Artist interview: Lukas Freudenberger

I interviewed another of my favourite Techno DJs, Lukas Freudenberger, ahead of his new album release. Here’s what he had to say…

Me: Your new album AMPLIFIED is out now! I’ve listened to it plenty of times and love all the tracks on there- do you have a particular favourite?

Lukas: I think it would have to be “She Said”.

Me: How does this album differ from your previous releases?

Lukas: It is a very powerful release, with slower tracks, most of which are around 123 -124 BPM.

Es ist ein sehr druckvolles release, langsam produziert 123-124bpm sind die meisten tracks.

Me: I saw you play last month in Suicide Circus, which was to mark AMPLIFIED’s release. Those Ragnarök label nights are always incredible, in my opinion. How was the experience for you?

Lukas: Berlin was awesome! It was a full house that night and the guys, Holgi and Kai, are wicked. To celebrate the album with them was a truly great experience.

Berlin war genial. Einlassstop, volles haus , die jungs Holgi und Kai sind einfach nur real! Das album mit ihnen dort zu feiern war ein tolle erfahrung.

Me: Your sound has changed somewhat over the years, progressing from minimal to something much harder and darker. What has inspired those changes?

Lukas: It’s normal to develop one’s sound; doing the same thing over and over again eventually inspires you do something different, which is fun at the same time. I believe that way, you remain authentic.

Sich zu entwickeln ist normal, wenn man immer dasselbe macht dann inspiriert man sich im besten falle selbst etwas anderes zu machen… iwas was einem spass macht, dann bleibt es authentisch denk ich.

Me: Which other artists have inspired you

Lukas: At the beginning of my “career” as a Techno producer, I think the greatest influence was Björn Torwellen as his style at that time for me was simply revolutionary – he fascinated me. I’ve also always thought Cortechs was pretty awesome.

Zu beginn meiner techno und produzenten “karriere” denke ich der stärkste einfluss Björn Torwellen… einfach nur der style damals, es war für mich einfach was neues, revolutionäres und hat mich schon echt fasziniert. Cortechs fand ich auch immer fett.

Me: I see you started up your own record label, STABIL, in 2014. Is that still going?

Lukas: STABIL was on a long break, but new releases are on the horizon.

Stabil hatte ne länger auszeit. Plane aber neue releases.

Me: You’re from Köln, aren’t you? How does the Techno scene there compare to Berlin?

Lukas: I think in Köln, people tend to go out to see a particular act in one of the many Techno clubs, whereas in Berlin, people go to the clubs regardless of who is on the line-up; you go to Berghain for Berghain, as it’s always an experience no matter what. I think the thing that both cities have in common is that there’s always a Techno party to go to- you can now party any night of the week in Köln, just like in Berlin.

Denke in Köln geht man noch eher wegen einem bestimmten act in einer der vielen techno clubs… in Berlin ist es denk ich mehr oder weniger egal wer auf dem line up steht.. ins berghain geht man um ins berghain zu gehen… es ist so oder so eine erlebnis. Denke verbinden tut die beiden städte aber, dass man auch in Köln mittlerweile an eig jedem wochentag ein techno party besuchen kann, genau wie in Berlin.

Me: Will we see you back here again soon?

Lukas: I think I will be back later this year, as and my new Ragnarök friends and I have some plans…

Me: Sounds exciting! I look forward to seeing you then 🙂

Composed by: Milly Day

Artist interview: DeKai

Bavaria-born DeKai is one of my favourite German DJs and, after seeing him several times since I arrived in Berlin last September, I can safely say that he can get the crowd going like no other with that hard and pushing sound of his. After meeting  Kai face-to-face at the most recent Ragnarök label night, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his move to Berlin and what the experience has been like for him so far.

Me: You’re originally from the South of the Germany aren’t you? What provoked the move to Berlin?

Kai: That was a spontaneous decision. Life in Bavaria simply bored me; no clubs, no scene and no opportunities to DJ. It was the attitudes of the people down there that pissed me off the most though, as there it’s all about having a nice house and a nice car, blah blah blah. The trigger was when my homie Martin came to me with the film “Berlin Calling” and that’s when it clicked. Four months later, I moved to Berlin.

Puh das war eine spontane Entscheidung. Es hat mich einfach gelangweilt das Leben in Bayern, keine Clubs, keine Szene und keine Perspektive was das Auflegen betroffen hat. Am meisten kotzt mich da unten die Einstellung der Menschen an, da geht’s nur darum mein Haus, mein Auto mein bla! Der Auslöser war als mein Homie Martin mit dem Film Berlin Calling zu mir gekommen ist und dann hats halt klick bei mir gemacht und 4 Monate später bin ich nach Berlin gezogen.

Me: You’ve been here for seven years or so now, is that right? What has the experience been like for you so far?

Kai: I arrived here on December 1st 2009 and since then, I feel I’ve been freed of everything and am open to so much more. The city and the people I’ve met here have really swept me off my feet! Naturally, there are many bad people too, but since arriving here at the age of 35, I’ve found it easier easier to distinguish the bad from the good, and when I have a negative experience with someone, I find it easier to just shrug it off. However, the good people around me far outweigh the bad, and they have a positive effect both on my personal life and my music. Berlin is my home and my inspiration, I love to make appearances in nightclubs and surrender myself to the night.

Ich bin am 01.12.2009 hier angekommen und seitdem bin ich frei von allem und offen für vieles! Berlin und die Menschen die mir seitdem begegnet sind haben mich sowas von geflasht, klar die schlechten Menschen sind auch Massenweise hier aber da ich mit 35 Jahren erst hier angekommen bin tu ich mir etwas leichter die bösen von den guten zu unterscheiden und wenn ich mal ne negative Begegnung habe dann fällts mir einfacher den oder die wieder weiter zu schicken! Allerdings überwiegen die guten Menschen in meinem Umfeld und beeinflussen mich auch positiv sei es Mugge oder eben Lifestyle. Berlin ist meine Heimat und meine Inspiration, ich liebe es durchs Nachtleben zu tingeln und mich dem Strudel der Nacht hinzugeben 🙂

Me: How would you describe the current Dekai sound?

