Genetic drugs: An extraordinary musical producer shares his past, present and future plans and hopes with us. Enjoy!
AV:Being German, how did you get into using South Asian and African sounds?
GD:Well I consider myself a professional sound collector. I started collecting sounds in the early 80’s with my short wave radio. I used to listen to music from all over the world and I started taping everything for my sound archive. There were a lot of political events in the 80’s and with the sounds from those events I was able to create a multimedia show in the end of the 80’s called World Radio. This show was never published but it started everything music related for me. I continued with my collection when I first traveled to India in 1992 where I did interviews and video portrayals of Indian people.
AV:Did you have a direction and location in mind – or did you just try to travel everywhere in India?
GD:Well, I had a few places and a few ideas about where to go but I didn’t know anyone. I just went there without even, the purpose of recording people. But, when you are a stranger and you go to India you get attention because everyone there thinks you are very exotic.
AV: So do you feel it’s strange that a German man is creating this image of a South Asian/Arabic/African DJ – which has nothing to do with his history?
GD:Well I grew up in Germany and I never felt connected with that culture at all. In fact I hated it. There was nothing in it that I could be proud of. I feel that is the direct result of World War II. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and learned German history in school. Hitler basically misused German culture for sake of politics. So, as I grew I realized that I don’t want to be a part of that culture and I started looking elsewhere.
AV: That is an intriguing concept – it’s the first time I have heard of it from the other side of the story. The German side. But even still don’t you feel it is sad that you and your generation have moved on from German culture?
GD: Well no its not sad – I am happy with it this way. Yes sure German culture exists - there is classical music etc. but it isn’t new – it doesn’t apply to anything we feel today. I am definitely proud of musicians Kourtweille and Bertold Brecht who left Germany when Hitler came to power and decided to start over in America. Outside that though – after the world war Germans everywhere were considered Nazis so we all tried to down play our culture. Honestly, while growing up the music I heard was British music like Beatles etc. My feelings about it are that culture is a drug and if you let the foreign culture into your heart it can change you genetically. Kind of where I got the idea for my name.
AV: So, want to tell us your real name?
GD:No! That’s my private secret. I feel it has nothing to do with the work and concept that I am trying to create.
AV: Ok so, when you are creating music – don’t you ever have the desire to create music that one can consider German music?
GD: Maybe one day but, not yet. I am looking for a new cultural identity – rather than the one that was given to me. Right now, I would rather be a citizen of the world than Germany.
AV: So, why do you mainly identify with Asian Culture?
GD:Well everything started with Asian Culture for me but, now I have expanded my horizons. In 1994, when I went to West Africa to meet musicians and gain some knowledge about voodoo culture, I realized that voodoo isn’t the devil worship etc. that every one in the west thinks it to be. It is a very family oriented musical religion. I was there to basically document everything I saw and not be judgmental of their traditions and beliefs. But, while I was there I realized that there were lots of voodoo songs that no one had discovered before. So I ended up making recordings of those.
AV: Was it like that in India also? Did you meet different ethnic people there also?
GD: Yes, there is a huge variety in Indian culture. Every time I have gone to India I have discovered lots of new things. Two years ago I went to Calcutta. I had wanted to meet a special tribe in the north called the Patuas who are a story telling tribe. They live in the mountains – paint pictures about the stories on paper rolls and when they are traveling they use the paper rolls to sing about the story. This is something I discovered when I was there that time – I am sure there are many more things like that.
AV: How did you end up going to that particular tribe in Calcutta?
GD: I have a friend from Switzerland named Thomas Kaiser – he had been there before me and had lived with them for several months for an ethnological study he was conducting. He gave me their location and I was able to meet them.
AV: Any plans to use this tribes music in your upcoming album?
GD: Yes, I would like to make a track with it. I have one that is half done. But, we will see how it turns out. I am letting ideas come to me and waiting for the right moment to figure out how the sample fits into the track.
AV: Talking about your music – how do you lay it down into a track? How do you put it all together?
GD: First of all I take an instrumental sound, create a bass beat for it and then I will go through my sample collection to see which one fits. Not just the Patuas – but all the samples I have been invited to collect in South India and elsewhere. Then I will make a demo for some musicians I happen to know personally, whenever I feel I need a tabla player or sitar player or anything, and I will invite them to play on top of the track. But, the main subject is always some sort of story or meaning behind each track.
