Between the Studio and Booth: Delta Funktionen
Text & Interview : mu”he (FUSION)Edit : Hiromi Matsubara (HigherFrequency)
Triangular relationship of "DJ, Producer and Label Owner"
First of all, we would like to know how you got into music. You have been known as a producer and DJ for more than 10 years. How did you first start, DJing or producing?
Delta Funktionen: I started as a producer, but at the same time I was sometimes mixing on the computer with software that was available. Nothing special though and it was just for recording some of my favorite tracks. The real DJing started off after my first release I’d say. But somehow I was always busy with creating a story with a mix, that is something I developed and put a lot of time in when I was younger. And it has always been about the transitions, which records really go crazily good together and preferably the odd ones!
At the time, what kind of artists influenced you particularly? Could you tell us why?
Delta Funktionen: Let me first state that I have a broad interest in almost all kinds of electronic dance music, except that I really don’t like trance or cheap grooves. Surely I love techno in it’s many varieties, Birmingham, Detroit, Berlin, there’s plenty of great stuff to find in each niche. I always made it a mission to find the left of centre tunes. The special ones by a producer that is known for a specific sound, but once made a sidestep. Those are mostly my picks. Avoid the obvious. But I’m also heavily influenced by Electro, House, IDM and even disco. I have an open mind when it comes to music and I don’t like to narrow my field of interest.
When were you working for the record shop? Did you work there before starting DJing/ producing?
Delta Funktionen: That all happened a bit around the same time, 2006-2011 it must have been.
Do you feel there was some kind of turning point for you? When did you truly decide to become a professional DJ / producer?
Delta Funktionen: Pretty quickly after my first release on Ann Aimee, I got a lot of requests for Djing abroad. So almost every weekend I had to go to the airport in Amsterdam by train, a 4h door-to-door ride from my place. I pretty quickly realized this could be something I’d see myself doing the coming years, but with better travel conditions haha. So I moved to Berlin in 2011 and things started to become somewhat more professional.
We would like to ask about your studio environment. When you started producing, did you make music with software or hardware?
Delta Funktionen: I started with software and first had no ideas about hardware. Sure I knew what a 808, 909 and 303 were, but I was 14 when I started and had no money or interest in hardware. That came a bit later, when I was about 21 I slowly started buying pieces of gear.
What was your first piece of gear? Please tell us why you chose it.
Delta Funktionen: It was a Yamaha TX81Z, a cheap FM module with quite a powerful sound. Famous for the Lately Bass preset, that could turn into awesome Maurizio like dub chords when hitting a chord. Very characteristic. I think it’s a 12bit machine, gritty stuff.
Do you still have it?
Delta Funktionen: I recently sold it when I was cleaning up my studio. I don’t really have emotional attachment to equipment. They’re machines and they are replaceable I believe. New machines will be developed all the time, as long as there’s a vital market. Back in the days it was just more about what was available in the region and what was affordable for me. It was more about learning to work with different methods. Soundwise it’s always a big journey to really find the machines you love to work with. And it’s something that is also always changing over time.
Could you please tell us what your current studio setup looks like? What gear do you like and use the most in your studio?
Delta Funktionen: These days I work a lot in the box again. But I like to send out my sounds through what I call ‘the chain’. It’s basically like an internal patchbay where I can route any sound from the pc through filters, compressors and other effects and also route these effects into each other. It’s very intuitive and gives tons of sonic options. After doing some more hardware based projects, I started to miss the recall I have when working in the box. These days the digital domain is very rich in terms of sound design possibilities and it’s a territory I’ve been returning to the last year. I also like to work a lot with Max4Live and for the next year my plan is to dive more into the programming side in there.
What is your inspiration for your last EP, Space Race? Did you use any new gear for it?
Delta Funktionen: Those tracks were done during the same time when I was producing my last album, Junior High School Excursion To The Parallel World on my own Radio Matrix label. That album didn’t gain much attention for whatever reason, but the sound of the Space Race EP is comparable to that album. I used a lot of the Elektron gear, Dreadbox Erebus and the Alpha Juno 1. Plus some outboard gear. After the more melancholic and somewhat nostalgic project that was Wasteland, I again wanted to do a tougher techno thing with a hint of electro interwoven. Wasteland was a full on analog affair and something I wanted to do for a long time. JHSETTPW & Space Race were more about the marriage between hardware and software. As I said, I like to work in projects, choose the tools and find a concept that fits to the sound and to the emotions I have been going through during a specific period.
What defines you as a producer? What’s the “Delta Funktionen” sound?
Delta Funktionen: I tend to constantly change my sound a bit. I like to work in projects and change my setup every project. I love to educate myself from time to time to keep things fresh and let my brains work a bit. I do like unusual spaced out sounds and heavy drums. Combined with freaky micro edits and small breaks. A bit nerdy sometimes I guess and sometimes a bit melancholic? Techno, electro, ambient, freaky things, I like to do that. Have a few surprises in there, and sometimes let funny elements pop up. And mostly my kicks are too loud haha.
