Electronic musician Just Like Humans is, according to the official music website, a band of two - a computer and a human, the human named Kevin Hartmann.
How would you describe the sounds of Just Like Humans? It’s an interesting name and it conjures up anything but natural, just-like-human sounds.
Just Like Humans was one of the many ideas for names I had and one that my husband picked out of the list I emailed him. It ended up being my favorite and the name clicked with what I was already writing. I didn’t intend the name to be a tongue-in-cheek moniker that would require any of the music, now or later, to be of a particular style.
Musicians aren’t always good at describing their own music, especially in the electronic realm. I can’t just say it’s “different” because it is and is not. There’s always those that rely on the “music speaks for itself” nomenclature or similar answer and to a degree that’s certainly true. It’s an insane argument in the community, what styles are what, who’s doing what, who stole it from whom…. If you look at forums on electronica it’s madness, like East Coast vs West Coast, even Euro jumps in the fights. I stay away from it!
I attempted different styles within each track; quite possibly I’m not successful at any of them. Yet I buried some Italo disco beats in there, some ambient tweaked soundscapes, as well as darkwave, hip hop and synth pop. Even so, I’m not sure anyone would be able to find these! ‘I think the music will speak for itself', haha.
What have been your influences? Your bio says 80s electronica. Did you find yourself trying to emulate anyone in particular here?
I’ve always been influenced by orchestral movie soundtracks; I actually went into this project with some structured melodies that I imagined could be used for a film, melodies that I’d find myself singing in the car on the drive home or something. Intentionally I wanted a few tracks here of the dance genre; however I don’t see them being played in clubs, that was never the goal. Most have elements you think may build to something trendy and big sounding, but then I let you down and go back to my soundtrack-y thing and change the idea of the song. I really just wanted to make a record that I would want to listen to and find interesting.
So many artists immediately do remixes and in fact you’d often not know the original song because these are released first and become more popular. Is this a point of contention with you?
Well so far I’ve no experience with that—no dealings or requirements from labels that made me do anything that I’d not want released! But I certainly understand your question.
For sure there’ll be some remixes in the coming year, yeah. I have to think really hard on which songs deserve and would lend themselves to new versions. I do like the idea of remixes if done right… I’m not a fan, in general, of a version that comes out of a producer which sounds nothing like the original, no trace of what the artist had in mind to begin with. But...that isn’t likely to happen here as at least of now I’ll be the one doing the mixes!
Is that something you enjoy doing, mixing up a song?
Yeah, yeah, I think so. I’ve very limited experience—I remixed my first album, to try my hand at it. It was freeing and restrictive at the same time: I enjoyed the flexibility of taking a song and changing the phrasing, finding a way to ‘make it longer just to make it longer’ ideal, and restrictive because I was too close to the work. I was frustrated in keeping the original sounds original.
Besides a holiday break and mixes for the singles in the new year, I’m advertising for a collaborator, a vocalist, on a new project for next year. I’ve written some decent demos, ideas, and lyrics but I’m not strong enough to do it all on my own. I’d like to put out a fun pop record—do it seriously yet for fun, see where it goes. After that, Just Like Humans will release another album probably in 2015. I’ve already recorded a few ideas into my phone for melodies. All while driving into work, of course!
The debut release from Just Like Humans was released in December 2013 in iTunes and other digital venues.