When Markus met Timo, a candid talk on BMC18, progressive house, Brighton and everything inbetween.

So here we are; another year another Brighton Music Conference. BMC 2018 has truly arrived in style, each year building on the previous. Whilst other music conferences around the world may still hold bigger recognition, the BMC is the UK’s own exclusive industry music festival attracting artists, organisations, agencies and various music bods from across the world. From Pioneer, DJ Mag, Beatport to Korg, Native Instruments, Ableton, Funktion One, Soundcloud and Toolroom plus many more, the music industry is well and truly represented in Brighton for a two day conference with parties stretched across the eclectic city from Wednesday through to Saturday.

As part of our support for BMC, we invited Berlin Brighton head honcho Markus Saarländer to sit down and have a candid chat to artist Timo Garcia ahead this Friday’s event with Alex Niggemann.

[Markus] As a promoter of my own club night Berlin-Brighton, which has been bringing Berlin clubs, DJs and labels to the UK for nearly 4 years now, this our second year of teaming up with Decoded Magazine and the BMC as an official event partner.

Last year Decoded Magazine interviewed me post BMC at a point where the DJing and the nights were gathering serious momentum, a very exciting time which saw us put on events with some top names and labels and also saw some incredible DJ Bookings for the rest of 2017 and beginning of 2018.

As it is nearly time to loose at our next BMC event, we thought it was only fitting to catch up again and see how the last year has progressed since we started working together but equally, to make it a bit more special, we have called in on a legendary DJ and Producer with two strong artists aliases that has been releasing massive records for two decades on big labels across the world from Get Physical, Yoshitoshi, Nervous, Madtech, Kittball, Noir, Baroque, Elrow, Exploited Great Stuff. Selador, Toolroom, Skint and many many more! As a two-way question and answers sessions I will be interviewing the legend that is Timo Garcia AKA Nolan and in turn he will do the same with me. Let’s do this.

[Markus] Hi Timo, nice to see you and I must say this year’s BMC is looking rather tasty isn’t it?

It is indeed, along with Pride it’s one of the main highlights of living in Brighton these days ;)

What are you looking forward to the most?

Playing after Alex Niggemann on Friday night for you of course! But other than that the conference itself has so many interesting panels and talks including a Q&A with Irvine Welsh which should be fascinating.

This year you are speaking on a panel again. Despite your nerves, I bet this one is going to be a key talk most aspiring producers want to be at. What is the talk about and who is on the panel with you?

The panel is about A&R which is still something of a dark art as far as I’m concerned since there are labels I would love to sign to but still haven’t managed to penetrate despite making what I believe is suitable music for them! On the panel I have invited Luke Solomon who does A&R for Defected and Classic Music Company, Simon Birkumshaw who runs Kerri Chandler’s MadTech and MadHouse labels as well as Champion Records and Tracey Fox from Ultra as well as DJ Producer and label owner Just Her. So it should be a fascinating chat for sure.

Your catalogue of releases is truly impressive, we mentioned just a fraction of them above. What was your first release and following on from that, which record do you feel got you in front of the right peops and gave you that break?

Ah thanks mate.. well I have been hammering away at it for a long time now and took 6 years of learning how to produce before i finally felt ready to release anything back in 2005! Although I couldn’t find any labels to sign my early works so ended up setting up Berwick Street Records to release them all on. The 1st featured Alex Mills on vocals who later wrote & sang Something Special for Miguel Campbell and the 2nd release was Essential New Tune on Pete Tong’s Radio 1 show so they couldn’t have been too bad! Lady Luck (City Lights) featuring Amber Jolene we signed to Deep Dish’s label Yoshitoshi the Solee remix of which spent over 5 months in the Beatport Tech House charts which was a result!

As for Nolan the most popular song was another I wrote with Amber Jolene and which Kant remixed and which has now clocked up over 10 million views on youtube and almost a million on Spotify too.

