Robert Dietz: Premium Export
The Frankfurt electronic music scene is well known as a breeding ground for some of the biggest names in house and techno, such as Sven Vath, Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano. It therefore comes as no surprise that the name Robert Dietz is currently creating a stir throughout Europe and the US. With impressive releases already behind him on Cecille, Cadenza, Running Back, Saved and most recently Desolat, as well as big support slots alongside Loco Dice, the future looks very promising for the man who learnt his trade at the famous Robert Johnson club.
Following his early Saturday performance at South West Four in the DJ Mag arena on Clapham Common, we sat down with Robert for a chat about moving to Berlin, touring, working with Desolat, and his new label.
How have you found SW4 so far today?
I just came off stage and the crowd was warming up really nicely. I’m planning to stick around for the rest of the day and chill, and then tomorrow I fly to Ibiza for Viva Warriors.
How do you approach a festival set compared to a small, intimate club environment? Do you approach these sets differently? Is it harder to pick out tracks for these shows?
I would never play tracks I wouldn’t feel; sometimes you will be in the mood to play a little more stripped back or deeper, but sometimes you have to mix things up depending on the setting. I always really enjoy playing in the UK; the crowd are always open minded.
You recently moved your studio to Berlin, how is living in Berlin treating you?
I grew up in Frankfurt, but the nightlife really went down there over the last few years, there is nothing happening so much there at the moment. A lot of my friends moved to Berlin over the last few years so now I am really happy to be there, the city has a lot to offer in a cultural way. As a producer it is very inspiring and there are more opportunities for collaborations. Clubs like Weekend, Watergate and Hoppetosse are great places to play. I have not yet had the chance to play at Panoramabar.
What are your thoughts on strict door policies in German clubs? Does it somewhat maintain the scene over there?
Yes it does in a way and I think it’s not too bad, when we started going out clubbing in the 90s you weren’t always sure if you were going to get in. This gave the excitement of being in the queue and getting closer and closer to the door, I think it’s part of underground nightlife and sometimes you have to choose the crowd. Of course not every club can afford that because they need to earn money and want to earn money, but I think it’s part of a good club to have some kind of selection process.
How long does it usually take you in the studio to come up with ideas? Is it usually an easy process?
It depends, sometimes I make a track in 2 hours and sometimes you can sit there for 2 weeks and you’re still not satisfied. But the quick ones are mainly the better productions; it’s coming out of a feeling, natural and child-like without thinking too much.
You’ve had releases recently on some quality labels such as Running Back, Viva and finally your first full release on Desolat with the Sweatshop EP. Was it good to get the release out on Desolat after joining the Artist Alife agency?
Yes we finally made it happen! We were bouncing this idea back and forth with Loco Dice and he was one of the first ones asking me for a release on Desolat. When I joined the agency in 2012 he was like it’s finally time for you to do a release. It took a couple of months last year when I was touring with Dice over the summer and following summer when I got back to the studio in October/November we got it locked it in.
How is it to be a part of the Desolat family? Do you think it is different to other record labels?
Everybody is free and stands for their own sound. Nobody is trying to copy each another. Guti and tINI for example are both equally successful in their own right then you have Hector and Yaya who are super cool DJs. Everybody has their own space to express themselves. It’s a really nice crew and I’m very happy to be a part of it.
Can you share any future releases that you have planned?
I’m scheduling to plan a release on my own label, this might happen by the end of the year. The release is ready and it will be one of my own productions, but I want to wait for the right time.
Will this be released on vinyl? I know you are a big fan of vinyl records.
Definitely, I’m still playing and buying records all the time. Even though when I’m on tour I’m playing with Traktor and DJ software. The reason why I changed from vinyl to Traktor is because the set ups in clubs are not really made any more for playing vinyl unfortunately. My DJ trolley with my laptop always goes onto the plane with me; with a record bag it’s more difficult. Even laptops are prone to errors, so I have a backup CD player on my setup.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year? Are you planning to carry on with a large amount of tour dates?
I don’t really know! In September I’m slowing it down a little bit, after the summer I like to tone it down a little bit and get back in the studio. I played 22 or 23 gigs over August. I was also in the United States a little bit on the West Coast. It can be exhausting at times!
How are you finding the current electronic music scene in America?
It’s growing; this EDM hype is not always a bad thing in my opinion. If these kids start to dig deeper they will eventually arrive on our dance floors and it’s our next generation. So you still need to educate and open minds a little bit more. The east coast is really good, especially New York and Miami. Output in New York is a really good venue and there are lots of warehouse parties there. I played in San Francisco recently and LA which had previously been difficult over the last few years, but this year it was really good. They are starting to understand it more and more. In Europe there is quality music at parties every week, but in the US it can sometimes be only once a month and other times people’s ears get mixed up with bullshit. To experience the music in a club with a proper sound system is way better.
Finally, if you had to pick where would be your favourite place to play in the world?
Really difficult, but one place which always stands out of course is Robert Johnson, because I kind of grew up in this club in the early days. I really like WOMB in Tokyo, it’s a cathedral and it’s incredible. In England I really enjoy the off locations that are cropping up in London and elsewhere. For me personally as a raver and DJ I need to be comfortable on both sides. If I know I would be comfortable on the dance floor as well as behind the decks then I know it’s the place for me.