When thinking of heavy techno and bass lover, the name of Chris Liebing automatically comes to mind as an institution. Here in this exclusive interview, the CLR boss shares his thoughts on his DJ life, Russia, food, his last RA video documentary and, of course, on Monasterio.
Hello Chris! First of all, we're used to starting the interview with a simple question: how are you feeling today? You're now back from a few weeks off..
Am I back from a few weeks off? I don't really think I had a few weeks off. I had a week in the mountains, which was great. It made me feel great and it's still lasting. Life is good. I am just a little tired. Right now I am actually sitting with Bryan Black in the studio and it's 2 in the morning.
We've just finished watching RA documentary "Origins: Chris Liebing". First thing that comes to mind is: how did you feel after looking back over the 20 past years? Was it a rewarding experience for you?
Well the most rewarding experience for me is that I can still do this and I did not have to stop it one day because I had to get a real job. Still not having a real job is the most rewarding thing to me when I look back on the past 20 years. In the beginning I never thought this would last and that I was basically wasting my time on fun stuff, but now I have learned that you have to waste your time on fun stuff, otherwise you might end up with a job you don't want to do.
Let's get back in the past for a bit. Imagine for a second if music wasn't in your life. Which art would you choose to express yourself?
I don't really need to think much about that, there is not really anything else in the art world that I would probably choose to express myself. No, I think I would have maybe become some sort of nature person. I like to be outdoors, in the mountains or something. I think I would have gotten into something like this instead of art.
As you are one of the techno leaders over the last 15 years, you're touring a lot, producing, going from places to another, meeting people... What is the first things you do when you're back home? And what kind of music are you listening while relaxing?
First of all, regarding the music, if you go to the Resident Advisor documentary "ORIGINS : Chris Liebing" you will also find a selection of 50 tracks that I have chosen to listen to while you are in your living room, relaxing, chilling out, having a decent time. That is the music I sort of grew up with and which I still listen to today, so that is a good selection and gives you a good idea of what I might be listening to when I come home and have time to relax.
You know the club industry better than most. Monasterio is born one year ago when some passionate guys decided to bring techno back in Moscow. It's kind of 'special' for us that you're playing next Friday. What would you say to this techno new scene in Russia?
Well I will probably be able to answer this question much better next Saturday, but I already have had some good times in Moscow and in Russia. That was years ago on the Mayday in St. Petersburg and in Moscow, and it was a great experience to go and check out after-parties in little clubs and places. You have a really really nice nightlife, but I haven't been to Russia for a while, so I can't really tell much about the new scene. I am very excited to find out!
What comes first in your mind where you're thinking about Moscow?
For some reasons... spy movies... Yeah, I think most American films I grew up with always used Moscow as the basis for the KGB agents and it still somehow rings the bell of cold war and Soviet Union, although of course I know that it isn't since a long time. But it's kind of how I grew up and that still rings a bell. So it's pretty amazing every time to be there and see that things are very different than you would think when you grew up in the 80s in Germany.
Monasterio sets up one of the biggest soundsystems on the market. The DJ booth is made out of wood and they kept the brick walls to give it the industrial feeling. That just reminds a friend of us saying when coming back from one of your performances at Berghain: "Chris Liebing is maybe the most powerful deejay I've ever seen. Walls were shaking as hell! Body language". Our speakers and your performance this Friday: definitely a good combination?
Yes, I am a junky when it comes to sound systems, sound in general and bass. This is something that my music needs, a good sound, a good solid bass, and that is - I would say - even the most important thing in a club. I am very much looking forward to it and I love to play in clubs with amazing sound systems. So yes, definitely a good combination!
Lots of people told us that you naturally - and constantly - release positive energy. Where do all this energy come from? Is it still a "small Chris Liebing kid" inside you when you're behind the decks/machines?
That's a pretty good question as you already put the answer inside of it. Yes, I think that is this little kid... I just really enjoy what I do and stop thinking about other things. It's a pretty natural state to be in, and it's a nice state. Maybe part of it is releasing positive energy... I just wanna share a certain vibe that I get myself at this moment, so I don't know if it's positive energy, but it's definitely some sort of energy and I enjoy it. I enjoy it even more if other people around me enjoy it too.
Ok, we're not in January anymore but: what could we find out on your 2014 wish-list? I mean, what would you like to see (and not see anymore) this year in the techno area?
You know I never really have anything like a wish-list and even though there are many things going on in the music world that are not my taste, I would not want them not to continue. I think that everyone needs music and there are fans for all sorts of music, so there should be all sorts of music. One thing that I saw in Techno, which when I think about it should be on the wish-list, is that people continue to be as excited about this kind of music as they have been in the past years and more and more are right now. There is quite a good evolution and development going on in that scene and it is great to see that more and more people are excited about it. Let's hope it stays that way, but of course it also depends on all of us in the Techno Scene, the DJs and the producers, to keep the people interested by doing something we are interested in ourselves.
Part of the Monasterio club is also an asian-food restaurant. And we know that you're strictly vegan. What kind of food or vegetables make you feel good before a gig?
I love to eat curries, but then again they should not be too heavy. When it comes to Indian curry I sometimes really have to watch myself before I eat it. Before a gig you don't want to be filled up too much. One of my favourite vegetables is broccoli. You can always get me with broccoli, so maybe a nice curry with broccoli would make me feel good before a gig.
Tell us which would be the next upcoming CLR young talent this year? And what could we expect from Drumcell's 'Reconnected 04' (out end of February)?
Drumcell for me has released one of the albums of the last year, not only because it came out on CLR, but because it's just a fantastic album. His approach to music is a very special one. He grew up with loads of influences in Los Angeles, he still lives there and you can hear that. 'Reconnected 4' is a really amazing selection that only a guy like Drumcell could have chosen to do. It is not really my aim to find a new young talent for the label CLR. Of course there are loads of great producers out there and I get more and more great productions from them. There have never been as many releases on the label as today and there is loads of great new music out there that I get to hear, but I don't think that it would be fair to just pick out one person. There is quite a nice selection of singles coming up, by persons who deserve more attention because they are making great music. For example Luis Flores in Mexico, or Flug who is originally from Argentina, just to talk about some newer faces in the Techno scene. But there are definitely more, so watch out.
Last question: if you had a time machine, what would you bring back from your first techno scene?
I would bring back the Omen club, because I really wish I could go there, in exactly that same club, with the same sound system, with today's knowledge, to spend a night there and see how I find it. That would be very interesting, the old Omen club, the legendary club in Frankfurt where I used to be resident in the past three years of its existence, between 1995 and 1998. I would love to experience that again!