Filed under: Interview
Andreas Kruger began his prolific Der Dritte Raum project when he and his colleagues got a new third recording room at the Out-O-Space Studio. He releases extensively under the pseudonyms Dr.DNA, 2002, Plaste+Elaste, Perpetuum Mobile, Solid State and Der Stern Von Afrika. Catching Andreas right after his 1st performance at infamous Takkyu Ishino’s WIRE 04, HigherFrequency discuss his musical background, and so on.
Interview by Laura Brown (Arctokyo)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : How long has it been since you were last here in Japan?
Der Dritte Raum (DDR) : I’m not really sure, but I think it was about four years ago. So this is the third time; first time was in 1997 and then 2001.
HRFQ : Can you tell us a little about your musical background? What did you start out doing?
DDR : When I was a child, I was learning piano and was very much into electronics later. And through this combination between playing piano and my interst in electronic things, I got into the electronic musical scene around ’85 and bought my first synthesizer. But it was not really to start producing original tracks, but more for my career as a sound engineer, as I was really in the technological things. Besides that, I was DJing just for fun at small parties like high school parties, and then, I got really into New Romantics – synth-pop, new wave sounds and things like that. And over the years, I built a small recording studio with my friend – a 16-track recording studio, and started recording funk and punk bands. It was around ’91 when I got my first contact to this techno scene and I was so flashed by this sound that I stopped all my activities as a sound engineer for punk bands and started focusing on producing this totally new electronic music called ‘Techno’. That’s the story!
HRFQ : You are now solo, having separated from Ralf Uhrlandt? Do you have any collaborations that you’re currently working on?
DDR : This Der Ditte Raum is a solo project, and Ralf has never been a member of that. He’s been doing his own things. The funny thing is that when I met Ralf for the first time, he was a customer of my recording studio and my job was to mix his tracks. At that time, he had a Depeche Mode playback band and was really into British synth-pop sounds, and through this work we became friends. Later on, we started doing the live activity together in ’92, but the music was always made by me and he was something like a co-pilot – a partner. And he stil is – he is still working with me just on the live set. And last year, a second partner joined the team, Niels, who I played tonight with. So right now, I have two co-pilots who work for my project, while both of them have got their own projects; Ralf has a project called Index ID, that has released an ambient-electro thing through Electrolux, and Niels is running his own project under the name of Neil White. So we are all connected and all live in Berlin, but each one has his own studio and produces his own things. And sometime we are sharing things, I mean, I sometimes help Neils and Rauf while Neils or Ralf help me do the Ditte Raum thing. So that’s the story behind this.
HRFQ : You are best known as a live PA and as one of the few artists to merge techno, trance, house and funk into one new sound that is uniquely identifiable. Can you comment at all on how you are able to meld these together so seamlessly?
DDR : I’d like to say that the reason there are different kinds of music or styles or maybe definitions of styles or whatever is just because there are people who are writing about music. Most of the producers I have met don’t know much about their style of music, and me neither. I don’t really know what trance is or what house is, but always do what I like. Well, there could be something like you want to call as “cross-over thing” between trancy sound and house cords or whatever, but it’s not important for me. I like so many different styles of music that I have never produced one particular style of music. Sometimes, I go to the studio with particular idea to do something, but on the other side, there might be the occasion when I just play with the machines and then something could come out naturally. So I never know what comes out at the end and it doesn’t really matter to me. I believe most of the styles are defined through the structure of beats, or how you set cords or something like that, but when you see somebody combining trancy sixteenth line with a shuffled house beat, how can you call it? I can’t say what it is.
HRFQ : Do you have any DJ residencies currently? If so, where?
DDR : No. I don’t do this live acts all through the year, but just for three or four months in a year. When there is an album release or when I try to figure out some new thing, I do a lot of gigs. But after that, I stop doing this live thing, and try to go back to my normal life, hanging out with friends or hanging out in the studio or whatever. So I don’t play every weekend.
HRFQ : Please explain a little about the structure in your equipment. What do you regularly use for your live sets?/p>
DDR : It’s always a funny mixture between DJing and live set, which means I’m always working with two independent systems that aren’t synched. Without synchronization, both sequencers or drum machines, computers, can be completely independent from each other, so while the one is running, the other can be reloaded, but it has to be started, or stopped and pitched by your hands and ears, exactly like DJs do. I have been working with this system with two laptops for years, so the actual setup hasn’t been changed for four or five years from technical point of view. I’ve installed Ableton Live software sequencer in these laptops, and each computer has an 8-channel audio interface, which means 16 channels in total. And of course a 303. I’ve never been to the clubs without my 303. So with the effect returns, it’s 24 channel system, which is about 8 channels for system A and 8 channels for system B, and then several things which can be synched or played in-between. The basic parts such as bass drums, snares or bass synthesizer cords or whatever are sent to single outputs, while the second computer is to be reloaded. It just takes five seconds to reload, so when the second computer starts running, all 24 channels will be playing something, and what comes out of the loudspeakers is just like the jam session, such like taking the drums away and then making the break or something like that. And you can make the arrangement by moving the faders and sending some effects. It is a mixing-desk jam session… I could even use tape machines if it works well in the set. The machine is not important, but it’s about the mixing desk.
HRFQ : You are currently in Berlin? Where did you grow up?
DDR : I grew up in Goettingen, which is a small university town in the center of Germany. It’s a bit known because of this university. I think 50% of the citizens somehow get a job from this university, so it’s a strange small town.
HRFQ : In Berlin, what are the most quickly growing art-forms or musical trends?
DDR : Hard to say. I’ve never thought that there is a trend in Berlin…Well, regarding the party’s situation, I think the weekends are mainly for tourists, while the good parties are always happening during the weekdays in a smaller scale. There are many small illegal locations where just 200 people can get in, and people are playing a kind of mixture stuff, starting from an electro-clash set and then going to EBM, and house after that. But in overall, I feel people are not really into clubbing things and they do not stay at one place all the night. They go to one place for two hours or something and then say, ‘Oh this DJ is boring, so let’s go to the next thing”. So I think this is something happening all the time in Berlin. But, there is one thing I really like about Berlin; that is the fact tech-house is very popular there. Although it’s a bit subjective opinion, and this is not exactly what we call as “trend of Berlin”, it’s still true in Berlin, you can hear this sound almost every evening. So that’s maybe a kind of Berlin’s sound.
HRFQ : What are some differences in the way your music is recognized in Japan/Asia and in Germany? When you’ve played here before, did it make any kind of impression on you?
DDR : As long as it’s not about something happening on the street, but something happening in the clubs, I must say it’s somehow same all over the world.
HRFQ : Do you receive demo’s from many Japanese artists? Have you found any potential materials from Japanese producers?
DDR : I have good friends who live in Japan – one of them is Toby Izui, who travels across Tokyo, Berlin and Frankfurt a lot. I usually meet him several times a year, and as he has a lot of Japanese friends who are producing music, we always exchange demo tapes. So, I know a few things here, yes.
HRFQ : Lastly, do you have any messages to the general readers in Asia?
DDR : just live and do your things and do what you want to do. Make music!
End of the interview
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