Kompakt's Michael Mayer to appear at Kapital

Kompakt's Michael Mayer to appear at Kapital

We look at the label boss and DJ's career

It seems fitting that as they edge closer to their fifth birthday celebrations in July, that Edinburgh club night Kapital have at last managed to secure the booking of one of their most coveted guests, Cologne-based DJ and producer, Michael Mayer. A figurehead in German electronic music, Mayer is probably best known for his involvement in Kompakt Recordings – not only a record label but also a shop, studios, DJ booking agency and distribution arm for over a 100 other imprints – which he runs alongside Wolfgang Voigt and Jürgen Paape.

Founded in 1998, Kompakt’s origins lie in the Delirium record store, established by Wolfgang and his brother Reinhard, Paape and Jörg Burger. Legend has it that Mayer was the first customer at the newly opened Cologne shop in 1993, unhappy with the available selection he stepped up and complained, this bold move earning him the respect of his peers and in turn a job sorting out orders. Fast forward 18 months and Mayer was a partner in the business. Delirium soon spawned a number of record labels, including Profan and New Transatlantic, which became outlets for releases by Reinhard Voigt, Burger and Mayer, however it was eventually decided that these should be streamlined and housed under one name and Kompakt was born.

In tandem with these activities, Mayer was also able to cultivate an early teenage passion for DJing into a professional occupation which saw him play at various cities, his sets then largely inspired by the innovative techno productions of his Delirium associates. As Kompakt began to take shape, a DJ partnership he had earlier founded with friend, Tobias Thomas also evolved and they established Total Confusion, a weekly party which not only proved to be the stepping stone to Mayer’s international DJ career but has gone onto become Cologne’s longest running club night. It was here that Mayer developed a fondness for playing longer DJ sets, an approach he has since become renowned for. Keen to create a sense of drama he would often build through ambient tracks, edge into house and techno, perhaps taking in pop and R&B tracks along the way.

The success of Total Confusion saw Mayer earn residencies in Barcelona, Geneva and at established clubs such as Robert Johnson, Fabric and Berghain as well as numerous dates worldwide. However, such commitments combined with his responsibilities at Kompakt have reduced Michael’s production output over the years to one solo album, 2004’s Touch and sporadic single releases, meaning as an artist, he is probably more familiar for his Speicher and Immer series of DJ mixes as well as his collaboration with Superpitcher, as Supermayer. This situation may change in 2012; recent interviews have revealed that he spent much of last year in the studio and plans to put out fresh material soon.

‘Michael was one of the main inspirations for us starting Kapital in the first place’, says promoter and resident, Barry O’Connell. ‘Over the years, listening to Mayer’s sets has always helped me push myself as a DJ and he’s always topped our list of artists that we wanted to book, but sadly, due to his busy schedule, we could never find a date that suited both parties. However, we weren’t disheartened and luckily for us, that date has finally arrived.’

Kapital at the Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 24 Mar.

DJ Michael Mayer


A good helping of stripped-down techno.

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