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In Conversation: Gerd Janson

In Conversation: Gerd Janson

One half of the Running Back record label, Gerd Janson has established himself as one of the must see names on the German DJ circuit and beyond thanks to his exploits behind the decks. We caught up with the German selector ahead of his appearance at Chibuku Shake in Liverpool on the 5th of December to talk label releases, inspirations and facial hair.

Hi Gerd, how are you doing?

Like a pig in a sty. Thank you!

Your label Running Back has two forthcoming releases from Jex and Brian Ring over the coming weeks, which will be label debuts for both. Can you tell us a bit about them?
Toronto man and New York resident Jex is actually an – in my world – already established producer who records as Jex Opolis for his own Good Timin imprint. He came to my attention by sending me test pressings out of the blue, that not only looked great, but also featured a very well done and irresistible modern take on boogie music. Later on he started sending me old and new music of his  that felt like a departure from that downtempo boogie template and that didn't really fit on Good Timin' – so I decided to do a Good Timin' EP myself. As for the young Irish gentleman Brian Ring: an e-mail out of the blue (sometimes it does work, kids) ended up in his debut EP not only for Running Back, but in the world of vinyl recordings.

At the weekend you’re playing/you played at Panorama Bar for Innervisions’ Überall party. The former Ostgut is becoming more widely known through an increase in more musically accessible parties, with the recent Pop-Kultur festival completely changing the club in the way of its dynamic, the music and the infamous door policy. Do you think there would ever be a risk of the club coming to being a fad and losing its uniqueness, much like many places around the world, if attention keeps keep being drawn toward it? Do you think a rise in its popularity would be a good thing?
Hmmm, that is a question you should ask someone actually involved in that process or one of the club's representatives. As a general rule of thumb: a rise in popularity is always a great thing if it's for a great thing.

Gerd Janson

You are a resident at the infamous Robert Johnson in Frankfurt, which is known for its intimacy as it holds a capacity of just 300. What has been your fondest memory from your years playing at the club?
The proverbial question that deals with the parents' favourite kid. Always the last, I'd like to say.

Robert Johnson comes to London's Dance Tunnel - Sun 6th Dec - with Ata, Benedict Frey, Bobby Pleasure and more. Find out more get tickets.

The new Musik For Aoutobahns II compilation on Rush Hour, which you have mixed, is hugely reminiscent of the sound fathomed by Kraftwerk during the 1970’s, with many of the tracks (especially those from Fort Romeau and Orson Wells) touching heavily upon it. Was the group an inspiration for this mix at all and what other ideas influenced which artists you approached?
The influence of Kraftwerk is more tongue-in-cheek than anything else. I enjoy their music, too, but to be honest, people who drew inspiration from them or blatantly sampled them, probably had more influence on my musical socialization than Kraftwerk themselves. The main thing was to find music that sounds nice in the car while driving long distances, but also works in the late and early hours of certain intimate clubs, e.g. at Robert Johnson.

In an interview with Thump you talk a little about the artists on Musik For Autobahns II and how the tracks from the compilation could be considered a-typical for them. Obviously there is more freedom for creativity within electronic music as there are rarely major labels dictating an artists output, however do you think being cornered into producing a thinner variety of music is something more artists should try and break out from?
Depends on the artist. Some can pull it off and others should stick to their last as any good cobbler would. But there is no harm in trying and as a good coach or avid music fan I should probably motivate everybody to pursue their dreams, shouldn't I?

Tiger & Woods have named you as the best DJ in the world and say it is something they have agreed upon for the last 10 years. Who would you say is your favourite DJ and why?
They just try to make me blush as they can very much hold their own. Marco Passarani (one half of T&W) for instance has been one of the most imaginative and for a lack of a better word, “funky” techno DJs (in it's traditional sense) that I can think of. I don't have a favourite DJ or a dozen of them. I can enjoy Marcel Dettmann as much as I can delve into the leftfield pop and balearic world of Lexx. Everlasting impacts have been made by people like Theo Parrish or DJ Harvey, Robert Johnson's Ata and my very own schoolmaster Thomas Hammann as well as Prins Thomas, DVS1 or Ben UFO and a dancehall selector by the name of General Motors whose tapes teached me how to juggle a riddim.

Robert Johnson comes to London's Dance Tunnel - Sun 6th Dec - with Ata, Benedict Frey, Bobby Pleasure and more. Find out more get tickets.

The duo also speculate as to whether you are in fact Jesus and what you may or may not hide in your beard… If you could build a secret compartment into your wonderful abundance of facial hair, what would you use it for?
If I were Jesus, I could stop being an agnostic. That compartment could be handy for a fresh load of ginger everywhere I go.

You are playing at the Liverpool based party Chibuku on the 5th of December alongside San Proper, Mano Le Tough and Felix Dickinson. Do you have any fond memories of playing in Liverpool before?
Yes, at the Bombed Out church with Prins Thomas, Todd Terje and Greg Wilson. Hearing the first dropping The La's to a delighted public and seeing the love for Greg Wilson in his hometown.

Gerd Janson will play Chibuku Liverpool - Sat 5th Dec. View full lineup featuring Mano Le Tough, San Proper and more and get tickets.

Interview by Josh Plews

Photos courtesy of Ben Price & Magnet Musik

In Conversation: Gerd Janson

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