Another year and decade, and another test of the limits within electronic dance music at the most inspiring Amsterdam techno-hotspot: Studio 80. On the 20th of February a collaboration with Berlin superlabel Hello?Repeat will star Jan Krueger, who has recently moved to Berlin in order to focus on the label and his DJ-ing career, already holding residencies at the city’s Watergate club as well as at NYC techno institution The Bunker. Jan is known as an afterhours specialist, working a slinky and hypnotic minimal house groove, juxtaposed against percussion-driven tracks from outer space.
Here’s an exclusive interview we did with him, plus an insane live mix spanning almost 3 hours. Just to give 2010 some spunk for ya.
Traveling from Düsseldorf to Berlin: could you give us a short description of the evolution of your musical career from then till now?
I guess there is no way to make a short description about my evolution because I moved away from Düsseldorf almost 7 years ago and during this time a lot of good things happened to me. The first station after Düsseldorf was Hamburg, a city in the north of Germany. Here I used to work for the best distributor in independent dance music. Word And Sound. Because of my long friendship to Marc Schneider it was nearby to start to work for this company. In the beginning I was working in the warehouse, a really tough job, as you need a lot of muscles to move all the boxes around. And my problem is, that I’m a skinny German and not that strong, haha. After a while I got the opportunity to work as sales manager, which was actually more my thing because in Düsseldorf I used to work for a recordstore called Flipside and it was always fun to sell the music you love and talk with people about it. By the way – the record store still exists, so if you’re ever in Düsseldorf, or near, you should check it out!!! I kind of really miss the old days, working at the shop and having a nice altbeer afterwards. Füchschen is the place where you should go as well! Yami this beer! Anyway, back to Word And Sound. When I started to work for WAS it was also the birth of Hello?Repeat, the label I run together with Daze Maxim. The idea behind the label was actually way older as we were always thinking about to start something for us and our friends. Just to do what ever we wanted to do and to be free with it. During my time in Hamburg I met a lot of lovely people as well, which are finally my best friends and really important for me. After working for almost 4 years at WAS a feeling was taking over me. In the beginning it was rare, but then it came back more often. I had the desire for a change in my life and environment again. Also, Hello?Repeat started to get bigger and became more successful. To combine my work as sales manager on the one side, and as label manager on the other side, wasn’t working out. So, one day I made a decision and this was Hello?Repeat, our baby. As a lot of my friends and my former girlfriends’ friends moved to Berlin, I thought – hey girl, lets go to where our friends are. And here I am now. Unfortunately without girlfriend but there can’t be always sunshine in your life. Since I’m in Berlin my career made a big step forward. I met the right people at the right time and I got to know a lot of new friends. I was actually blessed with tons of luck. My residency at Watergate and our Hello?Repeat nights at Panoramabar are just some of a few candies. Music wise I didn’t change that much. From the point from where I started to buy records to now, I’m still addicted to the same kind of music. You can actually hear it in my sets cause they are always flavored with records from the old days. Of course, it would be a lie if I would affirm that I never had the time where I was totally into Naked Music deep house music or more electro rocking stuff like Black Strobe etc. But I’m back and finally I know what is good for me!
When, where & how was the provided mix you did for us recorded?
This mix was recorded on a truly magical daytime party in Portland, Oregon, during my last North America tour. Actually I wasn’t sure if I could make it at all, because the night before I played together with Daze Maxim in Los Angeles and it was a lot of trouble to get away from this party. It was just too much fun to hang out with all my friends. But luckily I made it to the airport. Ha, when I think back I have to smile. I was so drunk that the airline could easily have said – you skinny German? You’re drunk, before you travel with us you have to get sober! Well, I guess they just liked me. After a flight of two hours I arrived quite early in Portland and I have to say, this city is incredible. It was the end of May and all the flowers in the city blew in full glory. It was wonderful! Also, Portland is a really green, cozy and friendly city. As I arrived early I had enough time to get a proper breakfast, some coffee and a huge cap full of sleep. Believe me, I needed it. When I finally got to the party unfortunately there were not that many people. It was a sunny, warm and beautiful day so I guess most of them were either at the lake, the river or somewhere else. But that didn’t mean that the party didn’t turned out into an unforgettable experience!
I can’t remember how many wodka 7UP I had, but it was a lot. Genevieve Dillinger and Matthew Quite, who are responsible for this and many other great partys in Portland, took really good care of me and made this drink to my absolutely favorite. Yeah, I guess now you know how this mix got together.
