Will it ever happen, here?

Interview with Steffen Bennemann

Will it ever happen, here?

07-11-2013 | 20.43

The posters of the past editions are among the first things you see at Nachtdigital. Some you still remember and most you wish you would remember. And maybe you are wondering, has it always been this good and in demand? After all, who can say that he heard about Nachtdigital ten years ago? I asked Steffen Bennemann about the rough beginnings and what he is up to these days.

We set up Nachtdigital at a time when most of the good clubs around here started dying. People were moving away to bigger cities, mostly Berlin. The clubs had to adapt and that meant DJ duos with afro wigs were playing Abba songs with a discohouse beat for an audience of girls wearing high heels and white jeans. So the scene was fading and Nachtdigital was a counter movement to all that.

Those were very difficult times. If you organize a festival and it’s not profitable for five years in a row, you start wondering: will it ever happen, here? We were having discussions whether to book more mainstream-oriented artists, but luckily we never did. We just kept on doing our own thing and eventually it paid off. The turning point was Nachtdigital 9 in 2006. About 2000 people came to see Ricardo Villalobos, Modeselektor, Magda, Troy Pierce, Paul Kalkbrenner and more. 

With visionary line-ups like this, Nachtdigital managed to get back the people that had left for the big cities, if only for a weekend. During the colder months it’s time for return visits. The third Nachtdigital tour hits Trouw this Saturday, featuring Isolée (live), Webermichelson (live), Steffen Bennemann himself and Lianne van der Laar (visuals).

Webermichelson are representing an important aspect of Nachtdigital: bands, krauty dance. We always have live acts that bring more than just a laptop. That’s an essential part of the festival and we’re happy that Webermichelson are on tour with us. Lianne usually does the Webermichelson visuals and she will take care of the whole night on Saturday.  I think that will help a lot in recreating the Nachtdigital atmosphere.

Webermichelson and Lianne van der Laar are also part of a new label by Steffen and Jan Bennemann. Holger, with roots in Leipzig and metropolitan branches, is a place for conceptual music and artwork losely connected to the club. On the first release the Italian duo Margot puts on an experimental face and the future is looking bright with releases by Timoka from Basel, Aggelos from Athens and of course Webermichelson. But if for any reason, success should not come to Holger right away, I’m pretty sure that Steffen Bennemann knows what to do. Wait until the rest catches up.

Text: AM