|Andomat 3000: Gandhi jack
Po-faced minimal? Andomat 3000 is anything but, writes Todd L. Burns.
“People seem to be more impressed than I am with the music that I make,” shrugs Andreas Wiegand, aka currently-very-fashionable producer Andomat 3000. If you were to pick the least likely individual to become white hot in the fickle world of techno, Andi Wiegand might be it. The thirty-something producer lives in a small German village with his Mum, and refuses to move to the city (“Sometimes I consider moving, but everyone has gone to Berlin, so I don’t have to,” he reasons.) He takes his nom-de-DJ, Mahatma, from a little bald Indian man. He names his ultra-successful tracks things like ‘You Suck’, ‘I Don’t Care’ and, uh, ‘Vertical Smile’ (don’t ask). And instead of moody promo shots, his MySpace profile is filled with .gifs of kitties doing push-ups, puppies dressed as hot dogs, and Andi himself gurning with his friends. In short, Andi Wiegand is not exactly Richie Hawtin.
So how did Wiegland end up in such demand with the cool minimal kids? It’s all about, quite simply, the music. His big break was a b-side on Luciano’s Cadenza imprint in 2006 ('Entr'acte Music', made with partner Jan Iwanitz), which he has followed up with a dozen records in two short years on labels such as Cecille and Four: Twenty. Now that demand, it seems, is getting ridiculous – he’s had so many requests his MySpace profile simply reads: “Stop asking for rmxs/releases for ur label! Thanx!”
Yet Andomat 3000 didn’t just spring up fully formed, of course. Wiegand has roots in hard techno – he’s released records as DJ Mahatma with names like 'Agrodizko' and 'Fierce Ear' – and while he has had his biggest successes with minimal, it’s a genre that he still ambivalent about. “When people say to me, ‘Boy, the music today is so interesting,’ I can’t help but think that, for me at least, it’s not,” he explains.
When it comes to Andomat 3000 tracks, at least, those labels banging down his door would disagree with that statement. Time to do some banging on doors of our own then – we track down the coolest techno producer in the village of Sünna to find out the score.
Let's start from the beginning: When did you get started with electronic music? Was the DJ Mahatma project your first thing?
I was literally listening to any dance music in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, from hip-house to acid house. Then in 1992 when I was just getting into my teens I went to my first techno party and I soon started to DJ after that.
In 1994 or 95 I got my first residency in a club playing house and techno. Then In ’97 or ’98 my brother and me bought a MC-303, this Roland thing and just played around for a while, getting the basics and making music. Later on, I got more into software synthesizers like Cubase and I guess it was 2001 or so that I got into Reason and finally made my first record. That was under the name DJ Mahatma, yeah, which was this hard techno thing.
Where was your first residency?
It wasn’t anything big. I live in a very small village in the former East Germany and there is no real big party scene here. Back in the day in ’94 or ’95, though, I sent around a bunch of mixtapes to my friends and they passed them around to everyone. And there was a guy who started a club called Keller, which means “basement” in English. I was like the only DJ in town [laughs] and they listened to my tape and knew what they could expect. It was my first and only residency. Later on I was never that interested in being a resident DJ anywhere.
I noticed that you play live nowadays. Is DJing something that you’re just not interested in doing anymore?
No, actually I’m probably more comfortable being a DJ especially during the time that I was doing it more—in the early ‘90s. But as I’ve become more and more like a producer, whenever I listen to a techno track I can’t help but visualize the arrangement, the instruments used, blah, blah, blah and so techno from a certain point is not all that interesting to me.
But to answer your question…[laughs] I didn’t buy many records that are in the minimal house field. I only started the live act because Luciano from Cadenza asked me if I could do a live show after the first release on the label, so I bought equipment and started producing more tracks so that I could have a certain amount of tracks that I could play.
How did you get the Andomat name?
When I started my studies in ’97, I got my first e-mail address at school. A friend of mine showed me how to do this and he said you need a name. I just typed in Andomat because my first name was Andreas and then when I needed a name for this first release that wasn’t hard techno of mine I just took my e-mail and added the 3000.
How did you choose the name Mahatma? Is it a Gandhi thing?
It was. I’m not bald-headed at all, but I have quite a large forehead and so a friend of mine once said, “Andi will look on his head like Gandhi.” [laughter] So from then on I was just Mahatma.
Your brother Volker also makes music. Were you competitive with each other when you were growing up?