Kai: It’s still hard, pumping, gloomy and impulsive, but at the same time more groovy than last year. Last year, I simply fell in love with monotony, but this year I feel a change is necessary, as I don’t want to bore myself! 

Hart, pumpend, treibend, düster und mittlerweile wieder etwas grooviger als das letzte Jahr! Letztes Jahr hab ich mich halt auch hart in die Monotonie verliebt aber dieses Jahr brauch ich definitiv ne Soundveränderung ich will mich auch nicht selber langweilen!

Me: I read that you are first and foremost a Heavy Metal fan- when did you first discover Techno? Did you fall in love with it straight away?

Kai: Techno comes first for me, by a loooooooong way. I caught the bug in 1991 and from the very first beat, I felt I was right in the middle of it, as opposed to simply taking part. However, Heavy Metal was the first genre of music that really got me hooked back in the 80s, and I still enjoy listening to it today.

Also an erster Stelle kommt bei mir Techno, dann kommt laaaaaange nix und dann kommt alles andre. Angefixt wurde ich 1991 und vom ersten Beat an war ich live mittendrin statt nur dabei 🙂 Heavy Metal war allerdings die erste Musikrichtung die mich so richtig angefixt hat, damals in den 80ern und höre ich heute auch noch gerne.

Me: I also read that the cellar in Magdalena is named after you, is that true? How did that come about?

Kai: That was at the old location at the Schillingbrücke, at a ‘Herz für Hänger’ party, as I played in the basement all night long. I was there for 10 hours or so I believe, I can no longer remember. Back then, Marie made a wooden sign, which hung above the entrance until the closing night. I loved the basement, it was dark, hazy and had a fat sound system!

Also das war in der alten Location an der Schillingbrücke bei einer Herz für Hänger Party da hab ich all night long im Keller gespielt und das warn glaub ich 10 Stunden oder 12 aber so genau weis ich das nicht mehr 😀 Die Marie hat damals das Holzschild gebastelt und das hing dann überm Eingang bis zum closing. Ich liebe Keller und da wars Dunkel, Nebel und ne fette Anlage.

Me: Which artists have inspired you the most?

Kai: The first artist who really inspired me and gave me the urge to begin mixing was Günni from Ingolstadt. For the first five years, we mixed together at my place every weekend, really, every one! He passed his passion and devotion to mixing on to me, so it always pisses me off when a DJ has no bass on the decks, more rattling than clean sound, and is out of sync. Throughout my 23 years of listening to Techno, and 13 years of playing it, I have always been inspired on the dancefloors where I danced myself. Another one who has really inspired me with the whole DJ thing is Empro- when I arrived in Berlin, he was the first person I met, so I did a couple of projects with him and he taught me a lot. Even now, it’s an exciting experience having him play before or after me, as his sound and way of mixing are so unique.

Also der erste Künstler der mich so richtig inspiriert und auch das feeling für das Mixen vermittelt hat war Günni aus Ingolstadt. Wir haben die ersten 5 Jahre jedes WE bei mir gemixt, wirklich jedes! Seine Leidenschaft die er mir mitgegeben hat ist wirklich die Hingabe an das Mixen, deswegen kotzte ich ja immer so ab wenn man als DJ kein Bass am Pult und mehr scheppern als sauberen klang hat und ich synce Nicht. Im laufe meiner 23 Jahre Technokonsum und 13 Jahre selber Mixen hab ich mich eigentlich immer auf den Floors wo ich selber getanzt habe inspirieren lassen. Wer mich aber mit dem ganzen DJ Ding am meisten inspiriert hat ist Empro. Als ich in Berlin angekommen bin war er so der erste den ich näher kennengelernt habe und hab so das eine oder andre Projekt damals mit ihm gemacht und er hat mir auch viel vermittelt. Auch heute ist es für mich jedes Mal wieder ein Erlebnis wenn er vor oder nach mir spielt, seine Art zu mixen und sein Sound sind auch einzigartig.

Me: Where can we see you play this year, other than the District4 and Ragnarok label nights?

Here’s a brief summary of my upcoming bookings:

25.02. Geheimclub / Magdeburg

03.03. Kosmonaut / Berlin

04.03. Maze / Berlin

10.03. Tanzhaus West / Frankfurt

18.03. Magda in Excile @ Yaam / Berlin

31.03. Go In / Obergünzburg

01.04. Distillery / Leipzig

13.04. Kosmonaut / Berlin

21.04. 3 Jahre Ragnarøk Bahnhof Pauli / Hamburg

22.04. 3 Jahre Ragnarøk @ YAAM / Berlin

28.04 STEAM Club / Athen

05.05. Airport / Würzburg

Me: Do you have any other plans/projects for 2017?

Kai: I’m not much of a planner; I’d rather let myself drift and see where I land 🙂 The only real plan I have in life is to have a nice time with chilled people!

Ich bin nicht so der Planer, ich lass mich eigentlich lieber treiben und schauen wo ich ankomme 🙂 Den einzigen Plan den ich so richtig im Leben habe ist mit gechillten Menschen eine schöne Zeit zu haben!

Composed by: Milly Day

Artist interview: Holger Nielson

Berlin-based DJ and producer Holger Nielson, aka Holgi Star, started the record label Ragnarøk back in 2014 alongside DeKai and the pair now put on label nights every couple of months in the city (read more in my article on the German Techno scene). As an avid supporter of the label and these nights, I took the opportunity to speak to Holger and find out a little bit about him, Ragnarøk, and what the future holds.

Me: When did you move to Berlin and how did you first become involved in the Techno scene here?

Holger: I came to Berlin in 1989, when the wall was still standing. At that time, there wasn’t as big a scene as there is today; only a few clubs like Tresor, Planet and Walfisch existed, and it was all more familial. My first personal contact with the scene was when I visited Tresor for the first time and after that, there was no stopping me.

Ich bin 1989 nach Berlin gezogen, noch zu Zeiten als die Mauer noch stand. Damals gab es noch keine so große Scene so wie heute, es gab ein paar Clubs wie den Tresor, das Planet und den Walfisch und es war alles familiärer. Mein persönlicher erster Kontakt mit der Scene war, als ich zum ersten mal den Tresor besuchte, danach gab es kein halten mehr, bis heute.

Me: You already run several labels, including Kiddaz.fm, Rompecabeza and Micro.fon. What made you decide to start up Ragnarøk?

