, - on 1/12/10
Download Michael's set from eleven in Tokyo Here
When talking techno, or electronic music in general, there are very few names that command more respect and veneration than Michael Mayer. As DJ, producer, label boss and global electronic music celebrity, his story is well known to anyone who has been following dance music over the last two decades or so. Yet unlike the waves of 'superstars' that come and go through the years, Michael’s consistent innovation has always put him at the head of the pack; a true master of his craft whos influence is felt in all corners of the globe and through most genres and fads we call 'dance' music. Trying to box him into techno is selling Mayer drastically short; he is progressive in the true sense of the word, pushing the limits in every endeavour he undertakes. Jesse Kuch caught up with him this week during his Australian tour to find out more about the man behind the name...
It’s not quite over yet, but this year looks like it has been a big one for both yourself and for Kompakt. How would you describe 2010 so far? It's been a pretty busy one for sure, I can't believe that summer is already over. Oh, hold on, autumn's pretty much over, too. Well time flies when you have a good time. [Laughs] 2010 was a good year so far and Kompakt is still doing alright. Like all the other labels I know, we had to make lots of adjustments in order to stay alive. Economically spoken, the music market is starving and it doesn't look like it's going to become any better soon. It's like you've got a great sailing boat but there's no wind. The music itself on the other hand has become more exciting than ever. I think the variety and quality at hand is unprecedented but it became increasingly difficult to navigate yourself through this ocean of releases and find what you need. Then again, I think I've never bought as much music as I did this year.
Taking a look at your touring schedule this year, you’ve been all over. How do you feel about the state of techno and electronic music in general around the globe at the moment? A large part if the scene remained quite unimpressed by the wealth of new developments in dance music. This might not be a new phenomenon but similar to global politics both techno and house have experienced a strong conservative push. The plat du jour tastes exactly like what we ate back in 1995. I've always been supportive of old school flavors and I sometimes enjoy playing an old favorite tune of mine. But where's the point in repeating what we just got over with? The renaissance of garage house? Oh please!
"They all want their tracks to be released on vinyl because it's oh so cool but they're not supporting vinyl when they play out and they don't go to record stores to buy music."
Would you say this has been a memorable 12 months in dance music? What albums, artists or labels have really stood out for you? For me it's all about the friction between the two worlds "dance" and "indie". I really dig the whole chill wave or witch house stuff: Balam Acab and OooOoo on the Tri Angle label stand amongst my favorite records of this year. It's not really for club use but for home listening. Then there were phenomenal albums by Caribou and Fourtet. Ivan Smagghe's It's a Fine Line project is really onto something new, Superpitcher delivered, DJ Koze is going from strength to strength, Dial. I also enjoyed some of the Hessle Audio stuff (when they're not doing dubstep). They've become a nice link between this early Warp sound and things more modern.
Just recently, Technics told us they are ceasing production of some of their turntables. How do you feel about this? Well, they didn't stop the production of the classic 1210 MKII, just some other product series. But what's really sad is that most clubs and festivals have lost interest in turntable. They just don't care anymore, the decks are not being maintained, they forgot how to set them up properly. On eight out of ten gigs I'm facing severe technical problems. Who wants to blame the clubs if almost every DJ on earth got to lazy carrying records around? They all want their tracks to be released on vinyl because it's oh so cool but they're not supporting vinyl when they play out and they don't go to record stores to buy music. They just play their shitty low-res promo mp3's. Vinyl became an absurd trophy and an over-sized business card. This is sad indeed.
It sounds like you feel pretty strongly about digital DJing? It doesn't bother me if someone plays digital as long as the quality is alright. In my opinion, MP3s shouldn't be played on a PA. They're outright dangerous for our ears. If you call yourself a professional DJ then give some of the good money you earn back to the community by buying proper WAV files. End of the story.
So irrespective of style, platform or format what do you think makes a good DJ? Have the core principles changed? No, I don't think so. As long as you put your heart in it, it doesn't matter what style you play. A good DJ is able to entertain and educate at the same time. Don't take your audience for stupid. Give them the love they need and deserve. Smiling faces are the greatest reward.
Do you think the current model of distributing music is outdated? Do we need to start thinking about this another way? Yes, we do. I predict that by the end of next year there wont be many labels left that still release on vinyl. It's a different story for albums, home listening music, jazz, indie rock, experimental music. Vinyl sales have increased a lot for them. But the classic techno/house DJ 12" is about to be extinguished. The only chance to survive could be on a high price boutique level.
"The renaissance of garage house? Oh please!"
On the production side of things, what have you been up to lately? After a long hiatus I finally found my way back to the studio. There's a remix coming up for DFA's Shit Robot and another one for one of my favorite bands - Whomadewho from Copenhagen. And I'm dead set to start working on new solo material in 2011.
Tell me about the collaboration with Superpitcher, you guys have something pretty special going on with SuperMayer? Aksel just released his sophomore album which might keep him busy during the next months. He's currently working on a live show and all. But we're hoping to get back into the studio towards the end of 2011. There's a very special energy between us, it's a pure pleasure to work together, it's playing together rather than working. We're both looking forward to take the next level, to put on the tights and fly again. [Laughs]
Do you find time for anything outside music in your life? I wouldn't mind to work a bit less, find more time to go to the studio, spend more time with my family. But all in all I'm happy with my life as it is. Despite my tough work schedule I've developed a rather healthy routine that includes sports and proper, healthy food. I love cooking, reading, going for walks but I don't have time for another hobby. Music is still my hobby and passion. Sometimes it takes a bit of selfishness to allow myself the pleasure of forgetting that I made it my profession.
And, any last words? Nuff said... thanks!
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