TITP 2015: Rødhåd interview – 'I try to bring my own view on the music and sound to the people'
The DJ and producer makes his T in the Park debut this year, on the back of his meteoric rise
This article is from 2015.
Someone once said that writing about music was like dancing to architecture – where techno is concerned, this analogy has some currency. Great techno sets are defined by a sense of structure, the outlines of which rise up and fall down in flowing contours and, sometimes, sharp spikes. The arc that Rødhåd's sets follow are rather unique; for a start, they're often not arcs at all. They begin at a peak where other DJs would spend hours building towards, and then simmer down slowly before another peak arrives. This is driven by circumstance as well as design. As Rødhåd's profile grew in his native Berlin through residencies in Golden Gate and Zementgarten in the mid-to-late noughties, he spent more time closing parties than opening them, and these days his typical schedule – which includes regular slots at Berghain and his own party and label, Dystopian, as well as a glut of festival bookings – encourages this high-octane style.
It's tempting to consider Rødhåd's style as a product of his former profession – he was working at an architecture firm until last year – and it's a comparison he's acknowledged in the past, though these days the process is more intuitive. 'The good thing about a DJ is that he needs to read the crowd, so I just react on what energy level is possible and try to bring my own view on the music and sound to the people. That's the secret.'
The Dystopian sound mingles with familiar tropes of the genre: science fiction, industrial landscapes, melancholy sounds and greyscale artwork. It is, however, an authentic reflection of the label's mindset. In a previous interview, Rødhåd described himself and the other members of the Dystopian crew as 'melancholy guys' ('I don't mean to say that we're not very happy people, but for me it's not like 'lalalalala' all the time,' he once told Resident Advisor). When you square this with the perennial adrenaline rush his DJ sets can sometimes resemble, it makes for an intoxicating cocktail. But, he tells me: 'we are not only interested in making music for the dancefloor; [we make it] with all atmospheres we love, like melancholy, darker grooves and so on. But, we also want to be open minded – not always techno music.'
Rødhåd's T in the Park debut this summer underscores a meteoric rise for someone who still seems genuinely surprised at the idea of being a full-time DJ and producer. 'To be honest,' he says, 'I still need some time to realise the changes in my life. To be independent and live from what you love is satisfying.' His present profile as an artist is thanks in no small part to his music, which blends the machinistic grooves of modern Berlin techno with a high-spec minimalism – 'Newspeak', a track from one of his earliest EPs, the George Orwell-referencing 1984, feels like an earnest nod to Robert Hood. That he's now jostling for space with Detroit legends of that calibre on festival flyers is apt when you consider the stratospheric climes his music inhabits – only Rødhåd himself still seems to be adjusting to the altitude.
Rødhåd plays the Slam Tent at T in the Park on Sat 11 Jul.