Are there any artists of the same generation who are particularly inspiring for you from a production point of view?
Delta Funktionen: Inspiring.. I don’t know, for me the more inspiring factor is always how other artists build their discography and to see through which phases they go through in their career. That is inspiring to me. To analyze sounds and structures from other producers isn’t that interesting to me, I prefer to not be influenced by others but rather make my own choices.
How do you improve the environment and comfort of your studio? Is this something important for you?
Delta Funktionen: I want to be chill and don’t stress my neighbors and I like plants, but nothing other than that really changes how I want to feel comfortable or so.
How do you handle getting stuck in production?
Delta Funktionen: Just stop and accept that this might not be the right day. Go do something else, run a bit or watch some football, trash tv or whatever and when you get tired of that, just start something new. Also, I don’t need to produce every day. For me it’s ok to not make anything for a few months and then return to the studio and express what I’ve been gaining in these months.
How do your DJ and producing activities influence each other? Do you feel refreshed after a show, or that you get important feedback by DJing?
Delta Funktionen: I see them as two separate art forms. In the studio I express my feelings from a certain period of time. DJing is much more about the moment, even though also there the sound changes over time, but it’s related to what comes out and what feels fresh and actual in that time. I don’t feel particularly refreshed after a set. If the crowd went for it, sure, that gives a good feeling and energy to continue. If the crowd looks like they can’t be bothered, it works maybe a bit demotivating, but that’s how it goes. And after doing this for over 10 years, you learn how to deal with nights that didn’t give you what you hoped for. It’s about the balance and acceptance that not every night can be the greatest night of your life.
Have you any routine before going to the DJ booth?
Delta Funktionen: Not really, but I do like to see the venue a few hours before the show. See the setup, feel the room, check the soundsystem, have a chat with the staff, this brings me in the vibe. Even after a decade of travelling the world, I still don’t like to just sit in my hotel room and wait till it’s show time. A bit personal time I really appreciate and I think this works vice versa.
Could you give us some tips for improving one’s DJ skills, things you wish someone told you when you started?
Delta Funktionen: Hmm, it all comes down to talent and experience I believe. Everyone can mix 2 tracks together, but the real talented ones know how to really combine 2 (or 3, or 4) tracks at the same time and create something sonically new, while still maintaining the general flow and mood of the set. You can’t really train this, this is just talent and a good ear. And it sets the great DJs apart from the rest. Skills still do matter I believe. And of course, you do get better by practicing a lot. Getting to know all kinds of circumstances only comes by experience.
You moved from the Netherlands to Berlin and are a resident DJ for Tresor. Do you feel you want to return to your hometown someday?
Delta Funktionen: Yeah, one day I will return to my roots. The area where I am from is called Friesland. We are pretty proud people, so we tend to speak highly of our area, but having been away from there for quite some time, I now see it with complete new eyes. The beauty and peacefullnes is astonishing, so yes, I surely return there one day. For now I travel a lot and spend my time between Berlin and St Petersburg.
Berlin is known as a sacred place for techno music even in Japan. Can you tell us about the current Berlin club scene? Are there any venues we should visit?
Delta Funktionen: Ai, I don’t think I’m the best tour guide haha. I don’t have that much time to go out these days and things always change in Berlin. But I can say that there’s a lot of diversity. Loads of great line ups I see passing by. Also my own party – Let’s Watch UFOs – at Tresor is quite succesful and it’s cool to see that there’s a big crowd for electro and the deeper/experimental side of techno.
Your label, Radio Matrix, celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. What was the reason you started it? Could you tell us some featured artists from Radio Matrix? How do you decide which artists to work with?
Delta Funktionen: I wanted to start the label for myself and my friends from Friesland. We have a lot of talent in the area, guys like VC-118A, Area Forty One, Bodem, Caron, Conforce and my former mentors Dave Miller & Damian Keane all do their own cool things. I just felt like we needed our own label and contribute something ourself instead of releasing on labels from other people. Unfortunately not everyone is in the position to have a constant output, so things changed a bit along the years. I also wanted to have people on board that I’ve met along the way and who I spent some cool time with and whose music I dig. These days I slowed down the label due to vinyl sales going down drastically (unless you’re from the last century and reissue the shit out of your catalogue) and I’ve taken too many risks by putting out music from people that didn’t have much coverage before or they actually made their debut on my label. In the end, that’s why I run a label. But to get noticed that way, seems to be difficult. I’m no big fan of throwing a lot of money at PR things, it always seems like a wild guess to me. Some records I put out sold out in a day without PR, where others who did have PR sold like 150 copies. But ey, it’s all cool and I love the people I work with, so it’s not much of a complaint. But to run a label professionaly, it just takes a lot of time. Time I don’t really have these days. So for now I just prefer to drop a 12 inch when I feel like it and when I have enough time to give it the right attention. There’s no rush for me, I’m the boss, so I can decide when and how I want to release something.
