Name: Felix Kröcher
Occupation: DJ, Producer
Current Release: Faceless Fears on FK Records
Recommendations: My track of the year: Artbat – Closer
If you enjoyed this DJ interview with Felix Kröcher, be sure to check out his website, soundcloud account or facebook profile for even more about his work and music.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started DJing 20 years ago in Frankfurt! My main influences back then were Sven Väth & Chris Liebing! I played quite hard in these early days of my career, whereas today I often like to have a more melodic side in my sets as well.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
When I started the scene was only just beginning to really develop here in Germany. That was, of course, a big difference in comparison to the scene nowadays. I think aspiring producers & DJs should pay attention to find their sound first and then start reaching out to labels and launching their project. Even if it might take more time, it’s worth it.
I always like to develop my sound and play the tracks which resonate with me as well as with the crowd I am playing for. Back then as earlier said, I used to play way harder. I think it’s a constant development which is great in my opinion. :-)
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
As said above the competition nowadays is way more then it used to be 20 years ago. Not that it was easier back then. But nearly everyone nowadays can start making music with a laptop and a decent budget. So you have to work hard to stick out from the masses! I was in a really happy position back then with my residency at the U60311 and everything, which followed right after.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
The job of a DJ / music producer is very broad. It’s about curating music, reading the crowd, reading trends and always developing as an artist. I love that it’s always changing and never stays the same.
Also, a DJ has a kind of responsibility for a crowd and fans. You always have to meet the expectations of fans, which sometimes is challenging.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first equipment was the cheapest of the cheapest. I didn’t have enough money to afford anything from Pioneer, and I can’t even remember the supplier my first equipment was from. But it was worth it anyways. I could hardly work on my DJ technique with a headphone that was way too big for my head haha. The most of my earned money back then was spent on vinyls. Step by step I was able to afford better equipment and that was a huge achievement for me already. :-)
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I think we are living in a time right now, where things are developing really fast. I think I am just going with the development technology brings, be it while Djing or producing. :-) For example while preparing for a DJ set I think technology nowadays brings great mechanisms to prepare a set. I always use rekordbox and it has so many great features, which makes it really efficient to organise all the tracks I’ve got.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
It depends a bit, whether I am touring or not. During the week I like to have a “normal” more relaxed life. I still work in the music department of the radio station Sunshine Live, where I started working as an intern 20 years ago. Next to that I am collecting new music during the week, of course, spend a lot of time with my daughter and further like to spend a lot of time outside walking or riding the bike.
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
I always like to have a big collection of new tracks, as well as classic tracks I've been playing out for some more time already. But I never really prepare a set at all. I like to make it dependent on the venue, the crowd, and the energy and react from there.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I am always really excited before my sets. I like to arrive one hour earlier to have a look at the club & crowd already and just hang out with the promoter & friends coming with me before. ;-)
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
It all depends on the crowd. Do I want to take them on a more melodic journey with long building breaks, or do I want to bring some more energy into the room with a more peak-time kind of track? It’s a back and forth between reactions from the people and me trying to figure out the perfect fitting next track.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
I see it more as an improvisation. It’s all an outcome of the moment really and no set is the same.
How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
From a general standpoint, I love playing completely different music at home. It just calms me down to listen to the complete opposite kind of music, when I am just enjoying a glass of wine on my couch. ;-)
Referring to techno music it’s of course always a different feeling playing it out at home. When I explore new music I always try to imagine how it could work in the club or at a festival and from there decide if it will resonate with my fans or rather not.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires, and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
I think that is a fluent exchange. I make decisions to express myself as an artist, but on the other hand, I always want to make my fans happy. :-) During a live performance, it’s like a dialogue I have with the crowd through music. As stated above it’s an outcome out of a particular moment made up of my selection of music and out of the reaction from the crowd.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
I think the end of a set is always something special. The last track is also the last memory people take home from your set. So it should always be something special. In my opinion, it should create an emotional connection with the crowd, which is transported through a rather emotional track or also an all-time classic everyone knows, but would not necessarily expect in that particular moment.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Being an artist is exciting, yet also challenging.
From my point of view, it’s something that leaks into all areas of life. Everyone loves listening to music. Everyone loves remembering that moment he heard a particular track for the first time. I love when these people come together in harmony at a club or festival show and we celebrate electronic music.