Rich (Merk-E), Irina (Veera), and Kenny (Ken Masters) comprise House Assassins and they have been organizing events in New York and New Jersey over the past two years. Recent gigs have included Miss Jools, Pig and Dan and Pan/Tone. On March 12th, heavy hitters Ralf Kollman (mobilee label boss) and Ahmet Sendil (Bosphorus Underground label head) will beat us up with some dark and dirty EDM.
CGNY: So you’re back in NYC and spinning with Ahmet Sendil. Looking forward to the gig?
RK: I am really looking forward to the gig. I had my first appearance in New York more than two years ago when I played for the Resolute guys then. It was kind of a kick off for me to come to the US and visit Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco for some gigs. Since then, I and other mobilee artists have had the chance to play a lot in the US and it seems like the underground scene is growing and growing again. Miss Jools from mobilee played for House Assassins a couple of weeks ago and I only heard good things about their sound system and audience. And the BLK Market guys are doing great shows in New York. Pan-Pot played for them recently for NYE and last year there was a big mobilee showcase with Anja Schneider, Pan-Pot and Sebo, a very rare occasion to have them playing together.
CGNY: You’re a founder or mobilee with Anja Schneider which has a very definitive sound/vibe. Is that something you strive to cultivate or did it just naturally happen?
RK: Well, I would say our sound is very versatile. We are very happy about the wider range of music we are able to release and present, and at the same time remain authentic. Sebo K, Anja Schneider, Pan-Pot, Marcin Czubala and And.Id all produce very different sounds. They have all defined the sound of mobilee over the last 5 years and I am always glad when people feel that there is one sound signature, even if the musical journey goes from Deep House to Techno.
By choosing the right people to release on our label the mobilee sound has been defined, but everybody has also had a lot of freedom to develop and we hope that this is a constant process. So yes, everything has happened naturally, stemming originally mainly from Anja and my musical tastes. Beside the musical output the personal relationship with our artists plays a big role too. Some of our most successful artists joined us at the very beginning and developed and grew together with us over time when the whole musical industry was changing completely.
CGNY: Techno has always been big in Europe but it’s still more of cultivated genre if you will, in the United States. Perhaps our market is saturated with too many other kinds of pop music?
RK: It was always a big mystery for me why the underground scene is so different in Europe than in the US or better to say that there is no real underground scene left in a country with 280 million people. I know that you had a big techno festival scene in the 90s and everything suddenly disappeared due to new regulations and rave bans, but most of the stuff going on in Europe 20 years later was based on the original house sounds from Chicago and New York or Techno from Detroit. Even today every music editor is still referring to this in reviews. It’s a bit sad that there never was a second, third or fourth generation of producers or club people to keep that spirit alive. Either they all moved to London or Berlin or they are doing cheesy commercial stuff which has nothing to do with the spirit and music we are celebrating here in clubs like Berghain/ Panorama bar, Weekend, Bar25 or Watergate (just in case you hadn’t heard of them before ;)). I think it is a very complex issue to discuss and it’s also based on the opening hours of clubs and bars in the US and the fact that they are not allowed to serve alcohol after two. It’s a bit weird to see that our artists play all over the world from Asia to South America and everywhere the scene is growing and pulsating. Only the US needs Rihanna to learn about Techno and that is probably the worst thing that could happen.
CGNY: How you divide your time between djing and running mobilee – you’re based out of Berlin right?
RK: It’s not a problem at all. I don’t think that a broker at Wall Street, a Creative Director at BBDO or a successful photographer is working any less. We have a small team working for the label, and in worst cases I sometimes take a Monday off. I can always take my laptop when I am on a longer trip, but I also spend a lot of time in the office/studio during the week like everybody else.
CGNY: You’ve mentioned in some other interviews that mobilee is moving towards the all digital frontier. But do you really think vinyl is becoming a thing of the past?
RK: It is obvious that music is distributed digitally mainly and it’s the brutal truth that vinyl is a thing of the past for a couple of years already, if we like it or not. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still passionate vinyl lovers and DJs left, with their own and vital collectors market. However, from a commercial and labels perspective it’s more a promo tool than everything else. It’s almost impossible for a label like mobilee to sell enough vinyl to cover the productions costs, but there are also some artists like (Theo Parrish for example) that is still playing vinyl all around the world and is releasing his music on vinyl only. I have a lot of respect for that and I hope we are able to produce vinyl for as long as possible.
CGNY: How often do you and Anja get to play out together?
RK: I just came from a gig with her in Cologne, but as we see each other almost every day during the week we are happy to spend our weekends apart!!
CGNY: What has been your most memorable/strange/funky gig so far? Any horror stories that you care to share?
RK: I wish I had a spectacular story for you...perhaps our boat party at Sonar last year in Barcelona! We had a rough sea and every time when the boat turned around the people were falling from the left to right.
Everybody still kept dancing though and trying to keep the balance. That was fun, especially when the sun set - it was an amazing view. I think our whole Sonar Barcelona activities are the highlight of every year.
CGNY: I interviewed Pan-Pot before last year and the Blk Mkt party with them, Anja and Sebo K was one of the 2010 party highlights for me. Any plans to do a bigger mobilee label night in the States any time soon?
RK: For the last few years we organized big mobilee label showcases in Miami during WMC with our friends from Listed. This year we are actually planning a bigger showcase for the Movement Festival in Detroit in April. A lot of things are happening at the moment.
CGNY: How much thinking or planning do you do ahead of a gig in term of set prep? Or is it a matter of showing up and seeing how you and the crowd feel?
RK: As I am listening to music almost every day and get a lot of promos and demos I am constantly preparing, but I also prepare for every gig separately and sort my music and put my new stuff together.
It’s easier if you know exactly what to expect or have played in the club before, but every city and every audience is different of course. The last and best step of preparing the night is with a good dinner, some glasses of good wine and a few vodka shots!
CGNY: What was your favorite subject at school?!
RK: I loved them all!
CGNY: Do you think there is life on other planets and if so what tune would you send to the aliens to best represent the Ralf Kollman sound?
RK: If you promise not to tell anyone I can reveal a secret: I am an Alien and this is the music we are listening to on my home planet.