Len Faki: The ‘Monday Is OK’ Mix
And now for something completely different…
Len Faki’s reputation proceeds him. The Berlin-based DJ, producer and Figure and LF RMX boss has a list of accolades longer than your arm.
For nearly two decades he’s been at the top of his game: he’s held a long standing residency at Berghain since its opening, traded techno anthems with the likes of Ostgut Ton and Cocoon, notched up a nearly 200 strong discography on his Figure imprint, all whilst holding down a busy touring schedule year on year.
The latter has been turned somewhat on its head this year, but with the lack of gigs has come more time for creative exploration, something that Faki has undertaken with his new ‘Open Space‘ series — a collection of carefully curated compilations that centre around forward-thinking electronica and ambient to stimulate the emotions and let the mind wander.
Giving established artists – better known for their dancefloor-centric output – the freedom to showcase another side of their skills, the inaugural outing features a string of suitably moving compositions from the likes of Moritz Von Oswald, JakoJako, Tin Man and Faki himself.
To celebrate the release of Volume 1, which comes out today via Figure, Len eases us into a new week and lets us into a different side of his tastes, which simmer slowly from twinkling ambient and electronica to warm, fuzzy soundscapes.
Please introduce yourself… Who are you, where are you, what are you?
I am Len Faki. DJ, producer, and label owner of Figure and LF RMX. I am in Berlin at the moment which is my hometown. So I am home. Recently I put a lot of effort into the first edition of a new ambient compilation series on Figure called “Open Space” which will be released by the time this is online and I spend all my time in the studio, working on my debut album.
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
It’s an eclectic mix of downbeat and ambient tracks. Cross-genre with different influences. I had a lot of fun wandering around those landscapes and combining these tracks. In the beginning, it was a little challenging. Like you know, it’s not exactly my usual sound, or let’s say not the sound that I’m known for, but one that I love to listen to. Therefore, thanks for offering me this task. I had a very good time with the mix so far, and I hope that everyone out there will do so as well.
If it were to be drawn what would it look like?
Like warm sunlight on a crisp autumn morning.
If it were a food what would it be?
A delicious Acai bowl with a variety of fruit and nut toppings.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
If it would be me, I would like to listen to it on a nice walk. Or to quite my mind when it is busy and restless. All kinds of creative work, sketching, painting… and most important – doing nothing, just listening to music. On the sofa, chill – good old easy listening.
What should we be wearing?
Whatever you like.
Where was it recorded?
At my home in Berlin during the late-night hours. I love to do all the creative work during the night when the city is quiet.
Are you on the same wavelength as the boomtown rats or do you actually like Mondays?
Monday is almost the best day of the week! Only the weekend is better 😉 Now, at the moment I am very rested on Mondays and start fresh into a new week and new adventures. I like to see it as a new beginning and a good mood on Monday sets the tone for the whole week. In more normal circumstances if I would be traveling Mondays are my processing days. Feeling the parties, little sleep, and flights still in my bones – I like to sleep in and start into the week very chill looking back at all the experiences I just made on the weekend.
Who got you hooked on electronic music?
I started raving in the 90s, so I have a lot of heroes from that era who inspired me. Most importantly the resident DJs of my favorite clubs at this time. I grew up near Stuttgart, Germany. My regular club was one close by called OZ. Marco Zaffarano was one of the resident DJs there. He was great at that time!
Who would you say are your biggest influences and what are you hoping to achieve with your music?
There is no one particular person I could name. I was influenced by many artists or people over the years. My biggest influence was and is producing and spending time in the studio. It’s different every time, it’s always new, never boring, and never a routine. Tapping into my creative source and developing as an artist – this process is the biggest challenge and my highest teacher at the same time.
What were your original aspirations as musicians and how do you think you’re shaping up?
I didn’t have any aspirations in the beginning. I just wanted to be a part of this scene and wanted to share my music. I didn’t have a plan, I just did. I spend every second in the studio. Shaping my skills and intuition. Followed by many years mostly traveling and DJing which taught me so much more than I ever could have imagined. I just realized this recently where there is no traveling anymore but time to process and think about all this for the first time in this depth.
Now I’m back in the studio every second of my time, already since April. And it makes the world of a difference having so much non-stop time there. No interruptions and being so much more experienced, plus countless new possibilities and technical options. Within those last months, I made a huge development as an artist. You will hear what I mean when my album will be released and also in my future sets. Of course, I will be the same in a way but still, nothing will be the same anymore.
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
Before electronic music, I was into metal. This was until a friend of mine took me to a club. I remember it like yesterday. On this first night, they played “James Brown is dead” by LA Style. Now I would say it is a little commercial track but back then I was so into it. I bought the record first thing after the weekend. Loved it.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
Very different. Grooves are easy for me. I don’t have to think much about them. They just happen. But in other areas, I have to be very focused. Like solving a complicated riddle. For example in the field of modulation where lots of things just happen. I like the fact that you never know where it brings you. Even though you have an exact vision in the beginning and you know how to get there. Somehow it´s not possible to plan each small detail and the result turns out to be a little surprise every time. When I don’t make music I tend to be more structural thinking and planning. I like to be organized and prepared.
What were the first and last records you bought?
I believe the first record I bought with my own money was Duran Duran, Arena. My last purchase was a digital one just last week. Embracer, it’s an indie post-rock band.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Studio time. I want to catch up and shape my skills as much as possible. Granular Synthesis for example. That´s a focus at the moment. I was always interested to learn more about it and now the time has come, finally. Sometimes I produce stuff that I don´t need and that doesn´t fit with my sound but I have the feeling that it is still useful in a way to develop my sound and to keep the creativity flowing.
If you could travel in time…where in time would you go? Why?
I would like to travel in the future. To the moment when we meet or live with aliens or new life forms. I´m sure they exist and I would love to meet them. And I would love to travel to the moon. Hoping that this would be possible at this same time too. That would be awesome.
Some self help questions for a Monday…
Am I excited to dive into the challenges that I have lined up for the week?
Yes always. My motivation levels are always high.
Am I looking forward to engaging with the people I am meeting or working with?
Sure thing! I love to meet new and familiar people and learn more about different cultures when traveling. At home, I’m more on my own. In the studio. You know…
Am I going to my dream job?
I’m not living my dream job – I’m living my dream!
Am I being compensated fairly for the value I bring to my job?
Absolutely! Since I can remember music makes me the happiest person. It was a calling at the beginning which turned into a job, into a dream, into my greatest joy!
Do I feel energized, rested, and confident?
Yes, most of the time I do. Not so much rested while touring. But other than that…
If you were trapped on a desert island with one other person, who would you choose?
Well, I was in this situation already. Ok, the Maledives are not exactly a desert island 😉 but I was trapped there for weeks when all flights were cancelled at the beginning of the year due to Corona. I had the person of choice with me, my love…
How long would it be before you eat them?
….and no, I didn’t eat her. I never could.
Your doctor says you need more exercise… what do you take up for exercise?
A sentence I would never hear. I work out several times a week for years. Being very disciplined with this. Otherwise, it would never be happening with touring. Now being home it’s easy to stick to my routine. I do running, rowing, little weight training, going on walks, hiking in summer… My body needs exercise to feel good.
What’s your answer to everything?
No answer – at least in the beginning. I like to think about my decisions.
Anything else we need to discuss?
Nope. Nothing more to say.
Follow Len Faki. Buy Open Space.