Rising Sun is the production alias of Steffen Laschinski, a producer and multiple record label curator from Berlin. Since discovering his music last year we’ve become enchanted by his productions and record label Kristofferson Kristofferson. In the interview below Steffen discusses his musical heritage, from exploring electronic music after the Berlin wall fell to Basic Channel and sampling music. Steffen also discusses his various record labels and his affection for the 7″ vinyl format. His mix features music from Galcher Lustwerk, Levon Vincent, Red Planet, Chez Damier, DJ QU, STL and Reggie Dokes.
Hi Steffen, please can you introduce yourself; tell us where you are from, what you do and what you’ve been up to so far in 2014?
Hello, I’m Steffen Laschinski, born and raised in Berlin, behind the Rising Sun Project, curate the labels like Styrax Records, Styrax Leaves, Millions Of Moments and other labels for the past 10 years.
Tell me about your ‘Rising Sun’ moniker, the meaning and reasoning behind your music? Is there a particular character to your music?
The name and the music was inspired by the music of Tetrode Music, Damon Lamar and Specter have been the initiation in the end of 2007. The reserved deep house music that reminds of Larry Heard or early 90’s String House, but is not really a style of its own, all that and the experienced influences of Soul, Funk, Hip Hop, Jazz, Detroit Techno, Ambient and Deep House, are all influential to my music.
More crossover than one specific style. The music itself is the sketchy attempt to detain moments that haven’t been planned, so it’s a statement that I can foresee in any way, even though the open up of a track is always the same, almost like a ritual. The character is to capture and convert the music of rising sun.
Describe the mix you have recorded for Inverted Audio? It’s vinyl only, was it just a random selection of records or was there more thought behind the mix?
The mix was created without a real concept, like the music I do. Selected only by emotion, a certain flow, deepness and also the experiences in the clubs as a DJ. So the mixing is done without thoughts about which records will match together, always in a classic house music way, without big crossfader-action but with long and smooth transition including human faults, without razzle-dazzle, only two Technics, a Vestax PMC 15, Split Cue, without monitoring and the most important – honest sound in vinyl form.
The mix exists on aloofness, the suspense of an Alfred Hitchcock film, the possibility that something could happen the next moment but it doesn’t have to. The range is from Galcher Lustwerk, Levon Vincent, Red Planet, Chez Damier, DJ QU to STL and Reggie Dokes.
How did you get ‘into’ electronic music? Are there any key albums or producers that have played a pivotal in your music taste?
There was a surprisingly lively radio culture in East Germany. “Electronics“ on DT64 is a great example. You could listen to anything from Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Synth Pop in general, but also ambient from Brian Eno.
The good thing was that all the tracks were played from start to finish, so you could tape it at home. The DJs would even play whole albums, with a break between side A and side B, giving you enough time to switch the tape. Hip Hop also got a lot of airtime. Old school, new school: anything from Cybotron’s “Clear“ to A Tribe Called Quest.
After the wall came down, I went record shopping. Especially in shops like Hard Wax and New Noize, but also WOM, which was a big megastore at the time. Finally I could buy vinyl. With a broad range of interests and influences from my time listening to the radio, I was intrigued by what was going on musically in Detroit. Why? Because the producers over there were merging various styles, which was exactly what I had liked on the radio show. Transmat, Planet E and UR were influential labels for me at the time, but also Warp from the UK and R&S from Belgium. It didn’t really matter if it was Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Jeff Mills or Aphex Twin.
There were many interesting things from Berlin as well: Basic Channel and later on, Chain Reaction. The way Detroit and West Berlin’s Reggae and Dub culture came together on these records is unique to this very day. A good example is Maurizio’s “Domina“.
On the one hand, this is a pure Basic Channel reference. And the flip features Carl Craig’s best ever remix. At the same time, Theo Parrish and Moodyman were taking soul, funk and hip hop samples and put those in a sort of house grid. This is another example of how careful and dedicated music production was back then.
When did you start producing music and how have your techniques developed since your debut ‘Sun Dance EP’ in 2009?
When it comes to producing music, I was very late to the party. Vinyl was my only love. It was all about listening to the tracks and playing them out. I simply wasn’t interested in producing my own tracks. Not just because the necessary equipment was very expensive. Looking back today, it all makes sense. You need to understand a certain kind of music first and find out what you like and what you don’t like. Finding your very own sound.
The more music you listen to, the more you understand. Comparing, selecting, refining what you are really looking for in music. When production software finally got better, things changed for me. I started in 2008 with Ableton 5.
Me personally, I define sampling as searching, so it is no surprise that I stranded on that beach they call Jazz. This is how “Lift Up Your Faces“ came about, which was completely produced with freeware only. While working on this track, I also fell in love with strings and other classical instruments. I guess I’m producing classical music in a way, I just add beats at the end.
Keeping a production simple is very important to me. It’s about repetition as well. All kinds of emotions are recurring. Beautiful things, sad memories, melancholic feelings. That’s life, right? It’s simply fueled by repetition.
Steffen Laschinski is my real name, Steven Young was my first DJ-Pseudonym since 1994. I also have Hume Kristofferson as an alias. Hume is a lazy producer, he knows the practice, the procedure to produce club tracks, he make simple club-edits for Rising Sun and I’m talking now about me in the third person (LOL).
