What makes a good mixtape? It’s a question as old as the love for music itself. From mixtapes to mix-CDs up to real DJ-mixes. The process of compiling music with a special purpose and special flow has gone through various steps of evolution. In the times of digital music recording software and platforms like Mixcloud or Soundcloud it’s as easy as never before to share your personal mixes with the world. It almost became inflationary. It’s kind of hard finding good flowing and surprising mixes these days. The just released Suol Mates compilation by Berlin-based producer and record spinner TILL VON SEIN marks such a release.
Suol is a label that clearly likes to separate itself from most of the other labels in the German capital. Recently NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION published a two-parted story about these guys, their ethos and special spirit which definitely helps to understand the way the people on this label are thinking. Last year, the companies big player FRITZ KALKBRENNER released the first instalment of the Suol Mates series, mainly featuring a mixture of r’n’b, soul and house music. Now, TILL is the one to follow. And his mix is clearly also influenced by a lot of different things. Or as he calls it: “It’s not about ‘my fifteen all-time-favourite hits’ but something from the here and now.”
What was the challenge for this compilation?
I tried to make a mix CD which is as diverse as it is homogeneously. Different artists, different styles of music, different pace. I tried to represent music that’s not that famous yet.
Are the songs on it represent your main musical influences?
It’s everything I listen to in private. I want people to discover new artists, new musical styles. You know, broaden their horizon and everything. I grew up with mix CDs like the ones from KRUDER AND DORFMEISTER. They heavily influenced me and introduced me to new artists. They were timeless and that’s what I wanted to achieve with this selection as well.
And when you turn on the 70 minutes you can clearly sense what TILL VON SEIN wanted to achieve with the album. The start is quite soft and tender. Tracks by artists like NOYCE and DIFFERENT MARKS feel like the perfect soundtrack for a smooth summer day. Not something for the club or Berlin’s infamous after hour parties. It’s music you can listen to while waking up with a lover in the sheets of your bed, while having a nice breakfast. Definitely no house and floor filling music. But also not a typical lounge CD. But still a certain groove evolves during the play of the mix. Around 6 or 7 tracks in the beat is already pumping in a very discreet way. And the fascinating aspect about it – you don’t remember when it actually started. Suddenly you’re in the disco mode and you don’t know why. The diversity is dubbed by the flow of the mix and its various influences. “I’m still influenced by new music” says the producer, “I’m still a fan.”
Do you think there’s a lack of this broader musical taste within a lot of DJs these days?
(Thinks a bit) Let me say it this way – everybody listened to a different form of music. Nobody was born listening to techno. The problem with a lot of people is that when they decide to become techno DJs and labels they all throw these influences overboard. You get a tunnel vision and become afraid to leave that comfort zone. A lot of DJs don’t have the balls to surprise people with things. They are afraid of scaring people of.
TILL VON SEIN: “Everybody wants a piece of the cake”
TILL VON SEIN loves to take risks in a very relaxed way. He has no problem with mixing a FRANK OCEAN tune in his set just because he loved last years channelORANGE album by the American r’n’b singer that much. In generally the producer got a very pragmatic view on the whole electronic scene of Berlin.
You still think the Berlin hype is there? Especially when you play outside of Germany?
It’s kind of funny but this whole ‘Berlin’-effect is still there. Although you might sometimes think ‘Man, it’s been ten years since it first started. Why do people still care?’
What’s the main problem with the Berlin electronic scene?
Well, let me say it this way. You have certain groups – no matter if its DJs, clubs, labels or bookers – who are ‘on point’, doing really great stuff and a successful with it. And you have plenty of others who see this and want to join the game as well. And they might also have talent although it’s not that much like the others. And there’s still a bunch of people who are just not good. I wouldn’t dare to say they are talentless but they just don’t have what it takes. It all happened with this whole ‘minimal techno’ hype back in 2005 where you had this huge label explosion. So much news artists which were so arbitrary and easy to replace. There were just not enough characters. You know, back in the days you had DJs like SVEN VÄTH or DJ HELL where you knew for what they were standing for. It’s just an overkill. Everybody wants a piece of the cake but most of them won’t work enough to get there. Although Berlin is making it quite easy for such people. There are so many clubs and you can basically play everyday somewhere getting your 150 Euros each night and that’s it. And maybe there’s a lack of urgency within that comfortable position.
But of course TILL VON SEIN and Suol are a vital part of that scene, if they want to or not. As his Suol Mates progresses the groove gets interrupted by gentle electronica of EL_TXEF_A and smooth indie-pop tunes from the lovely lads TORO Y MOI and BLOOD ORANGE. You can clearly sense the influences of hip hop and soul on the music socialization of this man.
Do you still remember the first record you bought?
I think, RUN DMC and Raising Hill. And defintely one more pop thing although I can’t really remember. Must have been ROD STEWART or something. (laughs)
Although the ‘cheesy 80s pop’-part is left out from the new sampler it works quite well as a profile for his most recent influences. And within this smooth selection you can clearly sense a love for passion. Something we’re always fans of. TILL on this subject: “I’m a quite positive guy. But I also work a lot, combined with passion. For me it’s important to do the things I really love. I might not have the same amount of talent as other people from our label so I got to compensate it with work.”
If hard work sounds as relaxed as this compilation we really don’t mind about it. If you’re interested in a diversified mixtape with a great flow and a lot of different musical surprises than this might be your soundtrack for the upcoming sunny autumn days. VON SEIN‘s Suol Mates is out now via label Suol.