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Germany’s Favorite Sonne: Schiller

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Schiller is Germany’s undisputed most successful electronica artist: boasting over 300 sold out concerts and 7 albums of which 3 have gone Gold, and three platinum since 1998. His latest album Sonne (German for ‘Sun’) sees Schiller touring further outside of his native Germany, with gigs in Eastern Europe and Russia to build upon his home success ahead of the release of his next album Opus which drops this August. Data Transmission caught up with Schiller, aka, Christopher von Deylen, to talk about his 15 year career and the changes he’s seen to date. 

You’re one of the longest running names in electronic music. Why do you think that is?

It’s surprising for myself. I try not to count the years but a lot of people are in the habit of doing that for me. I get a little frightened because I often feel like I just started. I’d hope by now I’d know how it goes but I still feel like a rookie. 

Electronic music has changed so much – over the course of your career, what do you think has changed the most?

I think the reception and distribution of music has changed a whole lot. That doesn’t necessarily concern music yet but in the past, we made white label vinyl that had to be distributed physically to the DJs, labels had to send in orders via fax or mail, this whole process was very physical. Not only the actual send out of the record but the whole process of making it, pressing vinyl etc. Today you can send an EP, an album, in full quality, out to the world, you can gather instant feedback. I’m never going to be one of those that condemns progress because it does make life easier, but I think one should have an eye on the actual content because it’s kind of easy to dilute. Now, you can put out a new track every day. Previously the process was far more laboured which forced you to take time over things. Somehow, detail can be lost otherwise – It’s almost too convenient. That may be a danger that in future music might become too casual –  a producer will put out substandard content because it doesn’t matter – tomorrow’s track will be better. Whereas before the artist was more introspective: “What am I doing here, Is this relevant?” It’s more difficult to maintain this process nowadays.

So there’s a risk that with music production and distribution moving faster there’s less of a chance for it to develop?

To an extent. I mean deadlines and so on are important, otherwise I’d never get anything done – you wouldn’t come even close to the point – because the deadline forces you to come to a conclusion – but I think there’s a thin line between this positive pressure and being impatient. Music is now like Twitter- it’s so easy – and the moment a tweet’s out there, it feels ancient, it feels from another period. We don’t want to over exploit this feeling however, as we’ll just end up creating what are essentially accoustic tweets.

Do you think the improved ease of producing electronic music over say getting a band together to record is why it’s taken over in places like the US

Perhaps. It’s interesting because the US in particular has always – up until just a couple of years ago – been dominated by mainstream rock. But now, the Billboard charts are filled with electronic tracks sure, but it’s essentially 90s Eurodance. More than production changes, tt’s a kind of renaissance of sorts. There’s effectively been 15 years delay for the American public to take this on. Perhaps it’s because the rock music mainstream went into a creative debt. Interestingly it’s been the RnB artists in America that in many ways helped start it – even before the big collaborations, they were using far more daring sample-based electronic sequences in their music. 

How do your albums come together?

I have no idea! It’s just a blend of sound and verses that I like and I try to put them under one roof and make it a harmonic but still exciting venture. There’s often a loose theme of sorts. I find a few tracks that fit and they behave as my headline effectively. One of the biggest challenges is creating the actual tracklist – so much good and so much harm can be caused. I try to keep it as dramatic as possible build-wise, but then an individual track stands to lose all it’s power if placed next to the wrong track – so it’s a case of assessing it’s stand alone influence versus how it fits with others

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