First we have Aaron Röbig and Felix Wagner of FJAAK, whose studio we visited at the start of 2020. The Berlin duo came of age playing live techno with hardware instruments, bringing a tongue-in-cheek attitude to a world of anonymous white labels and weekend-long raves. Don't be fooled by their joker tendencies—the attitude hides a long-running obsession and dedication to sound, which they discussed with RA from their home studio last year.
When did you realise producing music was something within your reach?
Felix: Software was more expensive when we started. If you didn't know how to download it illegally, then you got it from a demo CD. We got ours from a box of cereal. A big brand was putting various creative programs in their cereal boxes—one was for music, one for video, one for image editing. Super basic. So we bought the cereal to get the CD, which was only a demo, of course. It was a super closed environment. For example, you couldn't change the pitch of a sound, you could only sequence them. That gets boring pretty fast but the key thing is that it was a fun way to start. It felt more like a video game.
A friend of ours eventually got the Maschine software and controller. We saw that and were like, "Wow, that's so cool." After a few weeks, I think everybody in our crew got their own Maschine. We had, like, ten friends all making music at the same time and they all got Maschine. Everybody was into it, again, sort of like a game.
Aaron: It was also about sharing the knowledge, fun and experience around a larger group. If somebody was excited by some new discovery, the others realise, "Hey, I can do this, too." This group dynamic was how we pushed ourselves in the beginning. If you get into it with your friends, they learn something new which drives you on to learn new things, too, and you pool your experience together.
This is also how we acquired gear. Something is out of reach financially, then a friend spends years saving up for it and you can see the ways in which it is actually worth it, that the amount of good music that comes out of can be worth the investment. For us it was clear that this was our passion and our life. And we want to spend everything we have to support this.
Felix: When we were 16, when we stopped going to school, it still took time to dive into music all the way because everybody was saying to us, "Why are you throwing away your lives? Are you crazy? You're going to lose everything and ask us for help." And so this makes you scared. There are a lot of people who fail. We have so many friends that are fighting so hard all the time. Of course, some will make it but I hope the best for everybody who's making the effort.
Aaron: I think if you really believe in something and try your best you can do whatever you want. But you have to focus and really do it. Not just saying it or thinking it but really seriously meaning it for yourself.