Electronic music serves many purposes, and it served a paramount function in uniting East and West Germany after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Techno provided two disconnected groups that shared the same heritage with a soundtrack for freedom, and that soundtrack remains one of the country’s most defining musical fingerprints to this day. A young German producer and DJ by the name of Paul Kalkbrenner emerged as a leading figure during this period of reunification, bringing his DJ sets and live shows to clubs across the country. In 2014, Kalkbrenner performed at a ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to a crowd of half a million people.
Paul Kalkbrenner’s rise to prominence came from his growth as a renowned musical figure in Germany, which was propelled by his starring role in the cult classic film Berlin Calling. The film documents a rising DJ in Berlin who eventually succumbs to drug use, an ending that strongly contrasts to Kalkbrenner’s own fruitful career. The film’s soundtrack was produced by Kalkbrenner, and the lead single “Sky and Sand” topped the charts for weeks.
Yet, Kalkbrenner has only just begun to grow more popular in countries like the United States. In 2015 he released his seminal album 7, his first release under a major record label. Released through Sony Music International, the album marked the first instance of Sony granting an artist full access to its music archive for sampling. Kalkbrenner chose to sample Luther Vandross, Jefferson Airplane, and D-Train for three of the album’s tracks, and his vision paid off handsomely; he’s begun to headline festivals like Tomorrowland and Lollapalooza Berlin.
Your EDM got the rare opportunity to interview Kalkbrenner to learn more about key facets to his music, such as his meticulous live show, in which the producer recreates each song live on-the-fly, his experiences finding new audiences and fans, and his coming plans for future releases. Additionally, we asked him about his thoughts on the current landscape of EDM, including his opinions on the place of “EDM” in electronic music and DJs who pre-plan and mix their sets. The best part? It’s all been captured on video.
Watch Your EDM’s exclusive video interview with Paul Kalkbrenner below: