Q&A with DNOX – Interviewed by Priya Sen. You can follow her on twitter here.
Germany’s finest export in 3 decades; he is a leading light whose weighty presence creates marvelous musical drama where-ever he appears, cause he is cheeky and full of an other wordly machismo on and off the console. A long reign at booths all over the world…his carriage is of much intelligent musicality and what’s more it comes naturally to the original rave Dj. I do believe he gives the best face of Techno/ Tech-House to all of us. And now it gives me great pleasure to welcome Christian Wedekind to Euphoric, where he opens up and talks about his music, a past worthy of a treasure trove and what’s cooking in the future. So feeling as fruity as punch to be the driver of this interview which takes you straight to the inimitable and one of my favorite Djs of all time….D-NOX!
1- Hi Christian…thank you for talking to the magazine on such a short notice. Firstly, you’ve got a real 80’s vibe going on in your entire presentation, you in fact personify cool!! What I mean is it’s so vibrant and fun, is it cause you grew up and incorporate a lot of that time unconsciously in your personality, even when you are playing? No one moves the way you do
DN- Hahahaha. This seems to be a great interview, a good start in to it. I’m glad you came up with this. Yes I grew up in the 80’s and I was totally hooked to the sound of that time. Especially with bands such as Depeche Mode or other new wave bands of what it did it to me. I picked some moves from Dave Gahan the lead singer of Depeche. Probably because I have seen them too many times Live and I got all their Live DVDs. I find that, charisma is essential these days to be a good performer, good mixing, good music and some good moves belong together.
2- Tell us how you decided to become a Dj, what influenced you back then? We want to know about the early D-Nox starting out. Also, when was it that you decided to try your hand at production. There must have been a process involved in both, can you explain what ripples you created to come in the eye of the storm career wise.
DN- I was born in the communist part of Germany at a time when there was a wall. For us people it was kind of impossible to buy records, access to good music was impossible. We had radio only, which is where we recorded music on cassette tape. Well I became a collector of music at a very young age, must have been 10 or 11 when I started. My father used to play Bass in a band in the 70’s and he had some equipment stored. When I started to find my interest in music he got all his amps and speakers and gave it to me, which is where it all started. I had a tape recorder, I had tapes, I had speakers and amplifier. Now I just needed a good reason. There were some guys that did school disco parties for us kids. I saw that and told myself, I have to be the guy playing music for the kids. A couple of weeks later I was. I got all my gear to our school, organized a school disco and played the music I collected before on my tapes. A great start around 1988/1989. Later on the wall fell down, we got access to every possible record and I became an even bigger collector. When I turned 15 / 16 some guys took me to my first Techno rave and since then I am lost in music. After a while I understood that a DJ needs his productions, so I hooked up with some guys and found out what it takes to become a producer. I got my first little studio and later on my labels, my events and all the extra business.
3- As the story goes… you dabbled in A&R for a period of time with Tatsu Records; was that experience fertile for you in terms of learning about the music business. How would you describe that phase?
DN- Yes I got a chance to work as an A&R for a label called Tatsu Records. I took this chance and got to learn a lot more about the business and behind the scenes. Choosing the music which was to be released. Keep contacts with the artists, set a network between label and artist and distributors, it was a very important step in my life too.
4- Here I have to ask you how you met Becker’s the other half of electronic dance music’s most popular duo. Unlike many collaborations you guys must be getting along at a basic level very much so to have lasted this far. What do you think works so nicely for the two of you?
DN- As a fact we have never had big issues to solve between us. We always got along very well. Of course we sometimes sit together after a long weekend and don’t have much to say but that’s normal. One gets tired with all the crazy touring; the flights, hotels, jet lag and short time to rest. I think the reason for our good relations is definitely Beckers, he is a very calm person and never really shows anger or frustration. He is very diplomatic and is able to control his temper. I am the opposite but when I hang around with him he reflects all his tranquility on to me.
5- If you were to choose a tune that you propagated back then in the early years of your career, which one would you pull out of the bag. The one that you had the most satisfaction of owning?
DN- I think the most important tracks we have made were Switch, Jet lag Slave, You are a Star, Seven Hours- Paperboy remix and Cala a Boca. These were the stand out tunes in our career. But we have made so many tunes and the ones we like most are probably the ones which received less success. Looking back I can say that I am proud of every tune or remix we have done and the most played track in our set is probably Cala a Boca. Such a timeless track. This is also the track that received the most feedback from other djs from all scenes.
6- How did Sprout come about, did you think of it as a logical step forward at the time. What type of sounds are you pushing under the label?
