The old saying ‘Home is where your heart is’ might not always apply but when it does it’s an essential credo for the people who stick to it. Gabor Schablitzki really knows a thing or two about this saying as well. Under his alias ROBAG WRUHME the charismatic and laid back producer is known for being one of Germany’s most crafted creators of electronic dance music. The sort of club sounds that also work aside the dancefloor. Schablitzki’s music is diversified and adventurous. His tracks are often deep and grooving but also highly atmospheric floating experiments. He remixed famous artists like MODERAT, DNTL or PAUL KALKBRENNER and is also a welcomed guest behind DJ decks all over the world.
The musician achieved all of this without being part of one of the big urban electronic scenes in Germany. He doesn’t like Berlin and although he released music via Kompakt Records he never lived in Cologne. ROBAG WRUHME is a likeable maverick, one that has the guts to do his own thing. He always remained true to himself over the past years. So, a chat with NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION was really past due. Right before his year’s set at the IMMERGUT FESTIVAL we had the chance to sit down with Gabor to talk about his unique attitude towards music and the recent changes in his life.
Did you know that you and our magazine got common roots?
Yes, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION was founded in the East German city Jena where you resided as well.
Nice. The funny thing is: I recently moved to Weimar.
Oh, I didn’t know. Why that?
Jena has the disadvantage that it got far too less living space. The rents are either too high or the apartments didn’t fit with my ideas. So, my girlfriend and I had to look somewhere else. We’re parents for two hand half months now…
Congratulations on that.
Thank you. That means we needed a bit more space and a more children-friendly environment. But we didn’t find anything for half a year so that’s why we made this decision.
You grew up in that area of Thuringia and more or less stayed there for most of your life. How important is the aspect of ‘home’ for you?
It is, indeed. The thing is: by living this way I make my life harder than it needs to be. Travelling in and out of Jena or Weimar each weekend takes a lot of time. But my family is quite small and my brother moved away from here years ago. But my parents and my grandmother still live here. And now comes the time in my life when I need to be there for them. You know, to take care of them.
Was their a conscious decision to not move to more important cities for electronic music like Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne?
The better chances wouldn’t have been the argument to move into another city. It’s a privilege for me to do this from where I live. And I don’t want to move to Berlin. I don’t like the city although it’s been very important for my musical development since I’ve been there a lot for concerts and parties long before the hype.
Any reasons for your dislike of Berlin?
I don’t know. Maybe because everybody lives there. At least everybody who’s got to do with electronic music. Too many cooks spoil the broth. Any maybe it’s because I’ve lived too long in the nature. (laughs)
What I really like about your music is its quite coherent sound. You’ve got a lot of repetitive elements that instantly identify a track as one of yours.
Yes, ‘though I think it doesn’t always sound exactly the same. It’s a progress and I always let new influences be part of it. But I really like it when somebody says: ‘This really sounds like you’ although it’s never a conscious decision. From the very early days on I like to work with echo chambers to create big sound worlds. Maybe people recognize that in my songs.
It’s interesting how complex and detailed your tracks are. There’s so much to discover, even aside the usual dancefloor territory. Is it possible to say how long the production of a typical ROBAG WRUHME track takes?
It’s really different. My personal record is four hours for a ready-to-go-production. But usually it takes way more time. That’s a danger. When you have a creative outburst that suddenly interrupts, leaving you for hours in front of your equipment without a proper idea. And then you can destroy a great idea quite fast. When something like this happens I often leave the idea for a certain amount of time and come back to it later. When its shit I just delete it but if not I might find a new approach to the track.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve read in another interview that you don’t like talking about your production process, the equipment or the software you use.
I’m really lucky in be able to make a living out of being a musician but I really don’t like talking about technical aspects. One reason is that I don’t have the knowledge about it. I honestly confess this. I’m not really capable of plugging in a MIDI-device or something. (laughs) I always avoid talking about that subject since I think it’s not about the equipment but the music you can create with it. It’s your ideas and the things in your head that count. In the end the whole industry waits for you to buy a synthesizer and create music with it. It’s like one big paint-box. You’ve got green, yellow, pink and whatever to paint with. But it’s your personal decision what to create with these colours.
Sounds to me like you’re a very intuitional type when it comes to making music.
Absolutely. When I decided to take music seriously back in the days I even decided to visit the musical school in Jena. But quite quickly I noticed that this wasn’t my way. I recognized that I could have learned all the rules and laws of making music but that they would also imprison me in my creative freedom. I’d rather be an autodidact and surprise myself from time to time. I really enjoy the creation of sounds, melodies and chords without questioning it too much. Then it gets shitty.
You’re most recent album ‘Thora Vukk’ from 2011 received quite positive feedback from a lot of critics. It was even nominated for the critic’s choice category at Germany‘s ECHO awards. How surprised were you?
Well, the whole feedback was a good way of getting things started. The label Pampa Records was still in its early days back then but already had a certain buzz. And releasing a record at this point there was really helpful. The ECHO nomination somehow hurt me. I was absolutely frightened when Markus (Fink, founder of Pampa Records, Editor’s note) called me. My first reaction was really just fear. So I called Stefan (aka DJ KOZE, the other founder of Pampa Records) and asked: ‘Man, what will happen now?’ And in the end it was less spectacular than I thought it would be.
