Dare to be different – An Interview with Legowelt

The singular Dutch producer talks to Ian Maleney ahead of his appearance at the Sugar Club this Friday.

Danny Wolfers has been at the centre of at least three different zeitgeists in his long history of making dance music. Coming out of the Hague in the mid 90s with releases on Bunker, he enjoyed a brief moment in the limelight thanks to Disco Rout coming out on Sven Vath’s Cocoon label, riding the electroclash wave until he got bored of it or he freaked the audiences out too much. He’s since released on label of the moment, L.I.E.S., an outfit who seem to share his attitude to work and sound, as well as continually putting out material on his own label.  A singular presence at the heart of European dance music for nearly 20 years, Wolfers refuses to get caught up in his “career”, focusing instead on making great music, every day. 

What is your working schedule like? Is it important to you to stay creative all the time, just plugging away at a track or a synth until you get something you like rather than waiting for inspiration to strike?
If you are trained in this stuff for a long time like me you don’t need to wait for inspiration to strike, it just comes to you when you want or you just change your attitude or your way of working look at things from a different angle. There is so much you can do its like fishing from a giant ocean of unlimited ideas you just gotta steer your little boat to where the fishing grounds are. 

I was really interested in a comment you made about gear-nerds and synth collectors, that it can all get very macho. Do you think this is a widely held view, and one that maybe holds back a lot of women from getting involved in electronic music?
This gear nazism is getting less and less fortunately, You gotta be open-minded or else you will end up in a vicious hole of never ending gear grudge. I don’t think that women are held back at all, there have been women doing this stuff since day one of electronic music. 

You’ve talked about liking music by people like Terence Dixon, Andy Stott, Actress, etc. What about those artists makes them “futuristic” to you?
Those artists just have their own unique signature sound, their own unique style and way they “paint” the music, they don’t give a fuck about what other people think or do like a lot of pedestrian boring techno producers that just follow and copy others and try to sound all clean and hi-fi. I like when artists “dare to be different” like Jus Ed sais on one of his tracks.

Have you found much to like in the recent trend for very noisy techno? You’ve released on L.I.E.S which is very much at the heart of a new, but still pretty retro-sounding, dirty sound.
That noisy techno sound is not new at all, that stuff has been done since the early 90s. It’s just all these new hipster kids that were in rock music who became interested in house and techno now hear this shit for the first time and make it all hip again, calling it outsider house or whatever the fuck.

Do you see innovation as being an important part of the producer’s task?
I don’t think innovation is important at all, the most important thing is the artists own character in the music, his signature sound. To be original, have faith in his own music, this can be done with being in old sounds too. Its the artists own style that will make the music innovative. 

You surprised a lot of people by saying you use Ableton and Reason alongside your older equipment. Is it important for you to find a balance between old and new technologies? And is that a difficult balance to find?
No, for me its all the same. Digital synths, computers, analog synths, software, trackers, Ableton, hardware sequencers I don’t care were it comes from they are all equal instruments. For gods sake most analog synths are filled with digital chips too and have lots of controlling software in them. 

I’ve read that you see no future in vinyl and maybe are not generally a big fan of it. Do you think vinyl is another element of nostalgia in dance music culture? 
I am not a vinyl hater or anything I love holding a piece of vinyl and putting it on the record player. But I think these vinyl only guys are really ridiculous being all anti-digital, what the fuck is their problem? I don’t really care about these things, its the same boring discussion about digital vs analog. Its so fucking boring and a waste of time, the real thing people should be concentrating on is music itself.

How do you approach playing in front of crowds these days? Is it a standard kind of DJ set or do you try to do something more live or prepared?
Its mostly live, I can do whatever I feel like. I seldom prepare anything really, just the standard things like beats, but how I am going to play them is all up to what happens in the Night. Of course there are some standard things I do a couple of times cause I know they will work, but the live set is always evolving. Each and every gig I learn or train new things to do.

Legowelt plays the Sugar Club this Friday, 1st March.

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