Podcast 529: Akufen

Funk-filled house and insatiable grooves from a godfather of microhouse.
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Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, alongside a handful of his peers such as Ricardo Villalobos, Thomas Franzmann, Alexander Kruger, and Markus Nikolai, Marc LeClair ushered in a new style of stripped back dancefloor music most famously known as microhouse. His most known alias, Akufen, was at the helm of this movement, releasing a dizzying array of cuts as likely to move the body as they are to twist the mind—these early releases landed on, among others, Perlon, Trapez, and Oral. His debut Akufen album, My Way, which dropped in 2002 on Force Inc. Music Works, could itself be a literal embodiment and representation of microhouse with its unfathomable amount of intricately cut samples and bent dancefloor grooves. It’s also still regarded as one of electronic music’s most inventive LPs.

Pigeonholing LeClair as a microhouse artist, however, would fail to express the breadth of his output. Look a little deeper and this wider musical universe presents itself via the haunting jazz-like instrumentation of his work as Horror Inc. and the ambient experimentation presented on Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes under his given name. His live and DJ sets, too, subscribe to this wide-reaching approach; you’re as likely to get bumping minimal house as you are deeper and moodier strains of techno.

Notoriously elusive, LeClair has mostly been absent from the limelight following his initial outpouring in the early ‘00s, only popping out every few years for a release or tour under one of his many monikers, the latest of which saw him drop a four-tracker on Karat Records—he also joined the celebrations for Perlon’s 20-year anniversary, with his set at Funkhaus Berlin a noted favorite.

With a wealth of new material and represses of classics such as My Way on the way, we thought it was time to host LeClair for an XLR8R podcast, and across 90 minutes he delivers a set of funk-filled house cuts full of insatiable grooves.

How was 2017 for you?

Challenging but very constructive.

When and where was the mix recorded?

In my home sweet home, during the coldest days of December.

On what equipment did you record the mix on?

Two CDJ 900 Nexus, an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer, a Yamaha Promix 01 studio board, an Asus Desktop computer, and Sound Forge mastering software.

Was there a particular idea you were looking to convey?

Not particularly. I never plan a set ahead, I rather let the music speak to me. One song leads to another.

You’re about to re-release your debut album, My Way—when you produced it, did you think it would enjoy the respect and longevity that it has?

Absolutely not. I'm still clueless, to be honest. I didn't think one second about what I was doing at the time. I withdrew myself for a month in a cabin in the woods, far from civilization, without any means of communication. Outside it was snow storming incessantly. Snowmobiles were racing on the lake in front of my eyes, and "Skidoos" revealed itself. I was just so excited that Achim Szepanski at Force Inc. was willing to release my first long play. I'll always be grateful to him and my manager at the time and good friend Jon Berry for believing in this record. I always say it was a mix of good timing and good fortune. And as for the longevity of the record, I'm glad that my efforts had found a public and the respect of the latter. Appreciation is the most rewarding aspect of creating.

You also have a new live set in the works—what can we expect?

I always say, expect the unexpected. I cannot say, as I am too close to the music. Let's say it'll be diversified. I like when an album takes you in various directions and surprises you when you least expect it. An album shouldn't be just a double EP or a compilation of club tracks. You have to embrace it as a whole.

What else do you have coming up this year?

There is a new Horror Inc. LP and a new Akufen LP in the making. An EP called Music 2Wiggle2 is about to be released on a Berlin-based Italian imprint named Telharmonic Texture. I'm planning the launch of a new record label, with re-releases of some back catalog early releases, such as My Way, Architexture 1, and more. Also, I was introduced to Isis who runs the Toi.Toi. agency, which is a major move, meaning I'll be travelling the earth quite a bit.