Interview: Moe Nagasi
How did your music journey start? What’s your story?
It’s quite a long story that I will try to make as short as possible: I discovered techno for the first time when I was 14 or so and it was around the time of the last Love Parade. I watched it on TV and was quite amazed by it because I haven’t seen anything like it before. My family is kind of rock-ish, so I mostly heard rock and new wave German music growing up. Also I had a small radio in my room and there was a Radio that had weekly techno shows. I was going through waves in terms of music genres as I was trying to find my sound. When I was 17 I moved to my own flat in the East part of Berlin and started to discover the club scene here. Tresor was my very first real techno club experience and that was actually the night when I went ‘wow’. It took a few weeks after that to start my own project – a mix between minimal stuff and old tech-house crazy shit. Further I discovered harder music. My first real project was called Escape to Mars. I would say it was quite successful somehow. I had a really great time together with Subjected, he took me into the Vault Series later. So that ran for 3-4 years, which was amazing, but then the feeling that it’s not fitting with me again came back. I felt as if I lost my rock family roots. I just sat at home and started producing what I really felt inside – that’s how the track ‘Rausch’ came along. When I finished it I still didn’t have a name for it all and I didn’t even know what to do with it, but I was so happy with the result. It took me a few months to figure out my further actions and in the meantime I produced more EBM oriented stuff.
Inhalt Der Nacht means ‘content of the night’, and everyone who goes out at night can put whatever meaning they see fit in that name, and that’s what I really liked about it.
I like the differences of people, their thoughts, their entities. It simply seemed like a perfect name. I released 4 tracks by myself at first on Bandcamp, which ended up being my first Inhalt Der Nacht EP. Maybe it was the perfect time and the perfect situation, but it just exploded in a few weeks – big DJs started playing these tracks, like Dax J or Kobosil, for example. I was like, ‘fuck!’. That’s how the Inhalt Der Nacht alias came to life and I’ve decided to go on with it. It feels 100% me – a bit dirty, more fun, more open, heavy.
What’s it like to be a Griessmuehle resident? What makes the place stand out from other places you’ve played at?
I think I’ve been a resident for over a year now. I know Christopher, the booker, also known as Acierate, he’s also running the SYNOID party. I’ve known him for 4 years and we’ve met a party he was doing in Wedding. I played in Griessmuehle quite a lot, I would say more often than in any other club in Berlin. I played so much that at one point I felt that it would be nice to have a place that would feel like home and where I could be free with my music. So at one point Christopher just asked me if I would be interested in becoming a resident. In the first instance I just replied ‘sure’, without realizing how much I actually love that place – it’s dirty, good soundsystem, best vibe on the floor. It’s 30+ degrees outside and inside it’s 40, and people still tend to like it more inside.
What does it give you?
I have a safe place where I have my regular Berlin gigs. It gives me a feeling of home, I don’t have to rush, I don’t have to look out for something else. The lineups are always amazing too: every weekend is surprising, it’s always versatile in terms of genres and directions. It’s a really unique spot.
Your label with Echoes of October Lebendig translates ‘alive’ from german. So when do you feel truly alive?
I always feel truly alive when I play, but even more when we have our label nights – when everyone from the label and all our friends are there. We haven’t had a party in Berlin yet, but something is coming next year. I don’t want to make something typical, so I’d also want to mix it up with a concert of some band before the party itself – bands like The Soft Moon, who are one of my favourites. But let’s see how it goes, but for sure it will be in Griessmuehle. Also, I think I will rarely play Berlin parties outside of Griessmuehle, maybe just for special occasions.
Do you go clubbing when you’re not performing?
