Photos: Samuel Saidel
Chontane is becoming a bigger and bigger name, famous for blurring the lines between techno, breaks and electro. With Playful Magazine he spoke about his musical background and influences which involves everything from german rap to jazz.
You grew up in Berlin - what did your electronic music journey look like?
"I started listening to minimal and house relatively early and also started DJing with a controller and going out at smaller events here in Berlin. It felt like there were more clubs and smaller events back then as well. At the age of 16, I initially started producing with Garageband, later moved on to Logic Pro, but quickly switched to Ableton Live as it was much more organized and intuitive. Around the same time, I also began DJing with vinyl records. Initially, the turntables were belt-driven, but later I got Technics ones that have never been faulty since I bought them. My "studio" in my room at my parents place back then consisted of a few speakers, a MIDI keyboard, and an old iMac. Over time, I have collected various devices and synthesizers, and nowadays I enjoy working both digitally and analog.
Who were you as a teenager?
"I was often out and about at festivals and clubs even at a very young age. I spent time with friends in parks, at home parties or in bars. We had many long nights and experienced a lot at a young age. I had difficulty concentrating in school, listening was tough for me. When I started my Sound Design studies, things got better because it was something that interested me."
"As for music genres, I went through a crazy development. From German rap to metal and death-core, to my father's dub reggae CDs and indie rock, I've experienced it all. I still enjoy listening to my father's CDs to this day. Among them are Rhythm & Sound, Lee Perry, and King Tubby. But also Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, or Fela Kuti. So, it's a real mix. I find that it inspires and helps in one's own work the more you educate yourself musically and the more diverse your listening experiences are."
Was there ever a moment when you ‘fell in love’ with it – if so, what was that moment?
"I understood relatively early, after I started going out, that this is what I want to do. By the time I began producing and started my sound design studies, I knew that this would be my path. I want to continue investing all my energy into music and sound design, and I am convinced that I will hopefully be able to do this for many more years to come. However, with each gig and each release, I also realise that what I do brings me incredible happiness, and it is a great privilege that I have."
How come you decided to start producing music yourself?
"I believe it happened quite intuitively because I went out a lot and loved the music so much that at one point, I thought, "I would like to do that too." I listened too many DJ sets, watched DJs perform, and attended parties to improve my skills. I learned the production process itself with friends."
What has that journey looked like, and what has shaped your sound?
"In my early years, I played the piano for 8 years. I also listened to a lot of classical music, as well as rock and jazz. I explored many music genres over the years. To this day, I love jazz, classical music, and film scores. Bands like Tame Impala and Radiohead are also very inspiring to me because of their unique sound and style. The old boom bap and G-funk styles were also influential for me. Later on, I started playing garage house and eventually transitioned to dub techno and the early 2000s techno sound.
Legends like Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Juan Atkins, The Advent, Aphex Twin, Bords Of Canada, Vince Watson and Joris Voorn are still big idols for me to this day. Nowadays, artists like Blawan, Stef Mendesidis,Troy, Alarico and Chlär are very inspiring to me. But often, genres that one might not necessarily produce oneself can be helpful in creating one's own music".
What about Berlin makes you stay in this city, still, to this day?
"It's the city where I was raised and my whole family and friends are here. It feels good to come back from a trip home back to Berlin and it still feels right. But I also can imagine myself moving to some place more in the wild or next to a mountain area."
You’ve also had a release recently on Shadow & Obscure Shape’s label Mutual Rytm, wanna tell us about the process and your feelings about the end result?
"It was a somewhat longer process. I struggled a lot with myself. I was very dissatisfied with my sound and wanted to create something new. Marco supported me greatly in pushing my boundaries and creating something new for this release. For this release, I tried new production approaches and processing methods. I spent a lot of time exploring my equipment and conducting recording sessions to generate new and interesting sounds. I believe that in the end, I managed to create something innovative and I am very satisfied with the outcome."
Lastly – please take us with you on a club night in Berlin – where would it start and end? Who would play, etc.
"I think first, I would go with you guys to a nice restaurant. I like traditional Chinese cuisine, such as Sichuan or Cantonese. We would also maybe spend some hours in a nice bar. After that, we would go to Berghain. The reason why I love this club the most in Berlin is the building itself, the interior design, the atmosphere, and, of course, the sound and the artists who perform there. I had a lot of great nights there. You always meet friends or people you know even if you go alone. So I think we would stay for a long time there enjoying the music and having a good time. It’s also not unusual to go twice there depending on the timetable as the club nights are going until early Monday morning. Eventually, we would leave the club and let the night wind down somewhere along the Spree or somewhere in the park.."
If I could create an entire Berghain lineup, it would look like this
Berghain 23:59 Rifts 04:00 Fireground LIVE 05:00 Deetron pres. Soulmate
09:00 Stef Mendesidis LIVE 12:00 Funk Assault 15:00 D.Dan 18:00 Luke Slater 22:00 Blawan 02:00 Ben Klock & Marcel Dettmann
23:59 Stenny 04:00 Fadi Mohem LIVE 07:00 Etapp Kyle 10:00 Ogazon
13:00 Brawther 17:00 Kerri Chandler b2b Jeremy Underground
21:00 Skee Mask B2B Victor 01:00 Ben UFO b2b Joy Orbison
It would be hard to leave with such a lineup, haha. So I guess we would stay for a long time. Eventually, we would leave the club and let the night wind down somewhere along the Spree or somewhere in the park.