ITW : KR!Z & PFIRTER [TOKEN, MINDTRIP]

Hi Kr!z and Pfirter, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with InDepth, we’re thrilled about this chat!

This shared interview coincides with the release of your new (shared) EP on MindTrip Records. Before we get to the core of the interview, can you tell us how you got know each other?

Kr!z: Correct me if I’m wrong Juan Pablo, but I think we first met when we both played a party in Ghent in 2013. But the moment we really bonded was in 2015 in Buenos Aires. This was when we played all night at Under Club for a Mindtrip vs Token night. That night was pretty epic I think, especially the morning hours, when we moved to an after party spot where we played back 2 back for many hours (I think till noon or so?). Funny fact: Juan Pablo got electrocuted several times during our set (haha). So after this marathon session he showed me around the city and we had great talks and even greater food and I think our friendship was set from there. But maybe JP has a different story about all this?

Pfirter: I think that’s pretty accurate story, although my memory fails a bit after those electric shocks

You’re both independent artists in your own right. How did this shared EP come about? What was your source of inspiration?

Kr!z: I just checked the project file of my track ‘Imperative Needs’ and it dates from April last year. I remember doing the track quite fast and I immediately sent it to JP with no real intention, maybe just to ask his opinion on the mixdown. His first reaction was very positive. So after some joking around – as we usually do – he said he wanted to release it on MindTrip, which of course really made me happy. The idea in the end was to do a split ep, so I sent him a bunch of other tracks and he picked Malice for the A2. I don’t know what my source of inspiration was for those tracks, probably just playing around with some synths in the studio.

Pfirter: I‘ve been following Token for a long time and always respected it as a label, so when Kr!z told me he was starting to produce his own music I’ve always been interested to do something together and use my platform to share it with the world. Originally I had the idea of actually making tracks together but it’s not easy working remotely and everybody has their own workflow…In my case, inspiration generally comes with a huge impulse to create new sounds and rhythms, searching for something different and new. 

Few names in Techno have had such long and rich histories as you two. You’ve seen Techno evolve over the course of nearly 15 years and still are at the forefront of the scene. How do you feel the scene today compares to back when you were first starting out? How do you feel the scene has evolved? And has this had an influence on your work?

Kr!z: That’s a big question! In short, I would say the scene indeed changed a lot. I think in many ways becoming a DJ or producer has become much easier, but because of that, it’s also became much more difficult to stand out or make a name for yourself. Then there is the big rise of social media, which is probably the biggest change of them all and for many artists the main tool for pushing their career, rather than the music itself. Everyone has their own priorities I guess. Mine would be to let the music do the talking.

Both of you are well known internationally and are respected as talented and humble artists. Do you feel your values are necessary for a long and durable career?

Pfirter: Talent is for sure necessary if you want to sustain your work over years or decades, sure. Being humble I think it’s just a personal option, but it makes it so much better for building solid personal relationships.

Kr!z you own Token Records and Pfirter you own MindTrip Records. Can each of you briefly tell us the debuts of your record labels and how they have evolved over time?

Kr!z: Another big question! In short: I started it in 2007, having no connections to the international scene at all. I invested in long term relationships with artists, which actually evolved into friendships with most of them and having a tight family / crew. The idea behind the label is still the same: release music I like to play as a DJ. Over the years my interests expanded and we did more experimental music too, but overall I would say Token focuses on music for dancefloors.

” The idea behind the label is still the same: release music I like to play as a DJ. Over the years my interests expanded and we did more experimental music too, but overall I would say Token focuses on music for dancefloors.

Pfirter: In the case of MindTrip it’s been a similar motivation. I’ve been producing my own music for the last 15 years so I wanted to build a new platform for my own music and friends and colleagues that I enjoyed playing their music. Our first release came in 2006 and it was a collaboration between myself and Jonas Kopp. Since then, we featured quite a lot of music from stablished producers but also from new and a bit more unknown artists, which is also something we focus on.

As label owners, you probably receive many demos or request from artists. Are you open to demos? What motivates you to work with an artist?

Kr!z: I wouldn’t say I’m ‘not open’ to demo’s, but it’s just a time issue to give them the attention they need. I receive around 100 demo’s each day, so I stopped listening to them years ago, cause it’s just too much. I usually contact artists myself when they’re on my radar after I play other tracks by them that they released elsewhere. Sometimes a friend or colleague recommends an artist to me and then I will always check it out. Recommendations help to sift through the huge amount of music I’m receiving.

Pfirter: There’s really not enough time to listen to every demo. I mostly also like discovering the artists myself or through people in common, although I did find some great music through demos too. It really depends a lot on how the demo is presented and how someone tries to connect with me or my label in a personal way.

Kr!z, you were a DJ and label owner for many years before starting producing. Can each of you tell us about your journey and evolution?

Kr!z: I’ve always been a DJ. Of all the things I do, I still enjoy it the most and I also think it’s what I’m best at. It’s still my main focus. The label started around 2007, when there wasn’t much great music out there to play as a DJ, because the climate was very different. My own production has always been very much in the background. I had been producing a lot of hip hop beats around 2010, mainly for myself. Once I knew how that worked and understood the gear a bit better, it still took me a lot of time to really focus on producing techno. Things changed when I had a severe car accident in 2015. I wasn’t able to walk and had to stay home for months, so early 2016 I invested in some gear because I finally had a lot of time to focus. I spent 2016 till end of 2018 learning the gear and trying out tracks at my gigs, till I finally released my first record early 2019 on Token.


