Oct 27, 2011

German producer Wippenberg doesn’t like to be tied down to one sound only. Part house, part trance, & part loud, his hits have garnered the support of a wide variety of DJs & genres. Learn about his label branding strategy & the German EDM scene in our exclusive interview.

Wippenberg - U R (Original Mix) [Get Wipped]
LessThan3: How does a Wippenberg booking usually work? Does the promoter reach out to you?
Olaf: It’s actually a pretty tough business because there are a million DJs out there. I had some hits with Pong and Chakalaka, which was the door opener. That made things a lot easier. You’re always in competition because they can’t book every DJ.
LessThan3: What are some things artists can do to raise their chances of getting a slot in festivals?
Olaf: If you get your job done properly and you have some good tracks going on, it’s always easier to do the DJing thing. When you have tracks that people know, people start requesting you. That’s the most important thing from the promoter—to get feedback from the people. “Oh you have to book this DJ and that DJ.” The more they hear a certain name, the better the chances are that you’ll get booked. In 2010 there was a lot of “name-dropping” going on with me in the US with the IDMA nomination, so that really opened a lot of doors.
LessThan3: Do you have any favorite remixes of your tracks over the years? Markus Schulz’ remix of U R has been played a lot.
Olaf: I appreciate that of course, but to be honest, especially with U R, there was a bit of a meaning behind it with the lyrics, and that gets lost if you cut them completely out like he did. I like his mix, but if you listen to a set of mine, it’s already too banging for me. It’s good for him to start out with, and it works really well because we already played a couple of times together this year when I did the opening for him. When I end with U R and he takes over, it’s a perfect transition in sets. There has been some discussion about the track. A lot of people didn’t really get into it, but on the other side it opened a lot of other doors for me; even people like Guetta and Chris Lake played it.
LessThan3: Can you explain the meaning behind U R?
Olaf: I don’t know how it is here in the US, but in Germany, all of those talent shows like Pop Idol and Germany’s Next Top Model are very popular. There’s a casting show on every TV channel, and over the years I just got tired of that. In my view, it has a bad influence on the kids. If you just go out on the street and ask a kid what he wants to be in his life, he’ll say, “I just want to be a superstar.” That’s actually how I came up with the lyrics—they just popped up one day. That’s why it says U R a star, I know you think you are, because there are so many people influenced by these shows, so they think they have a talent for something or they think they’re the best singer in the world, and they cannot honor what others did to get where they are. You need experience—you can’t make it from zero to hero within a couple of weeks.
LessThan3: Sometimes it’s possible for people to go zero to hero, especially if you win one of these talent shows.
Olaf: Of course it’s possible if you win; everyone has the chance to get there, but actually getting there is not the point. Staying there is the bigger point. When I started out, a very experienced German producer told me that having a top 10 hit is not the problem. Having several top 10 hits and keeping the business going and doing follow-up tracks that also are as successful as your first hit—that’s the problem.
LessThan3: What has opened the most doors for you on the production side of things?
Olaf: Getting played! That’s what’s always most important to me. I don’t like being pinned to one genre–I like to be open-minded. I like to keep an eye on everything that is going on from dubstep to techno. As I’m from Germany, which is pretty techno influenced, I get a lot from there. It’s always important to have a big variety of DJs playing my tracks, not only trance DJs or house DJs. The more DJs play your tracks, the more popularity they get.
LessThan3: How is dubstep doing in Germany?
Olaf: I think it’s still kind of an underground thing. German people are either very cheesy or very underground. All the big room clubs play the commercial house stuff like David Guetta. On the other hand you have pure techno clubs, and there is almost nothing in between. Dubstep is a thing you see on iTunes. You see dubstep compilations selling more and more in Germany, but it’s still an underground thing.
LessThan3: Which way do you think dubstep will trend for Germany and in general?
Olaf: I don’t know; I was pretty impressed when I was in Miami in March at Ultra. I didn’t play there, but I just walked around and I saw Afrojack
playing; he dropped a track with some dubstep elements and people went nuts. It’s something very exciting, especially for the younger people.
LessThan3: What do you think about the rise of the US and worldwide EDM scenes?
Olaf: I remember playing in the US for the first time eleven or twelve years ago. I played in New York City at Webster Hall and it was pretty funny because the DJ before me played some kind of house mixes of very well-known pop music, like Michael Jackson and Madonna. At that time I started playing some trancey stuff with long breakdowns and suddenly I realized people were moving off the dancefloor because they weren’t used to it. They didn’t know what to do when there was no ongoing beat anymore. It was weird to see, but that has totally changed. Especially in Europe, we’ve had techno and dance music for more than 20 years now, whereas in the US, you guys had hip hop and R&B for more than 20 years. Now I see dance music getting more and more popular in the US, and in Europe the whole hip hop and R&B thing is getting more popular. In Europe the whole dance music thing kind of had a sell-out point. It was very popular over the last ten years—on the charts and everywhere, but at some point it was just too much, so it started to split. It’s going on in the clubs in the same way now. You have either the chart music stuff or the club music.
LessThan3: Do you have plans to remix any Anjunabeats tracks? Have they reached out to you?
Olaf: That always totally depends on the track. I’ve gotten one or two remix requests from Anjunabeats, but I’ve had either had no time or wasn’t that much into the track. If things work out well, I will do one again for them. They are very nice guys and I always love working with them.
LessThan3: Your track Phoenix was recently featured on Sander van Doorn’s 2011 Dusk Till Doorn compilation. Can you give us more info on the creation and evolution of that track?
Olaf: Phoenix was actually a pretty quick thing for me. Usually it takes two to three weeks to get a track done since I have to listen to it a thousand times, but with Phoenix I was in a bit of a rush. Markus Schulz wanted it for his Prague compilation as an exclusive track, and there was a deadline, so I had to do it in a couple of days. I’m pretty happy with the result because it was just meant to be a track for his compilation—we didn’t even plan to release it as a single. Then I started touring with Markus in the beginning of the year; having that track on the compilation was part of the concept of touring together. We saw that the track caused great reactions from other DJs. At the same time I thought about doing my own label, Get Wipped. Then it was just a quick decision to put Phoenix on our own label as the first track.
LessThan3: What ideas were a part of creating your label? Why now?
Olaf: I used to be with High Contrast, but I felt like I needed my own platform. Like I said, I don’t like to be classified in one genre. High Contrast is a classic trance label. I love to do different things, so that was the main reason to get the label going—it’s a playground for myself where I can do whatever I want. The idea behind having your own label is an entire business concept. Get Wipped is not just a label; it’s also my podcast. I also want to tour under that name and do do some t-shirts with “Get Wipped” on the front and “Got Wipped” on the back. It’s all about building a brand based on Wippenberg.
LessThan3: Do you think that there will be labels rising up that will be multi-genre?
Olaf: I think there will be more and more labels that will sign different music as well, because that’s just how it goes. I remember when I did that Needs to Feel remix, there were pretty diverse reactions to it: people either hated it or loved it. At that time it was a pretty drastic combination of electro and trance, so for some people it was just a farty bassline with some blippy sounds. Now a lot of trance sounds like this, so it’s funny how things develop.

LessThan3: If the world were ending in LessThan3 minutes, and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Olaf: It’s a pretty boring answer, but My Way by Frank Sinatra. That’s what I’m trying to do—I’m trying to do my thing, which isn’t always easy, but I prefer doing my own thing without getting influenced too much by others in a negative way.
LessThan3: Describe your sound in LessThan3 words.
Olaf: Rough, Tough, and Loud.
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