We had the chance to interview the German dynamo Boris Brejcha in Amsterdam at ADE 2017 and asked some questions to the High-Tech Minimal’s founder.
Mike Mannix: Nice one Boris, thank you for talking to us at iconic underground. It was a pleasure to meet you at 583 DJ Hotel (Netherlands biggest dance music station) at the Amsterdam Dance Event ADE, you played a great set! Give our readers some background on your early life growing up in Germany socially and musically, how did you get into dance music, what gave you the itch to mix and eventually to produce your own tracks?
Boris: Hey Mike, nice to talk to you again. The 583 DJ Hotel was a great experience. I had so much fun. OK straight into it then, I was born in Germany 36 years ago and my first contact with electronic music came at the age of 12. A friend of mine played me some music from ”Thunderdome“ in school it was crazy. All these weird sounds I never heard before, I was totally amazed. I mean, I knew about Drum sounds or Guitar sounds but these new electronic sounds felt like a new dimension for me. From that moment on my intention was to find out how I can produce all of these crazy sounds on my own.
So with another friend, we bought one of the first versions of Cubase, a Computer + MIDI Keyboard. Day after day we experimented with different sounds made on synthesizers and I was listening to any kind of electronic music I could get my hands on from Hardcore, Rave to Trance. I was learning Drums and Keyboard to get a good and solid base for producing this kind of music. After a while, it became my dream to be an electronic music producer.
After I left school I struggled with apprenticeships because I was more focused on producing music than in my education. Every day I was coming in too late to work, and sleeping in the toilets because I was producing music all night. I eventually moved into my own flat and had a part time Job in a telephone company and money was really tight. There was just about enough money for canned Spaghetti once a day. Sometimes I also had no power in my flat because I was not able to pay the bill for it.
But this situation was totally ok for me. I was happy because I could still focus on my music production. My goal was to live my dream and earn money from being a producer and DJ. A few years later I met another good friend who introduced me to Minimal and Techno. I fell in love with this genre immediately and a year later at the end of 2006, I sent my first demos to different music Labels. After that, everything grew really fast. I released 2 Singles in 2006 and after two months I had my first DJ Gig. This was such an amazing feeling. I mean I was working so hard for it all that time. I was the happiest person on this planet at this point. From there, my career exploded to where I am today and still is.
MM: What DJ’s / Artists / Producers are behind your ever driving passion for the scene, and who would you like to work in the studio with that you haven’t already?
B: There were a few Artists who influenced me in the past for example ‘Der Dritte Raum’, ‘Stephan Bodzin’, ‘Oliver Huntemann’ or ‘Extrawelt’. These were and still are such great Artists. Also, back in the day while I was producing Trance I was influenced by ‘Armin Van Buuren’ and ‘Paul van Dyk’ who were amazing artists too. But for me personally, if I had to name one person, ‘Stephan Bodzin’ would be my personal favourite to work in the studio one day. I met him already a few times and we also had nice conversations in the past but I actually never asked him for a studio session. Let’s see… maybe in the future, I think it would be a really awesome combination.
MM: You have been consistently releasing tracks since 2007. Walk us through the usual process of when you are in your studio creating your new tracks what is key in the whole production process?
B: I don’t use any Hardware in my Studio. In the past, I tried it loads of times, but I am more like a Software Junky. It is way faster for me and the sound meanwhile is amazing.
I think it is just a matter of taste if you use Hardware or Software. In the end, there is just your finished Track. If it sounds good and the people like it, it’s all good.
Music production wise I have used Cubase from the very beginning. I just love this DAW and I know every little corner of this Software so this makes it really easy to work with. I also have tried out Ableton – which is really nice if you perform live – but it’s not an ideal workflow for me so I eventually stopped using it.
The first reason is, traveling with all the equipment like Laptops, Soundcards, cables etc, and having to set it up in a club. The 2nd reason is when the next DJ is setting up their Laptop and working all the time on the mixer that I’m playing with I actually hate it, it annoys me. Can they not set up their equipment hours before I am playing!? I only ever play my own music so I carry all of my music on just two little pen drives, for me the time they spend learning how to use their laptops to create a sound or play live, I just use the same time to just go back to the studio and create new tracks for the next set.
For Drums I use a lot Sample CD´s which makes it simpler. There are so many Sample CDs on the market which sounds really amazing. My favourite software synthesizers are ‘Alchemy’ from ‘Camel Audio’, ‘Omnisphere’ and ‘Trilian from Spectrasonics, everything from the company Fabfilter or Nexus. The only bad thing about Nexus is that you cannot go deep into the sound to change it. You need to take the sound how it is. But the sound quality is amazing.
I think you just need to produce the music you really love that’s the key.