DN- When I was working for Tatsu Records I realized that I can run a label myself. Being an A&R can never be 100% satisfying since I had a boss and I was just doing all the work for him but the label was never mine. So around 2002 the idea of doing my own label came up and in 2003 I launched the first vinyl release on Sprout music. This year we are celebrating 10 years of Sprout music which makes me quite happy to see that I survived with so little. Wow, well the sound of Sprout is the sound of my current Dj sets. Sprout is 100% me, that was another reason back then to start my own label, to give me the freedom to release what ever I want.
7- How do you feel about the astounding remixes that the two of you came up for artists such as Tocadisco, Nick Muir and Minilogue to mention some. Do you like doing this along-side your originals?
DN- I love remixing, especially when the original track contains plenty of good samples or ideas that can be remixed. Sometimes people want us to remix a track which has only drums and nothing else, then we have to decline since there is nothing we can remix. But yes good artists write good tracks and then usually there is plenty of stuff to remix in it. Also remixing for another artist can push our music into other directions or scenes. For example remixing Tocadisco was probably good because this way our music got seen in a much more commercial scenery.
8- Can you talk about being signed up for example with Marc Romboy’s imprint Systematic Recordings and more recently with Christian Smith’s Tronic label. How are those standing and anything new coming up under these collaborations that you can speak of?
DN- We have been looking forward to working with these labels as we believed it was an important step in our career. Both are respected labels which have many followers and supporters, on top of it both Marc Romboy and Chris Smith are also good friends of ours. I know Marc 20 years or more. Chris and I met around 5 years ago when he used to live in Sao Paulo, let’s see if we can have some follow up releases on both labels.
9- From the time you released the album ‘Left Behind’ on Electribe in 2007 to the fantastic mix cd ‘Çitylights’ and then more recently ‘Distance’ in 2011 which is my personal favorite not only cause I was lucky to get a copy from you on your last visit to India, but because it’s so fresh and full of many musical elements that I would not associate with you. It is a stunningly strong release, are you let’s say radical in that sense. You have a futuristic attitude you bring to the way you web it together. Your thoughts on being so different.
DN- Yes this is a good point, we always found it boring to write the same song again and again. We are both Dj´s and here we need to play fresh tunes just to keep the whole thing more interesting. I would find it way too boring to play the same tunes for 20 years. It’s a thought that makes me fearful and I also can’t understand how some Dj´s out there play the same style over and over again. This is the same when we get together in the studio, first of all we are two heads with two different likeness. Beckers is way more a musician than I am and I am much more radical. This is where we come together, we get a groove rolling and see where the flow takes us to. Between 2007 and 2011 we traveled a lot around the world , have played in almost every major club or event and got influenced by so many different factors that every time we write a track it all reflects on us. It’s musical freedom.
10- Did it ever cross your mind or have you and Beckers ever let’s say sat together and discussed about an alternative way of being popular by joining the more commercial scene. It definitely brings in more recognition and even money for that matter, let alone the fact that ones name shoots right up the ladder in terms of standing, what comes to mind? Having said that we know that Beatport’s Music awards has recognized you as one of the top artists in recent times along-with another DJ award for Best Progressive House artist in 2010…
DN- We sometimes talk about earning more money and become more popular. But then we see all these guys and understand that they are by far not as free in their mind as we are. Most of them belong to major managers and music companies, every record they play has to be a big room rave commercial tune that pleases thousand of kids. Every record they produce have to please the same thousands of kids again. Ok big money and more fame, but is this so important? I am happy with where I am, I am not greedy as the others, I don’t need to ruin the scene with asking popstar fees. I don’t need a private jet and cocksuckers that carry my bags. Of course it is nice when you get recognized but we always got recognized for what we did and that’s 100% us. This is where I want to say thank you to all our supporters.
11- What machines are you loving at the moment?
DN- We got totally hooked to Ableton 9 and all possible plugs ins. We have a few machines that we like more but it comes all out of the computer. Our hardware collection is mostly a collection that we look at and say hmm maybe we should clean up.
12- Christian you’ve visited India several times, can you derive any thoughts on the scene here as compared to the West. What are we lacking in or can strive to improve on? As you may have heard that suddenly every conceivable artistes from abroad are touring here. They appear at festivals, play short sets and fly off. Do you think there’s a chance of an early burnout as the scenario doesn’t really build up with club gigs that advocate a getting to know the artist and his sounds?
