It's certainly a thought that's crossed Sebo Kazey's mind more than once. Almost exactly at the point his twin DJing and production pursuits began to truly bear fruit, the then 29 year-old was already making plans for after the party. "I never studied and learnt anything after my school, and I started to work immediately," he says from across the table of a condensation-specked cafe in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. "I'm really a safety orientated person. I'm a bit afraid of what happens when I'm fifty or something. Of course I would love to still do music then, but I don't know whether it's possible to still do music then—I don't know what will happen to my ears."
It was that worry that impelled Sebo to enroll in a three-year business and communication course, for which he is currently writing his final thesis. Although you get the sense he is far from enamoured with his second subject, Sebo says he was looking for a sturdy alternative to the arts that struck "a good balance between DJing and the heavy nightlife." And it's that balance that has dictated Sebo's path up until this point.
Although the implied "plan" is no more strategic than writing a record in those fleeting moments of free time, a pattern has emerged. After outings for—among others—Tom Clark's Gold Plate imprint and the subsequent Highgrade Records, Sebo began a run of roughly one release per annum, which began with his and Anja Schneider's Side Leaps/Rancho Relaxo double A side in 2005. (This year, however, has been a particularly prolific one: Sebo recently put out a compilation for the Watergate mix series, the Saxtrack 12-inch on Cécille and has a forthcoming track ready for release on Mobilee.)
Most impressively considering the circumstances, is that from the ethereal pads of "Horizons" to the syncopated drama of "Transit" via the infectious plod of "Far Out" and the stuttering synthesis of "Diva," all of his releases have been among the most widely played, charted, danced to and possibly even purchased releases of their respective years. So does Sebo also feel that the pressure of producing under time constraints been another circuitous plus point? "It's not so easy because I know I only have this specific time and it's a lot of pressure to do something that I'm happy with," he says. "I know I have just one week to finish anything, and...I really want to release something then because I hadn't released anything for such a long time. I also have had luck that those releases like 'Diva' were successful because it also could have happened that I made a record that nobody was interested in," he adds, a little modestly.
Sebo K's mid '90s drum & bass trio
LTJ Bukem - Music
Everybody would probably chose this as an essential tune of that time, but that's simply because it is the tune - absolutely timeless.
Jazz Juice - Jazz Juice
I hadn't listened to this record for ages, but when I was thinking back to this era, this was one of the first ones that I came to mind. After listening to it again I must say I still love it. Pure class.
Omni Trio - Renegade Snares
Honestly, from a modern perspective the piano in this sounds a little bit cheesy for me, but I remember being so into this track at the time. In any case, I still like the vibe. There were countless remixes of this track, and I bought them all.
Around the turn of the decade came Sebo's second key residency at the intimate basement space Pogo—a 100 capacity club in the Mitte district of Berlin. The place attained something of a cult following thanks to its hipster patrons and anything-goes music policy, which in turn allowed Sebo to broaden his own range by regularly chopping-up disco, electro, hip-hop and rock in a single set.
Although his recollection of the how's, why's and when's are a little hazy, the early '00s was also the time an interest in producing his own music began to manifest itself. Much like his entry into the DJ arena, Sebo fast-tracked himself to an elevated position by absorbing the knowledge of a hip-hop producer friend, while adopting a multifarious approach to his output in the same vein as his DJing. "I was doing some trip-hop stuff and also doing some music for advertising," he recalls. "I also released one 12-inch on Sonar Kollektiv which was more like broken-beat stuff. I tried different things. I also produced a German hip-hop project. But finally I came back to house. I would say that what I did before was more like experiments and finding my sound or something. I wanted to try everything but then when I came back to house I think that was my real passion."
The current adventure began in earnest when Sebo passed a handful of demos to long-term friend Anja Schneider who was in the process of setting up the Mobilee imprint along with Ralf Kollmann. After putting out the label's inaugural release Too Hot, he went on to have a hand in three of the first ten Mobilee offerings, garnering himself and the imprint a following as key players in the burgeoning minimal house scene. Although like many of the main protagonists of those days, Sebo is now keen to distance himself from the sound, on listening back to those formative releases, it's clear his fascination with house music never deserted him. "Of course at that time I was playing a lot of minimal, but I was always playing a lot of house already at that time and also my releases were pretty housey—they were the housiest releases on Mobilee. But I am still interested in the minimal stuff. It's not like everybody is playing house now. There is still some good stuff, but not so much anymore."
On consuming his recent mix for Berlin venue Watergate—for whom he has held a residency since the club's opening in 2002—it's abundantly clear where his head is at right now. Rick Wade, Agnes, Mood II Swing, Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts; the disc is a shining exemplar of classic US house colliding with modern European production. That said, for all its apparently free-flowing qualities, Sebo is quick to point out that 2009 has been a low ebb for him inspiration-wise. "I feel a bit uninspired," he reveals. "I'm not really happy... I also don't know how to do it better, but I don't find so much satisfying stuff these days. That's just my personal opinion. I don't find so many records and really think 'Wow.' I always feel like in the past it was better (of course, people always think in the past things were better), but I think this year... I've been really, really uninspired."
As he tails off somewhat wistfully, I attempt to press him on exactly what he has found so unsatisfactory over the past twelve months. "I don't know what the problem is, but I think that most of the records sound the same. There aren't really a lot of highlights and I think that people don't really try to risk anything. Nobody wants to make mistakes or try to do something special in these productions. I even started to find myself playing sets and afterwards thinking 'If someone was listening to my set tonight, maybe they will go home and won't remember a single song.' Of course I try to bring some special aspects to it, but it's pretty hard these days. I am looking for something you can remember," he continues. "Like a good vocal. OK, so there are some records with vocals now, but it's hard to describe. I mostly play old records to bring these highlights."
Despite his unease with the way things of gone this year, 2010 will signal a much anticipated watershed in Sebo's career. The submission for his final paper arrives at the end of 2009, which meant as of October 3rd (a closing set in fabric's room 1) his gigging schedule was completely cleared. So with the road soon to open up ahead of him, is he fearful of disrupting the hitherto successful balance? "Of course, I'm a bit afraid of that; when I'm a free man and can party hard. I think I will search for some new goals. It's pretty exhausting how it is right now, but on the other hand I'm pretty happy because it always keeps me on the ground. I don't want to promise too much. I'm thinking about making an album, but let's see... I wouldn't say I will release so much more then, but I can really spend the time I want to on producing." Whatever the next few years hold for Sebo K, though, he at least knows there is something to fall back on.