Where are you currently based?
I’m based in Berlin since almost 8 years.
Please tell us about the challenges of starting and operating your own label BLK DRP?
BLK DRP is mainly about having a platform where i can release my own music and feature remixers i highly respect. Starting the label i thought that i will be able to easily run it on the side on top of my regular day to day but it actually involves way more work then i initially expected. This is also one of the reasons why i had to reduce my working hours of my daytime job. The main challenges for me is about picking the right tracks to go on BLK DRP vs tracks i am releasing on other records as well as getting remixers organised which fit to the actually sound of every individual release.
Why did you choose to start BLK DRP?
Initially i wanted to put out my own music fast without going through the regular A&R process of other labels and having to line up in most of the time already packed release schedules. But as i am also pressing vinyl with BLK DRP first i actually still end up with around 3-4 months from handing in the tracks to mastering until the records are available on the market. But what is great about running your own label is that you have full control over the experience of the listener. This obviously starts with the music but goes hand in hand with the artwork, visuals and any promotional material and strategies. So great for any control freaks like myself.
BLK DRP has 2 releases to date including remixes by Amelie Lens, Raíz, Eduardo de la Calle and TWR72, what can we expect for the future?
There is a new BLK DRP coming mid November. This time there will be three originals by myself and I’m very happy to also have my good friends Pan-Pot on board who provided a kick ass remix for this one.
How did you start producing?
I already started to play around with music production very early. It was around the age of 16. Obviously being super basic and i would not even call it producing but playing around with sounds. Later on i discovered Ableton and Cubase as well as some basic plugins where i could go deeper on the sound level. After a long period of just fiddling around with synths and DAWs i decided to study audio engineering at the SAE institute in Frankfurt as the idea of being able to produce and play out my own tracks really got me hooked. During the years at SAE i learned a lot about different production techniques, synthesis as well as music biz in general.
What equipment / programs do you use?
I mainly produce in the box. Meaning i mainly uses software synths and effects but recently i started adding some of the Roland Boutique drum machines to my setup as these have a very smooth software integration while having the advantage of being able to tweak physical knobs and buttons. When it comes to working with samples my go to tool is the Native Instruments Maschine MK3. I have been using this one since the MK1 and even tho you might have to get used to some workflows it has become one of my essential tools.
Please tell us about your latest collaborative release on Second State Audio which includes collaboration’s with Pan-Pot, Stephan, Hinz, Roman Lindau and Amelie Lens, how do you approach each collaboration?
The collaborations happened online as well as offline. With Pan-Pot and Stephan i actually got into the studio and we went through the whole production process together. With Amelie and Roman we have been working remotely starting with a very rough idea and bouncing stems back and forth until we came up with something both parties liked and stood behind. Obviously both approaches have their up and downsides. Being in the studio together allows for very fast feedback loops on ideas while working remotely allows you to be a bit more experimental because there is nobody sitting next to you who might be annoyed while you go to town on some modular sequence ideas.
You work as a designer for a music Tech Brand aside from running a label and producing music/djing, please tell us about your design role, what does the work entail?
During the week i work for four days at the Native Instruments headquarters in Berlin. I am the senior hardware designer looking after a lot of the Traktor hardware products. This entails coming up with concepts for new products, talking to users and artists, validating ideas and spinning iteration on ideas based on what our users need.
A month ago you mixed in Sisyphos with Richie Hawtin’s Model 1 mixer, please lt us know would your thoughts about it from a music-tech-brand-designer’s point of view:
I already had a hands on session on one of Richies mixers months ago at his office but so far never had the opportunity to spend some proper time with it. The gig at Sisyphos was kind of perfect to actually spend a whole night with the mixer. I have to say the brand name play differently really fits well. It really is different then playing on a Xone 92 or a DJM 900. The first hour of my set i didn’t really feel comfortable and i wished to have played around with it a bit more at home beforehand. But after the first hour things started to click. Workflows started to get smooth and things felt natural from then on. I think the approach of mixing with filters is very interesting and having this parametric eq part is great for pulling out individual sounds or also to slightly highlight them. I don’t think it will be my last time using this mixer.
What influences your sound?
Art and movies influence my sound a lot. Sometimes when i see an epic scene in a movie i will try to create something that would fit the mood of it and could go hand in hand with the picture. Also digital modern art influences me. Especially when it comes to art involving lights and generative visualisations. So overall something that is great and exciting to look at is always a big influence and inspiration for my sound.
When and How did you start playing music?
I started DJing in around 2005. Back then i got myself some very cheap belt drive turntables and i remember a cheap numark two channel mixer which had a bright green fx engage button in the middle (felt super cool back then). When i started DJing i was playing rather trancy tracks but growing up in Frankfurt with the Cocoon Club and Robert Johnson this didn’t last very long. After a while when i started playing out i went digital with a DVS system. First using Serato and Traktor afterwards.
How has the scene changed since you started?
Today it feels like trends and hits come and go way faster. Back then i remember that there always have been these amazing tracks everybody was playing for months and months and months. I remember some tunes from cocoon or border community which even in todays sets would still stand out. Today we still have a lot of hits which are being played by everybody but somehow most of them disappear after a very short time already because there is such a big amount of music being released every day. It seems that there are very little tracks coming out which could be considered classics in 20 years from now. The industry and the scene has come to a very fast pace. On top of the musical changes there is obviously social media. It seem that everything has become about likes, followers and plays. This does not have to be a bad thing necessarily but some of us have to get used to it. One upside tho is that through social media a lot of young talents who in the old world might not have stood a chance to be heard can now be discovered way easier.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
When i’m working or driving i most of the time listen to beats these days. It is very relaxing and helps you to get through the upcoming depressing Berlin winter season. Gold Panda, Moods and Shlomo are just a few of the artists i m listening to within this genre. When it comes to dance music i really enjoy to listen to Ben Klock’s and Len Faki’s works at the moment.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
For me it s all about pizza and sushi when it comes to everyday food. To hang out i like to go to Viktoriapark or Gleispark here in Berlin but in the end the best place for me to hang out is my comfortable couch in my Kreuzberg apartment.
Michael Klein Socials:Soundcloud | Facebook | Resident Advisor
Second State Socials:Soundcloud | Facebook | Resident Advisor