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Len Faki: “Everything feels possible through Hardspace”

Berlin-based DJ, producer, and label owner Len Faki is a notable figure in the techno scene. Since his Berghain residency beginning in 2004, he has consistently evolved his sound, while maintaining its raw passion and beauty, often achieved by editing tracks for his DJ sets.

Photo credit: Len Faki – Official

With a rich history of managing techno labels like Monoid and Feis before his move to Berlin, Faki has founded respected labels like Figure and Podium, and has contributed significantly to the genre with classics like ‘Rainbow Delta/ Mekong Delta’.

His dynamic performances and contributions have earned him high ranks in music magazines and numerous accolades. The recent launch of his label further cemented his reputation as a versatile techno DJ, and his latest project ‘Hardspace Vol.3’ is a testament to his ongoing creative journey in the techno landscape.

EG recently had a chance to delve into Len Faki’s current projects, creative process, and future endeavors.

EG: Hi Len, welcome to EG. How has your 2024 been so far? And what have you been up to since the release of your latest project ‘Hardspace Vol.3’?

Len Faki: Thanks. I’m very good. I’m still very busy with producing. After two years of album production, the remixes are currently released. The last one in this series of three is coming beginning of next month. ‘Hardspae Vol. 3’ just came out. It feels like one after the other is coming now which is a super nice feeling.

EG: Congratulations on this latest volume! How did the ‘Hardspace’ series originally come to be?

Len Faki: Thank you! In fact, the process began many years ago. I wanted to make my sets something special. I didn’t want to play live sets, but I still wanted it to be unique and recognizable as my very own sound. So I started remixing and editing every single track I play. This became a big passion over the years and the idea of having my own unique sound really became a reality. Since I was always asked so often which version I was playing and where to get it, I felt the need to share my reworks at some point. So this is the reason for the new label.

EG: Can you walk us through the creative process behind ‘Hardspace Vol. 3’? How did you approach curating such a diverse set of releases from disco to DnB?

Len Faki: This release reflects in a way the diversity that I have in my sets as well. Of course, my sets are mostly techno. Just like I belong to techno as an artist. But I see myself as an artist who never just plays one particular or constant sound all the time. I think once you hear a few of my sets you know that in between things can get more housey, groovy, or deeper. Then a disco track comes in. These changes always have to be in a well-fitted context and stay in a flow so that it sounds logical or self-evident and the change between genres is not consciously noticed. It is a more challenging way to DJ but with my experience, it comes naturally to me and it always creates moments of surprise – and I love those. Therefore I want Hardspace to reflect that. It doesn’t have to be like this for every single release, but varying styles are rather common than the exception.

EG: As a long-standing figure in the techno scene, how has your approach to production changed over the years? As well as this third volume, how has Hardspace evolved since its inception?

Len Faki: The production methods have evolved significantly over the years. I also made intensive use of the time during the pandemic. That actually changed everything for me. Even though my system always worked very well before, it was still important to leave the familiar paths or approaches, rethink everything, and update my production processes. The craving to do this has been inside me for a long time, but it was never possible given the amount of touring in the years before. Through my album ‘Fusion’ I was finally given this chance since I was immersed in an interplay between trying out new production methods and producing an album.

This had a big impact on ‘Hardspace’ too. Of course, I also had my system for this, which worked wonderfully, but it was also fundamentally questioned and further developed during this time. You could say ‘LF RMX’ was the 1.0 version of it. I was really happy with it at the time, but I have extremely refined my skills, and my approach and completely redefined what I wanted to express and communicate or create. Especially in terms of timbre, frequencies, sound structures, and sound aesthetics. These are all big chapters that I have understood better and better over the years and have been able to refine my technique. In the end, the approach to a new track is never the same. When I make a mix I always have a feeling for that track. There is always a reason for a remix. There is always respect for the original, the desire to preserve it on the one hand and still adapt it to my style and my sets on the other hand. I’m very happy that there was such a big leap and that I feel like I’ve reached 2.0 now. What hasn’t changed in this process is that I still don’t have any parts. I still only use the original track that anyone can buy online and the artists don’t know that I’m working on one of their tracks. We will only approach them when it is finished and I want to release it.

