After closing the famous Berghain Monday morning, Freddy K is meeting up with Playful in his second home – Hard Wax record store.
Text: Filip Sandström Beijer
Note: This interview was made before the Covid-19 pandemic.
What could be a more relevant place to meet an iconic Berlin DJ than at the Hard Wax record store in Kreuzberg? As old as the falling of the wall, Hard Wax is the record store that has been a specialist for electronic music and is now regarded as a pioneer of the techno scene in Berlin.
Alessio Armeni, also known as Freddy K, arrives in time, very fresh looking for having closed Berghain just 24 hours ago. His closing has become famous for its feeling of never ending and when his name is on the Berghain schedule, you better make sure to arrive early. For him, Hard Wax has always been the place to go to explore new music and inspiration in his techno lifestyle.
"It was the most important record store in the world and it still is." Freddy K on Hard Wax record store.
– Since I was a teenager, and when I started DJ:ing, Hard Wax was already there. In the early 90’s it started to become the most important and iconic shop in Berlin. It was the most important record store in the world and it still is. When I moved here from Italy, it really was a point of referment of the quality and history of techno, dub and reggae, he says.
It’s very relaxed to meet Freddy K in this environment. Between his travels around the world, the store and Berghain is what makes him feel at home.
– I realize that I go here once or twice a week. I’m addicted to buying vinyl. I play vinyl only and the guys working here sometimes give me stuff that just arrived or something new that I haven’t discovered yet and they know it fits my style. I’ m super happy for this, it’s a big satisfaction.
"When Berlin is changing, the whole scene is. Everything is created here, one way or the other."
Living and breathing Berlin since the early 90’s, Freddy K has seen how the city has changed over the years. And he still loves it.
– Berlin is a bubble. And It’s a paradise Island. There are so many clubs for all kinds of music. When Berlin is changing, the whole scene is. Everything is created here, one way or the other. And though it’s always changing, it’s still some steps from the rest of the world. Berlin also makes the rest of the world change, and there are many cities that are getting inspired. We can see that on the queer scene for example. Sometimes you take everything for granted here. If you want a queer party, there are like 40 every month.
According to Freddy K, the main thing that makes the city so special is the lack of rules and restrictions. If you want to go naked, nobody will care, and the parties don’t close after six hours.
– You can spend a whole day in a club. You feel free. You don’t feel obliged to go out, or that the police will stop you? The public transport is working all day and all night in the weekend and everything you need is right outside. It’s different from the rest of the world.
With Freddy K it’s pretty much all about Berghain. If the techno temple was a person, it wouldn’t surprise us if it would’ve been him. To him, the vibe of the club has changed in the past years since it became the worlds most famous.
– In Berghain, a place that is my life, you can see that three years ago, the naked people and atmosphere of freedom were spontaneous phenomena. Now, people who go there for the first time, dress up only for Berghain. But still, it’s super solid inside. There’s still the no photo or video policy and to me who has an overview from the stage where I stand and watch this massive dance floor, it’s crazy that there’s no pictures or videos online, Freddy K says and continues;
– The club culture is completely different from other places. There are no separated toilets and so on. It’s about the deep moment you share with other people. Something that we don’t always have in normal life. You get into a certain state of mind.
Talking about the techno temple with feelings as though it was his own mother, you kind of take for granted that he never wants it to close. But, no, you’re surprisingly wrong.
– We are living in a different era. We are living a legend because Berghain is still open and we are free to be ourselves inside until this day. The day they will close… Wow… We will see documentaries and read books about it. But honestly, I love Berghain so much that I hope it will close one day when it’s still at its top. But when that day happens, I will be first in line of the protest.
Celebrating his 20th birthday in the early 90’s, Freddy K comes from an era before the emergence of social media. Today he’s on Instagram but, even so, his relationship with social media is complicated.
– When social media came, it was the most beautiful thing. It was a way to reach out on your own. But the day you could start to pay for likes and followers, it all went down. Today it’s like a dictatorship. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad, as long as you can pay for visibility. But, if you have the knowledge and experience, you have to use it, it’s where the young people are, he says.
Together with Ellen Allien he represents the old school DJ:s on a scene that’s constantly growing with up and coming artists and inlfuences. Their common features is continually creating music, and also – being friends.
– Ellen is a crazy motherfucker. Even though our music is different sometimes, she’s a legend.
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Disclaimer: In the printed version it says that Freddy K closed Panorama Bar. That is incorrect. He closed Berghain.