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Claus Casper: “Do it with love, do it with passion, don’t do it because you’re expecting to become the next Calvin Harris.”

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German producer Claus Casper is a busy man. Not content with being a family man, he’s also a journalist of some pedigree (he writes for FAZE Magazine in Germany), but he’s also an esteemed producer. His latest EP, a collaborative effort with Matchy & Bott on the Swiss label, HIVE, is indicative of the fact, but as we soon realized from catching up with him, it’s far from his first release. A veteran of over 15 years in the game, it’s fair to say he’s a man who knows his stuff. With the aforementioned HIVE EP having just dropped, we quizzed him recently to find out more…

When did you first fall in love with electronic music? Who influenced you back then?

It must have been around ´91 when I visited the IT in Amsterdam, together with a good friend of mine. The resident back then was Dimitri, still one of the Netherlands’ most influential DJs. He has his own night at Trouw today and he totally blew me away back then. There was so much energy on the dancefloor, it was overwhelming!

We were so damn stoked that we went to IT the next night again. But when we entered the club the next night we realised it’d been transformed into a hardcore gay club. Only Thursdays where mixed and our first visit was on a Thursday…I’m still laughing when I remember our faces!

Shortly later I went to a club night called Barbarella in Cologne. Again on a Thursday, and Sven Väth played there once a month. It was magical. I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and started going clubbing weekly. Clubs like Space Club and Warehouse became my second home. In ‘92 I started buying records. Most influential back then where for sure guys like Sven or Laurent Garnier, but also the residents like Oliver Bondzio, Massimo and Paul Cooper.

Your new EP is just out on HIVE Records. Have you and the guys been friends for some time?

I’ve known Matchy & Bott from chatting and swapping ideas back and forth so it was only a matter of time until we thought it’d be a nice idea to collaborate. Personally, we haven´t met yet but this will come about very soon. We are going to play together on a label night for their new label, Discow.

It’s a collaborative effort – do you prefer working with others in the studio?

Definitely! I am a team player. Hooking up with my partner Jean Philips was a perfect match. We speak the same language. Everything goes hand in hand. I am good with ideas and sample digging. He’s a hell of an engineer.

The collaboration with Matchy & Bott just came about by exchanging files. We’ve never been to the studio together. I had that sketch of the preacher sample and a few beats and forwarded it to them, they worked it out and dropboxed it back. Then I added some more drums and arranged everything. Philips made the mixdown and that´s it.

Why is HIVE a good place for your music? Does it share an ethos similar to your own?

I met Samy from Animal Trainer who runs the label with his partner, Adi, only the once. His girlfriend Jenny is my booking agent at Jackmode so we met in Zurich for a lunch. He’s a great guy! We have a similar sense of humour.

HIVE has had some really dope releases like Jimi Jules or Dario D´Attis’ “Good Old Days” and we feel really honored to become part of the family. I think their ethos is about having a good time and so is ours so yeah, we’re a good fit for one another.

And the EP itself, was it produced with hardware or software? Do you have one way of working in the studio?

I use software only. More precisely, Logic. I produce on a MacBook. Matchy & Bott use Ableton so we had to exchange audios a bit. When I work with Jean Philips I often come around with a sketch and we work it out together. No big studio, no monitors, just a Mac and two Sennheiser HD 25s. Pretty basic, but it works perfectly for us.

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Do you think the hardware/software argument is still relevant these days?

When it comes to mixdowns and mastering, then definitely, yes! When I first heard the Smash TV remix for our last single on Emma, “What We Used To Be” I almost started to cry. They didn’t add too much – it´s more kind of an edit – but every single instrument sounds 1000% better than our original mix. It totally gave me goosebumps! Holger recently bought some SSL EQs and he already owns an impressive array of analogue gear. I immediately asked him to mixdown one of our latest tracks and the result is breathtaking…

Do your moods influence how you produce music? The release is quite eclectic isn’t it? What was the vibe you were going for?

If I am in a bad mood I simply don´t touch a track. Period. Philips and I joke about that a lot. You could say we are talking shit all the time. Do you really think it´s eclectic? Hmm, I think it has some kind of an old-school touch. All eyes on the dancefloor. That was the vibe. Create some serious bangers. Check. Put them on HIVE. Check.

So did the EP end up as it started out?

It started with “The Source”. When I dropboxed it to Samy he replied he really liked it but he wanted another track. HIVE was the first label to listen to the track so we were pretty excited. “Down Da Funk” was kind of a bespoke production for HIVE then.

What have you learned about producing music over the years?

Well, back in the days I learned to cut a tape delay on a reel 2 reel, and worked with AKAI samplers where you had only seconds of time to sample and DAWs crashed in every session. Nowadays you only need a good computer. That tells you everything!

And how do your sets differ? Are they just as unpredictable?

I’d say I have a pretty eclectic taste. It could be Deep House, and I mean real Deep House, it could be more kind of stripped down banging stuff like Radio Slave, could be vintage house like MCDE or Detroit Swindle, original old school tracks like some MoodIISwing Dubs or Chez Damier or it could be some Kompakt stuff. You never know what to expect – except a pleased crowd!

Do you have a residency in Germany?

No residency, but due to my JEUDI release I have a close relationship with Baalsaal in Hamburg. I love to play there. And now that I’m represented by Jackmode the schedule gets busier…

Who’s influencing your music a lot right now?

Again, I need to mention Smash TV. They are really on point! But also Innervisions stuff and Life & Death. Jimpster, Radio Slave, Koze and Kölsch too. There´s so much good music out there!

How long have you been producing now?

Hmm, maybe 15 years or more. I had some releases on Urban, Plastic City, Antedrum and others. I remixed Goldtrixx feat. Andrea Brown – “It´s Love (Trippin)” which was a top 5 in the UK and Oliver Cheatham’s “Get Down Saturday Night” back in the day, but then I had a really long break with producing. It all started again 2013 with “The Flow” on Exploited´s vinyl label, Black Jukebox. I’d had the idea of sampling Mark Morrison for a while and one day I went to a friend’s studio to produce it with him. Shortly after that, I had logic back on my laptop!

What one piece of advice would you pass on to budding DJs and producers out there?

Do it with love, do it with passion, don´t do it because you’re expecting to become the next Calvin Harris.

Claus Casper and Matchy & Bott’s ‘Source of Funk’ is out now on HIVE Audio 

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Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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