AV: What do you mean "invited to collect"?
GD: Well whenever I travel, I don’t do so with the intent to record people. It is only when I am invited to video document or tape record them that I do so.
AV: Changing topics a bit – what kind of shows do you do out in Germany?
GD: Since 1998 I have a radio show on radio Multi Kulti in Berlin. Multi Kulti is a radio station that plays music from all over the world which is non English, non western. My show there is called Cyber Jam – it is on the air at 20hr to 22 hr on Saturdays. The way I run the show - I give no information about the music that is playing because I want the music to speak for itself. So I dj the songs together live on the radio using drum n bass, house mixed with ethnological sounds from the Multi Kulti CD Archive.
AV: Did this radio show lead into your party nights?
GD: Yes completely. As I created one remix after another – I started using these remixes in my dj sets outside of the radio show. Then I had the idea of creating another show called "Bollywood Spacecake" where I pitch drum n bass tracks to a basic key so that a tabla player and a sitar player can join in. At the same time I have edited some Bollywood dancing and fighting sequences together, which I project while doing the Spacecake show. Along with these edited sequences, I project my travel films – which are also being treated with strobe effects, negative contrasting effects etc.
AV: In all your travels have you taken that show anywhere else?
GD: Yes I have done it in France, Belgium and Spain so far.
AV: How was the music received in these different locations?
GD: Well it seems that people like it. People seem to love the rhythm – I am their trying to entertain and offer bits of cultural background to my music and it seems that the combination works. By offering both culture and music I am hoping that people question and become curious about the things around them – so they can learn new things.
AV: There is a rumor that you did some work with Latrama and Chandra Sound System. How did that come about?
GD: Well they invited me to Madrid to come do some shows with them. And when I went there – at least 500 people showed up for this one show. This visit also turned into a sort of collaboration between Latrama and I and, we ended up creating one track together. He gave me a cd full of his samples and I was able to use them to create a song with him. I added sitar and tabla samples along with some voice samples of protesters that I had recorded when I was Manglore in India.
AV: Are there any plans to release this track?
GD: Yes, the next album in the works is called Collaborations – this track will be included on there.
AV: How far along are you on this album?
GD: I have five songs ready and I think it will take me a few more months to get the album done. At the moment I am traveling around the world – so when I get back to we will see how everything works out.
AV: Oh wow – are u planning on working with artists when you are traveling to these different locations?
GD: See the concept of my traveling is that I like to meet people, I like to have good conversations, I am curious about the lives of these people, I am curious about their hopes and dreams – it doesn’t have to be musicians but if they are, then the music comes as a gift of our meeting. It’s always better to have personal relations first because then the music flows much easily.
AV: Any plans on meeting with Cheb I Sabbah when you are out at San Francisco? Would be interesting to hear some tracks with the two of you collaborating.
GD: Funny you mention that, I haven’t met him yet but we have exchanged a few emails. And he told me that he spins my records all the time there and I told him that "I spin your records always also! so why not lets try to do the next step". So we will see how it works when I meet him.
AV: With all travels you have done – what would you tell people when they ask you "where are you from?"
GD: I’ll say I am from India. (laughs) I remember when I was in Manglore – I was very lonely – I was in a nice hotel but there were not to many people to talk with. So one day I decided to go to the beach and randomly someone came up to ask me "which is your country?" My response was "India! I am local!" To which they laughed. Once they laughed the cultural separation is broken and we can relate on a personal level and I become part of the surroundings – no longer the outsider. Actually, Manglore was the most exciting place for me. In about three weeks I met the locals, told them about my background and my hopes and goals and, they supported me in my desires they helped me find temples and priests from different tribes etc. who I could record and work with. In all this I felt very invited.
AV: Any plans to bring back these musicians and artists you have met all over the world to Germany to work with them live in studio?
GD: If I ever have the money, then sure!
AV: That is all I had planned on asking. Any last words?
GD: You know what I wish there were more people doing what I do. The world is huge and if you do your music from the heart then there is nothing opposing you, nothing against you and you can do anything. I think we are just at the beginning of this big cultural fusion and I wish there were more Indian musicians traveling to Africa and doing work with the musicians there. That would be great.
AV: Yes it would! Genetic, thank you for your time and everything.
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