In an age where any newcomer can use their connections to be propelled to the homepages of every other website, it’s nice to see figures like Dorian Paic and his raum…musik. label discreetly get the dues they’ve patiently earned over the years. Whereas the formers enjoy their few months or years of fame before being dismissed as fads and swept away by the next big thing, the Frankfurt native has always been doing his own thing, whether it went in or out of fashion. For sure, he’s had plenty of time to find his sound in a life whose most part has been dedicated to music: from working in record stores and going to the seminal Dorian Gray club in Frankfurt airport in the 1990s, to becoming one of his scene’s most in-demand DJ — not many can claim to have held a Ibiza residency for the past 12 years and played on every continent, and fewer less are still acknowledged by the more discerning heads —, this sound has patiently shaped itself into something curiously befitting Paic’s understated character. As the early years’ dub techno morphed into the more recent minimal house (epitomized by last year’s inescapable earworm “
”), Dorian’s constant signature has been a loopy sound emphasizing continuity and immersion, his long transitions blending tracks for a hypnotizing ride. And few do it as well as he does — it’s no surprise that those who do, like Vera or Ricardo Villalobos, are usually his close friends.
Same goes for his role as raum…musik label head: celebrating its 20th birthday this year, the label is all about letting the music do the talking, which it will surely do with its upcoming anniversary compilation. Peak-time bangers sit next to after-hours and warm-up rollers in its discography, faithful to a philosophy that favours a party’s overall excellence over a few reckless hands-in-the-air moments. Not that Dorian won’t make you reach for the lasers — he’ll just wait for the right time to do so. Accordingly, raum…musik rarely taps the many headliners that are part of Dorian’s entourage. Yet it’s one of those labels you know to check out whether the producer rings a bell or not — as Dorian puts it, it’s all about the trusted bond the label has built over the years with its listeners. In fact, Perlon aside, it’s hard to think of any other German label that has been active for so long — a testament to the label’s commitment to carving its own way in the ever-changing, trend-hopping wilderness that is the electronic music landscape. In short, Dorian and raum have got something that no amount of PR can garner: legacy.
So with the 20th birthday landmark around the corner — not mentioning last year’s 100th release on the label — it was due time for MEOKO to catch up with Dorian. Here we go.
1. Hi Dorian, a pleasure to have you back at MEOKO. How are you doing today?
I am fine I have a free weekend and I did not go out yesterday night, so I am feeling great actually.
2. Congrats on raum’s 20th birthday! I know your partner Olaf was supposed to leave you at the helm of the label after the 100th release, which came out last year courtesy of Sakro, so what’s going on with that? Are you on your own?
No I am not alone as Olaf decided to stay with me after the big success of our 100th release by Sakro. (Raum…Musik # 100 -‐ Sakro -‐ No time to explain EP)
3. I interviewed Martyné recently and he mentioned how Frankfurt’s old guard has an influence on the city’s newer scene, mentioning Freebase where you used to work or Sven’s Cocoon Club… So from someone who’s been involved since the early 90s and Dorian Gray, do you see this continuity in Frankfurt’s scene?
Yes of course I do. I think as for new producers and upcoming talents Frankfurt never has been that strong since the early days and I enjoy to see how it is continued by the new breed of artists hailing from the Rhine Main Area.
4. Speaking of it, what do you think of this younger wave of producers in the city? You released a few of them on raum, like Cédric Dekowski & Felix Reifenberg and more recently Phil Evans, actually.
They are all pretty cool guys and pretty much down to earth. They don’t take themselves too serious, which is always the right approach I think. A group of certain small collectives can always be very stimulating for each camp, because everyone just tries harder, but not really in a competitive way I think.
5. I remember in an interview you criticizing producers and DJ that jump from one trend to the next, aren’t you wary this might be happening with this scene?
Well they are all still a bit younger and at this age a certain evolution or change of style from time to time is a must. I think that you really find your style only after certain years of experience and also with a certain age, because you are not afraid to miss out on something anymore and you are more confident with yourself and what you like and do. Therefor you just decide by your own taste and not by what you think is „cool“ to play. As for the current Frankfurt scene I am pretty sure they will all go the right direction and not get stuck too much on any trends.
6. It seems like raum has always been doing its own things, sticking to its sound — not following trends precisely. Is it the secret to the label’s longevity and continued relevance?
Yes, I think that the trick to achieve this longevity is to actually not really have a certain sound and to be able to react on certain developments on the market, as for the musical direction of the label. It is more important to gain trust in people, so that they know it is worth to check your record, no matter if it is house, techno, more minimal related or whatever, they just know that is going to be a good record, because it is on this particular label and therefor they decide to give it a listen. To achieve this you need to select very wisely and carefully and also with a certain vision of longevity of music or timeless music so to speak, even though I don’t like this phrase too much.
7. raum turns 20 this year already, you have now more than 100 releases, and you’ve been with the label yourself for 17 years, how do you look back on this legacy?
Well I am very happy of course that we are still there after all those years and that we are still doing good. From the first breed of German labels Raum…Musik. actually is one of the very few ones that managed to survive.
8. How has the label’s sound changed over those two decades?
The early days of course have been Basic Channel related Dub tracks, well at least most of them. Then we had a period of minimal music being released on the label and short before the total overkill of minimal music from Germany we moved ourselves into a more house related direction. Nowadays I would describe the sound of the label as minimal house in the broadest sense.
