Volkan Akin is a Berlin based live artist with has played at some of the most influential clubs on the scene, most commonly Club de Visionaere. With a recent release on the Unreleased Ltd imprint “Outcry” – we caught up with him recently to find out what first drew him to minimal, and to talk us through his live set up…
Hey Volkan, how are you, what’s good and bad in your world right now?
I’m doing well thanks, keeping myself busy these days as human beings currently facing some difficult times. The world is changing and this effects us so I try to spend as much time as possible in the studio and try to be focused and compensate these influences into music. Of course I’m very happy about my latest EP on Unreleased ltd. and enjoyed that very much. I would like to use this opportunity to say thanks here to all the people who were involved in this project, from the label and the beloved Istanbul crew, to the mastering engineers from Fresh Mastering and Julia for the artwork up to the distribution and you as the magazine for this interview.
How different is the music you make and play and listen to in summer vs winter?
I would say it’s not the season which matters, it’s my current state of mind which makes the difference. I can make or listen to the most happiest music in the darkest Berlin wintertime, but also the darkest dub techno or minimal track in a beautiful summer day where birds are in mating time singing their heads off.
Are you thinking about the audience, the dance floor, a certain club or setting when making music?
As one part of me came through the dance floor into the music scene, it’s crucial to me to think about the audience and all the emotions and feelings, the ups and downs of the dance floor that I try to feed it into my work. But I don’t reduce my thoughts and as a result of it my music just to the dance floor as that would be too boring and repetitive.
What does minimal mean to you? What is the art of crafting a minimal tune?
Minimal is together with dub and dubtechno the foundation of electronic music to me. The art of crafting those musical pieces for me is to multi layer and pile up a lot of fine, just a slight of a sound and structures together, and that the result still feels full and pleasant despite all these micro sounds, that’s the art of it. It’s challenging and a lot of work but I like that. In fact it should instead be called maximum as sometimes I’m recording up to 20 channels or more in an arrangement and the result is minimal, where on the other hand 5-10 channels are perfectly enough for a house or techno track for example.
Why does that style appeal to you and how did you discover that in the first place?
I discovered it in the beginning of the 2000’s as at that time I was listening to serious Detroit and Frankfurt Techno. When I discovered minimal through clubs like Robert Johnson that was a relief for my ears and like “wow this is also possible.”
Record labels like Perlon or Bruchstücke, Minus Rec as well as many other labels at that time and artists like Vladislav Delay were a big inspiration. His early works were very visionary also Thomas Brinkmann or Baby Ford and last but not least not to forget about Ricardo Villalobos who brought that genre to the next stage, more rhythmic more organic.
Talk us though your live set up.
It’s a mix of analog drum-machines sometimes a Synthesizer, effect pedals, occasionally a modular system and ableton live where I’m playing around with loops, sounds, studio recordings or unfinished material.
What inspired you to make the choice of performing as a live act rather than going with two turntables and a mixer?
I somehow slipped into it through digging records in my very early 20s and playing them at parties with friends back in my hometown Darmstadt. Then I realised very fast that I wanted to learn the craftwork of music production. So I started with that and the result of it after many many years was to perform these productions as a live act. Which was not an easy step to create a live set and play in-front of an audience but it was worth it.
Tell us about what inspired your new ep on Cem G’s Unreleased LTD label?
Both tracks were produced in March 2020 and inspired by the end of winter and the beginning of the pandemic.
How did you come to release on the label?
We are good friends for several years now and sharing the same passion for music and since the very beginning in constant exchange of ideas and tracks. The environment of the label was always supporting me and we played some gigs together and one thing followed another. My first release on that label was about five years ago when I contributed one track on a various artist record.
How do you work, do you have an idea in your head you work towards, or do you just experiment and jam and see what happens?
My working flow is always quite different sometimes. I’ve already an idea or I’m browsing through my recorded sounds and loops and move from there. I also love to jam around and if I’m not bored of a loop after listening to it for 4-5 hours I just do a live recording. It’s important to me to catch the moment in the progress of musical production as fast as possible because when I try to work on the same piece, the other day is always different and sometimes it’s really hard to catch the same vibe so I do at least a recording before leaving the studio to avoid hundreds of unfinished projects.
You are a regular at some of Berlin’s finest clubs – does playing there inspire and inform the music you make? Are they testing grounds for your own tunes?
Yes sure Berlin is a fantastic testing field as this city is still a huge meeting and melting point for electronic music. The fact that people from all over the world come here to spend their weekends brings always a nice rotation to the dance floor.
What would you say is your favourite club to play in?
I enjoyed very much playing at Istanbul’s minimüzik hall not sure if it’s still existing. Of course as CDV regular Club der Visionäre, Veniceberg in Venice is also nice or Gallery Kurzweil in Darmstadt. There are so many nice venues to discover out there but your day my come.
What else have you got coming up?
I just did a remix for Hot City Orchestra (a experimental music side project of arno aka Einzelkind) it should be released also very soon. It’s a fully modular synthesis track which isn’t directly for the dance floor. I’ll also finally launch my own record label in 2023, I’m very much looking forward to that since I’ve been putting this off for quite a while now. Watch out to my bandcamp account which will be fed with loads of unreleased and released music and live recordings.