Full Interview: Thomas Schumacher Comes To Brighton
We are back this month for another big one and this Friday we have invited one of the biggest Techno names in the business, the legendary Thomas Schumacher.
Thomas Schumacher was eleven years old when Depeche Mode released Construction Time Again. "I'll never forget sitting at home, listening to the album in my headphones, trying to figure out how they made those sounds." he says. Thirty-four years later, Thomas Schumacher still burns with curiosity. The Berlin- based DJ and producer makes light of his status as one of the most enduring, versatile artists in electronic music. "What I love about Techno is that it demands that you question yourself, reinvent yourself."
Thomas has been a major influence on all of us here at Berlin-Brighton with our resident POoK nearly spontaneously combusting with excitement when we announced that Herr Schumacher was joining us. In anticipation of this Friday's event I sat down with Thomas for a bit of Q and A about all things music, Techno, family life and what's next on the horizon. Not only that, Thomas has also put together our next Berlin Mixtapes Episode 025, which you can all enjoy as of 01.07.2018 here.
Until then, here's what we chewed the fat over.
Hi Thomas, how are you and what are you up to this week?
I am fine, thanks for asking. Today I will record a new episode of my NOW podcast, which I particularly enjoy because in preparation for it I always find inspiring, new tunes and at the same time it is a great exchange with my fans. Apart from that we are preparing a special project. Think Boiler Room, but from my studio here in Berlin. It’s still in the early stages but the idea of 20 ravers and myself losing it here for a a couple of hours lights me up. By Thursday I usually start to prepare for the weekend, check the latest promos, go through my rider. And then there is the World Cup, of course!
You have travelled and played in all sorts of venues across the world. What sort of gig gives you the biggest buzz?
I like to compare myself to a captain of ship. I purposely steer my sets into rough waters. I want to help people get out of their heads and into their bodies. I create a safe space for people to lose their minds, in the best possible way. They know they don't need to worry or be afraid, because I’ve got them. I know what I'm doing. They can let go and just be. That gives me a buzz.
You are originally from Bremen in the North of Germany. We have a few friends from Bremen that come to our parties, so they are very much looking forward to seeing you. What made you decide to move to Berlin and when did you make the switch?
We decided to move to Berlin in 2005. I met my wife Caitlin in Melbourne in 2001 and she moved to Bremen for me but after a couple of years it became clear that we wanted more from life than Bremen had to offer. Berlin was the natural choice, we had lived here for a few months together before and we both loved the vibe. I had been playing in Berlin since the mid 90s and the thought of living in the Techno capital of the world was a bit daunting at first but it was one of the best decisions of our lives. Having said that, Bremen is still a place close to my heart, my mum still lives there, so I visit often and I have a lot of fans there.
What's your favourite spot in Berlin to hangout and why? It doesn't have to be a bar or a club.
I am a foodie and thankfully Berlin has caught up with other cities that are famous for tasty grub. Up until a year ago I was a big meat eater, like many Germans I grew up with Sausages and cold cuts. Now that I am plant powered, I enjoy the many options I have in front of my doorstep. Literally 5 walking minutes from my studio you can find a vegan Burger joint called Lia’s Kitchen. The owners are from Israel and everything they serve is home made. The food is just delicious, my favourite is the Smoky BBQ Mushroom burger with a side of fries and a Club Mate to wash it down. You can sit outside and eyeball the crowds walking past.
You're also a family man with a busy travel schedule. How do you balance the two?
I make sure I'm available for my family when I am at home. I am grateful that my profession allows me to be flexible with my time. I get up early every morning to spend time with my daughter and I come home from my studio in time to hang out, cook, play, help with school stuff. Stella had the chance to watch me play at Fusion Festival two years ago and it helped her a lot to understand why I love what I do so much and that a big part of “Daddy’s job” is to travel and be away. We all support each other big time.
I read that your Noir release back in December 'Natural Rhythm III' featured a track you named after your daughter 'Stella'. Children are the harshest critics whatever the age, how much influence does your daughter have on your music and does she get you to change certain elements of a track?
Stella is 12 and she is a very creative child, she is constantly exploring new things and I love just being around her. Just watching or listening to her is inspiring. She is also a very sensitive child, I am proud that she has already developed healthy social skills. Hence she is hardly ever harsh. But I appreciate her honest feeback and the same goes for Caitlin. We are a creative family, music and arts run in our blood.
You have collaborated a lot with Victor Ruiz, a producer that is very well liked and followed here in Brighton. How did the two of you meet and is there another collab on the horizon?
I was on tour in Brazil in 2014 when a friend introduced us during a dinner in Sao Paulo. I remember how quiet Victor was. At that point I was not aware of his music. But that changed quickly and I fell in love with his productions. The same year Victor released his first EP on my label Electric Ballroom and in 2015 we followed it up with our first collabs release, called Apollo. Since then we have become close friends. He’s like the younger brother that I never had. Last year we recorded a “tribute” remix of Depeche Mode’s classic song “Everything Counts”. Initially we wanted to keep it just for ourselves but I knew Adam Beyer was also a DM fan so I sent it to him. He dropped the remix during his Awakenings closing set and that’s when the buzz really started. I am confident our remix will be officially released at one point, we just need to be patient and enjoy it when Victor and I drop it in our sets.
My personal music collection includes a lot of your tracks and there are a number of releases that I have been playing for years depending on the party, from Picanha on Get Physical to Electric Ballroom releases such as Freiburg, Vorfreude, Apollo, Every Little Piece, just to mention a few. Which releases do you love to dig out that still get an amazing reaction?
Wow, that’s a lot of my tracks / releases in your music collection. Thank you. As you probably know, my catalogue stretches back to the early nineties, I have a lot of music to pick from and it’s fascinating to see how the kind of Rave and Acid Techno that was popular around 1994-1998 is coming back now - but in an updated version. Lately I have been playing tracks from my first label Spielzeug Schallplatten like Adam Beyer’s “Rippin’ And Dippin’ Pt. 2” or Umek’s "Nodlocnost EP". Of my own music I dropped “Hymn/Revolution” the other day and it felt really good. But overall, I focus on my recent productions, these tracks are the highlights of my sets and people are eager for me to drop tracks like “Stella” ; “Unconfused” or my latest single “Embody”.
Are there any artists or labels that you are loving right now that we should check out?
You currently have a hot new release out on Noir Music again, which btw is superb. It's currently out as a Beatport Exclusive, tell us more about this two track EP?
EMBODY & PARADOX is me going back to my Rave and Acid Techno roots. I recorded both tracks within a week, which is always a good sign. Especially Embody representsthe kind of peak time Acid Techno that lights me up these days and that drives the crowds nuts. You will see.
We are deep into festival season and your touring schedule is hotting up. What exciting things do you have ahead of you for part 2 of 2018?
I am looking forward to returning to Australia at the beginning of August, one of my favourite countries to play and travel. Release wise this year marks the 25th anniversary of my track “When I Rock” and to celebrate this ARTS will release a special remix EP with remixes by Emmanuel and myself. I read the DJ feedbacks the other day and it made me feel very proud and happy - I mean, that’s a long time ago and when many of my respected colleagues still regard the original of “When I Rock” so highly, I must have done something right.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We're all massively excited to see you. Is there anything you'd like to add?
When I Rock Don’t Disturb Me! :)
Berlin Mixtapes Episode 025 - Out 01.07.2018 - Available Here
Thomas Schumacher - Embody/Paradox EP - Get It Here First
Label: Noir Music