Truancy Volume 176: Fiedel

For our 176th Truancy Volume we welcome our second Ostgut Ton artist to the series, after Kobosil‘s entry last year. Joining Berlin nightlife in 1989, Fiedel has been a resident and regular figure at Berghain since its opening in 2004. Prior to this, he held a three year residency at the club’s predecessor Ostgut – a connection which formed whilst he worked at Hard Wax in his formative Berlin years. All the while, Fiedel has firmly established himself as one of the roster’s mainstay producers, dotting between his collaborative work as MMM with Errorsmith and his own self released productions on Fiedelone and Fiedeltwo. His most recent EP, titled Substance B, comes as his first official solo release in full for Ostgut Ton, having previously contributed solo tracks to the imprint’s Fünf, Various and Zehn compilations. We caught up with Fiedel to discuss the release, his electro/hip hop influences, MMM and his first Berlin gigs at Subversiv. His Truancy Volume, coming in at over an hour and a half, is a musically diverse contribution of grooves, stitching together the music of Mayan Nidam on Perlon, Dexter, Shake and Calibre.

Thanks again for taking time out to do this interview, Michael. Thought I’d start by asking about the weekend just gone with Wax Treatment throwing another party with the Killasan at Griessmuehle. According to the RA description, this edition was essential for Berlin bass lovers. How did it go? “The Wax Treatment party is something of a secret garden, and one of the nice things about it is that it’s a very intimate event where people come with an open mind to actually listen and discover new stuff. This is also why the line-up is kept a secret. People should not only come because they saw a big name somewhere online. I’ve been involved with the Killasan ever since it was shipped over from Japan in 2001. We just came back from a small tour in Italy last week where a few open air events with great musical variety were showcased on the soundsystem.”

Let’s talk about electro-anchored hip hop for a second as you’ve stated that people like Mantronix, Ice-T, 2 Live Crew and Egyptian Lover as some of your formative influences alongside acid house and Hardwax. At what point were you introduced to this and where were you at musically prior to discovery? “I grew up in Eastern Germany, which means that listening to radio was pretty much the only available way to discover music that wasn’t classical compositions or “Schlager”. There was a state censorship on over imported cultural products – music magazines, records, tapes etc. It was around 1985/86, I was still a teenager back then and this kind of innovative sound is what got my attention. I also favoured other kinds of music that emerged at this time, like house and music that was produced with the use of samples e.g. Bomb The Bass’ “Beat Dis“, Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode; the perfect music for me to dance to. So I started frantically recording tapes. My parents were pretty cool about it and sometimes let me keep the headphones on during lunch so I didn’t miss anything. This music “flashed” me; it was the beginning of a long-lasting obsession.”

Thought I’d go a little bit back and ask about DJ Niplz, Subversiv and the Electric Ballroom. For those reading these names for the first time, can you tell us how they are all associated? I met DJ Niplz while buying records at Hard Wax. He was a DJ and hosted a radio show on Kiss FM called “House Trax” and always featured a broad selection of new releases. It’s actually through him that I got to meet Erik [Errorsmith]. They were recording a track (Syze Queen – “Anticipation”) together back then and I happened to join them in the studio. Niplz (who sadly left us too early, R.I.P.) also took care of the booking for the weekly queer Monday night at Subversiv, a basement club located in an occupied house in Brunnenstrasse. This squat used to be quite relevant for the underground local techno scene back then – and this is also the place where I played my first Berlin gig. After the collective had to move out of Subversiv, some of the organisers launched a new weekly Monday party – the “Electric Ballroom” in SO36.”

I really want to talk about some of your MMM tracks with Errorsmith, as some of them like “Dex” and “Que Barbaro” were massive in London at the time of the release, especially the former. I was reading in an interview that at the time of making “Dex”, you hardly realised UK funky was even a style you knew existed. Do you remember how those two tracks in particular came about whilst in studio? “We enjoy music based on musical value, not because something belongs to a certain genre. Though we might have caught the UK funky vibe, we still try to produce without relating too much to such classifications. Most of our tracks are developed while playing live. We begin with nothing more than a certain sound idea and a vague structure and simply jam the stuff around. If there is material we really like, we make a studio version out of it.”

Fiedel_at_Strom_Kopenhagen_08-2015

Killasan_at_Terraforma_Rome_04-2017

From 2010, it seemed like you were both getting out a record a year as MMM but it’s been fairly quiet on the release front since 2014. Although this is nothing compared to the 11-year gap after Donna, what’s the production and release process like for you two? How often do you come together to make music? “Errorsmith and myself started releasing music ourselves because we were looking for maximum independence and artistic freedom without having to pressure ourselves with a fixed release schedule. We work on our productions until we are both satisfied with the result, no matter how long it takes. We always manage to get together in the studio regularly besides our other solo projects.”

