Beyond the dance floor with the WHITE and Giegling artist.
Gilles Aiken, the Berlin DJ better known as Edward, makes shadowy club tracks with a surrealistic edge. Consider his latest album, Into A Better Future: though it mostly works within house and techno templates, the LP echoes Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and krautrock figures like Connie Plank. Aiken has a sharp sense of groove—something tracks like "Skating Beats" make clear, not to mention his immersive DJ sets—but it's his cosmic streak that gives his music depth. Over the years this combination has made him a mainstay of Berlin's WHITE label as well as Weimar's esteemed Giegling crew.
While producing Into A Better Future, Aiken pored over countless old records in search of samples and inspiration, all the while half-consciously putting together a mix of those records. That's what we get on RA.458: a journey into the psychedelic murk that lies just under the surface of Aiken's music.
What have you been up to recently?
At the moment I'm doing a lot of remixes. Remixing was never my thing but after working for a long time on my album it feels like a relief to work with material from other artists. First ones to come are two remixes I did for MAOK on Hivern Disc.
DJ wise I was playing a lot with my partner and good friend Oskar Offermann. Feels good after all those years to get more and more attention to our back-to-back sets. It's so great for us to have the opportunity to travel to those great places and experience all that overwhelming stuff together.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Actually the idea for the mix grew while making the album. My work contains a lot of samples. So a big working process is just listening to records—recording them and getting samples into order. This working process is really important to me, it makes me very calm and it inspires me a lot. So after releasing the album I started to look at some of the tracks I used as samples or which just inspired me for my work. I started to edit some of them and created some new tracks or long middle pieces for the transitions. Afterwards I recorded the mix like a typical DJ mix in my studio with two turntables and some CD players.
This mix seems to tap into a sound that's lying under the surface of your records. How did you get into this kind of music (ambient, kosmische, psychedelic etc.)?
The main aspect is not necessarily the genre. When music gets repetitive or into ambient areas it has always a great attraction to me. Doesn't have to be ambient or kraut. You can find these aspects in almost every music—jazz, disco, whatever. A piece by Philip Glass can spread the same amount of spiritual energy through its repetition as a disco track, for example "Over And Over" by Sylvester. You can hear a lot of percussive music in the mix, which I'm obviously also very influenced by.
A big impact on my creativity was working on a remix for Conny Plank, who was one of the greatest German producers of the krautrock era. I got tons of original tape-recorded stems for the remix. I spent so much time just cataloguing the samples. I worked about three months with this material. Putting the stems together in its original way was enlightening for me. I discovered new methods of using samples or working only with volumes etc. It's hard to explain but I think in this period I evolved a lot. And surely I dived deeper into that era than I did before. The album and this mix came like two years later, so I guess you can hear this development.
You're one of the few Giegling artists to come from outside the core crew. How did you get involved with them, and what has that experience been like?
We became friends through music a long, long time ago. We invited Kettenkarussell to an illegal open-air party in Berlin. They ended up playing an endless set with such a great, positive vibe. You could already feel this certain Giegling magic. When they started the label, Oskar and I were in Weimar a lot, not necessarily to DJ but to hang out and listen to music. Behind the "Giegling Curtain" there are so, so many people involved you wouldn't imagine. Over time I became friends with a lot of them. I'm very happy that they also like my music. It's like they see something in it I don't. That pushes my work into other dimensions.
What are you up to next?
In this time of year I'm REALLY looking forward to summer! There are so many great festivals and events I can play. At the same time I want to spend as much time as possible with my little family plus I want to make some new music, new EPs on WHITE and Giegling.
I'm also working on a new live set, which is going to be more experimental and atmospheric. It takes more time than a normal live act as its focus is not for the prime time but for the beginning of the evening, leading atmospherically into the night. I would like to play this very rarely on special occasions.
Also I have another project I want to push forward. So in terms of time management this year will be quite a challenge, but I'm very grateful for my current life situation, there's no need to make tight plans and schedules. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to show a little piece of my musical influences. It actually means a lot to me. So also thanks to all of you who take the time and listen!