To understand the German techno scene's fascination with African-American funk and soul, you need look no further than the work of Frankfurt-based DJ-producer Sascha Dive. As chief ambassador of the so-called "Rhein-Main sound" (though he shrugs off the label himself), Dive boasts that quintessentially Teutonic interpretation of soulful house via sleek, techy minimalist beats.
His Deep Vibes imprint has been around since 2007, although its infrequent releases and penchant for full-length artist albums reveal an emphasis on quality over quantity.
This past summer saw the release of Dive's latest album, Restless Nights, which is informed by American black culture as sonically as it is thematically. Track titles like "Black Man," "African Monster," and "Underground Railroad" show a curious preoccupation with the African-American experience. And it's not the first time he's touched on the subject -- 2009's controversial Panther EP was also criticized for its appropriation of Black Panther imagery and themes.
Some people tend to think that a white German lad shouldn't have much to say about black culture. However, his love for the music is self-evident and his work a 21st-century tribute to the deep house legacy.
We caught up with Sascha Dive in advance of his Friday night set at the Electric Pickle with PL0T to talk about his fascination with black culture, the superiority of the LP album format, and his undying love of vinyl.
New Times: How did you first get drawn to electronic dance music?
Sascha Dive: It was my brother, who brought me some tapes from the UK in the early '90s. There was a lot of shit dance music on it but also some stuff I would play today, like DJ Duke, Octave One, Green Velvet or Mood II Swing! Later, my friends took me to nightclubs in Frankfurt like the Robert Johnson. Also, Freebase Records (the best record store in Frankfurt) helped me a lot in finding the music that I wanted!
What is the "Rhein-Main sound" and what do you feel you've contributed to it personally?
I really don't know who came up with that stupid name. I wouldn't say that my productions are "Rhein-Main sound," but rather my own sound. I understand that they gave this genre title to our productions 'cause suddenly many of my friends from a certain region became more famous.
Your new album Restless Nights was just released. What can you tell us about the record?
I started the work on Restless Nights in summer 2009. After I finished a couple of tracks, I thought to myself: "Man, that's perfect album material." So I worked on and on. After all that work was finished, I was looking for an album title that would accommodate all those nights I was awake doing music, thinking of the perfect tracklist, going crazy about whether it is good in this way or that way. Then I had the right title: Restless Nights!
What do you consider the advantages of releasing house music in an LP album format, considering the EDM market tends to prefer consuming music in small, fast doses?
It is very important to release albums in the EDM scene instead of only EPs and singles. Most of the EPs don't find their way out of the electronic music scene, whereas an album has the ability to break through certain musical boundaries. Furthermore, an album is a very personal thing, something you put a lot more heart and energy into than if doing an EP.
You've picked up a bit of controversy over the African-American references in your music, titles, and artwork. Do you have a genuine fascination with this subject matter? Or are you just following the trend of referencing deep house's black roots?
First of all, I'm not following any trends. I do things my own way. I do music I like! Yes, I have a fascination with black culture, especially their music. I'm a very big fan of all funk, disco, and soul of the '70s and '80s, so that music inspires me a lot.
You launched Deep Vibes back in 2007 but have kept the pace of releases rather slow. Where do you plan to take the label in the future?
In the future, I'll keep going my way. The next release on Deep Vibes is by Sean Dimitrie and Tim Fuller, two very talented and underrated guys from Canada. Right after, I'll release a remix EP of my album with a very special vocal version of "Jus Groove" and remixes from Alix Alvarez and Franck Roger!
What motivates you to continue pressing vinyl on such a small label and catalog? Is it just a labor of love?
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It's the love for music and also the feeling of vinyl. It's sound and the format itself!
What can Miami expect during your performance at Electric Pickle?
A man with his records spinning some of the grooviest music you can imagine!
Sascha Dive with Alejandro Sab and Michael Christopher. Friday, November 5. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.