Henning Baer is 'grounded' in techno - co founder of Grounded Theory Berlin which showcases some of the finest techno producers and dj's around including this at the end of the month (http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?573745) He is also the co-owner of K209 with Milton Bradley and has releases coming out on Fifth Wall soon. CGNY caught up with Henning ahead of what looks like a busy travel schedule including a visit to Montreal! Maybe NYC could be on the cards?! We can only hope!
CGNY: Hi Henning - thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Your latest EP Seltene Erden on Sonic Groove means “rare earth” in German. Is this correct? Nevertheless, it seems that the names of your tracks are from chemicals. Neodym, Cer (cerium), Promethium and Europium. Did you study chemistry before becoming a DJ/Producer/Promoter/Label Head?
HB: Exactly! "Seltene Erden" means "rare earth" and the EP title as well as the track titles refer to the chemical elements of this group. I did not study chemistry but I was impressed by the fact that these chemicals are around us in all the electronic devices and other things we use every day but nearly nobody knows about their existence. I came across those elements by watching an interesting documentary. At that time Adam X and I decided upon my next release for Sonic Groove and I took the rare earth elements as the inspiration.
CGNY: Did you have some kind of idea that you were going to do to use chemicals for your tracks' names when you were making them, or did it just kind of come together, like experimenting with various chemicals?
HB: I had all the names and facts about the rare earth elements in my mind when I was working on the tracks. That knowledge definitely influenced the music in a particular way. Each track is the audible expression of its title. The combination of music and title creates a specific feeling in me.
CGNY: In fact Grounded Theory, your party series in Berlin, is a social science methodology. Was this intentional as well?
HB: The Grounded Theory method is a specific research method in social sciences, a qualitative research method where the collection of data comes first instead of beginning with a hypothesis. I studied communication science and came across this research approach, which is based on empiricism. This is exactly how we work at Grounded Theory. All we do and everything we are trying to realize is based on empiricism. The Grounded Theory is our approach. It fits perfectly.
CGNY: One may assume that there is no creativity in the sciences, but may be you saw a different perspective? That experimental and risk-taking aspect of being an artist may be similar with experimenting and risk-taking as a scientist?
HB: I actually think there is a lot of creativity in the science. Making your mind about "facts," formulating questions and hypotheses, and trying to answer these implies a lot of "creative" energy. Experimenting with sounds and music has definite similarities for me. In a way, we are all scientists working on our subject.
In the words of Dopplereffekt:
CGNY: Were there any “experiments” that you did with this EP, as in approaching the way you produce differently or using different equipment or may be even producing in a different environment because I am sure things like these will affect the way you produce, and therefore even the end product of the track.
HB: The biggest experiment was the switch to Ableton Live, whereas before I was using Logic. I was very happy with Logic it but I thought Ableton could give me another view on how I write music. Live makes me think about music in a different way than Logic: I love Logic as a sequencer but it is way less intuitive than Ableton Live. Neodym and Cer were both written and recorded in Ableton, Promethium and Europium in Logic. Maybe you can hear a difference…
I also added a modular effect unit to my hardware chain. I definitely experimented in the process of writing the Seltene Erden EP. Using a modular system is a huge experiment. It is everything and nothing at the same time. A lot of science.
CGNY: What made you and Milton Bradley start K209, your record label? You are both residents at Grounded Theory. As you both played together, was it just natural to start talking about starting a label?
HB: Milton and I have known each other for a long time. Starting K209 was a very natural extension of our friendship. K209 is our platform without boundaries. No tight release plans, no pressure: things we both appreciate a lot.
After we launched the label with its first release in 2011 the act K209 was born as well. DJing together with Milton is a lot of fun and we complement each other perfectly while playing.
CGNY: K209 seems almost to be scientific. Is there any meaning behind the label name?
HB: K209 is the "place" where the label was born. It is the room number of my studio. K209 really exists.
CGNY: Will you have any releases on the K209 label or anything else from you in the near future?
HB: There will be two remixes from me on Fifth Wall Records out end of March. I had the task of remixing a 155 bpm jungle track, which was a nice experience. Then there is another very special EP in the pipeline, with a release date still to be confirmed. Milton and I are also working on the next K209 record.
CGNY: And lastly, are there any gigs you are looking forward to in particular?
HB: I am very much looking forward to our next Grounded Theory on March 28 with Shifted, The Persuader aka Jesper Dahlbäck as well as DJ Skirt, John Osborn and me.
On March 15 I will be back at Concrete Paris, where I always love to play! Another gig I am looking forward to is my first time at Jaded at Corsica Studios London on April 6. I've only heard great things about Jaded. Then of course Berghain on May 3rd and Trouw Amsterdam on May 31st.
For July 4th I am booked to play in Montreal the first time and I hope a few U.S dates will happen around that date as well!
Our thanks to Go K. for the interview.