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Daniel Stefanik: all Growin Up

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Germany has never been lacking in innovative electronic music producers. Although it often lives in the shadow of nearby Berlin, Leipzig is home to an increasing amount of these individuals: men and women who are really pushing the boundaries in the house and techno field. Daniel Stefanik can be safely included in this list. With credits on a host of the underground’s most clued-in imprints, his is a musical CV that speaks to numerous discerning individuals. His latest EP, released under his DLSK guise on the Growin Music label, is proof indeed of his ability to mix it up when the situation arises. We checked in with Daniel recently to discuss the release, his career to date and his plans for the summer ahead…

Do you remember the first record you bought? What was it?

The first vinyl I bought was Sven Väth- Harlequin/ The Beauty and the Beast on Eye Q. The best thing about Sven is that he has always been so open-minded about electronic music. He absolutely proved that with his former labels like Eye Q, Harthouse and Recycle or Die.
What was it about electronic music that really appealed to you when you were growing up?

When I was 4 I attended a music school to learn to play the drums. Later, my parents bought me a synthesizer and an Amiga 500 so I could start producing music. It was a great hobby, but nothing more than that. I didn’t want to become a professional musician, It’s just something that happened, to be honest. Also, I studied Computer Science beforehand so I could earn some money. But my independent streak bought me to where I am now. I can’t think of a better prerequisite for a young artist.

And when did the hobby become a fascination? Was there one stage where you realised this was what you wanted to be doing for the rest of your life?

Well, as I mentioned I never actually wanted to become a musician; it just sort of happened! But of course there are these moments when you are performing on a big stage and you think about how it all started and the journey you’ve been on.

What do you consider your first big break as a DJ and music producer?

In 2003 I released my first EP, “Them People” with Matthias Tanzmann on Moon Harbour. People paid a lot of attention to it so that was the beginning of something special for me. All of a sudden I was playing in front of a lot more people! When Magda started to support the record, things changed quickly too. In a way, I wasn’t ready for it – I mean, I was still a huge fan of all these artists – but I think I handled myself pretty well.

And what would you say has been the highlight of your career to date?

Definitely the distant places I have been able to travel to like Japan, Chile or Brazil. In all likeliness, I would probably never have travelled there privately. But I think my whole career is a highlight, because my hobby became my job. And not many people can say that. Sitting in the studio and producing music is still a great privilege for me and one I’m very grateful for.

Let’s chat a bit about your latest release – what were you trying to convey with that one?

Since my last album , “Confidence“ on Cocoon, I realised that a specific sound is focused towards the name, Daniel Stefanik. The one track that everyone wanted to talk about from that LP was “Rush”, but I didn’t even think the track was the best on the album, and “Distillery” or “Confidence” were actually my highlights. Therefore, I needed a pseudonym that identified more with this sound – hence DLSK was born.

How do you find playing in the UK compares to Germany? Is there much of a difference?

Every country has its own unique sound. Also, the market is dominated by the UK. In the ‘90s, we observed the English music scene to get the new trends, with labels like Warp and Ninja Tune forming practically new genres. If you listen to techno, it is still hard to beat the likes of Surgeon, Mark Broom and Steve Bicknell. Events such as Secretsundaze or Mulletover are great parties of a really high quality. So it’s definitely lovely when I’m able to play in the UK.

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So how does a crowd effect how you DJ?

I always observe the people in the crowd to see if they feel the music or if they’d rather get the next drink. That’s when you start giving them little pieces of the records. So when you realize that people actually feel it, you go deeper into the music. But for me, it’s important to make a cut at some point and to play a completely different genre, because I personally enjoy it when you listen to a 2 hour techno set and you have a couple of house gems in there.

How often do you go record shopping these days? Do you feel the Internet is a good or a bad thing for record shopping? Maybe too many DJs play similar sets nowadays?

Back in the day, DJs played similar records because there weren’t a lot of productions in the genre for about 2-3 years. Tracks like “The Bells” by Jeff Mills got played for like 2 years before it was even released. Personally, I miss visiting record shops. When I would go to the shop and buy a record, the seller always gave me a special tip which I never regretted. Now, you have to find the highlights by yourself which is hard with that mass of music.
When was the last time you saw a DJ who really impressed you? What stood out for you with them?

Unfortunately it’s been a long time since a DJ has really impressed me, but James Holden is a great DJ. It’s unbelievable how large his musical spectrum is. The first time I listened to one of his sets I was totally fascinated. But the king is – and will always be – Derrick May. Besides that, Jeff Mills is another idol of mine.

What’s your ultimate aim as a musician? Is there one place you’d love to play that you haven’t? Or maybe one person you’d love to work with or a label you’d love to release on?

It has always been a big dream for me to travel to Detroit to play at the Electronic Movement festival. I’m very influenced by the sound of the city and it’s somewhere I’d like to get to know.  Also, I’d like to produce an album with Sven Väth, because the first vinyl I bought was by him so that would be a real honour!

What are your plans for the summer – and what do you love most about this time of year?

For the next 3 summers my main goal is to focus on my studies. Musically, there are always new projects I’m working on. I sit in the studio almost every day – it doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter.

But the seasons really have an influence on the sound. In the summer I’m in festival-mode and you really hear that in my sets. There will also be a back2back tour with Mathias Kaden and we’ll also produce a few releases together. I’m also working on a great jazz project with a pianist right now whereby we want to combine the modular system with a piano. Both of us are inspired by the label, ECM and we have a similar musical tastes, so that should be interesting too. I’m also working on a film project whereby I’ll produce the whole soundtrack. This is a really great experience for me.

Finally, can you give us a quick glimpse into your current record bag? What are you playing out a lot at the moment?

DLSK Record Bag:

Liro “Loma” (Enso 003)

Funk E “Fara Bataie De Clap” (Great Empty Circle 003)

Fumiya Tanaka “You Can Find The Key” (Perlon 107)

DLSK “Subterraneans EP” (Raum…Musik 095)

DLSK’s ‘Can You Get to That’ is out now on Growin Music

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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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