Claptone is an enigma: a self described “cursed, human-bird hybrid” with mastery of a myriad of instruments and synthesizers, creating musical hybrids as bizarre as his self image. Behind his signature, Eyes Wide Shut-esque Bird mask, there is a brooding mind that taps into the depth of the human condition to create a sound that has achieved mainstream appreciation without giving in to the superficial trends that tend to drive the collective consciousness of the masses.
This is a producer that still believes that music is not just about making your booty shake, but about stimulating your soul. Naturally, to reach that goal, he needs to put forth music that goes way beyond “one deeper”; when viewed in the context of modern EDM it seems as though he's operating at subterranean levels.
Of course, when I was presented with the opportunity to pick his brain, I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to get a feel for the man behind the mask. I hope you all take something from his responses as he addresses the driving force behind his music, the necessity of soul in the studio, and the abuse of EDM’s new favorite buzzword: “deep.”
As you get to know this über talented German producer, I urge you to listen to his Halloween mix so that you can truly absorb his unique -- definitely soulful yet admittedly dark -- presentation of house music.
When were you first exposed to electronic music and when did you start experimenting with creating your own?
Walter Carlos put out a record called "Switched-On Bach," an all Moog and modular synth generated record of Johann Sebastian Bach compositions. This was the first time I heard electronic music and it was 1968! Super early, even before Walter Carlos transitioned to Wendy Carlos. This did not instantly make me want to create electronic music though. I [started] integrat[ing] synthesizers into my setup slowly, [buying] one of the first samplers in the '80s. It got to a level where I went more and more electronic, but I still love my instruments. There are many different voices in my choir.
Throughout that process you developed quite the lush signature sound by combining elements from classic house and deep house while continuing to use your acoustic instruments in your tracks, how did it all come together?
It's the music I want to produce at the moment: it expresses a yearning deep inside of me. The sound aims to be organic and warm -- rich in texture -- yet dirty and emotional, [and more importantly], proud of its mistakes. If you listen closely it gets obvious: I want to be human and I feel music helps me with that.
“Deep House” has become a buzzword amongst mainstream “EDMers” over the past couple years, although it seems as though it's a misnomer more often than not. How do you feel about the way the term has been thrown around recently?
Has the term not been thrown around since people realized that relevant music needs to have soul? Even Kraftwerk, [who try so] hard to become machines, have soul shining through in their best musical moments. For me, as I'm not quite sure what I am -- a bird, a hybrid of some kind or just a cursed human being -- soul is the [driving force] of my sonic travels. Even though many people use and abuse the term, it stays relevant for me. I am on the journey to claim (back) my soul and with it soul might make me human (again).
Worldwide, Berlin is known for its Techno; What is it like making your mark in such an environment as a deep house producer?
I have never felt fenced in by a dominant techno culture. It's one of many rich traditions that this city has to offer; There's more than Berghain in Berlin, [it] is much more complex than you might think. The city has many vivid music scenes: some more underground and some quite well known; The environment is very inspirational as there is so much culture here. There are many artists in the city, many museums, many exhibitions, many clubs, and concerts. It's still alive.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
I'm going to get everyone to listen to the album I worked on so hard over the past two years. The 'Charmer' album tour continues and takes me from Berlin Watergate to Paris Showcase to New York Verboten and so on through the UK, USA, Canada, Columbia, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Australia, Turkey, The Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore. It’s about 50 shows until January alone and will be continued.
We weren't exactly able to get any more clues as to who the mysterious artist is behind the Claptone mask, but he did reveal certain ideas he aims to convey with his music which gives insight into the mind of the producer. Claptone continues to let the music speak for itself and his ability to fuse catchy motifs with driving rhythms has fans captivated the world over. Be sure give his album a solid listen, it really is that good.
Claptone's Upcoming Gigs:
Tue 17 Nov. - Taeubchenthal, Leipzig, Germany
Fri 20 Nov. - Privilege , Buzios, Brazil
Fri 20 Nov. - Odonien , Cologne, Germany
Sat 21 Nov. - Green Valley, Camboriu, Brazil
See the full list of events here.