Techno Tuesday: Kollektiv Turmstrasse talk Hamburg, hobbies and 20 years of friendship
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.
Kollektiv Turmstrasse, the house and techno production outfit best recognized for their affiliation with Solomun’s Diynamic, have been lending their creative touch to modern-day electronic music since the late 90s. Christian Hilscher and Nico Plagemann have witnessed the evolution of dance music first-hand, and the pair offer their invaluable take on what the genre was then versus now. They also take a deep dive into Hamburg as a home and creative inspiration, and their personal passions outside of producing and DJ’ing.
Listen to Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s exclusive mix ahead of their set at Secret Solstice Festival in Iceland while reading on about their sonic evolution.
How has living in Hamburg shaped your music and career over the last 10 or so years? We’d like to know a bit more about your roots, what you find so special about Hamburg specifically, and how the city and its people influenced Kollektiv Turmstrasse.
Hamburg has always been a huge part of our lives. Although we usually say we’re from Hamburg. We actually both come from a very small town about a two hour drive from there near the Baltic Sea but we’ve spent so much time in the city that it definitely feels like home. Hamburg is where we have spent a lot of time and we’ve definitely made a lot of great memories there. Christian actually no longer lives there, but I (Nico) still do.
We really wouldn’t be who we are today as Kollektiv Turmstrasse without the many people who have helped us over the years, many of whom come from Hamburg. We made so many contacts in that city that we truly wouldn’t be where we are today without that experience of living there. Of course, we no doubt would have made connections in another city, but Hamburg was and is still a magical place for us. The city has played a huge part in shaping who we are as artists.
What are your biggest hobbies outside of making music, and how do these activities lend themselves to your creativity?
We are very lucky in that we were able to turn our hobby and obsession with electronic music into a career — so many people don’t love what they do. We’re also very grateful for the fact we are able to lead such active lives through our work — traveling the world while doing what makes us happy. On the flip side, when you play a lot of gigs and are on the road 24/7, it can have a negative impact on your creativity. It can be really challenging to balance touring with studio time and it’s usually the latter that gets pushed aside. It took us a long time time to work out how to be creative on the road! Over the years we’ve managed to devise a healthy balance between the two.
We’ve spent so much time in train stations, cars and airports where we have time to kill, so we both read a lot of magazines and books which actually inspires our music. Where we differ is that [Nico] is really into technology and has developed an obsession with drones like the Race Copter and 3D printers. Christian is more into nature and the great outdoors and loves going hiking and fishing as well as good food and cooking. We do both love computers and gaming which for both of us has been a huge part of our lives since we were kids. We both get really excited when new games come out as there are so many new technologies and developments happening every day in the gaming world. Next to music, this is what we probably get the most excited about!
Kollektiv Turmstrasse is a passion project founded upon two friends who share an interest in the interaction between technology and music. How would you describe this symbiotic relationship ten years ago versus where it is now? What are the successes and obstacles you’ve faced as a production outfit that’s consistently being challenged to evolve alongside technology advances?
Our 20-year friendship has definitely left its mark *laughing*. But seriously, life is a constant development and obviously we aren’t the same people now as when we first met all those years ago. As we work together, we’ve set some ground rules to determine who does what so we are always putting out our best work and maximizing our time in the studio together. When we got started 18 years ago it was a lot easier to be successful in electronic music – there was definitely less competition and it wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. On the other hand, there is now so much information and resources readily available for aspiring producers like tutorials, panel discussions, YouTube videos, the list goes on! We had to learn the hard way through trial and error working out what worked and what didn’t whereas now we feel like perhaps today’s producers wouldn’t make those same mistakes early on in their career like we did. Our passion for music has always been what drives us and it’s taken us far further than we ever imagined.
Photo courtesy of David Rasche