Holger: Ragnarøk came from my friendship with DeKai. We wanted to create a joint project showcasing straight up, no-frills honest Techno with neat bass and groove – that’s the Ragnarøk sound!

Ragnarøk ist aus meiner Freundschaft zu DeKai entstanden. Wir suchten ein gemeinsames Projekt mit dem wir uns verwirklichen können, ehrlicher gerader Techno ohne Schnick Schnack mit ordentlich Bass und Groove, Ragnarøk Sound eben!

Me: Alongside the work you do on these labels, you’re busy producing and playing as a resident of District4 in Arena and of course the Ragnarøk nights- how do you manage to organise your time and fit so much in?

Holger: I sometimes don’t know the answer to that myself! I honestly think it helps to have passion, as what is more beautiful than turning your hobby into a profession?

Das weiß ich manchmal selber nicht, ich denke die Leidenschaft hilft einem da und wenn wir ehrlich sind, was gibt es schöneres als sein Hobby zum Beruf gemacht zu haben.

Me: I totally agree. You work under two aliases: Holger Nielson and Holgi Star. Can you tell us a little more about each of these? How would you describe the two different sounds?

Holger: Quite simply Holgi Star stands for Tech House / Techno, Holger Nielson for straight-up Techno. Throughout my longtime DJ career as Holgi Star, a variety of sounds have been released under the brand, sounds that I always stood for. As it’s been going for almost two decades, naturally there have been many musical breaks. With Holger Nielson, I now have a name under which this will not happen; Holger Nielson stands for Techno and this will always be the case, whilst Holgi Star may be quietly experimental – musically, he can do anything!

Ganz einfach Holgi Star steht für Techhouse bis Techno, Holger Nielson für straight Techno. Durch meine langjährige DJ Karriere als Holgi Star ist unter dem Brand viel Sound veröffentlicht worden, eben immer der Sound für den ich stand, da sich das über fast 2 Jahrzehnte hingezogen hat gab es da musikalisch auch viele Brüche. Mit Holger Nielson hab ich nun einen Namen unter dem das nicht passieren wird, Holger Nielson steht für Techno und das wird immer so bleiben während Holgi Star auch ruhig experimentell sein darf, Holgi Star darf musikalisch alles!

Me: The Ragnarøk nights are no longer taking place in Magdalena, which I’m very sad about, as I loved that venue! Will there be a new, permanent venue for these nights, or will they be held in different places each time from now on?

Holger: Yes, we’re also sad because the conditions in Magdalena, such as the sound and location, were simply perfect for us. In terms of future events, we don’t know exactly where they’ll be held, as we are still testing the waters. The last event took place at Suicide Circus and the next will be held in YAAM, then in June we will most likely be in Butzke. At the end of the year, we’ll be able to determine which venue is best for us. Only one thing is certain, which is that there’ll always be Ragnarøk events in Berlin 🙂

Ja, wir sind auch traurig darüber weil die Vorraussetzungen die wir in der Magda hatten einfach perfekt für uns waren, vom Sound und der Location her. Wie wir das in Zukunft halten wissen wir noch nicht genau, wir testen aktuell, die letzte VA war im SC, die nächste wird im YAAM sein und die im Juni dann höchstwahrscheinlich in der Butzke. Wir werden Ende 2017 mal ein Resume ziehen und kucken wo es für uns am besten wahr. Nur eins ist sicher, es wird immer Ragnarøk Veranstaltungen in Berlin geben 🙂

Me: That’s good news! I noticed the label has a very loyal following. How have you managed to establish this kind of fanbase? It is just something that’s developed over time?

Holger: Yes, we are really proud of our fans. For us, they have become a kind of substitute family, as many are now also friends of ours and support the sentiment, philosophy and spirit of Ragnarøk along with us. Ragnarøk is more than just a Techno label or event, as both Kai and I have always cared about our fans, not only welcoming them as guests at our events, but also making them part of something much bigger: a movement based on tolerance, community and celebrating good Techno.

Ja, wir sind echt stolz auf unsere Fans. Für uns ist das eine Art Ersatzfamilie geworden da viele ehemalige Fans inzwischen auch Freunde sind und mit uns den Gedanken und die Philosophy und den Spirit von Ragnarøk tragen. Ragnarøk ist mehr als nur ein Techno Label oder eine Veranstaltung. Ich denke das kam dadurch zu Stande dass sowohl Kai als auch ich uns immer sehr um unsere Fans kümmern, Ihnen das Gefühl geben nicht nur Gäste auf eine VA zu sein, sondern Teil von etwas größerem einer Bewegung die auf Toleranz, Gemeinsamkeit und dem Willen guten Techno zu feiern zielt.

Me: What does 2017 have in store for you and for Ragnarok?

Holger: We’ll see, ask again at the end of the year!

Das werden wir sehen, das kannst Du uns Ende 2017 noch mal fragen!

Me: Haha, ok then. Can you tell us which artists we can expect to see on the line-up at upcoming label nights?

Holger: We don’t want to give that information away just yet, but as always it will be a mixture of friends of the label, our hot newcomers, and DJs that are committed to our sound.

Das möchten wir noch nicht verraten, aber wie immer eine Mischung aus Freunden des Labels, unsere geilen Newcomern und DJ Größen die sich unserem Sound verpflichtet fühlen.

Me: Anything else you’d like to add?

Holger: Ragnarøk loves you all 🙂

Composed by: Milly Day

 

Artist interview: Leon Glock

Up-and-coming dark Techno DJ Leon Glock was selected to play at Mission Techno the weekend before last, after receiving the highest number of votes in a contest. I took this opportunity to chat with him and find out more about the contest and how it felt to kick off the festival.

Me: Hi Leon, nice to meet you!

Leon: You too!

Me: I heard that you won an award, ‘Best Techno Newcomer.’ Could you tell me a little more about that please?

Leon: Yeah, a friend of mine entered me into this contest without my knowledge and when I found out, I simply shared it and got about 350 votes together pretty fast! I never would have expected that.

Me: Wow, that’s impressive! You were the first DJ to play in the Tanszaal room- how did that feel? Were you nervous about kicking off the festival?

Leon: I was extremely nervous, yes, but after the first few tracks the nervousness dissolved pretty quickly.

