Daniel Stefanik "I am primarily a producer"

Words by: Polly Lavin
Posted: 15/12/11 13:34

Daniel StefanikI’m struck by Daniel Stefaniks ability at the emerging ‘Kehakuma’ night in Space nightclub Ibiza which alongside Zoo Project is possibly the most underground party on the island. Along with Christian Burkhardt he surprises, as others who have been hyped disappoint. Whilst little is known of the Leipzig based producer who studied computer science and is resident in The Distillery Club his first taste of music was with a drum set as a child and through his father’s record collection of Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode. He therein went onto fall in love with Detroit techno of Underground Resistance and Jeff Mills.

A girl leans towards my ear and quietly says “I really admire Daniel, he does what he does without drugs, he’s a really positive role model” I wonder of this anomaly in a world where DJs and peers are controversially depicted through their drug feats and aligned to a pressurising culture to conform to same to gain credibility. Probing the statement later he admits it to be true and “a personal thing” which he is happy about and states “Music moves me and always has been strong enough. I never needed an extra kick.

The 30 something producer who has featured on labels such as Instabil, Cargo Edition, Moon Harbour, Dessous and Mobilee has also worked with Matthias Tanzmann as Tanzmann/Stefanik. A partnership that has not been without controversy according to StefanikTanzmann didn't take music from me but our project Tanzmann & Stefanik was like this. He was sitting in the back with his laptop or phone chatting and I was sitting in the front of the equipment and producing new stuff. That’s all.

Though he sounds negative in the outcome which resulted in Tanzmann garnering global exposure and gigs, he tells me “These are old stories. It doesn't matter, what I want to say is at that time it was really difficult and hard for me and my album "Reactivity" was my therapy.

His words resonate like Steve Bug’s comment on Facebook around DJs gaining more credit and financial gain then producers and as he admits to me producers having to come out of the studio as DJs is “a big problem” in the scene and that its “impossible to get money when you are sitting in your studio” and “a lot are really stressed with this” I question are producers really been given equal credit where credit is due and do producers/friends understand the importance of having contracts in place from the moment they start working together even if they are friends. 2011 has been a good year for Stefanik though. Along with his productions have found a solid home on “Freude Am Tanzen” a label where he has found common ground with Mathias Kaden. We grabbed some time with Daniel to talk about his past, present and musical future.

Can you tell me a bit about who you are and where you originate from what your music/sound engineering background etc is?
I'm Daniel Stefanik and live in Leipzig, Germany. I started relatively early to occupy myself with electronic music as my father had a record collection. As a child I was interested in keyboards and synthesizers and tried to replay the hits of "Depeche Mode". I'm still interested in this to make sounds better or learning techniques. I think it never stops!

Mathias Kaden your colleague obviously comes from a classical background. What is your musical background?
Different influences, from "Pink Floyd" to "Tangerine Dream" from "Bach" to "Ricardo Villalobos". As a child I learned to play drums at a music school. In addition, I play guitar and piano. I am so glad to be raised with music because it opened my mind to the diversity.

Albums such as reactivity seem more like sound explorations. What was the process behind that for you and particularly adding a more deep or dimensional sound how did you approach this?
At the time it was really hard. I was dis-satisfied with the cooperation with "Moon Harbour" because it was simply not a human fit. Added to that was partially "Tanzmann & Stefanik" releases produced almost exclusively by me and he has acquired much of my sound. Ultimately he has collected all the credits and was traveling around the world and I was sitting at home and had the feeling of losing my own identity. That's why I went into my studio and was trying to find myself. This album "Reactivity" was like a therapy for me.

Daniel Stefanik Latest Releases

Daniel Stefanik - Unreleased
by Daniel Stefanik

Daniel Stefanik - Ultraschall [Harry Klein Records 005] by Daniel Stefanik

Ten 4 The Night Beyond The Mainstream Pt. II by Daniel Stefanik
Do you think there is a divide at the moment between DJs, producers and sound engineers in dance music? Where to next?
I have no idea where it all evolved. But for all three things you need to do the right feeling in the right moment. This is important.

What difference do you think it makes to not take drugs whilst making or listening to the music? Can you be more critical and impartial and hear more or do you think the drugs expand the experience of dance music?
Of course, drugs have played an important role in the development of music, but not exclusively. "John Sebastian Bach" has taken no effort to revolutionize the music. Basically, this issue should not really be overestimated. It may be that you take things differently true, but you can also get free of drugs into a mind-expanding state. 

For example if you do not sleep one night you'll hear things quite differently. It's like having a headache tablet. Your body is able to alleviate the pain itself one need only observe certain conditions. Or you grip for the fast case, the tablet.

For those who don’t do drugs and are trying to make a living from electronic music how does the image of drugs and its associations to dance music affect your work and career?
No one should indulge in the illusions and believe that you can be famous with drugs faster. Finally, but still have the talent the crucial feature of any artist. Nevertheless, even the "social factor" should not be underestimated. But ultimately, everyone should know himself which way he wants to go.

You were influenced by Detroit in your work can you name your top 3 tracks that really inspired you from that city?
Jeff Mills - Java EP (Purpose Maker), Basic Channel - Quadrant Dub (Basic Channel), Paperclip People - Floor (Planet E)

You started your own parties when you were beginning can you tell me how important that step was and what you had to do to secure a venue, promote a party, get a crowd in etc?
I started at that time only three small parties. That was in 1996 and completely underground. It was not necessarily important to my way, except that I'm more the guy who stands behind the decks. But sure I am not a talent for organization, the parties were really good.

***

Mathias Kaden + Daniel StefanikYou’ve done quite a bit of work with Matthias Tanzmann and Mathias Kaden can you tell me if there is any future work planned?
I was together with Mathias Kaden in his studio a few months ago and we have produced some new tracks. Furthermore, I also like to sit with my buddy Juno6 together in the studio, but there is more experimental stuff. Currently I am working on a new album.

You’re still in Leipzig right? You haven’t been tempted to move to Berlin? Why do you think the German electronic scene is so strong compared to UK at the moment and is the support there from the industry and the government in investment, artist support etc?
I've never thought about to go to Berlin. I like living in Leipzig. Germany is still in the leading position in terms of electronic music. Just the whole leading music software companies are based in Berlin. This is also the extremely high standard of living in Germany. There is almost every possible to develop freely.

What sounds and genres are influencing your work at the moment? Anything you are listening to that would surprise us?
At the moment I am heavily inspired by "Ricardo Villalobos" and "Minilogue". I like their grooves and eerie mystery in the music.

At home I hear more "Johann Sebastian Bach" and "Robert Schumann" because I play the piano and just a lot of their pieces on the piano practice. Steve Reich is also great! And check out Alexander Knaifel on ECM records. Spiritual classical music.

Would you say first and foremost you are a producer or a DJ?
Clearly, I am primarily a producer. Even when I am playing as a DJ.

You said once that making music is a way to ‘express yourself’ – what aspect of your character are you ultimately expressing?
In my opinion, everything which flows into you put into your music. It is an expression of your personality. It is like a declaration of bankruptcy. When a poet writes his books, then so many personal things stuck in the lines, they need only classify correctly. But he also needs the talent to bring the lines down on paper. If the talent is very little available, you can't read so much in it.

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