Marc Poppcke originates from a small town called Hildesheim which is located in central Germany. Growing up in the mid-90s his major musical influences were often heard being played on the German radio show “HR 3 Clubnight”. In 2000 Marc decided to try his hand at DJing and he soon began getting regular bookings before his skills on the decks ensured a residency slot at Hanover’s electronic music venue, “H.de.M” where he was the resident DJ from 2001 to 2003. In 2005 Marc moved from Hanover to Berlin where he studied at the School of Audio Engineering (SAE). He graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts before he went on to work alongside Daniel Solar which was the beginning of the Solar & Poppcke project which saw releases on labels such as “Diynamic”, “Plastic City” and “Meerestief” and put Marc’s name on the production map.
Marc is of course now a solo artist and his mix of deep and progressive sounds has seen him release tracks on label such as Sound Avenue, Darkroom Dubs, Lowbit Records, Sudbeat, Sasha’s Last Night On Earth and of course, Marc’s own record label, Crossfrontier Audio. We caught up with Marc shortly after he released the incredible Ups & Downs EP on his label to discuss his background, Berlin, and what he has planned for 2014.
Hi Marc, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us. What have you been up to over the past week?
I’m just quite busy with finishing some remixes and original tracks. I haven’t been able to work on my own music for some weeks now because of my Argentina tour end of november, playing quite a lot of gigs in december and also taking a little time out and spending some time with the family during christmas. But now it’s time to get back to work and keep things pushing forward again.
You were born and raised in Germany and I have read that you were heavily influenced by radio in your early years. Who were the artists that influenced you in your early years?
Yes, it’s true, growing up in the mid-90s, my major music influence was a German radio show be called ‘HR 3 Clubnight’. Every saturday evening different well known DJ’s played their and I recorded them all with my tape deck. The DJ who impressed me most at this time was Sven Väth. In the end he’s the reason why I’m started to keep myself busy with electronic music. Actually the DJ who have had the biggest influence in my career is a DJ be called Andi de Luxe. When I started to play in clubs, he was the local hero of my home town. His understanding of music and his way of playing was an influential model for me and I learned a lot from him. To this day, he is one of the best DJs I have ever heard. You have to know that I have been first a dj and just started to produce my own music a few years later. So artists who were DJs first of all had a much bigger influence on me than any producers. Still today I’m actually feeling myself more as a DJ than a producer.
You are now based in Berlin and some people would argue that Berlin is more well known for its techno sound rather than deep or progressive house. Can you tell us a little about the scene in Berlin and where you currently play your sound?
For me it doesn’t feel like Berlin is techno influenced first of all. I think it’s the city with the biggest electronic music scene in the world and there’s enough space for all kind of different styles. So many artists moved to Berlin within the last years and many different labels are based here as well representing the whole range of electronic music.. You can choose between tons of clubs, events or partys every weekend or actually even every day. This city simply never sleeps!!! Of course some clubs like Berghain are maybe more well known for its techno sound. But on the other hand you also can find clubs like Watergate which is much more House influenced. Then there are even clubs like Sisyphos which has four different floors, so you’re able to find all kind of styles in just one club. Sisyphos is also a club where I’m playing regularly gigs beside Ritter Butzke where we holding our regular Crossfrontier Audio label nights.
Your sound is often described as deep house on many well known music websites. How would you describe your sound at present?
Actually I’m not caring too much about these genre tags. I play and produce four to the floor ‘Electronic Club Music’. This is how I’m labelling my own music on pages like Soundcloud for example. But please don’t mix ECM with EDM. The C respectively D makes a big difference musical-wise, hahaha.
Of course it’s quite obvious that I like melodic stuff but especially in my DJ sets I’m always trying to cover a brighter range of different music. It would be simply too boring for me to play or produce just one style. And I even think for your development as an artist it’s really important and necessary to keep open-minded for different styles and not getting stuck into a certain genre.
You used to hold a residency at “H.de.M” in Hanover. Can you tell us a little about your time as resident and which well known guests graced the decks?
