Ritter Butzke in Brighton - Matthias Schuell Interview
After a hugely successful showcase back in March of last year, we welcomed back one of Berlin's best known clubs who brought their very own showcase to Brighton by featuring a selection of their top residents.
Ritter Butzke is located on the ground floor of a former factory in Kreuzberg. It began as an illegal club in 2007, but went official two years later. The venue has three main dance floors, plus an outdoor courtyard that's open in the summer. The DJs and the crowd are most often Berliners. This dimly-lit huge club is always bursting at the seams and is hidden away in a large complex of buildings on Moritzplatz. It has certainly achieved legendary fame in the city and worldwide.
We caught up with Ritter Butzke's very own Label head Matthias Schuell, who after impressing so many Brightonians last year, it was only natural that we invited him back to the South Coast.
After a solid education in multiple classical instruments and drums Matthias Schuell took an unlikely choice to enter the electronic scene as a producer, DJ and live act. Quickly after the breakup of his international successful project “BAAL” in January 2019 he concentrated on his growing solo career. Always keeping an energetic vibe in his productions, he tries out different tempos and styles and creates music with a broad portfolio of sounds and instruments. In his powerful live sets he uses his talent to support his music with live drums and piano elements. His first EP „Scarabaeus“ in June 2018 on Niconé's imprint Dantze was played by Joris Voorn, Animal Picnic, Moonwalk and many more and quickly took the pole position to become the number one song of the Dantze label on Beatport. His EP „Hoodoo“ on Einmusika in May 2019 charted in the Beatport Top 10 Releases in the genres „Techno“ and „Melodic House & Techno“ for several weeks. Since 2018 he holds a residency and works as the label manager at the Ritter Butzke Club Berlin.
Hi Matthias, how are you and what have you been up to this week?
Hi, I was mainly recovering from the crazy Berlin-Brighton Event and then the Fusion Festival weekend the next day haha, very little sleep and a lot to see! But after some hours of rest, I am back to full strength.
You've been in Berlin some time now, what made you make the move to Berlin and how long have you made it your home?
I've lived in Berlin for three years now. For me it was quite clear to have some change after living my entire life in Bavaria, not always the same place, but I never left the country, so it was some kind of adventure for me. Additionally Berlin is one of the key cities for Techno and electronic music and so to improve my career that was the logical next step to make.
Where was your first gig in Berlin?
The very first gig was at Kater Blau in 2014.
You recently joined us for a second time in Brighton for another Ritter Butzke Showcase on 28th June. What are your thoughts on Brighton and did you have fun?
I had a lot of fun! :D I thought it was quite obvious, haha. And I really like the city - the coastal surroundings, the open people, it is very much what I like about Berlin also. I also heard a lot about the parties here and the BMC (Brighton Music Conference) - Maybe I will come along next year (April 2020).
We did quite a lot of sightseeing when you were, what was your favourite thing we did?
The fair at the Pier of course - this is something unique and I never saw in another city before. I also got a bad sunburn because of that soothing wind that kept me from recognising that I was slowly burning away.... Last time I was in Brighton, I also visited the Royal Pavilion - that was nice, too.
After leaving us at 5:35am (Berlin finished at 5:00am) to catch your flight back to Berlin and to play at Fusion Festival, how did you manage and how much fun was Fusion this year?
Well I took a quick cold shower to make it to the airport and then slept during the flight. In Berlin I had not much time to be tired and was picked up by my driver and slept the two hour drive to fusion - So I got 3.5h of sleep in total, which was more than I expected.
And at Fusion Festival there was so much to see - impossible to get tired especially as it was my first time there. But I went to bed at around 1am to be fit for my gig the next morning. It was a rough but rewarding experience.
You mentioned that you started as a drummer in a Jazz band when we were chilling in one of the bars on the Pier taking in the sunshine with Jazzy vibes in the background, how did you make the transition to electronic music and what made you make the change?
Yes I started as a piano player for classical music. Later I wanted to study the oboe but that did not turn out to be the right way so I studied the drums instead and played in several bands - from rock, jazz, progressive rock even pop and cover bands to make a living.
After I graduated in philosophy, real life and work caught up with me so I could not attend five to six band practices a week anymore and I started to produce on my own. So I guess this was where the foundation to professional electronic music started.
You are head of A&R at the Ritter Butzke label 'Ritter Butzke Studio' - Tell us more and how did the name come about?
