Prosumer's great. A DJ with real soul who imbues his sets with warmth and emotion. Having held down a residency at Panorma Bar for a number of years he recently relocated from Berlin to Edinburgh, where he's sorted out his kitchen but not, as yet, his studio (more on that later).
As you can imagine, we are pretty hyped to be hosting a boat party aboard the Argonaughty with him at The Garden Festival this year, and with that on the horizon we took the opportunity to catch up with him over a wonky skype connection from his flat in Edinburgh. As we found out, Achim Brandenburg (as he's known to his friends) is a lovely, humorous man who can trace his musical obsession back to a crackly Kim Wilde record, is considerate to his neighbours, loves the sea and isn't afraid to shed the odd tear. We love him at R$N, here's what he had to say….
Do you come from a musical background?
No, there has always been a record player in my family – my grandma played the piano, lets say she enjoyed it but she wasnt very good, so no – Im not from a musical family.
Ok, so what was your first striking musical memory?
I spent all my time as a kid in front of the radio, its been reported by my parents and friends of my parents that even as a small kid I was obsessed with music. My parents had these friends and their daughter had a record I really liked – as a small kid every time I went there I wanted her to play the record, over and over – eventually she got so fed up of playing it to me and gave it to me. Thats how I came to own my first ever record.
And what was the record?
Kim Wilde – Child Come Away.
Have you still got it in your collection?
I still have it in my collection, but not the original copy – the original at one point became unplayable, worn out.
You were born and brought up in Saarbrcken, was there much of a scene there?
Not directly in Saarbrcken, a little town in a dead area next to it – but surprisingly yes, there was a scene in Saarbrcken. Its right next to the border of France and Luxembourg. So, even though its a rather small town it has always had a scene – so early 90s I was able to see people like Derrick May, Claude Young, Juan Atkins, Boo Williams, Chez Damier – we had surprisingly good lineups for a smallish town. Also, at one point there were actually three record stores focussed on dance music – Delirium, Humptys and of course Hard Wax – so there was actually a pretty good scene for the size of the city.
So, Hard Wax opened in 1994 – I assume that had a profound effect on your musical development?
Yes, actually I loved them even before I ever went there. The reason is when I tried to buy records at Delirium Id never been in a record shop that just focused on dance music, so I didnt know how things worked. I stood there like the little insecure idiot I was and pretty quickly was told by one of the guys working there that I dont think we have the right type of music for you, so I walked out of their feeling really shit about myself! A couple of weeks later I went to a club and behind the Dj they had one of those LED boards, from the 80s and the 90s, and they were advertising a record shop called Hard Wax on it – the slogan said Buy your records with a clear mind – Hard Wax Saarbrcken. Having had the experience Id had at Delirium I thought OK, thats a pun on Delirium! and I loved them for that pun, and it was love ever after.
When did you move to Berlin from Saarbrcken?
I moved in 99, the first year I moved in Potsdam near Berlin and then in 2000 I moved to Berlin.
Was the move to Berlin partially musically motivated?
No, not at all. I was quite happy in Saarbrcken, we had good parties. I moved to study. Of course, moving to the big city was attractive but that wasnt the reason for picking the University I chose to study at.
You were in Berlin for 12 years then?
No, more – I moved to Edinburgh a year ago, so 13 years.
Are you in Edinburgh at the moment? And what motivated you to move there?
Yeah, Im in Edinburgh, Im really happy here. I moved here when I realized me and Berlin was not a model for the future anymore I started thinking about what I wanted and it became pretty clear that if I had a chance Id want to be close to the sea. It helps me to relax. I dont spend all my time there, but its a great feeling to know that I can jump in the car or on the train and be at the sea in 20 minutes. Also, of course, I was looking for a decent airport – the job I do isnt much fun if you dont have an airport nearby. In Germany theres nowhere thats close to the sea and near an airport so it became clear that it had to be the UK. I first looked at a place called Gravesend – which seemed good because it was only 20 mins to central London but I realised it would still take an hour and a half to get to the airport – and that was too much.
I had a friend who studied here in Edinburgh from 2000 to 2005, I visited her a lot here and always liked it. I came here for a couple of weeks to see if I still enjoyed it and I did, so here we are.
