There are those DJs who make you fall in love with them in an instant, stealing your heart and mind not only with the precocious music they showcase but when it’s mixed with oodles of swag and old school charm and then those high-intensity late-night antics be it with a smile or a wicked wink, we (some of us) get lost forever. It happened to me years ago when I got to a D-Nox gig and saw the out of this world presence of Christian against the backdrop of a quiet flair called Beckers, the latter by no means any less clap worthy. They mean business, both as solo artists and as well as one of the most renowned duos of dance music. From releasing music on some of the best labels of the world, to touring every god damn club and festival, these two have nearly done it all. Their core values stick to creativity with the times – always extraordinary and continuing to add new shades of tension and reflection to their explosive club music.
I got to chat with Christian, one half of the legendary act, about their latest music ventures, of how Sprout is doing as a label with him steering the ship, the current times and what they have been up to of late in general, and the plans for the near future, amidst my parallel celebration to complete 4 years of hosting Provocateur at the home of underground music Frisky Radio. As a lead up to it, I get a guest mix as well, but more on that later…
Here’s D-Nox unfettered in all his glory of adventurous flair and I am completely convinced about why both of them are still the coolest dance music DJs of all time.
Hey how are both of you doing? These are unprecedented times, has it in any way taken a toll on your mental health and if there’s a way to figure it out at the end of the day to stay in shape both mentally and physically?
Hello everyone. The last 7 months have been an emotional roller coaster ride. We have been through all kinds of phases, happy, depressed, uncertain, questioning, sometimes motivated and so on. I guess this goes for us all. It’s been the first time that we stayed put without playing over such a long period of time
Has music or the process of it, been a help?
What kept us going was the love for the music and live sessions. We finally found time to do things we have always been pushing aside. I sat down and wrote lots of new tunes alone, then with others and together. We have recorded a Masterclass, we did several remixes and reorganized our way of life.
Both you and Beckers have started this new project which is an online production learning Masterclass outfit, is it something that you thought of doing no matter, let’s say even if there wasn’t a pandemic on and how’s that coming along. Can you elaborate on the project itself?
This masterclass was only possible to do now, we had both thought about it before, but never came close enough to such a monster of a project. It really had to take this break for us to step up, loosen our fears to realize such a thing and come together. Of course this pandemic made us think and still does, how can we still make a living out of music? Do we have to find a regular job? What will be if gigs don’t come back anytime soon? Will gigs ever come back?
We had someone who approached us, a friend who runs a company for such kind of business in Brazil and he is the one who pushed us toward this. He took away our fears and doubts and in June we finally started the recording of this masterclass. We got a film crew and shot over 12 hours each of those 7 days. Then we had to review the material, do the correction of all the audio material and gave the project into the cut where the masterclass got its shape up and directed into the final version and I am happy to say it released on Sep 14.
We have created an online course which can be purchased by anyone who is willing to study with us and is keen to see how we work in the studio. It’s quite complex with over 6 hours of tutorials from inspirations, motivations, music analyses, music business and through all the way how to produce a track from scratch to end. We even offer a possible release on our label Sprout Music. We can say that we are joyous with the result and already thinking about a 2.0 version.
Your long-lasting friendship with Beckers, what is the best thing about him and what annoys you the most hehe?
The best thing is that he is always calm. He has such a great inner peace and doesn’t get nervous and hectic at no time. I really admire this side of him. Plus he is a great musician and teacher and also a DJ. I don’t think that in our career we have ever gotten to a point where we fought or had disharmony. And how many people in the music world can say that?
How’s Sprout doing as a label, have you consciously kept things quiet most of this year?
I have done the same as always. I kept going the same way as always. Sprout is a label from friends for friends. Whenever I find good music I release it no matter if there is a pandemic like now. Humankind needs music even in difficult times, its like food for our minds. Its a pity we have no dance floors rights now but still I want to share this bit with the world and give away music for the mind and soul.
Missing the touring and gigs?