If you feel the music and you are staying 100% behind your sound, I am sure your fans will love it. When I start a new track, I sit in my Studio and just jam around. If a nice idea pops up, I try to finish the idea in at least one or two days. If not, I delete this whole project and start something new. This keeps my mind free. Otherwise, I would have hundreds of unfinished ideas on my Computer. This would drive me mad 🙂
Sometimes it is possible for me to finish two or three Tracks in one week. But it depends on the ideas. To find a good idea can sometimes take just a few minutes or sometimes 4-5 days. It depends on my mood. There is also sometimes this situation where I’m sitting in the studio, day after day, jamming and everything is going to shit, this can be really frustrating. To keep the balance I try to do a lot of other things around the music production, like Squash, playing Playstation, cooking, meeting friends and all this stuff.
This keeps me fresh in my mind and I get new inspirations. And of course, traveling on the weekends gives you a bunch of inspirations too.
You collect a lot of different impressions from all over the planet, different cultures, different parties and in the subconscious, it all comes together.
MM: You are quoted as saying your father gave you this advice when you were younger, “do one thing and do this good, then you will succeed”. Do you feel you have and did this powerful statement enable you to persist and overcome the big life challenges you experienced?
B: Yes. I did. And I have to say that my Dad was totally right, saying that. I mean if you notice, every situation is the same. You only can be successful if you do one thing 100%. Imagine if you do two different things they would be split 50/50. That means you are not giving 100% to the one thing. The best plan is to focus on the one thing you really love and let other people do the other things for you. Strengthen your strengths and leave others your weaknesses. This is how it works really well, you can’t do everything yourself.
MM: What advice would you give the aspiring DJ today / Producer on how to be creatively original in an already saturated market?
B: First of all it is really important to produce music which you really love. To be creative can be sometimes really hard. I would say, the best way is to think like a little child and do things which are not regular, be weird and make mistakes. This is the way how you can learn a lot and how you can create your own style.
It is not really important what other producers are doing don´t be just a copy of someone trying to find your own way. And always remember building up your own career takes time, a lot of time! To be a producer and DJ is not like an 8 hour Job and then you can relax. It is more than that.
Imagine – in that time while you are relaxing, there is another producer on this planet who is sitting in the Studio and doing more than you. That does not mean that you need to work 24 hours a day but if you have the chance to work as hard as you can, do it.
Especially in the beginning of your career, it is really important. After a while, when your career is running you can handle it more relaxed that’s for sure. It also depends on the whole concept not only the music production itself. Be social and talk with your fans. This is actually one of the most important things while coming up do not think like a Superstar – think like a fan! You have to answer your fans messages, not your Manager. This keeps you down to earth and your fans will be, for sure, grateful. It is really important that your fans can identify with you – which you both are still on the same level.
MM: From ‘Hi-Tech Soul’ came Techno, what’s coming from Hi-tech minimal?
B: That´s simple. Fans like to put producers in their own categories or genres, so it was time for me to give my music a special name. In the past, I came up from Minimal but my sound evolved a lot so I do not produce 100% Minimal or Techno anymore. I produce music how I feel and I use a lot of melodies and weird sounds. With every Track I produce, I try to tell a story and try to take my listeners on a journey. That’s why my music is so intense and changing a lot. As I grew from Minimal I was looking for a name which sounds more future creative and that’s why I came up with High-Tech Minimal a proper name for my evolving music genre it’s something I really love
MM: Whats the state of the underground today?
B: For me, the underground scene is really good. At the moment we have a lot of young people who are diving into the underground scene after listening to EDM, in a way this is a really good thing for us with regards to the future. I get a lot of messages from new fans who are moving over from EDM to the underground. And they are all really surprised that there is so much good music in this scene. This makes me really happy to hear.
I remember when I played in Brazil, 9 years ago, there was no Techno Scene at all. Only Psy-Trance and Progressive music. In countries like this, the electronic music scene is evolving really fast compared to Germany. I guess the main evolving process is coming out from the computer or the promoters who are putting on events and are trying to evolve their concept from party to party. The music now is growing so fast with the technical base of the pc, software programs, and plugins. This makes it really interesting as producing music is a never-ending story, you can do everything that comes to your mind, there is no limit at all, and I love that. When I am in the studio, sometimes I also do some mistakes and out of that, there is something new that’s amazing.
MM: If you ended up trapped on a godforsaken island with only your decks, a crate of spirits and your vinyl fly case to your name, what would be the top 10 essential cuts that you must have to survive and why?
B: Well, I am a really big fan of ‘Hans Zimmer’. That means I would definitely take cuts from himself and of course, I would also take some cuts from my own music, there is one song which is very personal one of the best Songs: ‘Nothing else matters’ from Metallica. Actually, my focus would be more on tracks which are chilled and relaxed because being alone on a little island would be stress enough 🙂
MM: You play hard and party hard in the Mask?