Yes. I try to but it’s becoming more rare now. It’s somehow sad for me, because I’m 26 and I’m that rave guy who enjoys partying. I just love it. I also like to party in other cities because Berlin is becoming a bit different. The vibe in Berlin is ever-changing and it’s happening very fast compared to five years ago. It can be really nice but it can also be horrible. And I’m speaking more about the vibe on the floor. People forget the real reason behind going to a club or party. I dislike that ‘fashion’ crowd, who seem to think that they are better than everyone else. I hate that. This sort of thing destroys the entire vibe by making others somehow feel unwelcome and unfitting. But for me, those who feel insecure fit more than all those fashion people. It’s something that is very sad and it makes my heart bleed. It’s one of the reasons why I prefer partying in other countries or cities.
Where, for example?
For example, Munich. We have a small residency there at Rote Sonne and I love the guys that are running the whole thing. They are amazing and so open. The party we’re with is along Stock5 and it’s crazy, they’ve been running for 15 years now. Cologne is also really nice with the Brutalism crew. I think Leipzig is my favourite at the moment.
Do you have any rituals when writing music, something that helps you get the creativity flowing?
For me, it’s important to have memories of days or nights that were somehow special – that’s something that feeds my creativity. Things or feelings that I can put into my tracks. I don’t have rituals really. At the moment I have some creativity hole. It’s been months. But I’m not taking it too seriously, I just laugh at myself and joke that I don’t know how to make music. Then a day will come and I’ll just create 3 tracks in one go. It’s my balance – I can’t be in the studio all the time and be productive. Maybe genius producers can work that way, but I’m not one of those guys.
How would you describe the world you create during your set? How would you describe your personal state?
Oh that’s a heavy question. I don’t think that I’m creating another world when I’m playing. Also, I’m always nervous before I play and I keep telling all my friends how nervous I am haha. Then comes a moment when I stand on stage and countdown the 90 seconds before I start, and my heart is just exploding. But 15 or 30 minutes into my set I get the feeling that I’m coming out of my own world and become 100% present in the moment. I forget everything else.
The world that I build is the moment when I am present on the floor, present in the ‘now’.
Getting back to what you said about the ‘fashion’ crowd, do you think you’re able to probe them with your music, to put them into your way of thinking?
I never think to myself, ‘Oh, now I will show them how real techno works’, because I don’t know what’s the real way of techno. I just focus on my way and the way I like. I’m just hoping that in the moment the ‘fashion’ crowd forgets about the image of themselves they are trying to present, and just surrenders to the music instead.
So you’re a good guy that plays hard techno. What is the best gig you’ve played?
In the last two years I had so many good gigs. For me, it’s never important if there are just 10 or a 1000 people – I always try to do my best regardless. I will pick 3! The first one was more of a 2 in 1 gig. There is a demonstration in Berlin that I played the second time this year, it’s called “Wem gehört die Stadt?” [‘Who the city belongs to?’]. What happens there is really nice because it’s a demonstration against gentrification: the demonstration represents people that care about the city from a music culture standpoint. Last year there were around 800 people in front of one truck standing on the street. It reminded me of when I saw the Love Parade as a child, and there I was standing on a truck in my home city. Last year was amazing and this year it was even better – the amount of people grew dramatically, thousands of people came out dancing for the sake of our music culture. It’s not only about the culture though, it’s also about political issues, as crazy things happened in Germany this year, all the Nazi stuff, the AFD etc. It was very shocking and people needed to protest. The second would be my gig in Munich at our first Lebendig label night at Rote Sonne. We had zero expectations since we were this small label travelling to another city. We invited Schwefelgelb and Phase Fatale to play as well and it just exploded. At 2AM we had to close the doors for a while because the club was beyond overcapacity. The vibe was amazing and it was insane to see how big it’s becoming in Germany. People came up and complimented us, I really didn’t expect an outcome like that. And my third and most favourite gig was this year in Griessmuehle, it was the last day of the summer, it even sounds a bit romantic haha. It was a fucking hot day and Christopher wrote me a few weeks beforehand and suggested to do this party. I started playing in the second half of the day and it was so fucking packed, people were everywhere, you couldn’t even walk through the dancefloor, and no one even wanted to go outside. People were even standing on the DJ booth. That’s Griessmuehle for me – you can just play harder and harder, faster and faster, and people will be cool about it… And dance harder and faster haha.
