TAPEd Conversation: Michael Mayer (Kompakt, Cologne)
Yo. As Carnage has briefly related in the post below, Friday night, TAPE's 2nd Birthday Party at the Arc Bar, was, as they say, jolly good fun. I caught less than I would've liked (i.e. none) of the Skull Juice boys' downstairs set, but have been told by all and sundry that they did the business, and upstairs le Rigg was in characteristically winning form. In an evening stuffed to the gills with embarassing behaviour from me, chief among has to be my clambering behind the decks as Simon played his last couple of songs, whooping and air-punching like the worst kind of senseless Gatecrasher kid, not to mention ashing all over the equipment with my flailing cig-hand. Tune of the night? Retardo's mix of Depeche Mode, or Simon's perfect placing of the Jungle Bros' 'I'll House You' acapella over Martin Buttrich's ' The less said about the afterhours, wherein I almost strangled Puffin's cat and crawled around on my hands and knees asking people if they were Jewish, the better. Let's leave it at a big, big thank you to Alex, Benedict and Simon for paying us a visit.
Monday, I experience one of the best nights out I've ever had, perhaps the best in London. Michael Mayer and Superpitcher played all night, for free, at Stink. The T-bar was at its well-mannered, freewheeling best, the atmosphere was, excuse the cliche, electrifying and the music was - well, you don't need me to tell you it damn near took the roof off. Sadly, being a working man these days (why do you think my posts have become so infrequent?), I couldn't stay to the end - but those who did assure me it just got better and better. Thank you, Michael and Axel, for restoring my faith in London clubland; and a further thank you to Michael for answering the questions I recently posed to him in the name of TAPE, which you can now read below....
It’s TAPE’s round – what are you drinking?
It’s a sad fact that I’m drinking only water. Wait – I’ll get myself something more tasty…
My friend once asked you the question, “Are you Michael Mayer?”. You replied, “I try to be”. This remains one of the coolest answers to a question I have ever heard. Do you use that line on everyone who asks?
No, I got some alternative ones like “No, are you?” or “For a 100 bucks I’ll be anyone you want me to be, babe.”
What makes Immer 2 different to other techno mixes/compilations?
There are no so-called futuristic motives, pics of sundowns on a mediterranean beach or naked women involved in the artwork. But the music is of a timeless beauty. Simply irresistible.
K2, Immer, Speicher, Kompakt Pop….do you think you’ve got enough sub-labels now?!
Yes, I’m collecting sub-marines now instead.
Speaking of which, what happened to the Immer imprint? Does this new mix CD herald some new vinyl (re)releases on that offshoot?
The Immer vinyl department might be the slowest branch of the Kompakt entity. Those people there take ages to select tracks, track down license holders and so on. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to find proper personnel… But yes, I heard there are some new releases lined up.
Which Kompakt record(s), apart from your own, are you most proud of?
Dettinger – Intershop, Markus Güntner – Regensburg, everything by Justus Köhncke’s and all the Pop Ambient releases.
As well as producing tracks solo, you’ve regularly worked with the likes of Tobias Thomas, Superpitcher and Reinhard Voigt. Do you prefer the collaborative process to being in the studio alone?
It keeps me awake if someone’s talking next to me. That’s better than drinking too much coffee when I’m alone.
What are your plans for Supermayer in 2007?
We’re trying to not put any pressure on us. For now it’s just about hanging out in our new studio, experimenting with new production techniques, studying Portugese red wine and talking about boy’s stuff. We’ll see what’s going to happen…
"It's just about hanging out in our new studio, experimenting with new production techniques, studying Portugese red wine and talking about boy's stuff..."
Do you plan to play live as Supermayer?
This is too early to say. But we’re both DJ’s from the heart and start. It’s difficult for me to imagine that I’d have to play the same 12 songs over and over again.
How would you describe the Kompakt sound/style? What do you think unites all the releases on your label?
Apart from the dots, I think that all Kompakt releases have a certain organic feel, some human touch. Even if 85% of our releases could be classified as tekno we managed to preserve a friendly, overall positive surface. But one day, we might drop our masks…
You have plans to release several LPs in 2007 – Hug, Justus, Gui Boratto etc – in the age of mp3 singles and playlists, do you still consider the ‘album’ format important?
We’re ignorant folks by nature. Seriously, we still believe in the cultural importance of the album. An artist should always get the opportunity to express him/herself beyond a-side expectations. This cherry-picking attitude under the cloak of modernity is born out of stinginess, it’s totally retarded and counterproductive.
