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Emika on Dettmann: The Interview

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Emika on Dettmann: The Interview

In honour of the new album out this week by Germany’s most beloved techno superstar we decided to christen the week as Dettmann Week. Yes, DJBroadcast loved the Berlin based DJ’s new record so much, we decided to fill our editorial with non-stop Dettmann coverage, from documentaries, to interviews and more.

The legendary Berlin based, Berghain resident has been continuously bowling over crowds worldwide with his enigmatic, marathon-eque DJ sets, “For me it's normal to play for such a long time,” he casually jests during the interview. For the former judo champion, such feats of endurance probably come as second nature. This is just a minor admission by the larger than life DJ. His productions have lined the crates of the most influential artists on the planet, from house through to techno. His label, Marcel Dettmann Records (he clearly likes to name things after himself) has provided the platform for many of his peers to break into the scene, securing themselves on equal footing with Dettmann himself.

His second full player released this week, Dettmann II, takes on a looser and more creative approach to techno, especially when compared to it’s more rigid and atonal younger brother, Dettmann, released in 2010.

To get the real low-down on Dettmann’s approach to music we decided to hire Ninja Tune producer Emika to perform interrogation duties, in the first of a three-part interview series. Having worked with him on the new album, providing vocals to Seduction, Dettmann’s first ever-vocal track, we deemed there no better candidate to interview the Ostgut resident.

DJBroadcast: Marcel, is this the time you've worked with a vocalist, or have you had tracks with vocals before?

Dettmann: Yes, it was the first time.

"...I don't see it as a job,
I do it because
I love to do it..."

Emika: Really? What about the track with Ellen Allien (on BPitch Control?)

Dettmann: That was a remix, like the same I did for you. I never worked with a vocalist before, I really liked it. It’s amazing, it's fragile – everybody loved this track, I'm really happy.

Emika: So, my first question: The word Künstler means something more profound in German, whereas in English it relates to anyone who creates anything. And I would like to know if you consider yourself an artist?

"...when I got involved
into techno,
the DJ was just some guy
in the corner who
was playing music..."

Dettmann: This is really easy to answer because music is art, and I make music, and I am then an artist. But I never think about it. I don't see it as a job, I do it because I love to do it.

For example when you buy a new synthesizer or buy just two new records from a record store, I always feel like a little boy getting some new toys and that kind of feeling keeps me alive as a DJ and as a producer.


Emika:  I recognise that there was a time when DJs were just DJs, and nowadays I feel like all DJs need to talk about themselves as artists in a way and so I'd really like to know, what is a DJ?

Dettmann: A DJ is - for example when I see some colleagues who are looking like they are doing a job to me, just standing there, playing, and doing what the people expect. Then you see some other people surprising the crowd all the time, and everybody's like 'oh, what are they doing? That's crazy.' But that's more the way I see a DJ. It's surprising people, doing something strange, playing a record sometimes from the beginning to the end [for example,] it doesn't mean (in German we say) 'being an Ampelmann' and moving around all the time anyway.

When I got involved into techno, the DJ was just some guy in the corner who was playing music, and so you would always remember the tracks he was playing in and not the guy who was playing them.

Back in the day, people would go to the DJ and ask, 'could you please play this track.’ Now; never.

" have to love
every single track
you play...."

Emika: That's true! When was the last time that happened to you?

Dettmann: People come up to you asking for something but normally it's not anything surprising, it's more that they want to interact with you and want to talk to you. They should say, 'do you like the weather today?' or 'did you have a good dinner?' instead of 'could you play this one?'

And usually I say 'I played that already,' because I have, half an hour ago.

But for me a DJ is a music lover. You have to love what you do, and that's really important. You have to love every single track you play. Sometimes when I get lazy, or bored about a crowd, a situation or whatever, I just think 'okay, which track do I wanna hear now and which track will make me crazy right at this moment?'

I need to have spice. Life drive.