For a guy that loves live analog jamming, it’s no surprise that 2012 has been all about collaborations, as Berlin-based producer and DJ, Kiki heads into the studio with artists running the range of house music, from one-third of Circus Company heroes dOP, to frontman Shaun Wright of New York disco-house hipsters Hercules And Love Affair. It’s stuff that should fit right into his own notoriously energetic DJ sets – catch him next in London at Hearn Street Car Park on 08 December – designed, he says, “to make the booty bounce”.
Like more than one DJ of the moment that we can think of, Kiki is an architect turned music producer, with a one-time penchant for compositions in violin and piano. He moved to Berlin to study architecture and by “bumping into all the right people” ended up scoring his first DJ gig in his second week there. Proof? He eventually released his first record on BPitch Control after meeting head honcho Ellen Allien when he was double booked for her DJ slot.
We got him down for a few questions about what it’s like in his studio…
This year you’ve been collaborating with some pretty diverse artists. When you are in the studio with someone else, how does it go? Are you both very hands-on / working with the mouse?
I’m 100% hands on. I try to work as less as possible on computer and prefer not to be distracted by the visuality of today’s DAWs. I like live analog jamming, although everything is edited in the end on computer.
What’s the most important item in your studio?
Must be either my Moog Prodigy or Moog Voyager.
What’s your thinking when you go into the studio to make an album?
I don’t really think much when I go to the studio. It’s more like I try to capture moments. The more special things happen in the real life, the more feelings there are to come out in melodies and rhythms. Lately, I’ve done a lot of collaborations and it’s special to try to get to know one and capture that vibe, the discussions, maybe cultural differences on a record. See for example my next single on BPitch with the Hercules & Love Affair singer Shaun J Wright called “Spending Time Together”.
What makes Berlin so special for electronic music?
It has a long history of being a creative playground for the West German people since the cold war and when the wall came down, the huge energy from young people uniting from both sides certainly didn’t hurt. There is still some of that left after the young Germans united, it seems to attract and inspire people form all over the world to come. The constant changes keep you on your toes and make you think of new things rather than stagnate in boredom.
You were studying architecture at one point – what inspired the full-time move into dance music?
It never was a decision and most definitely didn’t happen from one day to another. I was DJing and making music long before I even started to study architecture and slowly but surely it just took fully over. Having said that, I see a lot of similarities in the creative processes of music, design, architecture, painting etc.
They do say maths is very close to music… Is it?
Well, you can ‘mathematise’ music by writing notes, scales and counting the curves of the soundwaves, but I was always more of a feeling person rather than thinking person while composing.
Are you focusing on making music or playing more gigs right now?
The winter is here and for me it’s good time to make music. The summer is more for tours and never-ending parties. But it’s still both all the time!
What do you think it takes for DJs to stand out in an age when everyone’s doing it, and most of the party-goers have seen it all?
There is no formula for being an exceptional artist, but when you see one, you will notice! What we definitely don’t need is another artist playing all the same records cleanly blended with the sync button of the computer.
How about three tracks you’d play at the after party?
After a totally quick & random look to my record box I came up with:
- Paranoid London: Paris Dub 1
- Prins Thomas: “Tjukkas Pa Karussel”
- Kaan Duzarat: Where Did Heron Go – Analog Roland Orchestra remix
Finally, can you give us a headsup on what’s coming up for you in the next year?
My next single “Through Darkness” featuring Shaun J Wright will come out in January on vinyl with some vinyl only mixes. Then there’s a huge BPitch Control compilation coming out in February or March where I have a track on with Jaw from dOP. There’s also a compilation for Hive Club from Zurich where I have a track on with Smash TV.
Other than that, lots of touring. Besides Europe and finally in my hometown Helsinki after two years, I also have Australia and USA coming up. I’ve also been in the studio with some other people, so it seems that I´m keeping up with the collaboration theme!
Hercules & Love Affair member brings back some much loved sounds in a modern setting with his MR INTL label…
Andy Butler seems to be on a mission to bring back some of those much loved sounds of the past with his label MR INTL. Having been launched at the end of last summer with the Butler & Kendig release, “And I’m (So In Love WithYou)”, it has continued to followed this path of some extraordinary groundbreaking music. Boasting a unique sound that many seem to be attempting to replicate but very few succeed in making an impact. It’s a sound that draws on the old influential analogue electronic sounds of the 80′s and early 90′s. But if we take this Butler & Kindig release, one which Andy himself believes is a prime example of what MR INTL is all about, then we can honestly say that the label is going to be hitting the nail on the head. That release alone seems to forge some amazing and creative, yet not so typical sounds, ones which you can clearly feel where the influence is coming from, but you are unable to predict exactly where its cool deep groove and slick transitions are going to take you.
Butler & Kendig – And I’m (So In Love With You)
The label has continued with similar releases, like Kim Ann Foxman’s laidback masterpiece, “Creature” or her deep funky “What You Need”. And now MR INTL releases a sublime one by Shaun J Wright… “Forever More”. The original mix has a remarkable feel of just creeping forwards in a mysterious manner, whilst some electronic jitters constantly try to escape, yet purposely failing so as to hold the suspense. And the vocal to this track just tops it off beautifully.
This release is accompanied by two redefining remixes, which both transform the pace and movement, only in very different ways. The “Aérea Negrot Remix” succeeds in pushing the pace further forwards than the original, adding a smooth rhythmical xylophone sound that blends well with an equally effective bass. There is a great progression to this mix as the gradual introduction of acid helps raise the mix further along with some well engineered LFO lead, filter work on some rather simple pads, building and building the mix to then simply ease things back down again.
The “Mastertape Remix” on the other hand leads with a deep bulging bass that has a slight acid edge to it covered with that magical vocal. And that’s about it… But the sheer consequences of such a simple mix is astounding. The mix is literally bulging with style and an unbelievably deep cool groove that even those “stand still at the bar with your drink in your hand human statues” will submit to a little body wiggling. This is one that will likely be dominating dance floors at 5am.
Shaun J Wright – Forever More
With such class music coming out of MR INTL we thought we’d hear from Andy himself about where things are coming from at the moment and where they’re going…
Tell us about the whole concept of MR INTL and how it came about?
“I just wanted to hear the sophisticated, deep elegant sound of deep house in the clubs again, had some friends that wanted to make it, and created an outlet for it. “
Artists featuring on the label seem to be Hercules & Love Affair members, is there any particular reason and can we expect to see any other artists joining the bill?
“Already we have remixers from outside, Wolfram did a single (not a part of Hercules), as is Jason Kendig from the Butler/Kendig collaboration. Yes many new faces in the future. “
What can we expect from MR INTL in the near future?
“A Kim Ann Foxman album, a Wolfram and Haddaway track(!), some stuff from some great guys in Tel Aviv.”
If anyone isn’t clear on what to expect from MR INTL, what one release would you recommend them to listen to, that you would say sums up MR INTL?
“Butler & Kendig – And I’m (So In Love With You)”