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Interview: Joachim Spieth Reflects On 10 Years Of Affin And The State Of Deep & Ambient Techno

We met with German electronic music producer Joachim Spieth to talk about ambient techno and what's coming for 2019 for his label Affin.
Joachim Spieth

Joachim Spieth is a German electronic music producer/DJ and founder of the successful ambient techno label Affin. For more than 15 years, Joachim Spieth has made himself a reference within the hypnotic / ambient techno circle with a distinctive voice and style. Ambient layers with sounds taken from nature with a dark mysterious bassline transport both the dancer and the listener into some unknown territories. We had a chance to chat with Spieth to discuss the past years at Affin, the future of techno and much more.

Spieth also made us a 30 minute mix so you can get a better idea of what his music is all about.

Hallo – ALLES GUT (happy birthday)! How was your birthday and did you enjoy playing in Istanbul?

Alles gut, thanks for having me! This birthday was based on traveling and as it was needed to leave early, I was just tired after coming back home. I enjoyed the silence after. Going to Istanbul was cool. There are nice people and I could see a tiny bit of the city at least.

Affin is currently my favorite label right now. I love the outer space you created for ambient and deep hypnotic techno. Tell us about the label and what happened in 10 years.

Nice to hear, thanks! Ok, that’s a long story that I will try to shorten now. Affin started wide open regarding the music that was released. I felt the need to create something on my own, to build a home for the music I like. Over the years, the label made its evolution and in the last three years I focused more on the music and the artist roster. I think it’s better to work with fewer artists now. And the music that we released in the last years is getting closer to the idea I have for this label. So it’s all linked to a personal development.

To you, what is the purpose of music today? With so many DJs (bad and good), producers (good and unknown), how do you believe music should guide people, dancers, artists, ravers, or everyone else ?

It’s the same as years ago: getting lost, free your mind, be comfy… Regarding the production of music, it’s a way to express myself. There is no convention about how to do it. It’s a personal thing and I don’t think anymore about the next big thing or how to impress others. Music needs no words to be understood by others if they have a sensor for it. I’m happy to see that the emotions you send out are received by someone.

Regarding the business side of that all, it got more difficult to reach the people who are interested. The digitization process already was happening to electronic music some years ago. And to be honest, I'm not very happy how some things developed during and after this process.

Ambient, pop ambient, dub, deep techno all cover the layers of your sounds or artists you signed to Affin. Are there any genre(s) you wish you could explore more ?

Personally, I see the artists on the label doing their own interpretations / personal sub-genres. I mean “techno” is such a wide field. It’s like a tree that is growing in many different directions. The closer you get into in on of the boughs the more distant you’re from the others. I still believe there’s a lot to discover regarding details and depth. Therefore it’s not needed to climb on another tree.

Affin has a strong identity both in its visuals and music direction — darkness and shadows allude at some deeper state of existence. What are your current sources of inspiration ?

Nature. Moreover, I see inspiration as an interaction between artists and my own preferences. As I don’t sign too many new artists anymore, I feel inspired by their output. The new directions they are going, adjusting, improving.

I also feel inspired by people who know to tell things about life… it’s not limited.

What is next after techno?

Techno. I sampled this from Wolfgang Voigt, who once said: “Nach Techno kommt immer Techno.” 

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When you create music, what ideas do you have in mind? Do you experiment and see what’s coming — or do you know what you’d like to achieve?

I mainly use my emotions and try to translate them into music.

A bit of both I would say. After doing music for a while, I know what I want and what I don’t want. But I’m open to new influences and try avoiding to get stuck. I never had a finished tune in mind before it was recorded. I love to experiment but the path is more defined as it has been in the first years of doing music.

You have worked with talented deep techno artists — Reggy Van Oers, Polar Inertia, CHPTR, Dino Sabatini, Toki Fuko, Claudio PRC, Deepbass, Ness, Giorgio Gigli, Cliche Morph and Arnaud Le Texier to name a few. Are there any upcoming new releases or work with such artists you’d love to announce?

Some things are on its way but I don’t like to announce too early… people tend to forget about it fast nowadays. I suggest following our channels on social networks, my homepage or Bandcamp to get notifications about future projects. But one 12” that was just announced will be from me, called “Astral Plane” and is to preview on Affin’s Soundcloud. It’s showcasing some music I finished in the last months.

In a previous interview, you mentioned it was easier for new producers to create music over the last decade thanks to Internet. Have you changed your way of producing music over time?

Yes, it changed a lot. I’m still loving to work with samples, sounds being re-recorded and manipulated. I use synths but re-record them, or I take natural sounds (fields) or layer waves. Ableton live as DAW changed a lot the way I work on music. But I also have some hardware and get back to it as well. But my main instrument is Ableton Live. I made my whole album Irradiance in Ableton only, without any other external mixer, sampler or synth.

For example, which tools can’t you live without and which new tools have you added to your home studio?

As said in my last answer, Ableton Live is essential for my work. About new additions, I lately found some nice EQs that I use a lot now. I really underestimated the power of EQs in the first years of working on music. First, you want to boost and go crazy with all you can add etc. In the past few years I discovered more than cutting and notching is much more efficient to express the essence of a sound, to identify the essential fragments and to highlight them.

How do you prepare your sets? Do you know which tracks will work best? Can you name a few?

I select like a vinyl record case (even I have used USB for some years). I try to limit the tracks I take somewhere. I dislike to play with an unlimited amount of music because I would feel like doing random. I want to play music that is meaningful to me and I want to have an overview of it.

Which clubs are your favorite right now? Which destinations you’d love to go next?

I really loved Vurt in Seoul. And I’m looking forward to get there again.

When Joachim Spieth isn’t producing music, what does he do?

I like talking to others, going to walk almost every day in nature. Trying to improve cooking, reading more books and to be aware of myself. 

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