Johannes Beck is a producer, DJ and composer from Berlin. I first heard his music whilst listening to Kann‘s debut compilation CD ‘Family Horror‘. The final track ‘Rendezvous’ features a grooving ambient arrangement of strings, glitch and minimalism perfect for deep daytime reflections and mind expansion.
Beck’s DJ career began during the late 90s when the Berlin music and club scene truly began to take off. He quickly internalised the sense of how to create magic moments with music. As a live act, DJ and coordinator of parties and club events (Maria am Ufer, NBI) he contributed to some unforgettable nights in Berlin club history.
Since 2003 Beck has been playing his music in live sets in order to perform them in a more intense way. In 2005 his first album ”Mistake” was released and during the album tour he played live in cities such as Barcelona, Cologne and Berlin. This not being enough, he then started in his early thirties to compose film scores and music for contemporary dance.
Beck’s mix features a fine selection of records ranging from the deep sounds of Map.Ache and Andy Stott to the progressively uplifting sounds of Martin Landsky and Steffi. We’d also like to give a special mention to the artwork faceting the cover of this mix as it was painted especially by ‘Fine Heininger‘, designer of Mutual Musik.
Please can you introduce yourself, where are you originally from, what did you study at school / college and what are you currently up to?
Originally I am from the south of Germany. I live in Berlin since the late 90´s. At the moment I produce music for Kann Records and Mutual Musik and work in my studio on my next album.
What’s your musical background? Has your family and life at home influenced the way you interpret the many forms of music in your life?
When I was a child I took piano lessons for some years. But I didn’t like it. So I stopped and tried to learn how to play the guitar and African drums. Later on I discovered drum machines and samplers. I fell in love with this instruments. This love remains up to this day and I am working now with my machines more than in the last 10 years.
Where did your passion for electronic music stem? Is there a single person or a collection of people who have helped define your tastes?
There is one point in my life, I was 16 years old, and a good friend of mine sparked my interest in electronic music. He gave me a call and told me that he had a new tape with music and I should have to listen to it. So I went to his house, we spent the day together and listened to this tape on heavy rotation. It was a DJ set from a big rave party. And ever since that crucial day my interests in electronic music never stopped. I decided to find this kind of music and people which love this music. So I ended up moving to Berlin and get impressed/influenced of the electronic music scene here.
When was it when you realized that music was more of a hobby to you, and was actually a profession?
When I moved to Berlin and started DJing I recognized that this would be a part of my life for a long time. The energy in the clubs and the passion of the dancers, labels, live acts and DJ’s impressed me so much that I knew this is what I want to be a part of. I still love it.
You recently featured on the debut compilation ‘Family Horror’ on Kann. How did your relationship begin with Kann begin and what do you have planned in the near future with the imprint?
So, for my first Album I played a gig in Barcelona in 2005. It was a really funny time there and I met a guy which was born in Sachsen-Germany. He told me that there is a really fine Open Air festival in the country side of the area where he was born and he wanted me to play there. Two years later a guy (Polo) from this festival (Summerbash – Roßwein) gives me a call and invited me to this party. So I did a live set there and met the people from Kann Records which played after me. It was a really cool festival, we had a lot of fun – this is the way, everything started.
At the moment there are no plans for Johannes Beck and Kann Records. But in the future I think there will be some more collaborations (because I love these guys!). My next record will be released on Mutual Musik in September and maybe it’ll feature a remix from some members of Kann Records!
How would you summarize the Kann ‘sound’ AKA musical aesthetic?
Difficult. Sevensol from Kann Records said in an interview one year ago “manche sagen House” (“some people call it house”)
What makes Berlin such a special place to live?
Come and see, feel and you will understand.
In terms of going out in Berlin, what spots / venues do you frequent the most and where would you recommend someone from London to go and check out for music, art and culture?
I think the best is to start in a popular club – meet some people to find some good after hours and open air parties in the parks – and then it starts…Meet the people and everything falls into place.
Can you please describe how you go about creating your music? What time in the year are you at the height of your creativity and who do you create your music for, the listener or for yourself?
I create my music with drum machines, synthesizers, microphones (sampling the city) and my studio PC. On the software side I use Logic.
I produce music all the time. There is no favored time in the year. I have to make music all the time – its beautiful. Sometimes I make music just for me. Sometimes I think of club nights and the energy and the power of the music in the clubs – and then I produce for these moments.
Who do you gain inspiration from? Are there any producers or musicians that you feel are instrumental in the development of your style?
My inspiration has so many roots. The vibe of Berlin-City. My friends and the people near me who talk with me about music, design and art.
The list of musicians who inspire me is endless; e.g. Jake Fairley on Sender Records, T.Raumschmiere on Shitkatapult, Alex Smoke on Vakant and currently Nicolas Jaar on Clown and Sunset.
In Design the graphic artist Fine Heininger inspirited me a lot. I am very lucky to run with her our Label Mutual Musik!
Berlin DJs and live acts who inspire me with their music are e.g. Fine Musique, Hypnorex, Tristen and Oskar Offermann.
DJ-mixes which influenced me emly: Miss Kittin – Radio Caroline Volume 1 and James Holden – at the controls.
For your mix you made a special trip down to Hardwax to buy some fresh records. What’s your history with this record store and what does this store mean for Berliners inclined towards electronic music?
I buy my records in this store since 1999. Why? Because I like the place and the way they select music. The importance of the store for the Berlin music scene I cannot really describe. For me Hardwax is important because I find all that great dupstep stuff from the UK, the white label records from Europe and the Detroit and Chicago stuff.
What’s your preferred medium and why? Cassette / Vinyl / CD / Digital
Vinyl. I don’t know why – I love this medium – no clear reason.
You also compose music for films and modern dance, can you please expand on this and tell us more about your involvement and thought process with it?
I made some music parts for documentary films, most for Anke Lanzon. For dance pieces I made some live improvisations and music tracks for the 2005 award winning [“Das beste deutsche Tanzsolo” (“The Best german dance solo”] – Euro-scence Leipzig) dancer Daniela Lehmann. It is really interesting to work with dancers because you really make the music for the moment, the bodies and the action on the stage and you can fall into a flow with the dancers and you create music in interaction which underlines the performance work. I love this kind of improvisation.
Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Be careful with people you like.
1. Strassmann – Kreisel
2. Map.ache – Staten Island Aquarium
3. Andy Stott – Bad Landing
4. Elgato – Blue
5. Martin Landsky – sweet sweet morning (Swayzak Remix)
6. Steffi – Moving Lips
7. K-Boys – Nometown
8. Doc Daneka – Hold on
9. Dubstar – Shining Through
10. Johannes Beck – Rendezvous