Hey Philipp, how are you, what’s good and bad in your world right now?
Thanks for asking. All fine generally. Well we all go through hard times and a huge challenge at the moment due to the current Covid-19 situation. Everyone individually, Our industry that is witnessing a nearly global shut down at the moment as well as me personally as artist and manager in that field. I still try to think positive and use the time as good as possible as well as focus on the time after the crisis – whenever this will be.
The good thing is that my family is healthy and I managed to come back to Vienna from Dubai with one of the last planes. Even though we go through exceptional hard times, it is nice to see people come together closer, people supporting each other and the global environment getting better too.
To answer your question I enjoy seeing that even when probably I had the worst week in history to release an electronic dance music EP produced for the dance floor, all 5 tracks are doing pretty good. Keep in mind there are no dance floors open where they can be played really at the moment. Still just yesterday all 5 tunes entered the Beatport Top 100 in their individual genres.
How will you cope with the impacts of the coronavirus?
No one can say. I personally think it will take some time and will be more of a slow fade out process such as it slowly faded in. Already now global economy went down quite a lot so it is likely in my opinion that the spending behaviour of people will also be different and weaker then it used to be. Not speaking of the possible new rules, restrictions and laws that could come and effect our industry even more. I hope we can get back to work on all levels as soon as its safe for everyone again, but I expect things will take a while until they are on the same level some months back. Beside the economical aspect of it it would be nice If people due to this crisis learn to change some of their behaviours, live more in the present and be kind to others as well as think of our planet.
How did you hook up with Bedrock? What was your first contact with John Digweed?
I am in this field since 1993 and of course already back then John Digweed and his music was influencing me over the years. After a while I got to know John and we became friends over the time. We played some gigs and connected even stronger. He also joined me mentoring upcoming talents for some years under the Burn Residency umbrella which was good fun.
Bedrock was always one of my most favorite labels. Mainly due to the music which was always current and relevant. The balance between deep, melodic and dance floor driven tunes which are always fresh but have a deeper message and are not too obvious is something not many labels manage that well for such a long time.
I was very happy after years of knowing John that he liked one of my demos and welcomed me to his Bedrock label. All I do is based on continuity so since the first release on Bedrock I try to keep releasing music on this label to show John as well as the fans my evolution and progress with my tunes, as artist and musician.
Why did you decide to do collab tracks for this EP?
Generally nearly all the tunes I do end up being collabs. I love playing around in the studio and jamming, I also have a very gifted studio engineer, Mario aka Collective Machine who helps me with all the final bits and pieces as well as the technical aspects so that I can focus on the creative idea and the fun part. I get bored very fast so for me its important to not do this alone and I want to be good in all I do, but due to all my other roles in this industry I don’t have the time to handle the constantly changing technological aspect of producing alone.
Ian Carpenter as well as Lorenzo De Blanck, both from Italy, are former finalists of the Burn Residency talent support platform. I worked with them over a summer on their careers, mentored them with other industry people and got to know them well. We developed also kind of a friendship and even though the program was closed 2 years ago after very successful 6 years of operation, we stayed in touch and so this Ep came together nicely. Nilseus is a Hungarian artist I used to work and release already on Bedrock. Different to the Italian guys he is more progressive with his music and so it was a nice add on to the EP to round it up and also stay true to the original music history Bedrock was built on in the early days in my opinion.
How did you decide who to work with? Did you do it in the studio or over the internet?
I sold my studio in Vienna a while ago as I don’t have the time to look after it and my life developed more towards the management and consultant side. For example I now look after the leading venues for electronic music in Dubai which I helped to build up from scratch and this was an exciting project where I could use my knowledge and network in a much more meaningful way then just producing music. At some point you have to go with the flow and the flow brought me there. Still I am lucky enough to keep the balance between all my various passions for electronic music and so I jam on my macbook with Ableton once a while and work on ideas. Twice a year I go into Mario’s studio in Hungary and we lock ourselves in for a week or so and don’t do anything else then working on my ideas or new input we have. So over time we always have quite a good amount of tunes ready which I include in a private demo playlist that I share with some selected people I know. John is always one of the first and these collabs were part of this playlist. He hand picked those tunes and as always he knows best what tunes will have a good impact.
