LEN Faki has been resident at infamous Berlin nightclub Berghain since it opened in 2004.
With a sound that is ever evolving both behind the decks and as a producer, he boasts releases on the revered Ostgut Ton imprint and also runs the highly successful label Figure.
After moving to Berlin in 2003 Len hasn’t looked back and this year he was invited to play at one of the most inspiring and iconic global techno events, Movement in Detroit as part of his tour of North America earlier this year.
This summer Len returns to the hugely impressive Sonus festival in Croatia which is run by the Cosmopop team who are also behind Time Warp and Love Family Park in Germany. It’s Cosmopop’s longest event and takes place over five days and five nights in the beautiful setting of Pag Island, Croatia running from the August 21 to 25. The line up boasts a who’s who of techno heavyweights including Dubfire, Ricardo Villalobos, Chris Liebing, Marco Carola, Adam Beyer and many more.
We caught up with Len ahead of Sonus next month to find out more about his hectic schedule, Berghain and the year so far.
Hi Len, thanks for taking the time to speak to us and how has the tour of North America been? You’ve been playing some fantastic venues and parties, such as Movement in Detroit, what’s it like playing in one of the most iconic cities for Techno in the world?
The tour was super nice. I had a great time in North America again. Playing at Movement was a big honour to me. It was really special to be a part of it and to experience the vibrant atmosphere at this iconic festival for the first time. The same applies for the city. On my next stay I plan to spend some days in Detroit. It feels like a great and mystical place that I want to discover more.
You’re very busy on the circuit and fly all around the world playing venues and parties but aside from some of the bigger venues, where else do you always look forward to playing, are there any hidden gems that you would recommend people check out?
There is more than one of course but since it is summer season Clorophilla comes to my mind at first. This summer location is in Castellaneta, in south Italy. Actually it is outside in a beautiful garden with huge trees. Very famous in Italy of course but I think internationally not yet. It would definitely be worth planning a holiday around this, since the whole area is super beautiful. The visuals are kept more simple and the great atmosphere really comes from the place itself. When the sun rises in the morning it´s absolutely magical. I have great memories from playing there.
And how does the UK rank for you in terms of a scene?
Definitely on the top ranking places. Not only the club scene but also musically. Since the beginning a lot of great producers are UK based. I like a lot of them. Playing their tracks in my sets. Indispensable for the scene, absolutely.
You could argue that the two main cities in techno history are Berlin and Detroit. Obviously you spend a lot of time in Germany and Berlin, but what are the differences you notice between the two scenes?
I wouldn’t reduce it to only them. A lot of countries or cities have their own vibes – I have my own vibe too. For the length of my set I’m combining the two with each other to result together in a harmonious totality. It’s always a combination of both and what feels right to me in this moment.
And how about Berghain in Berlin? You’ve been a resident there since it opened but for those that haven’t been, how would you describe the club and its atmosphere?
There are a lot of sources out there that try to describe Berghain and its unique vibe. A lot of very different ones too and I think that’s exactly the case. It’s a personal experience and nothing to describe divided in details. What I value the most is the freedom and diversity it offers. It’s an open minded space that gives everyone the chance to be themselves, to express themselves without judgement. Everything else should be experienced first-hand – there are no words.
Is there any other place like it on Earth?
There are so many fantastic places out there but a similar one – no.
Do you approach day festivals and differently to your sets in say somewhere like Berghain?
That goes without saying. Of course there is a difference between darkness and light. The atmosphere and energy is different in a closed room compared to outside, a fresh breeze and maybe even sunshine at a daylight festival. I match my set to the conditions. It is still Techno, still my signature sound but in a different way.
You’re playing Sonus Festival again this year- are you looking forward to returning?
