Hagen B. is a producer and Dj and lives in Berlin. He is one of those people who make the city such an interesting place. One of those musicians that wants to get out of the ordinary and reinvent the sound. At the moment almost everywhere you can read something about Berlin. Berlin as a fashion métropole, the city of creative and alternative people. And in the meantime also in the top 3 of the best cities for electronic music.
Most part of Hagen B´s music is relaxing and with a lot of soul. There is a lot of personality in his tracks. Seems logical when someone is so poetical. That fact we realised at the interview were he told us how he found his place in life and why it is somtimes also important not to take yourself to seriously.
Hey Hagen, hope you are well? How was your summer? ;)
Yes thanks, I am great. It was a great summer with a lot of work at the studio and office, but also a summer that brought a lot of new friends from all over the world and some special parties.
In the beginnings of the Berlin Scene you have already worked as a Dj and producer, but then you had a break for quite some time. What did you do in the meantime and why did you come back to the music scene?
To be precise it was the golden age of the electronic scene and music culture in Berlin. After the first frustration and boredom I tried to discover new ways, so I left the city and was f.e doing Independent radio broadcast. Eventually I landed a job as a technical project Manager for an agency during the dying of the New Economy. The way back to being a DJ and producer has taken a long time. I had to re-arrange myself with the music. That was to do with my mindset and not with the music itself. I needed this time to realise what music means to me and that I need this creative output to be a satisfied person.
You are living in Berlin, which is at the moment one of the hottest places for electronic music culture. How do you feel about this “Berlin-Hype”?
That is a very good question that is quite difficult to answer. I enjoy this “hype”, however you can find it more in the culture itself than in the music. I meet a lot of musician, DJ´s or people that simply want to come to Berlin and they do come, organizers from Scandinavia or Australia bring parties over here and live here. In the clubs quite often the only languages spoken is English or romanic.
Myspace and facebook become important communication tools. My Kiez ( region), Berlin Prenzlauer Berg has become a melting pot of the Western world. For sure as a Dj therefore I get more international attention. On the other hand on top of that I do not notice anything else about this “Berlin hype”,- maybe more easily when I am abroad and someone asks me where I am from. Then there is excitment and almost everyone has a story to tell about Berlin.
I read that you said the city needs a new sound?
Yes that is really an important topic for me. After my break and abstinence I was in a lot of clubs and occupying myself with the creative outputs of labels in Berlin. I was fairly surprised that not much has changed. Maybe it was due to the fact that there has been no consideration of their own production approach. And why should there be one -if it still works the way things are? For me it is a constant process to mix classic sounds with new sounds, to combine grooves in a new way. To find a classification for that is not important to me, and also not possible. But I find it important to arrogate your target group and not to be accomodating. Thereby I don´t forget to consider the whole thing ironic and to not take myself too seriously. I find that fundamental.
What other places in the the world do you like and why?
I think cities like Tokyo, New York, Stockholm and Copenhagen, London. There is no specific place. However just now I am thinking about this topic. I am planning to leave Berlin for a year at the beginning of the coming year to absorb new stimuli and to produce. On the shortlist there are Stockholm and London. In Stockholm I have already found a wicked location. It´s a friend´s flat that happens to be a boat. It is only 20m2 but in a very appealing location. If one year will be enough though, I am not sure yet. (laughs)
The way I see it, they are all very appealing cities with a different character. For me the subculture in particular is very ecxciting. It gives me new impulses that I can process in my music. I am a very urban person and I need big cities. I feel really great when being there. The choices are, just like in Berlin, so versatile. You can choose between clubs and Sushi just the way you want and you always meet really interesting people.
Lately you can read a lot about that in the Techno- scene not a stone is going to be left standing.What I mean is that f.e it gets more difficult for labels and that it is not so easy anymore to earn decent money by being a Dj and producer. How do you personally see this development?
This development has been going on for some years now. I still remember a POPKOMM in Köln where the Majors were trying to understand this development. It was a funny conversation but without any outcome. It is really like that, the cake is still the same size but the portions have become smaller. The development of new technologies have made it easy for everyone to bring their music onto the market and promote it. The big ones therefore get less from the cake.
To survive as a Dj or producer nowadays you have to do a lot more, networking and globalisation are not only catchwords, they have become every day life for me. Today you have to bring vinyls on the market and then make your money with liveacts and DJ-ing. Therefore I work together with other musicians and producers worldwide. I have to deal with marketing and distribution myself. Nowadays you cannot earn money anymore with mediocre work.You have to work strategically and be quick.
Motto in life? Try to do everything you do with passion. Be fully aware of your finiteness!
Last but not least tell us a bit about your new release/s?
Everything is still in production. I am working on two EP´s for a Swedish and British label. The tracks on it will be quite different. The EP for Sweden will have a very classic housegroove with borrowings from progressive ad minimal. The “British” EP is a bit more contemporary, more chilling and stands more for my interpretation of the nightlife in Berlin. Furthermore I am working on three remixes for a New York band called„Discrete Encounter“. There will be a stronger collaboration in the future. Planned is also a tour through Europe and the US.
Many thanks for your time!
I have to say thanks for your interest. Peace!
more infos on www.myspace.com/hagenbee
Interview by Christine Guggenberger