Hi Chris, first of all thank you for taking time to answer these questions. We are well aware of your extremely busy schedule and really appreciate that you are making this possible! It's my pleasure!
We have read many interviews with you, but there is something we would really like to know a little bit] more about. How do you deal with the fact that you are a popular public figure who gets recognized and approached often by your fans?
Of course I enjoy the fact that people want to let me know that they enjoy my performances or my music, although I don't do all this in order to get more attention. Many times I am actually quite happy not to have much attention in my life, but maybe I can only say that because I do get attention. Generally I just like to appear behind the decks, play my set and sort of disappear again, but I totally understand that people like to have a little personal contact and I don't mind that at all. I think that really great people are coming to the parties and I do enjoy talking to them at the end of the shows, but it's not because I am craving for attention and the whole fame- thing. That 's not what it is all about!
On your birthday party last year at the Cocoonclub in Frankfurt you called two of your fans into the dj booth and gave them some kind of prices. If we understood that right, it was two cups with engraved dedications for your most faithful fans. We were in the audience and were quite touched as we had never seen anything similar before. Could you tell us a bit more about this story?
Well yes, there is a brother and a sister who are called Arthur and Agi, and both of them have been coming to our parties for at least twelve years now. I have pictures from 1999 or 2000 with them at the U60311 in Frankfurt and they came everywhere we went. The amazing thing is that even today they still come to our parties wherever they can, and they always come with huge enthusiasm. By now they are not fans anymore, I would much rather consider them friends.
They sometimes come to dinner with us, for example when I play at Berghain in Berlin, and they also travel to far away places when it's a promising party. They talk to us and if they think it's a party worth going they just show up - wherever it may be. They are people that I really, really, really enjoy to have around, because they have such an incredibly positive energy. To just call them 'fans' would not be appropriate by now as they have become quite good friends. When I gave them those cups at the Cocoonclub last year I just wanted to honor their support and everything they do, because the whole CLR team is always happy to see them.
Since you gave the abbreviation CLR with 'Create Learn Realize' a new meaning, we have seen the label open to several new artists and have noticed a real community feeling on your label events. You take quite a lot of time to help other artists with their productions and have even taken a break from producing your own music until you feel the urge to do so again. Do you just enjoy the label work more nowadays, do you see CLR developing into something extra- special – an individual entity, separate from your own career – something you simply want to nurture as much as possible, or what drives you to do the things the way you are doing them nowadays?
Actually you already answered the question with your question. Yes, I see all this developing into an individual entity which is separate from my dj-career. I don't know where this is going to take me, maybe one day I will just be in the background, sort of navigating and helping artists, although I very much enjoy my dj-performances and I might sooner or later also head back into music production myself. But the work with the label has become a very, very, very important part of my live. It is a completely different kind of work and approach than I had with my old label Audio or in the beginnings of CLR, when I basically just signed tracks I could play at peak- time and we maybe had four or five releases a year. Now the range has become much, much bigger. The core-crew of the artists are a bunch of friends who respect each other, have good fun on our Events Together and really help each other out on a musical level as well. We visit each others' studios and Frankfurt has kind of become CLR's production headquarter by now. We have four studios in one building and people from basically all over the world who release on CLR are regularly visiting us in this studio complex in Frankfurt. For example they come and hang out with us for a week, which makes the whole group always come closer together, have more understanding for each other and create great new things together - which is just excellent to see.
You have mentioned that you are a vegan for a good year now, another facet about you which we find extraordinary and quite interesting. Could you tell us briefly what caused the decision to refrain from all animal products and commit to a completely plant-based diet?
Yes, I have not been eating meat since about twelve or thirteen years anymore and the reason I did not want to eat meat anymore was simply because I did not want to be responsible for all the animal transports which I saw when I was driving on the Autobahns. And of course the whole suffering of animals like pigs and cows in general, but I was still eating a lot of fish then. It took another ten years to start to realize that I also did not want to do this anymore.
That's something that came from inside out and not from outside in. I was sitting in front of a fish and just could not eat it anymore, so I thought - wow, I guess I am vegetarian now, I can't eat fish anymore. So that's how I turned vegetarian, and after about a year the same thing that happened with the fish happened with eggs and cheese. I was simply feeling - I don't want to eat this anymore. So I stopped that and realized - wow, I think I am a vegan now. Then I got a lot of great information, also from other artists, for example from Tommy Four Seven. He was actually vegan before me and always approached me with all kinds of information and I was never really interested. But once I became a vegan I became very interested in all this information. I realized that the more you learn about it, the more it proves your point - especially if you feel it like this and don't crave for foods you can't eat anymore, but you actually want to live like this and don't have to force yourself to be a vegan. Then you really understand that being a vegan makes a whole lot of sense. It was a little difficult to adjust to the diet I am eating since about a year, as my body had to readjust. So there was not an immediate 'wow-this-feels- great-effect', but after a year by now I have to say that it has been an amazing change for my body and therefore also an amazing change for my mind. I am rarely sick, I can definitely say that. I used to be sick much more often before. I feel pretty good about life, about the environment and obviously about the animals. I can only recommend everybody who is sort of interested to find out more about it and let it happen.
