Born in the North of Germany, Martin Kleinert was inspired by electronic rhythms from an early age and bought his first turntables while still at school. With his creativity given an outlet in which to grow, soon Martin was playing in clubs and making the kind of music he always wanted to make. With releases now on Moonport, Moonplay , Gastspiel and New Port among others, and gigs all over Germany including a stunning 5 hour set at Sisyphos in Hammerhalle the future is very bright.
Hi Martin, thanks for finding the time to chat with us at Decoded. How are you today?
I am doing very well and quite busy in the studio as I am working on a new EP which still should be released this year.
So let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about those first years when dance music inspired you, who were your musical heroes and what was it about the music that hooked you in?
My first contact with electronic music was a CD from the year 1996 – Members of Mayday – from there on I have fully devoted myself to electronic dance music. In the beginning, there were CD’s and compilations and countless live recordings and DJ-sets which have influenced my musical mind. At the end of the 90’s, I had a lot of vinyl but without the right turntables. I remember my first vinyl very well, it has a bright yellow cover: Nils von Gogh “Pulverturm”. Haha, well it was definitely my trance phase!
With my very first earned money I bought a Technics MK II. In combination with the old turntable of my grandpa and a disused 2 channel mixer, I did my first home gigs. It didn’t take a long time before I bought my second Technics MK II. If one were to think their DJ career could start from now on, not even close. I was never satisfied with my mixing skills that’s why I decided to mix for myself at home or just in front of some of my friends. It took years until I had my debut in a club. I think it was sometime in 2005. From then on I tried to establish myself as a techno DJ in the music scene of Rostock.
My heroes were Mauro Picotto and the Italian label BXR. What Picotto was for me at the end of the 90s and early 2000s, later became the duo Extrawelt from around 2006. They have probably shaped my musical understanding most strongly. For me, Extrawelt were a musical revolution. A never heard sound which is still unique today. It’s a combination of Goa and techno elements as well as melodies and harmonic surfaces. That fascinated me and influenced my thinking of making music.
What was the music scene like in the North of Germany? Are there any promoters or clubs we should come check out?
I grew up in a small town. Techno and electro were only celebrated by small groups, but therefore intensively. I would always recommend having a visit to the small town at the Baltic Sea because it’s definitely worth it. Indeed the nightlife is quite limited. Most of the clubs where I’ve been played doesn’t exist anymore. But on the other hand, it´s a place of inspiration and new ideas.
Today, there are innovative projects such as ukw-rostock.de. I call it the small Berghain since it has an incredible flair. Last year I played there and I am in love with this project. Unfortunately, the owners have to solve many problems but if they want it to succeed as a new pilgrimage of techno. I really hope so. Next to the music I recommend you a visit to the North of Germany anyway as there is a great landscape and many things to discover.
You’re now based in Berlin – the techno capital of Europe. Has being surrounded by fellow creatives been helpful to building your career and is there a pressure on you now to succeed?
Creativity never comes from pressure, it can only come from a free spirit. It is nice to live in this city and it gives so endless inspiration that never seems to run out. Coming to Berlin definitely gave the career backwind. I must confess that I have met people only in Berlin who encourage me to present my music to the public.
I had always the opinion that the world doesn’t need one more techno DJ and producer. But nowadays it was the right choice and there is so much fun. Nothing is better than playing your own music in a club and to feel the beautiful moment when you recognise that the people love it. But I think there are many more cities in Europe where has been growing up a nice music scene. For me, it’s definitely on the plan to discover new cities and maybe live there for a while.
If you were our tour guide, where would you show us if we had only 24 hours in the city?
I would take you directly to Sisyphos and pick you up again after 24 hours! Haha, just kidding! It is incredibly important to experience Berlin from its complete cultural diversity. There are a lot of sights and a strong history that is still to be seen in Berlin and should be seen because it shows what can go wrong in the world. The district Friedrichshain with his beautiful parks and the easy way to live is worth seeing.
At every corner, there is life is pulsating and you can discover many lovely small stores with creative things. It´s a place where you can take a break from everyday life. A boat trip shows Berlin from the water side. A completely different view of the things eg. on the “Eastside”. If you feel hungry, you should go to the Rembrandt Burger and taste some of their delicious burgers! In the evening I would send you for a few beers in the club of the visionaries and then you really need to go to Sisyphos.
As I’ve mentioned in the intro, you’ve already had some success in your DJ career with a stunning 5 hour set at Sisyphos, a night you’ve played quite often. Can you tell us about how your relationship with the promoter has developed over the years?
