Music & Interview
AVION … head of the label Crossing
Hello Carsten. Great to have a new instalment of our series „Music & Interview“ with you including an exclusive mix. A already established start for our interviews is to ask for your childhood and youth. So please tell us where you were born and grew up. Also let us know what kind of music made you a music freak, what kind of music you listened to being a teenager.
Hello Jürgen thank you for inviting me here.
I was born and grew up in Rostock. I was very lucky to live my youth in a small village some metres from the beach (Baltic Sea). Having your home where others doing holidays was something special and it is still what I always miss when in Berlin.
As I was 11 or 12 my older brother brought many records from Bonzai, Depeche Mode, Front 242 or Mokum Records at home. He did that ingnition for me to have a deeper look into rhythms and music. To be honest I also loved that Eurodance sound which came up and I am still pumping up the volume in my car when I hear a 2 Unlimited song in the radio. But that was only a small part for me.
The bigger part were these ealier Hardcore sounds (3 Steps ahead, Salami Brothers or DJ Dano) also the live broadcast from Mayday was something I always watched and had on video. I still remember that fantastic set from Carl Cox. I was totally impressed what he is doing there. And then I got this CD from Jeff Mills in my hand. It was the mix at Liquid Room in Tokyo. He opened a new world to me. Paired with Depeche Mode and Nirvana that shaped my musical taste in general.
(Promo picture of AVION)
As told us you came from Rostock to Berlin. Assuming you still have some kind of connection to your birthplace we would like to know more about the political and cultural situation there (Rostock, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Baltic Sea) especially the techno scene – also compared to the past (key word: Gerberei in Schwerin). We just attended an amazing night at UKW in Rostock and were happy to see a lot of like-minded people there. Is there a scene or does everybody attend the club nights in Berlin? Any new talents from this area?
Rostock still owns a big part inside my heart. The scene in Rostock is not compareable with Berlin. It is obvious much smaller but also very intense and not so anonymous like Berlin. Both have their advantages. In Berlin you can be more by your own in the nightlife but in Rostock in that scene you have a smaller group of people who are going out and enjoying the night like we do.
For Clubs like UKW in Rostock it is very tough to exist as the authorities are still ignoring that institution. The owner of the UKW are longtime friends of mine and we are all playing music and shaping the scene more than 25 years together. I am super proud that I am still a part of that scene and playing regularly in this outstanding location.
The UKW is not a moneymachine. The people who are running this are doing it for the scene and to support newcomer and music from town. They are music nerds and –lovers. It is a similar feeling as it was for Gerberei Schwerin. We are all connected and value our roots. Some kind of a special family and their bonds.
Same as in the Gerberei the people built that clubs by hand and not a big investor with loads of money to only book the next hype. The bookings for UKW and also for Gerberei are/ were handpicked with much love to the music.
It’s a shame that the UKW is still ignored and unpriviliged by the political authorities as they are doing a lot for the cultural education and the music scene in Rostock.
The Gerberei showed all of us how it should be and what feels right. What Ron, Stefan and Zacha built in Schwerin was unique for so many people and the guests were coming from everywhere around and found that place where only music and its history existed not following any hype.
There are lots of talents connected to the scene in Rostock but for Rostock they are definitely not new. DJs like Subjacked, Yavin or Micha Lieb are wonderful selectors same as the growing number of other residents in that club. They all do it out of passion without having a focus on fame, money or whatever is toxic for our scene.
(Promo picture of AVION)
We talked about your favourite music during your youth. Had this music any impact on your own way of getting a DJ, musician and label owner? What are your musical influences? Which topics/issues/situations from other areas of life inspires you for making and playing music?
Oh yes. As mentioned the record collection of my brother and the Jeff Mills mix as well TV Shows like Housefrau on VIVA TV were a big influence.
At some point I wanted to understand how this all is happening. Where do all these sounds, noises and melodies come from and how can I do my own? To be honest I still have no clou and as the universe is continously expanding the music is doing that too. So nearly everything around me inspires me.