9. Do any records or artists stick out over the label’s history?
Well I definitely would mention the crew that is around me now as one of the best ones ever in the history of the label. Federico Molinari, John Dimas, Lee Burton, Phil Evans, Franco Cinelli and Jorge Savoretti plus the newcomers Andy Kolwes and Enrico Mantini that are both going to be featured on the 20 Years compilation, really helped to shape the sound of the label these days. Ricardo Villalobos of course is a good friend that needs to be mentioned here as well and also is one of our main artists as for the Label. For me it is great to have this group of some of my favorite artists around me that are also friends at the same time, which makes „work“ a lot easier for everyone.
10. It feels like you’re pretty unconcerned with promotion and let the music do the talking, which is fitting with your DJing style — patient, disciplined, devoid of ego. So are there any plans to celebrate the 20-‐year landmark or is it going to be business as usual?
That is exactly my concept. We are never working with any promo pools. German media is completely avoided by us. If someone shows serious interest like you guys or like Resident Advisor for example, of course we are willing to promote our music but in the first place I really try to let the music do the talking as much as possible. As for the birthday of the label we will be hosting a few parties in selected countries and venues and so far we have shows confirmed in Lima (Peru), in Bogota (Colombia), in Tokyo as for Japan, one at Robert Johnson with Ricardo and me, that will take place on march 9th, plus 2 dates in Berlin at Club der Visionäre and Hoppetosse later this year and a few other possible options, so things are looking quite good there as well and I am happy for that.
11. What about the upcoming compilation, can you talk about that?
Yes of course. The compilation consists of 8 exclusive tracks that are only going to be released on this record. Apart from the usual gang that I mentioned earlier before already (Federico Molinari, John Dimas, Lee Burton, Phil Evans and Franco Cinelli) we have three newcomers on board. Jorge Savoretti from Argentina that is also going to do the next single on Raum, which is going to be released before the compilation in mid february, as well as Enrico Mantini from Italy and Andy Kolwes from Cologne in Germany and I am more than happy about these new entries as they are also some of my favorite producers lately.
12. How do you A&R? I’m asking because besides Ricardo and a few other producers, you don’t reach for the bigger names usually.
That was also always the concept of the label. Raum translates as room in english, so the concept of the label always was to create room or to give room to new music. My idea was always to find new artists and not build the reputation of the label around any sure shots or stuff that is being hyped. If you check the back catalogue of Raum you will see that quiet a few artists had some of their first releases on Raum before getting more popular. I like this idea and I think this is also the right approach to create a certain label profile.
13. What about your own productions, can we expect to see some new stuff?
Yes actually there is quite a lot in the pipeline for this year. There will be a release coming out soon together with Markus Fix on Savor Music from Argentina, run by Jorge Savoretti and Cape, with an excellent remix from Franco Cinelli. Besides that we are going to release 2 singles for the labels Housewax and Pleasure Zone distributed to DBH. One is going to be with our full names and the other one under our MFDP moniker. Markus and me also did a remix for Nektar Agu that is going to be out on Fake Records from the UK, as well as another remix for a track that I di
together with my dear mate
obi Neumann and Patrick Ense that features some vocals by the legendary Eric D Clark. Markus and me did an MFDP remix for this track as well and both versions plus a DJ tool are going to be released on La Peña very soon. Last but not least there will be Remixes of Sasse’s „Soul Sounds“ by Ricardo and myself that are going to be released on Raum Musik after the 20 years compilation, so actually it is quite a bit that is going to be released in 2018
14. You don’t release very often — I imagine that’s the good thing about being famous as a DJ firstly: you don’t need to release all the time to exist. But is it because you rarely produce, or do you actually sit on a lot of unreleased stuff?
Well to be honest it took me quite a while to really get into this working in the studio, but now I collected a lot of music for a period of over two years. As you mentioned I am a DJ in the first place, but as a friend said recently, I would be really stupid not to take the chance to work on some music with some of the close friends that i have. This is also something that I really enjoy about my moving to Berlin. Being able to connect myself with new people or with some close friends like Federico Molinari, Tobi Neumann, Felipe Valenzuela or John Dimas, just to name a few and work on some tracks together with them. I am not in a rush as people know me for my deejaying in the first place which of course makes my studio life quite easy, as I don’t feel any pressure to do something. Pressure and a creative proces never go together well I think and therefore I am more than happy with my situation.
15. Cocoon, where you’re a resident, is set to move from Amnesia to Pacha this year. Do you have any standout memory from all those seasons at Amnesia?
Countless memories of course and it would be very hard to just pick out one night after being a resident there for 12 years. Even though I am curious to see how the new concept is going to be at Pacha and I am looking forward to another summer on the island.
16. I heard you mention how having people mixed from all levels of society makes for the best parties, is it something you still manage to find today?
Well I think that actually finding yourself in a party like this is the most difficult part these days, as our scene has split itself into one million little niches. Consensus nearly does not exist anymore and certain people take their musical taste and ways of expressing themselves through music way too serious. This is taking out the fun part of the whole thing too much, at least for my personal taste. It is actually hard to find a party these days where you can find this mix of all social levels, nationalities, gays and straight people just partying together and having a good time. From my experience in my 26 years of deejaying until now I still think that this is the key to a good night out, where the moment counts more than cellphone videos, Facebook posts etc. and time is just not existing anymore and the people get lost in the moment without judging or over analyzing everything. Those have been always the best parties in my perception if I try to remember.
17. Here’s to 20 more years of raum…musik then! Any final words?
I am very thankful for your support and for the opportunity to talk a bit about about the label and the 20 Years Raum Musik compilation that is going to be out in April 2018.
Words by Pierre-Alexis Chauvin