You came to Berlin to study. What is the program exactly?
It's called "Tonmeister." It's a musical and technical study, which combines practical studio skills with classical and modern music knowledge. You have to take an admission test, which requires you to have a very good ear, and to know a lot about classical music and music theory. For example, you have to be able to hear melodies over eight bars four times and then be able to write them down correctly. It's pretty tough. I prepared myself for this admission test for one-and-a-half years. And the first time I took it, I failed. The second time I took it, I succeeded. There were about 80 people that took it, and only four passed the test. It's been my dream since I was 17 or 18 to get here to study.
Does the training help you in your electronic music?
Well, there is a connection of course. Producing music for the last couple of years has helped me to understand some electronic devices for example. Compression, how to mix. That's all stuff which I can apply now to my studies.
Who, classically, do you like to listen to? Do you listen to a lot of classical music on your free time?
Yes. Bach is my absolute master of music. He's a composer which everybody knows, but he's not as "commercial" as Mozart for example. (I know, a lot of people will hate me for this.) Mozart is a genius in his way, in his simplicity. Mozart has exact notes which have to be in their place, no more and no less. Clear harmonies, everything is simply transparent. But Bach has incredible structures, which in his case has to do a lot with "mathematic" rules of composition. The way he combines different melodies in a polyphonic way to an "infinite loop" is outstanding. It's difficult to explain in English.
Bach is a composer that I didn't listen to so much when I was younger. I mean I'm still young, but it's a big difference if you are 12 and if you are 18 and listening to Bach. At some point my mind just opened to his music. He's a composer that, when I listen to him, my soul gets clear. If I have troubles or any difficult moments in my life I listen to him and I feel better.
Who electronic music-wise do you look up to? Inspiration-wise was there someone you first heard?
In the beginning, I was very touched by Stimming and he is still someone I admire a lot. I remember hearing "Feuervogel" (his track with Solomun) around the time it first came out and it was casually the first track that brought me to electronic music. But at the moment it's actually always changing. There are a few musicians I look up to, like Nicolas Jaar for example. I think a lot of people do.
Are you writing an album yourself?
I'm in the process, yes.
His influence let me realize that nobody should create music with the pressure to satisfy anything or anybody. Because of the traditional musical structures of our electronic scene I have the feeling that too few people have the confidence to break the borders. And he opened at least my eyes, and for that I am really thankful. I don't feel the pressure anymore to do a track which has to fit to a certain taste. That doesn't mean all the tracks I produced were just a product of external pressure, but it was an influence I had.
Do you feel pressure, being on Diynamic, to make club tracks?
No, absolutely not. Especially with my album. I have all gates open from Solomun. He says, "Do what you want," and he is supporting me in every way. He also realizes that I am going continuously through changes. And to be honest, sometimes I can't really recognize myself when I listen to my old tracks, but this is a problem I have with myself...
You said you don't recognize yourself sometimes.
Yeah, I mean it was two years ago when I released my first track. Half a year later I couldn't hear it anymore. I felt ashamed, like, "Oh my God, what did I produce?" Half a year later the same thing, half a year later the same thing. That's my problem. I admire producers who develop their style, but you can still recognize them over three years or so. I don't think you can recognize me if you listen to my first track and to my most recent track.
Do you wish that you had put your earlier stuff out under a different name now?
No, it wouldn't be fair to myself. It's part of me, you know. It's how time goes by, and how people change and grow. I listen to those tracks and don't recognize myself, but that's OK. I think that every step in my life has a reason.
Tell me about growing up in Hamburg.
Well, it's totally different than Berlin. It's a city of two million people. But after 19 years of living there, it seems to be a small, small town. It's a really beautiful city actually: When the sun is shining it's the most beautiful city in Germany I think. But that's the point, the weather is always shit. Nevertheless it was a really nice city to grow up in. The thing that was hard was that everybody knows everybody. You can't be anonymous, and that's maybe something I prefer here in Berlin.
What about the club in Hamburg that the Diynamic guys run, Ego? I've heard it's really amazing.
Without saying this because Diynamic owns the club, I think it's one of my favorite clubs in Germany. It has everything that a good club should have: a good sound system, it's small—like 300 people—and there is just one room with a dance floor and a bar. There is a small lounge upstairs, but if you are in the club you can't really escape the music. You have to be there for the music.
You recently produced an EP for the Diynamic sub-label 2DIY4 by a band named Pool. Can you talk a bit about how that came about?
Yeah, it's a great new band from Hamburg. I have known the bass player since we were 14 or 15. Around that time, we jammed together on our guitars with a drummer, who was a common friend. We lost contact for a while, but he got in touch again, saying that he had seen my music around and was asking if I wanted to produce his band. I absolutely wanted to do it, and I learned a lot. A lot of trying and failing.
What did you learn?
A lot about recording. It's a complicated thing to put the microphone in the right place. If you put this microphone here or 5 cm more in that direction, it can make a huge difference. It's really complex. I thought, "OK, I want to study this, so why not try it out before I hopefully go to Berlin to study it in school?" I'm just in the second semester here, but by experimenting a lot with this band I learned a lot in advance.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Talking to you today, I don't think you want to be a DJ in ten years.
I said in another interview that, for me, DJing is a job, which has its end maybe in your 30s or 40s. But I think I just can speak for myself. I don't see myself in ten years as a DJ in a club. But I totally understand anybody else who wants to do this. It's a great thing, which I appreciate a lot but it's not something I can see myself doing when I will be older. I will start to play live soon with my album and probably do exclusively live without any DJ sets anymore. That's my first step to go a little bit away from the "entertainer" just for the club and to be seen more like an artist. I could also see in ten years that I will be a music producer for different kinds of music. That's the thing I'm thinking about very often. The artist in the foreground, or the producer in the background.
You haven't decided yet.
No, because I don't know how everything will go. I don't know how I will think about it if my album will succeed, and I will get a lot of gigs and everything is going well. I don't know what I will think about my studies. But, at the moment, I know I have these two things. This is electronic music, and these are my studies. And I try to do both things well, but at some point I think I will maybe have to decide. Luckily, I don't have the pressure to think about it now, it's not the age where you need to make those kinds of decisions I guess.