With decades of experience in electronic music, A*S*Y*S answers to a few curiosities about his career. From the underground to the main stage, A*S*Y*S performs at mega festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival. In the studio and on the airwaves with his own radio show Filter’d many know this German DJ and Producer brings fresh life into electronic music. Read his response to the interview questions below.
OneEDM: A*S*Y*S IS YOUR ALIAS, CAN YOU EXPLAIN IT’S MEANING AND YOUR MUSICAL ACT?
A*S*Y*S: A*S*Y*S stands for “Acid Save(s) Your Soul”
When Kai Tracid, who was part of the project from 1995-2007, and I discussed the ideas about the name for our music collaboration, our love for the sound of the Roland TB-303 bassline machine played an important role. The sound has been associated with the electronic music style Acid since the mid/end 1980s. It never really died, but when we used it for our tracks, the huge hype about it was over and Acid was seen outdated.
For us, it was, however, the savior to create our main parts when we sometimes really struggled to find the right sound. Therefore, in the end, A*S*Y*S bears multiple messages. In our tunes, we gave Acid a revival (and thus saved its soul), we were saved by the great sound of the TB-303 machine, and our listeners saved their soul by listening to the music of A*S*Y*S.
WHO AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH IN MUSIC?
As a raver, not involved in any music production yet, I loved hanging out in Frankfurt’s most legendary clubs called ‘Omen‘ and ‘Dorian Grey‘. Both were essential to the growth of the German Techno scene and even had a worldwide impact in the early 1990s. A lot of great producers visited those clubs on a regular basis, either to listen to their own productions or to gain new inspiration.
It could really be called the “Golden Age”. Everything was new, unusual, crazy, open and just tremendously exciting. Particularly one DJ touched my soul countless times with his sets and performances: Sven Väth. He was already a superstar, I had only just done my first steps in music production.
Moreover, I had a regular job as a client service manager in a big advertising agency. So hard to imagine nowadays. When I had my first long holiday break, I woke up one morning and knew that I did not want to spend every day in an office just for a nice few weeks of holiday each year. I felt that life is literally too short, and I was determined to give it a different meaning. It was the moment I decided to turn my passion into my profession – whatever it would take.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF MAKING MUSIC?
It depends. I love the phase when the inspiration comes just from the flow of playing around with some new equipment or plug-ins, when you have no time pressure and the moment of something fresh and new just kicks in. It can be very painful when you have been excited about some new parts, but then understand that they will not take you to a full new track because the whole piece is simply not good enough or you lost the moment to develop it further.
This is why I love the moment when you manage to transform a great idea into a full track, when you realize you have enough great parts to arrange the track. It is such a great satisfaction for me to work on a track close to the 100% perfection, 100% is probably never achievable from an objective point of view, however, you can work on a tune until you feel you have done everything you can to improve it.
YOUR TWO RECENT ALBUMS, Grand Theft Acid Pt. 1 & Pt. 2, SHOW A VARIETY OF STYLE IN ELECTRONIC MUSIC, WHAT STANDS OUT TO YOU MOST ABOUT THE MUSIC WITHIN?
For years, A*S*Y*S could never really be classified into a particular genre. To be honest, this has become a challenge since events or stages are mostly set up according to specific genres. I was always driven by the harder styles within the electronic music scene.
Originally, A*S*Y*S was seen as a Hardtrance project in 2001 when we had our first huge worldwide club hit “Acid Nightmare”. The Dutch called it “Early Hardstyle” because of the influence the music at the time had on many Dutch producers who created their own Hardstyle in the following years. But the few releases before “Acid Nightmare” were even declared as Psy Trance.
For a long time, my music did not fit any genre, it was just harder electronic music with acid elements. For a certain time, I found a home in the so-called “Subground” movement, a Q-Dance party series for harder electronic music, but not Hardstyle. Acti, who now goes by the name T78, also used the term Subground for his record label in the days of QULT. He had a major influence in the whole movement.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TRACK OF ALL TIME?
There are too many great tracks to name only one. People keep asking me to create an all-time Top 10 and I must admit that I always choose different tracks because I never remember what I had put on the previous list, but it is always easy to find new favorites!
However, one of the most important tracks to me is definitely “Acid Air Raid”-Solar Quest. The TB-303 lines including their modulation are just phenomenal, the overall mystic vibe is simply amazing. Other all-time favorites are also “Acid Phase”-Emmanuel Top, “Universal Top” by Push, “Nero” by X-Cabs, and for sure “Smack My Bitch Up” from The Prodigy…Oh, and I want to add Justice‘s “Genesis” to the list.