I took over the label in September 2018, so the label existed for quite some time already. As far as I know the name originates from the idea to do something different other than „records“ or „music“ behind the club name, so the decision was made to call it „studio“. Unfortunately there is no real studio at Ritter Butzke, so I have to explain that a lot, haha.
But since September we did a lot and will soon have a big 10 Year Anniversary Compilation with artists like Booka Shade, Extrawelt, Digitalism, Oliver Koletzki & Niko Schwind, Dominik Eulberg, Mathias Kaden, N’to and some more. We are very happy how things are growing right now.
Apart from Ritter Butzke Studio, you’ve also had releases on German labels, Einmusika, Dantze, Dunkelheit and MONO.NOISE; labels that we absolutely hammer at our events and radio shows. What is next on the horizon releases wise?
There will be a release on the Copenhagen label „Blindfold Recordings“ in October and I am preparing a track for JEAHMON! Records, a label by Marc DePulse, right now. Also I am planning to release on Jonas Saalbach’s label „Radikon“ in the near future.
You started your own project as Matthias Schuell after leaving BAAL last year, focusing on LIVE sets rather than DJ Sets. What made you make that transition?
I feel primarily as a musician and not a DJ although I like DJing a lot too. Still for me the live aspect always came a little short in my further projects so I wanted to put the focus there this time. I also integrate drumming more and more into my sets and hope to be able to present a real full live set by the middle of next year. But it's hard to play real live and create a complex structure when you play alone. But having good music is essential, there is no use in playing live and bore the people to death - so I am working on that ;)
What can people expect from a typical Matthias Schuell set? What flavours and grooves do you inject into a dance floor?
I think that people have to expect a huge variety of sounds and flavours but it will be always energetic and for the dancefloor. Although whilst I like to produce some downtempo tracks or remixes, I need an energetic sound to perform best for the audience.
You have been in Berlin for a good few years now, where's your favourite place to just to kick back and chill?
In summer I like to sit next to the river Spree at „Club der Visionäre“, which is a nice place to calm down. I also like the Parks in Berlin and I like to hang out with my studio mates near my studio at Funkhaus.
And equally, where's your favourite place to let loose?
Well at Ritter Butzke backstage of course, haha. I went to Berghain some times, which is an incredible free place to be and freak out also. But Berlin in general is a place where you can let loose almost everywhere.
Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?
I like „Klunsh“ a lot right now - really nice productions. „Yubik" and "Jonas Saalbach" are also some of my favourites. "Aparde“ dropped a really good album some weeks ago - still in my hot rotation.
What are your go to labels?
Radikon is really emerging and has a lot of potential I think. I also like Upon You Records, Atlant and Afterlife.
You have compiled our latest Berlin Mixtapes Series Episode 034 - Tell us more about your mix.
Well I tried to put some melodic and dancey stuff together. Almost all artist and labels I mentioned before are included. I wanted it to be good to listen and good to dance to.
What else can we expect from you soon? What's next on the horizon for DJ gigs wise? Where can people see you next?
I will be playing at Feel Festival, Mit Dir Festival, FREUNDETREFFEN Festival and Zahara Festival - If you want to know more, just check out my social media or soundcloud profile, I post everything there.
Great stuff and thank you for speaking with us today, we're looking forward to more great things from you. Is there anything else you'd like to add for our readers?
Don’t forget to bring a towel.
Quick fire questions:
Genre: Melodic House & Techno
Favourite Colour: Red
Where in Berlin are you: Friedrichshain
What do you put on your chips: Mayonnaise
First record ever bought: Jamiroquai - Deeper Underground
Apple or Android: Mac but Android Phone
Pioneer or Denon: Pioneer
Ableton or Logic: Ableton
Can you juggle: With three balls (Mwaha)
Weirdest/Coolest Item of clothing: My glasses
Favourite place to hang out in Berlin: Ritter Butzke
Best club: Ritter Butzke
Favourite Bar/Pub: Radio The Label Bar
Best Beer: Augustiner
Favourite place to eat: New Day Vietnam Heritage Food (Friedrichshain)
View on Sauerkraut: Beurk
Favourite Wurst: Weißwurst
Coffee or Tea: Coffee
Favourite Footy Team: Probably FC Bayern?
Favourite Track right now: Aparde - Integrity
Favourite word: Shit
3 words to describe your mix: Better than Pizza