Interview: Tilman – “Creativity comes and goes, sometimes I end up with something great and work on it, or it’s nothing I like and just let it go.”
Tilman from Mainz is a busy person right now. After running his great klamauk label for quite a while already in a successful way he now also takes care of Fine, the label he runs with Johannes Albert. If you know Johannes and Tilman you definitely get why they get along so well and run the label with great effort. Tilman is positive all the way, not just regards his music, but as well as a person. You feel his warmth and his enthusiasm for music and life from the very beginning, even before he says something. Coming from the hip hop background, making his way through house, soul, disco and funk he now is where he is. Displpaying a huge variety of sounds and styles, how he got there and what happened on the way is just one facet we talked about.
How and when did you get in touch with house music the first time?
I was 17 or 18, i can’t remember it in detail to be honest. At that time I went to a friend of mine quite often who was listening to a lot of vocal house and also possesed a dj-setup. That was the first time I got in contact with house music and I also took my first steps with mixing and playing records. Before that I mostly listened to hip hop.
Did you want to dj and produce immediately after this experience or was it something that evolved over time?
That slowly has built up. I really enjoyed mixing records and I also had the Reason software installed on my computer and used it to produce music. Those tracks were more or less danceable back then. But, too be honest, I really didn’t know what I was doing. (laughs) My musical roots really helped me a bit. The drum and piano lessons, plus practicing a lot helped me to get a good sense for rhythm, melodies and harmonies.
Could you describe your workflow when it comes to producing music in general and is it easier for you to come up with music because you play an instrument?
There’s no particular way or formula. Sometimes I listen to music and find an interesting sample, which I play around with. Sometimes it’s a song that inspieres me, or I’m simply jamming around with a beat or synth and record it. Creativity comes and goes, sometimes I end up with something great and work on it, or it’s nothing I like and just let it go. But I got to admit that it really helps me that I had music lessons during my childhood. My work flow is very fast forward, that’s why I create loops and sketch ideas pretty quickly.
You’ve uploaded some very nice edits on your soundcloud, are those done as some sort of tribute to the originals you love or did you just stumble across the tracks and wanted to play around?
Normally I do edits for fun or when I’m in the mood and hope that something independent comes out. It’s not happening that often to be honest. (laughs) But it’s definitely no tribute to the original, I also struggle with the definition of an edit. To be more exact, I don’t know when an edit is an edit or when an edit is an independent piece of music. Is an edit only consisting of the original sounds? If so, I would say I’m not creating edits at all, maybe my stuff could be seen as remixes then. I’m not waisting too much time thinking about it, it’s not important to me.
Most of the times you build your tracks around or at least include samples, what’s the main reason for you to work with samples?
Many samples have a certain groove and funk that is hard or impossible to imitate. Also I’m not able to play every instrument. There’s no certain reason, I simply enjoy it!
Besides working with samples it seems like you use a lot of hardware at the moment. Did you always do it that way, or is it something you added to your way of creating music later?
Hardware is so expensive! It’s not just that one synth, you always want more or need some additional stuff. An interface here, an mixer there, monitors, cables, analog effects. The list goes on and on. As a student I couldn’t afford it, now as I’m working, I try to get in touch with more analog pieces, but that’s a never-ending story.
Is it the perfect workflow for you while working with soft- and hardware or would you like to produce tracks only by using hardware anytime?
Both ways are fine for me. Sometimes I concentrate on hardware, the next time it’s the other way around or I use soft- and hardware in combination. As an example „It Must Be Nice“ from the Fine04 release was made by only using hardware. „Egypt“ from the second release on Fine in contrast, was produced with software. Mostly it’s just a combination of both. Sometimes I play the bass, melodies and pads with the synth or only the drums. It sounds more vivid and lively and also it’s plenty of fun and not so abstract as working with the mouse.
Deep house with a certain warmth and soul is the end product after you production process and it’s the sound your label klamauk takes care of as well. Since you’re not doing all the work by yourself on klamauk could you describe the label, who the other owner is and how you both organize the workload?
Klamauk is a label I do with Karsten and Michael, both are friends of mine. Both work in ad agencies and mainly take care of the artwork and look of the label. My job is the a&r part, our social media channels and the rest. All decisions are made as a team and we try to split tasks.
Klamauk also hosts parties in Mainz, called „too fast for love“. How’s the clubbing and musical scene in your hometown?
On our last „too fast for love“ party we featured Carlo in March at „Kulturclub Schon Schön“. It’s sad, because this chapter is finished now. Friendships came along with almost all our guests we had like Roman Rauch, Nachtbraker, Johannes Albert and so on. It also was a regular place where house heads came together in Mainz, but the audience changed in a bad way and we made that decision. Let’s see what’s happening in the future!
Are there artists you could recommend, bars, clubs or whatever is great there?
Mainz is a small city with an even smaller electronic music scene. But for sure, here are some talented guys and it would be great, to see them playing outside the Rhein-Main area more frequently. Sadly, the „Kulturclub Schon Schön“, where we did the Klamauk partys, will stop with Electronic Music Partys and the other Club „Gebäude 27“ will close in May. So, the future of Electronic Music in Mainz doesn’t look that bright. Besides that, we have the „Planke“ beach for the summer and a nice new bar called „Gutleut“.
What’s your favorite tune at the moment and could you explain why you love it so much?
Hm, sorry I don’t have a favourite tune, it’s more or less changing every day. There is too much good music I am discovering at the moment.
Header Photograph by Lena Usenko ©