Interview with… Jonas Öberg from electronic act Michigan

Theirs productions has done some buzz among fans of depeche MODE recently. All thanks to Alan’s bank of sounds used on tours by depeche MODE in 80’s and 90’s, plus huge dose of talent and dedication.

I found interesting to give some questions to man who spent his talent and time to bring back to life masterpiece of the band at it’s best times. Why, what was the reason and what can you expect next. All of this and more…

You have appeared in People’s minds recently because of your activity on SoundCloud and uploading (almost) original live tracks from tours when Alan was in the depeche MODE. But you did a lot in the past. Please introduce yourself.

Haha, yes, it’s funny how people are noticing the work I’ve done. Well, my name’s Jonas Öberg and I’m in my 40’s. Im a musician, songwriter, singer, producer whatever for myself and the electronic act Michigan. With Michigan I’ve record some albums and a couple of singles in the past. We play electronic music and are devoted to it. It’s been many years since we released a record, but hopefully we will record another one later this year.

It’s not your first activity around depeche mode revisiting, reinterpreting music of this band?

No it’s not. We’ve performed some DM tracks in the past.

Music is very vivid in your life did you get the directional education or you are self-made man?

I’m a self-made man. Music’s always been a big part of my life.

dm_sounds_4OK, let’s focus now on synths from max bank. How did you get this synths? What was the reason to get them?

Well, I got in contact with a couple of guys in the Internet, and we decided that we should try and buy the sounds from the actual auction that Alan hosted. And yes, we got one of the discs. The reason, at least for me, was that I wanted to hear the specific parts/sounds he used for his setup, without the rest of the track.

When the idea born in you to put together all bits and pieces?

When I got a hold of the samples I guess.

How did you managed with Martin Gore’s guitar parts?

There’s not a lot of them in the tracks from the 80’s, I’ve sampled some, and I’ve created some.

How big is your input in the tracks. Did you sampled the studio tracks, or created tunes using original setups?

It’s a mix between everything basically.

What is your hardware and software workshop?

I’m working in Cubase 8, with mainly Native Instruments softwares, even bought their Komplete Control. NI’s has taken control of my life, it’s so good….hahaha. Then I use a lot of other stuff, I’ve got the whole Arturia library/setup, and a bunch of other software synths.

Before we start this interview we exchanged few emails and you said that songs weren’t complete. What was missing, which parts? How much of you is in these tracks? What is the ratio of original and created by you (average)?

Most of the actual sounds are of course directly from DM’s catalogue. But, I’ve put them together in a way that I never thought was possible at first. There are a lot of things going on in the background in a DM track. So, every track has got some 30-60 hours of work, just to put the right sound in the right place.

Did you use World Violation Tour backing tapes which are circulating around the depeche universe since years?

No, I didn’t.

Did something amazed you during your work on this project?

Yes it did. I noticed how clever the guys (Alan) were in terms of how to reuse a sound from time to time. That´s why I guess, that at least I, felt that every album has some kind of connection to each other.

Did you finished all productions from Alan’s files? How many in total tracks did you made or going to make?

Alan’s files did help, then again a lot of sampling and some own creativity. Don’t know really, I’ve made some 75-80 tracks during the years.

There are some songs which depeche MODE played in several tours. On every tour these songs were played differently like New Life on Construction Tour and on Some Great Reward Tour, or Everything Counts which had different arrangements in 87, 90 and 93. Can we expect all of them from you?

haha…. No, you can’t expect that from me. I have other projects that I’m working on, such as writing new material for Michigan.

During several tours depeche MODE prepared some songs to play live but then didn’t play them like I Want You Now in 87/88 or Leave In Silence in 1993. Did you found/perpared any of them?

I’ve done both I Want You Now, and Leave in Silence. But I haven’t heard the version of the years you mentioned, guess not many have. So I decided to do whatever I could with the sounds I have for the tracks and it turned out to be versions from 1994 and 1986.

I found on your profile songs like To Have To Hold or But Not Tonight, which weren’t played live. Are these songs reflects to my previous question or is it only your creativity and initiative to prepare these songs?

I got curious on how they created the „lead sound” for But Not Tonight, and I had my idea on how to actually make it sound like the original. It’s a mix between already existing sounds from other tracks on mostly Black Celebration, then mixed down and put thru some effects.

You are playing with your project live as support and as headliner tell us something about it.

Yes I did. It was a couple of years ago now, but we toured a lot in Germany back then. We were support act for De/Vision on their „Noob-tour”, we´ve played some festivals and some other gigs.

And during this tour you did visit Poland. Any memories, flashbacks?

It was nine years ago…Time flies…… No, memories really, besides that we had a lot of fun.

Thank you for the nice interview and thank you for your effort.

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