Berlin based DJ, producer and label owner Len Faki is one of the most outstanding and in-demand artists in techno's present age. Being a resident at Berlin’s prime techno club Berghain since its opening in 2004 keeps him open-minded as both, dj and producer. His sound is constantly evolving without ever losing its vibrant, unique energy and the passion and heart he puts into his sets. His gigs are an audio-visual adventure where he is not only playing for the crowd but rather performing for and with them.
We at CME had the privilege to interview Len Faki before his show with Audio Obscura at the Amsterdam Dance Event 2019. Read below the complete interview :
Hey Len! Firstly, it’s great to be speaking to you! You've got quite a packed schedule ahead of you at ADE this year. What piqued our interest the most of all your upcoming gigs is the all-nighter you will be playing for Audio Obscura! We've seen you playing all nighters quite often. What do you love the most about playing these sets and how do you prepare for these?
Well, I love all night sets for a lot of good reasons. Most importantly - you guide the guests through the night over a longer period. Some might even stay from the beginning until the very end. You create the whole night and experience all phases of such a set together. Some are more intense, others laid back, there are some parts where the sound gets harder, others are rather emotional. That creates an intensity and intimacy a normal set time can not provide. Which is ok, it’s not the intention. But playing all night long allows you to dig deeper, get into a flow state of mind, try out new combinations and tell a complete story. You also learn a lot from it as a DJ by taking chances and accepting mistakes. Some years back all-nighter were quite common, I kind of grew up with it. But today’s tour schedule is way more intense and I like these long sets as a special for some carefully chosen occasions.
Dance music has gone through many changes over the past decades. Of late, there have been multiple comments on how the music released off late follows a "cookie cutter" template and there isn't something new. As someone with many years of experience and knowledge of the scene, what is your take on its current state, and what are your thoughts on its evolution?
I think it’s an old song everybody’s singing these days. I’ve heard it several times over my whole career. At the end of the 90s with the loop techno for example. Everybody was like ‚now it’s over! there will soon be no techno any more!‘ Everybody who’s in the game that long has been confronted with such statements. But it’s the same as in fashion, it’s all coming in natural cycles, history is repeating itself in slightly different costumes. I think the young rave generation is fascinating for example. They have good energy and just blend together everything they like to play. Everything is new and fewer rules exist, which is good. What worries me more than the current state of music is the high amount of output that is created. It’s easier to produce music, technology has evolved a lot. It’s rather critical where all the data flood will lead to. In the case of music, it has become harder to find the good stuff, and your own filters are crucial. Otherwise, you’ll get overloaded.
We’ve seen a few artists come to discuss how touring and excessive pressure on one as an artist constantly subjects one to push themselves beyond what is required and it invariably takes a toll on their physical and mental health. Have you ever been through tough times during your career? How do you normally deal when you face such instances?
Yes, I’ve been through tough times for sure. I think everybody is, who is touring over some time. It is essential to keep a balance at some point and be able to estimate when you need to take it easy. But at the same time, I am convinced these times are needed. When there’s a passion for something it’s absolutely ok to use that energy and go full-on and also sometimes exceed your limits a bit. Same as a top athlete would do to reach new heights. It’s good that this topic gets more attention nowadays but at the same time, I would not judge negatively about the young guns who invest all they have to get further. Awareness is the key. In my case, there was a point in time where I realized that I cannot do it all alone anymore. I had managed labels, did the vinyl promos myself, the release planning, my own productions and had a lot of booking requests coming in, so I had to travel more and more. I knew when I’d go on like that I’d be destroyed. So I expanded the team and got support for the label, the booking, and the tour. I nowadays appreciate being able to do what I do even more. Recently I was sick with a kind of rare neurological syndrome. It had nothing to do with my schedule doctor’s assured me, but it showed me once again how much one should seize the day and do what he loves no matter what.
Where do you see the future of the Techno scene heading, considering the past year has seen the genre get a lot more recognition at mainstream and major festivals such as Tomorrowland and Ultra amongst the rest?
Techno has gotten more attention and is commercialized to some extent, but I think it’s still far from real mainstream and will probably never get there. At least when it comes to the sound I am playing and also there is still such a big vivid underground scene and new things and sub-genres coming to life. Young people who identify themselves with certain clubs, cultural codes, music, communities. There’s always an anti movement. Regarding big festivals, I am hoping that it does not get more extreme. There are so many festivals existing now what many small ones and also clubs are struggling or had to shut down in some cases. I am strongly connected to the club scene as that’s where I am coming from. They are the motor of the scene, big festivals alone would not be sustainable.
What is your take on the whole new set of groups and memes about 'Business Techno' and the multiple other 'types' that have come out over the past few months? Do you think fans at points can get overly critical of an artist on these groups? And what is one of the funniest memes/post you remember seeing on the page?
I love what’s happening on the internet with all the grate memes. It’s good to not take everything too serious. Shouts to TWTMEGP at this point!
If not an artist and a producer, what would you be doing instead?
There are two things that I could imagine. First, something that relates to the cosmos. I am a total space geek and love reading about theories of everything that’s related to the topic. Maybe not an Astronaut, but some theoretical. The second option would be to run my own restaurant. That would be a dream of mine as a passionate foodie - to have a small cozy place and serve good food in order to make people happy!
Len Faki collaborated with Audio Obscura this eyar at the Amsterdam Dance Event to host a night which featured some stellar artists like Blawan, Colin Benders, Ellen Allien and more. This showcase was hosted at a very unique venue and simply blew our minds. We look forward to seeing Len Faki soon and also being a part of future Audio Obscura shows.