We never had any musical education, but we were both (he is three years younger than I am) always interested in music. So we shared a love for music. We bought a Roland when we saw a documentary on TV about Detroit techno. There was this guy from the Roland company – this Japanese guy – who had this small thing that had sounds coming out of it that were amazing. My brother said, “We have to buy one,” even though we both had no idea what it was or how to make it work.
He’s more of a technical guy, so he was the one who got into the manual and explained to me how to use it. I’m definitely the lazy one. [laughs] I can use it, but he understands it. Whenever I have a technical problem, I call him and ask him for advice.
Have you ever made tracks with him?
Nope. We did one, but it was a humorous thing. We also made a split EP, but we’ve never collaborated on anything.
Why is that?
Top 5 Rejected Titles for 'Vertical Smile'
by Andomat 3000
01. Whisker Biscuit
02. Texas Snapping Turtle
03. Down There
04. Hair Pie
05. C U Next Tuesday
I have no idea. We are both doing our own thing, even though we have a pretty similar sound.
A similar sound?
Well, similar but different. It’s hard to describe how we’re different though. He records under the name Quick & Smart. As I said, he’s more technical, so I think that his music sounds a bit cleaner. I tend to work fast and don’t care that much about anything as long as it sounds okay.
Did you have thoughts of moving to America or England at some point?
I actually spent a half year in England. But this was more like a holiday than studying. It was in 2000, and I was partying a lot. A lot of cool things and a lot of very bad things happened, so after that summer I needed a break from Germany. So I went to the UK for six months to get my mind free of all of this stuff. Then when I came back in 2001, I got Reason and made six tracks and that became my first record.
Why did you decide to move back to your small village? Didn’t you ever want to live in Berlin or somewhere like that?
I considered it. But just before I got my diploma, my father died. We have quite a big house here and my brother and sister were still studying, so I came back for my mother. At the same time, I was doing the music stuff. So on one hand it was necessary and on the other it gave me the chance to continue to do music full-time.
Let’s talk about ‘Vertical Smile’ and G-Man’s ‘Quo Vadis’. They seem mighty similar.
[laughs] I thought the same, actually, at least with the piano chords. It just sort of happened, you know? I didn’t do it on purpose or anything. It just came out that way.
Where did you come up with the name “Vertical Smile”?
It was actually from a book [laughs] called English as a Second Fucking Language, which is all about swear words. So I’m sure you know what this means…
I have a pretty good idea. Tell me about how you work with Jan. Who is doing what?
Without disrespecting anyone – this goes for all of my collaborations – I’m usually the producer and doing almost everything. They sit beside me and say “Okay” or “not okay”. I do it like I want anyways [laughs]. Of course if there is another person in the room, there is some influence, but for me…if there is another person in the room, it forces me to make tracks to an end, because otherwise I would start the track and, after 30 minutes if I hadn’t finished it, it would start to bore me, and I would just start another one. If there is someone else, I feel like I have to finish it.
How did you meet Jan?
I was in University in Kassel and he was working at a record store there. I was buying records there and we began to talk. After a while, he invited me to his home and we had a barbecue and we were talking about life and techno and from then on we were good friends. He eventually went to Holland for a job and I went back after my studies to my small village, but then we reconnected.
How did you get hooked up with Cadenza?
After I met back up with Jan after two or three years of not seeing him, he came to my house for two or three days and we made a bunch of music together. We made about six tracks altogether, five of which were released. Jan had given Luciano a CD of the tracks. I honestly couldn’t believe it, because I didn’t think it was anything special, but...
Have you made a track yet where you’ve thought it was something special right after you finished it?
No. Every time I think that this is something funny or it makes me smile, everyone else seems to think I’m crazy, that it's too strange.
When you make something “too strange” do you send it to a certain label?
I haven’t sent anything to anyone, actually. People just keeping asking me for stuff –fortunately [laughs]. After they ask me, I send it to them, of course, but I’ve never really sent out any demos looking for a deal or whatever.
Have you been surprised by the response from everyone, then, looking for tracks all the time?
After the first Cadenza release, it has gotten to be less and less of a surprise. But it’s cool, it’s really nice to feel wanted.
"Keep the remix facing downward on this one – while you play the A-side raw." ”'Vertical Smile' is a bruising stomper in its early stages, but opens up to reveal a rubbery, melodic core—a perfect track to mix in and out of.” ”'L Delay' is as close to conventional deep house as Cadenza have gone to date.” |
Published / Thursday, 29 May 2008