Paul Kalkbrenner is without a doubt one of the world’s most popular techno DJs, a legend in his own right. Born in Leipzig, he launched what would become a spectacular career in the world’s techno capital, Berlin, where he still resides. Throughout his career, Paul has produced album after album of hits and bangers, even making his own feature film detailing his life as a DJ—the positive aspects, as well as the downsides of seemingly never-ending success. Next month, the good people of Iceland will enjoy a chance to see the master at work, as Paul Kalkbrenner is one of the headlining acts of this year’s Sónar Reykjavík, where he will presents some of his latest beats.
To celebrate, we called him up and asked him a few questions.
Hi Paul. We’re very much looking forward to seeing your set at Harpa. To begin, what was the inspiration for your current album, and what is your favourite song off it?
The difference between my current album and the last few is that I spent more time making it. Especially after ‘Berlin Calling’, it got really difficult to produce another long-player with that same effect. There will be some hit songs from the new album, but I do not know yet which one will be my favourite.
What should we expect from your show?
It is going to be a typical Paul Kalkbrenner show, with all that entails. Everything happens live, I plan on putting on a great show, with music, lights and video projections. As you know, I was supposed to play ‘Sónar Reykjavík’ last year, but unfortunately had to cancel my performance because of an unexpected eye surgery. To make up for it, I plan on making this show extra bombastic.
Seeing as it’s your first time playing Sónar Reykjavík, do you have any expectations of the audience? Are you looking forward to anything in particular?
Well, it’s not my first gig in another country. I’ve travelled around the world, and at my Scandinavia shows I’ve noticed that Northern Europeans tend to rave totally different than Sicilians, for example. They tend to just enjoy the music and rave with a lot of energy.
I definitely like the Icelanders. The culture and the small society are just cosy, and seem special for Europe. For example, there’s the “tölt,”—I mean, you have a way of riding horses which that only in Iceland. As well as this tradition with surnames that it goes on and on. Those things really interest me.
In any case I believe it is going to be very nice meeting the Icelanders and their visitors in my audience.
How do you feel about being one of the most popular international acts at Sónar?
In recent years of course I’ve became more popular at home and all over the world— today, it’s quite normal for me to play headlining slots at all these festivals. Of course, it can be quite unusual, as I experienced during my first years as a DJ. You have to develop yourself, and you have to work for it.
Are you listening to any Icelandic musicians?
Yes I am! ‘Amiina’, with two Is, for instance. It is an Icelandic string quartet that features a spinet and harps. It is really restful, with a touch of Icelandic pain. Very nice.
Have you picked out an outfit for your performance?
I’ll probably wear a typical Paul Kalkbrenner jersey, which I wear for many of my performances. I am a real FC Bayern München fan. That’s why I wear it all the time. As well as it being kind of funny.
Will you spend any extra time here?
No, sadly I have no time to tour the whole country—I have to get on a plane at 7:30 am after my performance . It’s always the same over the festival season. I think it makes no sense, having a gig with a two days holiday afterwards. Techno time means working time.
But are you interested in Iceland as a holiday destination?
Yes of course. My brother Fritz made a video for his album ‘Back Home’ in Reykjavík and in the Icelandic landscapes. From what I saw, I was really impressed with the country and its nature.
Can we expect a sequel to your movie one day?
You need to know that the movie was absolutely fictional. And the longer it is been, the less I identify with the main character, Icarus. That is not really my point of view anymore. It was semi-real when I was younger, I suppose. We also have this other version of the movie with a lot more concert sequences. I mean this is something that I really want to do again. Documentary. That would be great. Also I have to say it was really hard for me doing this actor job. That is not my thing. I am a musician, first and foremost.
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