We welcome Lektroluv alumni Jägerverb for the third instalment of our, admittedly, infrequent mix series. And we also grill the British producer who now resides in the techno powerhouse of Berlin on what life is like now he’s made the move to the techno heartland.
Having just released a new EP ‘Pomme’ via the always on-point Lectroluv, Jägerverb is making a name for himself with some forward-thinking slabs of orwellian techno and electro, the kind of electronic music that’ll put hairs on your chest.
Hello Jägerverb – where are you today?
I’m hanging out at my new apartment in Neukölln, my first permanent home since arriving in Berlin last October. Until now it’s been friends’ sofas and temporary sub-lets, so it’s nice to have my own space again.
And what’s the weather like?
It’s beautiful today, blue sky and sunshine. Especially pleasant after so many months of grey gloom. I was warned more than once that I’d barely see sunlight here during winter.
You’ve made the move to Berlin from the UK – what was your main reason behind this?
I knew I wanted the excitement of moving somewhere new and unfamiliar, deliberately shaking things up and stepping out of my comfort zone. Then I visited Berlin for a short vacation last summer, fell in love with the city instantly and decided to return and explore some more. It was partly down to the music scene, and having places like Panorama Bar as local haunts has been such a treat for soaking up musical inspiration, but there’s definitely a broader kind of inspiration as well. It’s a fascinating place full of interesting characters and rich culture.
How easily did you settle into Berlin life?
Every other person you meet here is an “artist” in some capacity, so there’s no guilt about scraping by while putting all your time and energy into creative pursuits. That said, I have moved at a time when the city is becoming saturated with expats, so the resulting increases in property and living costs mean it’s not quite the haven for artists that it once was. The pace of everyday life remains nicely laid-back here though. You’ll get scowled at if you cross a road without waiting for the green man.
What do you miss the most about the UK?
I’ve been back and forth between Berlin and London quite a lot lately so I can’t say I’ve missed the UK. Flight links are cheap and quick so it’s no bother commuting for gigs or to or catch up with family and friends. I suppose there are little specific things, like I always have to smuggle back a box of Yorkshire teabags.
And what don’t you miss?
Ask a Berliner “what do you do?” and they’ll look at you blankly like they don’t understand the question. To these people it’s absurd to think of defining yourself by your job role. By contrast, the UK seems to me to be so obsessed with careers and ‘real jobs’. People turn their noses up at the suggestion of spending a few years drifting and exploring without much of a plan and just living in the moment. As a consequence, many people fall into that live-to-work dilemma without even realising, grafting hard to make money to get by but in doing so sacrificing leisure, creativity and individual enrichment, which to me are so much more valuable. Count how many city suits bother waiting for the green man before crossing a road. It’s a frantic race against the clock, but to what end?
So, German clubs or British clubs?
I can’t comment on Germany as a whole but Berlin clubs are leagues above anything Britain can offer at the moment, no question. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic, well-managed UK venues–Corsica Studios springs to mind–but these places are battling constantly with the authorities just to stay afloat. Look at Fabric for a case in point. Club culture in Berlin is not just tolerated but actively embraced as an integral facet of society, while in the UK it’s restricted and marginalised. You can’t truly relax and have fun at a party because rigidly enforced curfews mean you’re constantly clock-watching, all the while being shepherded around one-way systems all night with high-vis clad staff on your back reminding you where you can’t go and what you can’t do like it’s a school field trip. That feeling of freedom is distinctly lacking, and being able to act and behave freely is so fundamental to club culture.
You’ve just released a new EP via Lektroluv – tell us, how and when you made it, it sounds quite analog, no?
I picked up a Korg-MS-20 last year–a synth I’ve been coveting for years since my obsession with Nite Versions-era Soulwax–and the tracks on the new EP are my first real forays into the analog realm. Coming from the infinity of different options afforded by DAWs and software synths, and how overwhelming and counter-productive that can end up being, I’m now loving the limitations of having to build patches and sequences from scratch with no screen, no buttons, no presets. I’ve taken to recording full track-length takes and tweaking the filters etc. manually, then looping out the best sections in Logic and cutting the shit bits but never going back and re-recording. It forces you to really concentrate and use your ears. The main lines in Pomme and Görlitzer are straight off the MS-20, so too my Dr Lektroluv remix from earlier last year.
You’ve made a mix too – tell us a little bit about that, is this a typical Jägerverb DJ set?
I’d say it’s pretty typical of my ‘sound’ as a DJ. The mix comprises some of my original productions and a selection of tunes I’ve been playing out and enjoying in recent times, usually sticking around the 120bpm mark and always sustaining a chunky, acid-tinged groove. I’m hoping some movement and progression comes across as you listen through the mix, but without it trying to say too much at once and compromising flow or coherence.
What’ve you got planned for rest of the year then?
I want to continue DJing out as much as possible. I’m back at Solaris in Linz, Austria in a few weeks which I’m really looking forward to. It’s an intimate space with a clued-up crowd and banging schnitzel to start the night off. I’ll be playing in London fairly frequently throughout the year for what has become a bit of an informal residency with my mates at Tessellate, plus one or two festival plans are taking shape for the summer. Production-wise I want to get at least one more EP out in 2015, venturing into more deep and trippy territory as illustrated by Baseliner, one of my new unreleased tunes which I’ve included in the mix.
Who for your money is making the best electro at the moment?
Does Roman Flügel count as electro? I guess he’s quite a chameleon when it comes to genres, but anyway he’s fantastic, his new one Sliced Africa is such a bomb. I feel I always have to mention Daniel Avery and the rest of the Phantasy label, those guys remain constant key influences for me. Also Danny Daze has given me a sneak peek of the forthcoming stuff on his new label, and there’s a bunch of really nice moody house/electro/acid hybrids set for release in the coming months. Actually we’ve been talking about possibly putting some of my new stuff out on his label this year, so keep an eye out for that!
If your studio was on fire and you could save one thing – what would it be and why?
I think I’d grab my Macbook. I haven’t got any rare vintage gear so synths and other outboard equipment are all replaceable, but my laptop is like a sketchpad of musical ideas and moments of inspiration that I’d be gutted to lose. I keep everything regularly backed up but there’d always be a few newer bits lost, and you never know which project is going to grow into the next Pomme or whatever.
1. Minilogue – Loud [Cocoon Recordings]
2. Roman Flügel – Stuffy [Dial Records]
3. Coni – Flip [ClekClekBoom]
4. Jägerverb – Bar Refaeli [Lektroluv]
5. Magnesii – RZTB Tantra [Voyage Direct]
6. Acid Jesus – Radium [Naif]
7. Hunzed & Harvey – Sheeta (Mendo Remix) [Clarisse Records]
8. Todd Osborn – Put Your Weight On It (Chicago Mix) [Running Back]
9. Audion – Look At The Moon [Spectral Sound]
10. Jägerverb – Pomme [Lektroluv]
11. Egbert – Liefdesland [Gem Records]
12. Jägerverb – Gorlitzer [Lektroluv]
13. Maan – Jackin Pt 2 [Non Series]
14. Jägerverb – Baseliner [white]
15. Radio Slave – Werk [Work Them Records]
16. Aera – Flowers On Fire [Aleph Music]