Me: How did you warm the crowd up for the DJs that followed on from you?

Leon: I had to adjust musically to the DJs that were on after me, as my sound is usually harder, so I tried to play a mix of powerful, melodic and impulsive Techno, which went down pretty well.

Me: So you were pleased with your set?

Leon: Yes, I am actually quite satisfied with it. A few things could have gone better but all in all, I am very pleased.

Me: And what did you think of Mission Techno? Was it your biggest festival to date?

Leon: The Mission Techno parties are always absolutely awesome! Many different styles across several floors, the people are always in a good mood and spirits are high, which is how it should be. I’ve personally never played at such a big event; I’ve only ever been part of the crowd, so this was a really special experience.

Me: Well it was great seeing you play there! Where else will you be playing over the next few weeks?

Leon: I’m a resident of the event series Halt die Fresse! Lass mich Feiern! (Shut up! Let me party!) by Technorebellen, which takes place at the start of each month at Kontext in Wiesbaden. Other than that, I’m not playing any remarkable gigs.

Me: You’re from that part of the country aren’t you? How would you describe the Techno scene there? Is your music reflective of the scene?

Leon: Yes I come from Frankfurt, which is nearby. Unfortunately the Techno scene has become very quiet there, as the city puts a lot of obstacles in the path. But my music definitely reflects the Frankfurt sound, which sadly is slowly but surely dying out.

Me: What a shame!

Leon: I know.

Me: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Leon: Yes, I would like to say thank you to everyone who voted for me in the contest, and especially to the Mission Techno Team – you have made a huge dream come true.

Review: Mission Techno

I talked a bit about Mission Techno in my article on the Techno scene in Germany but after last Friday, I realised no words can really do this event justice; you simple have to experience it for yourself! I was lucky enough to be invited along by MT resident, Don Basti, who picked me up from my hostel in Mannheim and together we drove to MS Connexion Complex, which is just the most remarkable venue. Located on an ancient factory site, it’s dark, eerie and industrial (just the way I like it) and houses four different rooms: Tanzsaal, where all the rougher styles of Techno could be heard, the Main Floor, which catered to Hard Techno and Hartekk fans, the “Classics” room, Stahlwerk, a new addition to the festival and finally Treibhaus, where the DJS mostly played Dark Techno.

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While Don Basti and fellow resident DJ Florian Peschel were setting things up, I explored the venue some more and assessed the line-up, so I could decide who to see play. It was a tough choice, as there were so many fantastic artists, but I decided to kick things off with Leon Glock, who had won the award, “Best Newcomer to Techno”, and who was playing in Tanzsaal. Despite the fact it was very early, several people were already on the dance floor, doing that wonderful German shuffle dance (I’ll never get tired of seeing that) and showing their appreciation for Leon. His set was the perfect start to the night, it was nicely dark and driving, but without being too full-on.

Up next in Tanzsaal was Unmensch, who I discovered recently and whose sets I’ve been listening to repeatedly on Soundcloud, as I think they’re brilliant, but seeing him live took my love of him to a whole new level – his was probably my favourite performance of the night. Not only was the music pounding, but Unmensch is one of these DJs who really knows how to interact with his audience, making him captivating to watch. The energy in the room during that set was electric, each and every person was giving it their all, which made the Berlin crowd look lazy! People in this part of Germany certainly know how to rave.

unmensch

I somehow managed to tear myself away from Tanzsaal half an hour before the end of Unmensch’s set, as I really wanted to see the legend that is Talla 2xlc. It was wonderfully refreshing to hear some old school Trance, especially when it’s being spun by such a prestigious DJ, something you don’t normally get the luxury of listening to at a Techno event. Talla treated us to classics such as Push’s Universal Nation, Seven Days and One Week by B.B.E and all-time favourite Zombie Nation, beginning with those famous words from the “We are the walking dead” speech. He then played a couple more recent tracks, including his own remix of Sandstorm and Vini Vici’s remix of Free Tibet, which topped the set off nicely. The vibe in that room was very different, as the average age was considerable higher (no great surprise really) and there was a mellower feel to it, but still plenty of energy. I enjoyed seeing colour and smiles on people’s faces too- something you don’t experience much on Techno nights!

talla

I then decided to check out Treibhaus, the smallest room, a kind of witchlike cave with sludge green wavy walls. We managed to catch the end of Don Basti’s first set of the night, a dark techno set that he playing on behalf of Benijo, who had unfortunately fallen ill. Then Seimen Dexter came on and tore those wavy walls down! The first twenty minutes of his set were heavy and fast-paced, and I wanted to stick around to see how it progressed, but I was also keen to see George Perry, so after a short while I returned to Tanszaal. The style of Techno George was playing was deep and full of feeling and, while it was very powerful, there were harmonious elements to it as well. He reminded me a bit of Dekai, one of my favourite DJs here in Berlin, who I’ve seen many times but who always manages to surprise me. Their music is somewhat ominous; it gives you the impression of being chased by a predator. I like it when Techno can evoke such feelings in me.

george-perry

Finally, I saw Stormtrooper and Sebastian Groth play back-to-back. Now these artists both have very different styles, with Sebastian being a Techno DJ and Stormtrooper more of a Hardcore guy, so I was interested to see how they’d make it work. Initially, Sebastian played softer and slower but he sped up towards the end, and Stormtrooper slowed down, causing their styles to merge – the outcome was surprisingly good! You can read more about both artists in the interview I carried out with them after their set. Sadly, I had to leave shortly after that to catch my train back to Berlin, but my event finder and partner in crime, Brige Greene, stayed until the end to see Florian Peschel play and reported that “He ended the party with a grand finish.”

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Overall, I can safely say that the organisers of Mission Techno really excelled themselves with this festival; the venue was second-to-none, there was such an eclectic line-up, with so many different styles of Techno (and Trance!) and the crowd was unbeatable. Can’t wait to return for the next event on May 13th. Mission Techno = accomplished!

Written by: Milly Day

Artist Interview: Zahni

Alex Walter, aka Zahni, is one of Germany’s most wanted Hardtekk live acts. I had the fortune of meeting him at Mannheim’s underground Techno festival, Mission Techno, where I took the opportunity to ask him about his unique style and how it felt performing at such an event.

