How are you – and how was your Christmas?
Good thank you – Christmas was great. I had some quality time with the family at home with no shows around that time to think about; it let my mind and body feel great and it gave me the chance to calm down from all the (positive) stress of the last few months.
Where are you based?
I ́m based in Germany in the Rhine-Main-area. My actual home is in Offenbach and my studio is in Frankfurt.
Does the landscape, the culture and so on from the area influence your music?
Yes for sure – all things around me influence my work and it always has before too. Our area is very multicultural; for example, Offenbach has the most foreigners, percentage-wise, in the entire country. I love the fact of how perfectly everything functions out over here, and how we live in a place of peace and freedom with each other. That is certainly not the norm when we look around at what ́s going on in other cities or countries when it comes to cultural diversity. All the different cultures bring so much positive input into the city – like food stores, restaurants, bakeries, or even cheese factories. As you can see, I like to eat too… But coming back to your question, I always saw this as a very positive aspect of the city and took inspiration from this diversity with my sound over the last several years, too. I was never afraid to open my soundscape toward this particular direction in recent times.
How did you first get into dance music, and what sort of labels and parties did you most look up to?
Dance music was very big in Frankfurt when I was in the age of going out to clubs. Frankfurt and Berlin were the main cities in Germany where it all started and happened in the 90s. My manager, Matthias Grein, was for example one of the founders of the club U60311, which was with Tresor Berlin, huge at that time. The clubs Robert Johnson and Monza had a massive impact on the scene in Frankfurt and Offenbach, too. So, luckily, electronic music was everywhere around me over here, and we had quality access to it all the time. My friends and I started with collecting flyers and listening to radio shows – and then we would record them on tape or else bought vinyl in the local stores – before we had the chance to actually attend clubs around 17. Later on I started to promote events at the U60311, and I worked there for a while before eventually opening my own agency with Matthias where we worked on festivals, events, a label and a booking agency. So it wasn’t any particular party or label, more the love for electronic music that inspired me – it still feels like an endless blaze in me.
What is your style as a DJ – do you play the sort of tracks you make, and are you connected to that kind of sound?
Yes, normally that ́s the case. For my last album Mountiri it was bit different because the workflow and intended result was more a concept album that, in my opinion, has to be listened in one go to get the whole story. So my team and I are working on a show to bring this side of me to the stage in a live concept. My DJ sets still have this powerful, moody, dark and mystic vibe with a lot of world music influences and vocal samples in.
Tell us about your recent LP ‘Mountiri’; what was your aim when making the album?
There was no aim or plan to do a new album. The way I worked on Mountiri was incredibly different than before; I could actively feel the steps that I made and I loved it. It ́s perhaps not the thing people were waiting for, but I ́m very happy with the result regardless, and that ́s the most important – and at the same time, the hardest – thing for me, to say, yes, that ́s it, I ́m done and I’m happy with it.
How long have you been running your RKJVK imprint, and what are the best and worst bits of being a label owner in the current music climate?
I’ve run the label since 2014 but became properly active with releases since 2017. As with everything in life, you can see the bad and good aspects in anything, but it’s best to focus on the good ones, especially since it makes up the majority like in this case. The total freedom you get as an artist, with your own label, is priceless; there’s no waiting periods after you finish your productions, your sound doesn ́t have to fit into any particular label policy,and it doesn’t even need another supporter other than yourself. I like to do the artwork myself, for example, or take pictures for it and just make the cover out of that. It’s part of my artistic freedom, I love this feeling and I’m always grateful for these possibillities.
What else inspires you, musically or otherwise? What drives you to get into the studio and start producing?
I take my inspiration out of daily life; inspiration is everywhere out there and also simply inside of yourself. You just have to listen and pay attention. I learned a lot whilst travelling the world on my own – you see a lot of things in a different mode than from hustling in your hometown in the hamster wheel everyone feels that they live in. I also try to use my travel time to produce music, so that I never waste time on planes or trains. So I always carry my laptop, midi-keyboard, soundcard and headphones with me, which gives me a sort of freedom and lets me catch my ideas the moment they arise. Many songs were created that way – on the road, between Istanbul, Burning Man, Berlin, or Mykonos, for example. I also try to not think a lot whilst I’m producing, and I just let my mood and intention set the vibe so that I can project the most authentic version of myself in that very moment into my music.
What are your hopes and dreams for the rest of 2019?
My goal for next year is to spend more time with my family and friends, because the recent years were super crazy with all the travel and touring life. My dreams – even if it sounds naive – are peace on this planet and that we take care on the planet itself. We all need to protect it and see us all as one.
What else have you got coming up musically?
On my label RKJVK, my team and I will be looking to bring original tunes from other artists into the limelight too. For now, there’s just been my original versions and remixed works from close friends and artists that I play out a lot. So I’m really looking forward to the next chapter for the label. For me personally there’s a lot of new music just waiting to be released, and I’m in the studio a lot too.