Acid Pauli Gets Lost with Damian Lazarus (interview)
Crosstown Rebels chief Damian Lazarus has selected Acid Pauli to mix his latest Get Lost compilation, soon after he booked the Berlin underground legend to spin an all-night set at a private party marking the Londoner’s 40th birthday.
Renowned for regularly playing uber-long, ultra eclectic super-varied 10 hour plus sets Acid Pauli (real name Martin Gretschmann) has similarly stretched the mix CD concept for Crosstown Rebels, delivering a 4 hour continuous set that’s split across 3 CDs.
Hailed on Crosstown Rebels’ biog as ‘maybe not a household name but he is coveted by those in the know as an enigmatic genius and pioneering figure’, Pauli is one of the most respected DJs on Berlin’s underground scene, having been a resident at (now closed) alternative institution Bar 25.
Also championed in the last year by downtempo wunderkid Nicolas Jaar, he’s also increasingly recognised globally though chatting to Skrufff recently at Berlin’s Kater Holzig (where in November he plays a special launch party for the mix) he was impressively perceptive and ambiguous about the implications of his growing crossover success.
“I’m happy to go to different cities and play in different countries for sure, but at the same time I’m having lots of other projects with my band (Console), who I tour with in a lot of places worldwide and I’ve already been to lots of places,” he said, “I don’t have a particular ambition to go to every single country. I don’t need that,” said Pauli.
Similarly, he said only playing in Berlin presents its own particular problems.
“It can be really exhausting to play too much in Berlin because I don’t want to repeat myself so much, to play the same records gig after gig,” he explained.
“Playing outside means I can play whatever I like which is good sometimes.”
“I want to spend time at the studio too- my main constraint is time,” he added.
“I need to share it between all sorts of projects and it’s simply not possible for me to play every single weekend as a DJ. We have concerts. I have a family here and I want and need to spend some time with them too.”
Unusually adept at seeing both sides of the story, he was similarly thoughtful and uncompromising about the changes technology is bringing to DJing such as Pioneer’s USB stick generation of CDJ players.
“I play with a laptop and controllers, so I always have to carry lots of stuff around so I must admit I envy colleagues who only have to carry their USB sticks and headphones,” said Pauli.
“I think that’s great and all the discussion of vinyl versus digital is, to me, totally boring because times have changed.”
“I had these discussions already 15 years ago when I started using drum machines, with people coming up to me back then saying ‘what are you doing here with your computer, that’s shit, you don’t have to do anything, the computer does it all for you’. I had these discussions in the mid 90s with people getting really angry and it’s the same today,” he continued.
“If you offered Pioneer and USB sticks and headphones to the DJs who started playing in the 70s and let them choose they would have probably chosen the USB sticks instead of carrying tons of vinyl. I just don’t like this purist fucking attitude,” he laughed.
“On the other side, there are definitely some disadvantages of technological developments,” he countered.
On the one side there’s the democracy that everyone one can make music, release it and put out music, on the other side there’s so much crap. But I prefer to be democratic, so everybody can do the latest shit, and then the consumer has to choose.
Otherwise it’s too elitist for me, like it was for many years when only bands with a lot of money or backing could afford to go into proper studios and record proper sounding music. Now everybody can do it, which is great.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): You still play and release vinyl though?
Acid Pauli: “I love vinyl still and with my bands we have always released vinyl, it’s really important for us. But having said that, when CDs first came onto the market in the 80s I was a young teenager and I really liked computers and technology so I really embraced the CD. For a long time I didn’t have a record player at all I just collected CDs but now I changed and I very rarely buy CDs instead I buy lots of vinyl such as those great re-issues of jazz records. But at the same time I’m still very interested in technology.”
Skrufff: We’re here at Kater Holzig, you were a Bar 25 resident previously, what do you think of the Berlin club scene currently?
Acid Pauli: “I don’t really know, to be honest I don’t go much to clubs when I’m not playing. I play at Watergate and here but I can’t really say too much about the other clubs. I met a guy on Sunday morning at Watergate the other week, a guy who’d been on the scene for a long time and he was complaining about the sound in Berlin. Not the style of music; the actual sound. He was totally angry because he thought that in recent times, generally the sound in clubs has got worse.
There is so much good technology on the market and he said it wasn’t because of the systems it was more the way people set them up. He was talking about how in Jamaica when they first set up the sound systems they would use even transistor radios because they didn’t have today’s technology but it didn’t matter, it sounded good and that’s something people are struggling with.
They buy expensive sound systems but they don’t know how to adjust and use them properly. The sound quality of Berlin is not as good right now. There are also a lot of limiters in clubs which is really annoying when it’s too much. Especially when you play very dynamic sets and then you have a break and it’s louder than before and when the bass comes back in it goes ‘shuck’.
Acid Pauli plays Kater Holzig in Berlin on November 11 for the Get Lost 5 release party.