Butch: Taking It To The Otherside

Words by: Peter Adkins
Posted: 17/7/14 9:06

Butch: Taking It To The OthersideBülent Gürler, best known to most people as Butch, is a producer’s producer. His tracks might be hypnotic, loopy jams that succeed in getting dance-floors heaving, but they’re also the kind of house and techno cuts that get music connoisseurs’ ears twitching.

Whilst Gürler’s work might sound deceptively straightforward on first listen, get beyond the rhythmic pull of his records and you’ll discover an attention to production detail that has long marked him out as something special.

From early hits such as 2007’s ‘On The Line’ to his epoch-defining anthem ‘No Worries’ to recent work on labels such as Visionquest and Rebirth, Gürler’s work has been increasingly exemplified by its fusion of insane rhythmic hooks and detailed sound design.

What’s more, his credibility in the DJ booth is just as mean. His residency at Watergate in the German capital is complemented by a non-stop tour schedule that regularly sees Gürler jet-setting from one continent to another, and back again. And not forgetting, of course, his regular summer appearances on the White Isle.

Behind Gürler’s success is a refusal to rest on his laurels or repeat past success. Obeying those famous instructions of the modernist poet Ezra Pound to ‘make it new’, Gürler’s career has been characterized by innovation and exploring the unknown. 

Take the last twelve months as an example. As well as announcing an experimental collaborative project with Ricardo Villalobos under the title of ‘Butric’, Gürler has also been in the studio working with new talent such as Sebastian Hohberg and Chriss Vogt.

In addition to these studio projects, Gürler has also launched a new label entitled ‘Otherside’. A joint venture with Hohberg, the label is designed as a platform for ‘psycho-acoustic’ music and was launched in Miami back in the Spring. Add to this the fact that Gürler is also currently working on a new album and zipping about on a busy summer tour, and its apparent that Gürler might be one of the busiest men in dance-music today. I Voice got in touch with the busy DJ to talk about life in the studio and life outside of it.

I love so many different genres and styles so I'd just be bored of doing the same-old-same-old every day. Seeing as I spend so much time in the studio I need it to be diverse...You’re incredibly prolific as a producer. I read somewhere that you impose a five-day working week on yourself in order to produce as much music as you do, is that true?
Yeah, that's true. I go to the studio on a daily basis, except when I'm off playing gigs. Usually, I go to the studio every day that I'm not on tour. It's just my natural thing to do.

I have this need to create and making music is how I've spent nearly every day since the ‘90s, so it's just what I do.

Your output is pretty varied in terms of sound and genre, from 303 jams to more experimental work. Do you ever worry about not having a singular identifiable sound?
No, I like surprising people and also myself. I love so many different genres and styles so I'd just be bored of doing the same-old-same-old every day.

Seeing as I spend so much time in the studio I need it to be diverse. I still have people come up to me and say I have a trademark sound and others who are totally surprised by the variety of my style.

One thing that does unify your work is an incredible attention to sound design. Could you talk me through how your studio set-up and how you tend to approach composing new material.
As I spend so much time in the studio my approaches really varies a lot, which[helps me] stay interested and excited about the work. Sometimes I grab my MPC2000XL and just start programming a rough beat and sometimes I immediately start with my Juno and record some chords. I use quite a few VSTs as well, I might start a song with a bassline in my head and play it with the MIDI keyboard. Working with other people also makes the process more versatile, as sometimes I have a very specific idea for a song or [Sebastian] Hohberg has one, or we just hang out and start doing something at the spur of the moment.

Earlier this year, you launched your new label Otherside, which you described as being a home for ‘psychoacoustic’ music. Could you expand upon that description a bit.
I've always loved trippy, mind-blowing music that takes you for a ride. This label exists solely for the purpose of releasing music that inspires the body, mind and soul. The music has many layers to it, all interacting and engaging with each other on various levels, making the music very versatile and the experience unique. The sound systems also plays a huge role with this kind of music. Listening to the music at home or in your car or in a club will all open up different aspects of the songs and reveal new layers you hadn't yet heard. I love the kind of music where you discover new connections years later, which you hadn't noticed before. I'm the Rakim of the techno producers (laughs)!

