Andre Galluzzi talks Aras, Berlin and London

Words by: Ralph Turner
Posted: 10/9/13 10:41

Andre Galluzzi: I still get a great thrill from finding new artists on vinyl...Andre Galluzzi is a man who's led a long and incident-filled relationship with electronic music. Hailing from Frankfurt, Germany, he first started DJing at 14, a move that eventually paved the way for a residency at the legendary Ostgut Club in Berlin, and soon after, Berghain, where he became the first of the famous club's residents and helped ease in a new dawn in electronic music.

Nowadays, he keeps busy thanks to an intense touring schedule and, of course, his Aras imprint, the label he helms alongside another member of the Cocoon agency, Dana Ruh. Label commitments aside, he's also working on his solo album and has just released ''Beetle''; a dark, twisted slice of techno that forms part of Cocoon's celebrated Cocoon 100 release.

We caught up with the Panorama Bar resident recently to get the lowdown on his current take on the scene, his favourite afterparty memories, his move to London and his plans for the new label...

You've been involved with electronic music for many years now. What do you make of where we're at right now?
When I started in 1991, the scene was quite different as it only just beginning and there was never a huge public interest in the music. 'Techno' was a home for special music lovers and a base for only a few artists but today it's obviously more established and with countless formats and options. This didn't come about by accident or overnight though; I think this development has taken well over 20 years. So right now I'm still busy creating my own scene with my own ideas, creating my own scene with my own ideas like I've always done.

With the commercilisation of electronic music and the dawn of the Internet age, has the party scene lost a little of its wonder and innocence in your eyes?
Sure, the atmosphere has changed as techno has escaped the underground. The Internet has also facilitated a faster market where everything moves at a crazy pace, meaning music production and how we consume the 'product' has become more sterile in a lot of cases. Personally, my style is still discerning and underground, and while I respect that it's not for everyone, I'm still dedicated enough and believe in the artists enough to tow records to my gigs. It's the same when I'm producing: I always insist on live instruments and vocals. But on the other hand, this age means I can maintain an international agenda as a DJ and help spread my music further, so I guess it works both ways. I tend to try and focus on my interpretation of the music though, and I guess it's here where my raw, organic, deep feeling from the early days is still evident.

I'm always striving to further develop and change my style with new nuances, & London felt like the proper place to do this...I recently read about your new label, Aras, which you run alongside Dana Ruh. I see that it's based on a 'London influence of music'. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
Yeah, we established Aras in 2011 in moved the whole operation to London a while after. My last label, Taksi, was formed in Berlin as well, so Dana and I decided to expand on my style using a vaguely 'London' template. As Dana is working in the UK a lot, we felt London was the best place for the label to grow.

And you're living there now, right? Is it purely down to the label?
In the main, yes, but it was a move I'd been debating for a long time. I'm always striving to further develop and change my style with new nuances, and London felt like the proper place to do this. For me, London is a great melting pot of cultures and is the only city in the world that can possibly challenge Berlin's strength when it comes to the music I love.

Dana Ruh by Marie Staggat Photography With Dana, do you find that you always agree a lot in the studio? How did the idea behind the label come about?
My relationship with Dana is really great, and we've found a good way to work together as a team - even though we both travel a lot. It's not essential to spend every last minute in the studio though, and I think we both recognise that. Personally, I'd rather work with somebody who speaks the same musical language. With the label, I also want to give a base to young, international artists. Aras also provides a platform for my more experimental side and as a place where I can showcase the ideas of my old colleagues and lesser established artists alike.

You mentioned Taksi [the label that Galluzzi ran with Paul Brtschitisch a few years ago] earlier. What happened with that one? Leaving the digital vs vinyl debate aside, how does running a label differ now? Is it still as exciting for you?
Paul [Brtschitsch] and I ran Taksi for over ten years and we had released some great music together. There's tracks I'm particularly proud of in the back catalogue, not least Taksi01, 'Taksi', Taksi05, 'Clearfaktor', Taksi 07, Schneesturm and Rundfahrt/Rohrbruch and of course the Bordelle/Regenschauer releases.

Over the years Paul and I developed different styles, which happens a lot I guess. But we noticed that we were forever trying to find a compromise with one another's sounds, which doesn't really benefit either artist. We understood after a while that the time had come to follow our own musical path and even though it was sad, we still remain very good friends.

Regarding your question about running a label, well, I think the main difference today is that it's more of a “business card” more than anything else. But don't get me wrong, I still love running a label and it's as exciting as it's ever been.

Do you ever still play any of the old Taksi Records?
Man yes, absolutely...I love the old ones and you'll still find them in my sets from time to time. That's something I've always worked on and something I've always considered essential to my music - I've always set out to create timeless records that are still playable and make an impression years after their release.

