Mr. Phillip Sollmann aka Efdemin has always been a presence around these parts. A hero since we started the series three years ago, Efdemin already did a mix for another show we hosted back in 2007, whereas we have unsuccessfully tried to throw a Naïf label night for about twenty times. So, here comes Efdemin. For our anniversary mix. Dive right in, and learn more about Sollmann’s blue record project, his knack for acapellas and the nostalgic pull of Mies van der Rohe. Editor’s note: This mix was originally published in 2011. In January 2015, we made the original version of the mix available, complete with the sublime “Walking In The Rain” intro by Flash and the Pan which had to be re-edited on Soundcloud.
Phillip, what are you working on these days?
I’m in this string-heavy phase right now, fiddling around with the cello, guitar and zither. I’m doing some pretests, studies and sketches. If everything goes according to plan, I will start recording around Christmas. Which is usually the right time for me to launch such a project. There are going to be rhythmical elements in it, but it’s primarily tonal, it very probably won’t end up being dance music.
So it’s something that you will release as Phillip Sollmann?
I haven’t made up my mind about that yet, but it’s likely, yes. I really feel this strong yearning for the string, it’s vibrations and grooves. I like to call it my blue record.
Oh, a blue record?
It’s only a working title, but blue is the colour that most adequately reflects my emotional state of being. Blue surrounds me, is somehow me. Blue on black, blue on white, I move in between this range. (laughs) Still, red peaks do occur, if someone really drives me crazy (laughs).
This mix reflects my current need for clarity: on the one hand this song-driven music, on the other the rather rushy functionality of techno tracks.
Fabricating podcasts: Do you like doing it?
Well, I don’t do it too often. Though I really like to listen to great new music together with my girlfriend in our living room, and there we often push the record button, but these mixes are of a more experimental nature. It’s less about narrative fine-tuning as with the Roof.fm podcast. I have to say, I’m honored that you asked me to do this anniversary mix. But then I tend to torture myself, because the delivery date gets closer and closer. It’s both pain and pleasure, as with everything I do in music.
A bit of a wrestling affair?
I always want to put everything in there, show all my musical sides. Well, I’m not the guy who just likes banging out house record after house record, I would rather want to show the whole spectrum, but then that’s not possible…
Have you shown the mix to other people yet?
A couple of days ago, I played it to Peter Kersten (AKA Lawrence) in a hotel in China. Pete really liked it, he even went so far as to call it the perfect mix (laughs). But that’s exaggerated. I guess the set really reflects what can happen in a club where I’m sometimes really surprised to see what can happen. I think a good DJ should always try to surprise: not only his audience, but himself, too.
There’s an almost symmetrical structure to it…
It wasn’t intentional, it just happened that way. Though, it probably reflects my current need for clarity: on the one hand I really like to play this song-driven music, on the other I like the rather rushy functionality of techno tracks. No slowmo-house around here!
The Strada Professional Sound Effects record features prominently on the mix. You obviously are a fan?
This is a great record. Once, while playing at a festival, it started raining. And when the sun showed itself again, I let out this rumbling sound of thunder over the speakers, which put a big smile on many faces in the audience. Naturally, this record helps me a lot to bridge gaps, it’s part of the classic deejaying trade. If two tracks don’t fit together, but it makes sense to intertwine them in your musical fabric, that’s when such a sound effect comes in handily. Getting from one track to the next is easy! (laughs) I can only recommend buying it.
There are plenty of accapellas on your vinyl-only imprint Naïf…
I’m a huge fan of accapellas. I really wish at times, those glorious American days were back, when you still had a third turntable, so I could swiftly weave in another soundbit into the mix. But I guess that’s utopian, considering we live in an era where vinyl is slowly dying. That’s another reason why the Strada Sound Effects is so wonderful. It’s like a time machine, you really hear the time when it was recorded. The record was actually a present by my friend Gerd Janson.
You are probably aware that Gerd called you a cross between Jeff Mills and Karl Valentin?
Yes, I found that really, really funny! Even though Gerd does not have the permission to broadcast this message in public! (laughs) But the truth of the matter is that DJ Koze is really the Karl Valentin of techno…
You have a point. Actually the last track on your mix, “Taking a Trip Outside the Coast of Me” by Kid Creole and the Coconuts sounds a bit like a Koze track. A Kosi tune, that is…
Yeah, you’re right. It’s a fantastic tune isn’t it? It’s got that great concept: Taking a trip off the coast of me. Taking holidays, saying bye-bye to yourself: Fantastic! That’s should always be the plan: to be off for a month or so, without supervision by myself (laughs).
Speaking of trips, have you ever visited the Farnsworth House, the landmark building by Mies van der Rohe after which you named your recent EP on Curle?
No, but I really have to go there! The Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe is one of the great architectonic achievements of the last century, and to me it’s a veritable “Sehnsuchtsstrang”, I have a strong nostalgic desire to be in this ideal place, that so very much represents modernity, a wind of change, a time which I would like to inhabit, especially when considering that we live in this utopia-free society…
You totally nailed it with that track. I visited the Farnsworth House two years ago. It was on a lush Indian summer day, the building and the atmosphere seemed to be filled with light. I know this sounds a bit corny, but your track kindles the exact same sensation in me…
Really glad to hear that! I’m very happy with the track myself, which took me a long, long time to finish. The cover depicts the New National Gallery in Berlin, another building by Mies van der Rohe. It’s taken from a documentary my girlfriend made. I didn’t want to put the Farnsworth House on the cover, that would have been too obvious. The ambient parts of the track were actually recorded at a Charles Curtis concert last year. There are so many different references and sound bits in there, it’s really an aggregation of many sources.
There’s this acoustic luminosity tangible, in the vein of STL’s “Silent State” or Model 500’s “Starlight” – a lightness one often encounters in your work…
Now these two tracks are personal favourites of mine, of course. Absolute role models! They made such an impression on me, I never get tired of them. Not for a second.
Two examples of perfect loop-making…
Exactly. Personally, I’m not yet there. But it’s really a big motivation. That’s where I wanna be. I’m working on that.