Me: Nice to meet you, I’m Milly.

Alex: Hi, I’m Alex.

Me: You’re from the east of Germany Alex, is that right?

Alex: Yes, that’s right.

Me: And is it true that the style of Techno in that part of the country is very different to what you hear in the west?

Alex: Yes, we call it ‘East Tekk’. It’s a reflection of a life with only machines – no woman, no CD tracks, nothing else. It’s one of the hardest sounds; only Hardcore and Speedcore are harder.

Me: Would you say your style is reflective of this type of Techno?

Alex: Yes, very much so.

Me: How did the crowd tonight respond to your set?

Alex: They actually responded very well. It’s only in the past couple of years that the crowd here have started to respect this style, as most of them are more into Hard Techno. They tend to prefer what DJs like Chris Liebing and DJ Rush play. I believe I’ve brought something new to the scene by introducing a much harder style with more bass drum and hi-hats. My first gig in West Germany was a favour from a friend, who let me play for the last half hour. After that, promoters were approaching me and asking me to play at their events, because they liked how my style differed from Hard Techno.

Me: So would you say most Germans now appreciate this style of yours?

Alex: Mostly, yes. Outside of Germany it’s a different story; I have performed in Luxembourg and Amsterdam, where I actually slowed the BPM down to 160/170, but still people just stood there looking gobsmacked. However, I will never change for money or fame and if people don’t like my music, it’s their problem, not mine! I have enough loyal fans who have come here tonight to see me play, even though this event costs almost twice as much as the ones I usually perform at. The dancefloor was full during my set.

Me: That’s great! Was it your first time playing here?

Alex: At Mission Techno, yes, but I’ve played at MS Connexion before. I recently switched agencies and am now with The Act, who have more contacts all across Germany.

Me: So what do you think of Mission Techno?

Alex: I think it’s one of the best gigs in terms of sound and lighting.

Me: Would you come back and play here again?

Alex: Yes, for sure!

Composed by: Milly Day

Artist Interview: Sebastian Groth & Stormtrooper

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of watching Sebastian Groth and Peter Nitschke, aka Stormtrooper, play alongside one another at Mission Techno in Mannheim. Now, it’s not often you see a Dark Techno DJ go back-to-back with one that plays Hardcore, however this seemingly incompatible duo somehow made it work. After their set, I took them both aside for an interview, and what an entertaining interview it turned out to be…

Me: Hi, lovely to meet you both. I’m Milly.

Peter: Hi Milly, I’m Peter and this is Sebastian. His English is not so good, so I’ll be doing most of the answering!

Me: Happy to do it that way, or you could be the translator? Anyway, let’s get started! Is this your first time playing at Mission Techno?

Sebastian: I’ve played here about fifteen times! I think I must be Mission Techno’s favourite DJ…

Peter: Don’t listen to him. It’s not the first time for either of us, but we hadn’t played in that room (Tanzsaal) until today.

Me: So you’ve played together here before?

Peter: Yeah, it’s our second time playing together at Mission Techno.

Me: Whose idea was it to go back-to-back?

(They exchange glances)

Peter: Good question! I’m not really sure. We just agreed at a festival once that we should do music together – that was our birth hour I guess.

Me: Which festival was that?

Peter: NatureOne. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it!

Me: How long ago were you there?

Peter: Well, our idea to collaborate came about three years ago. Ever since then, we’ve been like a married couple, haha. Sebastian is the man, the lazy one, and I’m the woman in the relationship.

Me: Haha! So your relationship both on and off stage is pretty good then?

Peter: It is, yes. Is there such thing as a heterosexual relationship between guys?

Me: Yep, that’s called a bromance. You certainly seem to work well together behind the decks too, however your styles are quite different, aren’t they?

Sebastian: Yup.

Peter: Just “yup”? That’s not much of an answer! Yeah, Sebastian is more Techno, whereas I’m more of a Hardcore guy. When we play together, we meet halfway, using Techno elements with a hard, pounding bass drum. Sebastian has to speed up a little, whereas I slow down.

(They begin bickering)

Me: I can see what you mean about behaving like a married couple! I’ll wrap things up. How has this year’s Mission Techno been for you?

Peter: This year’s event has been really good, with all the different styles of Techno, which were well split. You got to hear rougher styles of Techno in the room we were playing in. Events like this work well when the crowd have a choice of what to listen to.

Me: Indeed! There was even some old school Trance here tonight.

Peter: Yes, and that’s great! I would like to hear more Trance at festivals, rather than this generic-sounding EDM. NatureOne ought to take a leaf out of Mission Techno’s book.

Me: The last track you played caught my attention – what was its name?

Peter: That track is one of my own, it’s called ‘Bavarian Barbarian’ and uses traditional Bavarian folk music.

Me: Brilliant! Techno and Bavarian folk eh, why on earth not. So will I be seeing you both here next year?

Sebastian: Think so.

Peter: Totally!!!

Composed by: Milly Day

Next Generation Techno in Germany

Techno has been popular in Germany ever since the Berlin wall came down and the city unified to create an electronic music scene, with free underground electronic music parties popping up all over East Berlin. It became a major force in reestablishing social connections between East and West Germany, and the style – industrial, energetic and futuristic – made it the perfect soundtrack to mark a new era. Although there was still a lot of conflict between both sides of the country, everyone was extremely excited about this new movement and the possibilities it brought. Many claimed that this harder, darker sound was liberating, as it offered a release, which is why German Techno has always had its own unique and rather Gothic darkness about it. Predictably, this has changed over the years, with minimal Techno gaining popularity in the 2000s, but in recent times, acts such as Ancient Methods have brought this bleak, heavy style back to the Techno scene in cities like Cologne, Mannheim and of course, Berlin.

You’ll find this brand of Techno in the dimmest basement clubs across Germany, where people dance like it’s their last day on the planet, and it’s that power and intensity on the dancefloor that make nights out here so utterly compelling. Below are some artists representative of this scene that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in Berlin over the past few months.

