Photo: Press (Legowelt)
Some artists have their own style, but Legowelt is his own cosmos. When Danny Wolfers says that the music he produces under an innumerable amount of aliases was “all a bit outside the normal boundaries of culture”, that is perhaps putting it lightly. Ranging from hard-hitting House to smooth Ambient and weird leftfield electronics, the Dutch, erm, synthesizer enthusiast has become one of the most important figures within the dance scene precisely because he rarely plays by its rules. Wolfers’s dedication to DIY and amateur art, lo-fi aesthetics and all things (cyber)space is also present in his 90 minute long contribution to our Groove podcast, an at times lysergic and ecstatic journey through the netherworld.
You are consistently touring the world, however in most cases play live sets. Which role does DJing play in your artistic life?
I play DJ sets too, lately even a bit more then playing live. It plays a very important role – I love music, that is of course the whole reason I started all this – so it’s pretty obvious you gotta keep checking out new music releases. There is of course an endless pile of crap you have to wade through sometimes but most of time you find new fresh stuff, music that blows me away, inspires me and just makes me happy. Showing that music to other people in a DJ Mix or at the club is one of the coolest things you can do!
Your contribution to our Groove podcast mainly consists of unreleased tracks. What was your idea behind the mix and how did you record it?
Well, it’s not mainly unreleased, a few – most of the stuff has been released. The idea is what an idea behind a mix should be: Just music I like to hear myself put together in an “orderly” fashion.
Via your website, you publish the annual Cyberzine Shadow Wolf, the last issue including an interview with the New Age pioneer Iasos, ASCII art and an intro to Ethiopian scales, amongst other things. As a nod to Cyberpunk culture, Shadow Wolf seems like a somewhat nostalgic endeavour. Why did you start the zine and what’s important to you in terms of aesthetics and contents?
The main importance is that I have fun making it – I love making ASCII art and writing these articles its a very relaxing thing to do, you switch into this hyperfocus that can be pure bliss. I also started it because I love the concept of zines. Just random people, weirdos or hobbyists that want to write about their passion – with this DIY punk attitude – not giving a fuck about anything or what people think of them – the complete opposite of the socio-economic peer pressured social media that runs everyone’s lives today. I also loved these e-zines from the 1990s, these text files with ASCII art and “underground” articles about all kinds of cool stuff – hacking, electronic music, space stuff etc., etc., etc. Before the dawn of the internet they were spread via BBS phone networks with this secretive cyberpunk hacker atmosphere around it. It was like gaining secret information… As if you were in a cool computer spy movie. As far as the contents, it’s basically subjects and stuff that I am curious about, things that are on my mind, or what I want to share with the world. Studio tips, weird blurbs, Do-it-yourself projects for weird stuff – things that something don’t really make sense but gives some adventure and color to your life. I also get some articles send in by other people. That is really cool
to see that people are excited and wanting to write their own articles for the zine.
Also on your own homepage, you collect entries to drawing competitions that you’ve hosted. Some of the artworks represented are stylistically very close to the drawings that you use for record artworks. Where does your interest in outsider and amateur art stem from and how does it fit in with your music?
I love drawing myself, making comics, zines and the artwork for my releases. The music and the artwork are an interacting thing, they feed each other in a continuous spiral of inspiration until it becomes a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk. There is of course this sort of amateurish, eccentric DIY attitude around my music, depicting an elaborate fantasy world. If the music were paintings, they would definitely be in the outsider art area, it’s all a bit outside the normal boundaries of culture.
In recent years, you have released music under several different pseudonyms, including your long-running Smackos project, Occult Oriented Crime and one-off pseudonyms such as Ufocus, Bontempi 666 or Calimex. Where do you draw the line between what you do as Legowelt and the releases you put out under other monikers?
I don’t really think about aliases that much, its just a name that is given to the project, like a track title. If you can have a different track title per track why not a different artist name, too!? The Legowelt name is sort of there to keep some coherence – an all encompassing entity – because its probably the most well-known alias I have. I have no set rules, these lines, barriers of what is a Legowelt track can always shift, but most of the time its sort of orientated on the more Techno, House and Electro stuff – but on my last Legendary Freaks In The Trash Of Time album I sneaked in some slow jam and ambient stuff, too. Maybe the next Legowelt album is going to be just Ambient or Memphis Rap or 80s Jamaican Digital Ragga style… Who knows.
Giallo Disco will soon re-release a compilation of tracks you’ve released under your Franz Falckenhaus alias, a seemingly Cold War-inspired project of yours. What was your concept behind the Falckenhaus pseudonym and how do you perceive this discontinued effort after almost a decade of inactivity?
For me, listening back now after ten years, it sounds quite amateurish. I really made each of those albums in an afternoon, just programming some one or two sequence
patterns and playing the melodies, strings and pads live over it before doing some vocals and adding some FX and mixing down everything in Audacity going through a Korg Ampworx amp simulator to get that lo-fi tape sound. But that is, I guess, what people like to hear… I probably would love it too, if it wasn’t my own album. People like to hear mistakes, a human groove, something that is not perfect. This lo-fi, amateurish aesthetic makes listening more exciting and adventurous. A wild and seedy musical massage for the soul – instead of letting your brain rot of boredom while listening to Tech House tracks or something. Anyways, “concept-wise” the lo-fi Electro Wave sound pretty much fits the cold war spy theme like a glove… I made these releases back then that were like comics or movies, fictional soundtracks – a musical adventure so to speak. So I imagined a person that would fit these sounds… Franz Falckenhaus is a sophisticated West German gentleman, a man that wears leather gloves, has a moustache but also leads the secret sinister life of a spy with lots of drama and immorality. Maybe he is from Bavaria, maybe he is from Hamburg or maybe he is from a place like Bielefeld.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks or performing live in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer?
Production-wise there is a lot of stuff on my Nightwind record label; lots of cassettes, CDs and LPs ranging from Commodore 64 SID music to contemporary avantgarde Rap tracks and amateur Space Jazz or colourful Techno.
Stream: Legowelt – Groove Podcast 144
No track list available.