A free spirit and open-minded attitude has led Johannes Klingebiel to to release all kinds of electronic based music on labels like Beats In Space and Mule Musiq, Mireia, Feines Tier or on his own imprint Ancient Future Now , as well as to play as a drummer in bands. A music lover to the very last cell of his body.
As a DJ, Johannes unites these different musical backgrounds into his eclectic but never random style of playing. Whether he’s spinning deep disco cuts or modern house bangers, slow techno sneakers or krauty trip music, the lowest common thread of his DJ sets is always his unique sense and his love of the groove that magically holds everything together.
Johannes Klingebiel recently released his new album entitled “Grosse Trommel” on Feines Tier. An impressive work of art that brings us to this exciting interview.
Please tell us a bit about your musical journey! When did you get intomusic Djing and into production?
Music has been my big passion literally since I can think.
By the age of six I already was a hardcore Queen fan, which eventually evolved into consuming all kinds of music between Beatles, Deep Purple, Ella Fitzgerald, Britney Spears and Eminem. After destroying the Mickey Mouse drum kit I got on Christmas Eve the same night by hitting too hard, my parents made the wise decision of sending me to drum lessons.
My teacher was an old jazz cat, who made me play to Count Basie records before I even could count to 100. So it was always natural to follow that path. After finishing Highschool I studied jazz drums and piano in Cologne. Ironically it was exactly that moment when I started to get more and more into electronic music DJing and production.
Cologne is obviously a great place for that. I regularly went to the Total Confusion parties, where Michael Mayer, Tobias Thomas and Superpitcher were residents, which really influenced my tastes early on.
A little later I also got into the region’s rich history of Krautrock, with acts like Can, Neu! and Cluster.
You also play drums in a band – what advantages does that give you in the studio, for example?
I think you can always tell when a producer is also a drummer.
There’s something in the understanding of micro-rhythms and groove which might set you apart from the rest. Like for example not quantizing everything to death into the grid, but consciously leaving it a little “off”. This is really when things start to get groovy!
How have you coped with the Corona crisis as an artist so far?
It’s been weird suddenly not being able to travel and play gigs anymore and I really miss it, since it hasn’t yet returned to the state it was before, at least for me. I used the time to spend lots of hours in the studio and make music, but at some point I just need the input of different places and people to stay fresh and creative.
But coincidentally I also became a father last year, and in that regard it was actually really nice to spend the first months of her life full-time with my daughter.
Your new album “Grosse Trommel” on Feines Tier contains beautiful tracks of different genres. Tell us about the inspiration behind the longplayer please.
This album is the result of countless studio hours during Corona lockdown. To be honest I wasn’t really planning to end up with an album and just went to were my moods led me, which probably influenced the genre-wise loose feel of the album.
Also I think you can really hear that these tunes were made in the long absence but strong longing for the dancefloor.
I don’t even know if I’d play some of the tunes in clubs, it’s more like the “feeling” of the club these tracks give to me when listening to them.
Do you still remember some special moments in the studio during the album production?
To me producing electronic music is a lot about keeping on experimenting, playing around, searching until something “clicks” and suddenly you realize, “uh, this could be something!”
…it’s hard to explain, but suddenly it’s there and it starts to be more than the sum of its parts. And these moments I can remember relatively well. Like when I jammed around with my MOOG DFAM plugged through a distortion pedal I borrowed from my bandmate and suddenly I had the lead arp sound of “Xero”.
Or when I skimmed through the presets of my then newly-acquired Novation Peak and suddenly found the chords for “Alles Oder Nichts“. Ideally from that point on the track basically sets itself together almost by itself in the flow.
And how did the collaboration with the label “Feines Tier” come about?
I know Philipp Fein probably since more than a decade now, we just ended up in the same circles of friends due to our musical tastes, which is bound to happen in a smallish city like Cologne.
And I actually did the first release on “Feines Tier” when he decided to make it more than a local party series and start a label, that was the “Latewood” EP. Since then we were always in talks of putting out a successor, so I’m really happy it finally came to pass!
Let’s have a view into your studio – Which is your favorite plugin or hardware at the moment?
I recently stumbled over the Max-based software “Forester” by Leafcutter John and it’s been an absolute gold mine of inspiration so far. Basically it lets you build “forests” of weird effects and sound generators, in which you then can drop samples or live-played sounds.
You never know what you’re going to end up with and it’s perfect to create complex engaging ambient structures, which are beautiful by itself or can work as great starting points or secret ingredients for tracks.
What do you do when you get stuck on a track production in the studio?
Writer’s block and lack of inspiration is probably something that’s bound to hit everyone at some point. For me there are no clear-cut ways out of it, but I always try to keep my creative process fresh and exciting.
As soon as I start to follow the same path too often, inspiration tends to fade away and things get boring. This is why I almost subconsciously have sort of a circular pattern with my use of hardware synths in my studio.
It’s great to re-discover pieces of gear that were just collecting layers of dust in the previous months. Software-wise the same applies, which is why I’m so excited when I find something new and inspiring like the aforementioned “Forester”. Sometimes I also just start to record random sounds and try to do something unusual with them.
And honestly, sometimes the best idea is simply to take a break and, depending on the time of day, get some food, coffee or beer…
And which track will you probably play at the first rave after Corona?
Hm, hard to pick one… From the top of my head I’ll name Alan Dixon, whose stuff I’ve been really digging in the last years. His recent EP for Permanent Vacation was fire, especially “Do You”!
Even if it’s hard to make plans for the future right now: What do you have in store for the next months of 2022?
There will be a split EP with Franz Matthews and Semodi on Austrian label “Heimlich” and a solo EP on London based label “Claptrap”. And a little later in the year I will put out another full length album on Amsterdam label “Bloomer Records”, which I’m really excited about, because it will be a little different musically, less club-oriented and more electronica, krautrock and jazz-influenced, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
Also we will be doing more exciting stuff on “Planet Akwa”, the music and arts label I’m running together with Julian Stetter and my brother Lorenz Klingebiel.