Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
I usually wake up at around 8, do some sports (yoga, stretching, handstands), take an ice cold shower, drink a black coffee and take my bike to the studio. I try to leave my phone off for the first couple hours of the day and start working on the most important thing I want to get done that day. These are the most productive hours of my day, I eat as late as I can because after lunch it’s basically downhill. When I had lunch I do my e-mails and after get back to working on music, learning new tricks at the studio or digging for new records. There’s people popping into the studio a couple times a day, so it’s always a social, relaxed atmosphere, I don’t work well otherwise. I works as long as I can and then relax with people I love. I have a pretty disciplined lifestyle during the week, on the weekends when touring I like to go a bit more crazy however. :)
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
Usually I start either on the basis of a song I heard or on a sound or melody that came to me. I create a rough sketch with that pretty easily and quickly, I just follow what feels good, what gives me a good energy. It’s important that I’m completely in love with the idea at this point, because when I come back the next day I start seeing all the flaws. Then the war begins, trying to make a finished track out of the initial idea, making it work without losing the essence of what you fell in love with in the beginning. In the meantime I’m gonna play the track out as much as I can, to get feedback from the crowd, I’m gonna improve it a couple times after playing it and then eventually force myself to stop working on it and decide it’s finished.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I read and talked so much about it and tried to control being creative, but in the end most strategies work, but also their opposites work a lot of times. I have made amazing tracks while checking Facebook every 3 minutes, I’ve also had great ideas while being completely focused on the task. I think certain strategies are more likely to create certain kinds of ideas, but there’s value to every approach. My main mantra is to always be making music and pushing to get better. There is no single solution to creativity, our brain is too complex to strip it down to a simple formula.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
DJing kind of delivers the real life feedback you need to get better in the studio. It gives you a better understanding of what music works in different situations. Just because something works in the studio or in the car, doesn’t mean it works in the club and vice versa. Otherwise I have to say I really separate DJing and producing, it’s almost like having two different jobs. There are many tracks of mine that I love, but never play.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
In electronic music sound is a very important quality. The composition is usually extremely simple and if you would put it into notes there is not much to it. Good electronic music is all about the relationship between different sounds and creating atmosphere and energy out of that.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
I love the fact that sound is not only something you can hear, but actually feel in your body. It’s very physical. Every raver knows how good it feels to be massaged by the bass in front of a good speaker. I love loud music because of that and I have a big sub in my studio. The connection between what we hear and what we see is also interesting. The effect of a movie is much stronger with the right music in the background. Nobody cries in a movie without music, but let Hans Zimmer do his thing and the whole cinema is in tears. The same the other way around, if the track has a great music video or the performance of the band is great, you’re gonna be much more likely to enjoy it.
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?
It’s very difficult to deliver commentary on social/political issues through art in a productive way. When it’s done well it shows you the full complexity of an issue without taking sides. When it’s done wrong it takes a side and comes off scholarly and alienates people. With my music and also my whole persona as an artist I don’t want to take a side or deliver my opinion and commentary on issues, I want to focus on the basic human needs and emotions that we all share and that connect us. Politics is something that divides, art should be something that connects.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I believe we are hardwired by nature to like the chord structures, harmonies and melodies we arrived at now and this is not going to change. Classical music was extremely popular as long as it stayed in harmonic, tonal realms. Eventually everything was explored there and composers started experimenting with atonal music, music became something purely conceptual and intellectual and not something that you can also enjoy. That’s why there was this shift to pop music.
So having said that I don’t expect music to change structurally, technology still has a huge impact on music in terms of its creation and in the way we consume it and then there’s a feedback loop in between the two.
For example, the globalisation of the world and the fact that the means of production and distribution of music are becoming more and more affordable is going to create many new sub genres from all over the world. It’s happening already, but it’s gonna happen more and more that we are gonna listen to what producers in some small country at the other end of the world are creating.
For club music specifically, I think that surround sound in clubs is going to be the next thing. As soon as this becomes more common and affordable for clubs, some producers are going to mix down their tracks in surround sound and some DJs will play special surround sets and create a new experience for clubbers. However I’m not sure if this will completely take over clubs, as club systems haven't even moved from mono to stereo yet.