Cxemcast 064 – Koehler
The mix sounds like it’s usual Cxema peak time. That’s intentional, right?
Yeah, absolutely, I wanted to record a peak time banger of a set. I know they absolutely go wild at Cxema, so that's precisely what I had in mind when recording this mix.
Your recordings, podcasts, and radio shows, all of them can be easily found on the web — and every single one is quite different from the others. Aren’t you afraid of blurring your DJ style? Or is it rather a way to show the variety of your music interests?
Not really, I play a fairly wide range of styles and genres, I suppose, but the records that appeal to me all sound like they are coming from the same place. I find it hard to believe that if you enjoyed one of my techno mixes you wouldn't like one of my drum'n'bass or ambient mixes.
You have a special Soundcloud playlist with d’n’b mixes. In your latest Hyponik podcast description it is stated that this is the way you come back to your British roots. Could you elaborate on that?
Well, I was born in Bristol, and drum'n'bass and rave music was literally everywhere, it was impossible to avoid. There was a guy in the center of the Bristol shopping area who had a big speaker on a trolley, and he would push this speaker around blasting out tapes they recorded at all the big raves like DreamScape and Helter Skelter.
From around the age of 11, I was buying tapes off this I guy: sets by Grooverider, Randall, Kenny Ken and loads of others. My older brother was really into happy hardcore, so he was buying the tapes of DJ's like Douglal, Slipmatt, and Sy. It was 3 pounds for 1 tape or 2 tapes for a fiver!
We sometimes used to just buy random tapes from people we had never heard of, like Carl Cox or John Digweed (laughing). Honestly, neither of us knew anything, but it was a great way to find out.
How do you manage not to lose your own sound while creating such an amazing amount of mixes? What kind of music always follows you at parties?
Well, I definitely don't try to be an eclectic DJ. I try and just select the records that seem most futuristic and atmospheric, with strong drums, heavy basslines, weird sound effects etc. If it's a techno track or a deep house track or an ambient piece or whatever it doesn't particularly matter, because I know that at some point in the future it will work in a DJ set. I hope that the more you research music the more chance you have to be surprising.
You are now in Bologna, having moved here from Berlin. An unusual step for an electronic musician. What’s the reason behind it?
I have always dreamed of being a musician and a DJ, but I have never dreamed of living in Berlin. It was a spontaneous decision to move there 4 years ago, and I had a great time there with plenty of ups and downs, but it's not a place I really ever felt at home. Being a musician and a DJ in a whirlpool of other musicians and DJ's isn't necessarily as much fun as it sounds (laughing).
What’s going on in Bologna these days?
Bologna is a wonderful town, and Italy as a whole is literally overflowing with art, history, and culture, so it really is an inspiring place. And as far as raving goes in Bologna, the city is blessed to have the Timeshift crew who always put on amazing parties. They have quality and consistent bookings, great sound and, most importantly, they have cultivated a dedicated and passionate crowd who go absolutely mental on the dance floor every time!
Let’s get back to UK. When did you make up your mind about DJing and producing?
After begging my parents every single day for months and months, I finally convinced them to buy me the cheapest Gemini turntables for my twelfth birthday. The mixer was a 2-channel Gemini mixer with two volume faders, a crossfader, a master volume, and a headphone volume, and nothing else (laughing).
I think the entire set up, including the speakers, amp, turntables, mixer, and headphones, cost less than 300 pounds. Which was definitely absurdly expensive for a child's birthday present back then, but not bad — I still have all that gear and, apart from the mixer, it still works!
Tell us about your first release on Skudge White.
Well, I bought my first computer in order to learn production around the age of 24, and spent around 4 or 5 years learning how to use Logic, making everything strictly in the software. But I could never get things to sound as I imagined, and could never get anything to sound really raw or kind of shocking.
By that point, I had saved some money to go and do a Master’s degree, and then I thought: well, now I have some money saved up, I could buy some hardware and just see if it makes a difference to my music. So, instead of doing a Master’s degree, I made a wild decision to buy a Roland SH-101 and a whole bunch of other synths.
And I remember the first time I tried the SH-101 I was like “Right, there it is! That's what I've been trying to do in Logic for years, and now all I have to do is press a key!” So, within the first six months of buying all this hardware, I made the tunes which ended up on the first Skudge record.
Your collection includes releases on “anonymous” label R-Zone. How do you like that idea with hiding artists’ names?
I was very happy to release on R-Zone as I have a great deal of respect for DJ TLR. And I think the idea of releasing anonymous records was a noble one in trying to get the focus strictly on the music. Clearly, as a business decision it wasn't the smartest move (laughing). The reality of the music world seems essentially to be a game in which you have to work out ingenious ways of getting people's attention.
Your releases often get positive feedback. Does this kind of appreciation affect your workflow?
I am still shocked that anyone actually knows my music at all, so yes, it is nice to see a good review here or there, but it certainly does not affect what I make or how I make it.
What is your most recent musical inspiration or discovery?
To be honest, most recently I have actually been getting most inspired by non-musical things. I have recently been boring my friends here about the ins and outs of sacred geometry. Trust me, if you want to kill a conversation at a party, pull that topic up!
You have already been to Ukraine two years ago at Arma Comes Closer party in Kyiv. How do you feel about that experience?
Yeah, I do remember that was a super cool gig, really great vibes in every room. However, I do remember getting lost in there embarrassingly often (laughing), the place is enormous!
One can oftentimes come across your b2b set with Helena Hauff at Unsound Festival in 2015 in Kraków. Please tell us more about that set, why it appears to be so popular?
That was really great fun, Helena Hauff is undoubtedly the most rock-n-roll DJ around, and it was a joy to play alongside her.
What is your typical behavior during the parties where you play? Do you go in full concentration on your set before it starts, or you just don’t worry at all?
I always take playing very seriously and do my best to be as well prepared as I possibly can. I try to consider everything, such as the club itself, the other DJs on the lineup, the time when I'm playing, but somehow after all that, as soon as I put the first record on, I always just think “Fuck it! Let's fucking go for it!”.
Interviewed by Darko Lisen.