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Actualites Electroniques

You will find in this category each week, an interview or a biograhpy of a Dj or artist which is breaking the news. All styles are on the “menu” of this category: minimal, house, electro, techno or even trance in some cases.

The topic will be supplemented by other Djs following the latest electronic music news.

Dj Hell - Interview

Helmut Josef Geier, professionally known as DJ Hell (born September 6, 1962 in Altenmarkt an der Alz) is a German house-techno DJ. He is the label boss of International DeeJay Gigolo Records and has been responsible for many of the big records to come out of the electroclash that emerged in Berlin in the mid-nineties. He is seen as the musical initiator of the 80's revival movement later known as electroclash popularizing the music from his hometown Munich from the mid to late 90's.Today, we have the chance to offer you an exclusive interview with this German producer. It followed notably the interviews of other German producers like Thomas Gold, Extrawelt, M.A.N.D.Y., Thomas Schumacher, Butch or Solee.

"Hello DJ Hell,

It’s a real honor to interview you, as you are one of the popes of the electronic music, and you had been a reference for so many DJs, including me. So first of all, I really wanted to thank you for answering our questions.

Some days ago you compiled and mixed the fifth opus of the series "Coming Home". After Tim "Love" Lee, Nouvelle Vague, Nightmares On Wax and Boozoo Bajou, you also returned home, offering a very personal mix that presents the songs that influenced you the most as an artist and producer, and even more, they are your favorite German artists. Could you please give us more information about this project? How it was born?
> It’s more or less the same way when a DJ/producer/label manager is doing a compilation. Somebody got an idea or vision for a new project and is searching for people fitting in this project. I was asked by the label to do a mix called “Coming Home“. When I do compilation the first action is always to make my own concept that could fit in this series and of course this mix should be the best one ever made for this company. With “coming home”, it was a challenge because I had no idea what to do and when I knew it I thought people will not dig it because it’s mostly not electronic music. So I said to myself if you gonna like the idea some other people will follow. So I choose all these German singers, songwriters, bands and musicians that helped me to learn more about good music, in this case based on German music with German lyrics.

More precisely, what will be your next release?
> I have important releases coming up before the summer. There will be a remix album of Teufelswerk featuring 27 remixes. It will be released in a vinyl box and digital. And then, the new gigolo label compilation featuring lots of new gigolo talents.

If you look back to 2010, what can you say about it? What is your vision of the couple past months?
> I had some highlights and great parties in 2010 when Sonar in Barcelona asked me to open the show of Roxy music and play the last set of the festival. House music was dominating the clubs and the electronic music world. Most of the innovation went into this genre and I was happy to go back to my roots. As a DJ I play house since 25 years already so it was a great moment for me to go back in these days and also play all this new house sound of Berlin.
On the label side, we had some great releases and another highlight was the Ire festival in Japan/Tokyo.
So for the first 3 months of the year 2011 I took a long break, to finish new ideas and work on lots of future projects, including a book called “How to become a number one DJ”.

When I hear your name, one of the first tracks that came to my mind is “Listen to the hiss” remixed by Tiefschwarz, but there is also the track that you’ve done some years ago with P. Diddy “The DJ”. Is there a specific story behind this track, notably remixed by Radio Slave?
> Puffy liked what I was doing. We also did some parties in Miami and when he needs something, he calls me up. I learned a lot of this great motivator and watching the masters always helps in your own life. I can only report great times when I was with Puff and he knows when he needs me I will be there.

I think I first hear your name in 1998 when you released “Warm Leatherette” with Chicks On Speed. Do you remember that time? Did you miss it?
> It was a great time, the big time for Gigolo records and a new hype called “electroclash“. I named it like this because this new wave of music with all this new artists all around the world has to be labeled the right way. So I said we name it “electroclash”. The techno scene at that time was not very exciting and lots of producers followed the same road or most of the DJs played the same loops or forgot to put some basslines into their traxx. It was all very formulated and not cutting edge anymore.
So it was time for bringing back the vocals, the melodies, the song structure and a touch of new music wave mixed with electrofunk beats to turn the world upside down. I loved that period and said years after: we had the wildest and best parties all around the world. Suddenly there was no limit anymore.

After you give us these infos about your music news we would like to go back to your musical roots. Could you briefly tell us how did you become DJ and producer?
> Music to me was always a higher form of communication. And music is the only art-form that brings you in different emotional situations. Music to my understanding was always something spiritual and fascinating. To be a DJ and tour is the greatest action into my life.

