Photo: Marco Dos Santos (Sascha Funke)
Whenever the name Sascha Funke comes up, most people will likely think of “Mango”. The track, the only contribution to the Berlin Calling soundtrack that was not produced by Paul Kalkbrenner, paved the way for the then-Bpitch Control artist’s international career. In the following years however, the Berlin-based producer focused on the project he launched together with Julienne Dessagne, Saschienne, and is back in 2017 with the album Lotos Land on Endless Flight, showcasing quite a different style than on his previous productions. Much like the record, Sascha Funke’s contribution to our Groove podcast offers some surprised. DJs nowadays can and must take more risks, says he. Here’s proof that he does.
Your new album Lotos Land is your first after nine years. In the meanwhile, you have been primarily busy as one half of Saschienne. What has changed in the past few years for you as a solo artist?
More than anything, it’s my way of working that has changed. I used to produce only with samples. Since the beginning of Saschienne, Julienne and I bought various synths and music instruments. Now the new gear makes it a lot more enjoyable for me to make music. I collected a lot of ideas for my album over the past years so the first sketches of Lotos Land happened fast, within one month. It all came out very naturally.
Much like on your first two solo LPs as well as with Saschienne, you also have collaborated with others on your new record. What intrigues you about the collaborative process and how did the individual collaborations come about?
I think there are two different things here though. For Saschienne, Julienne and I both work as independent artists and each of us contributes to the full working process equally. For my solo albums, I’m alone responsible for the music. So initially, the reason for inviting other artists on my own music is purely and simply because I’m not a talented singer. Since their first release on Optimo Music, I’ve been a fan of The Junto Club. The singer of the band, David Wilson together with his friend Emily Evans both sung on the track “Comala”. I had actually finished producing the track but I had the feeling that something was missing. So I asked David and when I received the vocals, I was impressed how great they managed to catch the vibe of the track. The title “Comala” comes from a book called Pedro Paramo by Juan Ralfo, it’s the city where the story takes place. It’s the book David was reading at the time, so when he wrote the lyrics that inspired him. As for Autarkic – who sings on “Im Feiern Und Feuer” – we met as he made a remix for my In Relationen EP on Multi Culti last year. His album came out in May on Disco Halal and for me it’s one of the best releases of the year so far. For his featuring on my album, I chose Im Feiern Und Feuer. The track is a little rougher, darker and slower and I thought it was the ideal space for his voice. Autarkic, who comes from Israel, sings for the first time in German on this track and the title name was taken from his lyrics.
The album’s title is taken from Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Lotos-Eaters”, a key text for the psychedelic movement. How did you come across the poem and in which way did it influence your work?
One of my favourite authors is Christian Kracht. One of his books called Imperium is about a character named August Engelhardt who – at the beginning of the 20th Century – drops out society and leaves Germany to retreat on a small island in the Southern Seas, starting a new life there living exclusively off coconuts. At some point, Engelhardt quotes a poem by Alfred Tennyson, “The Lotos-Eaters”. The poem is based on a fictional story of soldiers who fought in Spain for the British Empire. They eat lotus flowers and embark on a psychedelic trip. They start questioning their ideals and the purpose of their lives. Instead of fighting, they decide from then on to stick to a peaceful life in the Lotos Land. When I was making the music of my album and generally when I listen to music, I often have the feeling I’m visiting a Lotos Land. Turning one’s back to the world’s madness, finding a moment to rest, to escape.
Just like your new album, your contribution to our Groove podcast is going far beyond conventional dance trops. What was your idea behind it?
I wanted my mix to underline the versatility of the album. Although there are many tracks on it that were released after I finished my album, they’re a good representation of the influences which played a role in the production of Lotos Land.
Ellen Allien has recently praised you in a Groove inteview for your restrained sets that “lull people with sound and makes them crazy after a while”. Is it still possible to play like that in the progressively more fast-moving Techno scene?
I think it’s actually the opposite. The fact that our scene is moving so fast makes it fun and challenging to play records. There is a lot of interesting labels and artists who get their inspiration from different genres and eras. The music that catches my attention nowadays reflects these contrasts and diversity. And it doesn’t sound like a standard Techno-House set like 10 years ago. Now as a DJ you can take a lot more risk, and you must take more risk. Nothing is more boring than a DJ who always plays the same music for decades. The audience, probably with the influence of internet, has also become a lot more open-minded and tolerant to new music.
In a recent Groove feature, you have recommended three records that were close to your heart at that point. How do you find new music and what does that music have to bring to the table to go straight into your bag?
I spend a lot of time online, mainly on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I come across small and obscure labels on there and sometimes nice surprises. Of course, I also receive music from my friends and colleagues. The tracks that go to my record bag should always have something to say.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks or performing live – and what are your plans as a producer?
I’m working on a couple of remixes for other artists at the moment and there will be also remixes for Lotos Land after the summer. I’m also working on a new single. And for
Saschienne we’re also working on a new album. Multi Culti are starting a TV/radio show for which friends of the label will be able to host their own show. It will take place and be broadcast from the Multi Culti headquarter in Neukölln, Berlin. From August onwards I’ll be hosting my own show and have guests from now and then.
Stream: Sascha Funke – Groove Podcast 112
1. Smagghe & Cross – Jazz (Offen Music)
2. Fontän – Sen Sen No Sen (Högar Nord)
3. Bullion – Michy Maus (Bahnsteig 23)
4. C Cat Trance – Rattling Ghosts (Die Orangen Remix) (Emotional Rescue)
5. Cluster – Avanti (Bureau B)
6. Superpitcher – Burkina (Hippie Dance)
7. Tuff City Kids – Wake People (Sascha Funke Remix) (Permanent Vacation)
8. Wild Planet – Electron (Warp)
9. Sascha Funke – Shepherd’s Crook (Endless Flight)
10. Capricorn – 20 Hz (Optimo Edit) (R&S Records)
11. Silver Apples – Oscillations (Geffen Records)
12. Ricardo Villalobos – Dexter (Two Lone Swordsmen Remix) (Playhouse)
Sascha Funke auf Tour
June 23, 2017 Lotos Land Release Party DJ Set at Chalet in Berlin with Toshiya Kawasaki
June 24, 2017 Lotos Land Release Party DJ Set at Gewölbe in Köln with Toshiya Kawasaki und Denis Stockhausen