LWE Podcast 75: Baaz

Growing up in a small town called Schweinfurt in southern Germany, Bastian Volker’s introduction to electronic music broke down the walls of his geographical surrounds overnight, opening up a whole new world for him to explore. Quickly taking to his new passion via DJing and production, he started to emulate the sounds he was being inspired by, honing his skills and developing an individual take on the house and techno that was shaping his tastes. After capturing the interest of Agnés, he released his first EP as Baaz on the Swiss producer’s Sthlmaudio label, following soon after with a release of Dan Bell’s Elevate imprint. His affinity for producing deep, laid back house led to further releases on Sthlmaudio and more recently the British label Quintessentials. We caught up with Baaz to talk about early influences, the sameness that permeates a lot of deep house and exploring his downbeat side. He also knocked out a wonderfully smooth mix full of his trademark deepness, showcasing some of his favorite cuts, both old and new.

LWE Podcast 75: Baaz (62:59)

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Tracklist:

01. Vincenco, “My Vibrations” [Raw Elements]
02. Mike Dunn, “Deep Lat’n Soul Thoughts” [Deep Soul]
03. Classic Man, “Mellow” (From The Deep Mix) [Nervous Records]
04. Agnès, “Untitled” [white*]
05. Boobjazz, “Midnight Ceremony” [STIR15 Recordings]
06. Scott Grooves, “Feels So Good” [Soma Quality Recordings]
07. Marvin Dash, “Model Turned Programer” [STIR15 Recordings]
08. Tommy Atkins, “Live N’ Let Live” [Mango Boy]
09. W & P Hgg, “Sleep Scott Heron” (Deep Explorer Edit ft. The Lady Blaktronica) [Deep Explorer]
10. Boo Williams, “Day And Night” [Rush Hour Recordings]
11. Wbeeza, “All Those Beats” [Third Ear Recordings]
12. Chez Damier & Stacy Pullen, “Untitled” [Balance]
* denotes tracks which, as of the time of publishing, are unreleased

I understand you grew up in a small town in southern Germany. What sort of music were you into before you discovered electronic music? When you discovered electronic music was there much going on in your town for you to be inspired by?

Bastian Völker: I was very young! It was in the age of 15/16-around 1997 and I was not interested to go clubbing at all. I mainly listened to hip-hop around this time. As it slowly came to electronic music, I tried to explore if there were any interesting clubs or record shops close by. There was one club called Nil in my home town. It was just for house, techno and drum & bass music and some big names played there already. I heard the club explodes every weekend! I really wanted to go there but the police closed the club because of long after-hours. But I guess I was too young to get in anyway. The next record shop was 40 miles away and the music selection was really limited. All in all there was not so much to be inspired by.

So where did you get your inspiration from to keep discovering it?

I was totally motivated to get deeper into the scene, getting more information about techno and house music, but it was not so easy because I had no Internet. I got most of the input through buying house/techno compilation CDs and mixtapes, reading Groove magazine and sometimes going to the record shop in the next bigger city. A bit later, after I made some friends who shared the same interest for this kind of music, we sometimes went to Frankfurt to buy records.

How long after did you start DJing?

I wanted to be a DJ from the beginning on! Around 1998 I bought my first turntable.

When it came to starting to produce music, did you have friends who were also doing it who you could talk to and pass ideas back and forth with?

Not many. There was one guy who showed me some skills with Cubase. The music store Thomann was really close to my home town. I went there quite often to fiddle around with some drum computers and bother the shop men with questions. Another important source was the village Waldorf, near Cologne. I found out about weekend workshops for programming synthesizers, music arrangement, EQ’ing and so on. They build the Waldorf synthesizers there as well. I went there often and I learned a lot. A bit later I met friends who were also producing.

Did you have any formal musical training before you started producing?

Nope.

I understand you are greatly influenced by people like Moodymann and Theo Parrish. Did having these producers and their style of music as inspirations dictate what sort of gear you bought for your studio? What is in your gear list?

I knew Moody or Theo Parrish worked a lot with the Akai MPC and I often thought about buying one, but I still haven’t got one today. My close friend Knarf Skipson bought one some time ago and he is really into that machine. After every time we talk about producing with it, I think the next purchase is one for sure. Another point was the Rhodes sound you hear quite a lot in tracks by Moodymann or Theo Parrish. In the beginning, I really had to find out from what kind of machine this sound is coming from, but I don’t have a Rhodes piano. Gear: Korg Em1, Korg Es1, Waldorf Bloefeld, Roland Gaia, Roland Juno-G, Akai XR 20, Yamaha SPX 90, NI-Machine, an old Yamaha Mixer and a lot of software stuff. But I change my hardware often.

You moved to Berlin a couple of years back. How do you feel the move has affected your productions and approach to music in general?

I cannot exactly say how it affected me but it definitely affected me. In the first year I was totally swamped. I don’t talk about going clubbing every weekend — I don’t go out often. Suddenly there were a lot of music nerds around me and everybody brings different music and influences. I really was not used to that to such an extent but I liked it from the beginning. Another point is, in Berlin you can easily avoid the mainstream because the music scene is quite established. So in the first months I had to adjust to all this a bit and I’m sure it affected my productions, but in a more subconscious way rather than an intended one.

