Thursday, 7 October 2010

Still beating on the Motor City Drum.... Interview & Mix

So, it's a pretty boring question, but with a name like Motor City Drum Ensemble there must be a really interesting reason behind it?

Stuttgart and the surrounding area largely depend on the automobile industry, with Porsche and Mercedes Benz situated in the city and the automobile being invented here as well. Everybody here knows somebody that works in car industry; it’s the biggest economic factor in the area. Stuttgart has therefore always had the nickname of the "motor city" of Germany, and in the nineties the first techno parties I visited picked up that name, also in reference to the great music coming out of Detroit that was played on these parties. The drum ensemble stands for the concept of having a large section of drum machines that form the "ensemble" with me as a narrator.

At the age of six you started playing drums at school, looking back do you think it was inevitable you'd end up making beats?

Absolutely! I was always thinking in grooves, drum breaks, and would not really read notes (I could though) and practice playing techniques that much. Pretty much a kids move - these days I regret that I didn’t get deeper into the stuff that takes a little more patience, but rewards you with more playing possibilities.

You carved out a successful career with Joachim Tobias in the broken beat world as Inverse Cinematics - what made you return back to house music and the MCDE?

I constantly did techno and house stuff through all these years, it was just that the Inverse Cinematics project and the labels we would release on weren’t really feeling the more electronic stuff. I don’t think I really changed my musical perspective - I still love lots of this stuff and can also imagine doing some more jazz-rhythm inspired stuff again.

But as a DJ I would always find broken beat and phusion to be not the easiest music to play out - and the beats got weirder and weirder, the basslines sounding like drum and bass all over again, that wasn’t really what I wanted to dance to, so I would always play more house, disco – but on the other hand there are still some really great tracks from the broken beat era that I play out regularly.

Your 'RawCuts' series is no doubt familiar to the majority of people in the house and techno scene, did the success take you by surprise?

Yes, at the time I started to do these old school sample-based house tracks I felt like I was the only person on the planet still playing them. I wasn’t touring that much and I would never hear a Pal Joey or Sneak track in Stuttgart or Berlin. Plus most of the heads I knew in the broken beat scene didn’t really care about that stuff all that much - at least here in Germany - so when we pressed up that first MCDE record and it ended up being sold out in 2 weeks I was like WTF??

I’m glad you can hear some more edgy and soulful music in clubs again, but also a lot of it sounds like deep house lite - you can hear if somebody really cares about music and its history or just listens to what’s happening in electronic music these days.

'RawCuts' spawned from your own MCDE imprint, is there plans to develop the label more or will it just be home to the 'RawCuts' series?

There will definitely be more releases on MCDE. I see the label as the home for the sample-based, rougher stuff - although I don’t want the ‘Raw Cuts’ series to go on forever. Maybe there will be a new themed series… we will see.

The most important thing is quality control for me. We got a lot of demos, some also quite good, but I have a very distinct idea, a distinct sound, and rather than exploiting the hype there is around MCDE these days I want to be sure to provide something substantial without any pressure from distributors etc. When you look at classic, collectable labels like Prescription, you’ll find that each release just fitted perfectly and was sort of a statement. That’s a high goal and I don’t want to compare MCDE to that now, but it’s good to have a clear vision.

Your sound is certainly representative of the Deep House scene at the moment, there seems to be a convergence of more soulful analogue music clashing with house and techno - why do you think this is and is
there anyone else you particularly enjoying hearing at the moment?

Music goes through constant changes and throwbacks - after years of rather machine-sounding, dark, soul-less minimal music it was only natural that disco and house would make a comeback. On the other hand I can already see a new darker sound approaching, think of Ostgut Ton, Sandwell District & some more techno inspired dubstep. I really like this kind of stuff as well!

There can be "soul" in just a handclap sound or a bassdrum, but the generic, flat ableton sound that ruled the clubs for the past five years is definitely passé in most of the genre-defining clubs.

Finally, tell us all... what have you got coming up that you can let us know about?

I am moving cities and setting up a new studio, massively improved, with a big analogue mixing desk and most important, more space to move. Once this is done I will start working on new stuff, I really want to do an album for next year. Also, I’m positive there is going to be another release on MCDE this year. It will feature a track that was formerly only available on the "Raw Cuts vol.1" CD - a really beautiful remix by John Roberts and probably 1 or 2 more tracks.

Download: Motor City Drum Ensemble – fabric Promo Mix

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