#73 - Chris Liebing
Having recently focused on some up and coming emerging DJ talents,the EPM podcast is now handed to one of Techno’s true leaders. Chris Liebing is one of the artists in the steadily and rapidly growing world of electronic music who has faithfully dedicated the past 25 years of his life tothe performance, production, distribution and broadcasting of Techno on a global level. There is pretty much nothing the German pioneer hasn’t done. He has run a club and several successful club nights, has held residencies in many of the most prestigious venues worldwide, produced his own music and the music of other artists, founded record labels, hosted radio shows, won awards for different branches of his professional efforts and has been an unshakable pillar and devoted ambassador of innovative Techno. In a world where the word ‘legend’ is all too readily thrown around, Liebing remains a committed powerhouse and global ambassador of uncompromising electronic music. We are absolutely thrilled to have Mr. Liebing in the EPM hot-seat and his exclusive new mix doesn’t fail to once more deliver the Techno goods. As Chris prepares to headline this Friday’s Claydrum Indoor party on 25 September, he gives us a taster of what to expect on the night!
Just like many other artists who passionately dedicate a vast amount of time to a cause, evolution and constant change have been a significant part of his career and have led him to where he is at this very moment. In 2015 he is more in demand than ever and is continuously touring on various continents. After playing for established nights like Cocoon, Carl Cox and Music On in Ibiza, he is now holding a residency for HYTE at the island´s iconic Amnesia club and recently played several dates for Richie Hawtin´s ‘CNTRL: Beyond EDM’ US tour alongside artists like Loco Dice, Josh Wink, Seth Troxler, Matthew Dear, Matador, Dubfire and Victor Calderone.
Chris always stood and still stands for solid Techno on the deeper side of the musical spectrum. His sets are sonic journeys between darkness and light, always far away from the beaten tracks of the musical mainstream. Being a kid from the 80s and growing up with Synth Pop bands like Depeche Mode and electronic dance acts like Nitzer Ebb amongst many others, his musical background also contains the melancholy, the vocals and the melodies from this era, which he increasingly blends into his current sets. People who exclusively know him for his fast and unrelenting Techno sets of the past might be surprised about those new facets he is adding to his at all times dynamic sound. He was one of the first DJs that used the new possibilities in the course of the digitalization of music in a consequent and creative way and is incessantly searching for new ways of intuitive expression. The realtime manipulation of the individual tracks and sounds plays an important role in his DJ sets. Due to the good co-operation with various software and hardware makers, his current setup offers him practically endless possibilities, which he uses to create an irresistible groove and an ever-changing, unpredictable musical flow.
With his continuous touring, his established CLR label and the CLR Podcast, which he hosted from 2009 until 2015, he has written international Techno history and has just recently started a new weekly radio broadcast. The AM/FM show is published every Monday and features an hour of one of his current sets without any edits or touches, just in its raw and unbridled form. After 25 years he is still inspiring generations of DJs and music lovers worldwide and is enjoying his craft more than ever.
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Q&A with Chris Liebing
1. One hour doesn’t give you the full range of DJ expression but would you say this mix is a good example of what you are currently playing?
That is true, it is nearly impossible to put all the musical directions I am happy to play into one hour. This is something that would rather happen over a nine or ten hours all night long journey, but this hour gives you a pretty good impression of what I really enjoy to play right now, considering that this is also for your listening pleasure. The only thing that might be missing on this podcast is the kind of dark, very late night Techno side of things.
2. What were your first experiences of dance music? What clubs were you going to?
I grew up in a very small town outside of Frankfurt and my first experience with dance music was when my parents dropped my off at ten o´clock at night at a little club in another little village, where we were listening to all kinds of music, mainly the current chart stuff. I don´t even know if you could call this dance music, although people actually danced to it. That was around the middle of the 80s and you got picked up again at midnight, as you were not allowed to stay out alone any longer when you were not older than 16 years. But later on I went to various kinds of clubs, Rock clubs and more Avantgarde places, where they already played early House music. That was before the time of what we call Techno music today.
3. Can you still remember how you felt at the opening of the very first night of SpinClub in 1994?
Of course, I was extremely nervous. I am pretty much of a control freak - still today - and I tried to take care of everything. I wanted that every light and every candle in the club had the exact right spot, the music had to have the exact right volume in every moment of the night and so on. Basically I wanted everyone in the club to be happy and enjoying themselves, and the great thing was that I finally had a place where I could play anything I wanted.