Over the last few decades you have had 3 aliases to release different styles of music from Timo Garcia for your deeper, darker club room sound to Nolan for your deep house and funky vibes to T_Mo for your more relaxed almost Balearic productions. Right now which alias do you feel the most right now and what are your plans for the future?

I actually have 7 production guises but only 3 of them are public knowledge at the moment. I’ve been writing a lot of production music this year for TV/Sync usage and one of them is only used for that.

There is no doubt that Nolan has been the alias in recent years that has screamed up various music charts and was of course equally the reason why we started working together as you had releases on Mother Recordings and Kittball, two labels we did a showcase for in June and September last year. What is it about Nolan that has the edge?

I think the music was just more current at the time, I needed an output for my deeper sounds and Deep House was becoming a thing. Having a clean slate with a new name that no-one knew who it was meant I could sign to labels I’d not been able to before.

Do you think that some of the labels you are signed to are better at digital promotion i.e. embracing the likes of Spotify to distribute your music, which is why perhaps Nolan is seeing so much success as well as the new genre?

Some are for sure, there’s one that is pretty much Spotify only which has released some of my Nolan material in fact. But it seems I have more Nolan releases pressed up on vinyl than I have Timo Garcia ones, perhaps that’s because they’re on German labels though ;)

So what does the future hold in terms Nolan that you can tell us about?

Soul Clap, Wolf + Lamb, Kerri Chandler & Enzo Siffredi have all signed new Nolan material so there’s lots coming out over the summer on that front.

Wow, sounds awesome – I must say a lot of the recent releases under your Nolan guise have certainly struck a chord personally. A lot of exciting things ahead, how do you fit it all in? Having a young family is certainly tough, something that I and many other artists also have to juggle around. What keeps you going?

Coffee!

You also sound engineer for many artists and recently you got into producing music for TV with your tracks getting aired during the Commonwealth Games. Tell us more about that.

Yes I do a lot of engineering here, I get a buzz out of helping people put the finishing touches to their music, doing mix downs and also co-writing and one on one tuition if that’s what they want. Also I’m happy to help try and get the tracks signed to the labels I know or have released with in the past. It’s much easier to get signed if the label boss or A&R already know you.

As for the TV music, I’ve been writing material specifically aimed at TV Sync for BMG, Ninja Tune, Deep East and Delimusic for a while now, so was excited to see some of it being used on the BBC the other week for the Commonwealth Games.

Apart from speaking on the panel and playing for us on Friday at the Green Door Store for our Berlin-Brighton Party. Where else can we see you during the BMC?

I’ll be hanging round the Academy Theatre both days helping out and making sure it all runs smoothly. Then Friday when it finishes ill hot foot it over to Block. (formally Neighbourhood) to play a NOLAN set at the networking event there, I might check out the goings on at Pelirocco and Tempest too before my Timo Garcia set for you Friday night.

Awesome, really looking forward to it all and immersing ourselves in the whole spectacle. OK now it’s time to turn the tables and for Timo to ask me a few questions. So here we go be gentle…

[TIMO GARCIA] Ha no problem – Here we go. So Markus, this is your second year putting on events for the BMC – Last year Berlin hosted three events and this year it’s one, why the change?

Really easy one, time more than anything. Last year was great as we hooked up with Decoded for all three events too with an after party and networking event at a cool Pub called the East Street Tap (EST) where we had Berlin label head for MONOG Records Bruno Otranto play for us as well as up and coming star of the Missing People nights and Horizon Label Tom Luka and local superhero Magnus Asberg, before we hosted a Selador Records special later that night with Dave Seaman , Steve Parry and Skiddle. Friday saw us hooking up with Berlin label Stil vor Talent and Kellerkind. 3 crazy days, but with so much happening between now and then I simply wouldn’t be able to fit it all in again especially with school runs!

So what have you got planned for this year?

I must say I am very excited. One of my heroes and label owner of AEON Alex Niggemann is joining us from Berlin and we also have yourself and up and coming star Alice Clark joining us from Ibiza. Joining the roster we have two local acts and strong Berlin-Brighton residents Monica and POoK and of course myself to finish the night as per usual.

