Dixon: House Cleaning

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Steffen Berkhahn, known to the world simply as Dixon, is feeling good. His Innervisions label is only a year old and its second release, Âme’s Rej EP, is already an international hit; after selling thousands worldwide, it was just licensed by Defected for re-release this fall with new remixes.

This is no overnight success story, though. Berkhahn started in the electronic music business in the early ’90s, throwing parties with breakcore pioneer Alec Empire (of Atari Teenage Riot). “This was at a time in dance music [when] the tempo was nearly the same for all types of electronic music,” he clarifies. “You could play house or techno tracks in a drum & bass context. So I did.” As the most soulful member of the outfit, Berkhahn soon felt a call to greener pastures.

Branching out into remix work, his first commission came about through a friendship with Jazzanova’s Alex Barck, who garnered him a remix for Sonar Kollektiv in ’99. Its success led to a fruitful seven-year relationship with the label, one that led to the production project Wahoo (with Georg Levin) and the launch of Innervisions (which recently split from the SK stable).

“Sonar Kollektiv is a high-quality label but I felt it released so much different music that some [artists] didn’t get the attention they deserved,” Berkhahn says. “I wanted to change that.” Now seven releases deep, Innervisions is getting plenty of attention. Taking Berkhahn’s love of deep house and fusing it with electro and techno, its sound fills a dance-music void, and contributions from Franck Roger, Chateau Flight, and Henrik Schwarz are quickly making it into a brand DJs trust. “The label is what comes about when you listen to house for 14 years,” Berkhan offers.

Innervisions could easily rest on the success of Rej, but Berkhahn keeps looking forward. “We try not to focus on [Rej’s] success,” he says. “It’s a record we released that we loved, and that’s it.” He continues to step up the output; this fall, he will drop a full-length CD of singles and exclusive tracks and a 12” from Stefan Goldman that includes a remix by Âme. Dixon is feeling especially good about the latter; “I have feeling it’s going to be the Rej of 2006,” he whispers.