Tigerskin: "I Always Look for a Niche That's Not Explored Enough"
Young overhyped producers are a dime a dozen in the electronic dance music capital of Berlin, not to speak of the wider global dance music scene. Far more rare are seasoned production veterans like Alex Krüger, who has stood the test of time and stayed ahead of the curve for decades.
As Tigerskin, Dub Taylor and Korsakow, Krüger's sound has taken a long and winding journey through disco, house, dub, and techno. An inspired ear for melody and technical prowess behind the mixing console have made him one of the most in-demand producers on the underground scene, dropping euphoric bomb after bomb on hotly tipped labels like Dirt Crew, Get Physical, and Suol.
Crossfade caught up with Alex Krüger ahead of his live performance as Tigerskin at the Electric Pickle tonight to chat about staying inspired by classical music, new releases and a new no-computers-involved live project.
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Crossfade: What did you grow up listening to and how did you first get drawn to electronic dance music? Which artists shaped your early appreciation for electronic music the most?
Alex Krüger: As a teenager, I was a huge fan of the so-called new wave sound during the '80s: Joy Division, the early Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees -- stuff like that. But I also listened to classic psychedelic '70s rock music: Pink Floyd, Yes. And I played guitar and wrote my own songs, started recording it. Most of that music already had electronic sounds in it, but back in the day to hear a Jean Michel Jarre or a random Kraftwerk song on German radio was still common -- these were considered commercial music.
Most pop music was electronic anyway, for example the synths and drum computers on Stock Aitken Waterman productions. When the techno and house thing started to become big in Germany in the early '90s, it was natural for me to switch from electric instruments to electronics.
You're an accomplished sound engineer, having produced for many other dance music artists, like Phonique. How did you learn the science of sound engineering? And how do you apply this knowledge to your own artistic process writing original material?
I learned everything by trial and error. I had a couple of pro friends who showed me some tricks. There were no YouTube tutorials back then, so it took a bit longer than it would have nowadays. I still think you don't need to attend classes to become skilled in sound engineering -- it won't help you to develop a unique style, because you only learn about what knowledge is already out there. When you do it yourself, you might step over a connection of things that is unusual and has never been done before. That did the trick for me.
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What sets apart Tigerskin, Dub Taylor and Korsakow for you and why release under different names? What do each of these projects provide you as individual creative avenues?
I choose different names because it's sometimes impossible for people to accept an artist doing many different styles at the same time. Sometimes I'd rather do hard Detroit techno instead of deep house, or punk rock instead of pop. People tend to file you somewhere. If I only had one name, there would be no way to put me into a certain genre in record stores. So Dub Taylor nowadays is more the dub techno side of my work, Tigerskin is everything between tech-house and cheesy disco, and Korsakow is on hold since 2004. I'm thinking about a couple of new names for a no-computers-involved live act and another deep techno project. We'll see.
You've been producing and releasing electronic dance music for 20 years now. What keeps you inspired and motivated to stay in this game? What do you find most inspirational about electronic dance music in the present day?
Recently, I've listened basically to classical music: Debussy, Ravel, Tchaikovsky -- everything. There's so much in there, that I think I'm inspired for the rest of my life. I don't listen much to electronic music, because for me, it's always been like this: when something is big, I don't care for it anymore, I always look out for a niche that's not been explored enough in my opinion.
What can we expect from you next on the production front? Any forthcoming projects or releases we can look forward to this year?
I'll be back on Dirt Crew Recordings for another release with Till Von Sein, but will start out with a bunch of summer tracks on Defected's sub-label DFTD, including one more collaboration with Lazarusman. And there will be a release on Electronique UK that will be out soon.
So what do you have in store for us at the Electric Pickle tonight? What is your live M.O. and how does the studio material translate live?
I'll probably play many new and unreleased pieces, depending on the crowd and the situation -- we'll see. Since I usually work with hardware in the studio, it's not possible to bring everything on stage, so recordings of the needed audio parts on a computer plus some secret ingredients have to do the job. As I mentioned above, I'm working on an all-hardware project. If everything turns out to be working properly, I might be back with a stage full of gear one day.
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Tigerskin, AKA Dub Taylor. With Baez, Loudsilence, Ariivi. Presented by Electric Pickle and Sub-Motus. Friday, April 25. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.