In 2017, Fabian Winkels; better know as Fabe played more gigs than ever before. Most of these gigs were his first experiences at the clubs. In 2018, he plans more of the same. His mission is to keep pushing the sound of his hometown, Mannheim.
In this interview we find out more about his journey as an artist and how a crew of likeminded creatives formed BE9. In his mix, we discover more about why Fabe has become one of his cities most exciting artists. Listen to his Trommel mix below…
How your interest in music started?
I was already much interested in music since I was a kid. During that time, Hip Hop was my biggest influence. I bought my first sampler at the age of 14. It was a Korg Electribe. Actually, I was not as much into beat-making as into rap and graffiti, but of course; life was already about sound.
Later I started to produce house music and then I got more and more focused on DJing as well. Today I’m locked really deep into sound. I love to discover different music genres to get new musical inspiration and I’m always updating me with new gear and new ways to produce music. I was not that open-minded in the past. But as soon as I found my place in music, it has enhanced my perspective and made me consider sound with a holistic view.
When you understood it could be your job? What you were doing before?
I don’t know if I ever understood it, but I guess it was always my dream to live from what I like most: music. But for some reason I always tried to find alternatives to the music. I guess, I was much influenced by social structures that told me you can’t be just a musician to be able to live a successful and enjoyable life. That’s why I started to study textile technologies before. But I could not identify myself with this way and finally I had the courage to quit it. Since then music is my job and I have never had to look back again. It’s really the only thing I really want to do.
What were the biggest difficulties when you first started DJing?
I suppose the most difficult thing about DJing at all is to develop a feeling which sound fits best to the right venue and what is the right music for which time. To look into the crowd and build up the right connection to the people. You can’t stop learning and growing in this scene. Music sounds different on different sound systems. Is the sound compact or is it reflecting? You need to grab this and let it flow into your set. I guess this is something you can’t do from day one.
Do you think Mannheim scene helped you in growing as an artist? If yes, how?
My good friends Nekes and Sedee were a big influence to me and definitely helped me to create my sound. We always had (and still have) very long mixing sessions together and I don’t know if I would have learned that quick without them. My music taste was always inspired by my surroundings and friends.
Sketch EP (2015) is one of your first production and immediately create a big impact in the scene – how in your opinion it changed things?
Well, it was my first release as Fabe so it definitely meant a lot to me. At the end, it was kind of a perfect start and gave me a lot of certainty and faith in what I’m doing. It’s still one of my personal favourite releases. I have just finished the second part of the Sketch EP, it ties in with the mood of the first one and will be released on Valioso Recordings this summer.
Salty Nuts, what is the concept behind? What are your future plans for the label?
In the beginning, the idea behind Salty Nuts was to build a platform just for my own music. Music which is 100% me. That kind of mood and groove that describes me perfectly. Music which is very spontaneous. Not thinking that much about arrangements, just grab the perfect groove and record it.
Now the label brings also releases from different artists and represents projects in which I’m not involved, but even reflects my sense of sound. The label will keep its signature and most of the artist who going to be featured on the upcoming releases are good friends.
The next record will be by Alexis Cabrera. It is already in production and will be released soon.
BE9: we see it as a collective of artists with strong roots in Mannheim that want to push forward this sound to an international audience, can you describe it more? How did it it start? What challenges do you face?
After Mannheim was a huge influence for electronic music in Germany with the beginning of Drum n´Bass in the 90`s and later with more house orientated Labels like Oslo, Cecilie, Mono & 8 bit records, it became a bit quiet and the city has lost a bit its identity in terms of sound and electronic music culture.
But finally, a couple of years later; a group of new labels were founded at the same time. It all happened when two crews came together and shared musical thoughts and rave experiences. Everything turned into another level of friendship and this was the trigger to grab the chance to bring Mannheim back on the musical landscape and create something different.
We had already a group of good DJs and producers, but many people still did not recognise the connection between the labels, the artists and Mannheim. So, this was actually the point where the idea was born to built a roof for the labels and artists as an opportunity to show what’s happening in our city.
Now the thing is growing continuously. The whole community shares a place where music gets created, where we all just hang together and play records.
All the artists have a club residency at Parker Lewis, which is actually the base of sound for all of us. We’ve just launched the Be9 record label, where the artists can express themselves. People are going to recognise Mannheim’s sound is not only one genre, that our sound covers the a diverse spectrum.
2017 was an amazing year as a dj – how were the tours? Any highlights of the year?
I’m not sure if I can source out any highlights from last year because I enjoyed every gig I played. I played clubs for the first time, so every weekend was an adventure for me. I’m very grateful about what’s currently happening and I’m glad to have the chance to make those many cool experiences but I have also the intention to discover even more.
It’s definitely my goal to share my music with a lot of more people. I think the range of the audience who can get touched by this kind of sound can be much bigger than many expect. We just have to bring it to the people, and this is probably what I’m here for.
2017 was an amazing year as a producer too: BE9, Mulen records, La Pena, INFUSE, Body Parts etc. – having all these request gives an hint on how your career turned up – how do you select the label you release on?
Well, at the moment I’ve I reached the point where it isn’t that important anymore to release one release after the next, that’s why I will keep it more exclusive next year but of course the releases helped me to let people know that there is a signature behind my productions but still enough space of flexibility. I guess, this is very important, otherwise people would get bored after that bunch releases.
At the end, it was not a plan to release that much but a lot of labels where interested and to most of them I have personal a connection to. Like with Arno from La Pena, Olga from Body Parts or the Fuse guys, they all are friends and this is actually how it comes to work together.
Which are the artists you admire most and take inspiration from.
Falco, Jay Dilla, Ricardo… but of course, there are a bunch more.
Apart from Mannheim-circle, which are the artist/crew you enjoy spending time with?
While traveling that much you naturally make a lot of friends. But of course, apart from the Mannheim clique, I always enjoy it very much to hang and play with my London friends, the Fuse Crew.
Vinyl collection – how you dig to explore new productions or old gems? which are the vinyl you are most attached to?
Digging for vinyl mostly comes very spontaneously. I never think I need to find something particular. I never force to find a record of a special genre or something what is currently hip.
When I buy new records online, it’s mostly music that transports a similar touch as my music but when I visit record shops or when I’m scrolling through Discogs I can get lost in any genre. I think you can find that mood and energy that describes your taste best, in several genres. And this is the only very important thing to me. Find, get and play music that really describes your own to get the chance to open yourself in front of your audience. it’s the only way to build up a connection to the crowd and finally generate a good vibe.
With the city of Mannheim now back on the map, it’s now up to Fabe and the BE9 collective to make sure it stays there and evolves into something special their city can be proud of.