A friend told me he drove you from the airport to a party in Leeds once and the car blew up on the M62.
I think I remember that actually.
It made me wonder what that part of the job is like. I imagine sometimes you get a really professional team and a nice chauffeur, and sometimes it’s wide-eyed ravers in these shitty bangers with the tunes blaring. Do you like the adventure of that?
Yeah, I mean, it’s something I have to deal with. I don’t really mind it of course. The worst was this one time the guy who runs Sunwaves was driving me from some town in Romania. We had to hurry to the airport and he was speeding like a maniac, then suddenly on the motorway the tire blew up. And then he went to change it on the side of the motorway with all the cars flying past. It was kind of mad.
I guess as you get older, you put a lot of trust in your agent.
Yeah, but I mean most of the people I actually like. If you book me, you must be cool [laughs].
So how has the last year been.
Pretty shit. Nobody knew that it was gonna last a year. First it would be over by June, then by August, then December, but it never came. If I had known, I think maybe I would have moved something else. In fact I’m still thinking about it. But yeah, did get a new girlfriend, which is nice. Aside from that, it’s basically mainly been a financial problem.
I thought the German state moved quite quickly on that front and announced furlough would last two years quite early on?
They did give some money, we received something in March, that’s like three months rent, you know, that’s it. So we have really nothing. I mean I’m not one of those guys who got rich off DJing. But I can still earn money from selling records, doing remixes, but it’s nothing compared to before.
So did you feel pressure to do more remixes and make more music in order to earn, and if so is that a rather compromising equation?
I didn’t try to get asked to do more, I just maybe took more than I usually do. So yeh, that and royalties and some other things. I mean I actually shouldn’t moan because I’ve done OK, but it’s always. Before it was like, you get your bookings three months ahead, you can kind of plan. You know how much money you will get. Now, you just don’t know what’s gonna happen. That’s nerve racking.
Apart from the new girlfriend, have you managed to take any positives from the last year?
Actually I kind of lost my taste for music in the beginning. Well, the first three months I kept on. But then I started losing interest in dance music, you know, because I make music to dance to, and it’s kind of weird when you don’t have the connection to the dance floor or DJing anymore. So I kind of let it rest. Instead I got more into astrology.
Yeah, tell me about that.
I was interested in it at school, and then I went to London and studied it, so have been learning about it for 30 years now. So I decided to try and become an astrologer.
I saw that you offer readings.
I’ve been doing it for a long time now. But mostly for friends, when I was in the mood, maybe once or twice a year. So I kind of I thought it was something I could do to make money but apart from music I can’t really do anything.
Being a good astrologer, is it all down to your personal interpretation, or are there strict rules to apply to help people?
The people who approach me know me already, like via music. I think I can say that men are more interested in it just because it’s like they want to chat to me, it’s a chance to have a talking session, to learn something about themselves. Women are more interested in problem solving, the more psychological side, which is kind of nice. I mean I know a lot of people have prejudices against it. They think it’s wacky.
I mean, religion itself is eccentric and wacky, but if the end result is that somebody leaves some sort of religious gathering feeling better about themselves and feeling more positive, then who cares if it’s all just a placebo?
Yeah, yeah. I do like positive messages and positive input. And I think there’s a lot of it in my music. What I do has a deep feeling and more psychological aspect to it. You know, it encourages you to think about yourself, or to trip in the cosmos. So there is that connection there between the two things. It’s a big thing for me personally.
What do you think is the root of this fondness for trippy heady, escapist thinking?
I grew up that way. I grew up a macrobiotic thanks to my dad, who was an esoteric kind of guy. It’s like a Japanese diet, like eating like brown rice. Everything’s cooked. Hardly any meat, lots of seaweed, no fat.
Was your dad a hippie?
No, not really. He was a regular guy. A businessman, really. He just picked it up. Back then, it was completely revolutionary. Nobody had heard about it. And it’s that kind of upbringing that made me. I always went to Steiner schools. It was kind of strict. No media, no iPads, no computers. It had a very anal aspect to it, which I don’t agree with, but it was good for focusing more on art, performance, theatre, poetry, and all that kind of stuff. My dad was kind of an-anti system guy, I suppose. It was a bit like a sect, a cult. It didn’t mean to be, but it was.
Is it too facile of me to say that, because of that strict upbringing, you ended making this minimal music, which operates within these strict and restricting rules?
Yeah, maybe, I mean, my thing, I just don’t like it cheesy. That’s why I don’t make minimal with loads of effects I don’t make it sound big, So I suppose my upbringing did have an affect on that. I like being undercover, subtle, not in your face, but without being too kind of hippie as well. I like it to be. I mean, I like it sexy and dirty as well. I like both of those sides.