DN- Yeah the scene in India is totally different, I am not even sure if we can call it a scene already. It is a small movement for now. The problem is that your government controls everything; the short open hours is a big problem. Normally clubs open at midnight and close the next morning and I think it’s essential for a good Techno party to go on for long, only this way can you feel hypnosis and forget the rest of the world for a while. We don’t need people that tell us what to do and for how long to dance. Unfortunately India has only a very few followers and the parties usually aren’t as big as in other parts of the world. Clubs are small and most of the clubs are bars or restaurants. Because no club can survive only on club business itself. India needs more freedom. It’s also connected to religion and people that hold on to old rules and behaviors. Such a big country as India but so few clubs. So many habitants but so few people that go to Techno parties, how come? Maybe you guys can answer this much better than I can.
13- Are you happy with the Techno/Tech-House releases at the moment, is it at a good space. Are the sounds coming out, creating the vibe for you?
DN-Hmmm in this very moment I am not 100% sure about it. I find the music good but sometimes too slow to rock my floors. I like the music more in the 125 bpm zone while right now most of the good tunes are written in 120 or slower. It’s all good music but doesn’t kick any dancefloor.
14- With the advent of technology and the versatility of the Pioneer CDJ 2000s to the many other softwares that are popular amongst Djs, are we seeing the extinction of Vinyls and the role of the artist getting more dependant on machines possibly the right way of going?
DN- First of all I have to say that I don’t really care what technology a Dj uses to play, but I can’t imagine myself play a Dj set from a computer. It’s too far away for me. I have seen so many Djs using a computer and it always looks like they are checking emails. Why should we stare at a monitor when we should interact with the audience. I prefer the new Pioneer 2000 players, I can connect any hard drive or play from cds. I don’t need to bother or be bothered by the Dj that has to connect his sound card into the Dj mixer and ruin his set. I can directly play and still focus on what is important, which is the people on the floor. To be a Dj for me is still that thing one plays music from 2 decks or more and mix them on a Dj mixer. Yes also to pitch it and not auto sync. Maybe I am a bit old school, works best this way.
15- To the uninitiated of D-Nox’s sets, how would you describe your style of music for them?
DN- I am Djing 21 years now and I have passed so many hypes, trends and styles. I have seen it all but I have always followed the tunes that hit me and here I am free of styles. Important is the groove, the beat, the bass and the vibe. I don’t like fast music, I don’t like Trance or cheesy music and I hate all this EDM thing right now. My own style is very open, cross over, same as our productions can be House, Techno or even Electro …
16- What’s D-Nox busy with for the rest of the year, what are you looking forward to music wise. Is there a getting on the road touring coming up?
DN- Beckers and I are preparing something for 2014, we will be celebrating 10 years of D&B. We want to do a world tour, with new releases which will be completely free of style, we want to do some Techno with Jazz mix which is free style music, we want to create a little show on stage with visuals and prepare a proper 2 hour Live show. Let’s see, this is all in our mind for now. We will sit together next weekend and work on some ideas. Besides this I am doing some special releases on my label Sprout since we are celebrating 10 years of it. Of course the idea is to keep on playing. I have some great gigs coming up, I will hit the 5 continents and then the year will end quicker than I would like it to
17- Do you ever sit back and wonder about the success and recognition you have received till date world wide. Was there a significant planning in having achieved all this such as good tunes, good timing that kind of thing, and how you are going to build on that for the future?
DN- Yes I sometimes look back and ask myself this question. It was never planned. Our music must have hit at the right time, something like this is hard to plan. We were lucky and can now say that we still live for this success where we hit the masses with our productions.
18- You’ve been a legend in the electronic dance music scene for years now, how do you keep the enthusiasm of a hectic career with all the travel and studio time along-side being a family man now. Give us your secret recipe and thank you so much again for talking to us. Look forward to you in India soon.
DN- The secret is the feedback of the audience we are playing for. I need you guys out there. I do this for you and when you guys show me that you like what I did, then I have a reason to come back and do it again. All the travel, all the lonely hours in airplanes or hotel rooms I just do to get out and play my sets. I love to play Dj sets, as long and best and as more people enjoy the better I get.
I want to give but I also want to receive.
The D-Nox muscle is ridden all over electronic dance music and to see his partnership with the humongous talent of Beckers shining bright is etched undeniably on the dance horizon and bodes well for the music world in general. With an amazing number of quality releases and high energy gigs that spell floor trouble no matter D-Nox is intense and one of the most influential international Dj’s, of our times. His brand of talent is not going anywhere. I know, cause I have first hand witnessed the kind of frenzied fun he puts together with those big room tunes lashing us at will. I’m praying that Christian comes to town!!