We continue our feature series based on RA's In Residence events by visiting a German club where simplicity is key.
In 2016, RA's In Residence series is celebrating club culture by throwing a month of parties at 12 of the world's best clubs. Clubs are the beating heart of dance music, and these are the venues that keep their local scenes thriving. Week-in, week-out, they open their doors to play the music we love.
Offenbach's Robert Johnson is our home for May, and we've programmed a special series of back-to-back DJ sets. The 250-capacity club is widely regarded as one of Europe's top spots for house and techno, thanks to a killer soundsystem and excellent booking policy. Robert Johnson opened in 1999, and has been central to the Frankfurt area's respected dance music scene ever since.
As we settle in for a month at each of the clubs we'll be running an accompanying feature that, through a combination of different media, will hopefully provide a lasting document of these iconic spaces.
May 07 RA In Residence, Robert Johnson, Offenbach
feat. The Black Madonna VS Mike Servito
May 14 RA In Residence, Robert Johnson, Offenbach
feat. Ata VS Gerd Janson
May 21 RA In Residence, Robert Johnson, Offenbach
feat. Motor City Drum Ensemble VS Jeremy Underground
May 28 RA In Residence, Robert Johnson, Offenbach
feat. Prosumer VS Lexx
- 01AddressNordring 131, 63067 Offenbach Am Main, Germany
- 02Club opened1999
- 03SoundsystemMartin Audio
- 04Dance floors1
- 06Resident DJsAta, Aziesch, Benedikt Frey, Benjamin Milz, Brontosaurus Junior Club, Cedric Dekowski, Chris Wood, Einzelkind, Felix Reifenberg, Gerd Janson, Lauer, Kilian Paterson, Manuel Schatz, Martyné, Max Best, Max Vaahs, Meat, Oliver Hafenbauer, Orson Wells, Ramone, Roman Flügel, Sebastian Kahrs, TCB, Thilo Dietrich, Thomas Hammann, Vincent Feit
"These days I'm already quite satisfied when I put a record on the turntable, fade it in and there's no feedback," laughs Max Vaahs. As a Robert Johnson resident, he's used to good sound. His profile is growing, though, and he's playing outside of Frankfurt increasingly often, wich means he's coming into contact with more and more soundsystems. "Sometimes I compare other soundsystems to Robert Johnson, which I shouldn't do," Vaahs says. "We're really spoilt with that place."
A high-end Martin Audio soundsystem attracts plenty of audio geeks, particularly when it comes to loopy house and techno. Dorian Paic, a regular guest at Robert Johnson and boss of Raum...musik, knows more about this soundsystem than most, and he has a few pointers should you happen to find yourself behind the decks there. "You should watch that it's always around 105-106 dB," he says. "You can easily see it because there's a huge meter in front of you. But when the place is super jam-packed you might need to go a bit higher."
"Some DJs who play there—who are used to playing in a very energetic way—start their sets really energetically," Paic says. "After a while, they find out it's not necessary to bang it out. It really helps to play deeper things—tracks with lots of sub-bass, which you wouldn't notice on some other soundsystems. It takes time to find this out, because you need to play there a few times. For me now, I try to stick to a certain sound in terms of the bass and things, because I know exactly how it will sound there. I think it can be a bit difficult when you're not used to it, though. You have to change the way you build your set compared to other places—it's very intense and powerful."
But some DJs know how to push the Robert Johnson soundsystem to it limits. "I've heard Ricardo Villalobos play much louder than 105 dB when the club was full," says Vaahs. "The sound became a bit distorted, which was quite interesting. It sounded super good, but rough. I stick to 105 dB."
- 6 x WF 3 Mid/Hi Box
- 4 x BLS 218 Subwoofer
- 2 x LE 1200 Wedge, DJ Monitor
- 2 x BLF 12, Delay
- DSP: XTA DP 548
- Crest Pro Series
This mix is a recording from when I recently played at Robert Johnson before Ricardo Villalobos. I basically searched for records I thought would fit a night with him. I thought I would leave anything too edgy at home as he would already have plenty of this. The Robert Johnson DJ booth is super important as it's as close to the crowd as it can possibly be. You always feel an instant reaction to what you do. Oli [Hafenbauer] does an amazing job with giving young DJs the opportunity to play in such surroundings. I was 20 when I played at Robert Johnson for the first time. There's already been so much said about this club, so I'm not sure what else to say. It's perfect in every way.
I was honoured to be asked to do this mix, even though I'm quite busy with university, regular work and DJing right now. The first day I had some time on my hands I went through my record collection and selected some old and some new tracks and started spinning. The next day I went to my friend Chris Beisswenger, AKA TCB, digitalised everything and bounced the set.
I would like to say that I'm really thankful for being given the opportunity to share my mix with you guys, and for the support I've received from my friends and the Robert Johnson squad throughout the years.