Interview, photo: Elena Savlokhova
How to survive in the nightlife?
It’s really easy – you survive better if you don’t have fun. The best advice I can give is staying sober, but you might not have so much fun.
So I take it you don’t go out much when you’re not playing.
No, not so much anymore because I became a father last year and now I’m staying home with my kid. Years before my son was born we still stayed at home. If you’re travelling a lot and you have a show every second or third weekend then your focus switches a little bit. When you’re playing – it’s work, so I prefer to stay at home in bed without techno music if I have a free weekend.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever attended as a viewer?
I think it was Awakenings, but you can’t compare it because it’s a festival – it’s really big. Clubwise? I had a lot of cool gigs. Playing at Berghain is cool, playing at Griessmuhle is very cool… I had a lot of great shows but I can’t single out one in particular.
Why, in your opinion, is techno often-times associated with darkness and aggression?
This is a tricky question. I think it’s because you go out in the dark (not always), and the club is always dark too, but I think the combination of techno with darkness is not so good anymore. It must be more diverse. The 90s were so colourful, for example, the Love Parade – sunflowers, neon, people expressing themselves. Don’t get me wrong, wearing black is cool yet I think it’s not so related to techno anymore, and something new should come along.
You’ve mentioned before that your religion teacher said that ‘when you have goosebumps from music, it is the music made from the devil’. What was that all about?
Yes, I was 10 years old. It’s hard to explain, but when you are a religious person you think of God. So if you’re feeling great from music – you might get goosebumps. So her point was that these goosebumps come not from God, but from the devil. It wasn’t just about music, it could be TV or anything else that makes you lose focus on God. And we, as kids, were scared. I’m catholic but I left the church because it’s really expensive (laughs). It was the main reason why I left it. My parents decided that I should be baptised and sent me to a religious class, but I didn’t believe this teacher. She was really strange.
What is the enemy of creativity and how do you fight it?
Heat [ed. note – it was a 30+°C day in Berlin during the time of the interview]. The main reason behind my lack of creativity in the summer is the heat. For me, summer is not that creative, because I’m very chill and can’t think straight. If you’re in a heated studio it just kills creativity. But still I’m creative in the summer, I just might be doing other music, for example, a hip hop beat etc. The best solution though is to try and mix it up and try to do something else if you’re stuck.
Tell me a funny story from your childhood?
I can’t remember any childhood stories right now, but I thought of something from my adulthood, of how I had prophecy skills of sorts. A lot of times I would say that something would happen and it did, so my friends called me the oracle. There was this creepy story of when I had a bad accident in 2004. I had my first car and back then I was young and didn’t give a shit about things, so I didn’t fasten my seatbelt and my former girlfriend said, ‘ something is strange, let’s fasten the seatbelts.’ I wanted to take her home and on the way there was a big traffic jam, so I’ve decided to go around. When I decided to do so, in front of me there was a big transporter and we drove around, and as we did, I saw the same transporter but it was a little bit faster… Either way, there was a big accident and a car crashed in front of me, so our car was the middle of the sandwich vehicle. I had a bad injury, my 3rd and 4th neck vertebrae was fractured. My former girlfriend was ok, but it was our luck that in that moment she insisted on fastening the seatbelts. If we didn’t, who knows what might have happened. But the whole thing was a little strange and creepy.
But now you always fasten your seatbelt.
Yes, I do! It also took a long time for me to drive cars again. I don’t like driving cars in general, but I do it if I have to. Otherwise I ask my girlfriend to (laughs).
What interests you outside of music?
A lot, but if you have a kid – it changes everything. A few years back it was music, my girlfriend, and my family. Now it’s all about my son. It’s a really great feeling and I’m very sad that he’ll go to kindergarten. My girlfriend works in the mornings so I get to take care of him during that time and it’s always the best and fun part of the day.
There’s this film by Yorgos Lanthimos ‘The Lobster’, where single people are meant to find a partner in 45 days, and if they don’t, they must choose an animal to transform into. What animal would you choose?
I would be a cat.
What do you think is overhyped right now?
I might offend a lot of people when I say this, so don’t take it too serious, but I think that the really raw industrial techno scene is a little bit like a bubble and everyone wants to do it, yet I think it’s time for something new. I can already imagine the Facebook comments (laughs). It’s just my opinion. I started seeing it 8 years ago but now it just became more brutal, but now it’s time for something more organic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good music, and I did it before too. I feel like it’s just time for a change. Also, another overhyped thing is the high BPM – everyone is playing really fast. I was so surprised when I played last year in Lyon and I was the second DJ playing, and the warm up DJ played 140BPM. There were 20 or 30 people on the dancefloor and it totally killed the vibe. For me it was really hard to follow up on that. I slowed it down, people started dancing, all turned out good. So yes, the high BPM is overhyped.
