If there’s a bone in your body that wants to hear something galvanic and dance-inspiring, you’ll follow Ryan Elliott to his extended sets at Berlin’s Berghain and Panoramabar. The monthly resident takes no fear in verily pushing limits. Whether it’s a deep excursion into haunting ambient techno or a steamy deep house vibe, his immaculate DJ sets, inspired by quality imprints amongst the cream of the techno crop, Axis, M Plant, Perlon, Playhouse and early Kompakt, lend themselves to any given time of day or night. To say we’re excited about the narrative Ryan will be bringing to Room Two’s dancefloor next Saturday really is an understatement.
As one-half of Spectral Sound’s A&R team, alongside Matthew Dear, Ryan moved from his home town Detroit to the 4/4 underground capital, Berlin in 2009, turned on by the influx of vinyl-only record stores the city has to offer. After contributing to the Ostgut Fünf anniversary compilation last year, it wasn’t long before Ostgut signed Ryan to release his first ever EP ‘Rocksteady.’ For 2011, it looks as though Ryan has been bitten by the production bug with some very exciting releases in the pipeline- we took the liberty to find out what’s in store and chat about everything from Detroit’s highly-competitive scene, the new faces on Spectral Sound and how (heartwarmingly) fabric was his first booking outside the US way back in the day.
Going beyond the call of duty, Ryan has warmed our techno engines with a totally unique mix, exclusive to fabric. In his own words, “ this mix is a little different for me - its bpm's are a little slower, the tracks play a little longer, the mixes ride longer, its moody and sexy in that late night / early morning way. There is even some non 4/4 stuff at the beginning. As with all my sets, it contains some new tracks, some old tracks, and some special edits.”
Tell us about the last gig you played and a couple of tracks that really got the crowd moving?
I just played in Panoramabar this past Saturday night. I have a monthly residency at Berghain / Panoramabar so I have the opportunity to play lots of different sets. Berghain is very different from Panoramabar, and both are very different from the outside Garden that is open in the summer when the weather is nice. I absolutely love playing in all the rooms there. It's one of the most forward thinking clubs in the world - with both music and aesthetically. This past weekend's set was in Panoramabar, so good quality house music always gets the crowd moving nicely. Nick Hoppner's new EP on Ostgut, the new Cosmin TRG release on 50 Weapons, and a few old Prescription classics were some of the standouts off the top of my head.
You are one-half of Spectral Sound’s A&R team, alongside Matthew Dear. The label is going stronger than ever in its eleventh year- tell us how it all started and how has its voice evolved over the years?
The label was started as the dance floor orientated little brother to Ghostly International. With Spectral we are focusing on house and techno for DJ's. It's as simple as that. Dance music changes quickly, so we do too. Some of our releases are more house, some more techno, some acid, etc.. but we always make sure it has that "Spectral" feel. That means that we stay up to date on dance music movements all over the world, but also give it our "mid-western" feel from where the label was born.
What’s the rest of the year looking for Spectral Sound- who are some of the new faces we should be keeping an eye out for?
We are very excited about the second half of 2011. We just released Benoit & Sergio's pop-house anthem "Let Me Count The Ways", we have some excellent remixes coming off the back of Mark E's "Stone Breaker" LP, and I will be releasing my first EP on Spectral at the end of the summer titled "Kicking Up" with an Audion remix. After that we have some special surprises for the fall as well.
What do you miss most about living in Detroit both in music and in your daily living there?
Musically, there is a genuine rawness or roughness about Detroit output that is unmatched. Everything from Soul, Motown, Punk, Rock, Techno, and House have this honest quality to it that you just don't get anywhere else in my opinion (although Berlin is very similar). I miss that. I miss driving to the radio while a DJ does a live mix show with scratching, running doubles, and all those old school tricks that you don't hear much anymore. I miss dirty raves. I miss Record Time and Melodies & Memories and Threads. Things "non music" that I miss from Detroit are some of the foods, my family, sunlight in the winter, and some of my friends. But Berlin and Detroit are very similar in many ways, and I'm back in Detroit pretty often.
Do you think it’s hard to win respect in Detroit 's ultra-competitive scene? What was it like for you starting a DJ career there & what’s your thoughts on the new wave of Detroit producers coming out of the scene today?
Yes, it is very hard. But I will say that everyone in the Detroit scene that has "made it" keeps an open mind and looks for the same qualities that made them big in others. Usually, if you posses those same abilities, you are welcomed. My DJ career stared like many peoples - going to clubs first and then gradually becoming interested in what the guy in the booth with headphones on was doing. From there it was starting to go to record shops, learning to beat match, etc. Then eventually playing your first gigs. I'm lucky. I've been treated very well by the "old guard" in Detroit and I'm very grateful for that.
You moved to Berlin in 2009. What’s grabbing your attention most in the underground music scene there right now?
There are people who like to say Berlin isn't what it used to be. I don't know if that is true of not, I didn't live here before 2009. But I do know Berlin is still the underground music capital of the world. On any given night the amount of excellent events is staggering. If there are 15 really good vinyl based music stores left in the world, Berlin has almost half. The label and producer output coming from Berlin is absolutely unmatched. As a music nerd and obsessive DJ I completely love living in Berlin. As someone who used Traktor for many years and switched back to vinyl, I'm really happy to see a resurgence in vinyl culture. There are also quite a few vinyl only labels that are putting out some stellar music, and I feel privileged to be able to have access this music. I've always said I don't care what people use to DJ with, what comes out of the speakers is what matters. I'm only saying that for me personally, the vinyl movement is really exciting again.
Describe the atmosphere when you play your monthly residency at Panorama Bar & Berghain in Berlin? How you approach your sets when playing there?
I treat each month's residency date as very special. It's one thing to play somewhere once and really rock it, but it’s another to show people something really good and new EVERY month. This is one of the challenges of the residency there. Also the fact that the club is open so long, the moods and atmospheres depending on time of day and room your playing can really vary as well. As a resident you really have to know this side too. Another factor that really keeps you on you toes as a DJ (and makes you stronger because of it) is that you are not just playing for "clubbers". Yes there are people there that just want to dance, but there are also promoters from other towns there looking for new talent to book at their events, other DJ’s are there, record store workers, journalists - all kinds of very musically educated people come into Berghain and Panoramabar that as a DJ, you have to be conscious of so that you can provide the correct vibe.
It’s hard to believe but you only just released your first EP on Ostgut Ton. Tell us what the release signifies after years of you directing projects behind the scenes and does this mean we can look forward to more production work from you in 2011?
I was very excited and proud to finally release my first EP. I've done some edits and remixes in the past, but to put my first EP out on Ostgut Ton was really a career accomplishment for me. As I stated in a previous question, I also have a Spectral EP coming this year, along with a few remixes. Now that the production bug has bitten me I don't plan on slowing down.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the idea behind the mix you’ve done for us?
Fabric is one of my favorite clubs. Team Fabric has always been really good to me (my first booking outside the US was actually at Fabric, way back when) and we have developed a nice friendship over the years. I was really excited and honored when you guys asked me to do the mix, so I wanted to prepare something special. This mix is a little different for me - its bpm's are a little slower, the tracks play a little longer, the mixes ride longer, its moody and sexy in that late night / early morning way. There is even some non 4/4 stuff at the beginning. As with all my sets, it contains some new tracks, some old tracks, and some special edits.