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April 5, 2011 / rocksandgravel

An Interview with Adam Beyer

Adam Beyer is a name synonymous with techno, and has been a big influence on defining the genre since the early ’90s. He began working life in the Planet Rhythm store in his native Stockholm, and somehow came to working with the affiliated record label. Apparently, he says, “things just fell into place” as he was surrounded by like-minded creative individuals, which “makes it much easier to have your sound recognised if several of you are pushing for the same”. Back then, the Swedish techno scene was “new and blossoming” and “very exciting”. They used to go to secret warehouse parties in the outskirts of Stockholm, but not many people knew about them which added to the buzz of the underground.

So who inspired Adam Beyer to get into techno? “Mostly myself actually”. I guess you don’t get to his position by being modest. He does also pay credit to the “guy in the record store” (I’m sure you know who you are) since he helped him find the cool records. “I was DJing already and started to buy records before I actually started going to the parties. There were no techno superstars back in 1990.”

So Drumcode is his label, and it seems to be the authority on all that is good in techno, above and within the underground. The ethos of the label is pretty straightforward: keeping the DJ in mind, making every track playable, and no fillers. “I tend to pick music for the label with some sort of theme in mind – it might be something very subtle, but it makes the track special in one way or another. Drumcode as a label defines what the more popular side of the underground scene is all about: not too hard, not too trendy. It’s definitely not cheesey; just really good party techno that appeals to a wider audience.”

One thing they don’t do is compromise. When it comes to his own DJing and sound, he’s slightly more diverse and likes to play across all the dance music genres, but of course adapts it depending on where he plays. He wouldn’t describe himself as a perfectionist, (“that depends what defines one”) but goes on to ask, “what’s the point in not being satisfied in what you create and what you stand for?” So, yes I think he probably is. He admits he’s been rash with decisions in the past and lived to regret it, so these days he takes extra care to avoid such mistakes. I wonder: does he ever step back to take it all in? “I am just very happy to be able to live my dream and work in music”.

Recent recruits to the label have included the likes of Nihad Tule, Nima Khak and Patrik Siech, but what exactly does Adam look for in new signings? “They all have their own distinctive sound, which is still quite raw. I can see the potential in them and they have a great chance now to develop and evolve.” In addition to Drumcode, he also runs sideline labels Truesoul, which is more open and allows artists to various genres along the electronic music spectrum, meaning the singles are usually “a bit deeper and clubbier”. Madeye is just for Adam and his collaborations. He uses it to explore techonology and takes influences from other genres like minimal and tech house; usually the tracks on Madeye are more complex in terms of their sound and arrangement.

It seems true in many music genres that trends come about in 20 year cycles, so is it a similar story in the world of techno? Are a lot of the features that characterised it back in the early ’90s coming back into effect now? “I think they’ve been back in for quite some time. There’s a lot of old school sounding techno being played by the likes of Ben Klock and the Berghain people for example. Not to mention the good old ride cymbal – finally back with a bang” (pun probably intended).

Highlights of the summer this year were Drumcode at Space, Ibiza; and the Drumcode arena at Sziget festival, Hungary. Saturday 25th September sees Adam bring Drumcode to Ewer Street car park, London to showcase the label in all its glory. Sharing the headline spot is Chris Liebing, as well as a host of fellow Drumcode label mates including Cari Lekebusch and Joel Mull- the who’s who in techno really. What should people expect? “A great show, hopefully. We’ve put a lot of effort into sound and visuals, and the line up is insane. A big night out basically!”

Catch Adam on his radio show at www.drumcode.se/radio

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