Also the exchange with other artists is giving me a lot to create something new and look deeper into. I am trying to stay open minded and not to be fixed on genre. This is also how I DJ. Trying to get out of the box and working out the moment for something new.
I am a big fan of noises any kind and not that classical melody maker. Sure this can be related to my engineering metal industry job where these noises are all around me. For me this is kind of melody. You do not need a synthesizer or a piano to create a melody. My melodies are maybe a bit different and I see this world with different ears.
Like I have seen Martin L. Gore throwing that stone on the balcony of the Hansa Studios for their album „Some Great Reward“ in 1984. Sound and melody is all around us.
(snippets of the first Crossing release by AVION)
Actually knowing it already you are a Depeche Mode as we are. So we would like to know which 10 songs/tracks/remixes are your favourite ones and why they are important for you (which meaning do they have for you)?
Some of the songs have a very special feeling related to challenging but also beautiful moments to me. It is hard to explain for what reason each song is special.
I remember being with my wife at the concert in Rome of the last Tour (Global Spirit). It was very hot and the sky was totally clear as the second part of „Cover me“ went around the stadium and the feeling of the nearly 65.000 people there was like being able to grab for me and everyone around. Dave and Co. created a very special moment.
My favorite album is „Violator“ therefore I picked some more songs out of it and I am pretty sure it is the most played record in my collection. So the picks from that Album are „Enjoy the silence“, „Clean“ and „World in my eyes“. Especially Clean is one of my favs from producer side. It has everything it needs and not too much or less. A raw Bassline which gives that EBM feeling paired with outstanding synths and an unregular songstructure. The lyrics of Enjoy the silence are outstanding and for me relevant every single day.
From that time my favorite B-Side Song is „Dangerous“ from the Personal Jesus Single EP. I love that more rusty country/blues paired with the reduced synth feeling in it.
More songs from my favs catalogue are Precious, Leave in Silence, Only when I lose myself and the wonderful Things you said which Martin L. Gore finally performed at their last concert here in Berlin. A Goosebumps moment for me. And the 10th Song comes from Martin’s Solo Album „Counterfeit“ and is „In a manner of speaking“. And I need to mention one powerful addition „The Dead of Night“. It was the opener song at my first concert I had the chance to visit in 2001 Berlin Waldbuehne. What a killer!
01. Cover Me by Depeche Mode
02. Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode
03. Clean by Depeche Mode
04. World In My Eyes by Depeche Mode
05. Dangerous by Depeche Mode
06. Precious by Depeche Mode
07. Leave In Silence by Depeche Mode
08. Only When I Lose Myself by Depeche Mode
09. Things You Said by Depeche Mode
10. In A Manner Of Speaking by Martin L. Gore
11. The Dead Of Night by Depeche Mode
(official video of Depeche Mode’s “Clean”, taken from album “Violator”)
But let’s get to your own music. Your artist name is AVION. Could you please explain what it means and why you chose it? As we know it should be written in capital letters. Is there any reason for that?
I didn’t want to use my real name and wanted in first instance keep it more secret who is behind this small label. AVION is the french word for Airplane but I also learned it is the same in romanian language. It is close that it can be related with my normal job as I am an engineer for aircraft engines but it has nothing to do with it.
It is simply one of my alltime favorite tracks which is from Damon Wild called Avion.
The reason why it is in capital letters is that I found out that there was/is another producer called „Avion“ who is doing more that Trance/Progressive stuff and I didn’t want to confound with him. That’s the whole secret behind.
(another picture of AVION)
You are a DJ and musician – and also a label owner of the imprint „Crossing“. After mostly releasing your own music you also signed other artists like The Automatic Message and Milton Bradley with a new alias. What is your philosophy for the label? What image do you want to create? What‘s the idea behind the label and how do you select the music for it?
Crossing is just my musical view.
Artists like The Automatic Message, Pfirter, Doka or Milton Bradley are my taste of music and I really love their work. The Doomsday Device alias from Milton Bradley was not completely new. He already released one Single EP I think approx. one year before I met him. He said that he has more stuff at the moment which is DD and if I would be up for that. Of course I was as I bought this previous record some weeks before. It is not so easy for me to find like minded artists for Crossing and I only want to release artists who 100% present sound and label.