Do you have any plans to follow up Touch?
Yes, it’s called Touchier. No release date scheduled yet.
How do you feel about Touch a couple of years on?
I’m not ashamed of having released it and I still like each and every track on it. “Touch” was a healthy and necessary move at the time. A spell was broken and I learned a lot from the whole process of its making – about myself and the others.
Stink in Ibiza was sadly shortlived. Any plans to try it again, at a different venue, next year?
No. I don’t think about starting anything new in Ibiza. The territories there are carved out. And hey… ever been on Mykonos? Ever had a summer party in Portugal? The world is full of terrific places to party. Ibiza is totally overrated. I had that notion long before Stink Ibiza died. Actually, I felt relieved when it was over.
How do you think your production style has changed over the years?
Don’t know…It certainly got more mature and a little wiser.
Which is better, ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua, or ‘Dr Jones’ by Aqua?
Shame on me! I don’t know ‘Dr Jones’. I’m downloading it right now (legally). But my favourite band in this very tradition are the Vengaboys.
"My favourite band in this tradition are the Vengaboys..."
How do you get that smooth, meaty, really distinctive bass sound that’s on most of your records? Or is it a secret?
By pure muscular strength!
What’s your favourite disco tune of all time?
Phew… that’s a difficult one! I guess I should take one I worship since my early childhood. Purists, please skip to the next questions. It’s Abba’s ‘Lay all your love on me’.
You’ve had the opportunity to remix your heroes – including electro-influenced/influencing Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. If Glen Campbell’s estate asked you to remix ‘Wichita Lineman’, would you say yes?
Justus Köhncke and Johnny Cash already did the ultimate versions. With a bleeding heart, I’d say no.
If you weren’t a musician/working with music, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d invent mind-boggling light effects for discotheques and breed French bulldogs.
There’s a big disco element to Immer 2, much more so than on the first Immer instalment. Are you pleased with disco’s return to prominence in the ‘dance underground’?
Oh, absolutely. I’m happy to see legions of true musicians producing fresh fodder for future generations of filter house boobies. Now seriously, I’ve always liked old and new music alike. The current flood of re-issues and edits give us late-born dance lovers the opportunity to discover this invincible treasure chest called disco. I’m down with its return. But I remain pretending to be a forward-thinking techno DJ.
Do you still get a lot of joy out of A&Ring?
Oh yes, it’s a bit like giving birth to children, I suppose. It can be as painful and as cheerful as that. No offense, dear female readers. I’m famous for lame metaphors like this.
What’s your favourite Bowie album?
That would be ‘Scary monsters’.
Who is honestly the greatest cook at Kompakt HQ?
That’s Charlotte. She’s our employed chef. Amongst the laymen I’d deserve the golden spoon. Sorry, Wolfgang.
What’s you favourite instrument/piece of kit/software for making music?
It’s an egg-shaped shaker for € 2.50.
Kompakt MP3 has been successful, and instrumental in a worldwide move towards MP3 purchasing/usage. I know you probably prize vinyl over all else, but what are your attitudes towards mp3/laptop DJing/consumption in general?
I’ll keep on carrying my vinyls around the globe as long as my spine is okay with doing that. So far, I use mp3 technology mainly for my private pleasure. Though, I’m going to put all my strength into http://www.kompakt-mp3.net/ because I want to earn on both ends: from selling vinyl or if vinyl dies I’ll still be earning from my mp3 shop. Some Canadian DJ’s inspired me to do so. Clever, neh?
I’m bored of my job and am looking to start a manufacturing company called Lovefood. My first planned product is Michael Mayonnaise. Do you want to be my business partner?
Sure, as long as it doesn’t involve any frivolous press pictures.
I saw you DJ at the Freezer in Benicassim last year; it was the first time I’d heard/seen you, and I was, er, enchanted, by your movements behinds the decks - what I now think of as The Mayer Dance – the flick of the wrist, the wiggle of the arse, the broad smile. Recently I’ve seen a load of DJs copying it, most recently one of the dudes out of M.A.N.D.Y. Would you consider legal action against these copyists?
I’m gonna smoke them out of their holes! Christ..!
Many thanks to Herr Mayer for taking the time to answer our questions and for laying waste to the myth of German humourlessness. An edited version of this interview will appear at www.factmagazine.co.uk some time in the not too distant.