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From DJ Collective to Global Community: Nie Wieder Schlafen Faces the Future of Music

Lauren Krieger

Evolving organically from a Berlin-based DJ collective aimed at spreading the musical tastes of a like-minded group of friends into a distinctive label and global force for intelligent, emotional electronic music, Nie Wieder Schlafen represents the possibilities of what can be achieved when you work together with passion and purpose.

The biggest purpose I see is bringing like-minded people together, to share emotion, opinions, and experience… We truly believe sharing and passing on what you know, is the most fulfilling purpose of life and this project as well.

Trustless

Beginning as a hobby that would allow the collective of DJs an avenue for expressing and sharing what they love, Nie Wieder Schlafen began to expand as the team started receiving music from others who were inspired by the same energy. Some of the key aspects behind their musical tastes were being represented in these new connections; a fusion of complementary parts, exploration of new avenues, and dreamy hopefulness setting the atmosphere for what becoming a part of Nie Wieder Schlafen is all about. And all are welcome to be a part of it, with listeners sharing the same importance as the artists when it comes to creating magical musical moments at their events.

With a sister brand “Never Sleep Again” representing in California, exciting new artists signed on, and some massive projects in mind, the team behind Nie Wieder Schlafen is excited about the potential future ahead. Giving a glimpse into this future they are releasing their yearly mix for Bespoke Musik’s show on July 19th @ 2 PM EST [convert timezone]. This Year 03 mix is all about exploring, diving deeper into their distinctive sound and featuring upcoming unreleased tracks from their label.

Their relationship with Bespoke Musik shows how joining with others who are riding along the same wavelength can result in the amplification of passion and purpose. With collaboration and connection as their focus in music and life, we can be sure that more and more people will be finding their way into the mysterious, melodic, meaningful world of Nie Wieder Schlafen.

Before the premiere of their Year 03 mix, I caught up with co-founder Steppi K aka trustless to discover more about their ethos & experiences.

It’s nice to meet you! Could you share more about the team behind Nie Wieder Schlafen & your roles within the label?

It’s a pleasure to do this, thanks for having me. Yes, with delight! NWS was founded back in 2014 as a tiny DJ-collective between ama:ru, angaro, Chinomatic and myself trustless – In 2015, the brand would expand with a youtube channel and lastly came the label, founded in 2017. Former had the purpose of spreading the musical taste of the collective to an audience and the latter was about drawing in like-minded artists and expand the family. In 2018, my good friend and Parisian newcomer Quatri joined the A&R team next to myself and we’ve been forming the direction of the label since. Next to that side of the collective, the rest of the crew is more focused about the initial DJ-collective spreading in our home base of Berlin. I might also mention, that the brand has since collaborated with a new team in L.A. and San Francisco, which shaped up our sister brand “Never Sleep Again”. The crew overseas consists out of many people, with a heavy focus on our burning man camp and intimate campout festivals, placed in the wonderful nature of California.

Starting as a DJ collective, you have evolved to take on much more. Was there a point when you decided you wanted to go further or did it just seem to happen naturally?

I think the whole project of NWS was build around the idea of it being a hobby, which took away the stress and added lots of love for everything positive in this adventure. The idea of a label was something I was obsessed with from the very beginning and when we started to receive demos and unreleased music (even though at that point, we only had a Youtube channel and organized a few events), it made me realize that the time was right to kick of the label project way sooner than planned. So in a way, yes I’d say it happened very naturally.

Do you have a set of guidelines or a mission that you run the label by?

This is a great question, because this is probably the most value I see in this project. Yes absolutely, we have “guidelines”, although I would prefer to call it a “concept” of sorts. The concept consists of two parts: The music and then the artist itself. I always like to say, the core of the music we release has to have atmosphere, balance and character. Atmosphere in the sense of open spaces, textures, pads and the overall “moodiness” of a track – What’s happening in the background is just as important as the things in the spotlight. Second comes balance, because we think that anything in life is always best when 2 forces are pulling with equal strength. We like music that sits in between dark and bright music – rather than happy (disco) or ethereal, powerful music (techno), we love to explore the adventure in between. Mysterious music, that is hard to put in any category, but also hopeful or dreamy music – feelings, that seem more complex than black and white. It’s hard to really put it into words, but that also makes it so special – it’s about creating complex music in a way, that brings two worlds together – whether it be organic and synthetic, simplicity and complexity… the fusion of two complementary parts can bring the most surprising elements. Our mission is to bring artists and dancers closer together. The idea here is to build a concept, where the listeners are equally important as the artists, because after all – everyone contributes to a good event/community. We hope to embody this in a festival from our community, for our community at some point in the future!

