Gian is a talented Berlin-based producer and DJ associated with LACKrec. In december of 2019 he payed a visit to club OOST and luckily for us Gian found some spare time to chat with our editor Kos just before going on stage.
Hi Gian! How’s being on the road treating you compared to regular work and life in Berlin?
Really well! It’s always nice going to different places and getting to know local food, local culture, all the quirky things every city has to offer. I’m used to airports because I also fly frequently for my day job. So, I’m not a complete newbie to life on the road. I still tend to get a bit nervous for take-offs though but it hasn’t gone wrong yet and it probably won’t [laughs].
In Berlin your work seems to be divided between producing, DJing and your affiliation with the LACKrec. label. Which of those three takes up the most time?
I’m not gigging too much right now so I often have weekends to focus on making music. However, I’m self-learned and don’t have a classical music education, so it can take a bit longer for me to come up with something I’m happy with. I realized the most important thing for me is to always keep going. So yeah, music making definitely takes up most of my time right now.
Do you have a regular routine for your producing?
Since I’m working during the day, producing always happens in the evenings. I don’t set particular time slots to make music yet, but should probably look into that, to divide my time in a more productive way.
For example spending half an hour on drums then moving on to another element. At the end of the day music needs to be fun and spark joy though and I feel it translates to the listener if something is over engineered.
Of course there are also less ‘artistic’ sides to your work in music: answering e-mails and doing your taxes for example. Do you find yourself enjoying those parts of the job?
Luckily my tax reports are still quite easy-going. I do like – some – admin stuff too though since I can’t be creative all the time. So these things make it more balanced. Admin or promotional aspects are also an increasingly growing part of the game.
It’s not all about the music anymore. You have to think about how you position yourself, what you communicate and how. You’re basically building and growing a brand and that’s where my job experience comes in handy.
Yeah so let’s drop it, what do you do for your daytime job?
I work at a Berlin-based music software and hardware company as a sales and marketing manager for Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. So, I’m managing distributor accounts in these markets but also try to get more educational institutions on board, and host end-customer events and such.
What are some of the practical challenges you face combining a 40-hour work week with music?
The nice thing is that my job is within the music industry, so there is a natural connection already. Yet at the end of the day, every job is a job. There’s the occasional day when you don’t want to leave your bed, but I’m sure most people can relate. Overall the hardest part for me is to find the energy and brainpower to come up with something creative after a long day of looking at a computer screen.
Do you think you could only do music?
I would love to try it out, and if you get the opportunity, I believe you should give it a go. (Will I die never knowing what I could have been or could of done? from UR’s Transition comes to mind.) And frankly, that’s probably what we’re all working towards.
Having a daytime job also brings its perks though. It gives you a great reason to get up in the morning on weekdays and also stay grounded. Another thing I like about having a daytime job is that I can be a bit more selective about my gigs. I don’t have to accept every request because I don’t have to make ends meet just with DJ fees.
Do you get as much satisfaction out of your day job as from music?
It always feels nice to accomplish something new and cross it off your list. However since I get to play more often, I’m personally more satisfied when finishing music than achieving something big in the office.
It’s just such a nice feeling to send something off to the pressing plant and wait to see how the finished product gets perceived by people outside of your network. It’s great to see people feeling enthusiastic about your stuff when you might feel unsure about it. So it helps build confidence and shows that I can be a bit too hard on myself sometimes.
Your music, in line with the sound of the label, seems very much drawn towards a very particular style of airy, bouncy techno with almost dub-like qualities. Lots of pads and heavy on atmosphere.
[laugs] Yeah I’m a sucker for pads, I absolutely love them. I should probably use them a bit less, since they can take away a lot of energy. To me however, a track often only sounds complete when the pads come in.
Are you in any way involved in the curation of the label? The sound seems very much coherent with your own sound.
Claudio [Banti, red.] always shares the incoming promos with everyone on the label to check how we feel about them, because the label is very much a group thing and we’re doing our best to keep this spirit alive. Most of the guys I knew already from going out and exploring Berlin’s nightlife. And I’m super thankful for this sort of label community. LACK really is a low-key family thing for me.
Do you feel like Berlin is a tough city to find a community like that to hang on to?
There’s a lot of people around, and you can probably never meet everyone. There’s a lot of small groups doing their own thing. If you’re looking for it, it’s really easy to connect with people. After that it takes a bit more work to keep those relationships going, because there are always so many people coming and going all the time and there’s a lot of constant distractions. For LACK it also helped that most of us are from the southern parts of Germany with the exception of Victor.
Where your productions are heavy on atmosphere your DJ-sets seem more indebted to high-energy, explosive strands of electro, acid and ghetto tech.
True, when I DJ, I love a lot of different styles. I believe I enjoy playing electro the most, because of its bouncy urban feel and I also love using the crossfader. Something that I wouldn’t necessarily do when I play techno or house. Depending on the time slot I have to play, my DJ sets can also get very atmospheric though. So it really depends on the night and style I feel is right for the occasion.
Do you apply this difference in sound consciously?
I can’t fully explain why I produce more atmospheric stuff than what I play out. I’m happy to admit that I still have a lot to learn on the production side. So, perhaps I’m subconsciously concealing some knowledge gaps with atmosphere [laughs].
I just have to find the right way to achieve getting “that” sound because most of the stuff I play out is older. A big part of that rough edge just comes with the era and the equipment used back then. So it comes across as a bit more rowdy and bouncy, but stuff just wasn’t as polished.
What does your music selection process for DJ sets look like?
For digging new stuff, I use YouTube and Discogs a lot. I love lighting up and diving deep into the web and see where I end up. It might be really obscure stuff, it might me poppy stuff, most importantly is that it touches me in a way.
Record shops are obviously great too and so is Bandcamp. Digging for music is the best thing to do when I don’t feel creative enough to make music. Finding a dope track gives me the same kinda joy as finishing a track.’’
Thanks a lot for the interview, looking forward to your set. To send off the readers with a little recommendation: any new music that you’re excited about and plan on playing tonight?
Thanks for having me man! Something I’m looking forward to playing the fresh off the shelves repress of D.I.E. – Detroit Technobass.