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Hello Berlin #6 - Ian Pooley

Meet one of the best known techno DJs in Berlin and worldwide

Hello Berlin #6 - Ian Pooley Meet one of the best known techno DJs in Berlin and worldwide

For almost 26 years now, Ian Pooley has been a man in the world of music. He describes his privileged, long-lasting passion for music, and explains why his current role in the business may seem more relaxed than many of his colleagues. When he is not booked abroad for a gig, however, the well-known clubs such as Berghain, Watergate, Sisyphos or Heideglühen mark his favorites. So there is no question, this man is already a living legend and his sound is crossing the borders from Berlin to the greater world. He reserved one of his rare free minutes during his studio time and met with us in his wonderful loft apartment to discuss his journey – I proudly present the next issue of "Hello, Berlin" featuring the great Ian Pooley.

#1 Who is Ian Pooley?
Ian Pooley is DJ/producer, who is lucky enough to have had an organically supplanted himself into the whole scene. Music has been part of my life since I was twelve. So today I see myself, after so many years of being part of it, as more relaxed than others and certainly more conscious about things. 

#2 How do you describe your style of music?
I’m lucky that a lot of people say that my style of music is unique. Quite often people tell me they notice that it’s me if they hear me playing at a club or if they are listening to a podcast. It is all still a big mystery to me; when you work in the studio as an artist you don’t go through things theoretically, and there is no analyzing. I managed over the past years to create my own sound and a niche between house and techno. Equally, with the DJ part (and I like to keep that separated) I also found a unique way to blend in house and techno, and also put together old tracks. I have collected so many tracks in my brain that in the middle of a set I can act quite natural and spontaneously. 

#3 The first time you held a vinyl in your hands was?
I was so young- maybe seven or eight years old. My mom had a nice kind of eclectic taste - really diverse. Some rock stuff, singer/songwriter stuff Simon and Garfunkel perhaps, but also some electronic stuff. There was also a special edition of the Beach Boys and there were Kraftwerk albums as well. As I was so young, I wasn’t allowed to use my dad’s high-fi stereo, which was a luxury ...but this fact didn't stop me from putting the records on by myself and listening to them from a very early age - and it went on like this. I had my own ghetto blaster when I was nine or ten. I started to record my own tapes from radio and so on ... 

#4 What is the biggest challenge to survive in this business for as long as you have?
To reinvent yourself and to pick up challenges. I think the most important part is that when you reach a certain kind of success that you don’t get too comfortable. I think that happens to everyone though and it’s a good lesson... regarding the layouts and the gigs I mean. For the producer side, I would say it is important to keep it fresh, and find new things for yourself, as well as to keep on going. This is especially key when you get older - I mean it’s a scene that is catering to people who are between 20 to maybe 29 ...they are the ones who go out every weekend and by the tickets to get into the clubs. So you have to integrate that in for yourself. You can’t act as if "I’m older" or "I just play my music" because it doesn't work like that.

#5 What is the biggest challenge to survive in this business for as long as you have?
Again I have to say that I was lucky being there since the very first minute - when the house and techno scene got very big. DJ's got booked to play in different countries, which never normally happened in the 80's. That’s how I created my name, and have my huge discography. 

#6 Are you sometimes getting kind of bored of all this after so many years?
No. But I have to say that there was a certain point within my career when I wasn’t satisfied by the sound that I was playing. It was too commercial and my bookings didn’t fit to what I wanted to do. I was in this kind of phase of reinventing myself and went back to my roots again. It was because of this experience that I made a conscious decision to go into it again with positivity and a lot of fun. 

#7 Where do you get your inspiration from?
For DJing, I know what I’m doing and I don’t want to change much. I think people like what I do because it’s quite a mix and also eclectic. I could also play a safe set but I don’t like that, I like to challenge my audience. For producing inspiration comes and goes. That’s the whole essence of inspiration, you don’t know where it comes from. I think I don’t want to analyze it too much. 

#8 Your favorite song is?
There is not one favorite song. It would be unfair to answer that for me. My music taste is too diverse. 

#9 Good sound means for you...
Good sound means to me when I can listen to a piece of music or a concert without analyzing it but simply really enjoy it. That’s for me the best moment. 

#10 What is the thing you love the most about music?
When I get surprised by something. 

#11 Your favorite place to play live is?
Definitively Tel Aviv - always really good, with nice and warm people. But also Berlin is still very surprising. 

#12 The strangest place you ever had a performance was?
I get this question quite often and always forget my answer. Actually, nowadays it’s almost everywhere. In the 90's it was different, crazier and full of misunderstandings. There was no internet, so it happened quite often that people booked you and didn’t know what to expect. I remember events and parties in the 90's, which were just not safe - places without an emergency exit for example. Stuff like this. That was pretty scary ... 

#13 The last thing you want to do in life is?
There are so many things I want to do... In my career I want to help and support other artists. In private, maybe I want to get used to do more traveling without DJing. It’s been now twenty plus years in which I was traveling only for gigs, so I want to do more trips where it’s not about a gig ... taking my time off and also doing other things, which is very important - something that grounds you more.