WHEN YOU’RE NOT CREATING OR LISTENING TO ELECTRONIC MUSIC, WHAT KIND OF MUSIC WOULD SOMEONE FIND YOU LISTENING TO ON A RANDOM MORNING OR EVENING?
Maybe this answer is surprising to a lot of people, but at home, I hardly listen to music. If you spend so many hours in the studio every day, play gigs, compile tracks for the radio show or sets….Your ears sometimes need a little rest. Sometimes I check the recent productions at home on all devices, such as other small speakers, laptop, etc..but that’s all.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE FESTIVAL TO PERFORM AT SO FAR THIS YEAR?
I liked a little Dutch festival directly at the beach in the near of Zandvoort, simply for the reason that it has been a premiere to me to play so close to the ocean.
DO YOU HAVE ANY DREAM DESTINATIONS TO PERFORM AT?
Interesting question. The last 17 years, I have played all around the world and it doesn’t matter whether a party is big or small as long as I have a bunch of enthusiastic people in front of me going wild to my music. However, there are certainly some huge Techno events out there that would be a great honor for me to play!
THE EARLY PART OF THIS DECADE SAW THE RISE AND FALL OF THE QULT PARTIES AT WHICH YOU MADE SEVERAL APPEARANCES AND RELEASES ON ITS NOW DEFUNCT LABEL, SO, LOOKING BACK WHAT WAS THIS ALL LIKE FOR YOU?
All experiences I can make in this business are a gift to me and I am honestly grateful for everything. QULT was a very special thing with great potential for harder electronic music styles that did not fit into other genres for 100%. Therefore, QULT had a very creative touch.
A lot of different producers and DJs used to come together and shared their knowledge, exchanged ideas, inspired each other. At the end, to stop the parties was not even a decision Q-Dance made but the shareholder investors. They did not want any money to be spent on projects that were not totally dedicated to the main business of Q-Dance, which is Hardstyle.
For me personally, it was sad not to play these very cool parties anymore, but it also set the impulse for me to move on and develop myself into new directions and I could not be more glad about what I do now. This saying, it is very often not about such incidents in life but what we take and learn from them for our own development.
YOUR RECORD LABEL, Fe Records, RECENTLY INTRODUCED A NEW SUBLABEL, Fe Chrome, WHAT HAS THIS MEANT TO YOU AND WHAT CAN LISTENERS EXPECT TO HEAR FROM EITHER OR BOTH OF THESE?
With Fe Records, I always released a lot of crossover sound. I never head a straight direction with it. I felt that this is on the one hand great for the variety but not so much when you want to create a more specific profile. With my regular radio show “Filter’d”, I started to play more and more Acid Techno since I really feel this music and I like the fresh wind the genre is experiencing at the moment.
A lot of new, young ladies and other artists are redefining the genre. Producers and performers such as Nina Kraviz, Amelie Lens, Jay Lumen, Anna, Charlotte De Witte all brought Acid back on stage. I have supported them ever since I discovered their sound.
This process mirrors in my own productions such as “Acid Machine” and “A Beautiful Thing” for my recent album Grand Theft Acid (GTA). It was very natural for me to do so with all the Acid Techno history from my background. I loved every bit of the production process and I decided to commit A*S*Y*S for this sound I really felt deep inside. Consequently, I knew that I would need a new, blank label for it, one that would have its focus on this music. Fe Records will still be used for releases of innovative Trance productions.
IN LIFE AND MUSIC, WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLES?
I am a typical creative person, meaning that organization is not really one of my biggest strengths! However, as I am not just an artist only, but running a label for other artists as well means responsibility is crucial and involves a lot of organization, too. I love to create music when the flow is right and I have so many ideas and inspiration, but for reasons of time management, it is not always possible to put them into practice.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SATISFYING ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR IN YOUR CAREER?
That my wish to turn my hobby into a full-time job has become true. To be an electronic music producer and DJ, label owner, and recently also a film producer never feels like a regular day-to-day job. I know that I should feel privileged because many people live a life they would rather change. One of the most important things I have learned so far is, “believe in your dreams” is not just a saying.
APART FROM EDM, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO?
With all the things I described above, there is little time for other activities, though I try to stay healthy and exercise often, I love riding my bicycle in summer or reading a book and I have a passion for football. Every now and then I find a PlayStation game that I play almost obsessively for a short period. In one week, I will get my hands on Red Dead Redemption 2, an open-world western game I have been waiting for the last eight years.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT?
Yes. This world is in a very critical phase politically and environmentally. Here is my very personal message: do not follow any leaders that try to make you believe complicated problems can be solved easily. This is not how it works, there is a reason why those problems are complex and not solved quickly. Do not take peace and freedom for granted. Be grateful for it and let us envision a world in which everyone has the right to freedom. It is an ongoing challenge to defend it and it will never ever stop.