You are a trained musician with a proper musical education, how does it help you to understand techno and house music and how does it help to produce it? I heard of people who had a hard time with the dissonance at first.
I think the traditional, academic approach to a musical education is mainly useful in terms of naming things for people. Giving notes, harmonies, rhythms, and other musical structures names, and therefore some sort of distinct identity, is really useful for beginning to develop some sort of deeper, personal understanding of them, which I believe to be absolutely necessary in the creation of great music (whether the names are known or not). So, having these concepts introduced so clearly and distinctly from a very early age is especially helpful. But, the process of ultimately developing an individual and deeper understanding of them really has so little to do with that in the end. The language is just a framework. Someone’s musical education is really a sum of their entire life, and everything they’ve heard during it. As far as my musical education is concerned, my understanding of and approach to house and techno has much more to do with the part I received through my parents’ incredible record collection, and my early experiences DJing at B-boy battles and producing hip-hop. I’m all about the dissonances. I have much more of an issue with the consonances!
You were born in the USA (like Bruce Springsteen), how do you see this EDM invasion that happened the last year? Especially from a country that never considered anything else than rock, hip hop, jazz, pop or country music.
All repetitive, unoriginal music is equally unnecessary and bad to me, whether it’s an EDM track or a more ‘underground’ one. But, the reason it’s popular is because people genuinely get some sort of fulfillment out of it, so I’m completely supportive of its existence and fans, even if I can’t imagine a greater misfortune than personally having to listen to it. I also really like this idea of a movement that was born in the underground in the USA finally reaching people there on a wider scale. Regardless of how much less profound the musical content is in its new popular form, people hedonistically dancing together is unquestionably a good thing, I think, and something that I’m positive is happening on a much wider scale globally with the rise of EDM.
When did you decide to move to Berlin and did it affect your musical views and lifestyle?
I decided to move to Berlin after I got kicked out the Royal Academy of Music in London. I was actually sort of a refugee, I guess, because I couldn’t stay in London without a visa… Anyways, because of the circumstances especially, the whole moving experience definitely shaped my musical views. During my two years at the Academy, my ideas on art and music making underwent a serious transformation, mostly in reaction to and in spite of the institution. So, moving to Berlin marked a consolidation of all of these ideas, and the beginning of a new chapter for me personally and musically. Basically, one in which I can do whatever the fuck I want! Not being a full time student is, of course, a huge lifestyle change as well.
What are your plans for the next months?
Now that summer is ending, I’m going into hibernation mode. Going to hide away for a few months, work on lots of new music, practice piano, read, and hopefully progress further in the infinite struggle to learn German (and Max/MSP). I’ll pop out for a dance now and again when I can’t bear the solitude any longer, and hopefully play a few DJ gigs as well.
More important than the parties, the plane rides, the magazine covers or the money, every great DJ is first and foremost, a collector. A discoverer of music. A traveller weaving through a sea of new sounds and honing down the multitude of records to those that matter most. It’s this drive for sonic exploration that’s responsible for Souvenir, the Berlin label spearheaded by Tiefschwarz and their french partner Arthur Vélasquez. In little over a year the label has...