Techno Tuesday: Patrice Bäumel’s life lessons for a successful career in electronic music
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Patrice Bäumel has solidified his name as one of Amsterdam’s more formidable techno assets, having served a long-standing residency at the city’s renowned pop-up club Trouw. Known for his surreal, sophisticated style, Bäumel’s talents have brought him all over the world, as well as to globally recognized imprints like Kompakt and Correspondant. He’s also the latest artist to be selected for the venerated mix series, Balance Presents, with his debut offering on the platform due to arrive in April.
In the meantime, Patrice will make a rare Southern Californian stop at the upcoming Desert Hearts Spring Festival, which takes place April 1-4 at Los Coyotes Reservation outside of San Diego. Before his appearance, we’ve asked Bäumel to share some words of wisdom on how to sustain a successful career in electronic music.
Tickets for Desert Hearts Spring Festival are available here. Listen to Patrice Bäumel’s new Kompakt release below.
Photo Credit: Ramona Deckers
Run your artist career like a business.
I wasted years of my career pleasing myself artistically. I wanted to be different from anybody else and paid little attention to the needs of the crowd. After all, I was a “true” artist. In economic terms this is like creating a product without bothering to check whether there is a market for it. Any success I enjoyed from that method was purely arbitrary. Once I realised that I was in fact serving customers like any other business, I decided it would be wise to change my strategy. I asked myself questions like “Who is my customer?”, “What do they want?”, “Which of their demands are not satisfied enough?”. These questions helped me carve out a niche for myself. My market is the dancefloor. People want to go crazy. It is hard to find records that get a huge crowd reaction. I decided to focus on making these records and make them in a way that I would still love to play them. I also decided to disregard any existing trends in order to avoid becoming a metoo producer in a crowded marketplace. From that moment on it became easier to sign my records to good labels. More djs would play them. More people would recognize them. An erupting dancefloor is a very convincing sales pitch in dance music. And there are still many ways to infuse art into your creations.
Learn from the best.
Lifelong learning is your best shot at a lasting and successful career. Learning from those who are already where you want to be guarantees you are learning the good stuff. I have learned more in a 30 minute one-on-one session with a successful producer than in a 6 month production class costing me thousands of dollars. I have also spent time observing some of my most accomplished colleagues, trying to decipher what made them good at their job. I even contacted them directly with questions. Many of them were surprisingly forthcoming with their feedback. I realised that a lot of my previous assumptions were wrong. For instance, I had always assumed that djing was 80% technique and 20% selection. Today I think it is 20% technique, 40% selection and 40% charisma. Doubling down on my technique simply would not be a very effective strategy, but learning about charisma and stage presence could yield great results.
Work with the best.
I cannot stress this enough. Working with a big label like Kompakt made a huge difference in exposure compared to smaller labels. The best mastering engineer will make your music sound substantially better. A well-connected manager will open doors that someone who acts more like your nanny cannot. Great equipment will help you make better music, faster. I recommend working with organisations that have a lot of traction. The last thing you want is a great remix or podcast to disappear into obscurity simply because nobody knows about it. If you try to sell your art, start at the top. I have learned all of these things the hard way. I am well aware that your options, especially at the beginning of your career, are limited. But always try to punch above your weight, aim high, catch the whale.
This is a hard one. I have wasted so much energy feeling jealous of others, wondering why my hard work is not recognized while others seem to breeze to success effortlessly – it still gets to me every now and then. It is a not place worth visiting. By far the best work comes from feeling generous and connected. That same attitude will help you develop the kind of presence that people enjoy being around. You will make friends easier. This is indispensible in a small scene where everybody knows each other and gossip travels at the speed of light. Treat those who work with you with utter respect. Good vibes will come back almost instantly. Most of all, treat your fans like royalty, win them one by one. Positivity is the difference between a life that feels like an uphill battle and an experience filled with love and amazing encounters.