B: It depends on my mood. But in general, when I play a 2-hour set I have a mix of both. My Joker Mask is on the first hour while playing – as the first hour is much more intense. After taking off my Mask it can be more relaxed, as I have also a lot of easy-going tracks on my pen drive. Once a year I do also my Christmas Mix at my home. This is more a chilled and easy listening DJ Set. This fits the most on a smooth Christmas evening I think. But there are also some Shows I played in the past which were really nice. In Portugal for example. I played for 8 hours, only my own music, the sun was rising and at that moment I changed my music into more chilled sounds. This was an amazing feeling. I would do this definitely again.
MM: What drives and motivates you, Boris, and have you found your balance?
B: The best motivation for me is that when I produce a track in my studio only a few days later I’ll be playing this track in front of thousands of people and they dance to it and love it. This is like the most impressive feedback and motivation you can get as an artist to go on. Sometimes, this DJ life can be really stressful but I found my balance.
I bought a house in the middle of nowhere. A small village with a population of 300 peoples. There is nothing. No Bakery, no Doctor… just nothing. Once a week, on Saturdays, there is coming a mobile bakery delivery service. On weekends I am not at home. Besides all the stress in the cities, I have to say that I really love it. There is just my house, my garden, and my Studio in the basement. After the full weekends of traveling and playing in the biggest cities, I am happy to stay in my home during the week. This keeps my balance in the right way. If I would live in a City during the week, I know I would be getting really mad after a while. And this can’t be healthy. It is the same as having sex. You need a good balance between hard & soft to be happy.
MM: Are you, ‘Fckng Serious’ about your label, and why? Discuss….
B: Haha Yes I am! Actually, this is the best name we could found for a music label. So serious and easy to remember. I am really proud that I have done this step to build up my own electronic music label together with my closest friends. For us it is not just a Label it is our little family. I know our Artists Ann Clue, Deniz Bul and They dream for such a long time and we are all really good friends. That makes the work as a label chief so much more easy and nice.
We can do whatever we want, whatever we feel, what is good and fun. The funny thing about our label name is that it came from a track I did together with Deniz Bul in 2015. We had been searching for a name for the track and while we were watching Batman the Joker shouted: ‘Are you fckng serious? “. Of course, we had such a big problem trying to register our name on the market and it took us almost 5 months to register it because of the word f’ckng. Crazy bureaucracy! It was also not possible to register the name like Fckng Serious“. No! 🙂 Only F Serious “was allowed. What a shame.
After running our Label for two years we have had 21 releases. We have done a lot of label nights all over the world in Brazil, Argentina, Israel, Germany and more. Fans have been screaming our label name at our events, and they wear clothes printed with the name on them! We are also the first electronic music label that has completed a European bus tour on a Nightliner playing 10 Shows in 12 days. This was massive logistically and we are really happy how it turned out. We did all this just in two years. I think this is amazing. And there is more to come. I am sure. Everybody from our Team is determined and always open to the new thing.
MM: What pisses you off the most about the scene/what do you love most about the scene?
B: Well. There is one little thing which pisses me off is artists who think, after a couple of shows and releases, that they are Superstars. We have many of them and I have also met a few and they don’t even produce their own music! I would love if they just quit their job to have more space for the real musicians. But in general, I really love the music scene. Being in the studio with different artists, doing parties with them and also with my fans. I think it is a really good life.
MM: What are your biggest stand-out festival/gig shivers down the spine moments where you thought ‘fuck this is real this is amazing….’?
B: I can name two events which impressed me so much and I will remember them for the rest of my life. There is this 5 day festival on the coast of Brazil in Bahia starting on New Year’s Eve which is their summertime it’s just like a dream its perfect. I played there twice already and every time was just amazing this will be my third time there I really look forward to it.
There is one special open-air Location in the City of Cordoba (Argentina), called LaFabrica which is located in an old fabric building and fits almost 5000 people. This Location is a killer and the vibe while playing there is priceless. I played there already four or five times and it is always so nice. I remember we did a label night there and it had been raining all day and night and the whole Team was really scared about whether anyone would come but in the end, it was packed and the people did not care about the rain.
Nobody left till 8 am in the morning, this was something really magical! In the end, it was one of the best parties in my life.
MM: What are your next big planned events and projects?
B: Actually we are building up my Boris Brejcha Showcase which I started first in Brazil in 2015. In 2018 we gonna bring this whole concept to Europe into 5 different locations/cities. This Showcase is more than a simple DJ Set for me. It is a combination of my music together with time synced visuals displayed on a massive LED screen. Every single track of mine has his own visual running this makes the showcase more intense and will be something special. We will also combine the shows with a Fckng Serious Label Night and all of our label artists are on board and performing too.
The idea behind this Showcase is to make it a concert, not only a club gig in combination with really nice venues. Music wise there is a lot to come in the future as I am already planning my next two singles and my 6th album which will come out in the early 2018 and I am really proud of that. And of course, there are more releases coming from our artists Ann Clue, Deniz Bul and Theydream.