What is the best party you’ve attended as part of the crowd?
I think it was about 5 years ago when I went to Sisyphos on New Year’s Eve. I came after my gig, where I played from 11PM till 1AM and I got a 5 day pass for 25 euros. For the first round I’ve stayed almost 30 hours there. All of my friends were there and by the end I was so fucked up, I took so much drugs. Yet it was the most beautiful party I’ve been to. But it was all about the fun, it was a big hangout with friends. But, for me, the music was fucking shit. It’s really not my thing what they play there.
Do you have an ambition to be famous?
No, clearly no. That’s what I meant when saying that everything that comes – comes. I don’t prepare and I don’t sit at home envisioning a future where I’m famous. Everything just happens. One of my life rules is that when you want something too much and only focus on this one thing – it won’t happen. Because you simply don’t look around and you don’t notice any surrounding opportunities. You’re just stuck in a tunnel. I’m really happy about how things turned out for me, I’m proud of where I am. It’s even crazy for me to be as successful as I am now. If it’s over – that’s ok too. I will still continue to make music, even if for myself. I simply love creating music and that’s the reason why I do it.
What about the money question?
Well sure, when you have a lot of gigs every weekend then you can live more off the money you get paid from music, and, of course, you think from that standpoint as well. I have a daytime job during the week – our company works with restaurants and shops. We take their info to our online page so that they have more sales. It’s not the sort of job where I have to think a lot, but it’s something that I like about it. It’s a balance where I have time off from music.
Do you think you will switch genres at some point music-wise?
I definitely know that I want to continue making music forever. Music does something to me that nothing else ever did – it makes me happy, it makes me feel like I’m in the right place. I actually had a chance to create a music piece for a theater in Havana, Cuba in August this year. It was a great opportunity for me. I felt like I wanted to try and do something different, something outside of the techno area. It ended up being a mixture of ambient music with electronic elements. It definitely opened my eyes to watch out for something different. I will definitely keep exploring it. And recently I worked on a theater piece as well, but this time in Germany. It was for the same guy, who is initially from Cuba, but lives in Bochum, which is West Germany. It’s fascinating because you can pretty much put anything in it – any idea, any thought. It was a sold out play, around 1500 people with a standing ovation. It was a brilliant experience. And as you can imagine the techno scene in Cuba is tiny, so most people who came to that theater never listened to electronic music before, but they really liked it and accepted it. It was one of the most favourite things I’ve ever done with music.
What is your advice on where to not go and what not to do in Berlin and vice versa?
Don’t go to Gorlitzer Park at night haha. I think Berlin is a city to discover. I’m quite sad for people who just come here for weekends and go to clubs and think that it’s all that Berlin has to offer. There are insanely nice places of nature around Berlin, for example, if you go in the direction of Köpenick, there is this lake called Müggelsee – an incredibly beautiful place. Another place that I really like in the West of Berlin is Teufelsberg, which has this famous weather station. It’s run by a hippie collective and has all this crazy art inside. Sometimes they throw little parties, but I’m more interested in their trippy art. I also have an interest in art that is more ‘fancy’, so I really like the König Gallery in Kreuzberg, they always have nice exhibitions. I think it used to be an old church before. That’s when I mean by saying that Berlin is a city to discover – you just have to move your ass and see what the city has to show you. Even going through Kreuzberg could be an amazing experience, with all those Späti shops. I always wonder what life looks like for all those Späti owners – they’re always there 24/7 and it seems like they never go home. There is also this hi-fi store next to Gorlitzer park and it’s owned by this old grandpa, and the shop itself is 50 years old or so. When you’re inside you get this nerd feeling from him, he knows everything about those hi-fi boxes. You ask one question about how to fix your problem and end up with a two hour long story, and then you leave the place without knowing how to fix the initial problem haha. I’m happy that places like that still exist, but the gentrification makes it harder, of course. For example, the Raw area in Warschauer Strasse is going to be closed in two years or so because they want to build a parking place for the mall. Things like that I do not understand – investors outside of Berlin come here and make these decisions of destroying things. Each time this happens, the city loses a piece of its soul.