Why do you always finish the night, it has become a bit of an institution of the Berlin parties?

It’s just a nice point in the night for me to take over the party that we have spent months putting together and partying with our loyal fans. There is a strong connection between us and everyone knows that I’ll be up last and I often switch things in terms of vibe. It gives me goosebumps now already just talking about it, especially when the Berlin faithful ask what my set time is throughout the night, then the moment comes and I’m waiting in the wings. I walk up and people start to cheer and shout Markus as I get ready to do the handover and celebrate whoever rocked it before me, making sure they get a massive round of applause. Then it’s full on party mode. It’s me and them, it’s our party and we’ve had an epic night so far, lets make this 90 minutes count.

It all sounds very cheesy but when you have spent weeks inside your office locked away like some sort of vampire, planning, stressing, arranging, travelling – it’s that moment where it all goes out of the window and that short moment in time is why I do it. When those lights go up at the end the night the main room is always still full, followed by shouts of one more song, one more song. Priceless. Wow, am so excited now!

With so many venues in Brighton, with a selection on the seafront being bigger than the Green Door Store, why is it that you still have your parties there nearly 4 years on?

We have done various different collabs and parties in other venues but you just cant beat the Green Door and Berlin for it’s intimate, quirky, electric vibe. The only parties that come close are when we take over the beach terrace at the Tempest on Brighton seafront and host our infamous Berlin Beach Kollektiv Parties in the summer. But I have found no other indoor venue competes with the vibe we generate together in there.

Many of the artists that have come and played for us fall in love with its rawness and its character. It is a proper Underground club, no VIP, no champagne, no bits of rope, no fake tan, just epic music that sounds like nowhere else in Brighton right now and we get dirty together.

This year you have booked up and coming star Alice Clark, who was recently nominated as ‘Future Leader’ by Decoded Magazine. Tell us more about Alice

For me Alice is a very exciting prospect. Originally from Kent, so not far from us and now in Ibiza, she has a very deep, grooving sound to her and very much a hybrid of the Ibiza Underground (not commercial) scene mixed in with minimal deep tech from Eastern Europe from places like Romania. Unique sounding and such a lovely deep groove to her music that she fits in well with our lineup. She is also speaking at the BMC so we look forward to welcoming her.

Not only that our night has been at the forefront of booking female artists on our lineups – Last month when we did our Ritter Butzke Showcase was the only lineup I can remember in nearly two years that hasn’t had at least one female artist on the lineup. I am also excited to see the Monica boys back who are going from strength to strength, so talented those two and of course our Berlin-Brighton veteran the mighty POoK.

There is no doubt that Berlin has gone form strength to strength in particular the last 12 months – What have been the highlights within the last year?

I think mostly the new links, bookings and collabs we have done. After BMC17 we booked the likes of Just Her, Cinthie and Dave Seaman again as well as record label showcases for Mother Recordings with Superlover and Nhan Solo as well as a Kittball Records showcase with Juliet Sikora and yourself. Furthermore, January saw us link up with Berlin house label Arms & Legs and Daniel Steinberg and Kristin Velvet, not forgetting last month’s Berlin club showcase with Ritter Butzke, Tigerskin and BAAL. We also threw a giant 3rd Birthday party in November, which was 3 years £3 on the door – so much fun.

On a personal level, the weekly Berlin Radio Shows on Trickstar Radio have been going from strength to strength and have been running for over a year. It’s also seen me interview and have special guests in the studio such as Nhan Solo, Superlover, Daniel Steinberg, Kristin Velvet, Juliet Sikora, Can Hlubek, Alex Virgo and Pete Dorling to name a few. We have also done record label showcases on air, such as celebrating 6 Years of Steyoyoke Records. I have also been involved in various guest mix series for Native FM, Decoded Magazine, Krafted Radio, Alex Preda’s Layers Series, Blitz FM St Petersburg, BMC18 and After Dark.