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Dekai and Holger Nielson

After seeing him three times, I can safely say that Dekai is one of the DJs that most gets the crowd going with his hard and pushing sound, which has earned him gigs at major clubs across the city. Holger Nielson can usually be found playing alongside him and, roughly three years ago, the pair started a label together called Ragnarök and began putting on nights in Berlin every couple of months. The label has a very loyal following, making the atmosphere at these nights unbeatable; as soon as one ends, I find myself getting excited about the next. Fortunately, there’s not long to wait now till their event on February 11th, which marks the release of Lukas Freudenberger’s new album and will take place at the much-loved Suicide Circus.

Hefty

Hefty is seen as the preeminent master of dark Techno, and it’s not hard to see why, as that raw, twisted and relentless sound of his is truly unique. After receiving a great amount of support from the people of Berlin and other cities in Germany and across the globe, he was inspired to create own label, aptly named Darker Sounds. I saw Hefty captivate the crowd at Magdalena at what was my first and possibly best night out in Berlin – they certainly seem to go crazy for him here!

Tommy Four Seven

Tommy Four Seven moved from his birthplace of London to Berlin after deciding it offered more opportunities for an artist of his nature, and has now firmly established himself as a name in the Techno scene here. In 2014, he launched own event series 47 at Arena Club and I had the chance to see him close the ninth installment of this night back in November, where he played straight-up Techno to a still packed dance floor. I can safely say I loved every minute of it.

VSK

Another artist that made the move to Berlin to pursue his love of DJing is VSK, whose sound ranges from dark and pounding, to a deep and more intellectual style of Techno. Fortunately for me, when I saw him play at Arena just prior to Tommy Four Seven, his set was nothing short of banging. This took me by surprise; not many DJs go straight in there with the heavy stuff, but VSK played hard, aggressive Techno from start to finish with no messing about, which works just fine in my opinion.

Ancient Methods

Ancient Methods‘ famous words “Music will tear down walls!” are indeed reflective of this producer’s powerful, industrial style of Techno, however he does something a little different to the others in that he features human elements in his productions. By intertwining semi-decipherable vocals and the occasional use of instruments with those bleak and heavy basslines, Ancient Methods creates his own special sound, which is what causes music to stand out. Although he plays in Berlin often, I’ve seen him just the once at Arena, where he warmed the crowd up nicely ahead of VSK and Tommy Four Seven’s sets.

Jan Fleck

Jan Fleck‘s passion for harder styles of music inspires him to frequently experiment with different sounds in an attempt to create something new and innovative. Consequently, he has received a great deal of attention for his tracks and DJ sets and rightly so, for when he kicked things off at the last Ragnarök label night back in December, he played what was probably the most interesting set of the night. I was absolutely blown away, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing him again tonight at Phonk!, a new concept of twin Techno nights across borders. Tonight’s event will be the debut of Phonk! and will precede a series of regular parties held in Berlin and Amsterdam throughout the year.

Like I said before, it’s not just Berlin that offers this kind of raving experience, I simply haven’t had the privilege of visiting any other German cities (yet). Throughout the country, you can hear this raw, industrial sound at a number of different festivals and events. Here are a few of my recommendations:

Mission Techno in Mannheim

The Mission Techno slogan is “Nomen est omen”, i.e. the name speaks for itself, which I guess it does, as not a whole lot more information is provided. This year sees four Mission Techno events take place at MS Connexion Complex, a sizeable venue located on a factory site that’s now over a century old in the south of Mannheim, with four different floors showcasing German Techno talent. Their first event of this year is on February 3rd, starting at 10pm and lasting a full twelve hours, so be sure to don your most comfortable raving shoes.

Darker Moods in Augsberg

Darker Moods is a series of banging Techno nights that take place at Kantine in Augsberg, in the club’s ‘schwimmbad’ (swimming pool), usually once or twice a month. The next one will be on January 27th, when Champas, Yannick Tella, Enrico Sommer and Bosedicht will each be taking to the decks to provide their audience with dark and driving Techno all night long.

MEIHT in Offenbach

MEIHT, which stands for “Mir egal ich hör Techno” (I don’t care, I hear Techno) takes place every second month at the MTW Club in Offenbach am Main. Occasionally, the organisers also join forces with promoters of similar events to put on nights in cities such as Frankfurt, Cologne and Darmstadt. The next one at MTW Club will be on January 28th and will see Colombian DJ Luix Spectrum’s debut performance in Germany.

EHCTV in Leipzig

In recent times, Leipzig’s Techno scene has started to rival that of other German cities in terms of creativity and excitement and EHCTV is a shining example of this fact. Next month, the Hard Techno event organisers are putting on an night called Pandora’s Box which carries the slogan “Accept the darkness and you will see the light”. Expect strobe lights, fog and some seriously floor-destroying tunes.

Trieb Klang in Stuttgart

Trieb Klang put on monthly events in Stuttgart, mostly at OneTableClub, where you’ll be exposed to dark Techno at its best and most brutal. Their next one, Techno Auf der Theo, the third of this particular event series, will be held on February 10th with a line-up consisting of Trieb Klang DJs Mr. Peppers, Schiggy and Michael Ott.

Written by: Milly Day

Doof Doof Doof! Five of the Best Festivals Down Under

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word ‘doof’, just imagine you’re listening to loud electronic music with a heavy bass drum kick – hear it now? Doof Doof Doof! This is exactly how the term came about in the early ‘90s, when someone knocked on their neighbour’s door in Newtown Sydney and asked, “What is all this doof doof I hear?” It went on to become a popular name for bush parties in Australia, with the first commercial doof being Earthcore, which took place for the first time back in 1983. These doofs are generally held in remote rural settings and feature DJs spinning a range of electronic music, mostly Psytrance and Techno, as well as live acts, speakers, art and healing workshops. Now that winter is upon is here in the Northern hemisphere, I suggest you pack a bag and head down under to party in the sunshine at one of the doofs listed below.

