Interview: Kölsch

I quite enjoyed your mix for the “Balance Presents” series and have followed “Balance” for quite some time. How did you approach the mix?  As “Balance” is quite a respected series, exposing new artists, as well as highlighting established ones, what does inclusion in it mean to you?
It was a great honour to get to do that mix.  “Balance” has been a big influence for me along the years. Basically it is that and Fabric that are the best series, in my opinion.  I wanted to approach it to represent the past, present and future. I felt it was important to make a mix that you can enjoy in any occasion. A mix CD is a welcoming opportunity to make something that wouldn’t necessarily translate to a club situation. It is quite wrong if they are purely focused on club tracks. Obviously it has to be club music, but you can still play different things.  For instance, there is a clear reference to Detroit with the Galaxy 2 Galaxy record.

The mix CD has been prominent within the electronic music community for a while but recently, with the rise of digital accessibility, where do see the mix CD’s place within the wider landscape of contemporary electronic music? How would you approach constructing a podcast vs. a mix CD?
I think a mix CD takes a lot more effort as you really have to plan it. First of all, there is the whole clearance issue since it is an official release.  You really have to think about what you want to do with it.

With a podcast you are shooting from the hip, if you will.  I feel the best way to highlight the Balance mix CD is that it is important to not over saturate, so I have not done any mixes since.  If you want to do something that is supposed to be a highlight of your career, which I believe the Balance mix is, I wanted it to speak for itself.  I put a lot of work and effort into it so I believe it represents what I want to be out there rather than a recording from a random nightclub somewhere.

As a producer, what strategies do you use when working on something more commercial vs something more underground?  Do you approach the creative process differently?
I’ve distanced myself recently from producing commercial stuff. I had a period of my life when I enjoyed the challenges of producing a radio record, which is in itself a very difficult thing to do. I have to say that in the last couple of years I need to focus exclusively on making Kölsch records. It is very fulfilling and something that does very well for me emotionally.  It has been a slow output though, in the sense that now there is an album coming out, but there has only been two albums within this period.  It’s been so liberating being able to indulge myself in making music that is not intended to be a two week thing. Usually, records these days live for a very short time so, for me, it is very important to really dive in and give something my full attention instead of diverting a little amount of time to it.

How does the Kompakt platform coincide with your own artistic vision?
We are absolutely, completely in sync. They even encourage me to experiment a bit more, if I am being honest. They just feel I should do what I feel is right creativity wise, and they support that. I think this is the biggest compliment you can have from a record company. Every other record company I have worked with have encouraged me to make more “hits”. It is the exact opposite with Kompakt.

After two decades in the scene, how do you keep things fresh and interesting? What motivates you to continue pushing the boundaries of what you are capable of doing artistically?
There is a world of opportunities out there!  For a long time I have been trying to limit myself. It is interesting when you, as an artist, set yourself challenges in terms of limiting yourself to, for example, a certain amount of instruments. I think this is a very creative process.

My creative process is like this: I create loops for a track on a flight or somewhere, then I test them out in a live show or crew demo. A certain arrangement may come to mind and I’ll go back to the studio and make it. This crude arrangement would be sent off to add some orchestration. For me, it is very important to get that initial idea or emotion down so it is not disturbed or compromised. When you have the initial idea down, then you can work on detailing.

In the studio and on the road, what is an essential piece of gear?
When I produce with Ableton on the road I have this syncing setup that immediately syncs to my home studio when I turn my laptop on.

What are some of your best memories of Amsterdam? Any club nights, festivals, or one-off events that particularly stand out in your mind?
There have been so many! Amsterdam is such a great city!  One of the first shows I did was at Trouw a few years ago, which was absolutely amazing. It was one of the best clubs I ever played in.

Recently, I had a great time playing b2b with Joris Voorn at Paradiso. We did a show which was 5 hours and outstanding! I’ve played a lot of other great events in Amsterdam though, like DGTL or ADE. The scene in Holland is just so cool these days. I think it is beautiful how the Dutch people have embraced melodic techno and how it’s become a big thing.

Finally, being from Copenhagen, how did that city inspire you to pursue music in the first place?
A lot of the influence actually came from my family. I have very diverse roots as my dad is Irish, mom is German, and step mom is French, so there’s a lot of culture clash going on.

Musically, the biggest influence from the city was: I used to go to this youth club in Copenhagen.  It was a hot pot of creativity with breakdancing, bands, even a radio station and a discotheque. At the tender age of 11 I would DJ in the basement of the discotheque, which was my first brush with techno music.

‘1983’ is now available on Kompakt

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