The core and the details

Interview with Stefan Goldmann

The core and the details

05-10-2012 | 10.41

When Stefan Goldmann told me he didn’t want to talk on the phone, I figured he must be either really shy or really perfectionist. Or a cybernetic organism that didn’t want to be exposed as such. But learning more about his view on music, I got convinced that for his style one actually needs more guts than most of us.

I'm writing emails to you instead of talking on the phone. Why is that?
'I don't like phones. Emailing allows me to structure my time better. It also gives me those five minutes that sometimes give you a better answer than instant reactions.'
Do you consider yourself a perfectionist?
‘No, a perfectionist obsesses about irrelevant detail. I'm trying to get the core right.’
Two weeks ago was the presentation of your new album 17:50 at Panorama Bar. How did it go?
‘It was emotional. I'm still speechless. You will see yourself!’
I assume the Trouw night won't be an exact repetition... So tell me more!
‘Yes, that's true. I didn't want to do a pure laptop set where I seem to be reading my emails. So while I have elements from the album, essentially I program most of the beats, many basslines and all sorts of other elements live, in real time. I have an analog drum machine and a weird sequencer on stage. When people can see what I'm doing, they can actually relate it to the sound they hear - something I usually miss with laptop sets. Because there's a lot of improvisation in it, it's different every time. I can tweak any detail in the beats any time and that makes it very dynamic in interacting with the people in the club. That makes it also a bit risky, since there's more that could go wrong. Fortunately, it is the same way I do things in the studio, so while it is the first time I go on tour with this set up, I have a lot of practice time on it.’
That sounds truly epic! So talking about getting the core right, what’s the core of your live show? 
‘I guess in a world of over-availability, where we can get hold of more tracks and DJ sets and information than we can ever care about, the question is: how to put the audience first again? Those who actually come to the club - how to make their night out unique in terms of music? You know, the light show is there next week too. I think they need to get something special, something that's unavailable anywhere else. I think exclusive material gets quite relevant - tracks as well as versions of tracks that will not be released. Opening my material up to real time programming also makes it unique, so in Amsterdam you get something slightly different from what people got to hear at Panorama Bar in Berlin. It's also more interesting for myself than replaying the identical set 20 times.’
Do you feel comfortable in the electronic music scene as it is today?
‘Yes, why wouldn't I?’ 
Well, in your - by the way outstanding - essays you seem to criticize the way the business works nowadays. 
‘The biggest opportunities are in times of crisis. On Wall Street they say "Buy when there's blood on the streets."’ 
This seems the right moment for me to play your track Blood. But still I wonder how you can say that you’re comfortable in the scene and at the same time refer to blood on the streets.
‘It's metaphorically speaking, no real blood in electronic music so far. To me it's interesting because I feel there's something I can contribute right now and move comfortably where others seem to be hesitant. That's where the "blood" is. That's all.’