Reznik Interview

We chat having a laissez-faire attitude, music journalism and facial hair with the Keinemusik star

A longstanding member of Berlin's Keinemusik, Reznik's musical tastes stretch far beyond his well known house and techno side to encompass a varied past taking in everything from hardcore punk to hip-hop. A dedicated DJ rather than producer, he's appeared on Boiler Room numerous times, most recently back to back with Keinemusik boss Adam Port. 

Ahead of his appearance alongside the rest of the Keinemusik squad this Saturday at Berlin Berlin, we chatted about laissez-faire attitudes, music journalism and facial hair.

Tell us about your roots into house and techno. It sounds from your eclectic tastes that you were into lots of other different sounds and scenes first. What were some key formative moments in your musical evolution?

I remember one night many years ago in Leipzig an acquaintance was mixing house records in a club. I knew him as the drummer of a post-rock outfit. Even though the club wasn’t a house or techno-club, everything still made perfect sense. So all those interdisciplinary aspects, all this genre bending and crossing over was important for me to realise the integral impact of this music. It was also the night that sparked the impulse to get a second turntable and to learn proper beat matching. That’s how the whole world of DJing opened up for me. Before that many different scenes were more or less essential and defining for me as a listener. I’d highlight the punk and hardcore era of my youth, as this still resonates with me in terms of my mindset: being vegetarian, not taking any drugs etc. But then there are so many other genres I’m interested in, post-punk, doom, drone, noise, electronic music, singer/songwriter, rap. You name it...

What's your link to the Keinemusik crew?

When I moved to Berlin in 2006, Adam was one of the first friends I came across in the city. I guess we clicked instantly as we both have similar musical upbringings. Through Adam I met Rampa, through Rampa I met &ME and when the idea came up to establish this collective and label, the connections were already made and we’d already spent time and nights in the Berlin club scene together.

Your biography seems pretty down on tech-house DJs who don't listen to any other kind of music. Is that problem particularly rife in Berlin? Do you think it closes the musical gene pool, because they don't have any other influences to bring to their productions?

Maybe it’s time to update my bio! Not because what I said isn't true, just because it doesn’t really matter. I’m pro laissez-faire. All I can say is I have much appreciation for DJs who are able to broaden horizons within a set, who can pull off something unexpected and still make it work. I think that’s much more interesting than a generic set of any genre that is immersed within the same sound and vibe.

Is this related to the reason that you've not delved into production yourself, you'd rather concentrate on DJing as your craft rather than putting out DJ tools to get gigs?

I never wanted DJing to be a career option, I was afraid it might lose the fun part if it was a career. So job-wise, for the major part of my working life, I focussed on journalism and editorial work and DJing was a side-occupation that gradually got more important over the years. But still, I've never felt comfortable enough with the stuff I dabbled with in my bedroom studio so far. To be frank, it also doesn’t help if you work as a music critic and then try to produce something on your own you feel content with. It’s not that there is no ambition to produce beats, it’s just the same thing as it is with DJing. I’m aware that your own productions are today's business card for what you would call a DJ career. But still, making business decisions is not what I aim for when it comes to music.

You've done a lot of Boiler Rooms. Do you have a favourite? Do you prepare for them in a different way to a normal gig?

I played a back to back set with Adam for the 5th birthday of Boiler Room last year. I’d say that was my favourite. It was the one that felt most like a club gig, meaning you weren’t that much aware of the cameras and it was easy to connect with the crowd. The only letdown: it was just one hour. I remember we didn’t prepare for it that much. Both of us had a collection of tunes that we liked and wanted to play, but then the set came to life kind of in the moment.

They also display your wild variation in facial hair, from full beard to fresh morning shave. What face furniture are you currently rocking?

I’m glad we’re talking essential stuff now, haha. I’m working on a Tom Selleck meets Full Metal Jacket appearance these days.

There's a quote on your website from Alec Empire calling you one the DJs in Berlin with the most integrity. How do you know the Atari Teenage Riot frontman? 

Shortly after I moved to Berlin I happened to interview him for the magazine I was working for. It was a very insightful conversation and my fandom even increased after that. After that, he booked me for a couple of parties he organised in Berlin and although this quote is some years old, I’m still a bit proud he conceived me that way. And yes, I’m still into all his projects and I also liked the last ATR album and the shows they were playing.

Berlin seems to be ever-changing. What are you favourite new club, bar and record shop?

I'm not that much of a bar guy. My record shop of choice when it comes to the sounds I play in clubs is OYE. For everything else, it's Bis Aufs Messer in Friedrichshain. Favourite clubs are about Blank, Else (we’re doing a Keinemusik Open Air there on May 14th), Ipse, Paloma Bar, and Farbfernseher. I also recently played in Keller in Neukölln and liked it a lot. Plus, the standard recommendations Panorama Bar and Sisyphos. 

Name three tunes that give a flavour of what you’re likely to play at Egg?

Pale Blue - 'Have You Passed Through This Night' 

Mr. G - 'Navigate'

Octo Octa - 'On Your Lips'