Bookings have also been happening with Berlin being an official partner for Waze & Odyssey’s Street Track events held at the Arch and for their future events in Brighton as well as support for Groove Armada on NYD, also at the Arch. Other bits have seen me on the lineup for Renaissance Brighton and many other local club nights over the last year but the pinnacle I must say was warming up for 2 hours for one of my biggest heroes – Mr John Digweed at the Concorde 2 back in November. I received so much positive feedback and it was truly an amazing experience. I was a definitely star struck when he set up next to me!

Whats next for Berlin?

Loads if I’m honest – After BMC we have Timo Maas joining us on May 25, a second Kittball Records showcase in August and Einmusik comes to see us in September. We are also making headway in organising Berlin parties in other cities – not long now. Furthermore we’re looking at bringing over Katermukke artists Lars Moston & Sabrina Mue later in the year and lets not forget we are doing 1 huge Beach Party again this year as part of our Berlin Beach Kollektiv at the Tempest in July.

Aside from Berlin you also started your own record label back in November called Dino Audio as in ‘Dinosaurs’ – Why dinos and how has the label developed?

It’s been really exciting and I am still blown away by its early success. I really couldn’t call the label ‘Berlin’ as I felt it may pigeon hole us and also we are not in Berlin. I have always loved dinos and my little boy really started getting into them. It all began as a giggle really of me posting pictures of toy dinos doing funny things on Facebook that had people in stitches. It got that much attention it really was a no brainer. I always had this vision of creating a fun, tongue-in-cheek label that created great music but had fun artwork and got people talking. I even have two 7 foot Trex outfits ready to unleash – The world will soon get to know Winston & Doris although Winston has already invaded the stage at one of our Berlin parties during POoK’s set – Naughty Dino!

Jokes aside, we have had five releases so far including a stunning and haunting debut EP by super talented Brighton producer FAIDE, Leeds based NRKY & Numbers, our very own POoK, Bremen based Mauro Basso and Krafted and Frisky Radio don Paul Sawyer. All EPs have been well received with the likes of Dave Seaman, Nick Warren, Oliver Schories, Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, Soul Button, Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Davide Squillace, Paco Osuna, Marc Depulse, Danny Tenaglia, Gai Barone, Eelke Kleijn, Matt Darey, Betoko, Paride Saraceni. Edu Imbernon, Solarstone, Aly & Fila, Cevin Fisher amongst some of the plaudits. It’s been fun so far and lets face it Dinos are fun!

What genre is the label and how do you envisage it growing?

I am not a big fan of sorting music into various categories but if I like something I will sign it but it has to move me and make me feel something either emotionally or just make me want to party. Essentially the sound the label has right now is from Deep House to Progressive House and Melodic Techno.

What are your thoughts on the Progressive House vs Melodic Techno argument, one that is very rife at the moment?

I have seen many arguments amongst my industry peers saying that Melodic Techno or Melodic House is just Progressive House. I have to say I disagree and mainly because my night and radio show is heavenly influenced by German labels, many of which that have developed away from the Progressive Sound to a more haunting, synth driven and yes melody focused genre that is very deep and emotional and almost classical.

I would no longer class something that comes from labels such as Sudbeat, Pure Progressive, microCastle, Proton the same thing as Berlin based Steyoyoke, Moodmusic or Einmusika. That is the distinction I feel, those three latter labels as an example are in their own genre and many other labels, many of them German are in that same umbrella. I love both sides of this spectrum so for me I’m in heaven and people should just go out there and enjoy what makes them tingle.

That’s all from me as Timo anything else to add Markus?

Make sure to catch me at the conference, come and say hi, I’ll probably be wearing a Berlin t-shirt. Trickstar Radio are also broadcasting live from the Dome both days and I’ll be playing on the stage on the Thursday 16:00-17:00. Here’s to another awesome BMC!


Damion Pell
About the Author

Loves long walks along the beach, holding hands and romantic 80's power ballads, partial to electronic music and likes to make the odd mix or two.