Sunday, January 11, 2009

chatting with marcel fengler

Ok, I really should have posted this a while ago, but I've been way too busy. As a follow up to Marcel Fengler's amazing mnml ssgs mix, he kindly provided us with a full tracklist, which he didn't give at the outset so we could listen to it with open ears (an excellent policy).

mnml ssgs mx14 tracklisting:

01: Jens Zimmermann - Sequenz 31 [Treibstoff]
02: Arno E. Mathieu - Lamb of Sun [Earthrumental Music]
03: Louis Guilliaume - Time Relaps [Syncom Data]
04: D´Julz Carl Finlow - Brain Hoover [Klang]
05: Speedy J - Aesop [NovaMute]
06: GoWentGone - Love and Respect (Respected Tool) [Vidab]
07: G-Man - Political Prisoner [GMRRec]
08: Modeselektor - The Black Block (dettmann mix) [BPC]
09: Paul Kalkbrenner - Torted [BPC]
10: Paul Britschitsch & Cio D'or - Safran [Broque]
11: Interstellar Fugitives2 - Burning Spear [UR]
12: Percy X - Maintain [Soma]
13: Danton Eeprom - The Infinity Symbol [Tsuba]

We also had a bit of a chat to him about this and that.

Ssgs: What influence has your background (family, geography, history) had on your musical development? How do you think it shapes the perspective on the music you make?

Marcel: I grew up in a small town near Berlin. Probably its proximity to Berlin naturally drew me here. The emerging techno culture of Berlin in the early 90s was fascinating and new. It was the perfect alternative for a group of good friends. That time connected us together very closely and many of those friendships are still important today. The desire to play music was generated sometime in my schooldays. Inspired by the experiences of the early 90s and some sounds here at school parties, soon led to my first experiments with electronic music. Since then I discovered a bigger variety of electronic sounds, and what started as a kind of an ambitious hobby now defines a big part of my life today.

Ssgs: It seems like there is something very special going on around Berghain/Ostgut. What is it? How do the place and the people influence you?

Marcel: I think there are many things which just fit together. The main point is that the people just want to have fun if they visit the Berghain club. If you put the right things together there it can create this special feeling where time is irrelevant for both sides – the DJ/Act and the party crowd. The possibility to enjoy the sets across several hours delivers the perfect scope for that. I, for one, love such nights where the atmosphere catches hold and doesn´t release you. This was an experience that I felt first in the Berghain club.

Ssgs: What do you think makes a great record? What are some of your all-time favourites? And what are some of your favourites this year?

Marcel: The ingredients for a good record are so different. There just isn´t a mathematical formula to produce good tracks. Tracks could work with the most basically grooves, as well as with interlaced atmosphere and a well prepared element of surprise could be just as successful as a continous grinding. The right mix of soundshaping and setting is the secret which you have to discover.

Ssgs: What was wonderful about (electronic) music in 2008?

Marcel: Altogether 2008 was a good year for me. My experiences atBerghain as well as with O-Ton were the right platform for that. Especially the Label is growing increasingly and I hope 2009 will be successful like this year.

Ssgs: What sucked about (electronic) music in 2008?

Marcel: I am getting clobbered over the head with the unbelievable flood of mp3s across the electronic music market. I hope that availability does not become arbitrariness.

Ssgs: What would you say is ‘essential’ to your music?

Marcel: Personally I like tracks where the groove inspires me. On the turntables I prefer impulsive sounds, but of course the nature of the session defines my record choice. As I still play mostly the opening session at Berghain I can test all stuff between dub-tunes and peak-time techno. That's a great school and helps to push me to the next level in combining different styles.

Sssgs: Tell me a little about your approach to DJing? Are you a DJ who also produces, or are you a producer who DJs?

Marcel: I'm the first combination [a DJ who produces]. Creating productions with your own imagination is great, of course, and you handle electronic music in a special way, but to play music just delivers a different kind of emotions. You are in contact with the crowd directly and a part of them in the best case. That feeling can´t substitute from any studio work that I know.

Ssgs: What’s something that music has taught you about life? And what is something that life has taught you about music?

Marcel: Remain true to oneself and believe in the things you do!!!

Ssgs: What’s something that the world needs to know about Marcel Fengler (that it doesn’t know already)?

Marcel: I would die for chocolate flavored icecream .. ;)

There you go... Big thanks to Marcel for the excellent mix he put together and for taking the time to answer our questions. The next mnml ssgs mix from Kassem Mosse should be up in the next day or so, with Santiago Salazar after that.


  1. marcel deserves all the chocolate ice cream in the world for making this mix. totally mindblowing. thank you again.

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  3. Also, the discussion surrounding the tracklisting here has been really interesting.

    When I first listened to this mix it was so revelatory that, at first blush, I was genuinely happy to believe that it was made up of music which I would never know.

    I wonder if that feeling, namely that of a transmission from beyond your own realm isn't an important part of hearing DJs. In a way that goes beyond scenesterism and the patina of ├╝bercoolischeism.

    Rather, it's not only feeling hip via proximity to a mix. It's also that the music is inveighed with a special quality because the listener recognizes it as something they can't acquire. (At least for a few months).

    To me, the feeling of revelation is an important part of what makes sets great. A world where tracklists are instantly available seems to diminish that feeling.

    Surely, DJing is largely based on erudition of one kind or another? Either, the DJ must have access to fantastic records that you can't get yet. Or he must have bought equally good records that you didn't long ago, or from an obscure source that you missed.

    I wonder if it would be possible to give a listener an experience as good as this using only records s/he already knew?

  4. Colin,

    I think so... As long as the records are mixed well, I believe this feeling can be created even if the listener knows the records.


  5. that opening track is Heaven 17

  6. oh man, is that Danton Eeprom track ever great.

  7. my fave dj mix of that year!


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