I hope one day they will wake up and realise that Berlin is so different from all the other places in the world and it has to stay this way.
People with money and waking up sounds not likely.
I was actually in an Asian restaurant near Warschauer Strasse recently (I love Asian food) and there were these two ‘big bosses’ of the construction site and all they talked about was money: not about the house they’re building or the people who are going to live there. Just money. I was quite shocked, as they only see the money without any consideration for the city. Anyways, returning to the initial question, my advice would be to seek both the small things and the bigger things in Berlin. There are always new things to discover.
Could you share any cool stories or meanings behind your tattoos?
I have a blackwork arm, but it’s not finished yet. It’s a long-time project because I keep postponing my visits to the tattoo studio. There is no story to the black arm, I just like the way it looks. I’ve started it a year ago I think. Before that I had tattoos on my arms that always had a reason behind them. My first tattoo was ‘Life Is A Hard Way’ haha. I was in the hospital for quite a long time and after I was released I thought that I definitely needed a tattoo that would reflect that time. I didn’t go to a tattoo place to get it, I simply used eBay Kleinanzeige. So some fire guy came to me and did my first tattoo in the kitchen of my first flat. I payed 50 euros for it.
So you can just order tattoo artists on Kleinanzeige?
Oh no, it’s not a tattoo artist haha. I just wanted to get that tattoo and I wanted it immediately. Of course, in a couple of years I’ve realised it was definitely a shit idea. It looked like shit haha. But it was funny, at least. So at one point I’ve realised that I didn’t want to think of the past every time I looked at my arm, so I just covered it with blackwork. From now on I will only get tattoos that I just like from a visual perspective – no stories or meanings attached. So I will just hurt myself for no higher purpose haha.
What’s the most unexpected track in your personal playlist?
There are a few. I don’t get a chance to play them often, but that’s the case when, for example, I go to Jaded in London , – the afterhour party on a Sunday, – when you arrive at 9 in the morning and t here is this fucked up vibe because people came from other parties, and they’ve probably been awake for two days. But fucked up not in a bad way, the vibe is actually very nice. I played the track ‘Knocking’, it’s from the 90s. I guess that’s the most unexpected track I use in my sets.
How do you pick out artists for your label?
If I hear a demo that makes me go, ‘wow’, then I will definitely try to release an EP. But mostly it’s the people that we meet or people that fit with us. It takes a bit of time to realize if we have a good vibe with the artist. It’s a gut feeling. I used to have another label during my Escape to Mars period, it was called Module, and I’ve discovered an artist through Soundcloud and now he is quite famous. Now I’ve discovered the music of Peryl and he’s around 20, but I have the same feeling about him. I think he’s going to be fucking successful. The vibe between people is important and most of my work is built on that. Of course, it’s also about the music, for instance, Danilo Incorvaia, who is from Italy, and his music is so nice that I just want to reach out to him and say that I want to release his EP on our label. Who knows.
Anyone else to watch out for?
The French people are crazy. I don’t know what’s going on there, but people who are 17 are producing insane hard techno stuff. And yes, as I’ve mentioned, you should check out Danilo Incorvaia for sure. Also SDB. I recently played in Paris and there was this young guy BAEP, who sent me a track before the party – definitely one to check out too.
Why do you think there is an urge to associate techno with darkness and aggression?
It all comes from the point of view. I think of techno in terms of something powerful. Maybe it seems dark in the sound zone but I would never say it’s aggressive or violent. It’s a force that makes people move and that makes people think. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
What question would you like to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
I’m still not a professional at interviews haha. But I really liked all the questions you’ve asked, because it wasn’t just about my alias as Inhalt Der Nacht, but also about me as Cristoph – the guy who is doing all this stuff.
Big thanks to Griessmuehle.