Recorded at Nul
First thing Front club in Hamburg, what made the place magical and what made you follow Klaus Stockhausen, and his way of DJing?
There were different things falling into place then. I was always interested in club culture and music, but pre-internet you could mostly only read about legendary clubs and its resident DJs. When I first went to Front in 1987 I was 18 years old, and up to then I never heard a DJ who could really mix. Klaus Stockhausen played there since 1983, several times a week, and he had built up a very loyal crowd. The club itself was a raw basement, there was not much to distract from the music, apart from the hedonistic dancers. The place was very intense, and Stockhausen as well as his protegé and successor Boris Dlugosch were incredibly good. Of course you tend to be sentimental about times and places that intiated you into something, but I still have not experienced anything close, both in terms of clubs and DJing. Of course it also helped that those years saw very crucial developments in club music. When I started going there it was the end of that transitional period between Disco and House, which was extremely exciting. And in the following years I frequently went there that excitement persisted. Those were the blueprint years for everything we still dance to now, and I had the privilege to experience it right on the floor. And I learnt a lot of things that I still use.
How did you become part of Hard Wax, was it hard to get that job?
No. Seven years ago all my freelance activities and the according deadlines began to collide with being a father. My wife suggested some more steady work to complement and that I could ask for a job at the store, as I was a very regular customer anyway. Coincidentally Achim Brandenburg aka Prosumer quit working there at that time and they were thinking about asking me to replace him. So within a short time I sat down with the owner Mark Ernestus and the store manager Michael Hain and got the job.
I know you like to write about music, but why do you hate to write reviews?
I actually do not hate writing reviews at all. But after doing that for several years at de:bug magazine I felt I was increasingly running out of words to accurately describe the music I was given the task to review, and I think keeping a fresh perspective is mandatory in that aspect. But more importantly writing reviews does not work too well with running a label yourself, and working at Hard Wax. On the one hand I wanted to avoid allegations of being biased, on the other hand I had to keep potential implications of my writing commitments out of my other work. So I began to lay my focus on features and interviews, mostly from a historical perspective. I am not afraid of discourse and speaking my mind on certain topics if I feel it is necessary, but I am very cautious to remain objective.
Can you tell us what is Druffalo?
Druffalo is a semi-anonymous collective of six seasoned DJs and writers living in Berlin, Mannheim and Cologne, and was founded in 2007. It used to be a rather notorious web fanzine celebrating aspects of culture we felt were worth celebrating, and we were pretty merciless in pointing out aspects of culture we felt were not worth celebrating at all. The web magazine is defunct for a while now, as at some point the server we were running on mysteriously disconnected us and we thought it was a good statement to just disappear. The whole archive is backed up though, so nobody should feel too safe. Attached to it was a DJ collective called the Druffalo Hit Squad, consisting of the same six editors and likeminded guests. We did an influential mix series that is archived on Mixcloud, and we were constantly throwing parties that were pretty anarchic. Since the end of 2015 we took up a bi-monthly residency at the club Paloma Bar in Berlin, where we mostly define our idea of a modern Soul allnighter, using our vast archive of Disco, Soul and Garage House records. But there are also plans to return to the eclecticism of former years.
Do you think your Macro label is becoming a genre in itself, like RE-GRM, ECM, L.I.E.S., or Blackest Ever Black?
No, I do not think so, nor were Stefan Goldmann and me ever interested in establishing a certain trademark label sound that we have to fulfill with every release. We are more interested in working with producers that have developed their own signature sound, as long as it fits in with our own preferences. Our idea of running a label is very open, it is only determined by what we are interested in, and we are both very different individuals. We only release what we both agree on and that, combined with the consistent collaboration with our designer Hau, resulted in a certain coherence, although our back catalogue is rather diverse. We were also always aiming for the long run, and we both feel that you only can achieve that with a healthy amount of leeway and fresh ideas. Of course it is also important to have an identity, but we much prefer that to be based on reliable quality than sound aesthetics that create or reflect trends but are likely to end up as mere expectations. I do not think we are really comparable to the labels you mentioned, too. We had some archival releases, and we might have influenced some musical developments, but neither are essential to what we do.
Interveiw by Damir Plicanic for Mondo Magazine 03/17