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Doof #1: Earthcore
When/where it’s taking place:
Pyalong, Victoria from November 24th – 28th
Why it’s special:
It’s the original bush doof!
What to expect:
Often described as “a festival with soul”, Earthcore is also a festival for the soul, as it’s so much more than just an awesome party. Set on 1,500 acres of pristine land, adorned with mind-bending art installations, there are several villages that focus on culture, lifestyle and entertainment, where you can experience everything from yoga and meditation, to exercise classes, to massages and alternative therapies, as well as an array of unique performances. And you’ll certainly be well-nourished too, with all the food that’s on offer at the Market Food Zone, which serves up vegetarian delights, juices, smoothies, proper coffee and Chai tea. In terms of the music, Earthcore hosts DJs from all around the world across five stages and is most well-known for catering to Techno and Psytrance fans. However, in recent years, the festival organisers have expanded their roster to include artists with more varying styles, such as Drum ‘n’ Bass, Glitch and Breaks. There really is something for everybody here.
Who to see:
If you like your Techno deep, dark and driving (like me) then be sure to check Australia’s own Bass to Pain Converter on the Kinky Karnival stage. If you’re more of a Trance fan, I’d recommend seeing Bryan Kearney, John 00 Fleming and Will Atkinson and for Psytrance lovers, well, virtually every artist on the main stage will probably be to your taste!

Bass To Pain Converter on the main stage at last year’s Earthcore Festival

Doof #2: Strawberry Fields
When/where it’s taking place:
Tocumwal, New South Wales from November 17th – 20th
Why it’s special: It’s one of the more original and forward-thinking doofs. The selection of artists is on point and the atmosphere of this festival is something else.
What to expect: Just a few hours outside of Melbourne, you’ll find the small, dusty fruit-picking region of Tocumwal, where Strawberry Fields has been held annually for the past seven years. It’s a place where people come to escape the real world and completely let their inhibitions go for a few days, which isn’t hard to do in this wild wonderland. The organisers have strived to maintain the festival’s genuine sense of community through providing a platform for local and up-and-coming artists, rather than just booking big names, and creating a unique environment for showcasing their music and art. Each year, Strawberry Fields simply gets better and better; what started off as a predominantly Techno event, it now features various styles of electronic music, as well as art installations, eclectic market stalls, wizards and other entertainers, meaning there’s plenty you can do here aside from dance your socks off. This year, the festival is expanding and will almost double its number of acts and activities, plus punters can head on down a day early, so you’ll certainly get your money’s worth.
Who to see: Local artists worth seeing include Seekae, Sleep D and House of Mince. George Fitzgerald, Leftfield and Henry Saiz are amongst the bigger acts on the roster, but my personal favourites would have to be Radio Slave and Victor Ruiz.

Strawberry Fields 2015 after movie

Doof #3: Subsonic
When/where it’s taking place: Barrington Tops, New South Wales from December 2nd – 4th
Why it’s special: It’s arguably the best doof in the country- where else could you frolic in a river as the sun rises, surrounded by people in drag, while getting blasted by awesome Tech House tunes? Only at Subsonic.
What to expect: Three days of wonderfully obscure music in an equally obscure setting: Riverwood Downs Mountain Valley Resort. In these picturesque surroundings, you’ll embark on a journey of underground sounds, ranging from Reggae and Dub, to Psytrance and Techno, produced by local and international artists. Like Strawberry Fields, Subsonic focuses on community and kinship, and local DJs get a lot of love here. Join in with the fun and festive crowd and make new friends, for chances are you’ll lose your old ones in the wilderness, and there’s no phone signal here to get back in touch with them. This is the beauty of Subsonic though; it’s essential to the vibe of the festival that people branch out and connect with others, rather than staying glued to their mates. Besides, having no signal encourages festival-goers to enjoy being in the moment, rather than photographing and filming the event in a bid to impress all their friends on Snapchat. If you’re feeling a tad worse for wear at the end of the festival, you can even pay a small fee to camp for an extra night or two and bask in the rays by the river and go swimming.
Who to see: Big names include Lee Scratch Perry, Seth Troxler, Josh Wink and Ben UFO. Of the local DJs, it’s worth heading to the Pizza Lab to catch the Franchi Brothers and to the River Stage on the final day to see Simon Caldwell warm up for the closing act. The aforementioned Bass to Pain Converter will also be performing on the El Stompo stage.

A taste of Subsonic Festival

Doof #4: Rainbow Serpent
When/where it’s taking place: Lexton, Victoria from January 26th – 30th 2017
Why it’s special: Its spiritual foundations are what makes this doof stand out from the others, coupled with the fact it’s one of the few that’s remained true to its roots over the years.
What to expect: What began as a small gathering back in 1997 is now an internationally recognised music and arts festival, an explosion of colour, dance and expression, attracting people from all over the world. Rainbow Serpent takes its name from an Aboriginal “dreamtime” story, which gives great importance to this mythical creature and is the spiritual foundation of the festival, as it is all about our connection to the earth. The land upon which Rainbow Serpent takes place is the shared country of two different Aboriginal tribes: Dja Dja Wurrung and Wadawurrung, both which play an important role in the make-up of the festival. There is so much more on offer than the usual line-up of electronic music here; Rainbow Serpent gives you the chance to escape from the modern-day world and reconnect with the earth in the way that these tribes do. The Lifestyle village offers a range of activities that reflect its community spirit, such as yoga and dance classes, interactive workshops and discussion panels. Next year marks its 20th anniversary, an important milestone for the event, so expect to be taken back on the incredible journey Rainbow has made over the past couple of decades, while enjoying an unprecedented weekend of music, performances, art and activities.
Who to see: Simon Posford, who’ll be performing as Shpongle & Hallucinogen, will be headlining the festival. Germany’s Extrawelt will be making their Rainbow debut, while the likes of Perfect Stranger, Avalon and D-Nox & Beckers will be returning to follow up on their previous out of this world performances.

Rainbow Serpent: A retrospective film

Doof #5: Earth Frequency
When/where it’s taking place: Peak Crossing, Queensland from February 17th – 20th 2017
Why it’s special: It’s the most community-based doof in the country.
What to expect: Earth Frequency is more than just a festival; it’s a meeting place for people of all different backgrounds, ages and walks of life, who are brought together through their shared love of music, nature, culture and community. Like Rainbow Serpent, it began as a small Landcare party and is now one of Australia’s most significant gatherings. The aim of the festival is to break away from traditional labels and create a unique event based on creativity, education, healing and community spirit. Nurtured by its beautiful rural setting, Ivory’s Rock, Earth Frequency invites you to come together to celebrate life with music, art and other creative forms. Over the four days, you can expect to hear a solid dose of Reggae, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Dubstep, Folk, Funk and Hip-Hop, as well as the usual Techno and Psytrance, and experience visionary art, workshops and lectures. As well as all this, there is a family and kids’ space and a whole array of market stalls.
Who to see: Marcus Henriksson will be topping the Techno bill and he’ll be joined by the likes of Sensient, Desert Dwellers and Australia’s own The Herd. Other local artists include Mal Webb, Hugo & Treats, Lubdub and Formidable Vegetable Sound System.