How do you feel your style has evolved from your earlier releases to your current work?

It is always a big process for me between every record. That’s why for me personally every release sounds totally different anyway. But I know some people differentiate between my earlier releases and my current work but I don’t know what they exactly mean. In my earlier releases I worked a lot with Rhodes sounds. In my upcoming releases you won’t hear a Rhodes piano because I got a bit jaded with it during the last months. I really like it if a track sounds like one jam, like a tool. I give more attention to this now than back in the day.

As with any music that has come into favor, it seems now that deep house receives backlash as well from those saying that it is all sounding very “samey.” What do you think about this, and what is the thing that keeps you pushing forward and exploring with this sound?

Yeah, I know what you mean with “samey.” It seemed like a big deep house mishmash. I think it was also a bit because of this Rhodes piano sound. Producers found out fast how to generate such a sound and suddenly everybody used it. You can put the Rhodes sound over many beats, also over minimal beats, and suddenly even this sounds warm and deep house alike. But often it is just like a mask but it’s not deep house. I do understand, people got a bit fed up with it. The result is, myself or a lot of other producers perceive that and they want to sound more individual. More quality and being more adventurous is in demand. That is really cool and exciting. I find a lot of good, quality deep house stuff in record shops at the moment, far away from this mishmash at that time. That’s the thing that keeps me pushing forward.

You’ve done some really nice downbeat tracks too, on the Woodland Drive EP. Can we expect to hear more from you in this style?

Yes! I’m really into producing and listening downbeat/experimental hip-hop. Next to other stuff I went to the studio with my friend Iron Curtis to produce some hip-hop beats. More soon.

What upcoming projects do you have planned? What is your focus right now?

An EP for a new label run by Barbara Preisinger which is called S.O.L. (Slices of Life). She just told me something about the upcoming release plans and you can be sure, some really good stuff awaits us! Another one for Minuendo Records, including a Dubbyman remix, a remix for Hudd Traxx Records and an LP for Sthlmaudio. The music for the LP will be more listening stuff. I explored my love for experimental hip-hop, ambient and dub techno on it. Some collaboration tracks with friends will be included as well. Perhaps I will take an alias for it because the sound is so different.

Tell us about the mix you made for us.

I rummaged deep in my record shelf and tried to keep the balance between some older and newer house records. It’s always a big thing for me to do a mix at home. I needed a lot of time sorting the tracks, trying out which records fit good together and so on. I hope you will like it!

What can we expect from Baaz in the next year?

My plan is, to work on a live set but let’s see if it works. Thanks for the interview Little White Earbuds crew!

Blaqjazz  on February 28, 2011 at 3:07 AM

Haven’t downloaded the mix yet, but I know I am gonna enjoy listening to this mix. Baaz is deep like that. Blaq

Joseph Hallam  on March 1, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Such a silky smooth deep house mix. Cheers.

benny rodrigues  on March 2, 2011 at 3:22 AM

untitled- white label = tommy atkins aka mango boy aka mr g- live n’ let live
http://www.discogs.com/Tommy-Atkins-Live-N-Let-Live-Mayaglyph/release/266629

littlewhiteearbuds  on March 2, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Thanks, Benny!

Laurenz  on March 2, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Absolutely sensational !!!

harpomarx42  on March 4, 2011 at 2:30 PM

These kind of mixes are the mixes I treasure. Ending with Forever Monna just seals the deal for me.

womb  on March 5, 2011 at 4:15 AM

woooow….first DJ I ever heard to play Marvin Dash track. such an underrated talent and his Model Turned Programmer is one of the best house cuts IMHO

m.  on March 7, 2011 at 3:22 PM

absolutely great – so consequent! he’s really one of the best …

Deedi  on February 6, 2012 at 7:48 AM

sweet!

Trackbacks

Baaz – LWE Podcast 75 « The Hipodrome Of Music  on March 1, 2011 at 1:33 AM

[…] read interview Leave a Comment LikeBe the first to like this post.Leave a Comment so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI […]

Atmospheric Beats #2 – BAAZ (Sthlm audio – Qunitessentials – Berlin) | Caramelo events  on June 23, 2011 at 6:58 AM

[…] vous conseille en guise d’échauffement d’écouter ce fabuleux podcast :http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/lwe-podcast-75-baaz/ Quintessentials 07 – baaz – so […]

Scott Grooves | Feels So Good |  on December 28, 2011 at 11:21 AM

[…] on Baaz’s exclusive mix for Little White Earbuds awhile back (solid mix give it a listen here if you haven’t already), and it practically melted our faces off – as most of Scott […]

LWE Podcast 75: Baaz is archived this week | Little White Earbuds  on February 5, 2012 at 11:03 PM

[…] podcast, mixed by Baaz, was a wonderfully smooth mix full of his trademark deepness. Be sure to add it to your collection before it’s archived this Friday, February 10th. » Lauren Cox | February 5th, 2012 […]

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