Word and sound, Hello?Repeat and Daze Maxim are 3 brands/individuals commonly affiliated with your persona. Could you tell us how you’ve been influenced by all three?
Of course, I’m influenced by all three in their very own way. When I met Daze Maxim in the nineties, he was producing this incredible techno music which was released on Oliver Bondzios label Jackpot and later on Serial Killers Haircut and Harthouse. I was in love with all this music called Brighton Techno (I hope this is right!!!). Christian Vogel, Neil Landstrumm, Sativa Records, Mosquito Records – Oh Lord, all this crazy techno music. And then there was Daze, doing the same incredible music.
We became close friends and found out that we have a quite similar taste in music. Not only electronic music! Jazz, classic… You have to know that Daze is in my opinion one of the most talented musicians in the techno business. He’s just amazing! But he really sucks as fisherman because he’s always going home too early, hahaha. Sorry Daze! Well, his music and ideas are always an inspiration for me and I think I’m the same for him. Word And Sound also always inspired me with music. It was the first distributor who was founded by people who lost their heart in the music. People who want to share what they love with others and it has not changed by now. THANKS FOR BEEING THERE!!! Also to work for WAS helped me a lot to do what I’m doing right now! And Hello?Repeat – I think it is more influenced by Daze and me.
After some research i’ts actually not clear if you’ve ever produced any of your own material and/or if you plan to do so. please enlighten us?
Yes, that is right. I don’t know, maybe I’m just not talented enough. I think the main problem is that I started to work on my own music way too late. Of course I’m doing something once in a while but thats not worth to mention. I just can’t sit in front of the computer and listen to a loop for hours. I’m not patient enough to learn all this programs by my own, and maybe the passion to learn it is missing as well. When I start to mix records into each other I was 15 years old and I never had my own turntables and mixer. I had to go to a friend who was lucky enough to have everything at home. Surrounded by my friends we pushed each other all the time to listen to records and mix them into each other, or when we did a nice transition we all freaked out. Now, 17 years later, the music is nothing new to me and I prefer to listen to other kinds of music at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love the music as much as I did 17 years before, but I don’t need to listen to it every single day. So, to learn all this programs you have to be on fire, you have to really want it, and that kind of feeling is missing. I love to make music with machines, which I don’t have either, because it is something you can touch and play with. It is the same with records, I just can’t play tracks from the computer. Not yet because we don’t know where the future of vinyl will be in a couple of years. But for now I prefer to travel with a heavy bag on my back and to play the medium I fell in love with. Concerning own productions – maybe I’ll be able to finish something by myself but I guess there will be always some help of friends in the game. But just to clarify – I’m not a fan of ghost writing or to have someone produce my records. I want to make music and I want to be part of it! I’m just not able to handle the programs by my own.
Any future plans we should know about?
Daze Maxim and me are working constantly on the Hello?Repeat cosmos. As you probably noticed, 2009 was a really quiet year for Hello?Repeat. 2010 will be even more busy again. We never had a consequent release politic and my way to select music for the label is a really personal and emotional thing. If I listen to a demo it has to conjure a smile on my face. If this happens I know that we have to do the record. If not we’re not going to release something. There is enough music out there! But for the upcoming year I already have a couple of records of artists like Bruno Pronsato, Daze Maxim, but also new faces like Patrick Specke, DJ QU and Leonel Castillo in the pipeline. Oh, and Hello?Repeat turns into 5, so of course we’ll celebrate this! Furthermore we’re starting a Hello?Repeat t-shirt line. We really love to wear t-shirts and we have amazing artists who are responsible for the artwork. But it will be not a “simple” label shirt line, printed on an American Apparel shirt, or a big store with hundreds of shirts. From the beginning of next year on we will release at least one new t-shirt a month, designed by an artist we love. This can be an unknown graphic designer to a well known contemporary artist. The shirts will be printed on a high quality shirt which we will produce ourselves, so they will also have their own cut. As color there will be just black and white. The shirts will be limited to 99 pieces of each print, numbered and hand signed by the artist. And you’ll get the shirt in a special package.
Right now we’re working on our website which will be re-launched in January. Besides all the infos and news about the label and the artists, you will find a store where you can buy the t-shirts and of course everything else from Hello?Repeat. What else? Oh, I joined a new agency and I’m really happy about it. The agency is called Solid-AM and I’m surrounded by people like Guido Schneider, Vera, Miss Fitz and Dorian Paic, just to name a few. Have a look on the website, there are really nice mixes to listen too as well!
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OTAM Mix 20: Jan Krueger – ‘Live At Dayshift’