No problem – my pleasure!
We’re here predominantly of course to talk about your new album ‘The Politics Of Dancing 3’, which was released last year. How was the experience of producing it, overall?
It was wonderful. Somewhat lengthier than expected, as there were a many moving parts to the process, but ultimately, it’s one of my most-satisfying production experiences to date.
‘The Politics Of Dancing’ is something of course that will be new to some and have major historical meaning for many other music lovers. Take us back to the beginning: why did you christen the series ‘The Politics Of Dancing’ in the first place?
I became ‘politically-minded’ across a wide range of areas fairly early in my life. It had a lot to do with growing up in communist East Berlin. There was a natural juncture where the worlds of dancing and politics met and I decided to highlight that through the mix-album’s title. It’s important to clarify though, that when I refer to ‘the politics of dancing’, it’s not a statement about politics-politics. It’s more an observation on the diplomatic perspective of politics. In Ibiza, many years ago, I watched friends from Tel Aviv and Lebanon dancing alongside each other – without war, without anything in their minds other than treating each other respectfully. In 2015, the need for this type of diplomacy is even greater than it was in 2001. In a very personal respect, I see what sort of potential electronic music has for uniting people who otherwise would not normally be united. It’s tremendously powerful in that way and that’s what ‘the politics of dancing’ really means to me.
Why are we seeing the third ‘Politics Of Dancing?
‘Politics 3’, I think, has had a less-than-usual timeline. People began to anticipate it around 2008, which was right around the time that more & more PvD projects began to compete for position. From that point people were asking less ‘when’ and more ’if it was going to happen’. From 2012, after EVOLUTION’s release, I was drawn back to the idea more and more. It built up until one day the mind became set and I thought ‘Yes, really, why not?’ If there’s a project that after so many years I still feel so passionately and positively about, that is still raised by the audience and to the degree it was, then what’s to stand in its way?
You mentioned earlier that there were a lot of moving parts to the process. Could you expand on that?
Many things had changed within the music industry since 2005. The way we make and produce music, how we release music and, of course, how we all consume it. The third ‘Politics Of Dancing’ needed to address that and have a different approach to the first two. As it turned out, there were a few hurdles to overcome. The ‘workaround’ lay in musical cooperation & artistic collaboration, and hence the project moved from being a mix-compilation to an artist album.
And one that’s almost entirely collaboration-based?
Correct. To me, making music is one of the most stimulating, fun and fulfilling things to do in this world. Doing it with friends and people you admire makes it that even more enjoyable.
It must have been quite a challenge working with so many different artists, all at the same time though?
It was, but the challenge was all part of the fun. There are, I think, 23 different co-producers and singers featured on the album. While I wasn’t working with them all at once, of course, there was an added time factor to it all. It needed a different type of discipline, but I was all for learning that!
What was the typical work dynamic between yourself and your co-writers?
With collaborations, there are no hard & fast rules. I love that. You can go in expecting the dynamic to play out one way in terms of ‘who does what’. In realizing it, it can come out entirely the opposite, so there really isn’t a ‘typical’ work dynamic.
If there’s no ‘typical’, can you take us through a few tracks and give us some specific insights in terms of how the production came together? And why you picked that person to work with in the first instance?
Sure. Take ‘Lights’ with Sue McLaren, Sue has a voice I find completely unforgettable. She has a lyrical and vocal infiltration that always gets me. The lyrics to ‘Lights’ are metaphorical & figurative. They’re also quite wistful and haunting. With the production, I needed to make sure it was well-balanced and that none of their atmosphere was lost. It sounds cooler and quite harmonic when you first listen, but in the lower end there’s some real PvD pump happening!
I loved what Mino Safy had going on with ‘Around The Garden’ by Mino Safy, but any which way I tried, I couldn’t make it work in my sets, so I decided to remix it and made it a lot ‘clubbier’. This is a ‘conduction’ track, to the method of the first two ‘Politics Of Dancing’ releases. Maybe closer to ‘how we did it before’, where I would remix someone else’s track and then have it as an exclusive for the album. There was a part of me that wanted to use Mino’s track to further strengthen the connection between the first two parts and this third one.
With ‘What We’re Livin For’ with Michael Tsukerman and Patrick Droney, I told Michael (who’s probably best know for his trance tracks), that I’d love to see what would happen if we did something completely away from that area. Something more festival-like – a big summer outdoors, up-on-your-toes type track and that’s how ‘What We’re Livin For’ came about. Then Patrick – this young singer from the west coast of America, who I think has a bit of revolution in his voice, came in and gave it it’s big rock-ish vocal. His “If we only look back then we’ll never know” line struck an instant chord with me and worked brilliantly for the track.
With Genix on ‘For You’, we’ve put out quite a few of his solo releases and co-productions over the last year, so he’s very much part of our VANDIT family. He’s always had a different, unique approach to the trance sound — some would say it’s impossible to compartmentalize. That is actually a great production characteristic – it leaves things so open, and that’s what made this collaboration so interesting for me.
When the album finally wrapped and you listened to it from start to finish, what were your first thoughts?
What I felt was that the 3rd ‘Politics of Dancing’s sound is more of what I’m about than even the first two albums, and that felt good, of course. With 1 & 2, I took music from other people and mixed, remixed and articulated it into a mix-comp. Now, barring one exception, we’re talking about tracks that I’ve written and co-written with other artists. This is pretty much my idea of what electronic music should sound like now. ‘Politics’ is, in essence, a ‘sound dictionary’ of where I’m at musically. For me, it continues the theme/thread of the first two, whilst acknowledging the passage of time between the then and the now.
Would you do another ‘Politics Of Dancing’?
I would ‘never say never’ to doing another in the future. What is the advantage in saying definitely ‘yes’ or definitely ‘no’? Much of the matter in Politics 3’s respect is it’s fan-driven. The arrival of the third album is an equal balance of their desires and mine.
Aside from Politics Of Dancing, you have a lot of other things happening at the moment. Tell us about those?
Sure. Well, VANDIT Records has its 16th anniversary this year.
Well Happy Birthday VANDIT!
Ha – thanks for that! It’s a very exciting time for us, so we’re celebrating that with a lot of exciting releases and events. The first is our ‘Best Of VANDIT Records’ music-compilation, which is out now. Lot of music on there from people like Armin + Tiesto, Gareth Emery + Lange, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Alex M.O.R.P.H. and myself, of course. That’s really just the start of it. Watch this space!
We’re also doing the We Are One festival in Berlin again this year. It’s the third one in as many years in 2015 and the fourth in its short history. This year we’re moving to Rummelsburg Beach as we needed to expand both its capacity and experience a new setting. The plan going forward is to make it as musically-expansive as possible, and that requires more stages, which we have this year.
Paul, many thanks for speaking to us. We wish you the best with the release of the album, VANDIT15 and We Are One!