Michael Mayer - A Self-Made Man

Words by: Paul Corey
Posted: 6/11/12 8:10

Michael Mayer - A Self-Made ManMichael Mayer is as renaissance a man as they come within the sphere of modern electronic dance music. A co-founder and co-owner of Kompakt and, therefore, partially responsible for being behind a genre-defining label, which did, amongst other things, unleash schaffel onto an unsuspecting audience. He still takes his label duties very seriously and continues to play a vital role in its vision and direction.

He is also a globe-trotting DJ whose seminal 'Immer' series, as well as his 'fabric' release offer a quite unique insight into the mind of the individual selector and are out on their own as far as sound and dynamics are concerned.

Now, as his second solo album 'Mantasy' has just been released, I sent him some questions which were kindly answered in between yet another full schedule.

It's been eight years since 'Touch' was released. Why the hiatus?
Well, it's not that I haven't done anything since 'Touch'. There was the Supermayer album in 2007 and a lot of remixes. But indeed, I wanted to wait for the right moment. My weekdays are quite busy, I'm basically working full time at Kompakt, taking care of the label and such.

And I'm travelling most weekends. It needed an act of force to relieve me of my office duties and I didn't accept any DJ gigs for the first couple of months of this year. That's when the foundation of the album was built. It took me seven months in total to finalize it. I'm really grateful to my family and the Kompakt staff for allowing me to focus on my music.

How does 'Mantasy' differ from its predecessor? you've said that for you it's ". . . really the first one (album)."
I think it's safe to say that 'Mantasy' is a much deeper and more mature affair and it's taking more risks at the same time. Over the course of the past 8 years, my musical horizon has expanded enormously.

I'm on a constant hunt for inspiration and musical input. A lot of these impressions found their way on the album.

A lot of the music on 'Mantasy' is triggered by the subconscious. I always get the best results when I stop thinking too much. Working late at night, getting lost in music, giving up control...How do you think you've developed as an artist in the interim?
I've always taken one step at a time, never rushed myself into anything, except maybe my first solo album. I think this strategy helped me a lot with both still being able to have colossal fun while I'm Djing or making music and improving my skillls. I feel like a good bottle of red wine... getting better with age.

You've put out a few mix cds, notably the three in the seminal 'Immer' series. Are you worried that you'll mainly be known in the future for these releases and did that prompt the making of 'Mantasy' in any way?
No, it wouldn't bother me to be remembered for the Immer series. Au contraire, that would be a nice way to be remembered. And as far as I can tell I'm not suffering from supressed artistic needs. Yet, it felt quite liberating and engaging to spend more time in the studio. Those seven months were a great experience, a exciting trip.

You've said that Kompakt " . . .is about offering alternatives, friendly suggestions of how to improve your life." In what way?
We're not promoting our musical vision with a sledgehammer. We're not very loud about our achievements. We're not imposing ourselves on you. But we're always there in case you get bored with what surrounds you.

There's a slightly surreal feel to some of the pieces on 'Mantasy', I'm thinking of the opener 'Sully', with it's depths of white noise and sonar, 'Lametusetwa' which metamorphosises into a subtle oom pah tune, 'Roses' with its medieval -sounding folk sample, and 'Rudi Was A Punk' just for being there. How important are dreams to you?
I've always felt very attracted by dream-inspired art, like HP Lovecraft, David Lynch or Edgar Allen Poe. We shouldn't underestimate the creative power of dreams and their cultural contributions. I'm always thankful when I've recall one.

Imagine all the great stuff we're missing because we can't remember all of our dreams. There must be a place where all the forgotten ones go. A lot of the music on 'Mantasy' is triggered by the subconscious. I always get the best results when I stop thinking too much. Working late at night, getting lost in music, giving up control... this method appeals to me a lot.

Sequentially, 'Mantasy' works really well. Is this aspect of putting an album together crucial to its understanding?
After some years of excessive shuffle mode use I'm totally back to listening to albums from A to Z. It can be so much more rewarding than listening to the random selections of your iThing. I wanted 'Mantasy' to work this way... a good album is able to keep your attention until the end. I've always adored albums that offer unexpected turns and surprises. It's the advantage of running an independent label that I was able to pace the album how I wanted. A major company would never let you put the key single at the end of the album...

"No smart phones . . . .Let's just have a good time." How fed up are you with being photographed while DJing, and how easy will it be to get people dancing more than posing?
It doesn't really bother me when people take pictures while I'm playing. I just feel sorry when they miss the best parts of the night staring at a screen. I still think dancing is a sexier expression than tweeting.

Thank you Michael.

Artist: Michael Mayer
Title: Mantasy LP
Label: Kompakt

Tracklist 01. Sully02. Lamusetwa03. Wrong Lap04. Mantasy05. Roses06. Baumhaus07. Rudi Was A Punk08. Voigt Kampff Test09. Neue Furche10. Good Times
Artist: Michael Mayer - Title: Mantasy LP - Label: Kompakt
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