Reprising his long and fruitful association with Poker Flat, Martin Landsky – elder statesmen and bona fide legend of Berlin’s club scene – serves up another superb EP that is more than ample testimony to decades of experience in production and behind the decks at virtually every noteworthy club or festival you might care to name.
Right from the off, ‘Da Geh Bo‘ hits the sweet spot with its booming bass, precision percussion and spacious production values. This is big, bold, upfront tech house garnished with imagination, not least the cut-up vocalizations that zip and echo added to the mix.
Your most recent EP ‘Da Geh Bo’ will be released next week on Poker Flat. Can you give us an insight into the production process of the EP? What was the very first element of its title track, which occurred to you?
The title track “Da Geh Bo” was the very first one to be finished and the whole ep was built around that one. Actually in the beginning there was this idea to create a track which is very simple, unpretentious and still transports a lot of atmosphere. So i started out forming the beats that have the vibe of an sampled drumloop and kept them really basic. And once i found this simple repetitive bass organ sequence everything else just felt together in a natural manner.
Aside from this EP, Poker Flat has enjoyed a long, rich history within the spectrum of underground house music. Why have Poker Flat and your relationship been so successful?
If I only knew the answers to these kind of questions, my life would be much much easier 😉 I think it has a lot to do with when and how we started out. The approach in general was very different back then, we had the freedom and time to develop something very own. The label and the early main artist on the label were fine drawing this idea of a particular club sound with each and every release. We grew up together like a family does. I mean 80 to 90 percent of all my original productions have been released on Poker Flat, so of course the label and me formed each others to what we are today and i think people see and hear that; it is authentic.
How would you describe the Poker Flat approach to its artists?
As I stated above I think freedom is one of the keys. Poker Flat always give the artists this freedom to express and develop themselves which leads to a very organic relationship. The artist have room to experiment which is a mandatory ingredient for the creative process in order to evolve. Its a very healthy and productive relationship between the label and the artists. On another note, Poker Flat is definitely one of the most reliable, trustful, conscientious and professional partners in the business i met when it comes to the administrative side of things. It´s fair trade in the best sense.
Over the past 15 years of Poker Flat, how has the issue of “relevancy” been addressed? Meaning, is it something where there is even a concern or does the quality of the music come first and relevancy second?
Trying to survive and to pay your bills as a label you have to play “vabanque” these days, no question. But i feel that the intention of Poker Flat has always been to create something sustainable, they are simply not seeking the fast and easy success. So the quality of the music is of course the biggest concern, if you want your music to be enjoyable in even 10 or 20 years, you definitely need this quality. On the other hand you won´t survive if you do not sell any music because your sound is not relevant or modern enough to get noticed (talking about dance music here, in other genres it works differently). So you need to find the right balance, the small path in between the extreme edges, Poker Flat has managed it pretty well in my opinion.
How have you noticed Poker Flat change over the years (if it has)? Have there been subtle/gradual changes in the sound? Have there been changes in the signing approach? Distribution?
Of course the sound and the approach changed, this is evolution. Some changes might be considered helpful and great, others might not, thats natural. It would be sad if the records would sound the same as the ones from fifteen years ago, but again it´s a challenge of balance here between staying true to your roots and going forward. In terms of distribution, promotion and related subjects it changed a loooooot, simply because at the time Poker Flat started things like WEB 2.0 (social media, soundcloud etc) didn´t exist. Also mp3, digital releases, online shops etc simply didn´t exist. That were different times, i can tell you…..
What is the current relationship like between Poker Flat and its host city of Berlin? Have you noticed any changes in this relationship over the years?
First of all Poker Flat is still based in Hamburg not in Berlin. Yes most of the artists including me are based in Berlin, but the office and everything is still in Hamburg, Of course there is a vital relationship between Berlin and the label, and the artists of the label who perform on a regular basis in the city. I can feel changes over the years, Poker Flat is somehow considered a “Grand Dame”, in the best possible meaning. But at the same time still a very important, relevant and lively part of the Berlin scene…