Sven Von Thülen on the Death of De:Bug Magazine (interview)
Nowadays best known as a DJ and author (of acclaimed story of Berlin techno history ‘Klang der Familie‘, Berlin, Techno und Die Wende‘) Sven von Thülen also edited for 10 years Germany’s infamously idiosyncratic monthly music magazine De:Bug.
According to its Wikipedia entry, the monthly print magazine preached a ‘new definition of culture’ centred around ‘electronic aspects of life’ covering music as well as ‘all intersections of daily life with digital technology’, describing ‘the internet as a social space influenced by interface design, web art, and file sharing issues’.
According to Sven, who chatted to Skrufff this week following De:Bug’s announcement that they are closing, it was more about the passions and personalities of the individuals who produced it.
“It brought things like cultural studies, politics, techno, the digital revolution and nerdism together in way that hadn’t been done before,” he muses, “Not everything always made sense, to the point it would annoy you sometimes, but that was part of its charm.”
“Having been an editor at De:Bug for over ten years, my view of the magazine’s role for Berlin’s or Germany’s electronic music scene might be a bit biased,” he continues.
“But I think De:Bug had an important role in opening up new fields of discourse and interest within electronic music and how techno was viewed and received outside the scene/clubs.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What’s your reaction to De:Bug closing?
Sven Von Thülen: “When I’ve first heard, it made me quite sad. On second thoughts, it doesn’t come as a big surprise. As Sascha (Kösch) wrote in his announcement, the dark clouds of financial disaster were more or less always looming over the magazine (or close by at least).
As sad as it is, I think and I hope the probable demise of the printed version of De:Bug will make way for something new, different yet equally exciting. An era has come to an end. Time to pick up the pieces and start a new one!”
Skrufff: How big a role did the magazine play in developing Germany- and Berlin’s electronic music scene?
Sven Von Thülen: “Having been an editor at De:Bug for over ten years, my view of the magazine’s role for Berlin’s or Germany’s electronic music scene might be a bit biased. I think De:Bug had an important role in opening up new fields of discourse and interest within electronic music and how techno was viewed and received outside the scene/clubs.
I remember when I got the first issue (it was called Buzz back then), most of the articles were quite cryptic, yet oddly euphoric in their own way and most of all I had the feeling the future was looking back at me through the pages. Even though over time the future (generally speaking) kinda’ went out of fashion and De:Bug’s content got even broader and less techno focused, it kept the excitement for the new. New technology, new music, new everything …
De:Bug was one of the main developments after techno’s first rise into commercial heights in the mid to late 90s. It marked a next step. After all the harder faster, stronger frenzy of those early years, it was time to start something new. Maybe a little less hedonistic but in a way it was a logical step, because despite all its hedonism and larger-than-life antics, Frontpage, which most of De:Bug’s founders had worked at before, was always about celebrating the future, too.
Also De:Bug has given a lot of great writers, photographers and designers who later became well known and/or moved on to bigger magazines and newspapers etc. the freedom to more or less do whatever they wanted. I think you could always feel that when reading the magazine.”
Skrufff: What was the story they did that had the biggest impact on you personally?
Sven Von Thülen: “Obviously being given the chance to write cover stories or plan and execute big specials and work with all these great people had a big impact on me personally, so some of my personal highlights include interviews with 4hero, Rob Playford, Mike Banks, Jeff Mills, Ron Murphy, Robert Williams, Adamski, A Guy Called Gerald, Omar S, Steve Poindexter, Hieroglyphic Being, Adonis, Photek, Dillinja, Warp, B12, Roni Size, DJ Krust, Carl Craig, Alter Ego or DJ Koze to mention a few from the top of my head.
There were a few stories, that really made me dream about writing for De:Bug and were the inspiration to give them a call in March 1999 to ask if they needed an intern (guess what, they did!).
One of those stories was by Dietmar Dath and it was called “Der Mingkowski Baumfrosch”, a serialised novel, which was just beyond crude. In 2001 (might have been 2002 …) I got asked to co-write a special about the label Music For Freaks and some of its main figures Luke Solomon, Justin Harris and Kenny Hawkes with Felix Denk. It was the first time Felix and I wrote something together and it went so well, it kinda paved the way for us to write our book “Der Klang der Famile – Berlin, Techno und die Wende” ten years later.”
Skrufff: Anything to add?
Sven Von Thülen: “Onward!”
Jonty Skrufff: https://twitter.com/djjontyskrufff