A Sit Down With DJ Stephan Bodzin

For many years, the Bremen-born musician and label head—widely recognized to be a hugely influential figure in the global techno scene—has been acknowledged for his production work, an endeavor of his that can be traced back to his earliest years where he dabbled in the studio with his father before releasing his critically acclaimed debut album, 2007’s Liebe Ist. As for his DJing, it has always been perceived as the secondary part of Bodzin’s artistic repertoire, something that is perhaps understandable given the quality of his production—and the fact he didn’t even get behind the decks until after his 36th birthday, over nine years ago.

 

 “I’ve been living with and from music for as long as I can remember. I just can’t imagine another kind of life.”

 

A little birdy told us you’re working on a live show for the summer. We see you’ve got gigs coming up across Europe and Australia – what can we expect?

You can expect me standing exposed in front of the booth, manipulating music in real time on a crazy crazy custom made 600 LEDs prototype-style controller which is reacting with light on every little knob I turn to let people experience a true live performance. It also comes with amazing slow-mo visuals by the outstanding artist Daniel Rossa who based on the album artwork, actually the album artwork is based on the visuals. This guy already light up the Sydney opera a few times, so expect something super nice. For the big shows I´ll bring one or two moogs of course.

Things have been quite quiet from you on the production front over the past few years, was this a conscious decision? 

I’ve been travelling so much, and felt that I wanted a good long break from production. After so many years and so many records, I felt that it was a good time for me to travel the world and enjoy different things besides producing…but I’m back! I’ve got a collaboration with Marc Romboy in the pipeline, which we’ve just finished, half of my album is done, which I’m optimistic to have finished in the summer, and I’ve got a nice remix out there, which is working very well for the Super Flu guys.

What can you tell us about your current setup?

I work manually with CDJs and SD cards and use some classic, external Delay and Echo effects by Boss. Making it simple, playing some good music. My new live set will be a lot more fun though! It’s supposed to be finished until my album tour in June. The guy who also put together the famous Abbey Road mixing console at the Riverside Studio will build a completely crazy controller for me. Custom-made, full of LEDs. It almost seems like its glowing when it lights up thanks to the Perspex case. I’ll use it to control VSTs in real time and as a step sequencer. A neat little device!

You have an emphasis on authenticity and an ear for sonic perfection. You once said “Without it, everything would appear to be nothing more than a hollow shell”. How does that statement resonate with you today in regards to the direction house and techno has taken?

I don’t give a sh*t on any directions any genre takes at any time. I’m doing music from the bottom of my heart and find it kind of difficult to recognise a direction these days as everything turns around 180 degrees a day later. I like the fact melodies and deepness came back to techno over the last 3 years. Pretty sure it will disappear again and come back and so on…so, reflect yourself, stay true, focus on your emotions.

What’s your favourite city to play in, and why?

London, of course –  The crowd going totally nuts!  Seriously I have had so many huge nights in London at Turnmills , the amazing Lightbox and my favorite one and everybody’s darling: the one and only Fabric.

How do you find the balance between your deep sense of dancefloor and your emotional strength? 

It’s true that sometimes it’s difficult to listen and dance at the same time. I get quite varied reactions when I play the tracks of my album Live. I believe that the public no longer seeks to let off steam as before, that it wants to be more in the feeling of the music, the sharing and the introverted experience. I love to see the smiles on the dancefloor. 

Is your new music the result of a new kind of hardware-based producing?

Before, I exclusively did computer-based work. I did work on a lot of percussion-stuff with the system 100 by Roland. But I’m rather building my own samples to work with. I’m not running a chain of MIDIs on my Sub 37, I recorded a lot of my own stuff on there too. Internally, it’s all based on Ableton, Steffen Müller did the mastering.

What kind of music were you listening to when you were growing up?

I was definitely listening to early electronic stuff between five and ten years old. My father was a big fan of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze and all that stuff in the seventies. He had a big studio with all these original synths and analogue stuff, all the Moogs and the Arp modular systems. So that’s what I grew up with. I was turning knobs when my friends were playing football. My father showed me everything about those synths. In a way I feel that I’ve come full circle back to that situation, you know? 

Questions? Comments? We want to know:@djfollower