Don’t Let Your Friends Listen to Bad Music (Quite explanatory, but still explained)
‘I pick music that I want others to hear. I consider the people that tune in like friends. I want to supply them with what I call good music . The connotation can offend people but if its good it doesn’t matter the time, place or format its in. I have a hard time keeping myself to one sound so I like to share it with friends.’
I was pretty stoked to interview THEE Lars Behrenroth (the don’t-let-your-friends-listen-to-bad-music DJ,the hardest working DJ in show business) You know the Lars I’m talking about!! We open Skype screens both seated with shelves full of vinyl but his collection continues and continues on. My almost empty shelf of vinyl starts and ends with the span of the camera shot. This shows how long he’s been in the music game.
On the day of our interview he mentioned he was editing sets from a huge festival he played in South Africa a few days prior….As we speak he is editing material from his recent set in Africa…Check it out here! http://www.deepershades.net/dsoh-shows/deeper-shades-of-house-502-guest-mix-by-paskal-urban-absolutes.html
Some really cool facts about Lars from back in the day…
- As a young man he first found out about slip mats on TV prior to that he was using plastic mats
- He’d been around music for some time-In 1984 he started breaking, he remarks about a scene he saw in Flashdance…watching a Breaking sequence. He tried it out and had no idea what he was doing …but loved it.
- The acronym TALK is a collaboration by Lars Behrenroth, Kolai & Taha from T-Kolai featuring the lyrical stylings of Mustafa Akbar and collectively they produced the single ‘Touching You’ and released it on vinyl
- 70-75% of the buzz and publicity for this single came from South Africa.
Production/The Art of Dj’ing: Where it all began….
He’d been around music for some time. I think it’s incredible that a musical revolution/wave influenced a whole generation that set another trend for a whole other generation how cool is that? He came from a very small town of 60,000 people in Germany. This musical phenomenon changed the game for him. He was enrolled for organ lessons by his grandparents, he was signed up for a musical program at 3 or 4 years old. As a teen he had no idea how to mix. He says, ‘I would play out songs by Kraftwerk and Frankie Goes To Hollywood at the time.The kids (ages 8-13) were always too shy to dance so I’d dim the lights at the school dances to create a night club feel.’
Much later he purchased a Commodore 64 computer and created his 1st SD6 computer sounds. The finished product was nothing musical. He says, ‘It was very ambient-ish, broken kind of beats and sounds. Almost experimental. He later bought a keyboard and recorded a 4 hour VHS set. He had an AMIGA and used his first sequencer software. It was only much later that he studied audio engineering to learn exactly what to do in the studio.
Speaking of experimental….I talked to him about CDR Toronto and he felt it was a great idea. He was aware of CDR Berlin and admitted he was ‘too self-critical to put music out so quickly’ (this is kinda how it is in Toronto.) He did mention that something like CDR would be a great platform to put out remixes.(Big ups Gavin and Koray!)
You’ve been dj’ing officially since 1986. And you moved to LA in 2004. How’s LA been for you?I enjoy living in LA, I try to spin in the area as often as possible. I started a radio segment ‘Global House Connection’ with my then roommate when I first lived in LA (first a 4 hour and years later a 2 hour show.) When I first arrived to LA I was purely motivated by the music and was playing music for the ‘Nu Jazz and Broken Beat scenes’. I noticed that the scenes were VERY separate. (Sound familiar in your city?) I used to collaborate with LA DJ Veteran Wayne Lyons, we did a night BOTANICA in 2007 and played out 4-5 times a year. The great part about being a travelling DJ is that you get to experience different scenes and vibes in various cities.
You bring a slight Euro-Tech sound to productions that are clearly very Afro…how does the fusion occur? Do you intend for tracks to come out this way? I like to pay respect the original as much as possible. Often times remixes are completely different than the original. I like the challenge. I’ve taken the shuffle sound from Techno and used it on many tracks.I never know what I’m gonna end up with. I’m somebody that makes, music one way or another. I’ve been a fan of bringing sounds that don’t necessarily go together.
I (shine)personally enjoy guest features…I noticed you started using guest features on DSOH. (How did that come about?) Lars was one of the first and few to broadcast music online. He always like to share the space when possible. Some of the DJs don’t get the exposure they deserve except for their 10 friends. He was trying to attract a different crowds. ‘I figured I couldn’t record 3 hrs every week-so why not share the space with others. It’s more interesting too!’
Speaking of internet radio: ‘There are only a few internet radio stations that have a full listenership. Even with a small audience radio stations still fuel music discovery. Especially in South Africa! House music fans are getting younger and younger…Just like Rap-House Music gets kids out of shit. You see this with success stories like Black Coffee’
What is it about SA that keeps you going back? Honestly, they (South Afrikans) party like it’s the last party on Earth. It’s the only country I get the recognition, they embrace the music the way in which it is intended to be reached. The musical education is so much higher than the rest of the world. North America used to be like that. EDM is popping up here and there and you know as production people, DJs, House Heads, Musicians you know what we do in a place like SA. We gravitate there. 70-75% of the buzz and publicity for this single (Touching You) came from SA. This is why Lars contributes to the scene there. The single was re-played/re-introduced in 2010 and VERY WELL received. The original for ‘Touching You’ came out on label ‘Perfect Toy’ NU Jazz (which was big in the early 2000s) 2003 was the first release and again re-released in 2010. I thought it was new “originally released on vinyl in 2003 and licensed by DJ Mbuso for Soul Candi Sessions Two, this remix marked the beginning of Lars Behrenroth’s growing exposure in South Africa.
What is the European/German sound in 2015? What do you enjoy about it then and now? The Euro sound is very much connected to real House Music. It’s true to the feeling we connect to. (Early House music era). It’s the music that people gravitate to and are nostalgic about….Old Skool Larry Heard, emotional deepness. You know stoned. Str8 to the heart. Deep Sound. It’s not over produced. It’s raw. The feeling is modest and pure. ‘I envy the people who after a studio session say, the track is done, that’s it’
With the amount of recordings you’ve worked on or re-worked and released over a 20 year span, what is it about production you enjoy? What’s your creative process? Every song has it’s own approach. I’ve re-visited a song after 8 years and I’ve just finished it now. Collaborations with old material sounds like new. I’m working with labels…I never know what I will receive either vocals or beats….. With remixes you have no deadline and its easier to create hits and re-visit the tracks even to see if you can enhance them.
Casamena used to always say on his radio hour that you are ‘one of the hardest working in the biz’. You’ve built a SOLID brand. What was the vision you had, years ago? Did you foresee this taking shape the way it did today? I started a label to expose people to music. It should be about the exposure of the music and artist. Tools to move music forward to a broader audience. Starting yesterday and every week will be Download Tuesdays. Fans are bound to download a fresh new track instead of going for full albums. (He loves online number and analytics, I would argue that this is why he has also seen tremendous success in other areas of his business.) He questions how someone can buy 1000s of tracks when trends are rapidly changing.
Vinyl or Digital?Everything I do, I like to get multiple use of it. A new fan base is always emerging it’s always re-introducing new ways of music consumption. If you don’t point out that a track was old, many wouldn’t know that it was. Digital is always timeless and vinyl has a shelf life.You don’t need to play hits unless you DJ for weddings <True, true Mr. Lars.
Where are you headed next?Any more trips to SA in 2016? One more time to SA. I play where I’m needed. I’m really pushing the label approach. I’m into the digital side of things. I predict for Indie labels that DJ sale downloads will disappear in 2016 i.e. Fileshare, Youtube etc. I’m looking at maybe going on tour more often and if time permits-the promotion of my DSOH parties when I visit cities worldwide.