Filed under: Interview
Reinhard Voigt has been a member of Cologne-based record label Kompakt since the early nineties. Coming from a musical family, including older brother Wolfgang Voigt (aka Mike Ink), Reinhard has refined his work into a minimal techno sound. His releases on Kompakt’s “Speicher” have sold out around the globe. We caught up with him tonight prior to his first gig at Tokyo’s Womb.
Interview by Laura Brown (ArcTokyo)
HRFQ : Is this your first time here? What are your impressions?
Reinhard Voigt : It’s wonderful. I mean Tokyo… It’s great that when you are traveling around with the music, you have the ability to see such wonderful cities and people and everything. The first time when I came to Japan was with my brother and we had come together and he played in Tokyo and OSaka. I went with him only to enjoy and get the experience. So that was great. At that time, he played under the name, Mike Ink. with Torema records from Fumiya Tanaka. BTW, Fumiya is one of the best DJs I’ve ever seen in my life. With three Technics, so fast and correct. I couldn’t believe it when I heard him the first time. So that was my first time here. This is very exciting for me now to play here, except for the long flight…
HRFQ : When you perform, do you usually DJ or play live? If the latter, what new technology are you currently using?
Reinhard : I have a laptop and the program that I’m using is called Fruity-Loops. Most of the live performers have Ableton and I worked with that, but then I quit and decided to go to Fruity-Loops because I really love the sounds with Fruity-Loops. You can’t compare. I love to have that kind of sound, which is the sequencer. Then I have the sound-card and then I have a controller, which makes it possible to do some frequency things, to have some waves inside the music. So yeah, that’s it to do the live performance. The most important thing is the sound-card. But Fruity-Loops is really good. The only other person using it that I know is Akufen from Canada. Last year he came up to me after I played and asked what I was using. He said that he had to change to Fruity-Loops because he couldn’t believe the sounds that were made with it.
HRFQ : For your Kompakt label, have you recently signed any new artists?
Reinhard : Yes, the last artist was a guy from Frankfurt called Klimek, ambient stuff. He’s now on Kompakt but he isn’t really new. Maybe a guy from Spain, has just sent a demo tape to us and we listened. It’s a very good demo-tape and we want to release it. We now stay in contact with him, so maybe that will be the next step, this guy from Spain — a new artist for the Kompakt label. But recently there is no new artist for the Kompakt label. The last one was from Japan, two from Frankfurt and from England of course. It may be better for us to release the Spanish guy on our sub-label Speicher, with the Eagle on front. It will be a 12″ which is a very straight Techno stuff. He hasn’t told us his artist name yet, so it will all be a surprise.
HRFQ : When you go through demos, what do you listen for?
Reinhard : First of all, you need to know we get demos from all around the world. We take them, normally when we are finished with our normal work and we go into a special room. We have time enough to listen to very good music — I, Michael, Wolfgang and Yurgen. We listen to these demo tapes and we always look to find something special inside the music. We have a lot of demos that copy us. They give us the same sounds. That doesn’t make sense to us. We always look for something special, where we can say “hey this is really interesting. This is quite different.” So when you compare to what we have done so far, we’re like “hey this is quite new and something special.” Step by step to listen again. We want something that is intense and very special, so you can say that you haven’t heard that so far — not typical sounds that you can get from everywhere. We’re always looking for something special.
HRFQ : How do you articulate Kompakt’s sound or concept?
Reinhard : We are very responsible for doing this minimal sound. To do the minimal stuff for almost 12 years now. We always try to have something new in the music. It doesn’t matter if it is minimal stuff or ambient stuff, but always something special. There is no master-plan though to say, “this is the next thing”. The next step is not so clear — we’re always very spontaneous. If something is good, we go for it.
HRFQ : Kompakt is a label as well as a distribution company. Do you see it expanding any more in the future?
Reinhard : No. We have so much work now with the distribution, that’s enough for the moment. Maybe you know, one and a half years ago, we moved to another location. We have a lot of space, especially for the distribution and for all the exclusive labels. So that’s a lot of work, only for distribution. That’s the biggest job of Kompakt — to do a good job with the distribution. We have almost 60 labels now and all of the labels with back-stock. We have taken care of all of the back-stock. A lot of people ask you for the “first record you did five years ago” and you can give that, and it’s so much work.
HRFQ : How closely are you participating in that? Are you involved in the distribution?
Reinhard : No I’m not. Michael Mayer is responsible for that. My job at Kompact is to do more book-keeping stuff. We have so many things to do with the coming invoices, putting them into the computer, etc. You have be sure that everything is running smoothly.
HRFQ : Now that the Electroclash phenomenon is over, what new trends do you see emerging?
Reinhard : I think so too — I agree that Electro-clash is over. If you’re a fan of London, don’t say! 🙂 The “new things” depend on the venues and areas. You have people in Cologne for example, some of the people really like to do for it — the very hard techno stuff, and there is no special new music. And then you have another group prepared to go to the minimal stuff, not so hard. Drum & Bass is still a topic in Germany. So more or less, it’s still the same. There is no special new trends. I really don’t know. All of us are waiting for it! I’m pretty sure that techno will be very big in the future. From minimal to the harder techno stuff. I don’t know…
HRFQ : Are you personally currently working on any new releases?
Reinhard : Recently I did a remix for Alter Ego. You know the guys from Frankfurt. I did this track called Raw, track #9 from the album. That remix was the last thing I did. In the future, I will do another remix for Kraftwerk, for one of them which will be great. So I’m really considering how to make it. I’m working on it. Hopefully I will have time enough to do a new 12″ for Kompakt, like a techno release. I have just finished with my brother doing a project called Voight on Voight. So it comes out in the middle of October. Maybe I will have more time next year to do some track for an album I really want to produce, but I haven’t had so much time with the live things over the weekend and traveling.
HRFQ : How has the appearance of downloadable MP3s affected your label’s success? Has it changed it at all?
Reinhard : It’s not so easy to say — a little bit. It’s a problem for the whole music scene. They can download it from the Internet and they’re not going to pay for that. So that’s not too easy to handle for all of the labels. We’re working now on an MP3 shop. We have a guy who is doing this. Hopefully we will get it at the end of this year. So that people can go on our web-page and download it. So we’ll be working on it. On the other hand, it’s not so easy for me to say, but I don’t think it’s such a big problem for us, as it is for the majors. Like for EMI or something like us. B
HRFQ : What is your view on copy-protection? Many MP3 stores have very strict protection, for example Apple Store’s I-Tunes, so you can’t play that I-Tune without an I-Pod. But like you said, we’re working in underground music which isn’t affected by the download stuff. Can you talk a bit about your system?
Reinhard : So we have no special protection for that. Which may not be good for us, but we are working on it to have some special protection for the future. We have a special protection for a compilation we did, but it would be very difficult for someone to crack that. Maybe we have some damage from that, but we are working for protection and to do it more professionally, so that we can avoid the cracking. B
HRFQ : What new labels have caught your attention recently?
Reinhard : I really like Trapez from Cologne. The guy who is responsible has done a very good job running his label. Traum which is more or less the same guy running Trapez. And Areal which is from Cologne as well. These three or four labels are my all-time favorites. Sometimes it’s not so easy to choose what you will release but all of these have done a great job. With the back-stock as well.
HRFQ : Any messages to Japanese fans?
Reinhard : Stay the same way. Very peaceful, I like that. People are good-behaved and so friendly. The party-crowd is there for the sound. Keep on rockin! When the Japanese come to Germany, they are really enjoying it, it’s not so boring for them. Never Change!!
End of the interview
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