17-02-2013 | 16.30
He doesn’t need Angela Merkel’s blessing to know he’s on the right path. But it’s a busy path. It wasn’t a lack of inspiration but rather a lack of time that had us wait so long for Michael Mayer’s latest album, which is all about exploring and discovering.
So the idea for the Mantasy album was triggered by a book you read, about the Portuguese explorer Magellan?
‘Yeah that’s right. If you check his story... it’s insane. The story alone until he entered the ship is extremely fascinating. He deserted his king and left the country he loved, because the Portuguese king wouldn’t give him money and ships. So he left to Spain, the arch enemy, to talk to the king there. ‘I have this idea. I can make Spain even more famous.’ And the Spanish king believed in him.’
Do you think it’s impossible to accomplish great things without the faith of someone important?
‘I don’t need Angela Merkel’s trust. But the team here at Kompakt was my Spanish king, so to say. They took over a lot of my workload so I could escape into the studio. To find time is my lifetime struggle. I don’t have much flexibility in my life so if I wanna attack a big project like an album, I have to plan ahead.’
What I specifically liked about the story of Magellan is that he was chasing a sea passage that he didn’t even know for sure existed. Can you connect to that?
‘With every track there’s a certain risk involved. You don’t know for sure that someone is gonna be interested in it. When discussing new things that I would like to be signed, some people within the label say: ‘Yeah it’s a nice track, but no one’s gonna play it.’ And I’m like: yes I would, I would totally play it! That’s the point where I sometimes feel offended. Why is it so difficult to play a track like this?’
A track like what?
‘It’s really anything that’s more melodic or has got a tricky beat. Anything that’s not *reenacts a plain techno beat*. I realize that a lot of people that buy Kompakt music are not DJs, but just music lovers. The reason Kompakt still exists is because we have a strong fan base of people that don’t judge the music by its functionality. There are not so many DJs supporting the music we release. Kompakt is really remote from what’s the cool sound of today, what’s the plat du jour.’
In other interviews you’ve often said you like storytelling. Do you mean that strictly musically?
‘I don’t feel the urge to write a book if that’s what you mean. Storytelling is my approach of playing records, as opposed to a very technical approach. In my sets there’s a lot of waves, ups and downs and sideways. I wouldn’t be able to deliver a pumping set that goes on for hours. That doesn’t correspond with my way of feeling the music. My way of DJing is very interactive. I can go high and hard and intense or super soft and subtle. It depends on the setting.’
So you bring a lot more records than you’re going to use?
‘Always. I could play for 3 days without repeating myself. It’s a blessing that we now have digital formats. As I always played with vinyl, I wasn’t used to having this selection with me. I appreciate it a lot that I can now choose from more music than I could ever carry. But still I’m traveling with my record crate with 23 kilos of vinyl...’
Are you still on a quest for this old French song after which you named the track Lamusetwa?
‘No I found it! I had my interview day in Paris and I sang the song for everybody there. Finally an elderly woman said: ‘Ahh that’s Marie Myriam.’ I had been actively looking for it for several years. Oh you’re French, do you know this song? It goes lalalalala. And I googled it but I didn’t have the right title so I couldn’t find it. And now I found it and the song is really terrible. It was much better in my memory.’
Mantasy Remixe 1 just came out. What can we expect from number 2?
‘Robag Wruhme mixes Baumhaus, Agora mixes Good Times and Will Saul mixes the title track Mantasy.’
Text: Tessa Velthuis