Some 18 years into his recording career, this Berlin techno stalwart has just released his debut album. Time for a chat, then...
He's been a fixture on the Berlin techno scene for nearly 20 years, but Benno Blome has never released an album. Until, as they used to say on Tomorrow's World, now.
Released a couple of weeks ago on Bar 25, the record label born out of the legendary Berlin club of same name where Blome used to be the resident DJ, Night Shots is a melodic, thoroughly engaging listen that skillfuly blends the kind of minimal techno with which Blome made his name with classic house influences. It's unmistakably a 'Berlin' album, yet if you listen closely the DNA of Chicago and (particularly) Detroit clearly courses through its veins.
As such, it's an album that could see Blome - who hails originally from Cologne, and who runs the respected Sender Records label - reaching out to a wider fanbase than ever. So with that in mind, we thought we'd get him to talk us through the making of the album, and why it's been nearly two decades in the pipeline...
You've been producing since the turn of the millennium, yet this is your debut album. How come it took so long?
"The plan to release an album has been on the shelf for quite a while, but it never seemed to come to life - instead the tracks would end up coming out on different EP’s and labels. One reason for that might be my high aspirations for an album in general. But with Night Shots, everything worked out fine right from the start. The whole process was super-smooth, and I’m very excited about the end result."
Do you think that there's more pressure involved in making an album when you're already an established producer, as opposed to for a newcomer?
"I think it’s always the amount of pressure that you put into it. It’s your own demand and threshold. The only real difference might be that the more experienced you are, the higher the standards are set."
Talk iDJ readers through the album - what should they expect, musically?
"Besides music I am also a passionate photographer, and one day I made the association in my mind that club tracks are actually like night-time photographs. Based on this idea, I wanted to release my very own personal 'night shots' as an album...
"It’s also a journey to the 90s, when I bought my first records from labels like Relief or Strictly Rhythm. Drum sounds from the 909, 'jack'-styled vocals and analogue strings are the main ingredients here. I also wanted to bring together subgenres like techno, deep house, dub and ambient. Some tracks start or fade out very ambient and unexpected. It was very important to me to create this kind of complexity."
You've collaborated with some big names in the past - the likes of Tigerskin, Martin Eyerer, A Guy Called Gerald and Baby Ford. Do any of them crop up on the new album, and were there are any other collorators involved?
"Actually, yes! Tigerskin did a remix for White Flag on the Rmx EP, and Baby Ford has contributed vocals on Check Check, under his pseudonym Konrad Cadet. The Rmx EP also features remixes by Jiggler, Dachshund and Kenneth James Gibson, and I’ve worked on other album tunes with Daniel Dreier, Kotelett & Zadak and Hopperider."
The album's on Bar 25, the label born out of the Berlin club where you were once resident. I gather Bar 25 was something of a legendary spot in the early 00s, so can you tell us a bit about the club and your memories of playing there?
"It was a very special time in Berlin, and playing there was definitely something special. No DJ just went there only to play, we all stayed for a longer while. It was like a Bermuda Triangle to get completely lost in!
"Everybody who saw the movie [Britta Mischer and Nana Yuriko's feature-length 2012 documentary Bar 25: Days Out Of Time] gets an idea of the former club's DIY spirit. It had an almost utopian atmosphere, and it got bigger and bigger every season. During the 00s, Berlin was full of open spaces that could be filled with creativity and artistic visions. Of course, clubs like Panorama Bar, Watergate, CDV etc were part of this lifestyle too, and still are."
You also run your own Sender Records label, which will be 20 years old next year. What's been the secret to the label's longevity, do you think?
"Yeah, my Sender baby is almost grown up now! It's been quite a crazy ride through the 00s and 10s (the label's childhood and teenage years), so let’s see what happens next."
What have you got coming up on Sender in the near future?
"Sender Flashbacks Vol 4 is coming up next, including new and unreleased edits. Also there is an EP planned by a new project called Fish Eye Collective."
Finally, what else is going on in Benno Blome's world right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
"At the moment I'm very excited about the Fish Eye Collective project. It’s bringing together a live performance on stage with an interactive show, a techno/ambient project that is open to collaboration with beats and visuals."
Words: Russell Deeks Pic: Alexandre Giannoulatos
Night Shots is out now on Bar 25 Music. Buy it here.