Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
Most important is my outfit. I play the same tracks like last week so I don´t have to worry about that. I talk to my photographer to make sure we got the perfect light and right angles to capture as much as possible for instagram and Facebook. Oh, no wait that was DJ …… .
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The less you think the better you play. You have to be confident. The perfect state of mind is knowing, not thinking. Everything comes to you naturally. You play a track and already got an idea for the next one and it fits perfectly. Even though you never played these two records together before. When I am in this state it happens that I will put on a record randomly and it fits already from the tempo and where I put the needle. It can be totally different of course as well. You can´t get into the flow or you let factors from outside distract you. Like rude and weird people in the crowd or a shitty sound system. Maybe you start playing and the promoter comes after the second track and tells you to "bang it" (i always ask if he is talking about his girlfriend). For me it is important to be patient. Let´s say I show up somewhere and the DJ before me is playing some generic high energy tech house with additional cheap effects that people think they need these days just to get a fake reaction real fast. Then I will usually slow down. Not from the tempo but from the energy level. Then I might lose a few people on the floor but if I am patient and stick to my guns I will have them back soon and even with another, in my opinion, even better energy.
What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next? What makes two tracks a good fit? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
These can differ completely. Usually it is about the mood and the drumming. Because if you play something with really driving beats and then something really light it may lose flow or energy. On the other hand, I really like quick mixes or unexpected stuff as well, as they can totally switch the vibe or give a nice surprise.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
For me DJing is a spontaneous thing depending on many factors. Of course I have an idea what to play and I prepare music beforehand. But when I play I never know what is gonna happen. So to answer the question: YES for me it is improvisation.
How do playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate? What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?
I think the more you play at home the better DJ you become. Because at the end of the day it is about knowing which record to play next and mixing. And you get better at this if you practise a lot. Simple as that.
After 20 years I still love playing records with my friends in the studio. Because then you are really free of any expectations, or the pressure of the dance floor. I love playing in clubs, of course, don´t get me wrong. If it works and it is a good night, it is one of the best things in the world. But most of the time you are booked for 2 hours and there is not so much you can tell within two hours. So when we go to our studio after the party we play records for 10-20 hours straight and this is mostly where the magic happens. Because you can just play and play and play … So public service announcement. LONGER SET TIMES, PLEASE !
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
Times have really changed a lot. I had a very interesting conversation the other day and we came up with the following theory. Many people don't even know what music they really like because of all the gimmicks that come with electronic music events these days. It starts with the music. When I see many of the big DJs with their effect pedals and now this pioneer sampler where they add snare rolls to every drop (as if the cathedral reverb wasn´t enough) they think they need to do it to get the biggest reaction on every track and the crowd thinks they like it but really they are just tricked. So it would be interesting to see on which floor (so to speak) people would end up if you cut all the cheap gimmicks.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
Most of the time the end of the performance is really just because time is over. I am happy to play 6 hours if you let me. Most satisfying is when you are happy with the set and you look into many smiling faces. I like to see people lost in the music. The other day I was playing with my friends and it wasn´t super busy but there were a few people that danced for the full 9 hours straight with their eyes closed. That means much more to me then 1200 blokes with a Jägermeister hat and a phone in their hand.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
Music brings people together from all different colours, backgrounds and preferences, something the world is still struggling with a lot. Apart from that my work has no political message. That doesn't mean I have no opinion of course. But at the end of the day, I make music for people to dance to and when they do that they should forget about all worries that they might have. As far as i´m concerned politics gives many reasons to worry, especially today.