You've always tended to favour collaborating with other artists, such as Paul [Brtschitisch], Guido Schneider and more recently, Dana [Ruh]. What have you picked up from them all?
I think when you work together with an other artist, it's the way you adapt to new processes that's most interesting. So the interesting thing is the end result; the result of two different musical minds. For me, that's what makes working with someone else such as unforgettable experience.

It's funny, because when I checked back on your mixes such as Berghain 1, Im Garten etc, I noticed how they really seemed to capture a special time in electronic music. Have you any plans to mix any more CDs? Or have they lost their relevance somewhat recently in your eyes?
I guess it just comes down to what we said earlier about the new age of electronic music. I still like mixing CDs but you have to listen to the market; it's fun, but it's not something that's requested so often any more. But I still bring my experience to the podcasts I do and try to release them regularly, such as the ones I've done lately for Cadenza and Cocoon.

So tell me about this party that you're running. We Play Vinyl, right?
I have this vision of keeping vinyl alive and I was incredibly happy to see this vision come to life through the party. The first one was in 2011 and we had Ricardo Villalobos, Sascha Dive, Guido Schneider, Dana Ruh and myself playing at Astra and the night was absolutely unbelievable, with myself and Ricardo playing for 6 hours back-to-back.

We've actually got the next party coming up soon and we're working with talented young artists who continue to promote vinyl as a medium even though they've grown up in the digital age. That's something that makes me very proud.

Speaking of being proud, you're also pushing 'newer' names on Aras such as Marc Miroir and Maher Daniel. Does it feel nice to 'give back' in this way? How did they come to your attention in the first place?
I met Maher Daniel during my North American tour in 2012 in Montreal. After my gig he played me some tracks, and Tauben came to my attention immediately.

I've known Marc [Miroir] for a long time, though, as he was once the resident at Airport Würzburg and when he moved to Berlin we stayed in contact.

One day he called me and told me he had a track I'd really like... and he was right! And that's how Under Control came to be on Aras alongside Tauben!

I wanted to go back a bit. From Berghain to Cocoon, you've been involved in some of electronic music's most colourful parties over the years. Do you yearn for the old days in a way or do you always look towards the future?
Obviously my ties to Berghain and Cocoon are something that mean a lot. Playing for both of them will always be very memorable for me.

But as is the case with the label, I'm always looking ahead rather than backwards. DJing is one part of being an artist, and as an artist part of your life is to look ahead.

In Berghain, my dark, prime-time side comes out. And when I play at Panorama Bar, I tend to play a more 'after-hours' set...You're set to play Berghain soon alongside some of the residents such as Norman Nodge, Marcel Fengler and nd_baumecker. How do you change your mindset when playing the different rooms? Or does it effect you at all?
Well it’s nice to play both floors! Honestly, I'm comfortable doing both; particularly because I can play for a really long time and really express myself in those rooms. When I get a chance to play a really long set, I tend to mix everything from techno to deep house to more smooth stuff. In Berghain, my dark, prime-time side comes out. And when I play at Panorama Bar, I tend to play a more 'after-hours' set which is sort of lighter. It's a bit like explaining night and day.

I gather Cocoon - and being part of the crew there - has become pretty special for you over the years. I remember the first time I went to Ibiza and you did those promotional shots with Sven, Richie and Ricardo where you all dressed up in a rather 'interesting' manner. Many other fond moments you'd care to share with us?
Oh man, so many...I could talk to you about those times until tomorrow! But the after-hours with Sven [Vath], were totally spontaneous and amazing. We used to have them in forests and beaches – wherever we could really... 15 hour sets were almost normal! One night really sticks out. I'd just played with Richie Hawtin for Cocoon at Amnesia during the Wildlife season, and we went to a finka later on where we played a ping-pong set for hours on end. But immediately after that, we were due to go on tour...but we couldn't be stopped! So Richie cancelled his flight so we could continue playing... five times in a row. There was no reason to stop the party.

A recent track of yours, ''Beetle'', alongside Dana Ruh, has just featured on Cocoon 100, Cocoon's 100th release. What does it mean to be selected?
We're obviously very proud to be on the vinyl record, especially as there only three tracks on the box and many other artists released solely on the CD. So for sure, ''Beetle'' is a huge honour for me.

Aras and touring aside, are you keeping busy in the studio right now?
Yes, I've been really busy in the studio lately. Beside the upcoming Aras records and collaborations next year, I've also already started producing my first solo album.

And what can we expect from that one?
This album is going to reflect a typical set of mine, and I want it to be understood as a kind of journey, track by track. So there'll be smooth tracks that are easier to listen to, prime-time sounds and after-hour pieces. Watch out for that one in spring 2014.

Andre Galluzzi & Dana Ruh's ''Beetle'' is out  as part of Cocoon 100, the 100th release on Sven Vath's Cocoon imprint.

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