Being a resident at this club was an important chapter for my education as a DJ . It was the first club where I had the chance to play regularly gigs. Big names from the house & techno scene were playing there nearly every weekend like Ricardo Villalobos, M.A.N.D.Y., Anja Schneider, Tobi Neumann, Phonique or Terry Lee Brown Jr. just to name a few. At this time (around 2001 – 2003) I learned much about how to play a proper warm-up set for the main acts or how to keep the people on the dancefloor at the end of the night.
What made you decided to get into music? Did you have a career before music?
When I got infected with the electronic music virus it actually was clear from the beginning that I didn’t want just to consume this music, but really wanted to be an active part of this scene too. Not too long later I bought turntables and a mixer, started to buy records and created my first DJ mixes. Over the years I tried several times to go ‘normal’ way of life. I started to study business management and a few years later electrical engineering but always quit it again after quite a short time as I was feeling that I actually just wanted to do music. That’s why I finally decided to move to Berlin in 2005 to study audio engineering at the SAE and later ‘ Sound Studies’ at the University of Arts which I finished with a Master of Arts in 2011. Since this day I’m just living from being a DJ, producer & label owner and although it’s hard sometimes to earn enough money with it, I know that it was the right decision to go this way.
You recently released the Ups & Downs EP on your own label, Crossfrontier Audio. I personally feel that the release is superb and especially enjoyed the tracks “This Is Just The Beginning” and “Cowbell Conversation”. How do you approach writing a new track? Do you have a specific process?
Actually the process is always different. Sometimes I’m starting to create a groove or a bassline, another time I’m simply jaming around with a synthie until I find an idea which I think is worth to go on with it. From time to time I’m checking new plug-ins, may it a new synthesiser or effect, as they can be a great source for new inspirations. Also listening and analysing the music of other producers can be quite helpful to get new ideas for your own music. When deciding to do a whole EP like my latest ‘Ups & Downs EP’ I’m always trying to produce a brighter range of tracks, from more dancefloor oriented stuff to more dreamy melancholic tracks.
I know this can be a difficult question for producers but is there a track of yours that you enjoyed producing more than any others, or has any one track had a specific emotional attachment to you?
‘This Is Just The Beginning’ from my latest EP is one of these special tracks and for me actually the best track I made for quite a long time. When I started the track I just knew that I wanted to do something with strings and after just a few minutes I already had a first idea which I liked. From this point on it was a constant flow from the beginning till the end as I always knew which way I wanted to go with it and how I could reach the goal. At the end writing this track just cost me around two days of work. To be honest this doesn’t happen to me quite often. But even more often I’m coming to a point in the production process where I don’t know how to go on with a track and than it’s really getting hard work to find the right sounds and finishing it. With „This Is Just The Beginning“ it was completely different and I’m still really happy with the result.
In early 2013 you released the “Inner Conflict EP” on Sasha’s Last Night On Earth label. How did this come about and what were your thoughts when asked to release an EP on Sasha’s label?
There’s actually no big secret behind how that came along. I just sent them some unreleased tracks and it seems that they fortunately liked them. Of course it’s great to working together with such a great label and it’s incredible to see how the attention on your name is rising immediately when you just announce a release on such a big name label.
As well as your own productions you have also remixed many tracks. What is the process you go through when asked to remix a track?
The most important thing when deciding to remixing a track is that the original track already contains a few interesting sounds I would like to keep going on working with them. From the beginning I always have a rough idea in mind where I want to go with the remix based on the sounds of the original track. Than it’s actually the same production process like working on a new original track. I have to say that for me it’s much easier to do a remix than creating a complete new orignal track from scratch. That’s the reason why I did quite a lot of remixes within the last years.
If you could have anyone remix your track who would you ask and why?
At the moment I’m so in love with the music of Mind Against. Their remixes for Green Velvet & Riva Starr or Avatism are simply amazing and I’m playing them in all of my sets. They are melodic on one side without losing sight of the dancefloor on the other. The Synthesiser sounds in their tracks are so radical which makes them always surprising and full of suspenses. Another producer I admire a lot right now especially for his remixes is Baikal. All remixes he did in 2013 for Ian Pooley, M.A.N.D.Y, Hunter/Game and especially his last one for Thor on Connaisseur Recordings are all simply masterpieces. His love for small detailed sounds and the flow he’s able to create with them making his tracks always quite unique and distinctive. For me simply perfect melodic electronic music at its best.
Can you describe to us your current studio setup and some of your favourite gadgets?
