Q & A: Michael Mayer

Michael Mayer

We’re all very excited to hear that you’re coming down to play in November. What are your thoughts on the scene down under?

Me too… Very excited to come back to Oz. My last tour there was terrific so I’m curious to see what’s new. From far, far away it seems that Australia’s scene is not in a good place. The 1:30 lockouts are a huge threat to Oz nightlife. It’s outright silly to think that this would solve any problems. In my eyes, it only encourages binge drinking and the use of hard drugs. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that reason will prevail…

Do you undertake a lot of preparation for DJ sets? Or do you prefer a much more loose approach to playing live?

It’s really both. I’m taking a lot of time for my preparations but when it’s show time I’d switch to intuition mode and go with the flow. It’s like 50% homework and 50% improvisation. You need to be aware of what’s in your crate or on your hard drive, in what way which track functions in this or that situation. But putting each track in the bigger picture is something that has to happen spontaneously.

In your career, has there been a particular set that really sticks out in your memory?

There are many sets that still echo in my head, moments that I’ll possibly never forget. Be it because the location was so outstanding or because something clicked in my head. I’m seeing DJing as a permanent learning curve. I generally strive for perfection: The perfect dramaturgy, the perfect mix. But you need to keep the perfectionism in check and allow yourself to do something totally unexpected. Perfection is prone to be boring at times.

Dance music has reached an all-encompassing level of popularity. There are so many new sounds and genres arising all the time. What are the changing aspects of the dance scene that most effect and interest you?

I’ve always been fascinated by the permeability of house music. You can express every human emotion between four kick drums and I firmly believe in the self-regenerating powers of our scene. Once a sub-genre gets too self-indulgent there will be a movement that turns itself against this stagnation. There’s a constant dialogue between conservative strands and revolutionary forces. Sometimes it’s über hip to play music that sounds 25 years old but you can be sure that someone else will push even harder for a more modern sound as a direct reaction to this nostalgic trend. Personally, I feel more comfortable with playing forward thinking music. But sometimes it helps to have a quick look into the rear mirror to get inspired again.

The 20 Jahre compilation with Gregor Schwellenbach was a spectacular way to celebrate two decades of music. How are you feeling about Kompakt 20 plus years on?

I feel we’re still coming of age. I don’t feel the weight around my neck of these 500+ releases we did. The next release is always the most important one. It’s crucial to maintain a certain level of naivety when it comes to evaluating music. Otherwise you’ll become just a machine. Nothing beats the high you get when you’ve discovered a new track or artist you believe in. The great benefit of Kompakt’s age is that we’ve gained a lot of experience and aplomb that helps us and our artists to navigate through the rocky waters this music industry have become.

As a bit of an icon in the dance industry, you are booked to play constantly at huge festivals and clubs all around the world. Do you miss the underground shows now that you’ve reached such a level? Do you still get to play many smaller gigs?

I’m in a very lucky position. I still get to play the smaller clubs I’ve always cherished and also the bigger shows. I could never play solely 2h slots on big festival stages. As much as I’m enjoying the rush that comes with that, my heart belongs to playing long or very long sets in a more intimate setting. Playing all night long sets is my favorite discipline. That’s where I can search and find catharsis.

You must not get much time to put into the studio at the moment, but when you do, what’s the process like? What platforms or hardware do you prefer to create on?

I’ve always been suffering from the lack of studio time. Kompakt has employed a lot of people in order to get work off my shoulders so I can spend more time on producing. But with the growth of the company come more responsibilities. I’ve semi-given up on the idea of becoming a full throttle producer. But then again, you can’t have it all. When I find time to spend in the studio I can be sure that I’d be ready to shoot. That saves me all the hanging around with my machines without really knowing what I want to do. I’m working with Logic and a relatively small array of hardware. Sampling is what inspires me the most.

Your music seems to indicate a vast array of influences. Outside of the electronic world, who do you think are your biggest?

80’s pop music is what I grew up with so that would always find its ways back into my productions. Apart from that I’m constantly challenging my ears with a large spectrum of music, be it Jazz, so called World Music or just weird 2nd had records I’d randomly buy somewhere. I’ve developed a deep love for singer songwriters, psychedelic folk and exotica. It’s all about broadening my horizon and trying to decipher why certain songs or tracks resonate with me.

You’ve done so many great remixes; who has been your favourite artist to rework so far? What do you enjoy the most about remixing?

Apart from remixing my youth days heroes Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode I’m most proud of Supermayer’s remix for Rufus Wainwright. The original song, Tiergarten is so remote from anything that could work on a dance floor but we (Superpitcher and me) managed to keep the whole song intact while still making it work on any floor. I guess I’ve done so many remixes because they don’t take up as much time as creating a full solo release. There’s already a starting point so I can use the little time I have very effectively. It’s also a very classic thing… Many great DJ’s from the past I admire a lot have become very capable remixers instead of pursuing a career as a recording artist.

Are there some emerging artists you have your ears on in particular?

I’ve got my ears everywhere : )

What are your visions for the future?

I’m not a clairvoyant… I’m living 100% right here in the present.

Tour Dates

Sat 31st October: Subsonic Boat Party, Sydney – Buy Tickets
Sun 1st November: Railway Hotel, Melbourne – Buy Tickets
Michael Mayer Facebook / SoundCloud