Hey Henri, great to meet you! Tell us about the vibe and aim of your label Automatik?
My taste in music is so broad the main aim is to release music I would play whilst DJing, and not to be restricted by genres. I’m always drawn to music that’s memorable and has something catchy about it whether it’s a vocal, instrumental hook or just a really unique style that stands out.
Why did you start it, what was the catalyst and motivation?
I wanted to be in control of my own releases and not have to rely on other people to get my music out there. Labels have a specific sound they want you to fit into, whereas I wanted to be able to dictate my own sound on my terms and not fit into someone else’s box. The process is typically: spend months or even years making a track, and then if sending it out to labels, wait a long time for them to respond – that’s if they respond at all. Then if they eventually sign it, it’s another few months before they can fit it into their schedule, by which point it’s been another few months and I’m already over the track. On my label I can get a track out in a matter of weeks from when it’s finished, choose my own artwork, remixers, marketing direction and release date. Now that I’ve successfully put out a few of my own tracks, the aim is to develop the label to create a community around like-minded producers especially in the UK where I feel like the melodic house and techno scene isn’t that prevalent. I want to help other producers grow and have an outlet and eventually put on our own events.
How does it feel looking back one year after your breakout tune Higher Dimension?
It feels like a testament to what happens when you take the reins and do something yourself. Looking back at Maceo Plex playing the original version as a staple in his sets over the last year is surreal. I was nervous about the original being strong enough for the dancefloor and then I saw one of the dj’s I most respect play it again and again, and it gave me the confidence to play it myself, which is kind of stupid, but a lot of producers I’ve spoken to have said the same thing. All the remixes by Jonathan Kaspar, Mark Höffen, and 19:26 also got such a great response and even more dj’s playing it, which I guess is the point of having remixes.. to take the original in different directions and further its reach.
Tell us what inspired your new remix – what was the aim?
The aim of the whole new remix package is to give HD a new lease of life. I find it so depressing how ephemeral music is these days, especially in dance music. It does a circuit and then it’s already old. Human Rias first asked me for the stems after his video playing HD at Exit Festival last year basically went viral. I didn’t want to give them to him because I was like: then what? I’m not going to release a remix randomly months later. But I’d been wanting to do a more techno leaning remix for ages, especially hearing Maceo Plex playing the track really fast in some of his sets. Seeing how it worked sped up, I thought fuck it I’ll do one too and we’ll make this a thing. Then amazingly Hernan Cattaneo immediately agreed to do a remix which floored me. The package is completed by Thodoris Triantafillou, who is going to be the first producer that’s not me to release an EP on Automatik, so it made sense for him to be introduced to the label this way.
How different are you in remix mode vs when producing originals?
When producing originals I’ll often start with a melody or drums, which will most likely see a few incarnations throughout the process and may not even be on the final version. Whereas with a remix you know the parts you choose to keep from the original will definitely still be there in the end, and you work around them until something sticks.
You’re into your fashion – how does that relate to music, is there a direct link?
In a way it does and in a way it doesn’t. I love dressing up and djing fashion parties, but I would never wear a colorful couture outfit to dj a dark smokey nightclub and likewise I most likely wouldn’t play one of my harder sets at a fashion party. But then sometimes the worlds collide like when I played for Miu Miu at Rasputin and the last party I dj’d for Chloe at Paris Fashion Week with Honey Dijon and Chloe Caillet and the creative team really respect the music and make the party about that. Also playing at fashion parties gives me an opportunity to play more eclectic sets and not just electronic music which is how I started djing in the first place.
And do you feel as a woman you have a role of representation – that is important for women in the scene to be seen for younger generations looking up?
Yes definitely. There aren’t nearly as many female dj’s headlining clubs and festivals, and I think the more young aspiring dj’s and producers see us being successful, the more likely they are to pursue it as a career and not be intimidated. I also hope it inspires more women to go clubbing and listen to electronic music, because sometimes I look in the audience and I see a sea of men out there, and that has quite a macho energy which makes sense where there’s an almost all-male lineup. Dance music has always been at the forefront of inclusivity, embracing diversity and breaking down barriers based on race, gender and sexual orientation. It’s encouraging to see more and more female DJs but there’s still a long way to go before it’s equal.
Who did you look up to? Who inspired and influenced you coming up in music?
Even though her music is at least 20 bpms faster than what I play, as a woman Nina Kraviz has been very inspiring as she was one of the first female techno artists to be a headliner. I remember seeing her at Coachella probably a decade ago and all the really judgemental music snobs I was with were like huge respect to Nina, she’s the real deal. Since then Peggy Gou, Amelie Lens and Charlotte de Witte have reached the same level but she was the first.
What else have you got coming up?
I’ve just taken some time off to finish a few tracks and now I’m about to go on tour again, playing a few Zamna festivals in Dubai, Tulum, Costa Rica & Madrid before the summer festival circuit. I’m going to release Automatik’s first VA after the summer… I’m still accepting demos…
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Henri Bergmann, Fat Cosmoe, Wennink – Higher Dimension Remixes EP is out now on Automatik