4. How big an influence was 80s ‘industrial’ music to your sound?
It was not only the Industrial music, it was also the Pop music coming out of England by producers like Trevor Horn and by labels like Mute. This is also why I am still today a huge fan of Daniel Miller. He was the man who brought us not only the abstract music, but also the poppy music - and not to forget he was the discoverer of Depeche Mode. It was a mix of Industrial music, Pop music and even Rock music, and the older I get I realize more and more that this influence was huge. It is so important to realize that you are a product of your environment and that you get really influenced by how you grow up and what kind of music you are listening to in your younger years. You don´t really loose that. I sometimes think that now a new phase begins, but actually it´s always building up on what you used to listen to, what you learned by listening to this music and what kind of experiences you had with which kind of styles. Mine were all over the place. Industrial, Rock, Pop, I was never really into one genre only. Sometimes I think that this is a disadvantage for what I do today, but then I also sometimes think that maybe it´s an advantage, because I end up mixing things together that other people would not come up with.
5. How has your residency at Hyte, Amnesia been this summer?
Very exciting. I felt like being a part of this new project, which has successfully started in it´s first season at one of the best clubs - or if not the best club on the island - Amnesia. To be part of that was quite an experience and I can say that I only had great nights when I played. I got to play the Terrace once, I played the Main Room many times and I am very much looking forward to the closing on the 30th of September – in case you all wanna join in!
6. How does dance music fit in with the rest of your life? Is there time for anything else?
Well, I am a father of two children so basically all the free time that is available to me I am spending with my kids. Apart from that I am sitting in the studio a lot, trying to produce beats, listening to promos and to music in general. Besides that there is not really much time to do other things, but I don´t really mind that, as I enjoy working in this industry and being around dance music all day. And a lot of times I also listen to stuff other than dance music, like Chet Faker or Boards Of Canada, or I might get nostalgic and listen to old albums for example by Tears For Fears. I also have those phases when I am really into Nine Inch Nails and I listen to all of their albums up and down, or other Rock bands, so it´s quite a mix of different styles.
7. You collaborated with Speedy J on the ‘Metalism’ album in 2007. Do you have any more collaboration plans with any artists?
Yes, I do, at this moment I have a collaboration going on with Henrik Schwarz. This summer, actually at a Hyte party, we had the idea that we could work on some music together. There is one track, which is already in it´s final stages and we are working on more. Besides that I am also looking into some other collaborations which I still don´t want to talk about. It´s all very exciting as I have much more time and space for studio work now.
8. They say ‘don’t meet your heroes’ but having travelled and played around the world for the last 20+ years are there any musical heroes you would still like to meet?
Yes, there are a lot musical heroes I would like to meet, but I have to say that my biggest musical hero I have already met and I can say that I have a really good relationship with him by now. It´s Daniel Miller, who has been such an influential person in the past 50 years in the area of music that I was listening to. I also had the chance to meet and shake hands with Martin L. Gore. It was a very brief encounter, but I hope it gets repeated at some point. I was actually a little afraid of meeting any band member of Depeche Mode at some point in my life, as I was also wondering if it would be better not to meet them in person and to leave it as it is, but at a concert in Berlin I had the chance to meet Martin and Andy Fletcher and it was not disappointing at all. It was an amazing experience, and maybe one day I get to say hello to Dave Gahan too, who knows. Trent Reznor is another artist I would like to run into one day, but I would not want to force this. Those people want to be left alone and have enough fans who stalk them, so I don´t want to be another one of those. I go with the flow. Whoever I meet, I meet. When it happens, great, but I am not really trying hard to meet my musical heroes.
9. Having focused on developing other artists on CLR over the last few years is it now time for some new Chris Liebing productions?
That is exactly the point. This is a decision I made in the beginning of this year and thisis also why I finished the CLR Podcast in March of this year. At the same time I started a new podcast called AM/FM, which basically features one-hour-long parts of my own sets. The reason for this was that 6 years of CLR Podcasts were amazing, but also a lot of work. All the administration stuff behind it, doing the schedules with the guests, getting the sets in on time... It´s been a great time but it also took away a lot of time, just like the label work required a lot of time. I managed to re-arrange things now, so I do have more time for the studio and this is what I want to focus on. I am really happy to be back in the studio working on new music and I think this is something you can expect from me in 2016 - hopefully some good releases on various labels.
10. What’s your current DJ top 10?
I have not done a top 10 in the past two years, mainly for time reasons, and I am still kind of in the same situation, but I will try to sit down soon to do one, and you will be the first to find out when it´s done! I hope you enjoyed this mix of mine. EPM – thank you very much for having me! Bye bye.