Oliver Hafenbauer is a busy man. Artistic director of Live At Robert Johnson, resident DJ at the Frankfurt club and label boss of the ever gratifying Die Orakel, his agenda is pretty full to say the least. So when he dedicates some of his time to record a podcast, you know the series is in safe hands.
His background in architecture is certainly felt in the way Hafenbauer runs his affairs: Die Orakel like LARJ form the pieces to a multidimensional whole, tastefully composed and versatile, the harmony comes in through a marriage of boldness and control. Whilst LARJ sees him stick to the beaconed aesthetic of a club turned institution, Die Orakel offers him the opportunity to stray from normative patterns and wrongfoot the most sterile expectations, making exceptions his only rule.
Blending all types of grooves and moods, from the low-slung tribal swing of African Head Charge to Beatrice Dillon’s dance deconstructivism onto the sleek & deep electro-house of Youandewan, his mix is a polyamorous bonfire that likes to tickle the gauge between straight-up danceability and rhythmic experimentation. In the meanwhile, we took the chance to go a little further behind the scenes and find out what makes Oliver tick.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"I founded Die Orakel because I felt the strong need to start something on my own."
If this mix were a day of the week what day would it be?
The mix was recorded at Robert Johnson on a rainy Tuesday morning. Not sure if that had an effect on the track list.
You’re juggling multiple hats: A&R of Live At Robert Johnson, in charge of the club’s booking, DJ whilst you also run the excellent Die Orakel. How do you keep going?
That sounds like a lot of work, I know. But most of my work has something to do with music or the music industry. I think it’s pretty easy to combine these different scopes of duties during a working day. I’m an organized person and try to be focused during work.
What was the starting point to your collaboration with Ata?
Well, one day Ata called and asked me if I’d like to do the booking for Robert Johnson and the Live At Robert Johnson label management. That was in January 2009 and my start in the music industry. At this time I just finished studying Architecture, but music was always my passion. I was DJing a lot in Frankfurt and already had a residency at Robert Johnson since 2005.
What motivated your choice to set up your own label? You described Die Orakel as “indecisive between experimental and dance music”. Is it for you a way to explore more oddball, non-calibrated horizons than LARJ would permit?
I founded Die Orakel because I felt the strong need to start something on my own. At Live At Robert Johnson, I’m the label manager and A&R and with more than 40 releases the label found its sound identity.
I grew up listening to early Warp Records stuff and I think that had the biggest influence on my music taste. With Die Orakel I follow a similar path and release ambient, electronica, leftfield or techno records.
Can you tell us more about Jaures’ new record on Die Orakel?
Jaures is a duo of producers and Adorno fans living in Berlin. I love them and their output. I could host a complete label releasing their music only. Their sound is not clearly defined to one genre, it’s somewhere between new beat, ebm, world music and techno.
Their new record is titled “Ursprung des Irrtums” and will be released on Die Orakel. One of the tracks from the EP has an excellent video edited by Stefan Haag, also known under his musician alias Chinaski:
What was your first encounter with electronic music?
Before I was into electronic music I listened to all sorts of stuff, like hip-hop and punk. My first record was Public Enemey’s “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back”. In the early 90s I discovered electronic music and I was fascinated by it.
A good friend of mine introduced me to Warp Records; from then on I started buying records. I was 15 years old; everything was so new to me. Some friends and I went to “Delirium”–the record store in Frankfurt in the 90s–because they had flyers for parties and magazines about club culture.
We secretly sneaked out of our homes at night to party at different clubs in Frankfurt like XS, Omen or Dorian Gray. Some day Ata, Heiko MSO and ND Baumecker started the Wild Pitch Club and I fell in love with house music.
Wild Pitch Club
You graduated with a degree in architecture. Do you feel a parallel can be drawn between the fact of arranging sound waves and concrete curves?
No, I don’t think so. Organizing city plans; ground floors or designing facades has nothing to do with arranging music.
I also heard you have a hand in Club Michel too, the restaurant owned by Ata. Where does this passion for food come from?
A few years ago Club Michel was a loft space with a huge kitchen. During the week it was the Robert Johnson office–we used to work on the same tables where people sat and enjoyed their dishes on the weekend.
Due to a restructuring of the city center the house was tored off. We moved into a new space, Robert Johnson office and the restaurant are now spatially divided on one floor but still close allies.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
The last record store I visited was Ultrasuoni in Rome. I bought a couple of records; one I remember was from Ruutu Poiss. We went to the store before going to the club. I left my new records in the car and I have been waiting for the package since a then. The last record I bought was a Lowtec record on Blundar via Discogs a couple of days ago.
What have you planned for the end of year?
I’m currently putting together the forthcoming Lifesaver 3 Compilation for Live At Robert Johnson, which will be released in May 2017. I am also working on the next Edward release on Die Orakel, which will come out in February 2017.
1. African Head Charge – Dervish Chant
2. Jaures – Hindernis und Folge
3. Call Super – Puppet Scenes
4. Beatrice Dillon – Halfway
5. Youandewan – Something Keeps Me Real Quiet
6. MM/KM – Viertausendsechshundert
7. Khan & Walker – Schleichfahrt 3
8. Kassem Mosse – Molecular Memories
9. Greg Beato – Haunting
10. Minor Science – Underripe
11. Arpanet – Wireless Internet
12. Chris & Cosey – Synaesthesia (Daniel Miller Mix)