As part of my job which pays me a monthly salary (the dream!) I was recently lucky enough to film at South West Four Festival on Clapham Common. Though I don’t consider myself particularly persuasive (maybe it’s those dimples) I managed to convince my colleagues that it would be an interesting festival to cover, because of the many German DJs included in the line up. What I didn’t expect, was that I would end up interviewing five very successful musicians including the Techno Daddy, Sven Väth. It was an absolute honour and something I never expected would happen to me, but gee whizz was I nervous.
The festival was thus not terribly enjoyable, because I was in a constant state of feeling like one area of my body might fail me at any moment and I might either explode, implode or just collapse in a heap of disgusting smelly old guts. Luckily none of these things happened.
The day began at the office with a bland sandwich and a great piece of carrot cake before meeting my “homies” (crew) Dan and Markus. When we arrived at the festival we were greeted by one of the organisers who, though we had only had email contact, went straight in for the double kiss greeting! I felt the move somewhat brash and he did seem a little wired, but I went with it (it happened again on departure!) because it was down to this guy that I was secured such great interviewees.
The first interview was with Tube & Berger and Paji – the latter I have talked about before on this blog. All are excellent musicians (T&B are playing in London on 2nd October) but I feel like I screwed the interview up a bit because I was so conscious of how tight we were for time, and I was trying so hard to focus on not spouting a load of nonsense in a foreign language. I mean I don’t generally have a problem saying words. BUT IN FRONT OF DJs?? It was instantly rendered impossible.
My interview in English with the event organiser went well and the one with Fritz Kalkbrenner was probably the best. He is a very cheerful character and has an interesting and engaging way of speaking which made me feel more at ease. Interestingly I had met his brother Paul Kalkbrenner a few weeks prior who seemed decisively less open to being approached by a sort-of-journalist (sort-of-journalists are the worst). Go figure.
The content of the interviews was mainly to draw connections between the electronic music scenes in Germany and the UK and how important it is for German artists to become well-known over here. Kalkbrenner seemed to view it as an important “Zwischenstopp” on the way to achieving success in the USA but wasn’t sure that he had broken in completely yet. But he clearly has a following here, which though it may partly be to do with the success of his brother and his becoming an identifiable name in the scene, judging by how packed out the tent was at 6pm on the first of a two day festival he must doing pretty well.
The final interview of the day (by this time I was exhausted) was with Sven Väth. He was late, which gave my stress-induced sweat patches even more time to creep towards joining in the middle. But when he arrived he was most charming and very talkative. Knowing he has a daughter my age made me feel slightly more at ease. But to be standing opposite someone with such a long-standing career in the area of music I am most passionate about was intimidating and intense. What was even more intense was that he kept drifting so close to my face whilst he was talking that the cameraman kept having to edge backwards, pulling me by my hoodie – somewhat distractingly – back with him.
I was interested to learn from Väth that the EDM rave scene saw earlier development with the acid house movement in the UK and that Germany followed suit more significantly around the late eighties. I have always looked to Berlin and Frankfurt as the birthplaces of techno, and they are certainly some of the most significant areas in this respect, but Väth’s knowledge and experience really highlighted the different strains within the genre and their fluctuation in popularity over the years. Väth came to the conclusion that both the UK and Germany hold a similar level of importance nowadays. Understandably he had a lot to say on the subject and actually some of his soundbites were really far too long for us to use. Which was a shame. But down to lack of experience and my general panic I was not willing to cut him off. It’s Sven Väth!
It really was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so lucky to have been given the chance to do it. If I go to that festival again though, I think I might just have a dance.