Adam Beyer: Give the drummer some
Tue 19th Jul, 2005 Features 1312 viewsin
Arguably Sweden’s leading techno DJ and producer, Adam Beyer has been a mainstay on the global techno scene for over a decade. Having established several seminal record labels, including Drumcode, he recently mixed the latest CD in the Fabric series, number 22. Jerry 2010 spoke with him about all things Swedish, beats, rhythms, warehouse parties and more.
J: I’ve just been listening to your Fabric22 mix, you seem to be keeping with your percussive background as compared to your less recent Ignition Key release. Is that the way you’re leaning at the moment?
A: Ahhh…well I wouldn’t say it’s, like, super percussive. I mean I’ve always been into rhythms, that’s what dance music is about for me – so even if I play more minimal stuff then I guess it’s going to be more rhythmic than the Ignition Key thing. That was my own music and more like a concept album, while this is a mix CD, two different things.
J: Is this the sort of music you could expect at a normal Saturday night at Fabric? How often do you play there?
A: I play maybe two or three times a year there, the next date I have is on the 20th of August and the last one was in May, and hopefully one more before the year is over. It’s the kind of the stuff I play there, you can go from this kind of stuff through to a bit harder if you want – I mean it depends on what I feel like, but yeah it’s quite similar to what I’d play there.
J: Are you still mixing predominantly vinyl or have you moved to CDs and Final Scratch?
A: I use vinyl and CDs, I don’t use Final Scratch and I don’t use any Laptops when I play. I use maybe a sampler and effects sometimes, but not Final Scratch…
J: In Australia the underground scene has almost entirely shifted to the clubs, is this the case in Sweden and other European countries, or are there still strong underground movements out there?
A: In Sweden it’s completely clubs – we don’t have any raves. Maybe there are some but I’m not even aware of them. In Europe and the rest of the world it depends where you are really. There are still some countries, like in Eastern Europe, where I’ll do one off parties which are more rave like events. In general as a whole though, I would say it’s a bit more of the club thing going on now than the old school rave days.
J: Is this to do with the popularising of the scene, or to do with the legal aspect of holding an event in a different place like a warehouse?
A: I think it’s a bit of both. It depends where you are really, like obviously authorities and stuff are more aware of this kind of thing so I guess it’s tougher to just throw a party anywhere – it really depends on where you are. For me there are a lot more underground things going on, but I prefer to play more clubs myself, so maybe I see more clubs these days because that’s what I chose to play.
J: With the increasing affordability of relatively cheap high powered computers and the range of software synths available, the tools for creating techno are much easier to come by. Do you think that this is helping uncover more talent or is the ease of using a pre-set patch making techno more generic?
A: I think it’s a good thing. I mean accessibility is always good, if it helps young people to be able to express themselves without paying a fortune it can only be a good thing. Then it’s up to the labels and distributors who are in control of what they should release. Today you can be whatever you want with a computer, as long as you can be creative you can basically make amazing music without paying a lot of money.
J: Do you still own a lot of hardware yourself, or are you more into the digital synths?
A: I still own a lot of my old stuff because I started to do this in like 92-93, so I’ve come through the whole Atari with midi, to today’s PCs. I still own it but I’m working mostly on the computer these days. I might outboard some stuff, effects and sometimes record old synths, but mostly it’s all done on the computer.
J: So you don’t touch the MPC very often anymore?
A: No… haha… it’s not even connected!
J: You started plying drums at a young age and then switched to turntables. It seems that bands have taken a backseat to DJs and nightclub culture in general – do you think it’s important to maintain a live element in your performance or set?
A: What do you mean ‘live element’...?
J: As in effects, or something like that? Other things that you could possibly include into a performance to make it more live and spontaneous.
A: Yeah, I mean it’s always interesting to incorporate something so that people can hear that you’re working. A lot of the stuff needs editing to be able to mix sometimes, so I’ll use a sampler to fill out tracks with loops or whatever. I think it’s definitely important to manipulate the music you play, at least it is for me. It depends how you DJ, but with the kind of style I have I need to do that.
J: Who have you seen playing live that you have liked lately, techno or otherwise?
A: The last few things I saw were in Detroit. People like Marco Carola are always good, and Ritchie (Hawtin) obviously… I saw a bit of Underground Resistance when I was in Detroit which was an experience because I’ve never seen them live before, they had a band on stage and stuff so that was pretty different.
J: Do you see visuals as an important part of a musical performance or are they just an added bonus?
A: It’s always nice when you play a party or a club where you can tell that they’ve spent time and energy on extra visuals, to give clubbers something more than just a room with some speakers. I haven’t worked a lot with visuals myself, but I think when I go out to a club and there are nice decorations it’s an interesting mix for the guys that are listening to the music.
J: Do you look out of Sweden for new talent to put on your labels?
A: Yeah, I’m always checking things out. There are so many new guys coming out, which is really cool, and I’m in contact with quite a few of them – listening to what they do see if they have progressed. I’m hoping to find some new people soon because it’s always nice to see fresh blood.
J: How many demos do you think you would get in a month?
A: It’s always different from month to month – so it’s hard to say actually. I don’t put my address on my records and there is no address on my homepage, I’m not really looking for demos openly. It’s more like someone recommends someone that is doing stuff and you get in touch. I like to know people that I work with, I’m not just like a label putting out music from people to make money, simply because I don’t have the time! I’m running all the labels myself still, and with all the DJing and everything I don’t have the time to deal with a lot of artist.
Fabric22, mixed by Adam Beyer, is out now through Fabric/Inertia.