I have been touring and doing so for 28 years now and yes I do miss to play music loud, in front of a dancing crowd. It’s a big hole in my life without dance floors. But I have to admit that the travel part is something I don’t miss too much. Of course, I miss to walk out of an airport and discover new places and experience new cultures, see new people and feel new smells and eat new things but I am in a very lucky position here where I live in the tropical rainforest area in Brazil with a beautiful wife that looks after me. All I miss is playing music for people and this shall be back soon (hopefully).
When I asked you in 2010 what your preferred DJ setup is and tech-wise where do you see yourself in some years, if you’d entertain the thought of being machine heavy and you had this to say – “I play CDs. I don’t wanna play from the computer. I need space and freedom. I don’t wanna be dependant of a laptop. I believe I am good at what I do. Somebody told me “never change a running system”. Has this changed or still the classical performer?
Hahahaha, this sounds like 10 years ago indeed. I have stopped playing CDs along the way and moved onto USB sticks. But the idea is still the same. I would never play music from a computer. I still think it looks boring when I see computer DJs. 2 things I would add to what I said 10 years ago – “computer DJs look boring as do DJs with sunglasses lol”.
Your recent release Bitter Rain on Beat Boutique, has gotten quite a reception on the musical airwaves, happy with how it’s turned out?
We write music the way we like it but without any expectations of how it will sell. Bitter Rain is a special track, its a bit deeper than what we usually do and what made the release outstanding was the CID INC remix. I love Henri’s music and he took the track to another next level. But when I hear the original I can so tell that we made quite a timeless track which will show it’s beauty even later. It’s like a good wine.
After all these years of constant traveling, music commitments, how do you keep the excitement alive? Do you go through phases where you may look inward, and periods when you give yourself recharge time, which in my opinion helps in keeping oneself fresh and relevant over the years – your thoughts?
I remember in 2019 I said a few times to my wife that I could use time away for 1 or 2 months from touring, just to recharge my batteries. Now I got 7 months and it seems like there’s more to come. I think I don’t need to add more to your question. I don’t want to wish that again. I am happy as I said but I can’t wait for this to be over. My batteries have been charged enough. The feeling you get when you make a dance floor move and sweat and scream is something you can’t describe. I live for that. I have been playing music since I was 13 and it seems to be the only thing I really know how to do.
Fun fact – do you recall your first ever gig and how it went?
I recall the first important gigs of my life. One time when I was 13 I carried my music equipment with a small wagon car behind my bicycle to the school to play music from cassette tapes in a disco party full of teenagers and years later on in 1994 I got my first important engagement as a resident DJ in a big and important club in my town Dusseldorf at the Poison Club. I wasn’t meant to DJ there but in the opening night of this club I happened to be hanging near the entrance and because the DJ which was booked was killing the dance floor one of the owners came down to ask at the door to someone else if he knew a DJ and I said I am one, and this man gave me 30 mins to get my vinyls from home, I taxied to my parents’ house, got my vinyl case and since that day I haven’t stopped playing. Amazing moments. Key moments in my life.
What’s new and keeping you busy till NY this year?
Besides the masterclass, I have plenty of new productions coming up with Gai Barone, Emi Galvan, Beckers and even solo tracks, looking after my record label and living life, in the tropics there is nothing new. I am very busy keeping my house and garden in order. I got the first booking requests and I hope that they will come true, all depends on the Brazilian government now.
Any music stuff you wanna talk about before we close?
As I mentioned above. Lots to come, releases on Kater Mukke, Sudbeat, Sprout, Plattenbank and many other labels.
You’ve very sweetly provided a guest mix for my show Provocateur, any words on the sounds on showcase, the vibe, flavor?
This is a DJ mix which doesn’t promote any of my tracks but the best of what is in my playlist these days. Full of trippy, crispy new tunes. I hope listeners of your show enjoy this journey.
Listen to D-Nox’s Provocateur Guest Mix premiering October 8th @ 12 PM EST on FRISKY