We sat down with the audacious DJs/producers Sam Barker and Andreas Baumecker after their hybrid live/DJ set at the Ostgut Ton nacht in Marseille we organized with Laboratoire des Possibles. We discussed their performance, how they got bored of their (ex) job as bookers, line-up construction at Berghain/Panorama Bar and the emotional side of things, that they miss in club music nowadays.
Ilustration Lee Wagstaff ©
Interview by Paul Herincx
Sam, what did Andreas tell you about Cabaret Aleatoire ? Because he played here a few months ago.
S : He said there was a good crowd, he played a lot of different stuff and everybody was up for everything, like a really open minded crowd. And really nice promoters (Laboratoire des Possibles). It was all true.
What do you know about Marseille musical scene ?
S : I heard there was a good slo-mo scene, like slo-mo sort of hundred BPM house stuff. My flatmate is really into this stuff, he is always playing this super slow sludgy kind of house. And he says there are some labels specialized in Marseille.
Do you have some examples ?
S : I don’t ! I wish I did.
A : I only know Harold (Abstraxion) from Marseille and I know there is one very famous DJ who’s coming from here I think. And, I was in Hong Kong and there are also people who are running a club night there and they are from Marseille. But I don’t know much about Marseille, except Harold whom I’ve heard about through Massimiliano Pagliara.
So, beside your artistic activities you’re both working as bookers.
A : Not anymore.
S : And I’m just about to stop.
When you were doing it, what were your aims and what were the constraints you had to deal with ?
A : You always want to bring new music to the club, music that you enjoy yourself. But you also have to look for the crowd and the club you’re booking for, they have to be happy with it. You have to make kind of a deal with yourself.
« Of course it’s important to have heroes in a club, but I think it’s always important to have a look into the future, and not so much into the past» A. Baumecker
I think it’s always important to have a look into the future, and not so much into the past. Of course it’s important to have heroes in a club, or something like that. But a lot of time these heroes have done some things in the past which were new and fresh, and they have kind of lost touch. I’m more interested in finding new people that still have this kind of freshness and who are more passionated about it. That was what I was looking for.
Andreas, you were working for the Panorama, which is open all weekend long. I wonder if you imagined differently the line-up during the day and night ?
A : Of course I was looking into the orders of the DJs. Which is sometimes impossible because they are flying from different cities. The « dream running order » sometimes didn’t happen. But of course you plan … Especially in Berghain, there are different crowds for different times and the amount of people in there can change a lot. Of course you’re looking into that and you book people that you think could make a more psychedelic vibe on a Sunday afternoon, stuff like that. It’s basically like setting up a little festival every weekend and, yeah, it was really tiring all over the past 8 years and that’s why I stopped.
About constraints … It’s becoming harder and harder to bring people because the agencies are getting crazyer and crazyer, they are demanding more and more every year. It’s not really fun to book certain DJs anymore. The fight with agencies was also very tiring and I didn’t want to fight anymore, I had enough.
In an interview you gave recently to RBMA you said that you often feel like the emotional side of things is missing in club music nowadays. What kind of emotions you wanted to transcribe in your album ?
S : None of our tracks start with a plan like « let’s make a track which has this or that feeling ». We are just trying to get into the mental state where you are not thinking too much, just doing stuff, and then stepping back and thinking « OK, this is going in this direction ».
I don’t know, I feel like working in the studio this is much the will of the machines, the things we are using, if where they wanna go is where we wanna go with them
A : I mean you can put a chord and all of the track changes, completely.
« In the studio we are just trying to get into the mental state where you are not thinking too much, just doing stuff, and then stepping back» Sam Barker
S : Just changing a note on a chord and it’s a different sort of feelings. We’re just trying to be honest in the studio. When you think « oh let’s make a banging house track » or something, it always ends up sounding a little bit unsincere. In the album, actually, it’s mainly tracks starting with no idea whatsoever, and just developped into something.
A : About what I said in the interview for RBMA about emotions, for example, let’s say in any techno club in the world : you are there for six or five hours, or even longer, and sometimes you hear the same kind of sound and beat for the entire night, without any emotions. It’s just banging, there is very simple things happening, kind of robotic. And a robot doesn’t have any feelings really. Sometimes I’d like to have something more human.
What about your set up of tonight ? How much was it improvised ?
A : There is, let’s say, 75% of improvisation maybe. I mean, we can’t really say. We are playing stems of our music and we divide our tracks in parts, drums and music. We have a drumsampler with us, that is basically giving additional beats.
S : And effects, just to kind of glue everything together. We only used to play live sets in the past. We done a couple of back to back DJ sets, playing other people stuffs, but this time around, this tour, we wanted to do something in between. Not take a full, stressfull, « take the studio appart live set », like we used to. Because to get the sound we make in the studio it takes a lot of different pieces of gear, and you always end up having to compromise. So we thought, we do the music without compromise in the studio, and then we would be able to play that as it is supposed to sound in a club. It gives us enough flexibility and extra things to play with. It’s only our 3rd or 4rth set we’ve done so far.
A : Yeah the 4rth, and the 2nd time with the drum sampler. I think the drum sampler makes a huge difference.
How was it today in Marseille ?
A : I think it was our best set so far, because we’re getting better and better over time. I mean the set has an order. We’re not playing like whatever comes into our minds, which I think is important for this kind of thing, to make it really round. I think the more we play this, the better we get, because we know where to put things in order. It’s developping over the weeks for sure.
S : What is a really cool thing is we can continue working in the studio and we don’t have to complete a full track, like a few bits we played tonight we made it last week in the studio, playing around. It was fun doing those parts without finishing the track, we were just like « ok, we have a synth part », and then just quickly put a beat together with the sampler and then tried out straight away in a club setting.
A : Yeah it was my favorite part actually. There are two favorite ones. No I have three ! It gets better and better every time we play so, yeah, that’s fun.