Iron Curtis Talks


German producer and DJ Johannes Paluka aka Iron Curtis lands in London this weekend for Dream States. Hailing from the Bavarian town of Nrnberg, but now living in Berlin, and with strong musical ties to Hamburg; its his playful nod to Joy Division in his moniker that highlights his more unusual influences. Specialising in soulful techno and deep-house, its only fitting that this date sees him playing his debut set at Dance Tunnel. We caught up with him ahead of Saturdays party to find out more

Different areas of Germany seem to have quite distinct sounds… do you feel your own Bavarian roots have had much influence on the music you make?

Yes they did, but not regarding folk music or traditional Bavarian rituals haha. The scene in Nrnberg was, and is quite lively. The people I met, my friends who were playing in bands and the parties and concert shows I went to, definitely had a big influence on me.

Additionally, the former pirate radio station Radio Z or the Zuendfunk Radioshows on Bayern 2 were a major influence on my eclectic taste in music. In particular, hosts like Thomas Hartmann, Stefan Wagner and Thomas Meinecke. The latter, for example, was playing Aaliyah, Drexciya and Palais Schaumburg all together in one show.

What is your favorite Joy Division song and why does that one in particular mean so much to you?

Transmission. No additional explanation necessary.

Some people say that Hamburg is Germany’s cultural equivalent to Manchester. Would you say this is a fair comparison?

Well, as I have been to Manchester just the once, I don’t want to judge. But Hamburg is definitely a special place – the city itself, the people – and the music of course.

Hamburg is a place you seem to have a strong musical connection to- how did that come about?

I was always fascinated by the musical output of Hamburg, no matter what genre: early new wave and indie rock music, German rap from the mid nineties, electronica, house and techno from 2000 on. For the latter it was this vivid mix of ZickZack Records, DJ Koze and Erobique, Egoexpress and the Ladomat-Imprint, Carsten Jost and Lawrence with Dial, Pudelprodukte and the Rocko Schamoni parish and later imprints and artists like Smallville and RVDS alongside Mirau of course.

Do you feel like Retreat is your record label home?

Yes, I do. I feel like Retreat is a great home for my music. But so is Mirau and many other labels.

What makes Retreat such a special label?

It’s Hauke, Yanneck and Matthias who make it special. They are open for my musical ideas, push me forward, and encourage me to try out something new. Not just that they are all great musicians who have became close friends of mine over the years. And I have a feeling that Retreat not only stands for the record label itself, but for a bunch of mutual friends and fellow producers such as Baaz, Johannes Albert, The Gieglings and Jackoff.

?What outside of music inspires you?

Tough one. It’s so many things. Might even be a written word somewhere or a lonesome, waiting dog in front of a grocery store on Karl-Marx-Strae here in Berlin…

If you had a time machine and could go back to any dancefloor anywhere/anywhen, where would you want to travel back in time to?

I would like to go back to dancefloors in Sheffield, Brussels, Chicago or Berlin in the mid and late eighties. Must have been such a splendid combination of styles and people.

What’s your slept-on gem of 2013?

Actually two records: the VA – Blank Slate 001 EP

and B-Tracks Flightless EP on Supply Records.

Living in Berlin you’re obviously in the thick of things, so to speak, but are there any other cities in the world that resonate musically for you?

Lucky me who is able to travel around the world because of my music… I feel like there is at least something in each city I’ve been to so far that has that sort of resonance music wise. Quite a diplomatic answer, isn’t it? 

You’re playing at the Dream States party, which is run by Kristina Records… What place do you feel (or in your own experience) do record stores have in their local communities?

A good record store is a living room and haven for us nerdy, shy and introverted kids with a habit, all those people who consider their Spotify and YouTube playlists as their ‘music collection’ will never understand.

Iron Curtis plays Dream States this Saturday 25th 3am. More info here.

Rachael Williams