Robert Johnson's A&R and Resident, Oliver Hafenbauer

While the lone act of DJing is, in itself, arguably one of the best jobs in the world, there's something that feels a bit more special about being permanently rooted and attached to a space as a resident. Having a place that belongs to you, where you have a hand in shaping its identity and get the opportunity to relate to an informed and up for it crowd week in week out is a super unique and rewarding situation. Oliver Hafenbauer is a man who holds such a residency at Frakfurt's world respected Robert Johnson and not only has he been spinning there since the club opened its doors in 1999, he also has taken on a further role of label A&R and club booker. Simply translated, that means that he gets to draw from the club's super talented collection of friends and family - which includes some of our own favourite artists with Portable, Roman Flugel, Benedikt Frey and more – to book and work with.

This coming Saturday night, Hafenbauer is bringing along the aforementioned talents to Room Two, to bring a bit of the Live At Robert Johnson feeling to the space. With a sound renowned for being elegant and poised but also coming wholly off the wall in places we've managed to schedule in a chat with the Hafenbauer to find out more about his privileged position. What's more, he's also dropped over an exclusive promo mix perfectly showcasing the dynamics we will soon be enjoying from his set when he lands here this weekend.

Download: Oliver Hafenbauer - fabric x Live at Robert Johnson Mix

So you’ve just been on tour in the US – can you tell us a bit about it like what cities did you stop at, what kind of scene was there that was supporting and into your sound?

Oliver Hafenbauer: I've been touring through San Francisco/Oakland, Seattle, Chicago and New York and I have to say, I've enjoyed playing each party there. If I have to point out one particular show it would be the one in Seattle together with Joey Anderson. The mood there was very special: a warm intimate venue, a great crowd and we've used the new Rane MP2015 mixer, which was great. The Rane Corporation is based 30 minutes north of Seattle.

You hold a pretty special role as A&R and also leading the booking at Robert Jonson – how did you first come to forge your relationship with the space?

Well, one day Ata called and asked me if I'd like to do the booking for the Robert Johnson Club and manage the label Live At Robert Johnson, that was my start in the music industry professionally at the end of 2008. At this time I just finished studying architecture, but music was always my passion. I was DJing a lot in Frankfurt and already had a residency at Robert Johnson since 2005.

"DJing at Robert Johnson is a luxury situation. You deal with an educated crowd and good technical standards."

Resident DJs always seem to enjoy having a regular home and crowd but what’s your take on that role and being resident at Robert Johnson do you think it’s affected the way you DJ and even what you DJ?

Basically I like all kinds of repetitive house and techno music. I try to combine differnet subgenres in one night or set. I love playing long sets and when I started to DJ, I had to do it from the beginning to the end of the night – that's how I learned it; creating an arc of suspense over a complete night. DJing at Robert Johnson is a luxury situation. You deal with an educated crowd and good technical standards.

What does your day to day look like, being DJ, booker and A&R I bet you have to juggle a few different skill sets, do you find it a challenge or do they all complement each other?

I'm pretty busy with working – programming Robert Johnson and organizing Restaurant Club Michel require a lot of time. Also my own label Die Orakel and managing Live At Robert Johnson need at lot of attention; with travelling and DJing on the weekend, I'm sometimes working 7 days a week. But I don't want to complain, I enjoy everything I do and work with a lot of lovely people.

Where do you look when you’re finding new talent – is this something you like to deliberately scope out?

I don't need to look too far as there's a new, strong and quite sophisticated generation of young DJs and producers right here in Frankfurt.

We have a few artists coming to the room take over can you tell us a bit about what you love most about them?

[Laughs] That's a wonderful question... I love Roman because he has a waggish sense of humour and you can hear it in every detail of his music – it's this certain craziness that breaks out sometimes. The thing about Benedikt I love is the seriousness with which he produces trippy music. Portable is a style icon with everthing he does – the way he dresses or the way he produces music.

Can you tell us a bit about your own imprint Die Orakel? How does that differ to what you do with LARJ?

I have founded Die Orakel just because I felt the strong need to start something on my own. At Live At Robert Johnson, I'm the label-manager and A&R and after more than 30 releases the label found its sound identity. With Die Orakel I'll follow a different path and feature music that is indecisive between experimental and dance music.

And what else do you have forthcoming on LARJ can you tell us a bit about what releases you’ve locked in for the rest of the year?

There'll be a Benedikt Frey EP called Reframe coming out this month and a Chinaski 5-track debut EP named The Video Dead in early July. Also in the pipeline for this year are releases by Portable, Fort Romeau and a young talent called Benjamin Milz.

Photo Credit: Marc Krause

Saturday 16th May

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