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Interview with Dinky

img  Tobias

You started out listening to Synth-Pop on the one hand and Contemporary Composition on the other. What was it that deeply fascinated you about the 1990s techno movement that made you want to join in?
In the 90s, I was a teenager. So of course I was going out clubbing and had a lof of energy and time for that. My sister lived in Germany for 14 years and she and her boyfriend (Dandy Jack) at that time introduced me to this kind of music. They had a really great taste and I was exposed to high quality electronic sounds. In the mid-90s, I met Ricardo, Atom Heart and Tobi Freund amongst others musicians from Germany. They would perform and go on holidays in Chile (during the Chilean Summer) and I was there! My first important gig was at this big beach party where Ricardo, Sun Electric, Luciano and Atom Heart performed as well. After that, in 1994, I visited Europe for the first time. I stayed in Berlin with my sister and I saw the real deal. I bought my first records at Hardwax, went to tresor and E-werk, met some great people from the scene... All these things made me join in at a very young age actually. It was magic!

You're a trained dancer. All the same, you hold an interest in experimental music structures and dissonance. In how much do you find these two aspects to be conflicting and mutually supportive?
I dont see much of a conflict with Dance and experimental music or dissonance, actually I see more of a benefit. Dance is a free language, unlike “dance music“ (club music) which  most of the time is only a 4/4 rhythm. Modern Dance, or even Classical ballet, can express itself in many different measures  and tempos, so experimental music and dissonance can go well with performance-dance. I'm not saying that “dance music“ will not be good for a Dance performance, but usually professional dancers are trained in more complex and changing rythms than the ones we use in club music. Experimental music can be free, to the point of only being drones and ambience and dissonance can be greatly applied to performance since it creates tension and unusual atmospheres. Which is perfect for a dance piece.

You're on the road almost all of the time. When, where and how did you produce the tracks for your album „May Be Later“?
I realised them in my studio in Berlin in 2007. I compiled some samples whilst I was on the road. A lot of samples came from Blues  and Jazz - very old stuff. But the main work was done on my studio. The last 3 years, I had a very busy touring schedule, sometimes playing 3 or 4 times a week and doing the whole Ibiza thing with Cocoon, Circo Loco, festivals, etc... I needed this for my career and to buy certain equipment – after all, I had no studio when I came to Berlin in 2003. It was okay for me, but I realized that if I didn't take some time off, I was not gonna finish my album. I am my own producer, composer and my own mixer... All these tasks I perform myself...

Was it hard to find the calm you needed for songwriting?
The process of writing the music was not the problem. Rather, it is the engineering which takes time. I wanted to make the album sound warm and analog and had to study a lot to achieve what I wanted. This was time consuming. Sometimes, to make the kick sit well with the bass, you can spend a day or even more! I took a couple of months off gigs and asked my agent to book me the first flight back to Berlin after playing... I would take my flight literally after the club. I would sleep at home and go to the studio afterwards. This worked wonders cause I didn't loose a whole day in a hotel doing nothing which I really dislike. I think as an artist, it is very important to take time off and be a bit more exclusive sometimes. It is also important to rest your ears from loud sounds from time to time. Otherwise, your ears are not clear in the studio...

The obvious solution for frequent travelers is to use Software Synths ...
I don't like Software Synths and I don't like to make my music on the road with my headphones on. It never sounds the same when you bring it home and I always end up disliking what I did in the plane - especially because of the lack of bass frequencies, so it feels like a waste of time... I like to work around the bass a lot so this is a complete turn-off for me... I use the plane and my time on the road to look for samples, read about music production or to find cool music to play in clubs... Making music is a pleasure when you can listen to it properly. I have these amazing monitors and imagine how hard it is for me to listen to stuff after having gotten used to them. Some people don't mind and do a lot on the road  but honestly I listen to their music and I can tell it has been done in VST and on headphones. Call me a snob, but I just don't like that. I'm a hifi freak and I really dislike the VST sound. I find it brittle and lacking life.

So what's your setup at home?
I mainly use hardware instruments for producing. I even have a Fender Rhodes Piano and a Fender Telecaster guitar! The only plugs I touch are my UAD1 and my soundtoys mainly for mixing and equalising... I'm a musician and I like to use my hands, so maybe that's part of the reason..

Your biography makes a pronounced distinction between DJ-ing and playing live. In which way do you separate them?
Firstly, they are both forms of entertainment, so if I'm booked as a live act or as a DJ in a club where people are gonna be dancing or wanting to dance then I have to deliver that. I find playing live to be a bit less flexible in terms of content, but it can also be very exciting when it is done well... Even more than djing... As a DJ I'm very traditional. I play vinyl, and I only add a sampler when the gig is big (more than 1000 visitors) and requires some extra excitement. In that case, I will use a sampler to extract small loops from the records and bring them out in the mix. This makes a big room explode in the right moment, but in a small club it's not really necessary so I like to let the records breathe...

You seem to have a preference for Vinyl rather than computer-based performances ...

I don't like to look on  a computer screen whilst djing, so I rather avoid the digital thing. But I know that at one point I may have to do it as well - I'm just hoping that it's not going to be that soon. There is nothing like the sound and feel of Vinyl. As a live set, it is difficult not to bring the laptop, cause there are a lot of big samples and long textures that wouldn't fit on a hardware sampler. I'm preparing my live set with a laptop, but with some hardware as well. I think lately the live and DJ thing have become associated more closely with each other, but it is very refreshing to see a live act where some live elements are applied like voice or instruments, etc... As a DJ, honestly. for me it matters more that the music is great. The format is secondary and 99 percent of the people don't care...

Bach and Reich are included in your list of influences. What did they teach you about music that has been beneficial for your productions?
I'm not sure if I do take these two great artists as teachers for my “productions“. They are for me more of a source of musical inspiration. I learn studio techniques from engineers and music composition from musicians like them. For me, Bach is composition, chord progression, tempo changes, harmonic expression. Reich is simplicity, conceptualism, minimalism, hypnotism, too many things to name I guess.

With regards to „May Be Later“, you said that you wanted to improve the „weak points next time“. Retrospectively, what exactly is it that you would like to improve?

„Maybe Later“ was finished last March and there have been many things I learned after that. So technically, I think I can improve some stuff like punch on drums, compression eq  and even programming. Making music is an ongoing process... Conceptually, I like the album but somehow I would have liked to make it even more experimental. Not necessarily always 4/4 and in the dance tempo we are used to. But of course, this has a lot to do with the label. Vakant is a dance label, so it wouldn't make sense to release a non-dance album there. And I'm also more known as a dance artist, so I think it was ok to release a dance album this time. There are always points to improve and I think for me it is important to have a certain output even if it is not perfect. I'm not so keen on  these artists that think too much and prepare too much and then the music sounds forced, too perfect and clean. Music has a momentum and it has a lot to do with the era and years we are living in. And whilst some material might sound unfinished and accidental this is the beauty of it. I think the main point to improve for me is just to be more free and not so attached to the rules and trends of today's scene or dance music... To be more innovative and go crazy if I need to...

By Tobias Fischer

This interview was originally conducted for “Beat” Magazine. Many thanks to Thomas Raukamp.

Black Cabaret (Carpark Records) 2003
May Be Later (Vakant) 2008

Dinky at MySpace

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