With his older brother DJ'ing in the family garage, a teenaged Alex Niggemann learned about techno music through osmosis. But it wasn't effortless. There was obviously a lot of sweat mixed in as well, the classically trained pianist and Berlin-based DJ told New Times.
As he prepared for his sojourn west to play a set at Treehouse tonight, June 11, Niggemann shared the motivations for his new work, the EP Stellar (out June 22); the challenges that come from running his own label, AEON; and the good things he’s come to expect from Miami crowds.
New Times: What made you shift gears from classical piano towards electronic music?
Alex Niggemann: My first techno party at the age of 16 was that click moment. I was so fascinated. How can somebody move a crowd that intensely by just playing records? I wanted to find out myself and used every minute my brother wasn’t at home to sneak into his room and play his records. As I was already producing some hip-hop stuff on my computer, I soon started to do techno myself.
What inspired the new Stellar EP?
Actually, in my eyes, I set myself a high standard production-wise with the music I released last year, which led into a kind of creative hole. I wanted to top everything I did in 2014 and so I put myself under a lot of pressure until I forced myself to relax and just go with the flow. I realized, once again, it is hard to be creative when you set yourself limits/borders music wise. So in some kind of way, this EP is a mixture of the dark months I had before producing these tunes and the moment I said to myself to just do different things instead of trying to achieve or top something I did the year before. These tunes actually relieved me and I think you can hear it. It’s something different to what I did last year, although still having the melancholy feeling and drive that I love to combine in most of my music.
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Having your own label, what are the difficulties in transitioning from the business aspects of the music industry into the creative aspects as an artist?
It brings a lot of difficulties. The love and passion for the music often interferes with financial aspects. Not everything I love to release will be selling. But I do it because I love it and I’m able to invest my salary into the label. So I don’t really see the label working as a business to earn much money with at the moment. The label is mostly a hobby. A platform on which I bring different artists from different countries together with different, but quality music, to express a mutual idea of electronic music.
What can we expect from your set at Treehouse on Thursday?
As it is an extended set, which I actually prefer to just one-and-a-half, two-hour sets, I will build it up carefully, creating a journey that people are hopefully going to join me on throughout the night. I’ll also definitely play some of my new productions, which haven’t been released or announced yet. So, bring your dancing shoes!
Since you tour so extensively, do you notice a major difference between your audiences in different cities? Do the fans at your previous Miami shows stand out in your mind in any specific way?
Well, I’d say there’s definitely a difference between cities like Houston or Dallas and Miami, Chicago, New York, or California. But this is also because of the size of the scene, the cultural background, weather and living quality. Miami has a huge scene, not only since WMC takes place here every year. Miami is also very Latin-influenced, plus the good weather makes a good mood and it’s more relaxed than in New York. People definitely like to dance a lot and have long nights out.