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?
Since I finished school in 2003 I’ve been a freelancer. This means that I have given myself a lot of routines that I have to follow, otherwise I become totally incapable and uninspired to get anything done. If things don’t work out the way I plan I loose my focus. My weeks are planned far in advance, Ical and deadlines are my best friends.
I try to be in the studio at least three full week days every week, and if I’m not travelling I’ll be in there on the weekends too. Bedtime is early, like 10.30 pm latest and up again around 06.00 am. Gym is always in the morning and then biking the 40 minutes to my studio. I always make a lunchbox the evening before to bring out there since it’s in the middle of an industrial area in Lichtenberg without cafes and restaurants.
The days I’m not there I am at home trying to organise my records (never-ending project) and listen to new music, or working from my co-working space. My social life is close to non-existing except when I go clubbing/DJing, do our (Kate Miller and mine) radioshow at Cashmere Radio or meet my colleagues. But once I’m out socialising, I’m REALLY out socialising. I am apparently something called an extroverted introvert, which means that I have to have all of this alone time in between being social. That’s why it’s so nice to work with music, you can have both of those worlds blending together.
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 would go up early, and not change out of my pyjamas. Two two cups of coffee and then play records the whole day, with the occasional break for food and purchasing a few digital tracks. I always find 3 tracks that are suitable for the opening of my set, and then have stacks of ”low”, ”mid” and ”high” records packed together, so that I know where to look depending on where the vibes of the night goes. Unless it’s a special circumstance (like a 45 min short festival set or similar) I never plan my sets ahead, I just prepare and organise. Then I have a nap, and then to the club a couple of hours before my set starts.
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?
It’s the only time I can feel really zen and have inner peace to be honest. Nothing else then music and the dance floor on my mind, it’s an incredible relief, It makes me so relaxed and content. The distractions of this would be if there’s someone wanting to talk in the middle of mixing, if the monitors are terrible or if the equipment doesn’t work properly. That really makes me nervous and uncomfortable, OR if I didn’t get any shut eyes before going to the club, then it’s a bit more hard to get in the mood. Even then it’s usually like 5 min into my set then I’m happy again.
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?
This was the toughest question of all! I honestly don’t know where it comes from, I just go on my feeling about the music and the dance floor. I think ahead 2-3 tracks, just sort of sensing if something needs to change on the dance floor/keep the current mood/ go up or down energy wise. There are always a couple of tracks that I have as ”special tracks” in my set that I try to work up (or down) to.
I’ve put multicoloured stickers on all of my vinyls so I know which ones fit better together then others , just to save time when looking through the bag, but it’s mostly instincts at work.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
Definitely a composition in the moment. The DJs, the promoters and the dancers are all in this together.
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?
It’s not that much of a difference for me since when I play the music at home I’m already in club mode in my mind. If I get bored playing certain records at home, why would it be any difference in the club you know? It’s just louder, but I would still be bored, and then the challenge would be gone. I put those records in my ”for sale” bin haha.
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?
It can be very challenging sometimes, especially nowadays when being a DJ is something that can make you incredibly famous if you have the right platforms for it. Sometimes I get the impression that there are a lot of expectations about how a DJ ”should” behave or what they ”should” be playing and that doesn’t really reflect what me or my friends are trying to do. But some times that is what the bigger audience wants.
I understand that it’s different depending on which clubs or festivals you play, but I’ve definitely felt that I’ve been the wrong person booked at the wrong place a couple of times over the years. It’s terribly difficult when you realise that whatever you’ve packed in your bag is not going to be right for this night or this club. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it feels awful for quite some time afterwards.
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?
Oh it’s so different from set to set. I absolutely love playing my closing sets at Oscillate (my residence night at about blank), they usually book me to close the techno floor from 6/7am to 11 am Sunday morning. if it’s that kind of set I’m happy if I can take it down the last hour(s) and make it a really comfortable (but danceable) melodic groovy space techno set that gets everyone in a nice mood and becoming friends with each other on the floor. I try to introduce new sounds; have it being a strange drum pattern, weird synth sounds or space forest pads sounds... something that catches your ear and makes you feel or visualise something in your mind.
Personally it’s important for me to not play aggressive/punishing sounding techno, the club environment is usually quite overwhelming as it is already. BPM can be fast but I don’t want to give anyone a bad trip. It has to be personal and communicative and If I have achieved that in a set, I’m satisfied.
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?
Any art and its surrounding environment has always been a safe space in my life. Like I said earlier, it’s been the only times in my life when I can have a break from my brain and just enjoy the moment whenever I’m doing something with music or anything else that allows me to step into this other parallel world of sounds and beautiful things. I don’t approach art and being an artist in any special way more than just being myself and doing what feels right. And I hope that some people get what I’m trying to get across with it.