Part 1

Name: Richard Zepezauer
Nationality: German
Occupation: DJ, producer, label owner at Nsyde
Current release: The Skymark EP Easy Saturday Night with remixes by Kevin Reynolds & Mike Huckaby is out now via Nsyde.
Recommendations: Personally I am a big fan of Peter Sloterdijk´s publications. Also, author, music expert, musician (FSK) and DJ, Thomas Meinecke is worth discovering if you haven't yet.
And check the paintings of Wolfgang Betke and the incredible timeless music by Newworldaquarium, Mono Junk, the work of Bossa maestro Baden Powell, and by the one and only Sun Ra and the Arkestra.
And dont miss the record label and artwork from Acido Records by Dynamo Dreesen.

If you enjoyed this interview with Richard Zepezauer and would like to find out more about him, visit him on Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud.

· n s y d e · · Skymark - Easy Saturday Night EP (nsyde015_1)snippets

Can you talk a bit about your interest in or fascination with DJing? Which DJs, clubs, or experiences captured your imagination in the beginning?

My fascination for DJing started in my early childhood. I was constantly recording my personal “best of” tapes and I quickly thought it would be great to be able to do smooth transitions between 2 tracks. That was before I had heard of any pitchable turntable or mixing culture.

When I was 13 I was lucky to get access to a local disco and its big 7-inch record collection which was quite tasteful it seems now. A lot of Kraftwerk and Phillysounds and 80ies Funk / Boogie were in there, so I started to try out to create smooth transitions. Without a pitch, this was of course rarely smooth.

From time to time I found some records being produced in the same tempo so I could mix them and try out EQ-ing to make a perfect fusion.

What made it appealing to you to DJ yourself? What was it that you wanted to express and what, did you feel, did you have to add artistically?

Actually it was not very appealing to me to DJ myself because I never enjoyed being focused by people.

In the early 90ies the dancers on the floor were busy with actually listening and expressing themselves on the floor, or to put it simply - enjoying themselves on the dancefloor. Unfortunately this changed when it became normal for the dancefloor shakers to look at the DJ the same way an audience would look at the stage of a rock band's concert.

Being watched by people never was appealing to me, but I was shocked that in Berlin around 2000 I was not able to hear the music I was interested in. The sets mostly were very uniform and stayed within the genre lines, taking few risks. I wanted to hear a Basic Channel track and a Basement Boys track next to some raw Chicago Acid House Traxx or some original 70ies Deep Disco stuff next to experimental british Techno from the guys in Brighton. I was getting bored that none of the DJs who played in Berlin at that time was trying to showcase the whole state of the art range of House Music using a definition which I had in my mind.

My definition of House Music was not divided into subgenres. For me the whole range of House Music meant the cutting edge electronic underground dance music family, from the Mancuso`s or Larry´s more soulful disco tradition to a Kraftwerk or Juan Atkins, AFX or 4Hero.

I think the challenge for a DJ is to search and find the right connections between those emotions expressed in music and with that to combine seemingly unconnectable musical contrasts, to create an exciting journey through sounds and emotions. Its important to take the full risk and challenge yourself behind the booth. It´s important for the DJ himself but also important to move things forward for the artform of DJing.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to DJing? Do you see yourself as part of a certain tradition or lineage?

As a DJ I want to show what is possible in music. I see my self as a music monk who wants to show the maximum Body & Soul experience music can provide, no matter if you listen to it on a couch or if you dance to it on the floor. My role as an artist is breaking the rules of the established and finding new, unheard personal ways and paths for the evolution and expression of an art form.

For example, the continuous mix, with beatmatching etc. was something which had to be explored over the last 40 years, ever since continuous live mixing became technically possible in the 70/80ies. I see myself in this tradition, but I do try to explore, more and more, the possibilities of new dramatugies in a DJ mix. I like experiments with discontinuation and breaks in tempo and sound colours.

Nowadays the sync button seems to be kind of established and the expectations of the people´seem to demand continuous beatmatching for the modern floors. I think it's time to look beyond this and break up the established framework again to see what we've lost on the way.

Clubs are still the natural home for DJing. What makes the club experience unique?

To me the club experience is a dancing ritual and family experience. A peaceful social experiment under the same groove. A safe environment without any social boundaries and destructive preconceptions. It's a space for open mindedness and experimentation, offering everybody a free space to enjoy and explore themselves in a highly sensual and borderless way. Its a celebration, a family ritual.

That said, I always enjoyed those clubs whose staff carried this thought of being a family or community. Gay Clubs naturally often had and still have a strong family and community feeling, and have been especially interested in arts and fashion. By taking care of the state of the arts in a hedonistic surrounding, clubs automatically have been playgrounds for equality, humanism and with that political responsibility.

Sometimes in club history, all this comes together in the best way, the mixture of the people, the staff family, the sound system, the drugs, too, the zeitgeist.

Which clubs you've played or danced at are perfect for realising your vision – and why?

Clubs like David Mancuso´s Loft, or Paradise Garage appeared and changed the world for a better.

In recent times Tresor, Ostgut, Berghain / Panorama Bar, or the unforgotten Concrete Boat in Paris have been my favourite spots to dance and play, because they have been able to keep this rare spirit of freedom through excess and at the same time being visionary and open to realize the electronic dance music culture in its highest forms.

There is a long tradition of cross-pollination between DJing and producing. Can you talk a bit about how this manifests itself in your own work?

The most obvious cross-pollination part is that mixing is partly comparable with remixing a track.

Using the original and putting it into a different context or abstraction level. It can be highly inspirational as a producer to play records and quickly experiment with contrasts and ideas. This can be transferred to the realm of production and composition too.

On the other hand production skills can be helpful for a DJ when it comes to sound quality, EQ-ing, signalpaths etc.

What role does digging for music still play for your work as a DJ? Tell me a bit about what kind of music you will look for and the balance between picking material which a) excites you, b) which will please the audience and c) fulfill certain functions within your DJ set.

“Diggin for music is fundamental,” my dear Chicago colleague Zernell from Grimy Edits uses to say and I can only agree fully with that.

In my opinion a good DJ should aim to be a music expert who is able to search and detect music of the highest order, unseen music from the past but also from the future, the unheard, the unknown, the visionary, the impossible.

My final reference while digging is my personal excitement and my personal taste. My taste is an expression of my deepest personality, it's partly undefined and develops with my knowledge and experience. But there is also a deep core in my personal taste something which is static and seems defined and strongly connected to my soul. Personal taste is a result of my own soul. To share this soul with the listeners is the most important thing a DJ needs to make the center of his sets, otherwise, you are more a jukebox than an artist.

When I start digging for music, I don't allow myself any other category than: does that track excite me and has it a certain magic to be outstanding. I am actually always hunting for the illusion of perfect music, or the perfect imperfection in music. I know there is no such thing, but I am trying to come as close to this ideal as possible.

I like to make my sets a very personal physical and spiritual journey full of surprises and an intense dancing ritual which I invite the audience to join for a ride together.

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