Okain is one of the many Parisian artists to relocate to Berlin in 2011 in the search for better record stores, thriving nightlife and cheaper rent both at home and in the studio.
As an artist, Sam has ticked off some of the finest nightclubs in the world playing at Fabric, Rex and Panorama Bar. After a relatively quiet 2016, Okain is now back doing what he does best; releasing four EPs in 2017, touring regularly and sharing lineups with Nicolas Lutz, AlexKid and Diego Krause.
With his latest vinyl-only release on Infuse now available online and in all good record shops, Trommel writer Andrew Leese caught up with Sam in London ahead of his gig at The Lion and Lab with Alex Arnout to chat Paris, Berlin and his label Talman Records.
A lot of creatives who are born in Paris tend to move to Berlin. What were the reasons behind the move?
Few friends from Paris like Thomas Muller, Shonky and Dyed Soundorom moved to Berlin before me and told me about the benefits. To be creative in Paris, it’s a little bit more complicated. To make music you need a little bit more time to breathe. In Paris or London, it’s so expensive; you need another job on the side at the beginning just to pay the rent. And that’s before studio space or buying new studio equipment. If you’re a freelancer in Paris, it’s unlikely a landlord will give you a contract. In Berlin, it’s a lot better. People trust you here.
Do you go back to Paris very often? The scene is now a lot better than it once was…
I used to play at Rex Club regularly when I was living in Paris but eventually after I moved to Berlin I started to play there less. Now, I play in Paris once or twice a year but it’s true the scene is much better now.
In 2011, when I left to move to Berlin; there was only the Rex Club doing good things. Now there is a new influx of DJs and promoters who have taken the scene forward. I think after the Justice and Ed Banger scene slowed down, a lot of the people who were into electronic music moved on to more underground things. For example, Concrete opened in 2012 and now they are putting on big lineups.
Tell us more about your label Talman Records and what you have going on…
I’m in the process of releasing my fifth solo release on the label. That should be ready by April or May. The first releases on the label were all my own music. I wanted to set the vibe of the label and see who was liking it and supporting it before I released music from other artists. There have been releases from Alex Alvarez from New York and Paulo Rocco from Canada. The next one is from Nick Beringer & Albert Voigt. Step-by-step I want to bring together a crew of producers and go from there…
Is there plans to do events?
Yes! The first event we did was at Sisyphos in Berlin. Myself, Nick Beringer and Stevn.aint.leavn played all day at the Winter Garden and then went B2B for the final three hours. I’m constantly in talks with clubs to do more Talman Records showcases but first I need to open up the label to more producers. Step-by-step we will get there.
On the 5th of March, I put a lineup together at Tresor with AlexKid and Giammarco Orsini. It’s an event I am really looking forward as I always loved to play on the Globus floor.
What are your views on the current Berlin club scene? A lot is said about it but what is like as an artist there?
There is a lot of tourists who come here but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. They add their own energy. For the Berliners, there are a lot of options away from the more well-known clubs. Ohm.Club is in the same building as Tresor but it has totally different programming. There is less minimal and house – they book a lot of electro artists.
There is the Heidegluhen too. It happens every two weeks near the airport and it’s the only party to happen at the venue. I’ve not played there yet but the lineups are very good and it goes on for over 24 hours.
Has Berlin or anything else changed your sound in any way? There were more big room collaborations with Paul Ritch a while ago…
I still think I am making the same music I was making back in 2009. Yes, my work with Paul was more big room but if you listen to my Infuse release, it’s no different than what I was doing 10 years ago. It’s similar to my release on Tsuba back in 2008. Sure, my sound has evolved but it’s not different.
Finally, tell us about your Infuse release. You and Enzo go way back right?
Yes. We’re good friends. Enzo was playing my music and was supporting our Je t’’aime records crew back in 2009 or 2010. I first met him when he booked label boss Alex Dee for a Fuse party. So we’ve been in touch since then. For a short time, Enzo was living in Berlin so we used to hang out together. We’ve always been mates. Whenever I was playing in London, I would always try and stay an extra day so I could hang out at FUSE.
When I launched my label, I was sending him music and eventually, we managed to work something out with the release on Infuse with a remix from Rich NxT. I haven’t had a chance to play FUSE yet but I like how dedicated Enzo, Tony and the crew are – the way they have finely tuned the sound system to suit their sound, it really makes a difference.
Okain – Magic Box EP is out now on Infuse. Listen to his FUSE Podcast below: