David Löhlein has been working exceptionally hard in the studio, day in and day out. Working towards the goal of his first studio album, a feat not many producers can brag about, so early into their career. The Stuttgart native speaks about losing all his music on his laptop and finding solitude in working towards the target of an L.P.
David Löhlein resumes his rather impressive string of releases on some of techno’s most desired labels, pieced together with intricate textures and hypnotic soundscapes on labels such as Key Vinyl, SK_11, Gynoid and more. The young producer somewhat represents a new generation in techno that wants do things their way. David pay’s respects to the past but wants to carve a future in techno for himself and the next generation of groove infatuated, techno affiliates.
David is outspoken on his political beliefs and he holds a strong connection with Columbia, thus advocating for social justice and reform within the country. The Stuttgart native takes great pride in the visual element within music, using music videos to play on the narrative of his music as well as social problems. Löhlein is extremely vocal on his relationship with animals and climate change, David goes to the point of using snakes as a symbolic visual element for his artistry. The forward thinking artist is pushing narratives that are progressive and modern, and this is before you even listen to his music which matches his enterprising and positive spirit.
The German producer crafts his compositions with meticulous attention to detail, evoking introspective soundscapes and slow-release euphoria. He pushes a sound that is modern and cutting-edge but when listening you can’t help think of techno from the past. A sound that is often characterized as ‘groovy techno’ but in reality, techno was born from groove. Some people have it, some don’t but David Löhlein most definitely encompasses the groove.
We caught up with David to chat about his forthcoming album and more.
Your debut album lands on November 11th. Can you tell me a bit about the production process when creating the album?
Many already know the story but the idea of the album came more out of compulsion. In July 2020, while cleaning up, I accidentally poured a glass of water over my MacBook. Completely hysteric, I went to repair it. Tipical me – I didn’t have any backups. In order not to let myself be dragged down, I promised myself that I would make an album if the data got lost. And it was. I spent two months in the studio from morning to night (especially during the lockdown). This time was also a kind of occupational therapy for me and a time in which I moved towards myself as I was not inspired by the usual nightlife and clubbing.
Did the production process differ from writing an EP?
With my previous EPs l mainly chose the tracks that fit together from many complete tracks. Now with the album, it was clear that the goal of the production is the album itself. Also from the beginning I didn’t want to make a club ep that lives only for the club but music that you can also listen to outside of nightlife. That’s why some tracks are more melodic than usual and some tracks on it are slower than I usually play. But for sure, there are still some bangers on the album.
You seemed to have worked meticulously hard on reaching your goal of a debut album this year? Where did the idea first stem from?
I didn’t have the idea of an album before, but I was always a person who was looking for challenges, and especially during Corona lockdowns when I had a little more time, I needed something that challenged me. I am often accompanied by the saying “Seek Discomfort.” And it was the case with the album as well.
You collaborated with various artists on the project. Did you get into the studio with the artists, or were you exchanging stems for the projects? How did the process work with other artists?
Almost all features were created in the studio and while jamming. For the Vision Ekstase feature, Fabian Wegmeth, Rove Ranger, and Symon and I were still in the studio two days before the premaster deadline and finished the track at the last minute. With Crimson Sky I went into the studio already a week before for mixing one of his trap EP. We already had a version of “Lost In The Lights” before that, but we weren’t satisfied with it yet. When we were done with the mixdowns, we were full of euphoria and started working on the track. We had a drink and just jammed away. The result is one of my favorite tracks. For COBRA, I was explicitly looking for vocals, and in the style of Altai, where I used Portuguese songs, I wanted to have some on the album. I knew that Any Mello was Brazilian, and I asked her. She sent me sketches, and I was immediately impressed with the first version.
You recently spoke about some music videos for the project and how you want to tackle some social problems. Can you tell me a bit about your connection with Columbia and how you want to spread awareness through your art?
My connection to Colombia came from my trips in 2019 where I traveled throughout the country. At that time, without a second thought, I decided that Colombia would be my first trip abroad alone – Immediately booked a ticket and flew thousands of miles from home. On the trip I fell in love with the country, the culture and the people. For a long time, I was inspired by the experiences I witnessed on the trip. So, it felt natural to go to Colombia and shoot one of the most important music videos to me for Via Taya. One or two months later, the protests started. We were so shocked by the situation that we decided to raise the issue and spread the local people’s message through art. Also, because the international press did not do enough to help.
To me, social and political issues have always been very relevant. In addition to that, music has always been a means of creating attention and to protest. Music brings people together. It can be a rally, a march, or a movement. Even the poppiest of songs carry an air of politics. In fact, a person’s expression will always be political, due to the subjective nature of the listener’s projection. I have always been very inspired by great musicians who have transported their thoughts and hopes also on a political level through their music and were able to achieve great things. For example, many years ago, influential acts such as Public Enemy or TuPac or modern examples like Eminem, Lady Gaga or Beyonce only to name a few. So, I think music is very political – And that’s good because you want your politics to not represent the mainstream because the mainstream wouldn’t be oppressed. You want your politics to describe people who are part of the next generation and people who need to be heard and who are in the need of support. Like the LGBTQ community, POC, people of developing countries and so on. And apart from that, we are running more and more into the wrong direction. With every day it becomes more important to protest and to fight – For humanity, for nature, for our children and all future generations.