I’m producing my tracks with Ableton Live like a lot of other producers too. For electronic music I think it’s really the best sequenzer program and especially in combination with their new push controller a creative tool with a lot of innovations. One of my professors at the University was Robert Henke (Monolake) who is one of the originators of Ableton Live. To see him working with the program simply blew away my mind. I actually started to produce my tracks with Cubase. But when I’ve seen all the new possibilities Ableton Live brings to you, I have also decided to work with it. Besides Ableton I’m using a lot of plug-ins of course. Right now I’m especially in love with the. Omnisphere from Spectrasonics as you’re able to create all kind of sounds with it. I’m actually using it in all of my productions at the moment. I have to say that I’m not such a big studio nerd like other producers. For me it’s more important to be able to create my ideas quite fast when I have something in mind. That’s also the reason why I’m not using any hardware anymore. I’m totally happy with the possibilities my software based studio setup offers me.
What plans do you have for your label in 2014? Any exciting releases planned you can tell us about?
At the moment I’m so excited about how things are developing with the label and I’m pretty sure that 2014 will get the best year for Crossfrontier Audio so far. We have some amazing eps from MUUI, Stefan Mint & Yoram in the pipeline for the upcoming months and I really can’t wait to release them as all of them are simply great. It’s such a pleasure to work together with such talented guys. Check the exclusive mix I did for „This Is Progressive“ where you already can hear some of the upcoming tracks on Crossfrontier Audio.
What was your favourite party you played in 2013 and why?
My gig at B018 in Beirut last june was definitely one of the highlights. Playing in front of such a great and open-minded crowd for around 6 hours made it an unforgettable night. I really hope to have the chance to come back to Beirut again this year. After my opinion they have one of the best and vital electronic music scenes there.
Another highlight was my gig in Nouméa, New Caledonia. The party itself was on a small paradise island somewhere in the pacific ocean. For sure the most exotic place I’ve ever played a dj gig at. I had to travel around 25 hours to get there and another 25 hours to get back home again for playing a 2 hours dj-set finally. But all the travel stress was definitely worth it.
Are there any new up and coming DJs/producers that you would recommend to our readers?
Like already mentioned above I’m really in love with the music of Mind Against and Baikal at the moment. Beside these two names I would recommend everyone to check out the music of Matthias Meyer, Dousk or Aidan Lavelle as they did some amazing stuff recently. By the way I’m really happy to have Aidan Lavelle on board for a remix for the upcoming MUUI EP on Crossfrontier Audio.
Finally is there anything you can tell us about that you have planned for 2014?
You know, my head is actually always full of ideas but to be honest I don’t want to speak too much about them right now because I know myself, I’ve always some things in mind and at the end everything is becoming different. I’m simply trying to let things flow and see what comes out at the end.
Of course I’ll keep on working on my career as a producer and DJ as well as pushing the Crossfrontier Audio brand furthermore.
Just released is a remix for the Berlin based label Dantze and an original track is coming quite soon on the upcoming ‘Full Body Workout Vol. 12’ Compilation on Get Physical Music. Than I’m just working on a remix for MUUI’s upcoming EP on Crossfrontier Audio as well as finishing a new track for the first release of my friends from Golden Wings Music.
01 Mono & Joel – Hope feat. Thomas Scholz (Rampue Remix) – Der Turnbeutel
02 Blamma! Blamma! – Zsa Zsa feat. Kristina Train (Eelke Kleijn’s After The After Remix) – Eskimo Recordings
03 Yoram – Mondegreen – Crossfrontier Audio
04 Stefan Mint – Conventional Wisdom – Crossfrontier Audio
05 Maurice Aymard & Gui Boratto – Home (Coyu Edit) – Suara
06 Sebastien Leger – Tinkle – 1605 Music Therapy
07 Stelious Vassiloudis & Darren Murray – I Burn Like (Guy J Remix) – Bedrock Records
08 Francesco Assenza – Chocolate – Highgrade Records
09 MUUI – Another Day – Crossfrontier Audio
10 Marc Poppcke – Extroverted – Get Physical Music
11 MUUI – Past Is Practice – Crossfrontier Audio
12 Gregor Tresher – Nightcolors (Nuno Dos Santos Remix) – Break New Soil Recordings