10 questions to get to know...
Ahead of his first All Night Long, hosted by Unmasked next Saturday 22nd June, we had the pleasure of catching up with Phase Fatale.
In a very inspiring interview, the New York-born, Berlin-based artist walked us through his music education and how this influenced his unmistakable sound as well as his project BITE, more recently. Started a little over one year ago, BITE is a label born as “an attempt to push techno into its next evolutionary state”, gathering like-minded artists gravitating around the same Berlin community.
Defying genres and blurring borders, going from Industrial to EBM, from Techno to Synth Wave or Italo is part of Phase Fatale’s very own signature, something that’s even more evident when he plays longer sets, be it for his residence at Khidi or his 10h closings at Berghain. That’s just one of the reasons why we can’t wait to have him at Electrowerkz very soon.
We chatted with him about the importance of exchanging ideas with other artists, the role of the DJ, touring in Asia and much more.
Enjoy the interview and see you on the dance-floor on the 22nd.
Q: Hello Hayden and thanks for taking the time out for this interview with Unmasked. Let’s start from the beginning and talk a bit about your music education and influences. We know that your parents were part of the music scene of the 80s and you learned to play guitar and bass very young, as well as playing in some cold wave and post-punk bands.
Which are the elements making those influences the breeding ground for the type of music that you make today? Is the connection in the sound, in the aesthetics, or in both?
A: I think the sound, as well as learning to play music via guitar greatly influences my choices and style in production. I tend to gravitate towards certain melodies that come from my songwriting when I was in bands.
As well, a lot of post-punk music is heavily carried by the bass and drums, while the guitar plays a more psychedelic and wall of noise role. I try to take from that same concept of roles, as my music generally tends to be centered around the bassline and driving drums, while the elements in the upper registers are creating more of an atmosphere than main theme.
Aesthetically, some of my favourite labels from the 80s, Factory and 4AD, had a very distinct visual and artistic vision that tied the releases together. And that’s something my partner Florian (who is in charge of all the artwork) and I try to put through our label BITE, where each release has a strong visual element.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about BITE and how do you choose the artists that you want to release on your label?
A: We started BITE a little over a year ago. One of the main goals was to start a techno label designed to present other artists who operate beyond the normal, preconceived boundaries of the genre. It’s an attempt to push techno into its next evolutionary state. The artists we work with are all people that are close to us and coming from the same community, mostly based in Berlin. We’ve put out many firsts for artists, including debuting Reka and Vulkanski, as well as Teste putting out their first release of new material in 25 years.
Q: You are just back from a recent tour in Asia, how was it? How is the scene different from the one in Europe, for example, and what do you like about playing there?
A: Going on tour to Asia is always an experience. This time we did label showcases with Sarin and Unhuman in Tokyo and Seoul, which seemed like a big step. As well, I was in Hanoi and Hong Kong.
The scene for this kind of music is smaller than in Europe, but the people behind it are very passionate, and the events are very high energy.
Q: Is there a place (city, club or festival) where you haven’t been yet and would like to play?
A: I’ve been to many places, but I would still like to do a tour of South America, I guess.
Q: You will be playing your first All Night Long in London soon. An all-nighter is a concept less and less seen these days and many artists seem to miss the times when they were more frequent. How do you feel about it?
A: I am quite used to playing extended hour sets. Most Berghain closings are around 10 hours long. For me, a nice thing about an all-nighter is that you also get to do the warm-up. So it can be built from nothing slowly to the peak of the night then come down. And within these long sets, I have more the opportunity to go beyond the usual borders of techno and cross genres: from techno, industrial, electro, synthwave to italo. I can go between these different styles and eras, connecting them in deeper ways than just the sound itself.
Q: Let’s talk about residencies, being the ones at Berghain and Khidi your most famous ones. What do you consider when choosing whether to accept a residency in a club?
A: I first played at Khidi at the end of 2016, and it had just opened recently and I was amazed by the space, the sound system and the people. There was a lot of potential to build up the kind of techno sound I’ve been pushing forward.
So when they asked me to join as a resident, it was an easy decision.
Berghain, I first played at in 2015 and proceeded to release on their labels Unterton and Ostgut Ton. Now, I have just also joined their booking agency. So it was quite natural for the residency to occur.
In both clubs, there is something special about playing there regularly over a greater amount of time where you can develop something larger than just one set.
Q: Talking about collaborations in an interview you did with Silent Servant a couple of years ago, you said: “You always need another perspective, otherwise you can’t develop”. Apart from Silent Servant, who are the artists that you feel giving (and receiving) this type of mutual exchange of perspective to?
A: That would be Adam X. He’s a legend from the New York techno scene and also one of the first bridging gaps between techno, industrial, and EBM. As well, all the artists on BITE that I work with, we exchange a lot of ideas regarding production through the A&R process.
Q: In another interview, you defined yourself “a musician and not an entertainer”. Can you explain better? Do you think that all clubbers are after musicians more than entertainers?
A: My main focus is to make music and curate and select music for my DJ sets in my own way. I’m not here to wave my hands around or hold my finger up when the fog cannon goes off during a drop. But I think at most of the places I play that this dilemma is not really an issue. Of course, some people come just to make a party (which is totally fine too), and others come for the music, but that’s how it’s always been.
Q: With regards to your live performances, do you have anything planned sometime soon?
A: I’m just focusing on DJing at the moment. But there will be another live set tour one day for sure.
Q: Finally, what’s next for Phase Fatale?
A: I have been locked in the studio for all of this year so far, working on the next thing, formulating something new. There’s a BITE label night in Munich with Sarin and Vulkanski happening this month. As well there’ll be another label showcase at Khidi in Tbilisi towards the end of the year. For BITE, we have one more EP and an album coming from some cool artists also before the year ends!
Interview By / Stefania Trinchero.
Published / 13.06.2019