Coinciding with the release of his ‘Dispersion‘ EP on Marcel Fengler’s IMF label, we caught up with Berlin-based artist AVION for an exclusive interview. Playing his first gig when he was 15 years old, electronic music is a main factor of AVION’s life. From melancholic warmth to industrial straight rhythms and noises, his sets are always telling a story, curious to find unexpected ways of music to define that special moment on the floor. The drive to express and trying unusual soundscapes defines him as an upcoming producer and DJ with deep roots in electronic music. You can download ‘Dispersion’ on Beatport, or purchase on vinyl.
What first piqued your interest in music production?
When I was young, I had no idea how music was produced. One day my brother brought a big box with some rotary knobs and buttons home from school. It was my 12th birthday. It was a Vermona ER9 Drum and Rhythm machine from the GDR. Fortunately, my little radio had a connection that was compatible with the machine. I was so fascinated by being able to control all these rhythms, tempo and parts of percussions. I recorded nearly 10-15 tapes each of 90 min with real time jamming on this machine in the first week! It was like a kick off point.
You consider yourself a ‘music nerd’ from age 11. Did you grow up in a musical household? What sort of music did you grow up listening to?
I didn’t really grow up in a musical household. No one in my immediate family played an instrument or anything. My parents taste in music was varied. It ranged from bands like The Flippers or Nino De Angelo to Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann or Smokie. We didn’t really follow classical music, but my brother was very into stuff like Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Metallica, Judas Priest etc. so I grew up adopting his taste a lot. I was really into Depeche Mode, Nirvana and even got into more Hardcore stuff like Mokum Records or Rotterdam Records. And of course, the euro dance scene with 2 Unlimited or Culture Beat and Snap.
Do you think this has affected your productions today?
Of course. I think all of these affected my productions in some way, more or less.
What kind of music/musicians do you find yourself being influenced or inspired by?
Definitely Jeff Mills, Depeche Mode and Björk. I love the drive, mood and futuristic sound of Jeff’s productions. He is absolutely different and ahead of our time; I’m a big fan of his music. Also, his art of DJing is still one of the best I have ever seen. The tougher sounds of Depeche Mode and their industrial touch paired with the voices of Dave Gahan and Martin L. Gore is always something that grabs me. I consider them musical heroes and they’re still a big inspiration for me. Björk for the way she experiments with sounds, noises and breaks – and her unique voice.She is a master of creating something special that is both scary and beautiful. I also can’t forget about the Gerberei Schwerin Club with DJs such as Ron Albrecht, Stefan Rein, Rosie or Henry. They really strengthened my knowledge of electronic music for me, especially the sound of Detroit. I learned so much with them. Furthermore, I came across Ostgut Ton and their productions from Marcel Dettmann, Marcel Fengler or Norman Nodge much later in life, but I love their reduced, deep and raw style of music.
You say you don’t find it easy being away from water, having grown up near the sea. How do your surroundings affect your music?
I love Berlin and it feels like home for me but with spending nearly half of my life at the beach it is sometimes tough to live in a city like Berlin. Surroundings and mood are very important to reach the results you’re hoping for. I don’t like to be in a small room without a view, for example. I need to see some dynamics. Of course, I can spend days in the studio without leaving to go outside which is always a bit scary for my lovely girlfriend. However, from my studio, I can see the Rummelsburger Bucht combined with some industrial exhausts and the Berlin S-Bahn. Enough dynamics with water, only the beach is missing.
How do you balance being in a full-time engineer job and your music? Do they compliment each other in any ways?
It is not so easy to combine a full-time job, music label, production and home. It requires a lot of time management and it is sometimes very frustrating. Music is for my heart and soul, my job is for my head. I am trying to keep everything in balance. I integrated my little studio into my flat so it is much easier to find the time. I think my neighbours aren’t so happy with this decision, however. I love to do music in the night or in the early morning but due to my job it is much more difficult than when I was studying. I am now an engineer and I have a strict and focused workflow. Similarly, with my music, I have a sound and vision in my mind and I’m always trying to reach that target.
What advice would you give other full-time students or professionals who are looking to find success in the music industry in their spare time?
Definitely find tolerant neighbours! But the most important thing for me was being patient and not to be too focused on success. With a full-time job, everything is running slower than having sufficient time to meet people, spend time in the studio and network in clubs. You need to love what you do no matter if you are successful in the public-eye or not.
What are your essential pieces of hardware/software?
I love my Roland TR8 Drum Machine. It is simply the rhythm core of my whole set-up. I am using Ableton Live as DAW and lots of Plug Ins like Rob Papen, TAL or U-HE. The workflow in Ableton was very difficult for me at the beginning due to the fact I started with Reason and Logic. But now I don’t want to be without it! Also, my Technics MK2 Turntables are an essential part of recording noises and sounds.
What was the inspiration behind your new EP?
It is tough to say. ‘Real’ had something like 9 different versions before the final on the Index Marcel Fengler release. My tracks are mostly a remix of a remix of an older beta version of a track. Initially, ‘Enidan’ was an industrial uptempo track before I had the idea to do something different with the noises inside while I watching TV on a Thursday evening. Marcel and I compiled the EP together out of a bunch of nearly 30 tracks I gave to him. It was very easy to find this selection due to the fact we were on the same wavelength when it came to the vision we had for the EP. I like contrasts away from standard and mainstream. I find EPs with multiple tracks sounding similar boring. I love to create my own machine funk and I tried to do this in the tracks on IMF in different ways.
Did you have a particular vision before you began work on Dispersion?
For ‘Inverse’ I had a clear vision of how I wanted it to sound. I recorded the track in one take and made no corrections to the automation or whatever. It was rough, trippy and just as I imagined it in my head. ‘Dispersion’ was different. I had two different drafts of tracks but neither were what I wanted. One of the drafts was created more than 3 years ago. In each draft, something was missing for me. So I combined both one evening and had the final.
Are you working on any projects in the future?
Yes, I am currently working together with Thomas Hessler for the Crossing 010 of my label which is planned for the end of this year. It is very exciting to collaborate with another artist. Thomas is not located in Berlin so we are editing and recording lots of ideas, sending them over to each other and trying to find out what fits both of our visions. Our productions are normally different but we think that will add some spice to each others work and enable us to create something we likely wouldn’t have been able to if we produced alone. It is really fun to work with Thomas who is a very creative and experienced producer.
Where can we catch you playing next?
I think the next date will be in Cologne on the 5th August for PsychoThrill Cologne, together with Claus Bachor and Roland Casper.
On AVION’s latest release on his IMF label, Marcel Fengler had this to say: ‘The first time I got in touch with AVION´s work was actually about a remix that Thomas Hessler was doing for Pfirter on AVION´s label Crossing. Thomas is a key artist on IMF and a close friend. This was Crossing #08 and the whole remix Ep is a very strong release. Once I got it I also checked other releases on this label and AVION´s track ´Thrill`on Crossing#07 got all my attention. As Thomas connected us personally at the beginning of the year we found out that we had already played alot of common gigs back in the 90´s and I thought – it´s a small world once again. He dropped me a couple of sound ideas and tracks. What I really do like is his uncompromising and raw but at the same time kinda funky interpretation of techno and I knew that that was something I didn’t already have on my label, so we spoke about a certain selection for an EP on IMF. I’m very happy to see how everything turned out!’
You can download ‘Dispersion’ here.
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