For someone who has just returned from the bowels of Berghain, Heiko Laux is surprisingly chipper. Over Skype, the Berlin-based producer and Kanzleramt label founder apologizes for his hangover as he tells me about his weekend at the world's most infamous techno temple. Berghain is like Cheers to Berlin's extensive DJ community—a place where Laux regularly runs into his colleagues and friends—but with slightly more anal fisting than the average neighborhood bar.
Berghain's long shadow looms over Laux's most recent album, Fernweh—a German word that means the opposite of home sick. He says there is no corresponding word in English, although "wanderlust" might come closest.
Fernweh exemplified Laux's disposition towards deep, hypnotic dub techno—the kind that doesn't bark for your attention, but rather wraps around you slowly, pulling you almost unconsciously into its groove.
"There are a lot of original old-school vibes, like how you would do techno from the 90s," Laux says about the album. "Nowadays techno is more designed. I decided I wanted to use these old sounds again—sounds that I felt I could express myself in, like the Juno 106 plug-in, that made me feel at home when I was playing them."
Laux admits that he "went a little too artsy" with the album, with several tracks featuring so many layers and rhythm sections that they're incredibly difficult to DJ with. So he decided to make a simpler, more playable mix that you can listen to above, which features a stripped-down remix of the album's title track.
Laux says he was careful not to overthink this mix—lest it become too souless and mechanical. He suggests that there is a deep paradox at the core of creating a good mix—the kind that exists as a living entity, not just a random clusterfuck of tracks.
"Mixes are a very fragile construct. If you overdo it and play too nice, the whole thing falls apart. It gets too perfect. I had to stop and leave it. It's somehow got to be human, and it takes control to keep it that way." The paradox is therefore that perfection lies in imperfection, and the real test is letting go.
This mix took him over three weeks to finish. "In order to not fuck this up, I had to take breaks, dig through the library and find new songs. This kept me from making too quick turns."
He hopes that listeners "have a bit of a brain wipe" before they listen to the mix—and ends our conversation with a promise: "Just give it a moment, and the drift will pull you away."
Opus-4 The Art Of Noise
Wanna Fight Cliff Martinez
Ramayana Chant J&L
The Edge Yan Cook
Unknown Depth Cleric
Rowing Heiko Laux
In Pure Form 14 Developer
Bleak Heiko Laux & Alexander Lukat
Spitting Electricity Mike Parker
X02 Yan Cook
Fernweh (Special Version) Heiko Laux
Can I Sit Next To You Cliff Martinez
Michelle Looq is THUMP's Features Editor - @MichelleLhooq