It takes something special to be able to weave destructive techno with arcing melancholia. Yet there is Berlin native Alex.Do, a producer and DJ who creates intricate soundscapes that can not only obliterate dancefloors, but take them on a voyage into the experimental recesses of electronica.
Many of his releases – including World on a Wire which dropped this week – have been on Berlin imprint Dystopian, a close-knit family of artists with the likes of Recondite, Distant Echoes and co-founder Rodhad on their roster. Alex has been a prevalent figure throughout the label’s life, and as for the music itself, well I fail to believe there is a label that has a name that more accurately depicts the feeling their music emits. If Bladerunner and George Orwell’s 1984 had a child, Dystopian’s otherworldly sound is the result.
Away from Dystopian, he’s also released recently on Belgian club Fuse’s label, Fuse Music – with a dark EP called Dusted. Ahead of his appearance at the Flux Day & Night Terrace party in July, I caught up with him to discuss his native city, his influences and his recent dabble in film.
Alex, I’d like to begin with your involvement in Johannes Schaff’s recent ‘Symphony of Now’ film which was screened in February this year. This captured atypical moments from all over Berlin in what the synopsis describes as a ‘cinematic tribute to the metropolis’ that is Berlin, and your home. For those who have yet to see the film, could you give us a short summary?
Of course. The movie is more or less a remake of the historical ‘Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis’. That movie is from the 50s and shows the city in the 20s. One of the characteristics of that movie was that it’s a silent movie with almost no acting and only music running besides the pictures.
The remake was produced in the same vein but it shows Berlin from an actual perspective.
What involvement did you have in this?
I was part of the soundtrack/score producer team – together with Hans Joachim Rodelius, Thomas Fehlmann & Gudrun Gut, Modeselektor, Samon Kawamura and the curator Frank Wiedemann – who wrote the soundtrack.
The movie is split into five acts and for every act Frank Wiedemann wanted to have a guest musician to work with. I was working together with him on the last act.
How did it feel to be one of the younger generation in the film alongside such an array electronic music legends?
It was a really nice feeling, and I think that Frank did a great job in bringing the different generations together.
Talking of Berlin, what kind of influence has the city had on your music taste directly? Do you feel as though if you had grown up in another city your taste would have been different?
I guess, especially in the beginning it was really important that I grew up in Berlin because the pulse of the electronic music movement and culture was – and of course still is – absolutely present.
I had the great opportunity to go to Berghain quite early and to see a lot of legendary acts perform. There was also so many like-minded musicians around me with which I could exchange thoughts about music. I met all the people from Dystopian before it even existed and these people became my friends.
All of these experiences were an important school in many respects, they shaped me a lot and to answer your question, I could imagine that my taste and my way of life could have been very different if I grew up in another city. I won’t say a worse or a better one. But a different one.
Your sets interweave bludgeoning techno with deep, swooning soundscapes that create extremely engaging atmospheres. I know you prefer to play longer sets as it allows you time to build a set with a bigger repertoire of music, and some staunch techno artists insist on longer sets, but does the length of time you play at a club or festival ever determine whether you accept the gig?
No it never does. Yes, I love to play longer sets, but I have also had some really outstanding moments playing for just an hour and a half, each presents opportunities for memorable experiences.
Your discography has releases on labels such as as Plangent, Life and Death and your native Dystopian. These labels are connected by both their intimacy of sound but also their penchant for destructive dancefloor tracks; has releasing on these labels always felt like a natural home for your music?
When it comes to Dystopian for example, then definitely. These guys are my crew and this is for sure one of those places where my music belongs.
Many producers mention that their state of mind and emotions at the time of producing are reflected in their productions. What inspires your deep, almost introverted sounds such as Lumen from your Plangent #007 release and This is Always the Highlight of My Day from Beyond the Black Rainbow? They feel very – excuse the pun – dystopian and otherworldly, like Boards of Canada on heat in many respects, but what inspires these sounds when producing?
It’s not that I have a real picture in mind of what I am going to produce. I feel that there is just something within me that just has to come out in a certain way, and the result is tracks like you mention.
Your latest EP out this spring on the Belgian club Fuse’s label, Fuse Music. What’s behind its name, ‘Dusted’?
I wanted to call it that because I kinda got inspired by those reduced and quite often weird B2 tracks on techno records from 90s. Sometimes being recorded slightly saturated and with strange melodies and so on – or at least this is my personal picture I have from that music!
What is the summer ahead looking like for you, have you many festivals planned?
How was playing at Printworks, it felt like the perfect environment to hear your sometimes quite industrial and unrelenting sound?
Printworks was of course a lot of fun, it’s an amazing venue and a pleasure to play at.
Thanks Alex, we’ll be seeing you at our summer party at Studio 338 in July!
Of course, I’m really looking forward to coming and playing for you at Studio 338!
You can get tickets for our day/night party at Studio 338 on 21st July here.