Much has been written about the emergence of Berlin’s Berghain/Panorama Bar mecca and the parallels with our own home from home in EC1, not to mention the artists that have spawned from the success of the now legendary club.
The Berlin hotspot has acted as a perfectly formed catalyst and showcase for its elite residential squad. Two in particular, Ben Klock and Steffi, bring their unique Berlinesque flavour to Room Two tomorrow; we caught with the pair to dig deeper than the hype and discover more about two of the most influential stars from one of the most influential venues in the house and techno scene.
Berghain and Panorama Bar seems to have acted as the perfect catalyst to boost your reputations within the techno scene, yet Ben, you have been playing in Berlin since the mid-90s right? And Steffi, you conquered the Amsterdam music scene before re-locating to Berlin? Tell us a bit about what you were up to pre-Berghain/PB…
Steffi: I was living in Amsterdam before I moved to Berlin. I used to have my own club night there in Mazzo (rip), had several residencies and organized loats of parties. Always wanted to bring the people quality and stay underground. One of the highlights was Boem Tsjak festival I did with Marsel from Delsin Records. We organized this during Amsterdam Dance Event because they were not focusing enough on the Dutch labels and their talents in our opinion.
Ben Klock: I used to play in clubs like Cookies, Tresor and WMF in Berlin. Although it was a great time and I had a few residencies here and there, I never really felt home anywhere before Berghain. That's where it all really changed and where I felt that the right people and the right place came together at the right moment to give me the inspiration that I needed.
You each run your own labels, Klockworks and Klakson respectively - what made you decide to set up your own imprint and do they represent you as musicians/DJs?
Steffi: Klakson started really naive, more like a fun thing to do. Dexter's first release hit the market quite well, it turned out to be. We always kept Klakson as a low profile label and only released stuff we really liked. It was never created to become a huge label with many releases, but more to work with people we liked and music we really wanted to be out there. This is how it will continue in the future. I just started a new label called Dolly! This will be an exclusive label that features people I am working with at the moment. I am very excited and the first release by Jacob Korn just came out a few weeks ago!
Ben Klock: When I started the label in 2006/07, most of the music around was very clean, a bit overproduced and well arranged. I wanted to have my platform for a bit more raw approach. I always liked first sketches, in graphic design or art as well. That is also shown by the artwork of the label. Tracks for Klockworks will always have that kind of raw feeling which is one side of me as an artist and DJ.
Steffi, you are known for throwing parties in Amsterdam. Do you cast a critical eye over each place you play, or is it nice to relinquish the responsibility of filling a club?
Steffi: No that’s not in the back of my mind. I do know the feeling of doing a club night and have to deal with the nerves on the night itself :) So it makes me understand promotors better and makes me support smaller parties who try to give people a chance to listen to quality music because we need this!
Ben, I read that you were a graphic designer before switching to music; do you find one helps the other in terms of generating inspiration or being creative?
Ben Klock: For quite a while I was doing this parallel. So I didn't really switch. I stopped working as a graphic designer when I was working on my album. I realized that I couldn't do both anymore timing-wise. There are similarities in the process of finding ideas and then developing, finalizing them. But I really have to say that I'm glad that I am able to concentrate on one thing now. Music is really on first place for me!
In your opinion what has contributed to the significant emergence of Berghain and Panorama Bar and do you think it has helped to re-establish Berlin as the home of techno?
Steffi: I can’t really give a clear answer because I don’t know what happened in Berlin the last 20 years and its ups and downs. Maybe Ben has a better answer to that because I only moved 2,5 years ago to Berlin.
Ben Klock: I absolutely think that Berghain and Panoramabar had a big stake in what Berlin is now for Techno and the Club scene. Maybe it sounds romantic, but even back then when I played my first sets there I felt that we were part of something big that was going to happen. I knew that more and more people would see the quality that stands behind the idea of Berghain. I think people feel that it's real, that it doesn't look too much for trends or anything like that. It's for lovers and music lovers :)
Ben, your album ‘One’ dropped in 2009 to critical acclaim, it must have been a particular highlight for you?
Ben Klock: In one way or the other I've been making music for all my life and it was always a dream to make an album. So to finally see the outcome with the great cover artwork, great collection of remixes and all the good feedback - that was marvellous! Definitely an absolute highlight of my career.
Steffi, is there any plans to put together an album soon?
Steffi: Not soon but I am working on one but this will take a while but it will happen
With Berghain and Panorama Bar spawning many producers, Dettmann, Faki, Nodge, Fengler, Prosumer, Hoppner, the list goes on, it must be quite a hub of creativity over there?
Steffi: Yes there is, and that makes it very special to work with all these people in one club. There is a lot of support and we are often together on the road and that gives a family feel to it all, which I really find unique.
As it's early 2010, what have you both got in store for the year ahead? Anything we should keep an eye out for?
Steffi: Definitely! As I said my new label Dolly has already lined up some very interesting releases for 2010. I will also release on that label myself this year. There will be a release on Ostgut with Elif Blicer that comes out in two weeks, a release on Soulrock and a few more projects. Klakson drops a new Mesak album and the 12” takes off that album comes with a Marcel Dettman remix. It will be a very exciting year!
Ben Klock: Within the next days my remix for Martyn's "Is This Insanity" that he already used for the fabric mix CD should be out on vinyl. Then also very soon another remix will be released: a mix that I did for Jason Fine on Kontra Musik. My next big project is a mix compilation I'm doing for the Berghain series.