LessThan3: You’re a proud member of Audiofly’s Flying Circus crew. How did you originally cross paths with Luca and Anthony?
Philipp: It’s been nearly 10 years now since I first met the guys. It was an immediate bond that we developed back then–almost like love at first sight. Back when they went by the name Audiofly X, we first teamed up for a track, and later put out a full compilation together. We soon realized that we share so many similar views when it comes to music and DJing; we have the same vision for the business. The partnership was very special to me, because not every musician believes in what we stand for.
LessThan3: What’s it like sharing the responsibilities behind the decks, playing collaboratively as M.A.N.F.L.Y.?
Philipp: Our back-to-back sets are unique because it takes me out of my ordinary element. Luca and Anthony have their own way of DJing together, and if they bring someone else on board, it somewhat switches up the groove, so they have no choice but to react to it. It’s a nice challenge, because each of us is already used to a personal style. We all have our own approach, and when we’re 100 per cent confident, it leads the set to a whole new level. It may not always work out, but if the flow is just right, there’s nothing better. That’s the reason why the Audiofly guys play together, and why Patrick and I play together–it creates a double energy.
LessThan3: Several of M.A.N.D.Y.’s recent gigs have exclusively attached your name to the bill, excluding your partner, Patrick Bodmer. Why hasn’t he participated in the performance aspect of the group lately?
Philipp: After leaving Berlin in 2009, I moved to New York and began to cover the US and South America while Patrick held it down in Europe and the rest of the world. Since we’ve known one another for so long, it’s good that we both found our own way. At the time, Patrick was getting married and raising a child while I was trying to escape Berlin [after living there for 12 years], so it was our conscious decision to separate for a little while. But now we’re back in the studio together, and we’re at a very good state again. We’ve had a few issues touring together because Patrick doesn’t have an American Visa yet. He’s sorting that out at the moment, so hopefully we’ll play some upcoming shows together very soon.
LessThan3: Do you feel it’s important for producers to market their sounds through touring and DJ sets?
Philipp: Back in the day, artists were able to live off of producing alone. Nowadays, illegal file-sharing services are forcing these producers to leave their studios in order to make some money, because there’s no money left in the digital music market. It’s a bit sad, but that’s the reason why so many artists are currently on the road. I recall some amazing producers from a long time ago that were true studio nerds, and now they’re faced with appearing before the public–something they never intended to do.
LessThan3: When playing individual sets, do you craft your musical selection based on the room, the crowd, or a little bit of both?
Philipp: Before each show, the agency usually fills me in on the club’s background [if I’m not already familiar]–capacity, previous bookings, etc. From there, I somewhat know what to expect, and I prepare myself accordingly. I always try to select fresh tracks to match the crowd, but I can never fully predict how the show will go. This makes it hard to perform as a live act. We’ve tried it before, and we have a lot of respect for live performers, but it’s really not for us.
LessThan3: The art of mixing records has evolved quite a bit since the start of your career. At what point did you shift from vinyls to CDs and USBs? Were there any benefits/drawbacks?
Philipp: If you don’t have a sound engineer on the road with you, you’ll end up losing a lot of volume and quality by playing vinyl, especially when opening DJs are using compressed, super-loud digital formats. You lose about 20 to 25 per cent of the raw volume; that’s the main reason for switching to digital technology. The scene has changed so quickly, and not many DJs are keeping up with vinyl anymore. I feel it’s much easier to travel with CDs and USBs, and often the digital music will have a better quality. I still buy a lot of vinyl records though, just for listening purposes. I love how record sales are so exclusive; sometimes there are only 300 copies or so in existence. The fans can’t just Shazam every single track, and that’s the way it should be.
LessThan3: Get Physical has been hailed as one of the most abundant German labels of all time. What’s the secret behind its success story? How does it outperform competing labels?
Philipp: It comes down to one important factor: work. Honestly, all the successful artists involved with the label are prepared to work harder than others. It’s a painful process at times because there are a lot of discussions and decisions involved. Every week there’s a new hotshot label popping up, so we have to keep up with the hype. We’re not necessarily trying to be the best, but we always aspire to put out solid work–tracks that will play out well in the clubs. If we’re unsatisfied with a demo sample, we’ll help the artist develop the sound. It’s our special way of showing love for the music.
LessThan3: Between record sales, chartings, and polls, what do you feel is the most accurate way to measure achievement in the modern music industry?
Philipp: Success can only come from within. Being happy with your accomplishments is the ultimate achievement. If you’re obsessed with making the Top 100 poll [and you finally make it], the next year you’ll be fixed on making the top 50, and so on and so forth. That’s a dangerous cycle. As artists, we must stay true to the music and continue to impress ourselves. However, I still have respect for DJs like David Guetta; even though they search for fame and money, it still takes them a lot of hard work to stay at the top. But those goals are not for me. I don’t think we should measure underground musicians that way, because there’s simply no end to the measurement.
LessThan3: In this day and age, do you feel the underground music industry resembles more of a competition or a family?
It’s a combination of both competition and teamwork. That’s why I teamed up with Audiofly, as well as the Cityfox
group–we all share the same vision in a growing industry. I admire how Cityfox is bold enough to bring in their own sound systems and customize so many unique parties. I love people like that–risk-takers. They’re maniacs, but in a good way. We’re not necessarily trying to compete with everyone else, but at the same time, we don’t really hold hands with every single artist out there. Competition can be unhealthy when you start to become jealous of others’ poll standings, so it’s best to focus on alliances rather than rivalries.
LessThan3: Have you noticed a gradual change within the composition of traditional house music over time?
Of course. Our biggest track Body Language
was produced more than five years ago, and at 130 BPM, it’s faster than most of the downtempo music that we often hear from modern-day producers. Mainly because of Nicolas Jaar
, the entire genre has dramatically slowed down over the years–now it’s all about the groove. That said, I think the tempo’s starting to pick up again, because the crowds want something energetic to dance to. Like any other type of music, it really changes in a cycle.
LessThan3: Do you feel the American scene is properly equipped to receive underground dance music and appreciate it as such?
Philipp: I believe New York is ready for the music at least. But the US is such a large country, and the “EDM” movement is completely separate from techno and house. Relating the mainstream to the underground is like trying to match X’s with Y’s. I’ve noticed a bit of progress in certain regions, but I predict it will take a few more years for Americans to fully catch on to our message.