Yes of course. I’m supper happy to be part of this year’s Sonus Festival again. I’m playing there every year since its beginning and I really always have unforgettable special moments. It’s a pleasure being there and it has became an established festival within my summer season. I liked the idea instantly to connect the summer and holiday vibe with an outdoor rave and Croatia is a great place for this festival. People are warm-hearted and with positive nature – so I can’t wait to go there. Also looking forward to meeting up with the team behind the festival. They are doing such a perfect job each time to organise everything at its best, which makes it even more fun for everyone.
Earlier in the year you released the ‘Hidden Objects’ EP on your Figure label, which included tracks from Slam, Scuba and Phillipe Petit which you remixed, what made you rework those three tracks for this release?
I just liked the tracks so much. In the first place I got them to make remixes. I made those but didn’t stop there. I was having a great time in the studio working on them. It was a different and little new approach for me and was basically great time and fun.
Are we right in saying that these three tracks were never meant for release? What prompted you to change your mind on this?
It wasn’t planned, that’s right. I made them for myself, for using them for my sets. There were months in-between their emergence. The remixes weren’t connected until I realised one day that they match perfectly with each other and would work great on an EP together.
How does running a label compare to DJing, do you prefer one over the other, or have to work harder at one?
It’s different but belongs together at the same time. For both I have to give everything I have, especially for the goals I had and have in mind. At a certain point it wasn’t possible anymore to handle everything on my own, especially because of all the touring, which is why I have a label manager supporting me now. Figure is very important for me – my baby one could say. I’m still involved a lot and we make all decisions together but over the years the label grew and became international with a great artist roster that needs a person completely to be focused on. Not to forget that I want to have some time to spend in the studio as well besides the touring.
Along your travels, you get the chance to witness a huge mix of DJs and artists, are there any DJs out there that you enjoy listening to or look forward to being on the same night as?
Yes of course. That’s a big aspect and it is great fun to exchange ideas and thoughts. This is also an important point I love so much about our Figure Nacht events. These are always opportunities to meet with like minded friends, listening to their sets and getting inspired.
Are there any artists you want to release on your label but havn’t yet?
There are so many great producers out there and the space on the label is limited, so yes. It’s not always easy to decide. Very important to us is also the personality and visions we all follow, if we have the feeling those match and that we can work in a long term together.
Rewinding back a few years, when you first got into DJing and producing, what was it that made you pick up a piece of vinyl and how has your technique and sound changed over the years? What has been the biggest change technologically for you over the years?
At an early age, from my first Techno party on I knew that this is it. This is what I want to do and nothing else. I was obsessed with music since I can remember but from then on I knew my direction. At this time I didn’t even have the financial possibility to have my own turntables, which was a 1210 back then, but I bought already my first vinyl and brought them to friends places to listen to them there, mixing for the first times. So in the mean time things developed but I have to say that my biggest change was to switch from vinyl to CDs. I didn’t make it any further than this yet. This will be the next step and happen soon. Giving me even more options and technical possibilities but I have to say that I’m pretty relaxed with this one. For me it’s first about the music, that’s what is most important and not the technical features.
During the span of your career you’ve seen the industry move from vinyl to CDJ and then to software based sets, can you ever see a time when the traditional and raw skills of DJing as we know it are lost to the scene and it is all about software and live performances?
I hope not. I guess this will be something that will be decided within the next generation of DJs. Manual skills are very important to me and I will not change this for the length of my career. Technical development has it’s benefits of course. Some things get more comfortable and easier but for example I like to work with longer transitions to mix two tracks with a certain sequence of tones and this is something I do in this moment only with my experience and feeling. When you find two tracks matching over a longer time so perfectly and harmoniously together, discovering this by getting into things, working on it and than the moment you hear it is very joyful and exciting for me. I’m attached to that and love these details about DJing, so I wouldn’t want to miss them.
One last question; If you only had one track to play for the rest of your career as a closing track, what would it be?
Unimaginable. It would be a nightmare for me, one I don’t want to experience – never ever.
Len Faki plays Sonus Festival in Croatia on Sunday August 21. For more information and for tickets to Sonus Festival head here.