Ballerino is the title under which Robin Braum writes and produces his brand of pop music. The artist, originally from Berlin now based in London, released his first EP Amateurs back in November, which cleverly utilises production as a way of story telling.

Amateurs focuses on sexuality today and how people express their inner worlds through pornography and cybersex. Over three songs, he digitally manipulates and distorts with his vocals to create different voices and characters. His interpretation of amateur pornography embodies both the viewer and the performer; the observer and the observed.

I spoke with Robin about how producing his own music gives him a palette of potential personas to play with and the chaotic energy of his debut release.

In the press release for Amateurs, it describes how you adopted various personas in writing this EP. Was this a way for you to explore different ideas or viewpoints?

Yes, absolutely. Just being yourself can be so terribly boring and limiting in music. When I untie myself from my personal point of view I can start exploring.

Amateurs examines the concepts of pornography and cybersex. What was it about these ideas that initially captivated you? In particular, what was it about amateur pornography that interested you?

I guess - given that it wasn't long ago that I've left my teenage years - this question doesn't need to be answered. Amateur porn is particularly interesting to me though, because it's raw and more realistic. It's easier to identify with people when you can see their weaknesses.

Was there a trigger moment that you knew you wanted to write them as a subject for your music? What did you want to say about them in your music?

Like most people of my age, I grew up always able to access porn, so it's been on my mind over the last ten years. I didn't record this EP to make a statement about the value or detriment of pornography to our society. Instead, I wanted to try exploring the topic from both sides. For 99% of the population, pornography is a very single-sided experience.

Sonically, what did you want to achieve with this EP?

I tried to play on the overstimulation of modern media and the limitless possibilities of digital production so things get pretty hectic at times. As a contrast, 'Amateur Response' is much more subtle and sensual as it embodies the observer's imagination of the porn star approaching him.

How did you write and record it?

Writing and producing went hand in hand and fed each other ideas. I wanted to use technology to slip into these new roles and detach myself from my normal voice and playing. The challenge was not to go over the top with all this, but to be honest I don't think I always managed to.

There's a high level of production and studio tinkering in your sound. One highlight of the EP is the vocal distortion on 'Amateur Response'. Is it exciting for you to create new and unusual sounds?

As I said, I might have gotten carried away with it, but it's just too much fun when your voice suddenly sounds like somebody else's and you still have control over it. When you're writing and producing simultaneously you can co-respond to the new sounds you've created and take them into the writing process. That's extremely exciting for me, because the end product isn't just a recording of what's in my head, but something I couldn't have imagined before.

Who is the character in 'Amateur Response'?

It's the porn star approaching and teasing the viewer. It's a thin line though between an own independent character and something that's part of the viewer's imagination, since it reflects on the viewer's fantasies, sense of shame and loneliness.

What does the term "My Neck Is Too Long" mean to you?

Ironically, that's the one thing that doesn't have anything to do with sex. It deals with over ambition and greed.

You were born in Berlin but you are now based in London. As an artist, what were things in London that excited when you first moved there?

The live music scene is insane. My perspective is probably a bit extreme, because I'm surrounded by music students from Goldsmiths, but the level of musical concept, vision and taste is very fastidious.

The EP features remixes by Emperor Yes and Semi Precious. How does it feel when you hear your work re-interpreted?

Pretty sweet. It's got so much of their typical shameless synth. A remix always has some element of 'what would have happened if your idea was planted in another mind', so that's quite interesting.

Are you working on a full-length album, if so, is Amateurs a reflection of how it could sound?

No, I'm definitely not. To me, EPs are much more suitable to create a cohesive body of art around a concept. Also, I just don't feel ready to make a whole album. Maybe it's a matter of age. I think I can create a more dense and rich result of my ideas in the EP format.

Since this release has many characters and perspectives, do you want to tell stories with your music? Have you considered writing from a personal perspective?

Not really. It's all about exploration for me. I think that's much more interesting than the wisdom of a 23-year old.


Amateurs is out now via Squareglass.