Weiss, Weiss, Baby!
Lumping British producer Weiss into the ‘New Talent’ category is a bit of a strange call. On the one hand, he’s undoubtedly deserving of his place in the section, not least because his debut outings, ”Weiss City Volume 1” and the similarly dizzyingly eclectic ”Weiss City Volume 2”. On the other hand, however, he’s not strictly a newcomer, as we found out recently when we caught up with him to talk about his relationship with Toolroom (the label that’s played host to the aforementioned releases), his thoughts on contemporary electronic music and his future plans…
First off, how do we pronounce your name? And what was the inspiration behind it?
You pronounce the name with a V like ”vice”. There was no inspiration really behind it. It means ‘white’ or ‘knows’ in German.
You’ve chosen to remain relatively elusive thus far. What was the reasoning behind this?
Well I wanted people to listen to my new style of music with a different ear. I think we’re all guilty with it but if you’ve been making a certain style of music for years, your fans expect a certain style, so this was another reason for why I changed my name to an alias.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing. Where did you grow up and when was the first time you were introduced to electronic music?
I grew up in Surrey where I lived most of my life, and I come from a very musical family where my mum would constantly listen to Motown and my Dad would always record the Top 40. I used to play the guitar and learned the piano. Mainly when I was young, I was into comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but from a very young age I always had a passion for music.
What was it about the music that made such an impression on you from a young age?
When I was 14/15 my brothers used to go clubbing in London to Club UK and other various clubs, and they always talked about how good the music was, so naturally I wanted to hear what it was all about. A friend of my brothers lent us a set of belt driven decks which I practiced and practiced on and just built up this love for house music. After a few years I went down to Brighton to learn the engineering side of the business and came back and bought my own studio, developed a style, signed my first record and it all went from there really.
And was this soon manifested by raves etc? What DJs and producers first caught your ear?
Yes, When I was about 17 I sent a letter to Pete Wardman at Kiss 100 and he replied and said whenever I want to out clubbing just give him a call. This was my first proper experience clubbing from a young age, I even got a gig at The Chunnel club and for a 17 year old that was amazing. Many house artists caught my ear but it was all about The Todd Terry Projects and Sound Of Eden. I love listening to early Hardcore and House at school with my walkman.
The Weiss City series has proved really great for you so far. How you first conceive of the idea and what’s your thinking behind it all?
I really wanted to release a series of EPs or LPs that expressed a feeling in the studio. I approach each track differently, but bringing in this new Weiss style I’ve created into each track. I suppose you could say it’s Old School music with new school beats. I wanted to go back to my roots as with my original name the music was going too far away from what I’m about. This time around I’m really enjoying making music big time with no one on my shoulder telling me what to do.
The series is really eclectic too. Do you consider yourself a very diverse producer? Do you listen to many strands of music aside from electronic stuff?
Oh of course. You can’t just listen to one style of music! Well, I guess you could if it works for you but personally when I’m away from the studio I listen to everything from classical music to Phil Collins. I do find myself listening to how the tracks are made and the production behind the tracks are, but as a producer you just can’t help it.
What’s your take on contemporary electronic music? Is it in a good place or a bad place?
Well, it’s definitely changed and the progressive house side is massive in America right now, but I think they are starting to see the deep house scene being the next step over there. I personally can’t stand the “progressive house” scene, as I think it all sounds the same but each to there own and I respect the producers behind it who are successful.
Have you had the chance to play the music out yet? How was it received when you did? Do you get nervous when road-testing tracks like that?
Well I was lucky enough to play over in Ibiza this year at the newly refurbished Eden. The music sounded so deep and cool on their new system but in September I played in Germany at Bullitt and the crowd went mad. I also played at ADE this year with Toolroom and the night was immense.
To be honest, I was slightly taken aback when I heard released you tracks were on Toolroom. Do you agree that they’re slightly different than the label’s typical fare?
Yea, Toolroom are like a family to me and have always looked after me. They have been behind this project from last year when I first started getting the music together and have been right behind me ever since. The thing is, Toolroom have big plans for next year in 2014 and moving in a different direction so exciting times ahead.
So why Toolroom? What endeared you to the label in the first place?
Like I said before it’s how they treat me as an artist and want to do everything in their power to make this successful. In 2014 we have lots of things lined up and can’t wait to get this going. I’m already buzzing about it now.
So, did Mark Knight make a big impression on you from the off? How did you guys first meet?
Yeah of course. He’s a really nice guy and very smart when it comes to this industry. We met years ago and hit if off. I’ve got lots of respect for the guy and how he has done so well in this industry turning a small label into one of the main labels in this industry.
Has he played the tracks out yet at his gigs too?
He has – and he said they rock!
What else interests you aside from music?
Well my family, as I just had my baby boy this year in May. I love collecting expensive movie models like Predator and Akira. I know, very geeky but that’s just me. I also love football and I’m a Tottenham fan, so love watching the games on the weekend. I’m really getting into this shouting dad thing at my older sons football games. It almost becomes a war against parents on the touch line but very funny!
We’re rightly touting you as a ‘New Talent’ here, so what else should we be looking out for from Weiss over the next while?
Well thank you for that. I’m currently working with Bontan on a collab for early 2014. I’m going in the studio with Tom from Groove Armada, where we’re going to be doing a series of EPs. A certain guy with Green Velvet hair approached me last week and wants me to remix his latest track from his album. A UK tour is being talked about for next year with Toolroom plus loads of other gigs like an Australian tour, Austria, Germany, BPM festival and Ministry Of Sound on Boxing Day.