this month, berlin based till von sein releases his debut album on suol. despite the man’s largely deep house past, for his first full length, #ltd, he goes in balls deep, crafting a perfectly arcing album which touches on a range of styles and tempos, moods and atmospheres. it’s a great listen and one he’s managed to recreate here…
teshcast k starts slow and super funky and then, without realising it, an hour later, you’re nodding your head with more intent to some really quite serious basement houe vibes. it’s surruptitious and charming; sneaky and sexy, and clearly speaks of a man as skilled at mixing records as he is writing them. without further ado, then, here it comes along with an insightful interview…
first things first… the album pr says ltd “pays an homage to [your] roots and musical background.” can you tell us a bit about that, where you grew up; how you came to electronic music; when you decided to start making it; what excited you about it at first…
i grew up in a little village in the countryside one hour drive from hamburg. i had the big luck that i started rapping when i was 16 and the dj of my rap group was a big jungle and funk fan so he showed me all kinds of different records and i fell in love with it. that was around 1993 -95 and those where really exiting years for music in general.
i was totally into all the stuff coming from la & nyc like the golden era rap but also into all that stuff coming from the uk like jungle, mo wax, ninja tunes etc. soon after i got more and more into motorbass, superdiscount, la funk mob, the mighty bop and all this french house and down/dopebeat music. i always bought vinyl but never thought of being a dj at the time.
i guess the main reason was that i didn’t had money to buy gear… same with producing… i always liked watching people work on tracks and i’d make joints sitting next to them and give input but i never got my own sampler, i didn’t even have a computer until 2002 being 25 already. as soon as i got one i got cubase and tried working on tracks but i didn’t really have the patience to learn the software etc. so i preferred spending time on the technics i bought in the meantime, and got more and more into dj’ing.
three years later i moved house and my new neighbour was heavy into drum’n’bass and showed me how to produce trax in reason and i really got into that. with the younger brother of one of my best friends (aera) i jammed a lot and we finished our first ep in 2006. from there on i got more and more into it and was really psyched about working on new tracks.
so what made you decide to do a debut album? how did it come about?
i had different labels asking me already since years but i was never really into it. i just didn’t feel like doing it. when the suol guys told me “so trickski now do one and you are next” i was like “whaaat?! for real!?” i felt very honored to be able to do an album for them after fritz and yannick & daniel, so i agreed to do it.
and it did feel like the right home base and the right time to do it. it is really important for me that i know those guys (suol) are 100% into what i’m doing and they have a solid build structure. and john and thien (the guys running the label) are some of the coolest people i know – even though sometimes we disagree on stuff, i know i can trust them completely and they have so much experience that i feel completely comfortable and safe in what i am doing.
how long did the album take, did you set time aside to write it or was it more organic than that or?
to be honest… it was a really short period. it took me like two months and then three weeks with recording vocals, jon on the sax etc and to give it a proper mixdown with tigerskin in his studio as i don’t have a “real studio” myself.
i started collecting ideas around christmas last year and from then on i was constantly working on some material. i had a certain deadline but never felt any pressure. i am still working full time and playing every weekend so the last thing i wanted was a feeling of pressure. due to my job i don’t have the time to just focus on music only for six months, to go somewhere and just work on ideas – but as i said; i had no pressure, it all came together quite nicely.
where/when did you write it and did that effect the sounds you were making? was it dependant on your mood or did you have more of a set of idea of what you wanted to achieve?
i worked on some ideas in my annual cape town holiday in january, but most of it was done in my apartment in berlin. it is all based on my moods. it was not like i wanted to plan to have an oldschool jam, a downbeat jam and one that is funky and one that is moody. it was all a natural process; working on new tracks based on that vibe in that very special moment. sure, when you do a track with someone else, it is different, but besides the jam with tigerskin where we jammed together from scratch, all tracks are started by me and got picked by the other guys – so it was based on my mood which they also digged and became part of it.
i assume the focus was on making it play nice as a whole, from start to finish, right? why was that important to you? how differently did you approach it than a normal 12”?
i never really understood why i should do an album with 10 125bpm tracks. it is not that often that i find an album which keeps me focused, and which i like to listen to on my ipod, which has these ingredients. i wanted it to be more like a trip or a little story. those albums that inspired me had all kinds of tempo and vibes and that’s what i wanted to do as well.
i had this dream of doing something in between a motorbass and and the mighty bop, in between nightmares on wax and london funk allstars kinda album. something you can listen to on the ipod and where you don’t feel like skippin trakcs because there is 16 bars kick and hi hat only.
sampling features but seems very organic (like your percussion)… did you collect/record them yourself or are they taken from other music or…?
for the intro jam alex (tigerskin) and i recorded some live percussions but the rest is all sampled. i never tried any recordings yet. i have always loved old funk breaks and percussion for as long as i remember. always when i find a track, and there is a nice part, i just take it… and if it is vanessa paradis or milli vanilli, i don’t care
if it’s an mp3 or a youtube rip… i am pretty anarchistic if it comes to this. that’s how i started making music and i am not bored yet by doing it this way.
there’s even a dubstep (ish) track in there… is that a scene you like… bass music? and how hard was it to make that track given you normally do more 4/4 stuff?
i am not that much up to date on what’s going on in dubstep – and i never was – but i always liked a certain instrumental music in the mid 90ies, call it trip hop or what ever… i loved old mo wax, dan the automator etc. and it was an important path in my life.