And there's a scene, in Edinburgh with Firecracker/Unthank and all that – are you hooked up?
Yeah, I was really lucky – when I was here testing the ground I met Lindsay, Nick and Gav pretty quickly, so yeah.
In terms of record shopping, how does Edinburgh compare to Berlin?
Well, you're probably fully aware of the situation with record shops all over the place disappearing and Berlin being one of the last cities where you still have a big variety of record shops. Luckily we still have Underground Solushn, theyre doing a pretty good job here and for the rest I just go record shopping wherever it takes me – I still do mail order with Hard Wax and if I have time I go shopping when in Berlin or wherever.
I read in an interview you did when youd just moved to Edinburgh that you hadn't set up your studio yet – as you said, its more important to set up your kitchen first – I wondered if you'd managed to get round to setting it up yet and if its at home or somewhere external?
Yes, at the moment its at home but I still haven't figured out if I can fully work here without pissing off my downstairs neighbour. She's a very sweet person and I live in a very nice, very quiet neighbourhood and she deserves to enjoy this undisturbed, so far I've been holding back and still haven't finished the sound insulation. Once I've done that Ill give it a test run and see if its actually do-able to keep the studio in here and remain friends with my neighbour! I told her if it bothers her and if its annoying I'll remove the studio from the flat.
With your productions, you havent put much out in recent years – I read that you approach making music by creating only when the mood hits – and youre ready to translate specific emotions into music, have you got anything backed up or are you just having a break from it?
Ive got some stuff backed up – theres a remix I did being mastered at the end of Feb, Ive got some tracks that Im not quite sure what to do with yet, but I always have my own stuff on my computer or on tapes for quite a while and if I still feel right about them after quite some time, then I put them out. So, there is stuff I havent decided on – Im starting a label and one of the first releases will be mine – maybe the third or fourth, so by then I should have decided what I want to release!
Moving on to Croatia, have you played there a lot?
Its my fifth year this year for the festivals.
How do you feel about it, is it the new Ibiza – is there a danger of saturation?
You have to be aware of saturation, at the moment people from the UK are making a lot of money through the festivals – mores so maybe than the people of Croatia. The people who are putting on the festivals are doing a great, very professional job – some of the festivals are doing reduced entrance to the festivals for locals, which is great. I cant compare it to Ibiza in the early days, I wasnt there – Ive only read about it. The first, and only time, Ive been to Ibiza I arrived and the billboards for the parties on the way in from the airport were bigger than those for McDonalds! I hope the parties in Croatia wont reach that level of being a big market, a big product. So far Ive had a great time there – the crowd drawn to there is a good one. Its still at the point where people there are grateful for whats going on. I think the tipping point is when people go somewhere to experience something theyve been told about countless times and they come to consume that and have that experience, rather than coming with an open mind. I dont think thats been reached – I see people being blown away by the beauty of the Croatian coast, the good music and the great parties. Thats a long answer!
But a good answer! Moving on, you seem to be very emotionally involved with music – taking that into account, whats a piece of music that always makes you cry?
Oh god, the crying thing!! After mixmags drawing of me crying – I was crying then because they put me there with CDJs instead of turntables! I dont know if theres a record that makes me cry every time – of course there are records that have that power over me and make my eyes tear up, some records for very personal reasons I probably wont share them. Circulation – Memory, thats one of the records that gets me every time, I think the first time I heard it on a dance floor was in an amazing set from Theo Parrish – that was the first time I heard it out loud on a system. Its an amazing track and linked to dancing with a couple of people who are very close to me and thinking life is great.
Thanks. Mines Miriam Makebas version of 'Slave to Love', heartbreaking.
Ill write that down and search it out.
Finally then, for the boat party at The Garden youre playing for us at R$N alongside Dan Beaumont and Adjowa. Whats your plan for the set? Disco?
Theres always these records that over the year you hear and you think oh, thats a great summer record, you hear these records and you can feel the warm wind and the slight humidity of summer and somewhere in the back of my head theres a little list of records like that, theyll be in the bag in time for the boat party.
Prosumer plays the RanSom Note boat party at The Garden Festival on 5th July as well as playing Electric Elephant. HYPE!
Photo Credit: Michael Mann