Exclusive Interview With Mathias Kaden
Whether it is opening, peak hour or afterparty, Mathias Kaden’s intuition for a crowd and location, proves time and time again that he lives for his profession.
Mathias’ music is both, distinctly ambitious and refreshing. Inspired by the House music sounds of the 1990s, he works thoroughly to create new audio structures by utilising funky, freaky, dashing, dub, slamming sound features, enriched by African and South American percussions. The result is an enjoyable rhythm, which communicates with its audience in a very particular and playful way.
DJing and the production of electronic music have been Mathias’ occupation for 13 years now. With his approach to creativity, Mathias is one who refuses to over saturate the market with his own work. Rather, the necessity to make records that will remain long lasting is one of his guiding motifs. Together with Marek Hemman, Mathias released 4 ep’s on the label Freude am Tanzen and 4 of his own on Vakant. Amongst others, he has also remixed the likes of Matthias Tanzmann, Onur Özer, Dapayk, Anja Schneider, Daniel Stefanik and Trentemöller.
We caught up with Mathias ahead of his 6 June performance at Free Your Mind Festival, where we talked on a variety of topics from his new LP ‘Energetic’ (12 June on Freude am Tanzen) to the evolution of the German techno scene, his approach to Ibiza season, and much more.
“I really love Amsterdam. I would choose it if I had to move somewhere!”
With Ibiza season in full swing, how do you prepare for the rigours of the island?
I don’t prepare myself any differently for Ibiza than with other locations. The only difference is, I may bring some swim clothes.
If you play so much, like Sven [Väth] or Solomun, you may prepare differently as the people may get bored. A lot of people will listen to these guys 6 or 7 times a summer, but I will be on the island 4 times playing the music I love.
What events do you have lined up on Ibiza?
I am playing again for Cocoon like past years. This year I will also start to play for Sankeys, and Row 14 at Space.
Since you have played Cocoon year after year, can you give us an idea of the atmosphere of that party?
I like it a lot! It has been 5 years now for me. For an artist, it is something very special to play Cocoon at Amnesia. The first two years were always perfect. The last 2 years you may sometimes have a party with less people, keeping in mind the terrace still holds 5K.
I think this was good for Cocoon because people had space to dance, and also because the party had a lot of locals. They would work all week and go out on Monday’s to Cocoon. I am looking forward to every party in Ibiza but Cocoon is something very special, especially as a German DJ.
Another aspect of the summer is festival season. I am fascinated by this, especially coming from NYC to Amsterdam. In the US we are getting there on the festival scene, but here it seems like there is a festival (or two or three) each weekend. As an artist, do you have a selection process when approached by festivals?
First, I have to say big respect that you moved to Amsterdam and not to Berlin because many people make the mistake to go there. I really love Amsterdam. I would choose it if I had to move somewhere!
Back to the question, about 3 years ago I did start to select the festivals. I would get a lot of requests from new festivals that were maybe 1 or 2 years old. We started to look at who the promoter is; which acts were being booked; how many floors and so on. Sometimes, they will pay 2x your fee, which shows that the event may want to grow too fast and they don’t really know how to do it. If you play, you may get a lot of money but there will be technical issues or something like that going on.
In Holland, 2 years ago I may have lost a bit of the feeling as everyday there are like 4 festivals going on. I used to play Awakenings as they really put trust in what I was doing. Now, I always play for Volt Festival and Free Your Mind.
I played the Loveland Weekender in April, which went great. The problem is, the main festival for Loveland is always on the same day as Sonne Mond Sterne. I’ve played there 16 years and cannot leave that festival. The people from Loveland might think I don’t want to play there, which is not true. I want to but it is the same weekend as Sonne Mond Sterne and I just can’t leave.
In past interviews you have frequently highlighted a Studio 80 performance of yours from 2006 being particularly memorable. Are there other Amsterdam memories you are willing to share?
From a musical side, one great event was with my band Carousel, when we played at Melkweg. This was something very special. I never played there as a DJ so it was nice to see it and to play with the band.
I also like Paradiso, because it is an old theatre.
I played at Trouw with Daniel Stefanik, all night long. Before this, everyone was talking about how Trouw was something super special. Better than Berghain even! It turned out to be a very special event.
Besides this, when I first came to Amsterdam, I remember good times hanging out with William Kouam Djoko who was living with Boris Werner at the time. We would hang out at Bart Skils place all the time. Through this I met many people who I am still in contact with. We would have some very special after parties in the flats so I learned more about the Dutch mentality and got so inspired I wanted to move there.