there was nothing better than sitting at home back then, smoking biiiig joints and listen to their soundscapes and just trip. coming from a rap backround, that was the first time for me listening to stuff on a “rapbased” tempo and groove without somebody telling me he has a bigger dick and more money then i have… i wanted to keep that certain track in this tradition. but besides that i love big 808´s, bad basslines and all that stuff. i loved jungle, 2step, garage etc and really like everything what dirty bird is doing these days.
what other things influenced the album – anything specific or did it come more from inside you?
travelling is one of the main influences. different countries, different mentalities, different problems, different vibes.
when you travel a lot, you spend a lot of time just thinking on what is happening around you. i am not the staying in the hotel or afterpartying kinda person. i want to see as much as possible from the places i go to, even if it’s a little town in deepest siberia… so always when i am back home i am stuffed with information and impressions. these days i try to travel as much as possible, and even when i don’t go to dj somewhere i spend a couple of days with my girl at the baltic sea or go to barcelona for a week.
i love travelling and its and integral part of my life ever since i was a kid. my dad is a captain and i grew up on a ship. basically before i had to go to this weird thing called school i was always on the ship. and the best thing was when we came to a new port, going to the different cities with my mum and little brother… so, things didn’t change that much, my dad carried containers around to make people happy and i carry cds around to do similar. but of course my musical journey since my teenage days is important as well. i always want to make tracks which sound like a certain artist that im a big fan of… most off the time i fail, though
how did you come to work with catz & dogz and tigerskin? what drew you to them and how did you actually work together? did you learn much from them or…?
i played in odessa once, and played one of my own tracks. the locals asked me if they could have it, because they really liked it and i so i gave it to them. the week after, tigerskin played there and one of these guys played the track and he asked them what it was.
so a few days later he called me and asked if he could release the track on his label – and i was totally blown away. from that moment on he always mixed down my solo tracks and at one point he asked me if i wanted to do a record together and i almost peed my pants.
since then we did 2 eps for dirt crew recordings and of course he had to be on the album. actually, the track i did with him (“none existent love”), was one of the first tracks for the album – and we met in his studio and i told him that i wanted a rough old school kinda vibe as he has all this gear which i don’t have, so we took it from there.
alex/tigerskin is my biggest mentor, him and chopstick. he showed me sooo much stuff and i am more than happy that i have him in my life. besides that he is one of the coolest cats around. he is a total studio nerd but you can sit down and talk about politics and girls for two hours before you even start working on a track which you then finish in another two hours… exactly the way i like it.
catz’n’dogz was, just like tigerskin, artist in the clique agency where i work, and we also met through releasing on trenton. i also released on of my first solo eps on their channels label.
adam port asked me for a remix for his first ep on keinemusik and due to to the fast that he is polish (same as catz’n’dogz), i had the idea to ask the catz if they wanted to do this remix with me as a tag team, and they were up for it.
we wanted to work on more stuff afterwards but never found the time and i was more than happy that they were up for jamming a track on the album. voitek came to mine and i showed him a couple of tracks which i was working on back then so he choose “neptune”. i send him all the files and he worked on them and added drums and pads. we didn’t work on it together, even tho we life 5 mins. from each other, we never found the time to meet.
the most important thing i learned from catz’n’dogz was that i should stop producing in reason because “my sound sucked”, they said. they always told me; “dude you got sooo good ideas, but reason – stop that shit!” now i started working with ableton, let’s see what they say next year when i visited voitek, back when he still lived in sczecin, poland, i recognized the house he lived in! next to it there is a hotel where i had been in 1988 with my parents – and he was like “nooo way…” the name of the hotel is neptune, which is why we called the track so…
i wonder what was the thinking behind the album title? anything specific or..?
ltd means living the dream. some friends told me already the title sucks, but hey – i am living the dream!
i had some really bad years in my life and the last five years things are just like a dream. i am travelling and playing music that i like to other people. i work in an office with artists i am a big fan of, i produce music with people who inspires me and educate me in being a producer. when i turned 30 i felt like i was done in my life.. get a fuckin job and that’s it. and now it’s the total opposite and i’m so thankful for that.
what else you working on/looking forward to?
i just started working on a new ep with tigerskin plus some remixes for gomma, souvenir and some other stuff. i am constantly working on new things – hopefully new eps with aera and chopstick soon.
i am going to some places that i really look forward to and besides that i am really happy with my job at the agency (clique bookings) these days, because some of my artists are doing so well and it is amazing to see what is happening with their careers as well… but to be honest the most important thing is to go to cape town soon after nye for 4 weeks, because this year has been so hectic and i cant wait to just chill, have dope food and do basically nothing except spending time with my girl and my parents who will be there as well…
who are you day to day, outside of music?
i’m working as an agent for clique bookings for different artists (kollektiv turmstrasse, aka aka, adam port etc), been doing this for five years now and busier then ever. actually i spend more time on this than on my own career.
i spend lots of time online, watching sneaker blogs, american tv shows or live football (we don’t call it soccer in germany), and i love travelling. i am not a nature kinda guy, i am more into cities, but i love to explore new places and spend as much time as possible walking around and getting new impressions. and of course the infamous berlin thing; chillin’ in cafés, talking bull and just chill the day away can be a beautiful thing sometimes…
and being with my girlfriend is the best thing ever!
download or listen to teshcast k ~ till von sein below
no milk – yesterday
em vee- body heat
till von sein & tigerskin – let u
dub taylor – so called life
delano smith – change is coming
liz torres& master c&j – face it
death on the balcony – we are time and space ( robert james rmx)
marcin czubala – love affair
lyrics born – coulda woulda shoulda edit
till von sein feat tigerskin& lazarus&meggy – non existent love (el txef a rmx)