One of the most identifying aspects when it comes to your own productions is how you restrict yourself to a few elements of sounds, maybe taking a sample or small synth lead and seeing how you can get the most out of it. “Positron”, my favourite track by you, is a great example and a track that can be absolutely killer when played right. Would you say techniques and methods like this are on your mind when you start a track? “This is a interesting take on my productions and I guess different people have different ways of relating to music – and this is the great thing about art bringing people together without prescribing any fixed interpretation – but I wouldn’t say that this aspect is something I personally focus on when making music. The tracks reflect the many different musical genres that I like and feature all kinds of stylistic elements, regardless whether they are considered “techno”, “electro”, “house” or whatever. There might sometimes be a particular sound or rhythmic element that I want to integrate within a piece but everything is flexible until I reach a result that I like. In the case of “Positron”, there wasn’t any preset concept. I was just jamming around when I came up with the idea and then simply built the track around live recordings of this session.”

Let’s talk about your most recent release, Substance B, on Ostgut Ton. As someone who’s been a resident since 2000, the conversation about releasing a solo EP on the label must have been brought up a few times I imagine. Can you run us through how the release came about and why the timing felt right now? “”Doors to Manual” and “Probe 806” were featured on previous Ostgut Ton compilations, but Substance B is indeed my first solo EP on the label. In my opinion, as a DJ you need to be able to catch the vibe on the dancefloor and select the right track at the right time. Whether you release records or not is not related to the ability to create this kind of magic. Things have evolved in such a way that it is often expected for DJs to also be producers if they want to be acknowledged by a broader audience. Some amazing artists such as Boris or DJ Harvey hardly ever dip into production and build their careers mostly on their performances as DJs. I was not expecting Substance B to get so much attention and was obviously very pleased I eventually got such positive feedback for my solo studio work.”

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us? “The nice thing about a podcast is that [it] happens outside of the club realm and doesn’t necessarily aim at providing a soundtrack for people to dance to. A mix should obviously be entertaining and interesting for the listener, so I chose many groovy tunes and decided to put the stress on musical diversity. And it is mixed with vinyl only. Hope you guys like it!”

What else can we look forward to from Fiedel for the rest of 2017? “I constantly work on music, either on productions or on exploring new paths to implement live performances and DJ sets. I’d really like to get to play more gigs where the focus is not just on one style. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing techno beyond words, but I also enjoy the artistic challenge and the freedom when playing other sounds. I’m working on a concept for a special house set and also diving deeper into ambient soundscapes, as I love both and used to play them ever since I started to DJ. To have a broader view on music helps [with] keeping things fresh and finding new inspirations or ways to combine sounds. I have accumulated quite a few musical gems over the years and it would be nice to get to share them. A couple of releases on other labels and new stuff from MMM will also be coming out in the near future. There will also be an exciting next mix format coming before the end of the year.”

Tracklist:

Pretty Sneaky – B1 [Pretty Sneaky 01]
Mayan Nidam – Deep Under Sobriety Regime [Perlon 110]
SW. – Beat Mix 45 [Sued 016]
A Sagittariun – Floating On Salt Water [Elastic Dreams 014]
Transists Of Tone – Battle Zone [Panic 002]
Qnete – Grey City Anthem [Zckr 12]
Dexter – My Style [DEK 002]
Bandulu – Now [Infonet INS 001]
Barker & Baumecker – Love Hertz [Ostgut Ton 99]
Alex Cortex – Pressure [Range 001]
Che Si – Commercial Washer [Tension 3006]
Savas Pascalidis – Nautilus [Be As One 061]
Electric Indigo – Sept (Tensal Remix) [Het 002]
Julixo – Structure [Knotweed 020]
Physical Therapy – 909 Reasons Why [Delft 014]
Jeff Rushin – Atom [ARTS Collective 013]
Surgeon – Search [Blue Print 044]
Cleric – Morose [Coincidence 054]
J Choirboy – Lights Down [Rough Grade 001]
Seelow – Wave#16 [The Final Experiment XX7]
Shake – Electron Rider [Frictional 004]
E.R.P. – A New Road [Tuppence 002]
Calibre – Lost [The Nothing Special 022]

Fiedel: Soundcloud, Facebook,
Wax Treatment: SoundcloudFacebook

Riccardo Villella
Riccardo Villella

OG at Truants / Graphic Designer / DJ as Melmoth Twitter Soundcloud

1 thought on “Truancy Volume 176: Fiedel”

  1. Lovely pillow! And beuufital photo with kitty, as always. I went to the Sissex site and it looks so exciting! I'd love to try out one of those, and my wrists would thank me too I bet!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *