Florian Meindl has been at the top of his game for over fourteen years. Known for his deep, grooving tech sound, his productions are characterised by his love of analogue, which represent his true signature sound. As a DJ, live performer, studio producer and sound designer, Florian has, over the years established an impressive producing base for himself in his Berlin-based Riverside Studio complex with an exciting hardware set up. As label owner of Flash Recordings he has been able to share his musical vision, reflect his tastes with over 150 releases including the likes of luminary names in the Techno world like Heron, Electric Rescue, Maxime Dangles and Hans Bouffmyhre.
Our resident Tech expert and new Irish editor Mick Finucan sat down recently with Florian to find out more about his Modular world, Flash and more.
Hi Florian, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us. How has 2016 been for you?
Thanks for inviting me! 2016 has been quite full of gigs actually and I played the first Hybrid DJ Sets which is me performing the Modular System plus playing vinyl and Traktor. I also played a few full live acts too! This helped me gain a lot of live experience and makes me super-flexible for gigs and I love this diversity!
Can you talk us through your journey into the techno scene and to Berlin?
My journey into proper Techno like Jeff Mills, Surgeon etc started a bit later than my first contact with DJing – it was through a DJ mix and I loved the machine like sounds – it also fitted the time very well it must have been in 1999 when I was studying mechanical engineering: the music was the soundtrack to the mechanical things I learned there, and soon I started to produce music which was a very technical thing as well with all the parameters on a synth. For me, Techno is still half music half engineering.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
I would say that it needs to be listened to on a good sound system which is able to reproduce all necessary frequencies and that it is often enjoyed together more than alone, but this depends on the track, and that it is a lot about rhythm and repetition and details and not so much about large harmony changes etc like in pop or commercial music. Most of the times a powerful rhythm is there to make your body move and the monotone repetition and small evolving changes are for your mind and if both things work well together Techno starts making sense. I think that people who are new to Techno need a club night or rave where they can experience everything I was talking about and they need to be willing to understand it. When I got into the scene there was also another thing involving, which was a feeling of unity with other people at the
I think that people who are new to Techno need a club night or rave where they can experience everything I was talking about and they need to be willing to understand it. When I got into the scene there was also another thing involving, which was a feeling of unity with other people at the raves. Techno was a common denominator for futuristic people with a certain open-minded attitude and creative energy, but this got a bit lost in the last years of commercialising everything. I still think there are enough like-minded people, they are just a bit harder to find at the moment.
Berlin is the mecca of Techno and is where you’ve been based for many years. How has the city inspired you and your label?
I was raised in Austria but what I have heard from close Berlin-born friends, seen and researched is, that Berlin has always been important to Techno and also many other creative fields because of its history around the fall of the wall: the young people in the East were desperate for music from outside their restricted area which was called the DDR. It was officially prohibited to listen to uncensored western music, but some smuggled mixtapes and records through the border so they had some music from outside and enjoyed and worshipped it. At the same time, there were also English bands in West-Berlin enjoying the cheap rents or often lived for free because many houses were empty and forgotten, so they just broke in and stayed there.
After the wall came down and the city reunited, there were a lot of parties in all kinds of industrial locations and this was the first melting pot of Techno as I understand it, not in terms of music production, because this was done at that time mainly in Detroit, but in terms of merging Techno music with a creative spirit; of putting a sound system in an impressive or odd venue and celebrating together. Some of that spirit still remains but obviously many things have changed. I personally like that it’s so easy to meet other musicians here and collaborate, and also the city is very much to my taste with all the record stores, restaurants, parks etc.
Do you think Berlin has reached, or will reach a saturation point with regard to music producers and the quality of nights out in the city?
It depends on your view. For some it reached this point a long time ago, for me, no it hasn’t. As long as there is a single good inspiring night out and enough interesting people I can meet, everything is fine! Compared to other cities or countries, we have to be very thankful what is going on in Berlin, so for me, maybe it can never reach this point. But we will see!
During your downtime, where would you recommend us to go to eat or to visit when in Berlin?
There are too many good and interesting restaurants really! The best thing is to walk around the city for a whole day and discover it for yourself – that’s the best recommendation I can give you and will make you probably most satisfied!
Something which has bothered us over the years is people claiming the something is Techno only on the basis that algorithms in digital music stores decide it is. What are your thoughts when you look at digital retailer Techno charts these days?
The problem is that Techno is something different for each generation. For me, Techno is Jeff Mills and early Tresor releases etc, but for Juan Atkins it was more sort of Electro probably, and Kraftwerk influenced. At the moment, fast Deep House is called Techno on Beatport, and to be honest, now we are at a point where I absolutely do not agree with 90% of the Beatport’s top 100 Techno releases. In my opinion, this is fast Deep House and Tech House, so I don’t take it seriously. I hope that the kids take some history lessons before they speak about Techno…
In the studio, we understand you’re very much a hardware producer. What are your go-to pieces of modular equipment that are critical in the creation process for you?
At the moment I produce with a lot of hardware, yes, but that wasn’t like this all the times I started entirely on the computer and at the moment it’s just a kind of peak with the hardware for me because it’s the most exciting thing at the moment but soon I will combine hardware and software more and more again I’m sure! I just wanted to go away from the mouse and digital sound creation for a while.
In the Eurorack Modular world, it’s really about how you combine all modules, simple cheap ones or very complex or expensive ones – but I want to highlight the importance of analogue filters and VCAs or mixers which can saturate because they add this saturation flavour you cannot get from software.
Can you tell us more about your excellent Flash 151 EP?
Yeah it was created entirely on the modular system and I recorded depending on the song only 1 stereo master channel or 2 stereo channels – so it was pretty much mixed on the fly and then only cut a bit in Cubase because I tend to record 15min. takes. A disadvantage I want to improve in the future is that it is a bit too much in mono. I tended to mix most of the things to the middle of the stereo field because I was focussing on the sound-shaping and performance too much.
Sometimes this is even a good thing though because some clubs are in Mono and stereo signals will just get reduced to mono which often makes hi-hats almost disappear or if you are not standing in the middle of the club where the stereo field also should have its middle then you are hearing only the things loud which are mixed loud at the channel where you are standing and other things appear in the other corner of the club too quiet. But still, I will widen my stereo field a bit more again in the future I promise!
Modular systems are an expensive way to go about producing. How would you convince a purely Software based artist to switch?
I think one has to get to the idea her or himself but I would mention that the sound is more organic because of the small errors in analog systems like timing and voltage errors which lead to interesting grooves and sounds but also the analog saturation which is just a little bit better in an analog circuit and also that the workflow is different and maybe leads to other desired results which you would not come to via software.
Talk us through your collaboration process in the studio. How does it compare to working alone?
I was collaborating ever since and it’s a very nice way to gain experience and exchange ideas and just have a great time. I also enjoy working alone because then I can focus much more on exactly my sound but I would recommend other artists to collaborate every now and then!
My latest collaboration has even resulted in a new project called TreVision LIVE where I jam on my modular system along with Sierra Sam and Pascal Hetzel which are good friends from Berlin. We sometimes meet in my studio and do jam sessions which we record and put online and when we have gigs (2 so far in Berlin IPSE and Liege) we don’t prepare, we only speak roughly about what we could do and then we let it happen and the 2 gigs went very well and even lead to some banging Electroish moments as well as some Detroit influenced parts and classic rough 909 Techno takes!
Well Florian, it’s been really interesting. We wish you every success in the future. Thanks for chatting.
My pleasure Mick, its was great to meet you.
Video Credits: V/Plasm