Q&A with electronic music prodigy cause_effect

We sat down with Luxembourg-based artist cause_effect who has unveiled his latest offering Soft Focus LP on 21 May 2024 via Belgian label Perspektif. We spoke about the inspiration behind the project, his musical influences and production process. Soft Focus consists of eight tracks, and has been released on cassette, CD and digitally. The LP is a masterful showcase of techno, breaks and breakbeat where cause_effect uses his love for saturation and distortion to create a world of his own.

Welcome to Doof Doof cause_effect, who are you, what do you do and where do you come from?

I am Thomas, I am finishing my sound engineering degree and I come from Luxembourg, a small country between Germany, France and Belgium.

Can you pick five words best used to describe the aesthetic of your music?

I would say glitchy, distorted, nostalgic, a bit ambient and experimental

    You have a new album out called Soft Focus, what was the concept for this, why the name and is there a particular theme or thread you pieced together throughout the entire project?

    The concept was to have a contrast between lush pads to fit the aesthetic of the label, but with my love of distortion and heavy saturation. I really like the atmosphere and lush ambient sounds of Shoegaze music, and back
    in the day they used a reverb for this, the Yamaha FX500. Soft Focus is the name of the reverb preset that you can find on this effect processor. I really like to start a project with the cover art first, so I created it first and looked at it
    it each time I was producing. It helps me create a thread while producing and gives me some kind of ‘context’.

    What does your studio set up look like? Your productions are wild, dynamic and intricate, are you using a lot of outboard processing and gear or do you work quite a lot in the box? 

    For this album I tried to work a lot with my analog machines such as NovaLon Afx StaLon, Sh01a, Digitakt and Alesis 3630. But, I work and complete all my tracks in Ableton. I really love Ableton, so I have some kind of hybrid setup where I start my ideas or melodies on my analog synths, but most of the work is done in Ableton. With regards to the processing, I work fully in the box with a lot of plugins, too much for my CPU that’s for sure haha.

    What were some of your earliest influences in electronic music, could you share with us one track from YouTube or another music source that you would cite as a life changing record or a turning point for your infatuation with electronic music?

    The earliest influences in electronic music for me were Daft Punk and Royksopp, but the real turning point for me was when I heard Vordhosbn’ by Aphex Twin. The arrangement, the melodies, the drums, the bass, the mix, the sound design…I have never heard something like this before I was like ‘we’ haha. It really changed my mindset towards my productions, because since then I didn’t follow a certain grid or ‘rules’ anymore, but more my feelings and the energy that I want to portray through my music. I feel that I am not at that point yet, but I am working on it. It’s a slow and long process I think to get to the point where you are just making music with your emotions, rather than with the desire to please a certain community or people in general.

    Also, to bring us into the present and the future, could you maybe share with us one track from one particular producer you’re currently finding to be particularly special for you?

    Right now, it is the track ‘New Space Music’ by Brian Eno. It’s a beautiful one hour long ambient track that evolves beautifully. Every time I listen to it, it brings me peace. It’s not a track with blasting drums or complex basslines, but it’s more about the feel and the therapeutic energy it provides me. Daniel Avery once said something that really made an impression on me “An Ambient track can have just as much impact as a Techno record”.

    Top three tips for visitors to Luxembourg? What should we see, eat, drink or anything else that’s in your must do list for a short layover in this country?

    If you visit Luxembourg, you should take a walk in the old city, go visit the old Castle of Vianden and eat a Mefwurst!

      If you had to choose one, which track would you want people to hear most from your new album? 

      I would say ‘Ray of Light’, it has heavy distortion through the whole track which can be difficult for the ears but I really tried something new there with the use of vocals.

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