What have been some of the highlights of running Nie Wieder Schlafen so far?

The absolute highlight is the network that builds around the label. I probably would have missed out on meeting so many amazing people if this project didn’t grow into its existence. Everyone has to give his individual perspective and every single one is somewhat unique in it’s own way – I think this is what is special about planet earth in general – the diversity and appreciating it all. For me it has really grown into somewhat of a mentor-perspective, even though I don’t feel as a mentor specifically – but seeing our artists grow and evolve, seeing this project evolve and all the happy and thankful reactions make me happy as a consequence – this gives me the biggest joy.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? What is the most difficult part, or what you least like doing?

Great question – I think connecting people, forming collaborative work between artists, giving creative input into the work of our producers and planning new concepts is definitely the most fullfilling work from the label perspective. Of course producing music and making people happy with your sets is my artist perspective, but this is nothing out of the ordinary I’d say.

I hate forced promotion. This is the most frustrating part – art should never collaborate with a capitalistic thought – it destroys your creative freedom. Artists start to do music, they don’t stand behind in order to gain more exposure and get bigger opportunities, but in my view, this absolutely destroys the world of art. It shouldn’t have boundaries, it’s a way of communicating what comes out of you, without using a restricting tool like language. Also forcing your art on people is very frustrating… but understandable, because it’s hard nowadays to really get an audience – on the other hand, it’s a problem of the people, not a lot of them are open to experimental music – for most, it has to be simple and not too complex. Much like action in movies is popular, because it’s easy to understand and consume – people listening to music have the same problem, unfortunately.

With such a finely curated catalog and mixes, you truly exemplify the role of tastemaker. It seems that much of this is built on the feelings your music represents, the emotional impact. How would you describe the music of Nie Wieder Schlafen? What does a track need to have to fit into your world?

It’s nice to see, that you took a little peak into it and I appreciate the nice words! Yes, I think the first two years of the label were about exploring and trying stuff out – for me it’s not about perfect music, but rather about music, that tries to do something new in any way. Most certainly, emotion, intimacy and the delivery of feelings plays a big role, rather than say “powerful energy to destroy dancefloors” – although we don’t exclude that kind of music, if it comes with the other characteristics we look out for. As I had mentioned before, we very much try to sign music that brings together complementary elements. We love nature, so every organic and analogue sound is vastly appreciated. Details and textures also play a huge role, as they give true character to electronic music, as in it’s raw form, it always sounds very cold…it’s about bringing more warmth into these productions and I think through elements like ambience, field recordings and the love for details, you can create the harmony of many different worlds.

What has been your relationship with Bespoke Musik? How do you connect together?

If I remember correctly, it must have been at the time of our PHCK ep – it was a truly ambitious release consisting out of 8 tracks. At that time, the bespoke team had already been in contact with our boys from the black forest. So that’s where the networking took place, but afterwards we would continue to collaborate on Premieres for NWS (thanks for the continuous support guys!) – Throughout the months, I got a sense of how Jason and Rocky operate, what’s important for them and a little idea about their values. As I said before, I think being on the same wave is a very important aspect to me, so it was important to do more with them. Because humble people in the scene aren’t like sand on the beach – you have to appreciate the wonderful ones in this scene.

Can you share more about your “Year” mixes and what this special Year 03 mix represents for you?

I think so far, every YEAR of NWS has a theme – YEAR 1 was about finding the right artists, exploring different sounds and simply having fun – YEAR 2 was about establishing a core family and pushing our core members – Year 3 is now about slowly narrowing done the sound of the label – after exploring it’s about diving deeper into one specific direction and I think, this is the first year of doing that. Also, this year feels like the first one, where we actualy know what the hell it is, we are doing, haha. I think a tiny bit of confidence has creeped in and that does sort of feel special – we feel very strongly about a good chunk of the music we will release this year, so much so, that we will put it into one consecutive mix, which will be exciting.

What are you most excited about for the future of Nie Wieder Schlafen?

I’m most excited about the potential of this family and community. A lot of people feel very enthusiastic about this little thing of ours and I think, if we can somehow bundle the energy, we are able to pull-off some massive projects. The new wave of labels and artists seems to be much more open to the idea of collaborative projects and I think we have the chance to offer projects that are made by many people together.

Photography by Giulia Gallizzi

Listen to Nie Wieder Schlafen’s Year 03 guest mix live on Bespoke Musik on July 19th @ 2 PM EST [convert timezone] or on-demand anytime after with a FRISKY Premium subscription & on our Mobile Apps.

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