Do you think working as A&R and DJ are similar?
Delta Funktionen: No, it’s pretty different. As an A&R I believe you also have to look at the personal development of the artist you work with. With DJing I just play music that I like.
Could you tell us about your own or your label’s latest activity?
Delta Funktionen: The last 12 months I have been spending a lot of time in the studio with VC-118A and we’ve made a lot of music. Very different from our previous output. Since he lives in Helsinki and I am in Berlin, we invested quite a lot of time to make this work. I believe we now have had 5 studio sessions together, meaning, we’d fly towards each other and sometimes spend two weeks in a row in his or my studio. Not much sleep, just producing and learning. It’s been a really great time so far and every session we get better and better and while I’m answering these question, I’m putting my hands to the final mixdowns for what we plan to be an album + EP. I also work together now with my girlfriend, Napirelly. We had a few studio sessions so far and it’s great to work together and create a different workflow. She’s great with drums and has a very nice musical ear. We have a lot of fun in the studio, I can pass on some of the knowledge I gained over the years and I learn from her methods too, which is very refreshing to me and I’m quite excited about the whole project! For my label I did collect some cool demos and I need to see how the business model will look like for future releases. Maybe I go for just digital with vinyl on demand. That seems like an interesting option, but it’s something I need to dive into a bit deeper. First things first, finishing this album!
Your last visit to Japan was in 2015, mnml ssg, wasn’t it? Please tell us what you were impressed with that time.
Delta Funktionen: MNMLssgs it was yeah! I remember I arrived pretty late on the night I had to play and cannot really recall that I stayed much longer, maybe two more days? I remember buying an Erik van den Broek record though. I was surprised, well, also not really haha, to find it there! Check out his records and all his pseudonyms, definitely one of my favorite Dutch producers of all time!
Finally, this is the first time in 5 years you’re coming to Japan, any message for your fans who come to see your set?
Delta Funktionen: Put your dancing shoes on and be up for a futuristic sonic ride with a lot of great grooves that surely will shake your legs!
End of Interview
Delta Funktionen at Fusion
Date: 2019/6/28 (Sat)
[ADV ticket outlet: RA]
FB discount: ¥3000
[FB event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2348116385466282/]
Door : ¥3500
Gonno (WC / International Feel Recordings)
mu”he (FUSION / ELEPHANT)
Kai Galactic (FUSION / DAYBREAK)
LIGHTING: MACHIDA (LSW)
YUTA Ogura (Neuron/LowTechCircus)
SAYA SATURN (Banter)
「A staple of the Delsin print and currently resident at Tresor, master technician Delta Funktionen will be making his way to VENT!」
Current resident at the prestigious Tresor in the hallow grounds of techno, Berlin, Delta Funktionen is set to play at Omotesando VENT on June 28th for the first time at FUSION! Combining techno, electro, house, and ghetto sounds arranged in a cinematic fashion have your body in constant motion! This is a must see/listen/feel!
As an artist, Delta Funktionen is obsessed with stories and concepts. Technically skillful and always in the know when it comes to fresh sounds (he worked for some time at a record store in Leeuwarden), his background has enabled him to devise vivid and cinematic performances that are always passion-filled. Because of this he has become a mainstay all over Europe, the US, East Asia, and Australia; dropping sets at venerated clubs like Concrete, Tresor, and Fabric. Formerly a resident at Trouw and Shelter, he is now a resident at the world-renown Tresor.
His raw and edgy approach translates over into the studio, where Delta Funktionen has conjured up three full-length albums and many EPs. With a focus on hardware, a keen sense for sci-fi imagery with doses of nuanced political messaging and back stories that are high-concept. Often focusing on two or three pieces of hardware per project, he is constantly evolving with every release. He initially released for Delsin, but more recently he’s been dropping works on his own label, Matrix Radio.
From the domestic front, next-gen house/techno maverick with a taste for acid with a melodic touch, Gonno, who himself is known for creating sonic story arc each performance will be hitting the decks! Also joining will be the organizers for FUSION, mu”he and Kai Galactic, performing in Room 1.
Delta Funktionen is a master technician, so much so that he was chosen to be part of Resident Advisor’s Boiler Room live project. With differing artwork and themes per project, each piece gains its own unique identity. Now come join us for what will surely be an amazing night, when Delta Funktionen makes his long-awaited return to Japan to play at VENT!
More info: VENT
※Must be 20 or over with Photo ID to enter. Also, sandals are not accepted in any case. Thank you for your cooperation.