Shrouded in mystery but with a defined purpose, Amotik‘s unstoppable rise among the techno hierarchy is not a blip. Once, could describe him as an artist who is humble and fortnight about his work and the music he puts out. In a way, his secrecy could be interpreted as an effort to let his music speak and do so with a distinctly unique signature, an art that is much uncommon in the heavily social-media dependent world of electronic music today. Essentially the reason he prefers to release most of his music on his own label AMTK is precise to maintain that singularity and originality in sound that has seen him and his music travel through the depths of Europe’s elite techno underground. The only other label he has agreed to release on is Len Faki’s ‘Figure’, which alone speaks about his palette of sound.
Productions apart, his prodigious skill behind the console is also unmissable as he can seamlessly blend and craft sets laden with raw energy and emotion. A skill that has seen him play and blow the roof off clubs such as Berghain, Khidi,
MMA club and the paradigm festival.
Recently, he visited India and is coming off a three-city tour of Chennai, Mumbai, and Pune with Bleep. I had an opportunity to shoot a few questions to the Berlin-based techno Jedi on how he does what he does and here’s what he had to say :
How easy or difficult was it to break through the clutter of DJs who reside and travel to Berlin and find your space especially with new music and a new alias no one has heard of?
I feel the scene in Berlin is very supportive, and it’s certainly been good to me. I’ve gotten a lot of support/help/advice from people around me. There are a lot of DJs there but there’s also a very huge/lively scene here with space for a lot of people to thrive in all sorts of directions.
Your music is compelling, unnerving, banging as well as very stripped down. Could you tell our readers about the idea(s) behind the music you put out?
It’s a very simple approach – it’s essentially music that I want to hear on the dance floor, and there’s not much else to it. I like the stripped back approach because I like to keep things simple. Everything should serve a purpose within a track, and not just be there to fill space. The fewer parts, the better – at least for the way I work.
How do you usually approach the process of building and finishing a track?
I’ll always start with the drums/percussion to get a groove going, then move onto the riff, and arrange it as quick as possible whilst I’m really excited about the vibe of the track. My favorite tracks are the ones that have come together really quickly, without too much overthinking/overproduction.
There’s not usually a fixed direction where I want to go when making music – it’s whatever is talking back to me during the production process.
If I go in with a fixed idea about how I want a track to sound, it generally doesn’t turn out so well.
When you DJ what’s your set-up usually like? Do you set up the same way during a festival and during a club gig?
My ideal setup is a Xone:92 mixer and 4 CDJs, as I like to layer loops and have more options of what to play at any given moment. I love to play vinyl, but the equipment is not always treated well/set up correctly in clubs, so I’ve been leaning more towards a fully digital setup lately. However, if I’m playing in Germany, I would normally take some vinyl as it’s much easier to transport on the train, and the setups here are well looked after. Or if it’s a club I’ve played for before where I know the vinyl setup is on point.
Same setup for a club or festival.
Which do you prefer generally, a closed intimate club gig or an open festival and why?
I love both, to be honest… I think I maybe play better in clubs, due to the sound/lights/darkness and intimacy that’s involved with club shows. I like to be close to people, otherwise, I find it hard to connect.
Festivals are also great and it’s always nice to party outdoors… But will offer a different vibe. It’s always nice to catch up with friends at festivals and they’re a much more social experience.
Since you began, you have traveled across Europe and have played at numerous clubs so far. Which among them are your favorites/ fondest memories?
Berghain (Berlin) – For so many reasons this was special, but mainly because it was the club that influenced my sound so much when I first moved to Berlin.
The first time I stepped into that booth was a very very surreal experience for me – it’s such a unique place. Also, to play alongside Boris who has been a great inspiration for me was just perfect.
Khidi (Tbilisi) – I’d heard so much about the scene in Tbilisi but was really taken aback by the venue and the ridiculously huge sound system. Plus the people are so kind/warm. I’m really happy that they’ve invited me back a couple of times, and I’m looking forward to getting back there again next week.
BO18 (Beirut) – I have some friends in Beirut and they’d mentioned to me how cool this club was. The guys from Teknoand invited me last year, and I’ve now become a resident for them, and they’ve become good friends. They’ve built something really strong in the city.
The Block (Tel Aviv) – Ridiculously good energy from the people there. I played in The Squat room last summer, which has low ceilings, a relentless sound system, and just an incredible vibe.
What’s your take on the vinyl industry currently? Do you think the medium is on the comeback trail or a flash in the pan?
I guess it’s the strongest it’s been for years now, and I can’t see it slowing down any time soon. There’s still a lot of demand because people still love to DJ with the medium.
As a label owner, you probably take care of everything from A&R to designing the artwork for each as well as pressing records. What are the issues as well as the benefits of a DJ running their own label?
The main benefit is knowing when each record comes out. I really like to maintain control over the whole process, and also have the ability to maintain a regular release schedule. There’s no real A&R involved as I only release my music on the label, but it’s certainly not a one-person operation. My wife helps with the artwork, and my distributors (triple vision) help with the pressing side of things.
Is the label also a reason why you choose to release only original work and haven’t done any remixes/collaborations so far?
The label was always intended as a solo output for my own productions, but I am looking to extend that slightly, and I’m planning a remix EP later in the year with a selection of my favorite producers.
Are there plans afoot for an Amotik LP?
Not currently, but I’m not totally ruling it out.
What does Amotik do when he’s not DJing or producing music?
I try to live as healthy as possible during the week – eating well and exercising daily to keep a balance, as the weekends can get a little hectic. But whenever I have a free weekend, I like to get out to clubs and on the dance floor to get some inspiration.