We chat to Hamburg’s Lawrence, who is responsible for setting up the brilliant Smallville record shop in the city, as well as jointly masterminding the amazing techno and minimal label DIAL. Visions of Germany’s huge port city may consist of Christmas markets and frostbitten municipal squares, as well as the classy winter warmth of continental cafe culture. And it is exacty for these reasons, Peter M. Kersten is the perfect Christmastime booking, not forgetting that his ice-cool micro-house productions are also a fitting soundtrack for this time of year. Subterranea have obliged, as Lawrence comes to Wire on 23rd December…
The last release to come under your name was the four track Yoyogi Park Remixes EP. What is it like to open yourself up to be remixed? Are you sometimes surprised at what is produced? You are also a remixer. What is your general approach to a remix?
I love the idea of remixes and edits, which has been around since the very beginning of House Music and Techno. The results of remixing and being remixed are always surprising as there’s no general recipe how to do it. Some remixers work very close on the original, others create their very own track. Both can be super exciting.
For nearly ten years, now, the artwork on your records has been driven by black and white line drawing, which gives them an organic personality. Can you talk us through who does the art, and why you are drawn to use it?
The releases on Mule Musiq feature the artworks of my friend Stefan Marx. We have a longtime collaboration that started when we opened Smallville Records in Hamburg. As our friend Toshiya Kawasaki from Mule Musiq is a big fan of Stefan too, it is the perfect matching family business.
I wonder if part of your use of visual blank space is somehow affiliated to Japanese culture, which perceives space in a different way to the west. Can you confirm or deny, based on your experience in the country?
Stefan Marx would definitely agree on your thoughts. But also remember the dense and colorful painting by Monika Michalko for my 2013 album “Films and Windows” on Dial Records – I guess there’s no general concept for the artworks other than that it is friends and I love their art.
You play at Wire on 23rd December, so close to Christmas Day. How will you be celebrating the festive period? Do you like Christmas?
I don’t feel attached to Christmas or any other Christian festivities, though I really like to just hang out with friends at that time of the year.
The latest release on Dial by DJ Richard depicts a snowy path through the woods, which looks very tempting but also possibly a ‘Path of Ruin’ as the track title would suggest. Do you think this reflects techno’s coldness, which is both its “ugly” and fascinating aspect?
The harsh winter of New England has been definitely an influence on DJ Richard’s “Path of Ruin” and his upcoming album. You’re right, darkness can be very beautiful and fascinating.
You have said in interviews before that you do not feel tied to a particular place, particularly nationalistically. Does this mean that you like the process of touring, and travelling all over the place? What is life like living in hotels? And how does it inform your creative process?
That’s true I don’t identify myself with being German or living in Berlin or Hamburg. I appreciate the opportunity to travel to other countries and sometimes stay a little longer than just for the gig. But it’s not that i particularly like stay in hotel rooms – it always feels so nice to come back home after touring.
The latest release on the Sky Walking label by Sollmann & Guertler (one of whom is in fact Efdemin) reminds me in its aesthetic of some of the pioneering 70s and 80s electronic music that came out of Germany, particularly the Berlin School of ambient stuff. Was that in mind when it was released? Could you tell us a bit more about it? And are there any more releases planned on the label?
Most of the pioneers in electronic music had a quite conceptual and academic background. The Sky Walking label is rather dedicated to improvisation, spontaneous and experimental Music, even silly at times. We’ve just finished the mastering of two incredible albums, by the formation Schluss and Eve Essex to come out in 2018. Also we’re planning some exciting events around the releases.
You have recently been on tour with the band, Sky Walking. What do you get out of working with other people compared to producing alone?
Playing in a completely free setting and sharing instruments rather than being focussed on your own skills is a very fascinating thing. What happens in realtime on stage or in the studio includes surprising turnarounds, daily moods, the funniest moments and deepest intensity. A lovely vibe turns into something awkward and then again into magic. You can’t control it!
Also, what is your approach to producing ambient music, which is a complete departure from beatmaking? Is it about relaxation, or something else? Do you think that listeners get too sucked in to the repetition of dance music? Would you encourage them to listen to found-sound and ambient to alter perceptions?
I never really listen to music for relaxation. It’s just too exciting for me. Also I wouldn’t listen that much to House or Techno myself at home, only at a club it really unfolds it’s magic. The deeper you get sucked into that kind of repetitive music, the better! Leaving the club, people would know that there is a huge universe of the loveliest, craziest, silliest music waiting out there to be discovered…