happening and basically make a broader understanding of everything I do,” he says.
Hainbach isn’t likely to hold organized classes but does like to share the technicalities of his work, which includes experimenting with destruction loops where a cassette tape is purposefully destroyed with a range of different tools and methods, creating sounds of decay and magnetic distortion.
“These destruction loops, that is something that I'm now doing as a workshop. It's a technique I've developed and refined and am still refining. Through that technique I can show tape editing, making tape loops, working with tape machines, and also talk about the content.”
Hainbachs’ musical exploration is ongoing and unending and stretches to not only the music and sounds he creates but the instruments on which he makes them. Shunning the modern obsession with acquiring the latest gadget, which he terms “the new shiny,” he instead works with a sort of junkyard orchestra. “My old test equipment is all just reclaimed, repurposed stuff that would have been thrown away,” he says.
In fact, he shares that using older technology helps him to think creatively and become a better musician, one more willing to take risks.
“Music is math, but you can do some weird math, and you can have things running that are not in time, but they're in a feeling. You can think about all these different ways to make music,” he says. His engaged Patreon community also fuels his creativity and allows him to keep pushing the envelope. “It feels like these people want to support me and see the best things that I can do, and they're in it for that ride, and not for me to keep rehashing the same things.”
The reliable income derived from his patrons allows him a certain freedom to play and continue experimenting all the time.
There’s a German phrase Hainbach uses to describe his experience with Patreon. He shared with us that it means the exact point where it hurts, like it’s almost an itch to scratch and when pressure is applied, relief is felt.
“Being an independent artist has enabled me to follow my own projects without prompt. I can do beautiful crazy stuff and find my own Schmerzpunkt.”