Based in Berlin (Germany) DJ and producer Pascal Hetzel has released numerous EP’s between 2014 and 2018. He took his time to unleash the debut full length album “ASLM” released by Belgian label Arkham Audio. This work reveals a darker approach of Techno music but also stands for intelligent and icy sound treatments with sophisticated passages. The work took me by surprise and incited me to get in touch with the artist.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: Tell us a bit more about your musical background? What have been your main triggers and music influences to get actively involved as DJ and producer in the music scene?
Pascal: When I was very young I was fascinated by the process of mixing records together and the technique. Especially turntablism and scratching at the time. So in the very beginning I played a lot of HipHop, Breaks and a bit of Drum&Bass. When friends of mine took me to my first outdoor rave I got into Techno.
Q: Covid 19 seriously impacted all club activities world-wide. How did you as DJ face this situation and what have you been doing in the meantime? And how does it feel today now that nightlife is getting back?
Pascal: I spent a lot of time in the studio to keep me sane. I also started a part-time dayjob in a computer repair shop which gave me the opportunity to learn how to repair Apple computers, a skill that can also be very useful in the studio and on the road.
In the beginning it was a bit of a strange feeling to be in a club again without a mask but after the first half an hour it feels just like before the pandemic. I don’t have the impression that it changed too much. People still like to go out and dance.
Q: What brought you to work with analogue equipment and how do you see yourself as composer/producer? Do you have specific criteria when composing your own music and do you follow a specific pattern/procedure to compose your tracks?
Pascal: I started to work first with a computer only, but it never felt as intuitive to work on a screen. When I bought my first piece of gear about 15 years ago. It was a Korg Electribe EMX-1. I liked how ‘hands on’ it felt to just jam and tweak the sound while recording straight to audio, and the happy accidents as a result. Also the analog warmth that is being introduced when recording trough a mixer and sound card, even when it’s a digital piece of gear.
Very often I would just jam and see where it leads me. Only rarely I have a very clear idea in my mind. If it grooves and it sounds ‘pleasant’ (to my ears) I usually go with it. And if I still like the track a few days later I end up releasing it, which is not always the case.
Q: After a break of a few years you this year released the debut album “ASLM”. What did you try to express by the album and what is it all about? Do you still belief there’s a market and future for full length albums?
Pascal: I took my time making this album. I usually just jammed when I had a bit of time and inspiration outside of what became my main project CYRK, together with my partner Sam. I guess a big part of it was to do something way darker and more experimental than what I would usually do as CYRK.
To be quite honest I didn’t think too much about wether or not there’s market for full length albums. It just happened. When the album was (almost) finished, I played it to my friend Cri du Coeur when we were hanging out in my studio. I did not even think too much about releasing it in that moment. But he really liked it and asked me if I wanted to release it on Arkham Audio.
I think there will always be a market for full length albums, maybe not necessarily for pure club albums, but I was always liked to listen to something that was produced as one piece.
Q: “ASLM” sounds to me as a mix of multiple influences; definitely Dark-Techno driven, but still into IDM and Minimal-Electro. Tell us a bit more about the writing process, the challenges/difficulties you encountered and how would you analyze the final result?
Pascal:It all started with a few modular jams. My approach for this album started off quite conceptual. Most tracks are built around a certain patch that I haven’t tried before, kind of like an experiment, then I wanted to see if I could turn this idea into something musical. Once I had a basic idea, I took one sound of each track and tried to use it as a starting point for the next track of the album. The idea for the mood of the album was to do something Cinematic that would work as score for a horror movie but also on the dance floor.
Q: You’re based in Berlin, but you clearly have a connection with Belgium (the label, clubs…). What’s your perception of the Belgian scene and what makes the main difference with Berlin?
Pascal:I played a lot in Belgium because my partner is Belgian. I didn’t see too many differences to be honest. In the end it is just one gigantic scene, as the whole world is connected anyway.
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