I receive a lot of Demos every month but many of these are only general mailouts without that they keep themselves busy with the label and its output. This is definetely not my way. Whenever I feel that it is not a general mailout or the 4th time I receive the same mail with the same text in 4 months I am listening and answer to the artists. But at the moment I am not looking for new artists as my plans for Crossing are fixed for a long time ahead.
To explain the philosophy is not so easy. It is a platform for me and other artists who inspire me. I am not following any hype. To be honest sometimes I’m feeling I’m doing everything to get far away from the actual hype. From economic aspect not clever but if I would do different and always trying to sell out the next Technobomb it would be wrong and I am sure the listener will notice it.
Music must be authentic and maybe this is the main philosophy of Crossing – to be authentic.
(snippets of The Automatic Message’s release “Crossing 009”)
The latest release on your label is your debut album „Untrod“. It includes a collaboration with Emika. How did the process of producing it look like? How did you start with the album production? What was different to making EPs? How was it to work with Emika?
Oh it was a long process. It took more than 3,5 years to get the final result. The last Track „Nebul“ was the first and some kind of kick off for the production. The direction of the album was always clear to me. No concept just clear me.
With having the draft version of Nebul I thought this Track can never be on Single EP so I need to do an album. And so it started.
Some of the tracks were created in my older homestudio in Friedrichshain, some in my new home in the woods and the finalization was completely done in my new studio room. That was important for me as I shaped that new studio room with some acoustic treatment instead of having my couch disassembled on the wall.
I do not see a real difference to producing a Single EP. I always have a bunch of tracks in several folders which I would like to release. There is never a special concept behind neither Single or Album.
I am always producing what comes up to me and not for a special order. It was the same with the collaboration with Emika. She is a brilliant and very creative producer.
Of course I wanted to work with her for a long time but I never had that special sound which made me confident that’s it until the draft version of Streetlights. But as I started with Streetlights I never had in mind or the goal that next track must be with Emika inside.
Luckily the sound of Streetlights felt like it was just made for this. So I sent her a mail and included this draft version and very short after she replied that she is touched by that sound and would like to work on it. So I finished and mixed that pre-version and the finalization was done by Emika.
It was a very easy and harmonizing working together and I am thankful that she said Yes on that. So I included it into my Album.
(full stream of “Street Lights” by AVION feat. Emika, taken from CROSSiNGLP01)
Beside the collab with Emika you already made one track with Thomas Hessler (btw the second person featured in our mix series
). Also the names Marcel Fengler, Ron Albrecht and Stefan Rein appear if we look at your musical output. What are the connections to these guys and how came it to these strong relationships?
I met Ron and Stefan for the first time when I was 14 years (My first visit to Gerberei Club Schwerin on Christmas day). They always have been a big influence on sound I play and reflecting the history of music. Especially in DJing Ron was always one of my favorite DJs and I learned so much from him about reading the crowd, and working out the perfect moment. I remember one night at Gerberei when we were sitting and talking about new releases for a while in my brother’s car (I was 15 years). In the radio one of my very first mixtapes was running. As the Track „Balance“ from Acid Scout was mixed in Ron said great selection of music but the one who did this mix needs to practice…. He didn’t know that it was me but it was a little kick off for me to work and practice harder.
Stefan and me started doing a label nearly the same time and we always had a good connection and are friends since more than 18 years now. We highly value each other as artist and friend and it is always a pleasure to work and play with him.
The friendship with Thomas is special for me. We first met at the IMF Event at Berghain. He already did a Remix for the Crossing 004 which is still my favorite Crossing Release. I think we both felt a connection in what we are doing and felt like minded. We are exchanging loads of sounds and ideas nearly every week so we took the chance and made a Track together. It was a rough start but the finish was great and we created something diverse and special for us with our collaboration on that. It will not be the last one where we will work and jam together.
I am superhappy that Marcel got some of my Track ideas into his hands. Marcel is an outstanding artist for me and always has an open ear for new things and ideas. It is a pleasure for me to work with such great artists and friends.
