We don’t know Roman Flügel in person, but we have come to believe through many mail exchanges that he must be a one hell of a gentleman. Generous, smart, upbeat. Add the words ‘classy’ and ‘elegant’ to this and it might very well sum up of how his music sounds. Yes, to us, the many soundscapes of Roman Flügel are the embodiment of downright dancefloor finesse – and by extension this distinction would even apply to his Alter Ego productions. Take for instance his 2006 album he did with the vibraphone virtuoso Christopher Dell. Sublime. Gilles Peterson said at the time: “That’s just my kind of minimal.”. Well, you could grab any Roman Flügel production: we just listened to the fine Deep Mix he did for Ethyl & Huxley on the soon-to-be launched label Saints & Sonnets. Or you could dive – and we very much expect you to do so – into this fabulous, fabulous mix.
ROOF.FM: Roman, thanks for the great mix you did for us. It’s quite a special one. Can you say a few words about the selection?
ROMAN: It’s came about as one of these mid-week selections, when your ears are no longer suffering from the weekend and when your mind is at peace. I really like this kind of deejaying, it’s a welcome change to a clubset. I always buy records that are difficult to play in a club context, but which nonetheless take me on a musical journey. The simple fact that one is not only interested in streamlined stuff, the tracks that “fit”, has a huge impact on your general musical outlook. Also, I like opposites. For instance, when I mix “Distored Reality” into the Red Rack’Em track: That’s a good example of how totally disparate moods can intertwine.
And how did the mix come together?
I selected the tracks really spontaneously. I have started to bring records into my studio, because the shelf in my living room is about to burst at the seams. Now the records build small heaps there. So, I squeezed myselves in between these heaps and did the mix, making quick decisions.
You seem to be quite prolific these days, with releases on Dial, Live at Robert Johnson and Running Back and the remixes just coming and coming…
At the end of 2009, after a long tour with Alter Ego, which brought us to Australia at the end of 2009, I felt tired and devitalized. Back in Germany, I then decided to rent my own little studio in Frankfurt. It’s actually in the same building where Snap! did their stuff 15 years ago. Sven Väth’s Harthouse/EyeQ labels used to be here as well. Today, this is simply a place for me where I can make 24 hours Music, without disturbing anyone. Ricardo Villalobos assisted me in finding an old Soundcraft desk and helped me install a rack full of outboard effects and soundmodules. Also, I have my old drum kit here: I haven’t used it since my band-days in the early Nineties. Anyway, it’s with this setup I started producing again on my own, just like I did in the past, for instance the Eight Miles High or Soylent Green projects.
Do you think your production style changed over the years?
Some people have called me a musical chameleon. But whether that’s a compliment, I’m not so sure, even today. A chamaleon disguises itself, in order to survive. On the other hand: the faculty to change your skin-colour is something quite extravagant. I think my music is really driven by an enthusiasm for change, a playful interaction with possibilities. I was never immersed into just a type of sound, and that may exactly be the reason I have discovered my own sound. But my style hasn’t really changed. I believe that once you’ve found your musical medium, be it music, art or literature, you’re not going to deviate from your chosen trajectory. Alternative developments are viable, but you will always hold on to the core of your artistic identity.
You’re famous for doing many styles, be it house, techno, electro or electronica. What got you on this path of many sounds, back in the days?
Well, I wanted to distinguish myself. Consciously. So, when techno got worse in 1994 and Trance was already a dirty word, house and “homelistening” started to interest me. Consequently, we completed first two Alter Ego albums, started producing as Sensorama, and last but not least I did my solo productions on Klang Elektronik, Playhouse and Ongaku. Later on, new genres like electro clash changed the game. I feel that all the styles I persevere evolve and exist simultaneously. Your subjective view of course determines your actions. When I produced my upcoming album for Dial, styles were totally irrelevant for me. And that was very liberating.
I think my music is really driven by an enthusiasm for change, a playful interaction with possibilities.
Tell us about the Alter Ego project. What’s happening there?
I’m in touch with Jörn (Elling Wuttke), and we’re preparing our 20th anniversary as producers. Right now we run through many past affairs, we look back at a lot of things. And sometimes we do the occasional show together. Only future can tell how the Alter Ego project will develop.
While Live at Robert Johnson seems to be one of the labels of the moment, the formerly mighty Playhouse and Klang are virtually defunct. How did this demise come into being?
It’s all a very long and painful story, which I really don’t want to disclose in public. Fact is that I’m no longer part of Playhouse, Klang and Ongaku. These labels used to be orchestrated by four persons. A constellation that is simply no longer working. I’m glad Live At Robert Johnson is run by Oliver Hafenbauer, who is really a top man. I’m actually quite happy I currently don’t have to cope with the daily challenges of running a label. And I’m really glad I have a lot more time for doing music.