We think to a certain extend this is a political statement in its own right, but we have also noticed that you have been using the interest in your opinions to talk very clearly about issues that bother you. For example you have not been shy about uttering your opposition to the so- called GEMA Reform, which is threatening our entire club-culture with its ridiculously high claims. To which extend does an artist have the right or even the responsibility to use his popularity to inspire positive change?
Oh I totally believe that there are absolutely no limits. Because of the internet, artists have a platform now to voice their opinions, and why should that be limited only to musical issues? I am interested in a lot of different fields of life, politics, spiritual ideas, food, sports, so why shouldn't I utter my opinions if I have some? Why shouldn't I, if I might be able to get people to reconsider their opinions or thoughts? I don't mean to offend people, but if it happens as a by-product when I voice my opinion, well, then it happens. If some fan even starts to say 'no way, what is this guy saying, that's stupid', well, then that may happen and it's okay. I don't necessarily want everybody to agree with me, but I also don't think that I should just use my popularity - if you want to call it like that - to promote our own music. No, I want to voice my opinion, I want to make a difference and I will keep doing this. And I will also continue not being to serious about everything. Sometimes I just post... stuff. Things that don't necessarily mean a lot, but I don't really see any limits in what I should talk about and what I should not talk about.
You are traveling all over the globe and your label is hosting an increasing amount of events world-wide as well. What is your impression relating to the global Techno scene. Has it preserved its unifying spirit of the very first underground parties or does the growing success destroy the vibe many of us still know from the early days of the movement? What would you consider the advantages and disadvantages of the current popularity of techno?
Good question... Let's first talk about the disadvantages that there might be. You hear a lot of people say that the good old days were so great back then... Yes, of course, I also have great memories of good old times, I have amazing memories of clubs in Germany where I played, which have shut down over ten years ago already. Yes, there were great places, there were amazing nights, we were all much more innocent and younger back then, some of the music surely sounded a lot more new than it does today and some things may have still surprised us more than today. But I also do believe that if we had the chance to get one of these clubs in today's world and listen to the exact same music, we would probably stand there and think to us 'well, this is a boring set' or 'this is a shitty sound-system'.
Okay, there have been a lot of highlights and advantages, but sometimes things also close down or end for a reason. If the reason to close a club is the fact that the place is needed to build another bank, then that's obviously not a great reason, but anyways, it also gives room for new things to open up. And new things - at least this is often the case - try to be better than the old things and try to develop and better everything from technical aspects to the professional handling of the whole thing. So I would say that today we have clubs all over the world, which have an amazing standard and where it's great fun to play. Another advantage today is also that people really have a good idea about what they are into, what kind of music they want to listen to, and they still get surprised by things. You can still very much surprise them, because there is so much great music out there and there are so many more people interested in electronic music world-wide than we ever had before. This obviously brings new people into the scene on a daily basis, and there is a great energy about mixing up a new crowd with a well-known old crowd.
I don't really want to look back that much and say 'this was great and this was great' - yes, this was great, but it is pretty amazing today as well and I don ́t want to disregard this. Definitely, some sounds have become very commercial and some dj's are the new stadium acts. Who would have thought this in the 80s when the first big rock bands toured the world and played those stadiums? But on the other hand, who knows if those stadium dj's are really here to stay? I have no idea, but it definitely gets a lot of people interested in electronic music, who think that they might not have to go to the stadium to listen to a superstar dj to have a great time, but might as well go to the club next door. I actually like the way it goes!
You are one of the headliners at the VOID festival in Wuppertal on December 31st. What do you expect of this event?
Well, Wuppertal has always been a great place for techno and the famous Butan Club is a place where CLR has been hosting regular parties. It just happened that a good crew of people came together and started to think that a New Years Eve party at the Uni Arena in Wuppertal would be the right thing to do - and I very much support this idea. I do believe that we are going to have an amazing time with excellent music, also at the after-party CLR is hosting at the Butan Club. I am very much looking forward to celebrate this special night in such a great area in Germany, where there is usually not so much comparable offer - especially not on New Years Eve. So let's go there!
Zekers dik voor deze meneer
en toch was die vroeger beter.
Kwam met zijn muziek in aanraking dankzij zijn CLR podcast.
Sindsdien (echt helemaal, was al eerder) verslaafd aan techno!