MICHAEL KLEIN FIRST CAUGHT OUR EYE WITH HIS RELEASES ON SECOND STATE, BUT THIS FRANKFURT BORN AND BERLIN BASED ARTIST HAS A LOT MORE UP HIS SLEEVE. IF THERE’S ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE THIS MAN, IT’S VERSATILITY FOR SURE. WE HOOKED UP WITH HIM FOR A LITTLE CHAT.
You originally are from Frankfurt, a city with a tremendous pedigree in the history of Techno and House. So why did you move to Berlin?
Around 10 years ago I moved to Berlin right after my audio engineering studies. I was always curious about what the city is about but just never had the opportunity for a trip or a longer stay. When I started looking for jobs after my studies I have found an open position at Native Instruments. It felt like a long shot but I still gave it a try as I was loving and using a lot of their products at the time. A few weeks later the Senior Designer of Traktor got in touch with me with an offer and long story short basically 2 days after the offer came through I went for apartment hunting in Berlin and moved there right the next week.
We both seem to share a big love for Cocoon and ‘baba’ Väth. Were you influenced by that icon from your birth city?
I grew up in a small town just outside of Frankfurt but was always driving to Frankfurt on the weekends. The two clubs I really clicked with have been Robert Johnson and Sven Väth s Cocoon Club. You have to know that long long long time ago it was rather interested in trance but the moment I stepped into Cocoon Club and heard Sven play something clicked in my brain and I totally fell for techno. After that moment Sven and the iconic DJ booth of the Cocoon Club have always been something I was inspired and looking up to.
A little bird told me you have a few plans with Cocoon…
Yes finally it s time we can talk about it. Whenever I have tracks where I think they could fit Sven’s set I go to my friend Tim Xavier from Manmade Mastering and cut a dub-plate for Sven. I never really expect any feedback as I can imagine how much music he receives daily but than one early morning I woke up to a text from Sven thanking me for the dub-plate and putting me in touch with his label. Long story short: now I have these tracks coming out as an EP on Cocoon by end of Q3 this year. It is basically a dream come true which I have had since my teenage years.
A lot of people move to Berlin, even still today. Do you feel that has changed the city? Or the music scene, for that matter?
Berlin is still an amazing and inspiring city but I feel it has become this illusion that if you want to do ANYTHING with electronic music you have to move to Berlin. This obviously leads to a very over-saturated landscape of people who have very high expectations of the city working some magic for them almost to a degree where “moving to Berlin = success”.
Obviously, people know you from your releases on Second State. How did that happen?
This was mainly coming through my job at Native Instruments in the beginning. At some point I have become the go to contact for DJs like Richie, Chris, Dubfire as well as Pan-Pot and many more. I was closely working with the guys on their setup during the time where they have just been launching Second State and I remember Thomas asking me for some music as they wanted to start the label with friends and people they are close with. Back then it took me a while and I think we maybe went through 10 different tracks until we landed on a 3 track EP. Since hen it has been quite a journey and I will always be very thankful what the label and especially Thomas and Tassilo have done for me.
To us outsiders, Second State seems to be a collective more than ‘just’ a label. Is that true to some point? Do you guys hang out often?
To some degree definitely. Especially in the beginning we had hangout and listening sessions quite often. You need to remember that was maybe like 6-7 years ago. Most of the artists on the label were very unknown like myself, so Tassilo and Thomas invested a lot of time and effort to mentor us. These days I would say most of us have build themselves their own careers which makes getting everybody into the same room at the same time very tricky. But there are still these family moments that happen e.g. during ADE or whenever family members end up playing together somewhere. So there is definitely a collective vibe to it.
You showed me the LED light installation you designed. What’s the story behind that?
I was always very interested what light can do and how it can add another layer and emphasize the musical experience. So one day when I was sick in bed recovering from a cold I somehow dove into how to control LED lights. Quickly one LED strip for testing became 10, these quickly became 90 and these quickly became a 200kg heavy modular set of light bars (laughs).
So far I have only used them for a few shows as it involves a lot of conceptual and logistical effort but the ones I made I am still very proud of today.
Not all producers are equally good DJs and vice versa, but with you, I can’t really tell if I like one side better than the other. Do you have a preference yourself?
For me both are equally important and are strongly fuelling each other. Playing out triggers quite some ideas as well as gives me a very direct view on what works and what doesn’t. When sitting in the studio I always have the drive to finish a project so I can play it out and listen to it on a proper system. So for me it is really 50/50.
Now that the summer is over, what are the plans for you in the near (or even distant future?
I started working on a visual concept which I want to dig deeper into. This might be a project that I will be working on the side a lot. Aside of this obviously I’m really looking forward to the cocoon release, an amazing show at an epic venue called Funkhaus in Berlin, some dates outside of Europe that I can not really say much about yet and than of course to see everybody again at ADE.
Michael’s EP ‘Yuzu’ on Cocoon is available now for preorder on Bandcamp.