When the subject of German electronic music is mentioned, many people associate it with raw and repetitive throbs that pounded its way through Berlin’s clubs in the early 1990s, forcefully consuming all the empty space in the room. Having grown up listening and then participating in its development, David Krasemann, better known as DAVE DK, has proved that one could fill up that same space without conforming to the musical stereotypes that surround it. Prior to the release of his anticipated third album Val Maira, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION met up with the Hamburg-based veteran in Berlin for a day of record shopping and a conversation about influences, the nuances of music production, the abundance of music and its future.

Dave DK - NBHAP 2

11am, Tegeler Weg, Charlottenburg

You became a resident DJ at Tresor/Globus and Panorama Bar when Berlin techno was gaining prominence. What sparked your interest?
I grew up in the countryside just an hour away from Berlin, in a town called Lychen. Back in the day they did not have much going on there and I remember travelling to Berlin with a few friends after school, going to the clubs, and heading back the next day just before school starts. I was really into Detroit music at Tresor then, as it was the only club that brought the big Detroit names like Kenny Larkin. I would also save up my pocket money to buy some records and equipment and fiddle around with it, setting up parties with those friends and DJ-ed there.

So how was it like growing up in Lychen?
It’s a really small beautiful town, like an island. It’s just lakes everywhere – I grew up in a house just by it and it’s just about 100 kilometers away from Berlin. It’s not far, that’s why I went to Berlin from school to Tresor for the Wednesday parties with a couple of mates. We then left in the morning at 5am and went straight back just in time for school at 7am. I had to think what kind of records to buy with my monthly pocket money, it was about 50 euros or so at that time when it was still in Deutsche Marks. I had to think, which records could I buy because I could only afford three or four per month.

Did you start doing your own house parties?
In the countryside? Yes. I started to do parties in different industrial areas with some people. My parents were skeptical but okay with it as long as I did not get into too much trouble. Generally they were supportive, but once in a while they would mention that it would be nice if I studied something more constructive.

How do you interpret your idea of what techno music is in your productions?
I was influenced by Tresor a lot. Cologne is where I feel that my direction of music is taking. I’ve never been to Detroit yet but its music is a big inspiration. Are you referring to the atmosphere in the city or…?

The difference between then and now is obvious, because there weren’t many people in the 90s. It was all these artists in Berlin who were here since the 70s and the 80s. Not like today when it exploded, it was a gradual process. You start to play at some parties and one to three years later you play at a different location. Everything started with a lot of passion and we didn’t really think of making a living out of this. It’s not like today – some people just do two tracks and they come with their manager and they want to have a DJ tour, even possibly worldwide. Everything was totally made out of passion and drive, and that was the major feeling that everyone displayed, like many of my friends who belong to the Sascha Funke generation. He’s also my age…

How young are you again?
I just turned thirty-eight…

No way.
Thanks for the compliment! I’ve been doing this since I was about 22. In 1998 I started to earn money for gigs at Tresor… I mean this has its ups and downs and I thought that maybe I should do something else instead. But when I start thinking like that, something exciting always happens.

Are you going to make another full-length any time soon then, after the release of your third album?
I think I should start now for this, so I could have it ready in about two years or so to keep it a little tight. It’s maybe better for the market. I don’t really know, it’s been a long time, eight years since the release of my last album (Lights and Colours). The first one was in 2000 under Müller Records, the second was in 2007 and now it’s 2015.

I’ve also noticed the quality of your productions through the different albums that you’ve done, and also the remixes…
Absolutely. It’s definitely improved when I started using Ableton Live. I’ve been using Logic Pro for so many years. I like Logic a lot but it was more suited to my MIDI environment when I was using mostly hardware. When I started using Ableton Live four or five years ago everything totally changed for the better. The biggest issue was that Logic was cleaner and advanced with regards to its interface, and when I switched to Live it was messier – everything is on the right, everything’s more colourful… I told myself: ‘Okay, I’m just going to sit down and try to make music with this program for a few weeks.’

Most people would think that that’s easy because you already know the basics of a certain DAW…
It was a lot of effort for me, it’s not like I look at the program for two days and then get the ideas. Especially when you’ve been using some programs for years and your brain needs time to adjust itself to the new software. But ever since that barrier has been broken, I’m happy that I’m using Live because it fits so much better with my workflow because I’m using a lot of samples anyway.

So you build your tracks with a structure of different samples…?
It’s a good starting point. I never really start with a synth melody line…it’s something simpler than that. Especially when you can find old records from the 50s to the 70s, and some bizarre stuff and check them for samples. I find that’s a unique and effective way for me to get inspired because this is more individual than using some modern sample that everyone’s using. The more you look for samples, the more unique your music would be.