You started a new label during lockdown, right?
Well, the plan for it was like two years ago. It’s called My King is Light, which is what Melchior means in Hebrew. I suddenly realised that aspect was mostly just me, or me collaborating, and when I got other artists it never sounded right because my sound is so specific that if anything else jumps out, you know. It’s really weird. So yeah, that’s why I started a new label for other people’s music.
Do you enjoy the A&R process, or do you just feel you’ve got loads of talented friends?
Yeah, I like the A&R. I like picking out people.
Might you mentor them and get involved with giving them direction?
Um, no, no, no, I don’t. I don’t want to give direction. I hate when the record company guys go ‘I want you to be like that. It’s a shame, you know, because I had five releases all mastered and ready to go. We put out three and they just fell into the void this last year. Some of it doesn’t kind of really fit into a minimal scene, some is almost Italo disco, some is like real heartbreak stuff. I just want it to be good dance music with interesting tracks and good atmospheres, you know.
I feel like of all the micro genres within electronic music, minimal is probably the one with the most fanboys. Do you find that there’s a lot of chin scratchers, ID hunters, people too cool to dance where you play?
I don’t have a problem. I don’t get invited to big parties, I play to 600 people, that’s my crowd, so they’re always good. I want to play the music I want to play. I want people there who enjoy it. I don’t want to cater to people.
Does minimalism extend to any other aspects of your life?
Yeah. Not in a sort of anal way. But I kind of like things simple and beautiful, minimalism is about the essence of something.
Like a decluttered mind is a decluttered house.
In a way, but if things are too tight, too controlled, it kind of makes me a bit stiff, you know, and then I can’t really can’t really get down to it when everything’s clean, we can’t touch anything. Like, some guys, their studios are really pristine, you can’t smoke in there. So you know, I like it kind of messy as well.
Have you always been like that from being a child?
Yeah, I suppose. The Japanese macrobiotic stuff. It’s a minimalist way of eating, to basically deprive yourself of taste. You don’t use much salt. You don’t use spices, or not a lot anyway. It’s about the essence of things. Like, brown rice, you know, it’s minimalist. When you do totally deprive yourself of all taste, you start tasting the actual food itself, without any spice, without fat, without flavour enhancers, or sauces. That’s why I like organic as well. I suppose I kind of apply that to the music in a way as well. I don’t want too many effects on it. And I want the music parts to speak, rather than the elaborate effects.
You have been DJing 20 years now, right?
I didn’t start as a DJ. I always collected records.More like jazz and classical music, experimental, ambient music. And as time went by, I kind of became more and more interested in dance music and dancing. Obviously, at one point, the DJ thing became an interesting thing to do. I had actually started enjoying it more and more before last year because I started getting better at DJing. More confident. I have a studio with Zip and Ricardo, a little house, like a complex. And so even if I don’t go out, you know, I am always surrounded by DJs. And if you know, Ricardo, he lives it to the max, you know?
Would you like to have had the level of notoriety that he’s had? Could you live with that lifestyle?
I mean, yeah, it’s nice when you get acknowledged. No, but I’m not really an entertainer. Not like the kind of guy who really has that much contact with the audience. I concentrate on my records, on the music, I don’t cater for people. I don’t have that sort of name. I don’t see the point for me to play to people who don’t really know about my music. And I don’t want to be misinterpreted, either. Something I don’t particularly like about dance music so much is when it’s obvious, music that you can play in a supermarket. Or like an audience that’s kind of just there to party or more for social reasons, or for getting fucked up. To make dance music that caters to that crowd that is sort of fat and in your face, like fat bass and drums, everything compressed and for maximum effect, it’s kind of cheesy to me.
What sort of stuff have you listened to in the last year?
I like older music. The 70s is my favourite era. Jazz funk, funk, jazz, soul it has a certain kind of warmth to it. I think the recording techniques were very good. And also the musical content. It was kind of a bridge between the 60s, which was too simple for me and the 80s, which is a bit too much of a machine sound. Reverb, metallic sounds, big drums. Like, I’m not really particularly a fan of late 80s dance. Generally it’s clunky, like metallic, big snares, really bright, the drums really pushed to the front, you know? To be honestly I prefer the US and UK sounds after 92. I like emotional content, music that is soulful, not so dry.
So, what are you going to go and do now that we’re finished. Do you have routines to keep a healthy mind and body at all?
Well, my son’s gonna come around. I might go to studio afterwards. I’m just glad winter is over. It was really dark for like four months. I don’t want to get into Coronavirus chat but I hope it’s over soon. Berlin feels weird. People just go for walks. Nothing is open. It could be any town. It’s really bad for the scene, you know, people might have to start moving away if there was another year of no parties.