Guest of Honour: Robert Babicz about the origins of techno

Guest of Honour: Robert Babicz about the origins of techno

Nov 27, 2011 |  by  |  Music
About the author
Caroline (25) is a writer, an expat enjoying life at its fullest in Amsterdam and a girl born to party. She makes her Friday night plans no later than Monday morning and enjoys drinking verse muntthee just as much as hot-people-watching in the city.

I was six years old when Robert Babicz released his very first record in 1992. Back then, I wasn’t even allowed to go clubbing yet, although I’m pretty sure I would have wanted to. That being said, I was even more excited to meet Robert Babicz at Next Monday’s Hangover and learn about the origins of techno. And once he told me his relationship with electronic music was so passionate that it made him want to cry sometimes, I immediately knew Robert and me had something in common.

You have been working as a DJ for 20 years now and you know your genre better than anyone else. Do you see a lot of yourself in the DJs that came after you?
Robert Babicz: “Yes, I do. And every time I listen to the records of young techno DJs I’m actually very critical with them. I see myself as a mentor who can give valuable advice on how the new generation of DJs can improve.”

Do you think everybody can be a DJ nowadays?
Robert Babicz: “At least everybody thinks they are. There is really a lot of things that have changed ever since I’ve started in the 1990s. Back then, turning tables meant knowing a craft, it was pure art. Nowadays, you don’t have to have any skill to become what they call a ‘DJ’. And I mean no skill at all.”

How did you prove your skills when you started then?
Robert Babicz: “I used to borrow all kinds of instruments with my crew and make music on my own. I was producing new tracks every weekend and felt like a pioneer within the scene of techno. The DJs that started in this era were on a mission. We were DJs and genuine musicians at the same time which is very hard to find these days.”

We used to turn tables in dark clubs where no one would even consider the DJ to be a celebrity

Has techno ever been a political statement for you?
Robert Babicz: “Yes, absolutely. When I started in the 1990s, we wanted to change the world with techno. The 1980s have been pretty grey and depressing times in politics and we thought techno could change this, all around the world. Electronic music works in every country, it’s a global genre. I think there hasn’t been such a thing in the history of mankind before. Back then, DJs never wanted to be stars. We used to turn tables in dark clubs where no one would even consider the DJ to be a celebrity. Once the Loveparade came into being, techno could be found in the charts and DJs became like pop stars. That wasn’t our initial intention.”

Electronic music is thriving in European cities like Amsterdam or Berlin. Are there any secret emerging places that people don’t know of?
“I just came back from Africa last week where I played a set in Angola. Africa’s potential for electronic music is just unbelievable. It’s still in its infancy, but there is a lot of techno artists starting now. I’m actually feeling like a stranger in Europe because I am travelling so much to be part of these new scenes abroad. India and Brazil are also places that inspire me.”

Is there anything else you do besides producing music?
“I am very passionate about photography and I produce all my covers and videos myself. My music actually revolves around art a lot. I conceptualise every track I produce as a theatre play. Every tune plays its own role and is influenced by the people that surround me everyday.”

Have you ever had a plan B for your life?
“No, for me there is nothing else I want to do besides being a DJ. Techno means life to me and I still enjoy doing this every weekend. My music means so much to me that it sometimes makes me cry when I perform. For me it’s either this or death.”

Robert Babicz (born January 5, 1973) is a Polish-German electronic music producer and DJ who has played an influential role within the genre of acid and techno since the early 1990s. Babicz’s most recent label Babiczstyle serves as an all-round archive for his large set of music and as a platform for collaboration with other artists and friends.

Robert Babicz – Beautiful EP (subtract002) – Out Now! by robbabicz

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