The Sisyphos has become home to me and the Hammerhalle is my living room. Next to my regular gigs I am always happy to be there as a guest as well. During the years Sisyphos became even more beautiful especially the outdoor area where you can relax in the sun and let time lapse away. But of course, it´s nothing in comparison with my gigs in the Hammerhalle. The feeling to pull up the fader here is indescribable and every time a new flash for me. Over the years, friendships with the Sisyphos have been cemented and life can no longer be imagined without them. I am very thankful for that!
The older DJs among our readership will appreciate the effort a longer set demands of a DJ, but for everyone else could you talk us through the preparation you took and your emotions and feelings during the set?
For me, a DJ set has to be at least 3 hours to grab the audience. Only in this way can one unfold properly, which is never possible in a single hour. Mostly promoters book you for two hours. That’s pretty tight. In one hour you don’t experience anything about the DJ. You need at least half an hour to set the audience on your own sound. Every audience is different and every club has a different audience. So the right attitude to the audience is a must for me.
There are many DJ’s who don’t care about it and don’t pay attention to the audience. This is what I don´t like. For me, it´s important that the audience resonates to your acting. I love to drive the people with strong techno to provide them with a melodic and emotional break afterwards. I am basically totally in it with every single track. This connects me with the audience.
As a producer, you’ve now had a few big EPs. Talk us through your workflow when you make a track. Do you always start on drums and bass for instance?
Yes indeed, that was the case for a very long time. Now it has changed a little bit and I start off with synths. With time I have found my drums and I don”t change them radically again and again. But at the beginning, the drums were the part where I paid most of my attention. Today I place great emphasis on the rhythm elements. But as I said I begin with the theme, the really striking point in a track.
Around the synths I love to try new things and devices. The development of the hardware and plugins is quite fast and there are so many beautiful new products to discover. But that also costs a lot of time. Basically, I build a small loop where my idea gets complete. Then I am going into the Sequencer and build up the length. After the rough framework begins the longest part: Fine tuning and mixing. This takes time even if it doesn’t change so much of the track. Each track of me is going to be tested in the club before I’ll release it. If I am not satisfied it might be that the track wastes away on my hard disk and won´t be published.
Where do you find inspiration for new material?
All over the place. I get inspiration on so many occasions, but unfortunately, I am short of time to implement. It has already happened that I’ve recorded some noises with my iPhone while I was somewhere on the road. My first track on Moonplay “Fly with Me” contains airport noises from Doha for example. During my travels in Thailand, I worked on this track and I just pushed the record button of my iPhone.
I also like to use metallic noise. The ideas for that often come during my daily life. My daughter has a lot of interesting toys with a stunning sound. At the moment I use some of the toys for my new EP. But you have to say that there are a lot of really good sound packages with great productions, especially from the film sector. The only thing for me which is hard to find are vocal elements.
Are we right in thinking New Port is your own label? Can you tell us about the vision for the label and the other artists on the roster?
Yes it is. When I founded New Port in 2014 I wanted to give my own productions an unrestricted platform. I never intended to acquire artists. Through the label I tell about a part of my origin and my goal is to never jump through any kind of hoops. I do not buy remixes or anything like that for money. When I take somebody in, he has to fit not only from his productions but also as a human being. This is much more important to me than anything else. A good example for this is Copilco. He does not necessarily constantly produce straight techno.
He mixes deep techno and electronica in a very interesting way. He is still a very fine and down-to-earth guy, who is definitely going to find his place in the music world. In my opinion, a great talent. Still very fresh are two friends of mine who recently joined the label with their project Monova. The two are making progress at a decent pace and with their newly released EP “Everything” they are showing what they are made of. Both tracks are also included in your podcast.
Have you got any new material due for release this year?
In addition to the one or the other remix, I have published the Octopus EP on New Port this year. There will be a release on New Port and a release on a compilation of my agency EUAM by the end of the year. My New Port release is in the final phase and I am really looking forward to the release. After the quiet dark Octopus EP, it will be a production with more melodic parts. I am excited to see if my fans gonna like it. The first test in the clubs sounds promising. I find it very important that there is a change in the production from time to time. It shouldn´t always be the same.
Well, it’s been amazing to meet you, Martin. We wish you the best of luck for the future. In closing is there anything you wanted to add?
Actually no. I just want to say thank you for your questions and I hope that you like my set. See you!