Taking his name from the German for ‘Red Haired’, flame haired DJ/producer Rødhåd has been one of the biggest breakthrough artists to emerge in Techno over the last few years. Described as the ‘quintessential Berlin DJ’, he was born in the East of the city and has kept its’ attitude and ethos close to his heart ever since. Attending outdoor parties in and around his hometown inspired him to try his hand at putting on events himself, with a series of parties him and his friends put on eventually evolving into the legendary Dystopian parties. It was here that Rødhåd began to make his ascension as a club DJ, with mind bending closing sets for the likes of Ben Klock and Sandwell District.
With a knack for marathon sets it was only a matter of time before he got picked up to play Berghain, and so it soon transpired. Since about 2010 onwards he’s been a fixture at the club, where he’s regularly known to spin for eight to ten hours at a time. This presence at one of the world’s most prestigious nightspots certainly did his reputation no harm, and he’s now to be found playing all over the world every weekend. There’s also a record label to contend with these day, with him and two friends masterminding the transition from party to imprint for Dystopian. On there he’s put out several chunks of spellbindingly deep and dubbed Techno – with every release making him even more in demand.
Catching him before he plays alongside Robert Hood, Blawan, DVS1 , Shackleton and others for Blueprint’s take over of The Hydra on Sunday, we managed to pick Rødhåd’s brain on everything from tattoos to employment…
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. How are you and what are you up to today?
Hello guys, nice to meet you. At the moment, I’m trying to relax a little bit. Last weekend I played two gigs in the UK and flying with Aer Lingus is not always fun.
You’re playing at the Blueprint Hydra & M-Plant 20th Anniversary next week alongside some truly monumental names in Techno, how important were influences like Robert Hood and James Ruskin in the early parts of your DJing career?
Actually, James Ruskin was super important for me. I’ve been playing the Blueprint back catalogue ever since I started djing. Same with Robert Hood – I‘ve always LOVED his productions. His style, the groove. It’s something I want to include in my sets and music as well.
As a DJ with a few residencies under your belt would you say you prefer to play at a regular place or does the touring traveler lifestyle suit you better?
I really like playing at a regular place – it allows you to get to know the club and the crowd. Of course, travelling around is fun as well. It‘s nice to see how you can reach people with your music in so many different countries all over the world. But, honestly, if you‘ve ever waited twelve hours at an airport for your next flight, you‘d prefer to have spent that time in the studio or in a DJ booth.
Your mixes tend to be very direct but often quite diverse as well, are your influences fairly varied or do your musical tastes primarily drive your sets?
It totally depends how I feel. Sometimes I just like to bang it out. But when I have enough time in a set, I just like to layer my music – one layer over another layer. The mixing holds it together and suddenly your whole body is vibrating, because you have direct access to the music. That‘s what I love.
Following on from that, you looked like you were thoroughly enjoying Shackleton’s set at Dekmantel this year. His sound is so unique and complex, he can create a very rich atmosphere, which is something you’ve previously touched on. Do you aim to create the same richness every time or do you approach each dancefloor with a completely fresh outlook?
Good question! And yes, Shackleton is a king. His first releases, his tracks – they’re always from another dark world. In a way, it’s the perfect dystopic sound. But coming back to your question: Like I said, to transport emotions through a DJ set depends on the richness of the music you select, but the richness can be sometimes minimalistic and you can still have the maximum effect.
Of course the German Techno scene is and has been alive and kicking for quite some time now, what are your thoughts on Techno coming out of the UK at the moment?
The UK has always been a hot spot for Techno music! Remember all the fresh sounds from Downwards, Blueprint, Theory? Also, people like Avian or ocs are amazing. That early Dubstep sound, too. The new UK Techno from guys like Karenn or AnD has this power you expect when you hear big industrial city names like Birmingham, Sheffield or Manchester.
I saw you play at Chapter 10 this Spring and was very impressed by both your set and the crowd at the night – they gave it their all – do you prefer playing to a certain type of crowd?
No, I just need a good DJ booth, a good sounding PA and open minded crowd. That‘s all.
What are your plans for the future of Dystopian Records?
At the moment, we are collecting music from all of our main producers and new artists. Hopefully we can create a kind of compilation for our tenth release.
You work for an Architecture firm during the week right? Where do you find the time to run a record label, DJ and hold down full-time employment?
I’ve stopped working for the company now. Between playing two or three gigs every weekend, going to the studio and having some time for my private life, it became too much.
Regarding the record label, it’s the same as with all important things – I have a good crew who take care of day to day business.
How often do you shop for new music?
I try to go and buy new music every couple of weeks. At the moment, I am not limited to physical or digital releases. I play what I like, which means I can shop online and in record shops – when I find some free time!
You’ve already made a big impact on the Techno music scene and are still relatively young, have you got any musical ambitions or goals that you’d like to achieve?
The label is running well, my gigs are booked out till next year and I‘m even trying to finish some upcoming releases. And the idea of playing gigs like this one in London with the whole Techno gang is already making me smile.
And as a bit of a detour, is there a story behind your tattoo’s?
Hahaha… thats my secret!
Thanks for your time, take care.
See you at the gig!
Rødhåd plays Blueprint’s take over of The Hydra at Studio Spaces in East London this Sunday, buy tickets here.
Interview: Oliver Todd
Photography (main image): Maximilian Becker