In occasion of his latest podcast, exclusively mixed for Trommel in his studio in Berlin, we sat down with Topper to discuss about pieces of electronics and future plans, starting from his beginnings, as far back as 2005 in the German capital city.
Being an amazing producer and sound engineer, and having moved to Berlin long time ago, that’s one of the most interesting read you can have to discover not only his development as an artist, but the evolution of the city itself through his eyes. His sound in fact, got shaped in and by Berlin, and developed together with the dynamic city he lives into – after more than 10 years the result is a complete, skilled and eclectic artist, probably one of the most esteemed out there.
Hi Topper and welcome on Trommel. It seems you settled down pretty well in Berlin: how has this move helped and influenced both you career and artistic side?
First of all: hello, guys!
Well, having moved here in the summer of 2005 at the age of 20, I can say that Berlin has been absolutely influential in the development of who I am as a person, as a DJ, as a producer, and as an engineer.
The reasons that pushed me to move were all music-related: I wanted to dig deeper into music production, having played around with Reason, Fruity Loops and some Korg Electribes in my teens, and into DJing, since I already knew how to beatmatch from many afterhour/school-skipping sessions spent with a couple of friends’ setups.
So I moved here, and I started buying records at Spacehall, which was just down the street from my first place. Meanwhile, I started studying German so I could attend the audio engineering course at the SAE Institute. I was told they also have English classes now, but I’m happy I was forced to learn the language during my first years, it has helped tremendously along the way, and it also gains you tons of respect from the locals.
The first three years, I was hanging out with Klangsucht crew, and we did lots of amazing events in all kinds of locations around Berlin: Funkhaus in 2008 if I remember correctly; Insel der Jugend, an abandoned school in Warschauerstr, or even our own flat – I was sharing this crazy eight bedroom, 350m2 apartment in Kreuzberg with other guys from the crew, and it lent itself pretty well to a party!
We also started a weekly Thursday party called Gegenkultur at Goldengate, which lead the way in establishing the club as THE Thursday night option in Berlin.
Whenever the weather was nice we would throw free open air parties, on a weekday or at the weekend, it didn’t matter, as the authorities were pretty permissive at the time. These parties were called Wir Sind Park and some of them were legendary!
The best thing about these first years was the Sunday party scene, parties like Beatstreet, Gomorra, the old Bar 25 and of Course CdV, and many more I’m sure I’m forgetting. This was before Berghain/Panorama prolonged their opening hours and pretty much took over the Sunday scene, with the exception of CdV and Kater which are still Sunday institutions.
In 2008, I played my first (of course unplanned) gig at Club der Visionäre, and from the following season my buddy Daniele Papini and I were trusted with a residency, every second Monday. During the same period we also hooked up with the Sleep is Commercial crew, another very important step in my musical journey.
All I can say is that it’s been a hell of ride, and that I’m very happy to haven chosen Berlin as my home.
We saw online some picture of studio activity together with DeWalta and a massive number of electronic pieces. Can you tell us something more about that?
That pic was taken in David’s studio while we were jamming on a track that will be out soon on Vinyl Club Recordings, together with another great track from Audio Werner! Watch out for some more DeWopper action in the near future!
We also came across your setup at one of the latest Hoppetosse Perfect Sunday – what is the gear piece you really can’t make without?
Well, only a part of all that gear is mine, as it is the setup for our Triptease & Hugo live impro project.
This project has taken up a great amount of our time in the past couple of years, as we went about recreating a mobile version of our way of working in the studio. After many long jams (we always play a minimum of 3 hours, with our longest jam logging in at 16 hours last summer at Club der Visionäre, with some help from our buddies Daniele Papini and Mattia Lapucci) I can say we’re now pretty comfortable riding with this setup, although it’s a different experience every time.
Anyways, my personal essential in this setup is the Elektron Octatrack, as I use it to it’s full potential for triggering samples, launching loops and sequencing external gear which I then route back into the Octatrack for effects and looping. It’s such a deep machine that it can adapt to so many different situations! Not so easy to learn if you’re not familiar with the Elektron concept – even if you are, actually, (smiles) but very rewarding once you get the grips. It’s now also become the main sequencer for my Eurorack system, thanks to a very clever module that enables me to spit out 2 full CV+Gate+Velocity voices and 8 gates+12 LFOs/CVs! Fun stuff!
Again on Perfect Sundays: We are used to see massive lineups full of interesting names, and at the same time the rave goes on for a fair amount of time, giving the artists enough space to fully express himself or freedom to spontaneous performances to arise – how that is important to you?
This way of making parties has definitely been instrumental in the evolution of my musical taste and technique. When you’re given the chance to play these extended sets, I think you are spontaneously pushed to develop a music collection that spreads around various genres and moods. My buddy Daniele and I like to do a few sessions a year at CdV where we play one record each from start to finish (that can be as long as 24+ hours), and those sessions have definitely been the best DJ/music school I could ever ask for!
Vinyl records – walk us through your collection: when it started, how big it is, and which are the pieces you are most attached to
I inherited my vinyl addiction directly from my father, who’s still constantly digging for his rock stuff to this day!
I started building my personal collection when I moved to Berlin in 2005, and it now counts some 2500 records. From time to time I sell the stuff I don’t play or I don’t care about anymore, trying not to keep too much dead weight around.
I think I’m pretty proud of my Perlon collection, but I’m fond of pretty much every record I own, as each and every one of them can trigger a memory about some moment in my life, good or bad.
To conclude, what you have in plan for the future?
That’s easy: lots of studio time and music coming up!
The next Dead Rail and Triptease records are in the pipeline and should be out sometimes in May, and at least one more EP for each label will be out this year. We also have a Triptease album in the works for Sleep is Commercial.
Other EPs/tracks/remixes are coming up on Discobar, Nervmusic, Vinyl Club, Part of the Gang, Morning Glory (this will be the label’s debut EP with a DeWalta&Shannon remix), Rumenigge, Muted Noise (double EP), Castanea, and RE.FACE, plus and some more i might be forgetting.
I will also be working on more tracks with Daniele Papini for our newborn project ОИОИ (OiOi in cyrillic alphabet), and our first record is just out on Nervmusic.
As far as gigs go, I can’t wait to be back at CdV for my residency: celebrating ten years at the club this year! I’m also looking forward to my upcoming gigs at UP! Festival in Prague, to my first time on Tresor’s amazing sounding Globus floor for Janina’s night, to tINI and the Gang at Underground in Ibiza, and some more Triptease&Hugo live jams coming up in Turin and London!
Looks like it’s gonna be a busy summer once again : )
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