Why did you choose a nickname as DJ Hell? Is it due to a bad side of your personality?
> Exactly the opposite. It’s the good side of me. Hell means light or brightness in German.

Moreover, you are also the founder and manager of one of the biggest German imprint: Gigolo Records that you created in 1996. How did this adventure begin? Why did you create your own imprint?
> I was not happy with the labels I worked for. So I said I wanna go my way and do it the way I think it is right.  So I am still releasing music I love and push artists I believe in, and try to motivate people to do what I love.

In 1992, your haunting debut single, "My Definition of House Music" became a dancefloor hymn, selling 50,000 copies. Three years later, you recorded a live BBC John Peel Session in Munich, which came out as the "Original Street Techno" EP. Are you nostalgic of this period, or are you someone who always moves forward?
> I am proud of what I did in the past. I went where no men has gone before. So to me it’s important to come up with a new vision and new ideas. I don’t wanna promote myself for the rest of my life or do the same thing, follow a successful formula or just play my own music as a DJ.

I also got some awards and nominations but I see this only as a respect to my work and right now in the electronic techno/house world, it feels like it needs a big change. Most of the parties are not about the music anymore and lots of producers just follows trends and everybody using the same plugins. It’s like when DJ Westbam come up with a great slogan called “no more fucking rock n roll”. So right now people are tired of DJs playing only unreleased material or new unheard mixes or their own never heard productions or newest not released material!

On the other hand, there is so much talent out in this world like never before. Lots of DJs don’t mix anymore because it’s all automatic and gives the DJs new freedom for doing something. We should be more careful about the whole set up and how we present this music in the future.

If you had the chance to come back to the past, is there anything you would like to change and make it different?
> No I am very happy with what happened.

At the beginning, did your family understand what you did for a living? And now are they proud of what you achieved along the years?
> I hope so.

Concerning the electronic music scene in France, you know some part of it, as you produced some years ago the album “First” from Miss Kittin and The Hacker and I think Vitalic also released some tracks under your imprint. What do you think about the French electronic music scene? Are there any artists that you personally know or particularly love his work?
> The French scene was always very special and unique. I love Daft Punk and the way they are doing their own thing. Most of the early wave of French techno artist still doing the same music and follow their old formula, but that is an issue we have also in Germany. Once you found your own sound, you will stick with it for the rest of your life.
I think it’s more interesting to talk about all this new French labels, like Ed Banger or Kitsune. When Gigolo will open the door for this new generation, I would be more than happy. They followed the way of releasing material whatever genre is possible.

More globally, what is your vision about the evolution of the electronic music? You’ve seen so much, from the little underground club in Detroit to the gigantic Loveparade in Berlin. If there were 3 or 4 things that people must know about the evolution of electronic music, what are they? I know it’s a very large question, but if you could sum-up, it would be perfect.
> I have my own ideas and my own vision and I think the new generation will come up with new ideas and new concepts and it already happened. I would be more than happy if there would be again more quality control about what’s gonna be released every second.  There are too much tracks into the World Wide Web, available for everybody. Just release the best of what comes out of your laptop every day.
If we don’t take care of the music we release, it will be not important anymore in a very short time, that means music will lost his power and magic.

Besides music, what are your hobbies?
> Cars, girls, fashion and parties


DJ Hell, before we conclude this interview we have a few more questions to ask. Sometimes one word is enough!

The track you advice us to listen to in your discography? 
> U can dance

An artist you would like to work with one day?
> David Bowie

3 words to define your music?
> The Gigolo style

One word about France
> Zidane

Best club in Germany?
> Planet and E Werk, Berlin in the 90s

Are you using vinyl or mp3 for your mix?
> Vinyl, mp3, wav, CDR

The software you use to produce?
> Logic

One privilege, being DJ, gives you access to?
> Lufthansa-hon circle lounge

Best places where you played?
> Tokyo, Berlin, New-York, Rio

Your favorite track these days?
> Gilla - Der strom der zeit (DJ Hell club mix)

Some words about the website I manage and where the interview will be published: Actualités Electroniques?
> Great website. Lots of info and great interviews.

DJ Hell, thank you very, very much for the time you devoted to Actualités Electroniques and particularly for this full and exclusive interview. We will wait for sure for your next productions and I hope to see you soon in France or abroad. A bientôt!
> Thanx. Hell.”

Dj Aroy


Written by Dj Aroy
Article en Francais       
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