It’s basically building upon what other people have done by adapting parts of them and making something new…
That’s how I kickstart my music production. I play something cool, and maybe I’ll erase another thing but I always utilize samples in the beginning. It puts me in the mood to work when I hear, for example, atmospheres in film music. I really love film soundtracks.

Hans Zimmer…?
Absolutely. I love Hans Zimmer.

Dave DK - NBHAP 1

1230pm, Platten Pedro Record Shop, Charlottenburg

We got out of the car and headed to a nondescript record store across the street. It was tucked neatly away from bustle of daily life, sandwiched between a café and a vacant shop. It was only open till slightly after lunch, and its owner was a kindly old man with a peculiar fixation for rare Japanese jazz records.

So what do they stock here?
I don’t think they have that many electronic ones, but they do have a good selection of absurd, obscure records that are in good condition. The owner gets them in bulk, cleans and sorts through them; there are loads of 80s to 90s records here. [Pulls out a record] Look at the design, you can instantly tell that it’s so 80s!

Dave DK - NBHAP 3

I realized that you’re no longer based in Berlin…
I moved to Hamburg two years ago. I spend more time in Hamburg but I still visit Berlin from time to time. I still have my records here. Initially I wanted to live there for a change to work better on music because I didn’t really feel inspired in Berlin after being here for more than sixteen years. It was totally the right thing to do.

Do you come by here often then when you were based here?
I haven’t done it in a while. I should probably come by often and check out more 70s stuff. I got a few samples off from old jazz records that I found here, and it would be cool to get some 70s synth samples. Maybe even the 60s. The more backward in time it is, the better.

It’s when everything is more authentic and it’s harder to replicate the sounds…
Yes. And usually you won’t have problems with the samples. [Pulls out another record] I really like BLACK BOX (late 1990s Italian house group).

Do you remember your first encounter with electronic music?
I got interested in it when I was a teenage raver at the Mayday Raves in East Germany in 1994. Eurodance influenced me as well…

Really? That’s something I wouldn’t quite expect…
Yes! THE K.L.F., ADAMSKI, SNAP!, S-EXPRESS… [Pulls out an S*express record] I spent all my pocket money buying my first few records, Dancemania by ROBERT ARMANI.

Dave DK - NBHAP 5

1400pm, Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Eberswalder Straße.

After much sifting through the different records and listening to them, the owner tapped his watch; it was time for us to leave. I ended up with a record of U96’s techno version of Klaus Doldinger’s Das Boot, a euro-house classic in the early 1990s. We decided to head somewhere for a coffee in the vicinity of our next stop.

You’ve been touring around a lot…
Yeah, I’ve been to Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Russia…

South East Asia?
I was in Indonesia, Bali for surfing, not to DJ. I was in Australia two to three times before, but it was always for music. I was there for two weeks so it wasn’t enough, especially for the distance involved. You need so much time to recover from the jetlag – when I arrive, I need two to three days to settle down and the same amount of time when I’m back. I should be in Australia for half a year…

I was born in Perth before moving back to Singapore…
Australia is nice, isn’t it? I was thinking it would be a good idea for me to live in Australia, or even London for a while to see how it is. Germany is a good place to be because of the music scene, and everything is so safe here. My only issue is the winter season, that’s why for the last few years I’ve always escaped for a few weeks, usually it’s to South America or Latin America. I like it a lot there. In Japan, people are always observing the DJ at all times…

Dave DK - NBHAP 4

Where else have you played at?
Russia… I’ve been there about twenty times now in the past ten years. I was playing there a lot when I started to play in this club in Moscow. It then led to St Petersburg… and different cities. Sometimes it happens when you’re booked for this club and they want you to visit another city and another… It’s always a big adventure in Russia. But I don’t think I’ll ever live there.

Do you think that was influenced due to the political situation happening there right now?
I would go back again to play, definitely, even with the political system going on because musicians and art has nothing to do with the politics. It’s like saying that you wouldn’t go to Israel again… It’s just detrimental for the people who live there and try to do something, to create something new and being discouraged or missing out on good music just because of politics.

Every touring DJ surely has some bizarre stories to tell, surely…
I was in the south of Siberia for a gig in winter, like negative 40 degrees or so. There were loads of old Russian airplanes, and I had a lot of doubts about the transport. They reassured me that the pilots were trained as war pilots and they know how to fly it. I was a city called Tyumen and played there in the morning and had to fly back to Moscow, which took about two hours. A friend of the promoter drove me to the airport drunk and the whole street was iced… I just made it on time but the plane was so old and with water dripping from the ceiling… and I didn’t want to be on the plane.

All Photos by Naomi Clair

Find out more about DAVE DK in the forthcoming second part of our day with the charismatic producer as NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION visited him in his apartment and spent a few more entertaining hours in Berlin. Watch this space!