Wouldn’t you agree that it varies by region?
Yes, maybe the wave will spread. You are right, the French and the Dutch guys tend to appreciate the really hard techno. In Berlin it’s always a mixture, and Berlin is something separate than the rest of Germany. It depends on where you’re from. Still, the high BPM thing still seems overrated to me. I really enjoy music and sometimes I love to play fast too, but when you go to every single and it’s all the same… I don’t get it or I’m too old (laughs).
Is there something you’ve never done but really want to?
Nope. But I had one bad experience! At one point my girlfriend tried skydiving and she told me how fun it would be for me to try it. So one evening we drank some wine and I said: “Let’s do this”. So 3 or 4 years ago she got me me a skydiving jump as a gift for my birthday, and I was like, ‘yeah…’
Did you do it?
Oh yes, but I wasn’t really honest when I said yes. I had to do it since I agreed to that evening. It was the worst decision ever. When you have a lot of gigs, you are familiar with flying and planes. We went to the skydiving place and I had a really cool instructor. I told him that I’m a DJ and that I fly a lot. He didn’t care that I was scared though (laughs). We were the last ones to jump off the plane and he told me later that if you’re filming a skydive jump then it’s really difficult to manage it because of a lot of pressure from the air, especially when you’re doing loops. It was hard to breathe and I started hyperventilating, I had thoughts that I would die in the air. It was really scary for me and it was hard to hold the parachute handles and the instructor encouraged me to maneuver the handles… I did it wrong, of course, so he had to push us around a lot and I just got so sick. When I landed there was no colour on my face. I even had to puke. Everyone from the plane was, ‘man, that was so much fun, I would do it again”. Not me though (laughs). I will never do it again. Also, the perception of the height is so much different from when you’re just flying on a plane somewhere. After the skydiving experience I even had nightmares that I was falling in the sky, so the aftermath was traumatic. But let’s see, maybe in 10 years I will want to do it again.
What excites you the most in what you do?
Right now I just really like to express myself. If you’re producing music – there is no limit. You always learn something new. As I’ve mentioned before, nowadays I even produce some hip hop and trap beats, so there is always something to explore. Some years before I started learning how to work with the modular system and now that I’m familiar with it I’m trying to seek new things to try out. The best thing is that I can do what I love to do. I love to make music and to be creative in many ways. Of course, I also love to play at gigs, I love to be a DJ.
When I have a lack of creativity. This new studio I’m in is great though. I used to have a studio in Marzahn (where every other artist has a studio). I grew up there, even my school was located next to my former studio. It was a zone of anti creativity because if you go a bit outside of Berlin, you just see all those grey buildings and it was a mood killer.
Do you have an ambition to be famous?
No, I’m not that guy who puts his ego above his work. For me, music is always the most important. I guess I am famous in what I’m doing. Sometimes I don’t realize it. For example, recently there was a newcomer producer who came to my studio, and she knew me well and came for her exams. She was very excited that I agreed to talk to her about her exams, so in moments like that I feel like I’m known. I never feel that way though. I am where I am.
What story from your life would you tell your future grandchildren?
There is a techno related story I could tell! It was Awakenings a few years ago some time around Easter. I have a strong allergy to wheat and rye so before the gig we had a great dinner at an indonesian restaurant and my stomach wasn’t that impressed. I will make the story short, but I ended up having food poisoning so it was really hard to play those 90 minutes. There were a lot of friends and DJs behind me, and every time I turned around I saw them giving me the thumbs up, and I just tried my best to pull through. I was so happy that there was a dixie next to the stage.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
To do whatever you want and do what you are up to currently. If your hobby is your job then you will always love the work.
Tell me about the very first time you performed.
I was really young, it was 17 years ago in a distillery in Leipzig. Back then I played a mixture of the typical Berlin sound with a mixture of electroclash. A former friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in playing there for a label show and told me that it would be really fun. So I said OK. I was really nervous before they picked me up but when I got into the car to get to Leipzig I did my best to show how chill and cool I am. I met the other DJs, we spoke to each other, and it was all right for me because I played the opening set, so it felt like playing at home with nobody on the dancefloor. After some time I looked the dancefloor and saw that some people started to show up and dance. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared anymore. I get nervous for some big gigs, like Awakenings, Berghain, or Griessmuhle, when all of my friends are there.
What question would you like to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
‘How are you?’
So how are you?
Fine, and you?