The funny thing is that KOZE won the award this year.
Yes, he did. And he even went to the party and it wasn’t that bad.
I think a lot of people are interested in a follow-up to ‘Thora Vukk.’
Me too. (laughs)
Can you already tell us something or is the album format not interesting for you at the moment?
Actually, I really wanted to start working on it. I’m living with one foot in South America. And when I recently stayed there for a couple of months I originally intended to take a small set-up with me to work on new ideas for an album. But then I received plenty of remix requests in that time. HUNDREDS, for example.
[Note: earlier during our talk, Philipp from HUNDREDS interrupted us to personally thank Gabor for his remix production on the duo’s upcoming single ‘Aftermath.’]
And so I didn’t manage to properly start it. So, I’m just procrastinating an album at the moment. I don’t have any pressure. I don’t think that albums need to be released in a specific two or three-year rhythm. And Thora Vukk really is an exception since I didn’t originally intended to release something like that. But I like the result. A lot of people might expect to top this so that’s one dangerous aspect. After all it’s been seven years between Thora Vukk and its predecessor Wuzzelbud KK I needed the time to maturate. Probably also one reason why Thora Vukk was so laidback. But in the end I remain a ‘smash-kid.’ (laughs) I like being in the club, celebrating its madness. It’s also one reason why I don’t play the music of Thora Vukk live although I always planned to produce specific club edits of the tracks. But it never happened.
Speaking of the ‘smash-kid.’ You’re about to turn 40 soon. Any thoughts á la ‘I’m too old to techno’?
(laughs) No, not really. Maybe the only thoughts that crossed my mind are about my sense of hearing. I mean, I got really great ear plug-ins but I tend to forget them on a regular basis. So after a weekend with two or three DJ gigs I don’t have to wonder about aching ears. But that’s the only thing. In times of doubt I look to other colleagues of mine who are as old as me or even older. There’s still power for another ten years as long as I keep the fun in it.
You seem quite relaxed. How important is that luxury of being independent?
It’s very important. But to appreciate it you need to know that I’ve been to a very big major label before in my life. I had a contract back then and I experienced working with deadlines and bigger expectations. I’ve done that once but since I’m out of that it really feels way better now. I know that I need to produce music but I don’t have to follow a certain schedule. You can’t buy creativity on Amazon or purchase it on EBay. It’s a process and everybody who creates music, no matter what genre, needs time and patience. Otherwise the result can really suck. I’ve really been there, done that. Major label contract, burnout – there’s no recipe for this. But of course I’m not totally relaxed. Sometimes I really need to get my shit together.
There’s one thing I really need to mention and that came to my head when you recently released your remix for PAUL KALKBRENNER‘s ‘Sky And Sand.’ The two of you share an undeniable love for creative and fantastic neologisms when it comes to name your tracks and remixes. Is that some sort of mutual agreement between the two of you?
(laughs) No, it isn’t. It’s really important for me that one song isn’t named like Thousands of other songs before it. I made my first productions back in ’96 and in 1998 I released my first record on the ‘Freude Am Tanzen’ label. It was still normal back then but I started quite soon on my second or third record with these neologisms. My intention is: when I name a track I Love You everybody will think: ‘Oh, he wrote that song when he was in love.’ But by refusing that formula I give people the opportunity to find their own inspiration. I don’t want to represent myself in that moment but the music. And if someone is really in love in the moment he listens to the song he takes a look on its title and it goes Bommsen Böff or Pnom Gobal. I think that’s even more connecting between music and yourself. And the other aspect is: well, I simply enjoy creating these titles. (laughs)
We come to our legendary closing question about hope and passion. Where is passion sensible in your artistic process? More live with a club crowd or in the studio, creating creative new sounds?
Both scenarios. I like producing in my private space where I have the feeling of maximum security. I always try to imagine how the music would sound on a party but this actually never works. I need the dancefloor as a sign of approval.
In terms of hope. How hopeful are you for the future?
Now that I’m a dad since a few months everything is already about to change.
Yeah, I think that this might be a conflict. On one hand you want to be around for your son and on the other hand you need the DJ gigs and releases to have more financial security.
You’re right. Although it’s still a quite fresh and new situation. The three of us, mostly my girlfriend and I, need to find a way to get along with this situation. Basically I’m an optimist, especially with such a sweet little new earthling I’m now responsible for. But like you said the gigs and everything are also important. But now they are set in perspective. In the past I was only responsible for myself, now I have someone else to take care off.
I understand, yes.
But what really pisses me off is the world we’re living in. And that’s really something I think about a lot. Others might call it a waste of time but it’s important for me, especially since I play a lot abroad. Experiencing these things make me a bit less optimistic. In the end these thoughts are all part of the things I do on a daily basis. And you sense it when you are in the club. When you’re watching all these people together, dancing, having a great time and forgetting the pain of the world.