5 Minutes with… DJ Hell
An unequivocal industry visionary, DJ Hell‘s career has embodied and then transcended his many guises: Anti-Superstar DJ, International DeeJay Gigolo Label Boss, GQ Man of the Year, Playboy, Jetsetter, Bon Viveur, Munich Machine, New York Muscle. Seeing, and envisioning – that is of enormous relevance to Hell. He managed to convey pure artistic prowess as well as pure style during his thirty year DJ career. The individual look, the do-it-yourself approach, the elitism. That’s how it grew.
If I could take you back to the beginning and ask you what first drew you to electronic music?
Electronic music was all around in the 70s when I was growing up in Bavaria. Lots of German bands try to find their own identity and own musical direction. Many went out of the big cities and start experimenting with electronic music and life altogether in old farmers houses and protested against the Vietnam war or were fascinated by Indian culture and try to life an alternative lifestyle.
What were/are your influences?
I would say the people who influenced me musically were; early kraftwerk and roxy music – tangering dream and pink Floyd, human league or heaven 17
Where was your first gig?
My first gig was when I was in a DJ team playing in small venues during the week – it was deep inside the countryside of Bavaria.
Could you tell us about the processes that you go through when creating new music?
I was already thinking as a producer and musician when I was listening to music at a very early stage. I tried to analyse the music and the structure of the song, and write my own music on paper with my very own system. It was a long time before I started playing out in night clubs or produced my first records in the early 90s.
Is there a formula you adhere to or a looser organic process?
I wouldn’t say there is a formula I follow, so would say it is as you put it a looser organic process.
Where has been your favourite place to play?
I would have to say its always the main cities around the world, paces like Rio, Tokyo, Berlin, NYC, but the soul and the spirit comes always from little towns and little places/cities
How do you feel the rise of digital software which has help breed a new generation has affected electronic music?
The digital world helps a lot to make your life easier as a DJ and producer or label owner. Its always a question of how you use it and what it will end up sounding like at the end
What do you do to relax?
Sleeping, cycling, swimming, go to a soccer game, playing tennis, read or produce a track.
Have you any interesting/bizarre stories to tell from your time touring?
There is funny interesting and good stories every weekend and one day I wish to write them all down and release it.
Now your name is synonymous with your label, how did the transition come about from artist to label boss? What new challenges did this present? And do you feel a greater responsibility now as a label boss that your imprint should represent your own philosophies and beliefs?
Gigolo and I went to lots of different areas. We reached the top and felt down after 2 bankrupt distributions, but now we still exist and are making no compromises with the music we’re releasing. I don’t see myself as a label boss or anything like that, I am just lending a helping hand to other artist’s I release and take them on tour and try to push them to their limits.
What would you change about electronic music scene if you could?
There are too many people involved seeing this music as a good business or just make a profit and not interest in good music anymore.
I’ve read that you’re quite the political activist, with pledging your support to Ukrainian Protest group FEMEN. How did this come about? Do you feel a lot of music has lost its political edge?
Electronic music was never involved in political ideas; we talk about music to make people dance. House music was originally a spiritual experience and techno was an intellectual form of new concepts inside the club-world. There was some artists like Underground Resistance who had really strong ideas and concepts but right now, I don’t see many people inside the club world interested in what is going on around them.Richie Hawtin is a man who thinks twice and trys to influence people with new ideas, most of the other big DJs are more into their private jets and new marketing strategies.
You were at the forefront of electroclash and reviving the sounds of yesteryear back in the 90’s. I’m sure you’ll have noticed that vinyl sales have grown dramatically in recent years, how do you feel about the re-emergence of analogue equipment, and how the rise of digital software which has helped breed a new generation that has affected electronic music?
Electroclash was a big hype and touched lots of younger producers and DJs to start their own career I am happy to give this musical genre a name and it helped lots of artist to get known, also where the blueprint for lots of new labels came from. I have nothing against writing my name inside the musical history books and get connected with a musical genre like electroclash. Gigolo pushed the limits at that time and released lots of innovative new music so the key to build up your own sound, your own musical sign – this was always a mixture of everything inside the studio – analogue and digital mixed together and used or manipulated the way I think its right.
If you could play a gig literally anywhere, where would you want to play?
Las Vegas is an amazing city and I would love to play there.
Do you have any projects outside of music you could tell us about?
Other projects I do? I do a lot of graphics videos
Who else’s music are you enjoying at the moment?
I am really enjoying Recondite at the moment, and really enjoying the music at moment.
Are the any rising stars you’d recommend?
I would have to say a rising star I would recommend would be Terranova DJ
What does the future hold for DJ Hell? Any collaborations or other big projects you can tell us about?
There is a new single coming up that should be with you shortly its called ‘hell presents klaus nomi – cold song 2013’