Truancy Volume 199: Shed

For our 199th Truancy Volume and our last of the year, we welcome none other than René Pawlowitz to the series, providing us with an hour-long mix as Shed. Of the may aliases that Pawlowitz has produced under over the years (Craft, EQD, Evil Fred, Head High, Operation Amplified, PCK, Rhythm-Spd, Seelow, Sigg Gonzalez, Stable Mates, STP, The Panamax Project, The Traveller, War Easy Made, Wax, WK7), the experimental tendencies and excellent consistency of Shed have helped it garner the most renown. After his seminal Shedding the Past LP was released via Ostgut Ton in 2008, an equally praised follow-up in the form of The Traveller cemented Shed’s name in techno. Having found a regular home for his music these last few years at the now-defunct 50 Weapons, his ongoing professional relationship with Gernot and Sebastian (Modeselektor) saw him release his fourth album, The Final Experiment, on Monkeytown this year. Having also repressed his early albums on his own label titled after the fourth LP, René joined us to discuss taking his Final Experiment A/V show on the road, his Head High alias and fishing. His Truancy Volume, which he describes as having a strong theme of feeling and looking to soundtrack the cold month of December with a homely atmosphere, is wide-ranging in styles. With a large portion delving into breaks and drum and bass – and no 4×4 kick in sight – it’s undoubtedly Shed, pulling for influences and emotions that hark back to the provocative, compelling sounds of his full-lengths.

Hey René, thanks for taking out some time to do this mix, been excitedly waiting for it to land in my inbox. I’m really glad this re-release happened as despite regularly coming back to them a few years after their initial release, it had been a while since I’d listened to both Shedding the Past and The Traveller. Wanted to ask (obviously it’s nostalgic even for me as a listener), what was it like listening back to the albums yourself? Are the references and influences still easy to recollect? “The only thing I think about when I’m listening to Shedding The Past today is that I’m almost eight years older. Eight years is a long time. All the references and influences are fading away or have been displaced. I was really surprised from the success that my albums had. I worked together with Ostgut (label and club) which was starting to get some success. Nice environment. What a cool time that was!”

Reading interviews from when Shedding the Past was released back in 2008, the phrase ‘shedding the past’ had to do with being very sad that [the quality of] techno music was going down. Almost 10 years on, what do you make of that statement? Are your thoughts still the same? “Not the same. It’s worse than that! It’s always going down. And it’s not only going down. It goes down faster and faster! Haha. No. All good. I’m still trying to find my way through this. There is much love for techno but I hate it too in a way.”

What can you tell us about the Final Experiment as a label, and the choice to re-release the albums through there? I’d have imagined re-release talks with Ostgut may have popped up in the past, no? “No, there were no thoughts about that. Two or three years ago I saw that these two albums had been sold out for a long time. And it seemed that there was no bigger interest in a re-press. So I took over.”

For those who haven’t been able to catch one of the special Final Experiment shows, what can you tell us about your A/V performance as Shed? How did you meet the Transforma people and what went into deciding the theme for the visuals? I understand you worked with your brother on it too? “The visuals I did together with my brother were made especially for Atonal festival back in 2016 here in Berlin. This project with Transforma is new and it is big fun for me/us. We have a common friend who brought us together. We met and I tried to describe what kind of visuals I like. Transforma had some good ideas too and we met somewhere in the middle. The result is really cool. We actually only planned to play some shows this year but we’ve had fun so that we decided to play some more.”

With the Final Experiment coming out this year, how would you compare this work to say the music you were doing in 2008, 2010. Do you feel you’ve got ‘better’ at making music or is it just an evolved and mature process of your emotions taking you back to good times? “Technically, the Final Experiment album is much better than the first two. Musically I would say it sounds adult. It is a trip back in time. It is pop. The final melancholic experiment.”

We’ve noticed you seem to be playing a lot more shows as Head High this year than in 2016, as well as releasing a new record as WK7. As well as telling us a bit about that new WK7 release, why do you think you’re enjoying these aliases more than ever it seems? A new found love for house music? “I’ve regularly played sets as Head High for about five years now. I really enjoy playing house music. But that is not a new love. It is more a second, or better third love of mine.”

We’re glad to see the mix you’ve made for us delves into some jungle/drum and bass territory. What can you tell us about putting the mix together? “It’s not a proper DJ mix. It is something I would do when I would be able to do a radio show. It’s not about having good mixes technically. It’s all about a feeling, a sound or a theme. I tried to compile some of my favourites from different styles like breaks, drum and bass or techno with the same feeling. Just some tracks to make you feel good and guide you through the cold December with a homely atmosphere. Nice, isn’t it?”

With 2017 slowly rounding to a close, how do you look back on the year in relation to past years? Any major changes occur for you? Also what else can we expect from you in the first few months of 2018? “It’s a turning point. I guess vinyl as a DJ tool is dying. We have more music, more musicians, more records but the sales are going down. A two or three-track record costs around 9/10 EUR or more. That is too much. I’d assume there are only 10% of DJs left that buy vinyl records. Rest [are] taking digital data. I’m still waiting for [a] CDJ that streams from the net directly. I have no solid plans for 2018 yet. Every serious musician should release an ambient album. Maybe I’ll take care of that next year. Perhaps news from Head High. There is some stuff sleeping on the HD. We will see.”

How’s the fishing been going? “Not good. No time at all… I need to go back to the Baltic Sea or Norway as soon as possible!”

Shed: Resident Advisor, Booking Agency, Bandcamp

Riccardo Villella
Riccardo Villella

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

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