014: Red Robin (Bar 25 / Watergate)

By Simon

Cornering Red Robin in the smoking area of Rote Sonne in Munich and attempting to display my terrible German language skills – not a pretty sight for anyone in the vicinity – have very fortunately led to Robin creating this throbbing three hour mix for us. Luckily for me, and my poor attempts at German, Robin is amicable, and one of those true lovers of music. He’s as happy playing to thousands as he is a few close friends, night or day. Since his earliest memories Robin remembers music: classical piano, percussion, radio, and Robin’s world has always been one of sound. In his own words, he not only loves music, but lives it. 

Early beginnings in Metal, Hip Hop, Punk-rock and Funk bands give Robin his wide musical scope, whilst a late-blooming love of electronic music gives him the skills that this mix display. Serving residencies at legendary Berlin establishments Bar 25, Kater Holzig (now Kater Blau) and Watergate, Robin has a well-earned reputation for entertaining dancers into the morning hours and beyond. Robin has also released on Platzhirsch, Trapez Ltd and Kater Mukke to name a few. 

Where/What was the mix recorded on?

The mix was recorded with two CDJs, two turntables and a Pioneer Mixer – actually not at all my favourite setup (which would be three CDJs, one turntable and a Rane MP2015 mixer). To this day I still do not own a DJ-setup, never have. That makes it quite difficult to get podcasts done on time 😀

I will have my first own setup very soon, though and I’m super excited about it: finally, after 12 years working full-time as DJ/producer, I can try stuff at home! Pretty ridiculous, I know.

Any tracks you want to bring special attention to?

As always there’s a lot of Jichael Mackson stuff to be found in this mix – he’s my number one hero in electronic music – and the very last track was produced by Pier Bucci and me. It’s called “No Dominion”.

Any record labels you love currently?

To be honest I’m usually more interested in certain artists, listening through all they’ve done, thereby automatically discovering their entourage of remixers, then checking out those guys and so on…

Right now I am (like a lot of people) inspired by some of the DJs and producers from Romania such as Rhadoo or Barac, they have the elegance, the knowledge and the balls to combine records and styles other DJs would never dare put together; they keep surprising the people on the dancefloor and, I’m almost certain, sometimes even themselves (nothing like that expression of joy and excitement in the DJs eyes when “finding a pair“: two records that go so well together that they add up to some spontaneous new killer groove or melody or vibe). I love that. And I always prefer people who dare take a risk and do the unthinkable. Even though this might go horribly wrong in front of everyone sometimes – in which case one simply has to quickly abort the experiment and go for something safe to catch the crowd before killing the vibe – it is so, so worth the other moments when things work out fine and a vibrant, and an improvised new monster of a track falls into place!

Both as a DJ or as part of the crowd I’m always more interested in taking the sophisticated risk. Boy George once said that DJs who always play the same songs are like comedians who always tell the same jokes. I totally agree. And we all know which type of crowd that generates 😀

When you construct a set do you think about the piece as whole, or do you think just a few songs at a time, or do you just go on instinct and feeling? Or even some other method?

Usually I have ideas according to the situation, the weather, the venue, the daytime, the size of the crowd, all that – just to throw everything overboard the moment I start playing 😀

Being spontanious (while being very sensitive about the vibe) is in my opinion the most interesting aspect about being a DJ. But of course one develops a few routines over the years and sometimes it is the DJs job to know better than the guy in the first row who keeps yelling “faster, faster” 😉

And of course I try to navigate the whole ship of partying ravers smoothly through the seas of electronic music and not into some iceberg, yes 😀

You found your way into electronic music quite late, comparative to others – was there any significant reason for that?

Yes: a new girlfriend.

Do you feel it was a natural progression?

Not at all – having a major crush on that girl was the only reason for me to actually go to one of “these ridiculous parties filled with stupid idiots listening to that horrible electronic crap that always sounds the same“.

Not much later I was one of them, realizing that I had been the stupid idiot.

Do you think you’ll always be involved in electronic music or do you think your tastes will evolve again?

Most definitely. I keep learning and collecting input from no matter which type of music – using all of that knowledge combined when working in the studio. I listen to all kinds of music at home. I find it scary when people stick to one genre and one genre only! That comes dangerously close to tolerating only one nationality if you ask me…

Bar 25 sounds incredible and mental – more like a festival than a bar (with an open-air club, restaurant, bar, small hotel, improvised cinema and a swimming pool). Has anything ever come close to the magic achieved there?

Honestly? Not really. But that’s my personal point of view: everything started at Bar 25 for me. First gig, first residency, first everything.

But there still are and will always be people and places that make the magic happen. There will always be visionary minds and unknown adventures!

What was the craziest weekend you had there?

Hahaha you’d like to know that, wouldn’t you? There are so many wicked moments to remember (and not remember) – e.g. in 2006 when the first M_nus party at Bar 25 took place: Richie Hawtin was playing, the energy-level was so high, the vibe so intense that everyone had constant goosebumps while dancing (not because of one special moment, no: constantly!); the whole place went fuckin’ nuts – and right above Mr. Hawtin, behind the window in the back of the booth, placed high enough to be clearly visible for everyone, were two knitting (!) 80 year old grandmas in old armchairs in front of some kind of Mary Poppins type wallpaper, each with a spotlight on them, just sitting there, knitting pullovers, for hours and hours. They were someone’s actual grandmas, separated from the madness only by a tiny window.

The yearly closing parties (5 days, is that true?!) seem like a committed ravers dream. Your favourite one?

There wasn’t really a favourite one… One has to keep in mind that every year it really looked like everything might be over. That’s a pretty good reason to be sad. So there where a lot of very emotional closing parties, but the opening parties were the euphoric excesses one can only dream of!

And yes, 5 days, even entire weeks. Not so easy to organize because after a few days it gets really hard to find sober staff 😀

You’re also a resident at Watergate. 2 of our team visited and were completely blown away – the original LED ceiling, the water all around the club, the curtains constantly opening and closing – they really said it was magical. Have you enjoyed Watergate as much as Bar25?

First of all I was resident there for a few years, but I no longer am. Still playing there regularly – just no longer once a month. And yes, I have enjoyed Watergate as much, because it is something entirely different, way more professional. Like Bar 25 being the Rally Paris-Dakar and Watergate being Formula 1. Plus I had the privilege to almost always play Waterfloor during sunrise – and that is a very special situation!

What’s next on the horizon for you?

Good question – maybe jazz? I still don’t know or understand much about it, but I have a feeling I’m starting to get ready for it.

Other than that I’m working my ass off in the studio these days. After seven or eight years that I spent trying to get to the musical quality that I was already able to recognize as a listener, but not yet able to achieve when working on my own stuff, I finally got to the point where I can honestly say: now we’re talking, this is some serious, grown-up shit coming out of me! Since then I’m just letting it all out, having the time of my life in the studio.

Oh and I’ll soon be playing at Air Festival (Gili Air, Indonesia) alongside Ata, Audio Werner, Dana Ruh and many more, which I am looking incredibly forward to!

What do you like to do totally disconnected from music?

I like good food and I like to read. Everthing else is connected with music.

If you weren’t involved in music professionally what would be your career choice?

I was an architect before I decided to try being a fulltime musician, so I guess that might be it.

Thanks Robin!