For avid followers of the modern deep house sound, Patrice Bäumel will be a familiar name. His latest record on Afterlife was one of the summer’s biggest smashers, but even if you didn’t hear it go off in a club, you’d be able to tell just from the price it’s now fetching on the second-hand market.
Signing to Afterlife may have exposed Bäumel to a wider audience this year, but this was far from his first break: the German producer was a longstanding resident of the lauded Amsterdam clubs Trouw and Club 11, and over the last few years he’s been a mainstay of the Kompakt Extra label.
Bäumel’s success has been helped at least partly by his distinctive warm, melody-backed sound. His interest in this can be attributed to a number of factors: he was exposed to experimental music from an early age via his father, he prided himself on being one of Laurent Garnier’s most loyal followers, and he also found a DJ partner with similar tastes in his friend, Nuno dos Santos.
When we interviewed Bäumel ahead of his appearance in Room One next weekend, he discussed early influences, his Amsterdam club residencies, and what inspires him after so long.
Can you introduce yourself in one sentence for those who may not be aware of you?
I’m a maker, player, traveller and lover on a mission to connect and delight.
Prior to living in Amsterdam you grew up in Dresden – did you have much access to new records at the time?
Absolutely. I was in the lucky position where Hard Wax Berlin opened a side branch in Dresden, which was run by a bunch of passionate techno heads. These were the guys who gave me my first taste of Detroit, Chicago and IDM.
How much did your dad’s background in journalism spark your early interest in music?
Without him I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being exposed to all kinds of music from an early age – from free jazz to experimental noise rock – was the best musical education I could have wished for.
Did you hear a lot of new stuff when you moved to the USA? Were you aware this was a different style to the music in Europe?
I lived in a small town in the Rocky Mountains during my year in the States. There wasn’t much in the way of electronic music but my friends introduced me to some good stuff, like Nine Inch Nails or Smashing Pumpkins. At the time I wasn’t even aware of the existence of techno music. Once I got back to Germany in 1993, suddenly it was everywhere.
Had you already started DJing when you moved to Amsterdam? How did you cope with starting out in a new scene?
I kind of had to start at the bottom again – hustle to score some bar gigs that paid 50 bucks a night, throwing parties to even get the chance to play in front of people who cared. I think it’s a familiar phase to many out there, and for me it lasted almost a decade.
How did you and Club 11’s Olaf Boswijk first cross paths?
I met Olaf when I was participating in the Red Bull Music Academy in Sao Paulo in 2002. He was there to cover the event as a journalist and interviewed me. We became really good friends over the years. Olaf is the one who gave me and Nuno dos Santos my first big break in Amsterdam.
How did yours and Nuno’s first nights go at Club 11? Was this the first time you were playing to a proper crowd?
The night was called 360 and it kind of took off pretty rapidly. Minimal techno was huge in Amsterdam at the time, but we went against the grain by booking names like Apparat, Nathan Fake and Modeselektor. For every edition we would prepare a new podcast, burn it onto CDs and hand them out at the event. That is kind of how we created our own following. I had played in front of proper crowds before during my DJ years in Germany as well as the odd gig in Amsterdam, but this was the first time I got to do it with some regularity. It was a real learning experience that helped me gain a better understanding of running a dancefloor.
Did the music you were playing change once you moved to Trouw?
For me, music has been in a constant state of metamorphosis throughout my career. A person changes and so does the music. For instance, I went through a phase where my sound became much slower and darker - I was really inspired by Andy Stott’s Luxury Problems LP and the phenomenal music he made during that phase. Trouw, with its two very different dancefloors, gave us plenty of room to stretch our legs and explore. The crowd was generally very open-minded.
How much music do you listen to outside of house and techno?
Outside of producing and preparing for sets I rarely listen to music, I need the silence to recharge in between the long studio sessions. My creativity and inspiration needs to come from a place of calm. I listen to a ton of talk podcasts on all kinds of subjects, from self-improvement to cage fighting, politics or economy.
Who do you take the most inspiration from as a producer?
Nature, modern art, and also from going out and dancing. I still love to do this if the time allows it.
Your latest record on Afterlife has already become a sought after gem – have you seen your style of music becoming more popular recently?
I think a certain zeitgeist dictates a typical sound of the moment, it’s more about a feeling that we all share and translate into music than a matter of copying each other.