We live in times where it becomes more complicated politically, and where it is almost inevitable that the world of art will have to continue to comment. I envision myself as a kind of “good-will rebel” – Fighting for the good and standing up for the good. And techno is my way of doing that.
You recently built your new recording studio, Snake Studios. How important was it for you to have a hands-on approach to building your creative space?
The vibe when producing is essential to me. Accordingly, it was also crucial for me to have a studio where I feel comfortable and where I like to spend time. I think it’s even one of the most critical things in making music. You transfer your feelings and thoughts through music, which is why I believe it is essential that these feelings and thoughts inspire you. This is not to say that a perfect studio is necessary for good music. It is much more vital that you collect impressions and experiences in your real life to say something with your music. But if you feel comfortable in your environment, it is easier. At least for me. That’s why we took the time to rebuild the whole studio during Corona. For two months, we were busy building everything by hand and by ourselves. From the absorbers on the wall and ceiling, the lights to the table. Everything had to be as we imagined it. And of course, the sound at the end had to be so that we were satisfied. I’ve also been involved in the technical side of music for a long time, mixdowns, mastering, and I have developed a passion for optimizing the sound. I often get inspired by how modern music sounds in hip hop. I know that it is sometimes difficult to adapt to techno, but I am sure that we still have a lot of potential there. So a studio suitable for good mixdowns was a clear goal for us as well.
But you believe me. It wasn’t easy to build. I am untalented with my hands. It is challenging for me to assemble a simple shelf. Without the support of friends and acquaintances, it would never have worked.
Can you tell me what your relationship with snakes is? They play a significant impact on your art and the message you are conveying when publishing music.
The thing with the snakes originated two to three years ago. At that time, it had no real meaning; it was like, the more I connected, the music felt like a certain sex appeal. And snakes embody this sex appeal precisely. Graceful, elegant, and sexy. Meanwhile, the snake’s sound has already become a kind of trademark and has taken on a life of its own.
On a similar note, you’re pushing a visual element in your art with many videos accompanying your music and releases. How do you relate imagery with audio?
The topic of visual art started with Vision Ekstase. Bella is our art director. She creates the Vision Ekstase aesthetics and inspires all of us. So, it was clear to our team that visual art had the same importance as auditory art from the beginning. And that’s why videos and the story we are trying to tell visually also became a passion. With Vision Ekstase, we created the link between these two art forms. We never wanted to make standard music videos but always wanted to tell more with it and express ourselves through this kind of art. For me this culminated in the video projects in Colombia. Let’s see what else comes in the future.
What’s your relationship with sex and techno?
Sex and techno have a tight relationship to me. In a particular way, music and techno touch me, make me move and create the same feelings as sex does to me. Ecstasy. Letting go. Living the moment. Good techno screams for sex. Snake sound embodies that for me. Especially in my DJ sets, I want reflect this intimate energy to the floor. Who doesn’t know the feeling of listening to music that touches you, that creates images and takes you on an emotional journey? That’s the kind of vibe I get when I’m producing. And that’s why it fits so well into Vision Ekstase, where we want to achieve ecstasy in every sense. In the essence of life, sexuality, or musicality. And that is entirely free from social conventions and norms. Everyone can and should feel desired, no matter what color, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation.
You and many other young artists are pushing a new but familiar sound in techno. Fast, groovy, and hypnotic would be the characteristics of a new wave in techno at the moment. Do you believe techno is going back to its roots in a way?
It isn’t easy to say. Techno is a broad term that everyone can define for themselves. I’m not a fan of making rules about what techno should sound like, what is allowed, and what is not. And above all, I’m not in the position to do that, because I’ve been producing techno for only about six years. I wasn’t there when techno started and when the first minimal or Schranz era came. Techno for me means no boundaries and no rules. That is undoubtedly the rebel that speaks in me again, but that is also my conviction. If techno is good, it is good. No matter if there are hip-hop elements in it, jazz chords, or salsa percussions. In principle, I am always a fan of great diversity. I get bored quickly, and that’s why I’m always happy when people dare to experiment outside of the “hype.” So I like the development because there is a lot of music that suits my taste, but that’s why I’m already missing the diversity and experiments. With my album, I have also gone different ways, and I have produced tracks that do not necessarily correspond to my DJ style. Simply music that did not bore me at the time.
What other artists are inspiring you right now?
That’s a tricky yet easy question. Different artists inspire me in many different ways. My friends Fabian Wegmeth, Rove Ranger, and Symon inspire me daily with their productions. On the other hand another friend of mine “Crimson Sky” inspires me daily, even if his production are an entirely different direction. You can learn something from almost everyone. Whether personally or musically.
We’re moving into somewhat of a new era of techno at the moment. What changes do you want to see within the scene?
I would like to see more tolerance. More tolerance towards any music and elements in the music itself. And above all, more diversity and artists who dare to develop their own sound. Besides that, I would like to see all the young, new, up-and-coming artists get a chance to step up. There are so many incredibly talented artists. Of course, my Vision Ekstase Gang, Yant, Zisko, Rene Wise, Egotot, Alarico, Arthur Robert, Holden Federico, Phil Berg, VIL, Hitam, wow I could list so many more producers. These people put so much work into their music, and it’s about time they get what they deserve.