Tobi Neumann was a late bloomer, but he made up for lost time in no time. The Munich native had a career producing commercial jingles and movie soundtracks, but a fateful trip to Berlin’s Love Parade at the age of 33 changed the course of his life forever; it was there, he says, that he “became infected by electronic music.”
From there on Tobi immersed himself in the scene, and his list of accolades swiftly grew: producer of seminal ‘electroclash’ artists Chicks on Speed and Miss Kittin, world-renowned house and techno DJ, and chart-topping remixer.
Hi Tobi, thanks for speaking to us today. What have you been up to recently?
Tobi Neumann: Hi guys, I am up for Summer mode. A lot of deejaying, some Ibiza dates and festivals and in-between studio, studio, studio. So far the weather in Berlin was not too good this season, so that helped to get some work done. At the end of this week we meet at my studio for more Ogni’s tracks – yeah!
EG: You started out working in film. Can you tell us more about this period of your life?
Tobi Neumann: At this time I was still living in my hometown Munich and I was working mainly as a producer and writer for music. I had two partners, Peter Horn and Martin Probst. They are both composers and still work in the business. The film and TV work happened in my pre-techno life, before my professional DJ career. It’s nice to add music and sound to a movie in order to help tell the story. The music mainly has a purpose that doesn’t stand alone by itself and I’ve always enjoyed creating it.
EG: How did this evolve into what you’ve been doing in the music industry?
Tobi Neumann: Well, in my case it was the other way around. House and techno came quite late into my life.
EG: You have an exceptional studio. What are your three most trusted pieces of equipment and why?
Tobi Neumann: I have to mention the Roland Jupiter 8, an incredible 8 voice full analog synthesizer from the years 1982. It was my first synth and I had the chance to buy it used for a very low price in 1988. I’ve learned everything on this machine and the sound still blows me away every time when I turn it on – and that’s after more than 30 years.
Then my mixing desk is a Zähl AM1 console. A completely new developed analog mixing desk which has superb sonic quality. The owner of this company Michael Zähl is responsible for one of the most musical and best sounding EQ circuits on the market. He used to build custom made desks for the legendary German Krautrock producer Conny Plank. One day, Mark Ernestus from Basic Channel ask him if he would be up for building a new console. Michael agreed and they developed a unique layout for a new console, which was super compact and practical with a great haptic. Myself alongside artists like ZIP, Burnt Friedmann, Carl Craig and Ricardo Villalobos were in the first group of orders for this board. It is the heart of my studio, the center of everything.
The modular system. The last 8 years I dedicated a lot of time and money into this system and I learned to operate it quite well. It’s a unique source of sound and I have never heard anything else which is so dynamic and has more power than the sounds coming out from this big, organic system. Except, acoustic instruments of course. I will never stop using this.
EG: You’ve recently started a new project alongside Dave Vega and Saktu called Ogni. What lead you three to work together?
Tobi Neumann: Dave is an old friend of mine. Once in a lunch he once told me about Sasha Kaktus and their new project, Ogni. We met last summer in my studio. First, I made a remix of ‘Lumina’ with Dave, and on another session Sasha joined us. We instantly had a great chemistry and I helped them to finish the other tracks as well. They made the most of the sounds with Ableton Live, mainly sample-based so I added my analog sounds and the result is released on our first EP. Now, I guess I’m a member of this “band“ and I’m very happy about it.
EG: What are the studio dynamics between the three of you? Do you have different strengths or roles in the studio?
Tobi Neumann: Sasha is great in grooves and the arrangement, Dave knows what works on the dancefloor, and I’m the man of analog-sounds, as well as melodies and harmonies. We complement each other quite well, that’s why it works so good.
EG: Finally, anything coming up later on this year you’d like to tell us about? Both in terms of Ogni and your solo work?
Tobi Neumann: I am running a little label called “What..?“ with Patrick Ense, check it out!
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