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

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