Slick techno from the decks of a Berghain resident.
This techno thing isn't too complicated for Len Faki. "For me the music, the quality and the productions, are the essential things," he told Clubber.rs a few months back. "When this is put in the background and gets overlaid by show and glitter then it feels to me like more illusion than reality." It's no surprise that Faki keeps the tracks he makes and the sets he plays simple. Exhibit A: this week's RA podcast. The mix treats sound economically, with each hi-hat, melody and bassline released only when absolutely necessary. Faki builds tension through a tight control of timbre, using the crunch of a filter and smart sequencing to heighten the taut mood.
The roots of Faki's style go back to the mid-'90s. He grew up in Stuttgart listening to rock and punk, eventually discovered techno through a friend, and spent most of the late '90s and early '00s releasing tracks under the name DJ La Monde through his own Monoïd and Feis labels. Under increasing police pressure, Stuttgart's club scene began to crumble, so in 2003 Faki moved to Berlin to chase the action. He was soon offered a residency at a newly-opened club called Berghain. "Back then no one knew," Faki said of the unprecedented success the club went on to enjoy. When word eventually got out about Berghain, Faki—along with fellow residents like Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann and Marcel Fengler—became an internationally renowned name. It helped that in 2007 he scored one of the year's biggest techno tracks in "Mekong Delta," and he was consistently turning out DJ-friendly sounds for his labels Figure and Podium. Not much has changed for Faki in this respect. 2015 has been one of his most productive years to date, with tracks like his massive "Basic Pain Procedure" remix and his Basement Trax, Vol. 2 release for Ostgut showing that he's still finding new ways to make something straightforward sound fresh.
What have you been up to recently?
While answering these questions I'm in Los Angeles, continuing with the second week of my American tour. So far it's been really great, and I'm really looking forward to the remaining parties in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Mexico City.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded in my flat in Berlin. I have a DJ setup there with my usual stuff, which is three CDJs, a DJM 900 and my Pioneer RMX-1000. I use the RMX-1000 effects only subtly for this mix but added more samples and drum sounds on some tracks to give them a different groove. Actually I haven't used my home set-up in a long time, so it was good fun to go behind those decks again. I recorded it in a clear and already a little chillier September night. I love working during the night. I am and always was a night person, it just feels so free and open when it is late enough that no one calls me anymore and no emails arrive. The air gets fresher and the beat of the city is quiet. For me this night vibe is the best mood to work in the studio.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
As mentioned, the mix was recorded in September and after the festival season I felt like creating a mix with a bigger range. It's not a peak-time mix but carries the mood of a club night from opening to end—even though it is a more compact and shorter version of course. A classic, little lower start, building things up and releasing you with a nice and smooth ending. I wanted it to sound as if made from one piece. Easy to listen to at home or in the car. Not including the hottest shit, but creating an emotion with the whole mix, the unity of all tracks instead of single ones. So, among others it contains some upcoming tracks and exclusive edits of mine, which will never be released.
You recently mentioned the Stuttgart DJ Marco Zaffarano as being an important influence on you. What was it about his sets that impressed you?
Beginning of the '90s Marco was a resident at my regular club and one of my first direct contacts within the music scene. I was super young and of course fascinated about this whole new universe. Also, it was about the fact that I realized how important a resident DJ is for a club. I knew what to count on when he was playing, which was nice. Since then I've always believed that resident DJs are very important for a club, even though some might not think this way and it's not always the case anymore.
Who are some of your favourite DJs these days?
This is a difficult question for me and I gave it a lot of thought, since I had the chance to listen to so many great sets this year. But the one that literally blew me away was the live set of Jeroen Search. This was a fantastic ride, captivating me constantly. Very inspiring.
What are you up to next?
Well, the last weeks of the year are coming closer with thrilling gigs, Christmas traditions and ending 2015 with a proper New Year's Eve tour that I'm pretty excited about. After all this it's time for my annual holiday in January to get some rest and process everything that happened within this busy year. It truly was a great one, which I'm very thankful for. I was able to spend a lot of time in the studio, developed and could make some steps in the right direction, also with the label.
Beginning of the year there are two upcoming releases from me on Figure. One is called Hidden Objects containing remixes I made within this year that never got published. They were not even meant to be released. When I made them I did it just for myself, for pleasure, working in the studio developing a different side of mine. I didn't take such directions till now and it felt like a nice challenge that brought me a lot of joy. It will be remixes of Scuba, Slam and Philippe Petit. They have a completely different energy from the original ones. Way deeper—you will see ;). The second one is coming in spring. It's a release together with my labelmate Regal. Working with one of my friends on the label is always a great experience for me and makes studio time even more special and fun. Sharing and combining the ideas and visions of two different artists is always an interesting process, and I'm very excited about the reactions on this one.