“It’s Nice to Keep Things Simple”
A few years ago, this man from Berlin pretty much shocked the earth for us DJ folks. His track “Solah” burned his name into our playlist for eternity. Time to meet the man behind the iconic tracks with that typical bass kick: Amotik.
The first release on your label came in 2015. But judging from how good that one was produced I’m taking a wild guess that this wasn’t your first walk in the park. So: where does Amotik come from?
Thanks for the nice words! As to where I came from, I first bought record decks in the summer of 1999 whilst I was at university in the UK. Back then I was coming out of a late 90s trance/techno hangover and had a varied palette going through progressive house/techno/house/disco over the years. I started off by making mix tapes for friends which led to an opportunity to play a couple of student parties in the early 00s, and I really got the bug from there. I moved to London in 2003, which led to more opportunities, and secured a monthly residency at Farringdon nightclub Turnmills for the last few years up until it closed in 2008.
I’d also started producing around the mid 2000s but wasn’t particularly confident as I didn’t have a strong musical background (apart from being in the brass band at school), so it was always in the form of collaboration, or working with engineers to rework the very basic (and pretty bad) ideas that I was able to put together in Logic/Ableton. But through working with these people, I learned so much about production. I’d also been releasing music, but it was inconsistent in terms of the sound, and I was working with a lot of different labels, always rushing to get music out. Looking back, it was a bit messy/haphazard but was certainly all invaluable experience, and I’d never change it.
After London, I moved to India for a few years, but it was only when I moved to Berlin in 2014 that I really had the time (and more importantly the focus) to work on everything myself and finally felt confident enough to finish ideas, which was a huge turning point. Also, a big thing for me was that it was now a case of me writing music because I enjoyed it, and it was not something I was doing to get DJ gigs. I started back from zero and importantly (for me) had zero expectations. That whole attitude shift was vital.
The label was born in 2015. Along with a lot of help from Tommy Four Seven (who I’d known from living in London and passed on so much guidance), Ambivalent (who I’d only met when moving to Berlin, but was very kind/forthcoming), and my wife, Tina (my second set of ears), who have all offered me their invaluable opinions/advice throughout the process of starting the label. That’s the point where I started this journey.
There is a bit of a mystery around Amotik. Not that you hide or wear a mask, but there’s not so much info around on the net about you. Is that a conscious choice?
It’s nice to keep things simple – I find the whole overselling thing a bit of a turn-off so refrain from long DJ bios etc, and keep things to the bare necessities. I’m happy to be fully open with people if someone has a question of course, and have no intentions of hiding anything – I love talking about music. I just prefer to keep things a bit more simple/low key online.
Would you agree that people really got on board with ‘Solah’? Did you feel like something had changed in terms of people noticing you?
I remember a fairly wide range of DJs being into that EP – I think Boris once told me that it was one of his favourite tracks that year, which I was over the moon about, as he’s also been such a big inspiration/help for me during this journey, and a lot of music I was writing was heavily inspired by his DJ sets.
I guess shortly after the release, my DJ schedule started picking up but I’d never really thought of it as attributable to one track in particular, as it’s not something I’ve thought of until now, but you could be right. It also coincided around the time of my first gig at Berghain, joining an agency, and a few other big shows for me, so I think a few things came together around that period of time.
You don’t release too often, on only a few labels, and only did a handful of remixes. Is Amotik a control freak?
Well, to put it simply, yes. As I mentioned, I’d previously released on a lot of different labels (under a different name), which also meant having to deal with lots of different release schedules, label managers etc. So having this chance to do it all again as a new start was a chance to do everything right with good consistency. In terms of release schedule, artwork, and the quality of the music.
Are you a DJ or a producer – or is that a difficult choice to make?
I was always a DJ first, way before I got into producing and that’s where my love primarily was. However, as time goes on, I’ve definitely found more and more satisfaction coming from making music, which is something that is continually growing. Whereas in the past (before I started this project) it felt like something I had to do in order to get more DJ gigs, it now feels like a sole entity and comes with rewards that aren’t necessarily linked to pushing performances. The time I started this project (and felt confident enough to produce on my own) was also the time that I didn’t feel restricted into making music in order to get DJ gigs. It was something I could enjoy for its own merits and without attachment.
Your album is coming in September and besides some ‘vintage’ Amotik tracks, I also found it to be quite varied, touching on Elektro and Ambient. Yet even those have that ‘Amotik’ feeling still in it. Was it hard work?
The whole thing seemed to come together quite naturally. I’ll always work on finishing music through focussed short periods rather than over a long time, so I’d set some time aside last summer to work on music, and a lot of ideas came together very quickly. Also during that period, I was a little tired of only making the same straight ‘four-to-the-floor’ kick patterns so wanted to break things up a little bit, and there came the variation in style – it wasn’t specifically intentional, it was just to keep me more engaged whilst writing. I was able to finish 8 tracks, and was pretty confident that I’d had an album nearly ready, but it was missing something. So I decided to give it some time to breathe, and went back to it earlier this year, by which point I was back in the mood to write some linear drum patterns, and added the final 2 tracks to make the 10. Then it was a case of working on a nice concept for the artwork (credit to the wife), and also it seemed to tie up nicely with working on a live show, so everything directed to this point in time right now. Funny how things work out like that sometimes.
The typical final question: what is on the horizon for Amotik?
Right now, I’m spending all the spare time I have getting the live set ready. By the time this publication goes out, I will have just completed my very first show in Leipzig, and hopefully, it all went well. I’ve been DJing for a long time but the live thing is a very new world for me, so it’s been quite a steep learning curve and I’m not 100% sure how comfortable I’m going to be when the time comes, so it’s a little daunting. Saying all that, I’m really happy that a lot of my favourite clubs have gotten on board with tour dates for the album for both DJ and live, so it’s going to be an exciting and fun few months ahead until the final live show on NYE 2019.