Looking back at your discography you produce a high volume of records. Tell me about your approach to producing new music? Is there a particular environment or headspace you need in order to make new tracks?
Making music has a very strong aspect of self-healing for me. This way, I can deal with my feelings and emotions. Listening to my tracks, you look at me while looking in the mirror. However, I do not make music to get well-paid gigs, good reviews, recognition, to be part of a hype etc. It’s not about that at all. It never has been. Not for me, anyway.
For me, it is important to only start producing when your heart and soul say ’yes‘. In order for that to happen, I need a special kind of inspiration. This can be anything really. An intimate moment in a club or just listening to a track. Pretty much anything can be inspiring and can create a memory. I don’t like being under pressure, meeting a deadline etc.
Tell me about Styrax Records, you’ve released music from John Beltran, Bvdub, Synkro and many more. What’s your vision for the label?
I wouldn’t call it vision and I don’t think I have a particular goal either. Running those labels is me trying to release beautiful music, bringing together different styles and inspirations. It’s all very spontaneous, yet the results – the records – should be timeless.
This is the key word for me when it comes to describing the Styrax and Millions Of Moments sound. It can be a more ambient-inspired release such as Bvdub or John Beltran, but it could also be Detroit or Basic Channel kind of track. Deep House. Or a reissue of tracks that really mattered to me at a certain point in my life.
Styrax Leaves has always been more about the club environment. G-Man’s “Quo Vadis“, tracks by Shed, Lawrence and Redshape or Mono Junk’s “Channel B“.
In 2012 you established “Kristofferson Kristofferson”. Why did you decide to setup another label? Is there a particular ethos behind the label, apart from just releasing your own music and how do you see the label progress over the next few years? Do you plan to release record from other producers on the label?
Kristofferson Kristofferson is for Rising Sun and Rising Sun alone. It’s my very own label. Apart from remixes, there won’t be tracks from other artists. The releases on Kristofferson Kristofferson are created in a special kind of way, following certain rules and rituals. First of all, the tracks ending up on a record need to be from the same period. Also, they have to work together in a particular way, they have to trigger a certain feeling in me. Every track is left “as is”, with all the mistakes, imperfections in the arrangement and sound. It’s like an essay, a very special moment in time. I’m still surprised by the fact that people actually get that.
You release a lot of your Rising Sun records in 7” format? What are the reasoning’s behind this format?
Does it make sense to release music on the 7″ format (or vinyl in general)? This is debatable of couse. For me, it’s about the history of that particular format. Same goes for the cassette, for example. 7″s originated in 1948/1949, at the “Battle Of The Speed”.
In the 80’s, it was a cheap alternative to the 12“, with the b-side featuring left over tracks which didn’t make it onto the album. I often found those tracks to be the real gems. My approach is kind of the same. I’d do a 12″ and 7″ at the same time. Completing the sonic picture, if you will.
Actually, let me rephrase my first thought here. Vinyl, for me, is not debatable at all. It is the essence and I’m very proud to be able to release music on vinyl. For me, it’s pure nostalgia.
Music has never been perfect and therefore vinyl is the perfect medium for music. Because it’s not perfect either. It’s the most honest way of sound reproduction, producing it’s own artefacts and mistakes. Is there anything perfect in our world? Maybe nature is, the five elements. But with music…everyone experiences it differently. People who have produced a 7″ in their lives know what I’m talking about.
I really like the stamp for Kristofferson Kristofferson, what’s the story behind the two huskies and the coining of the name? Did you design the logo yourself?
There is a two-fold story behind the idea for Kristofferson Kristofferson. I’ll keep the one part to myself, for the time being, I am, however, happy to share the other part. It’s a cold world out there, life moves pretty fast. Too fast, if you ask me. Nothing is ever slowing down. My way to deal with this situation, is a kind of escapism. I do not imagine myself on a beautiful beach though, but rather create a fierce environment in my head. Places, where you are left to your own devices, where you have to rely on friends in order to cope.
So, meet Kristofferson & Kristofferson, the two huskies I use as the label logo. I trust them. Everyone can trust them. They guide me. They make sure I get where I need to be. They do a great job and they’ll be with me until the end of time. The logo was my idea.
Do you have a particular philosophy about music? A template you adhere to when producing music?
The way I make music has been the same from the very beginning. Ever since I started in 2008 like a ritual. I work without templates, I press ’reset‘ and reboot.
What are your plans over the next few years to help develop yourself as a producer, label owner and DJ? Are there any more projects on the horizon, albums, new record labels etc.?
I’m currently trying to improve my skill set in music production. Learning about new software, frequency tweaking, mastering. I’m also working on my live set. In the studio, I’m doing more remixes these days than original tracks. I don’t really have a masterplan for my project, I’m not really planning ahead. I might have a new track ready by tomorrow night, but I might as well delete all sequences and sounds from that project. Who knows. The more I do, the more I produce, the better I want it to be. New labels? Hey, why not!
Finally any words of wisdom or warning you’d like to share?
Let’s try to focus on music instead of flirting with stardom.Rising SunFauxpas MusikKristofferson KristoffersonReal SoonWorkshopDeep HouseHouse