Pfirter:
I think I’m one of those rare cases because I couldn’t pick either to consider myself more of a DJ than a producer or the other way around. I love them both equally although I started DJ’ing way before I started producing. But to me, it’s just two sides of the same thing and they both connect very deeply and influence each other.

For certain DJ’s, the shift from a DJ to a producer can be quite difficult and even daunting. Indeed, production and DJ’ing are two very distinct art forms. Can you share your views on this? Did your experience as a DJ help you to make music?

Kr!z: Well for me it wasn’t a shift. It was just an extra skill I tried to learn. But yes, the tracks I make all start from my experience as a DJ and I also construct them with my DJ-style in mind. That’s the only goal for me: make music I like to play myself as a DJ. I hope it gives my DJ sets a bit more personality too. Even if it doesn’t, I think it’s a great feeling to play your own music.

Pfirter: Definitely DJ’ing helps to give your first steps as a producer as you subconsciously know many basic things that wouldn’t be there without the DJ experience and knowledge. It’s easier to know what we expect from the music and how people would react to any specific changes. It’s also very important being able to play your own music, I believe that’s the point when a producer can get more confident of his/her own music and the good and bad things on it.

” It’s also very important being able to play your own music, I believe that’s the point when a producer can get more confident of his/her own music and the good and bad things on it.

Can each of you please tell us about your process in the studio? Do you use software, hardware or both?

Kr!z:  I use hardware to make the music and software to record and mix it.

Pfirter: My first years as a producer I’ve worked with software only. After some time I ended up working with hardware only and basically using Ableton for recording and mixing. At this point I’m doing everything 50/50 and feels pretty comfortable and creative this way.

What is your favorite piece of gear as a producer, and why?

Kr!z:  It varies all the time. I don’t own a lot of gear actually. I love my Mono/Poly, but have been doing a lot of tracks with the Novation Peak. The Analog Rytm is on ally my tracks. 3 of the 4 tracks on my Mantra ep were done with the Access Virus C.

Pfirter: My speakers are my fav gear right now (PSI Audio A21-M)

How do you maintain variety between your tracks? What inspires you?

Pfirter: When I feel inspired to make music, I try to create as many loops and sketches fast, trying to reduce thinking to the minimum. After finding grooves that I like, I start caring a bit more on variety of each track through speed, percussions, arrangements…but It’s not something 100% planned, sometimes I’m in the mood for making different music than other days and try different hardware or software and the inspiration comes more from the sounds and its creation rather than from a preconceived idea in my mind.

What are your plans for the future of Token and MindTrip?

Kr!z: We just released a killer new ep by Banke (12th of June), next up is Stanislav Tolkachev, end of July. More exciting plans after summer, but I’d like to keep these a surprise for now.

Pfirter: After releasing ‘Purification of Malice’ together with Kr!z on July 3th, we have more music coming by great artists like Divide, Operator, Translate & Pulso from Argentina, there’s a new Mutable Minds compilation coming before the end of the year and also a studio collaboration with Portuguese newcomer Nørbak.

More personally, what’s coming next for you in the summer? Any plans, releases or exciting projects you’d like to share?

Kr!z: This record on Mindtrip will be the only thing I’m releasing this summer. I think the most exciting plan I have is hopefully to start DJ’ing again, once the crisis is behind us… I had a very exciting summer ahead as a DJ, but of course all these plans were cancelled.

Pfirter: Besides my split ep with Kr!z I worked on some collaborations that will be out in the next months (with Par Grindvik, another one with Oliver Rosemann and the one with Norbak) plus there’s more music coming on other labels too but I shouldn’t name names yet. Will certainly be a very different summer, normally the industry and the scene are less focused on music and more focused on festivals and parties during the summer, but this year will be very different in that aspect. Summer is so 2019.

Last but not least, how do you feel about what is going on in our music scene due to the COVID-19 virus?

Pfirter: The covid situation has been a major crisis for all of us, and particularly hard for artists, agencies, club owners… I think everyone in the scene acted or reacted in the best way as they could, trying to find a way to deal with all this new situation and find a solution to their problems. Some positive things came out of this for artists, like more studio time or more time for the artists to get socially involved with what happens around us. This lockdown is giving us time to define what we want to do with our scene, what can we learn from our past and how can we make it better and more fair. There’s no real economic business in this scene for some more time and it’s a good opportunity to remind us of our movement, of our artistic and social motivations, of why we do what we do and what we want to communicate and stand for.

Kr!z: I’m of course very worried about the future. Will clubs survive this (and how), how will nightlife look after all of this is over? I really hope we can go back to normal at some point and I sincerely hope a lot of people in our scene will be able to cope till then. On a personal level, despite the obvious financial setback, it did feel good to disconnect for a few months and focus on other things. I couldn’t really be creative in the beginning as I was quite paralysed by watching the news every day. I felt there were more important things than studio time. I still haven’t been very productive, but it’s getting better. I’m really starting to miss DJ’ing though, and not just the act itself, but even the ‘hard’ parts like the travel and irregular sleep patterns. I didn’t think I’d ever say that 🙂

“Purification of Malice” EP is coming out July 3th on vinyl & digital. 
Pre-order your vinyl : Deejay.de | Juno | Decks.de

Photos Credits for Pfirter: Mora Dorrego
Photos Credits for Kr!z: Koen Vernimmen
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