Berlin-based DJ/producer/label boss Alex Niggemann is currently on a six-date USA/Canada tour and is set to release his new Stellar EP.
Niggemann has long been a master of capturing and encompassing elements of darkness, mystery and uplifting melancholic beauty, and the stunning Stellar EP bears all the hallmarks of an artist who is at the top of his game.
The tension-building energy of opening track “Stellar” beautifully showcases these attributes, while “Asterism” steers a subtle and melancholic path, before morphing into a track full of emotive energy and desire. To complete this package, “Asterism” is treated to a remix from Belgium’s Locked Groove.
The Stellar EP is scheduled for release June 22 via Niggemann's own AEON imprint. To mark the occasion, XLR8R spoke with Niggemann to find out more about about the tour and the impending release.
"Gravity," a free track exclusive to XLR8R, can be downloaded below.
US Tour Dates:
June 11 – Treehouse, Miami
June 12 – Espace Reunion, Montreal
June 13 – Fox Cabaret, Vancouver
June 14 – Sunday Social, Audio, San Francisco
June 17 – Clinic, Los Angeles
June 20 – Flash, Washington, D.C.
3. Asterism (Locked Groove Remix)
So let’s begin with the North American tour. Briefly describe how you chose both the cities and venues that you’re playing?
After eight years of touring, I know about most cities and their club scenes. I get to know about the clubs/event/promoters, when requests come in and tours are planned. If it comes to cities I haven’t been to, I usually do some research on my own and trust experiences and recommendations of colleagues or management.
I try to visit as many cities as I can in the US, I just can’t do them all at the same time!
Generally speaking, how do you select the gigs that you play? Do you try to push yourself artistically by playing shows where you know you’ll be challenged?
Yes, totally. There are clubs that live from their reputation - meaning they only care about the art itself and not so much about money and business. I actually like to have those different challenges - it makes me aware of focusing less what an audience think about me. I’m a perfectionist and do really want to leave every single show with a good impression.
As a Berlin resident who produces a European blend of house and techno, how does playing in the U.S compare to the shows you play in mainland Europe? How does the musical output of your sets in the U.S differ to those in Europe?
I don't think we can compare the U.S as a whole, just as we can’t with the whole of Europe. There are cities with a huge tradition of House/Techno like Detroit, Chicago, New York or cities that are hotspots right now, like Miami or LA. I might play a bit rougher/harder when in Chicago or Detroit, but in general, I try to play the same as I do in Europe.
In times of digitalization, people have access to music wherever they are - meaning, they listen to the same music, sets and podcasts. So, there’s no reason for me to differ very much, as people are coming to my shows because of that sound.
Let's talk about the your new Stellar EP. Was there a particular idea or inspiration behind it?
Actually, in my eyes, I set myself a pretty high standard production-wise with the music I released last year, which led me into a kind of creative hole. I wanted to top everything I did in 2014 and put myself under a lot of pressure until I forced myself to relax and just go with the flow. I realized, once again, it’s hard to be creative when you set yourself limits/borders music-wise. So in some kind of way, this EP is a mixture of the frustrated mood I had before producing these tunes and the moment I taught myself to just do different things instead of trying to achieve or top something I did the year before. These tunes actually relieved myself and I think you can hear it. It’s something different to what I did last year, although still having the melancholy emotions and drive that I love to combine in most of my music.
No, not really. I just liked the word. But, I like if the names of the different tracks of an EP are from the same category, like “Tangram” and “Maze” – both names for Asian puzzles.
The EP in general, especially “Asterism”, is extremely dark, mysterious and beautifully ominous. Where does this intense darkness originate from?
I think it comes from that dark mood I was in when I produced these tunes. They were actually not in my happiest days, but I like to be inspired by all kinds of different moods. I like to go into the studio whether I’m sad – as it makes me think about something else – or when I’m extremely happy.
It also happens that when I like the track I’m working on so much, I become happy while producing it, so emotions are always in a state of flux and flow. When stuck in a hole emotionally, then sounds reflect the sadness, but the arrangement usually also reflects the happy moments. This can lead to an interesting contrast in the music, I think.
Briefly describe the production process behind the EP - how long did it take to produce?
Roughly, it took around two weeks each track. It usually takes that long, as I don’t start and finish a track in one session. I think it is quite important to take some breaks in between - start something else and listen again. It’s a good quality control tool. Plus, being on the road in between, doesn’t let me finish tracks earlier. But, usually, sound design takes me around a day, arrangement two days, and mixing another day.
Your EP output has been pretty prolific over the years - but do you have set plans to follow up Paranoid Funk with another full-length LP?
Yes, and I’m already working on it a bit here and there. I plan it for 2016.