Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there?
I’m in Hamburg right now, enjoying the rather grey sky with a warm tea in my hand. I moved here almost 15 years ago. The music scene is actually very good. There’s a lot of networking in between the artists, we have great clubs with even better parties. The Diynamic crew is based in Hamburg and clubs such as Uebel & Gefährlich, PAL, Moloch and Südpol are top spots.
How did you first start playing music and especially techno?
My first time playing music was at my parent’s house, when I started to record songs from radio shows on to my cassette tapes to cut them together. During that time, I hadn’t a clue about electronic music. I was digging everything – from funk to pop. I even played some tracks during a party in our school. When Afrika Bambaataa came up I Instantly got hooked and wanted to know more about those “weird” sounds and cool beats. Well, my friends at first were rather skeptical when I started to integrate those tracks into my sets but in the end they started dancing as well. Luckily I was able to start DJing at a small club called Metro – which actually still exists. I was playing all the mainstream stuff during peak time but when it got a bit later I played some techno tracks. After a while the crowd got used to techno so we could continue the whole night!
What programs/equipment do you use?
For my gigs I rely on three Pioneer CDJ 2000 NX2 and prefer a MODEL1 mixer. In the studio I do almost everything within Logic Pro X paired with the plugins from Arturia and Native Instruments – such a great combo!
You recently released a stellar remix package of your acclaimed late-2017 LP Propaganda, featuring reworks from Raxon, Fur Coat, Shaded, Shall Ocin, Alex Stein, Olivier Giacomotto, Carlo Ruetz, hatzler, Marc Houle, André Winter, Marco Resmann, Maksim Dark and Distale. Listen HERE (Part 1) & HERE (Part 2). Please describe how the remix package came about and how you ended up working with the different artists:
Deciding who should remix which track was not easy. I had some artists on my wishlist and I wanted to include some of the Senso regulars. After a lot of back and forth. Some couldn’t do the remix in the right time frame or wanted another track which I promised to someone else. It really took some time to make everyone, including me. I think the result is a pretty perfect symbiosis of the Senso Sounds veterans such as André Winter, Hatzler and Shaded and new family members like Fur Coat, Olivier Giacamotto, Marco Resmann and Marc Houle – just to name few.
Is the end result the same as you had imagined when you first started the project?
I’m so happy with the total outcome. The artists put in so much effort to make their very own version of my tracks. André Winter, for example, chose a downtempo electronica track with ‘Momentum’ and he managed to develop a huge club banger, which is climbing the Beatport Techno Top 100 very steep!
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I rarely listen to music in my free time. As I have to do the A&R work for Senso, listen to promos and of course have my gigs, I have music around all the time and need total silence meanwhile.
But if I do, I really love Ghostpoet and Chet Faker.
You run Hamburg based techno label Senso Sounds, how and why did you decide to start your own label?
I’ve run my own labels since 1995. After Confused Recordings and a great time with Ideal Audio – both based in Bremen – it was time to create something new. I moved to Hamburg, my booking agency ‘Kontrast Artists’ was developing very well during that time. So it was just a logical step create a new label, based in Hamburg around a new team.
How do you go about deciding which artists it is that you’ll work with?
The sound is the key. I mainly created Senso Sounds to give a platform to artists with a very specific sound. For example ‘Maksim Dark’, a young producer from Russia, sent me a demo and I was instantly hooked. He has a very unique but consistent style. By now he’s delivered a few releases on Senso Sounds, even on vinyl, and his reputation within the scene is getting better and better. I’m also happy that I just signed the German duo ‘Hidden Empire’ who’ve just delivered a massive banger. It really doesn’t matter who, or how famous you are – if the sounds fits, you’re in!
What do you find most challenging and rewarding with running Senso Sounds?
The most challenging is probably to find the right sound. We do get a lot of demos. Between touring, producing and the agency work it’s just sometime hard to listen to all of them. It even happened that I found a killer track but I was just too late, it got signed somewhere else in the meantime. Luckily that’s not the usual case, but it can happen. The best reward is to play a freshly signed demo during a gig and to see that the crowd is going totally mad. Plus giving the young artists an opportunity to push their career and to honor the hard work they put into every beat.
You’ll be touring Australia in March 2019, what do you have planned for these shows?
Four shows in three days, a tight schedule but I can’t wait to be back in Australia. Last year I did a small club tour, which was great and intimate. Now I’m ready to take over the festival stages at Days Like This in Sydney, Circus Paradise Music Festival at Gold Coast and Pitch Music Festival in Moyston. I heard a rumor a club show is also planned in between, we’ll see.
What are you looking forward to seeing/doing whilst you’re in Aus?
As I have a two-year-old son at home the plan usually is: fly in as late as possible, fly out as soon as possible. I’ll take some extra time for this tour though as my oldest boy is coming along so we can spend at least a few days in Sydney and Melbourne together. The last time I found some great street art spots. I will for sure check if I can find some more. While doing that I will for sure end up eating a lot of great food. I really don’t know how the Australians are able to have so much super tasty stuff.
You’ve had a very successful 25 year plus career in techno, how has the techno scene changed since you began till now and where do you see techno going?
When I began, the scene, especially in Germany, was very small. We all tried to get those rare import records from the states. We all knew each other, which was great to network and to invite each other to play. Nowadays, everyone could be a DJ, tracks are spread in no time, getting DJ gear is also way more accessible. I mean this in a positive way as it can open a lot of doors as long as someone has talent and passion. The other side is we have DJs popping up everywhere just on the quick hunt for fame even though they don’t feel or understand the culture around electronic music. In these times it’s even more important to stand out, to build your own brand step by step.
What do you like to do away from music?
I love to go sailing, I used to have a boat in the Baltic Sea. Apart from that I love to travel, explore different cultures off the main path. Generally I’m not the type of person who lays at the beach or pool all day while I’m on vacation. Activities like skiing or experiencing new things are more my cup of tea. It’s important that the mind and body have something different to do than usually, otherwise it’s just to easy to think about all that work that is left on the desk.
What do you have planned for 2019?
My label Senso Sounds is going to celebrate its 5th anniversary and its 50th release. We are currently working on some special event for that occasion. I’m already in the final stage of the line-up selection for our rooftop pool party during OFF Week in Barcelona and of course I’m hiding in the studio, I’ve just finished another production with my studio mate André Winter.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
I love the Lebanese food but only in Lebanon itself, for me the best kitchen in the world. When it comes to variety, Australia is the top spot. I’ve never seen so many places with extraordinary food in such a concentration anywhere else.