Are you different as a solo producer vs working with someone else?
In the past 25 plus years and the probably, around 80 releases I had with different project names, the first tune I did really solo was prob 5 years ago and since then I only did around 5 full solo songs. That’s something that just happens rarely due to limited time. One I did on a long flight, others in my house. Once done I send the file to Mario who works a bit on it to get the best out it, then we send it to a guy doing a proper mix down and balancing the sounds, we add a pre-master, then its sent to labels, then the final mastering after being signed.
What inspired the EP you made for the label? Does it have a certain sound?
All my tunes need to have a theme. I am a kid of the 70’s, grew up with synth and pop music, built my own career using melodies with my first project, then went into techno as this was the big thing end of the 90’s, until I got bored from all the looping and drum sounds. So I changed things again and added the melodic part back to the tracks to make them complete again. The tunes I make are mainly done for the dance floor. Of course they can be also listened in the car and / or radio but this is Dj music. Music done from one Dj for other Djs who want to play the tracks as tools within their long sets to entertain people.
Tell us about your role as Music Director of Soho Garden DXB & Soho Beach DXB, what does it entail?
I joined the project in summer 2018 as consultant due to a common friend. I never had been to Dubai before but you have to expect the unexpected and try new things in order to grow. Very fast I realised the amazing potential of the project as well as the very nice work atmosphere in Dubai generally. It’s an amazing destination, very clean, very safe, nice weather, beautiful beaches, good vibe and very service orientated. I come from a Hotel / F&B background so hospitality was always part of my life. Luckily my consultancy job worked out well so the owner of the project, John, offered me to join the project full on and help him build it as destination with a very motivated long term plan. We opened in December 2018 and since then I work with the amazing team on creating the best possible events for the crowd there.
We built up things very organically which in my opinion is also one of the reasons for the amazing success we were able to generate. After Soho Garden which we opened first John added Soho Beach, a huge pool, the Glasshouse restaurant and Toyroom. With the time he also added Drais, Code, Tokyo Vibes and latest Hive. I am working closely with John and Adam Graca who is also one of the resident Djs on the music and entertainment program. Due to massive amount of events we handle I personally mainly, according to Johns vision, look after the headliner bookings and main partnerships for the development.
It was the perfect project for me I must say to use everything I learned within this industry in the various positions I had from working behind the bar, managing clubs, doing merch, publishing a magazine, running a booking agency, booking for festivals, managing talents and promoting big concerts. Such as everything in our industry we had to shut down just before the final month of our season and before Ramadan. We had amazing shows lined up but now re-schedule all and hope we can get back to work soon. We got also some amazing surprises ready for the dance community there which we planned to announce in the coming month.
What else are you working on/what plans do you have for the rest of 2020?
Well, for now no one can say what will happen, nor how fast it will happen. My main focus was to keep things up with Destination Soho in Dubai for the upcoming season and years to come. EXPO is planned in UAE for 2020 which should bring even more hype to Dubai so lets hope things are still happening according to plan.
Beside that I also joined an event group in Egypt and consult them with another friend on their activities in this industry since last autumn. We just finished our plans for the 2020 season nicely and started to execute to the moment of the shut down 2 weeks ago.
I personally play around 4 to 5 gigs a month. More I don’t manage timing wise without the risk to miss out on some of the mentioned projects. Twice a year a week long studio session and that’s it.
I live partly in Vienna with my wife who is an artist & brand manager and is part of the Giorgia Angiuli team. I spend quite some time regularly in Dubai for the work there which I enjoy. We also spend some time in the summer in Ibiza which is always nice as a hub to catch up with all our friends. On the long term I plan to develop an amazing project in Marrakesh which I am working on with another group of people. We just went there earlier this month for an extended site visit to move things forward but now it’s obviously also on hold.
Thank you 🙂