(AVION, another promo picture)
Let‘s talk a little bit about technical evolution. Djing with vinyl is still something that a few people see as „basement” for being a good DJ (also for labels it has still image advantages to release on vinyl) but if you watch DJ most of the stuff come from USB sticks. Beatport and Soundcloud just launched services that can be connected directly to the mix equipment in clubs etc. What is your opinion about it? And from a label owner’s point of view: is it still worth to make vinyls? What’s your reason for doing it?
I learned to play music on belt driven turntables and a very simple mixer. I am thankful that I had this chance and it gave me more feeling for music, sound and haptical things.
I still play and buy records. Of course I also play digital music. It is always a mixture and I never liked that debate on what is better. I only can say these are my roots and I learned everything I have with vinyl. Everyone should find out his/her way to get the best out of it.
For the crowd it mainly makes no difference if you play with vinyl, CD, USB or only laptop. In the end the only important fact is the result, the music people play and what they can make out of it to present their signature and sound.
Due to my roots it is a part of identity for me to have Crossing Releases also on Vinyl. The market is very hard and from economic aspect it mainly makes no sense but Crossing is not only one label of many for me. It is my signature and work of more than five years as well playing vinyl is part of me of approx. 25 years now.
The possibilities are great today especially by natural technology evolution. I would never say no to evolution (I am also too much an engineer) and the way I am producing music in the studio is mainly on digital basis. Evolution is important to create different minds.
(snippets of AVION’s “Dispersion EP” on IMF
Yeah. We are already at the end of our interview. So we would like to know what is coming next? Any new stuff on your label or produced by you? Gig-wise something special coming up?
I really look forward playing this summer again with Marcel (Fengler) in Schwerin. We last time played one year ago at the wonderful MMA Club together and had a funny night with loads of good music. On Crossing will be as follow up to my Album „Untrod“ a Single EP with Remixes of two Albumtracks from Answer Code Request and Marcel Fengler. That was on my wishlist for a very long time and I am superhappy that both directly said „Yes“ after I gave them my Album. This Untrod Remixes EP will be released due to a little delay on 29th May 2019.
And in October I am part of a very special project together with friends and wonderful artists. Still at the moment I cannot say more but it will be very different. So keep our eyes and ears open more infos about soon.
At the end I would like to say thank you for having this interesting conversation with me, the continous support of my beloved label and I hope that you will enjoy the mix I did for you.
AVION’s “Untrod (Remixes)” on Crossing
AVION’s album “Untrod” on Crossing
AVION’s “Dispersion EP” on IMF
compilation “IMF10” w/ AVION track on IMF
“Crossing 011” by Milton Bradley presents Doomsday Device
“Crossing 10” by Thomas Hessler / AVION
“Crossing 009” by The Automatic Message
Tracklist of Exclusive Mix:
01. Roger 23 – Cultural Negotiation
02. Rodhad & Alex.Do – 160602
03. DJ Deep – Mandrum Dub
04. Marcelus – Multiply (Len Faki Deepspace Mix)
05. SLV – First Day In The City (Stanislav Tolkachev Remix)
06. Border One – Insight
07. Inigo Kennedy – 2C3D2
08. Shifted – Pyx
09. Simo Lorenz – Blue Hour
10. Martyn – Recon
11. Ryan Elliott – Grafton Road
12. Soramimi – The Lightworker
13. Joton – Different Faces
14. Kon Janson – CUES005B
15. SSTROM – Drenched 11
16. Luke Slater – Love (Marcel Dettmann’s Black Gloves Remix)
17. Pittsburgh Track Authority – Haywire
18. Slick Master Rick – Can’t Wait (Factory Mix 1987)
19. P. Lopez & Octavio – Otono
20. Nuel – Silhouette
21. Plants Army Revolver – Borneo Memories
22. AVION feat. Emika – Streetlights (Marcel Fengler Remix)
23. Damcase – PI03.4
24. Specific Objects – Temptation Of Novelty
25. Kodem – Vault Lines (Truncate Remix)
26. Luke Slater – Love (Burial Mix)