Earth Frequency 2016

For more information on doofs in Australia, and to keep up-to-date with the latest doof news, check out Dreamland Doof’s online magazine.

Written by: Milly Day

My Experience of Electronic Music Festivals in Argentina

Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world for nightlife and, in the year and a half that I lived there, I went to four electronic music festivals, as well as countless parties and nights out. Sadly, these festivals have now been banned after five people overdosed at TimeWarp, a decision brought about by the mayor of BA, which seems crazy in my opinion as it’s hardly going to solve the problem; people will continue to take drugs, they’ll just find somewhere else to do it.

What I loved most about the festivals I went to was the passion of the crowd, as Argentinians simply have so much love for electronic music and seemingly infinite amounts of energy. As a result, the atmosphere at festivals in Buenos Aires was really quite magical, something I’m yet to experience anywhere else in the world. I met some of the best people I know out raving in that city, and many are still great friends of mine today, so I decided to write this article as an homage to them and the wonderful events that brought us together.

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The crew at Ultra Buenos Aires

My first festival: Ultra

Ultra was the first festival in Buenos Aires that I heard about and I wasn’t even planning to be in the country for it, but an Australian couple I’d met in Peru (and continued to bump into throughout my travels) showed me the line-up one night in Rio and without hesitation, I booked myself onto a flight to BA. It had been ages since I’d last heard anything that resembled electronic music, having been exposed to nothing but Samba, Salsa and Reggaeton for the past three months, so I think I got a little overexcited! It was well worth the trip though, for a number of Trance DJs I adored at the time played, such as Omnia, W&W and Armin, and they did not disappoint. Besides, it was the very first time I’d partied hard with Argentinians and I was carried by their energy and enthusiasm through to the end of the night, by which time we were all completely sodden as there had been a torrential downpour. Still, that wasn’t enough to wipe the smiles off our faces. I finally got back to my hostel at some ungodly hour of the morning, having had to walk back in the rain and mud, since no taxi driver would accept my soggy banknotes, but I arrived feeling immensely satisfied after a night of non-stop dancing.

For a more detailed account of the night, check out my review of Ultra Buenos Aires on Data Transmission.

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The crowd during Nic Fanciulli’s set at Creamfields BA

My biggest festival: Creamfields

The legendary Creamfields Festival takes place in a number of countries across the globe, including England, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Chile and of course, Argentina. I’d only ever had the UK experience, so was delighted when I managed to wangle a pair of free tickets to Creamfields BA, and full of intrigue. As I predicted, it was a lot sunnier, the crowd were a lot livelier and there was more emphasis on the music and less on fashion, food and fairground rides. I have to say though, the English version is more varied in terms of the different genres and styles, and I found myself mostly watching performances by House and Techno DJs, such as Nic Fanciulli, Tale of Us, Solomun and Gaiser in BA, as there wasn’t much Trance. I did get to see the second half of Above & Beyond’s set though, which blew me away, even though I’d already seen them so many times – a cracking way to end the night. Overall, whereas you can’t really compare this one-day event to longer festivals held in the UK, that incredible vibe given off by the crowd is something that you won’t experience in Daresbury! So many DJs rave about the atmosphere at Creamfields BA and after my experience of it, I can certainly see why.

Click to read part one and part two of my Creamfields Buenos Aires review.

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Partying in the woods at Aurora

My most surreal festival: Aurora

Aurora is Argentina’s take on the world renowned Burning Man Festival, different versions of which take place in several countries, but I was lucky enough to attend the first ever one in Argentina, and in fact the whole of Latin America. It took place in the middle of nowhere (as you would expect), surrounded by woods, fields and a lake, and was decorated with ribbons, neon mannequins and various other random objects. From start to finish, the whole experience was utterly surreal; I saw some of the most creative fancy dress outfits I’d ever seen, witnessed a wedding conducted by men in masks, danced in an illuminated forest while baby armadillos ran past my feet and, of course, saw the giant wooden man get burnt to a cinder. This was the climax of the four-day festival, provoking claps and cheers from the crowd and one man even played his violin throughout, making it all the more dramatic. The festival didn’t have a particularly large turnout, but that made it all the more special and intimate, as those that had made the journey were psyched to be there. The music ranged from from  Techno, to Psytrance, to Ambient, and live bands performed too, meaning there was something for everyone. I hear Aurora is a lot bigger these days, and it’s still going despite the ban, so I’d definitely advise checking it out if you’re in Buenos Aires in April.

Click to read my full review of Aurora.

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Saving the best till last – TimeWarp Argentina

My favourite festival: TimeWarp

Towards the end of my time in BA, I found myself developing more of an interest in Techno, as there’s so much of it around and it’s hugely popular. Fortunately for me, the legendary German festival TimeWarp took place in the city for the first time while I was there, which was pretty good timing, as it had never previously been held outside of Europe. For me, this was a reflection of the city’s commitment to electronic music and the Porteños’ flare for it. Naturally, the TimeWarp Argentina line-up was very impressive, featuring old favourites like Richie Hawtin and Chris Liebing, as well as younger DJs, Valentino Kanzyani and Barem, amongst others. A vast warehouse in the neighbourhood of Palermo hosted the festival over two days and, although I’d only planned to go on the first day, it was so incredible that I found myself going back for round two, despite the fact I was well and truly exhausted from the previous night. Everything from the sound system, to the lights and decoration, to the atmosphere were spot on and the music did not disappoint either. The highlight of the entire festival had to be Loco Dice’s three-hour set on the first night, as I adore his edgy, drum-heavy Tech-House style. It has the be said that TimeWarp Argentina well and truly lived up to the hype, though sadly it only took place once more before getting banned.

Overall, my experience of electronic music festivals in Argentina was nothing short of awesome and I hope to be able to return one day once they’ve lifted that ban- my fingers are tightly crossed…