Swedish techno icon Adam Beyer released his first record in 1994, which means that this year he’s celebrating 20 years as one of the scene’s strongest, and most enduring titans. Not that he’s devoted any time to self-congratulatory fanfare, though: he’s been way too busy ripping up clubs and festivals around the world, as well as A&Ring for his Drumcode Records imprint and its various sub-labels, which are now as strong as ever in 2013.
Listeners to his hugely successful Drumcode Radio show will be full aware of the exhaustive, and comprehensive array of gigs he’s been playing across the world; everywhere from Amnesia in Milan, the famed Output in New York City, Ultra Europe in Croatia, over to the incoming return to his regular stronghold at Fabric London on December 28th.
Listeners to those sets will also be aware of the truly impressive versatility that’s developed in in recent years; while many might still remember him for the uncompromising hard techno from which he built his name throughout the 90s, nowadays he’s equally adept at taking things deep, or even settling into a polished tech house groove if the occasion so calls for it.
“Versatility is something that I’m trying to show now,” Beyer tells Data Transmission. “And I think that’s one of my strengths; I just like playing different music. I like to play parties in Mykonos where the crowd is nearly progressive, very deep. You can play at 122BPM and it’s still quite banging. And then you play somewhere in Germany on the weekend where it’s all Berghain style toughness. And I also like to go from tough to deep when I’m playing the longer sets”.
For a great example of Beyer giving this versatility a proper workout, look no further than his return to the afore-mentioned Berghain in Berlin during November, for the annual ‘Drumcode Total’ party. His first destination upstairs in the Panorama Bar on Sunday morning, where he commenced a six-hour back-to-back set with his partner-in-crime Ida Engberg, keeping the focus squarely on the house grooves. It was a warmup of sorts for his performance on rhe mainfloor in the late afternoon; a 5-hour set of unbridled intensity, and techno in its most pure and uncompromising form.
On the production front, you can also hear it in his new Ida Engberg collaboration You Know, out now on his Truesoul imprint; what he describes as, “part of me opening up a little.”
In anticipation of his upcoming gig at Fabric in London at Saturday 28th November, Data Transmission sat down with Beyer to delve a little deeper into his approach to the craft.
So October has been a month of 100 percent Drumcode events?
Yeah I think so, every single one during October is a Drumcode party. In a way it’s good to have them all in the same time; although the negative side of it is that the summer season has just finished, and a lot of people might take it a bit more easy in October, while we have all those super big shows with everybody around, which means we always tend to enjoy ourselves a little as well. So it sort of pushes on a bit after the summer for another month with all these big parties in a row [laughs]. But it’s great; it’s nice to be able to do it.
Two of the times I caught you performing this year were at two of Europe’s biggest festivals; Ultra Europe in Croatia, and Tomorrowland in Belgium. As the commercial side of dance music grows, do you feel that it’s taking the underground with it?
Quite a bit, for sure. Especially in the US. It’s exploded in the past two to three years; every single tour I’ve done has been super amazing, just packed with people who are super excited. With Europe, we already have a very strong scene, and I think in some ways it’s almost going in the opposite direction. Especially central Europe, not so much around the Mediterranean, but more centrally, you’re hearing a lot of Berghain influences again, things are a lot rawer and tougher again, and I think that’s a response to the whole EDM thing amongst the real techno fans in the community, wanting to keep it intact. But still I think it’s growing, and a lot of the kids who were into Swedish House Mafia and Skrillex three years ago are now listening to tech house, and then in another three years they might be listening to techno. But it’s definitely growing, and people are just pouring into the scene, it’s massive.
You’ve been doing this for just on 20 years now. it must feel quite satisfying to be reaching new levels of success even now?
It is satisfying. It’s been a very slow and gradual process. There were never any super highs or super dips; it’s been quite a flat line that has been slowly rising. Which is nice, and I think in techno that’s what you see happening with many of the artists and DJs. It’s hard to get big fast, so you have to push yourself for years and years.
And you’re obviously someone who takes techno very seriously as an artform?
Sure… Yes and no, I would say. I’m not a super purist in the sense like I used to be, when I was younger. I think I’m trying to have a bit of fun with it now as well, and to also play outside of techno with other genres a bit more too, and move out of that stereotype of being locked in.