And are you still involved with Bouq. records? How do you envision the differences between the labels?
Bouq. is my collaboration with Amir and it's all about good vibes. Bouq. is like a barbeque with your best friends, where you hang out and have an amazing time together.

Otherside is more about my psychedelic, spiritual side. It is more earnest. With Sebastian Hohberg, I have a partner who is a studied musician. That automatically produces a different intellectual approach for Otherside, although Sebastian is still a very trippy and great guy to hang out with and manages the balance between musicality, fun and feeling very well. Bouq. and Otherside are two very important aspects of myself, which both need their space to be expressed.

Your last two records The Persistence of Memory and The Infamous both feature collaborations with Chriss Vogt. Could you shed a little more on who he is?
Chriss is a classically trained musician who grew up playing the saxophone and piano. His dad is a music professor, so it runs in his family. I've known him for ages now and I was a little surprised at how deep he was into electronic dance music when we met up again.

We'd somehow lost touch for a few years and before we rekindled he was heavily into jazz and I don't remember him listening to electronic music at all. But when we met again we automatically spoke about music and he knew loads about the genre and was really enthusiastic. So we agreed to get together and make some hot ass music together and we did.

Last December also saw the release of the first Butric EP, a collaboration between Ricardo Villalobos and yourself. How did you first get to know Ricardo, and how did this project happen?
I've known Ricardo for four or five years now. When I was working on Rawhide I could already see Ricardo playing it with my inner eye, so to speak, and so I sent the songs to him. He loved them and released the double EP on his label Sei Es Drum. From that point onwards, whenever we met at a gig or festival or whatever we always talked about collaborating and last year we found the time and got into the studio together.

Are there plans for future Butric records?
We went to the studio again six weeks or so ago. It was a lot of fun, but I'm not sure whether we'll release anything any time soon again, the post-production always takes up a lot of time and to be honest, this time we made some really far-out experimental stuff (laughs).  I'm really focused on Otherside right now, mainly working on the album with Hohberg. Generally speaking, I'm certain I'll make more music with Ricardo. But I'm not sure what will happen with it, there are no immediate plans.

Ibiza... I also have this theory that every DJ is totally Vitamin D and oxygen deprived and fills up his or her tank, so to speak, for the rest of the year. Usually a DJ and producer never sees sunlight because he spends all his time in the studio, at airports, in hotels or in a club. Ibiza is like a very, very long day outside for us...I know you’ve also been working on your next album, are you able to give us any details about that and when we might expect to see it touch down?
The new album is a collaboration with Hohberg on Otherside and it will be released this year. We are still making songs, even though we already have a great amount of music ready to go. The album is more for listening to at home and in your car, not as clubby as my previous work. Obviously, we are also working on a live-set which is more club-oriented again and using a lot of the material from the album in a different context. I am enjoying this kind of work very much at the moment.

You have been coming and playing at Ibiza for a few years now. What are your memories of your first ever trip to the island?
Ibiza blew my mind when I first touched ground. My first clubbing experience there was at a Circoloco party in DC10 and I immediately understood why everyone goes crazy about Ibiza. I also have this theory that every DJ is totally Vitamin D and oxygen deprived and fills up his or her tank, so to speak, for the rest of the year. Usually a DJ and producer never sees sunlight because he spends all his time in the studio, at airports, in hotels or in a club. Ibiza is like a very, very long day outside for us. We soak up all the energy to keep us going in the winter months.

You’ve played at Visionquest’s party at Space a few weeks back. How was that?
I love playing with the guys - the people at Visionquest are really kind and loving, they really make you feel welcome and part of the family! Space of course is a world-class club and I enjoyed the party very much.

How about when you’re not partying, where do you like to go when you have a little down time here? Any favourite beaches or restaurants?
I like to rent a car and just explore the island. I've found some amazing, beautiful locations and small, wonderful restaurants that I would have never spotted had I just hung out at the usual places. I can only recommend you do the same!

Finally, I have heard rumors that next year you have plans for a very special residency on Ibiza. Can you shed any light on this?
Well, I can say the rumors are right, but I prefer not to talk about unhatched eggs. My focus for this year lies totally on the Otherside. Next year is next year and I'm sure we'll have a lot more to talk about then!

Butch- Ibiza Dates
August 04 -  Circoloco @ DC10
October 04 - Amnesia Closing party

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