As you’ll read below, I got the opportunity to talk with a major influence of mine. Alex Bau overseas the evolution of the techno sound, as one of Germany’s most intriguing exports. A few years ago, Alex made his way to my ears with his End Of The Bleep release on Credo. I’ve carried those songs with me ever since, along with the absolutely brilliant Red Chromosome release on CLR. When I think of techno that gets me hyped, Alex Bau is at the top of the list. In my interview, we cover clubs to visit in Germany, his huge output of new music in October of this year, why he calls his remixes “repaints” and what “The Holy Bassdrum” means to him. Listen up..
DD Greetings Alex! I’m honored to have you on Disco Droppings. You are my favorite techno producer. I’m amazed by the style and energy of your productions. How’s it going?
AB I am fine, the year comes to an end soon and it was again very exciting, time flies…
DD I’ve never been to your home country of Germany. Where would you send me for good music, if I traveled over there?
AB Hm, tough question. 99% would expect me to probably tell you “You have to visit Berlin…” blablabla… but to be honest, in terms of electronic music there are so many nice places to visit, but also a lot of chances to end up at shitty parties – also in Berlin. I can only speak for myself, and I’ve had amazing nights in lots of places all over the country, but let’s make it short and easy to follow: if you like real techno you can find good nights at Cologne’s “Kunstpark” or “Arttheater” as well as for example at Stuttgart’s “Lehmann”, but of course, also in Berlin at spots like “Tresor” or “Berghain”.
DD During this month of October 2012, I see you appearing on 7 releases (many of these are Beatport exclusives). Three of these contain originals (Gamma Connection EP, Unsquare, No Destination EP), one showcases an original collaboration (Brood Techno002 – Brood Collaborations, “Ripples”) and the rest are remixes (Opulence Repaint). Was this huge output of releases in a short period intentional?
AB To be honest, it went off the plan a little bit! Almost all of the stuff you mentioned was produced throughout the whole year, including some stuff to come, but it ended up being released at the same time in fall. I don’t know if this is good or bad, it’s just as it is. I am 100% behind all those productions, no matter if they’re originals or remixes. Of course, my own label Credo with the Unsquare EP as part of the Credo Black Series is my special baby somehow!
DD I see you calling many of your remixes “Repaints”. Does your approach as a producer call for this other kind of description? Or is this just for fun?
AB Haha, actually you are the first to ask me this question, and I am really happy that there is someone out there thinking about it! There is a story about it! My label “Credo” stands for techno in a classic sense, which means for me to have always danceable, but at the same time interesting and emotional, colorful music. Simply the sound I believe in – as the latin name says: credo! I ended up with a subtitle for the label which says “Colors. Not Shades.”, so in this respect I always try to repaint others tracks with my personal colors. Call me crazy, but that’s the story behind it.
DD I recently included your “Red Chromosome (Flashback Mix)” track in my set for Decibel Festival 2012 in Seattle. That’s my favorite production of yours, and I layered “Azealia Banks – Fierce” over it. This is a dark, sexy house track with some tough rhymes. Do you step outside techno as well, both as an influence and in your sets?
AB I am kid from the 80’s, my first musical influence is the typical sound of the 80’s, and this includes a lot of early electronic music too of course! Different stuff, from Anne Clark, John Foxx, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, Tears for Fears and of course also Depeche Mode and The Cure. Very dark music as you can see, but also “exotic” music from Jan Hammer, his soundtrack for Miami Vice was very influential for me. I experienced that the farther you play outside of Germany, DJ’s are more wildstyle, which can be kind of fresh, but sometimes also cruel. I have to check out the track you mentioned, I can tell you afterwards if I consider this to be innovative or cruel :-]. Even though I play techno in my sets, I am always happy when I find good tracks from other genres, though I think house became a little bit boring over the last year, due to the inflational output. All the same grooves, all the same sounds. I love good sound, so… Jack had a groove, in the beginning there was house, but there is a reason why house became techno one day! ;-]
DD I read this quote from you, “The search for The Holy Bassdrum drives me all the time, so be sure, it’s not over until I’ve found it”. How much of this search is a technical one, and how much of it is an emotional/spiritual one?
AB As I said, I am addicted to sound. I love to create my special sound, always trying to make even common samples sound special. The bassdrum is the key, it determines where the track is going to, so there is no general rule, it’s a very emotional thing. On some track you better use a more soft-sounding 808 Kick, on others it has to pound and hit hard with a distorted 909. That’s what makes it that difficult! There is no “holy bassdrum”, there is only one holy bassdrum for one single track.
DD What’s helped you stay focused?
AB I am very focussed on what I try to represent with my music, I am like a little kid as soon as I finished a new track, I can’t wait to play it out – really loud! This music comes from the danecfloor and is done for the dancefloor, so it has to work well on the dancefloor. This is what I keep in mind all the time. I also love dubby techno and even chillout tracks, but there are loads of producers who are much better on this than me. On the other side, I am getting more and more secure with what I do and the way I do it. And this is techno!
DD What’s on the way for Alex Bau?
AB Right now I am working on my second DVD, coming out in December, which includes some new music. It’s about my Australian tour in September. Very exciting film material and a truly authentic insight on the real touring life, not acted scenes, just true life on tour and great pictures from the spots I have been to. The first DVD last year was about Buenos Aires and was anticipated very well. I discovered my love for the movie stuff, so I thought Australia would be a nice opportunity to repeat this. It’s a lot of work, as I decided also to distribute it on my own; no other company involved except the label. This helps me to keep control of everything. There will be a new release on Credo shortly before the DVD, the “Austrapop” EP with two tracks “Sydney Acid” and “Melbourne Dub”. The idea came when I was standing in front of a traffic light waiting to cross the street in Sydney, and the traffic light did some really nice sounds, so… :-]
- Jimi Jaxon