As one of many who have emerged out of the electronic scene in Berlin, Alex Niggemann’s reputation for being slightly eccentric can sometimes overshadow his talent. He began DJing in his teens before making the move to Berlin and enrolling himself onto an Audio Engineering course in order to gain a greater understanding of music. Having built up a steady back catalogue over the past few years, he’s recently released his debut album to rave reviews and this Saturday will make his first appearance in Liverpool, playing in the intimate setting off the Shipping Forecast’s Hold. We managed to have a quick chat to him prior to this about his hip hop roots, how his new album came about and playing beach volleyball…
You’ve had a whirlwind few years, what are the standout moments for you?
Of course the release of my debut Album ‘Paranoid Funk’ was the biggest highlight until now.
But there were thousands of great moments during the last years. Traveling the world, getting to know so many lovely people, being welcomed so warmly in every country I visit and receiving so much love from all the world over is something that I would never have dreamed of only a few years ago.
When you were younger you started out listening to hip hop before moving into electronic music, what inspired the switch of genre? Are you still interested in hip hop now?
Well, I grew up at the time where electronic music first got really big in the early 90s. I think even the first music I danced to at a kids party in my elementary school was some kind of Euro-Dance stuff. I was about 8 years I think and I now realize that this was definitely the first time I listened to music on purpose.
My brother, who I always looked up to, was one of the early ravers, so EDM got part of the daily routine very fast. That was also how I got to know about the first record I ever bought: Armand van Helden – The Funk Phenomena.
And yes, I still listen to the “real” Hip-Hop” stuff, and I don’t mean the commercial “ringtone-autotune-RnB”. I still get goosebumps when listening to artists like Nas, Dr. Dre or Tupac to mention only a few.
You moved to Berlin at the start of your career, a city which is now synonymous with being a hub for dance music. What do you think it is about Berlin that encourages such a thriving scene?
Nowhere else in the world you have the possibility to meet so many people working in the same industry. Berlin got a huge network of artists, not only music-wise. It’s a creative and young city. People from all the different genres are coming together and sharing their music and experiences, which they bring from all over the world. That always leads to something new!
And the city never sleeps, there are always more interesting DJs and artists from all over the world still moving to Berlin. That’s what I like!
You’re both a DJ and producer having recently released your debut album Paranoid Funk to positive reviews. How did you find the process of making an album? What’s your favourite tracks on it?
For me it was always clear that my album will be different to others. I wanted to create an album you can listen to at home as well as enjoying on dancefloors in the whole world. That was the plan.
One thing turned out to be quite difficult for me when putting my plan into practice, was to produce something, which you know will be released one year later. So I tried to keep it as timeless as possible. It’s pretty hard to make an album sound homogenous, without tracks being too similar to each other. It took me a while to get into the right work-flow. I started about 80 songs. 20 got finished. 11 made it to the album.
Favourite track – not that’s impossible to say. I produced every single of them with so much passion and each of them is an important part of my album.
But a favourite track of mine to set at the peak time of my sets is ‘Street Therapy’.
What do you do in your downtime? Everyone has this stereotypical image of DJs just living in dark clubs and catching flights, what’s the flipside?
Haha. I love being at home, just relaxing a bit, hanging out with my friends. In summer best thing is to play beach volleyball with my buddies during the week, recovering a bit from dark weekends in sticky clubs being outside at the beach.
But I’m also really a family person. As often as possible I’m visiting my family in Düsseldorf taking a few days off and just enjoying the free time – but also have to say that this is not easy for me since I can hardly stop working and there’s always something to do. Did I mention that I’m a little workaholic?
You’re playing at Carpe Diem at the Shipping Forecast on Saturday which is a really cool intimate venue. What can we expect to hear in your set?
What’s your biggest tune at the minute?
There are a few. I’m really in love with the new stuff coming up on Soulfooled. One which definitely needs to be mentioned is “Nir Shoshani – Ajami” which comes out in 2013 or the remix of Matthias Meyer for my track “Boujuma”! – I’m so excited how people will like it!
What’s coming up in future/are you playing any big events over the festive season/NYE and what’s in the plan for 2013?
Currently there’s a lot of new and exciting stuff coming up production-wise. Really, don’t know where to start. My album ‘Paranoid Funk’ which was released this summer on Poker Flat Recordings is getting remixed – I chose some great artists for this project. The whole package will come out as ‘The Paranoid Funk Remixes’ in December this year – right in time for Xmas!
I also made some remixes myself for artists like Alex Flatner & LOPAZZ, Steve Bug, Chelonis R. Jones or Francys.
But definitely one of the highlights coming up next month is that we celebrate our label Soulfooled’s second birthday. For this reason an anniversary compilation will be released. We got some great artists on board for this – Martin Landsky, Rodriguez Jr, Jona and Matthias Meyer are only some of them.
I’m looking forward to some nice UK gigs now. Liverpool, London and Leeds will all be great. NYE and 2013 is all still in the pipeline but I can already say that we got some big plans! USA, Southamerica, Ibiza & co are also a part of it and I’m full of new ideas and energy for the new year!
The Shipping Forecast