Efdemin Makes Miami Debut for Safe Miami's Eighth Anniversary

Celebrate Safe Miami's eighth anniversary with Efdemin at Electric Pickle.
Celebrate Safe Miami's eighth anniversary with Efdemin at Electric Pickle.
Photo via Miami New Times

Though best-known as Efdemin by the techno heads, the label of "DJ/producer" doesn't quite do justice to Phillip Sollmann's career as a maker of sounds. Perhaps audio auteur would be a more apt title.

Schooled in the avant-garde traditions of musique concrète and electroacoustic sound design, Sollmann is an accomplished sound artist who has presented his work in galleries and art spaces around the world.

But of course, it's as Efdemin and boss of the groundbreaking Dial Records that Sollmann's sound has reached its widest audience.

Join the German techno trailblazer for his Miami debut performance alongside John Roberts for Safe Miami's eighth-anniversary celebration at Electric Pickle on Saturday. But in the meantime, read our conversation with Sollmann.

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New Times: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? How formative was the German techno scene of the '90s for you?
Phillip Sollmann: My interest in techno grew quite late, although I lived in Kassel, which had a famous club called Aufschwung Ost/Stammheim. Techno was around, and I listened to some mixes from time to time, but it didn't infect me like so many others. It was jungle music and then. Later, the drum and bass wave caught my attention. After digging into that for a while, I started listening to house and abstract techno, and started buying records around 1996, although my financial situation put a limit to the amount of records I could buy. These days, I discover amazing gems nearly every week, in the shops or online, and I play them now some 20 years later, the music sounding fresh and perfect to me. That is one of the greatest things about this genre: one can go back and forth all the time and will always discover new gems.

You studied electroacoustic music at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts, where you explored microtonal music, musique concrète and sound art. Did your academic studies inform the creative process and technical methods behind your work as Efdemin?
I don't think that this influences my work as Efdemin too much. Maybe more on a subconscious level, and in the way I listen to sounds and textures. But my work as a techno producer and DJ is pretty much informed by everything I like.

Besides your production work, you're a celebrated DJ with an eclectic, deep-thinking style as a selector and programmer of sets. What turns you on musically the most? Are there any specific sonic ingredients you look for in records as a DJ and listener?
I keep searching for the seductive, not too obvious records and productions, trying to produce a stream of sound that gets people out of their place. I like it dry and stomping, and at the same time, the subtle and dense productions catch my attention. I go from house to techno and back, trying to get rid of any boundaries between genres. Sometimes when people listen to a set of mine for the first time, they are confused, as they expect something much deeper. A good set depends on so many things: the sound in the club, the crowd's expectations and education, the promoter's skills, the technical setup, the humidity, the country and its specific cultural specialties, my condition after traveling, and many things more. In the end, you never know what it's going to be like — a fact that keeps it very exciting somehow.

Dial Records is starting to close in on its second decade. Did you have an original concept or vision for the label when you first launched in 1999? How has it evolved since?
Until this day, there was never a concept or vision we had to follow. But we are a group of people with clear ideas about music and art, and a very interesting mix of styles and backgrounds, I think. Nobody would have thought that this would still be existing after all these years. I am very glad to be part of this gang.

What's next for you on the Efdemin production front? Any new projects or releases we can look forward to?
Coming next is my Efdemin contribution for the Ostgut Ton compilation ZEHN, which celebrates ten years of the Berghain label. It also contains another track from my collaboration with Marcel Fengler as DIN. Two strong techno productions. Following the already-released remixes for Tokens Innigo Kennedy, Orlando Voorn and Herbert this year, there are more mixes coming for André Kronert and Johannes Volk later this year for Stockholm Ltd and TIEF. 

You're sharing the bill at Electric Pickle this Saturday with John Roberts, one of the many celebrated artists on Dial Records. How did you first hook up with him? What drew you to his work?
I simply love John. He is such a great person, and although our sound is quite different, it's always fun to play with him. I met him in Berlin some years ago, when he had his first release on Dial. Since then, it's so inspiring to meet him and get a little idea of his interests and ideas. I am totally looking forward to having a drink with him in Miami and then rocking the house!

So what can we expect on Saturday night?
I would like to take you on a unlimited journey through sound and time. I will bring a nice selection of vinyl with me, including old and new, ranging from house to techno and back. I am totally curious about my first visit to Miami. Bring all your friends and let's do this!

Safe Miami's Eighth Anniversary with Efdemin and John Roberts. 10 p.m. Saturday, August 29, at Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-456-5613; electricpicklemiami.com. Tickets cost $17 to $25 plus fees via residentadvisor.net.

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