We knew this guy before we knew we knew him. Ralf Schmidt AKA Aera used to work at Wordandsound, where we encountered him a couple of years ago as a very charming writer of mails. Also, he presented us with some of the freshest takes on house music last year. Aera was very enthusiastic about our idea to record a live set of his; so that’s what he did, at the Aleph label night at Hrst Krzberg this spring, full with livelive-atmo. Currently, Aera is dwelling in the Andes and given his enthusiasm for South-America it’s probably no surprise then that he lifted the name of his label from a Borges novel. And hey, Mr. Schmidt even fused the visual world of Aleph with the Roof.fm design. Thank you, Aera! Reading the interview is a must, this guy is never shy for a lively answer.
ROOF.FM: Ralf, you’ve temporarily exchanged the hustle and bustle of Berlin for the South American remoteness of Ayacucho. Tell us about your life in the Andes.
RALF: Life is good! What can I say. Ayacucho is a beautiful town in the Andes, around 150.000 people are living here at about 2800 meters above sea level. Ayacucho is a place of much history, some of the oldest remains of human civilisation in South America were discovered near the city and the Peruvian battle of independence was fought here. During the 80ies and early 90ies, it was the hotspot of the infamous militant maoist organisation “Sendero Luminoso” – but in these days, the town is safe and sound again. Due to it’s troubled past, tourists are only now starting to catch up on the city, so it is still relatively authentic and charming. The food is great, the people are open and friendly, the scenery is breathtaking and last not least – life is cheap, even compared to Berlin. Tranquilo! I moved here with my girlfriend to work as volunteers in the orphanage “Casa Luz”.
You even have a tiny chambre where you can make music. How does the Peruvian air impinge on your production?
To be honest, I did not notice any differences so far, especially as music making for me is a rather spontaneous process which I try not to reflect too much about. I did an edit of “Monte Sacro” last week. What do you guys think of it?
What do you look forward to the most when coming back to Berlin?
Meeting all of my friends again and having a good Pizza! I also miss my books and my records, but as my Spanish is improving, I will soon be able to dive into Spanish literature, reading Borges or Marquez in their native language – muy bien! Musicwise, I am glad to have an internet connection at home, so it’s not like I am living under a rock or something – it’s quite the opposite – I am living on top of a huge mountain!
AS A Kid I WANTED a 303, a 808 and a 909. BUT I couldN’T convince my parents to buy me one of those machines. STILL I managed to get a Quasimidi Raven for Christmas 1995.
Looking back in time, what was it that initiated you to clubmusic?
My older brother started to get into DJ’ing back in the early 90ies and I can not thank him enough for introducing me to this world. I remember going into a second hand record shop with him when I was about 10 years old. They had a record with a big yellow smiley on it and like every kid, I loved smilies, so I bought it and put it on the record player at home. My life was never the same again! Acieeed!
And what got you into production?
Actually, just the love for these sounds. I soon found out that I needed a 303, a 808 and a 909. Sadly, I could not convince my parents to buy me one of those strange machines, but I managed to get a Quasimidi Raven for Christmas 1995. In return, I had to promise to take piano classes and learn to play the instrument properly.
The liveset was recorded at your last label party in Berlin. Tell us about the night.
It was the official record release party for ALEPH03, as well as my inofficial farewell party for Peru, hosted at Horst Krzbrg. As it was the first event I organised on my own, I was really anxious that no one would come at all. It was “Tanz in den Mai” and there were countless other parties that night. Luckily, at 2 o’clock the place was packed, all dancing and smiling and cheering, making me the happiest person on earth. It was amazing! I invited The Mole, Marc Schneider and Skism (Lodown Mag) to DJ, did a live-set on my own and later on played some records with my friend Henry as Goldwill. A busy night for me as you can tell – but it was worth it! The music was great all night long – if I may say so – and the crowd was enjoying it till the break of day.
Your latest EP is entitled „Third Wave“. A nod to Alvin Toffler?
Yes. While producing the EP, I read the futurologist “The Third Wave”. Let’s just briefly say, it tries to show how the evolution of society works and why the world is the way it is today. A lot of the early Detroit producers were influenced by his thoughts. Even Herbie Hancock’s album “Future Shock” was named after Toffler’s work. So kids – support your local book store!
What else will 2011 bring for Aera?
Lots of travelling around South America, lots of new impressions, inspiration and ideas – and lots of new music of course, working on finishing my album right now.
Anything else you would like to say?
Thank you for the interview! Peace on earth and love for all.