“I see myself as an artist who never just plays one particular or constant sound all the time”

EG: Can you share any specific influences or experiences that shaped the sonic landscape we hear on ‘Hardspace Vol. 3’?

Len Faki: I would say  Hardspace  is my very personal own soundscape. I have so much fun turning a house track into a techno version or turning an ambient track into a groovy, cool track. To make them playable for me even though they probably aren’t in the first place. Or a track from the past that I have such a strong connection to and turn this into a present one and prepare it for today’s demands. Creating new perspectives on the familiar is something that appeals to me.

Using ‘Vol. 3’ as an example, I think it’s great to transform the Sound Stream Love Jam track, which is 10 bpm slower in the original, into a track that I can play any time whereby it is particularly important not to change its spirit. Or the two DJ Rush tracks are 10 bpm faster in the original. Nowadays it’s probably normal or desired for many to have this speed but I wanted to bring them into my tempo range so that I can play them and they still sound really epic and energetic and that the lower tempo doesn’t change the energy level or spoken for those two tracks I think it’s even higher in my versions.

EG: You’ve mentioned a love for various sounds beyond techno, including ambient and house. How do these sounds complement your signature techno style?

Len Faki: They inspire me. Ambient in particular gives me completely new ideas and sometimes makes me think more minimalist. Similar to house. It has been an integral part since my early days. I like certain house grooves and would like to integrate them into the techno world. And vice versa. Combining all of this gives me joy and increases the variety and excitement in the music. I like to be between worlds and I just like to combine the different genres without it sounding artificial or cheesy. This way it feels like I can get the most out of it. As if there were no limits, no borders. Everything feels possible through Hardspace.

EG: With a view on the scene not only as a producer but as the founder of the Figure label, how do you see the electronic scene evolving in the coming years?

Len Faki: The ever-developing technologies have a fundamental influence on how music is produced today. A traditional studio is no longer a must-have and ideas can even be developed or tried out on the go. At least to a certain point even with a laptop and headphones. Additionally, consumer behavior has fundamentally changed and music is now almost exclusively streamed. It has become easier to produce and publish music, which means the output has increased a lot and it is even difficult for us DJs to keep track of this mass of releases. Nevertheless, I think that labels are still important and can provide a kind of anchor point that you can relate to and to which you can align or orient yourself and which can often enable you to reach a larger audience.

After Chat GPT and the great development of AI in the visual, and image processing area, this technology is also coming more and more into the audio area. I think for our niche with its special sound structures it will take a while, but in the foreseeable future there will be a big development and a lot of things will have to be rethought.

EG: What advice would you give to aspiring producers looking to find their own signature sound?

Len Faki: Produce, produce, produce. Rethink what you have created and learned, which directions you want to take, and produce even more. It’s a process that takes years to create your own sound even when you have it. Like I would say I have, then it is still an ongoing process and development that never ends as long as someone is willing to learn and be open-minded. Also important, change directions and your path as often as necessary. Learn to listen to your own intuition and don´t stick too long to a path that isn´t yours anymore.

“Creating new perspectives on the familiar is something that appeals to me”

EG: Finally, what’s next for Len Faki? What can we expect from you in the coming months? Are their any creative challenges you’re eager to explore next, either within the realm of techno or beyond it?

Len Faki: I’m currently working on ‘Hardspace Vol. 4’, which will be released later this year, and Fusion Remixes 03/03 were already released. And with that, the album project is completed. I’m super happy and grateful about all my remixers. It’s so exciting to get a new perspective on my music from valued colleagues. On this EP, in particular, there is a very personal highlight for me. A heartfelt wish came true and Mathew Herbert, my long-time favorite producer, made a remix of ‘Don’t Be Stupid Day’. If I had told this to my younger self, I wouldn’t have believed it.

I’m also moving into a new studio soon and am currently in the process of setting it up from scratch. It’s also a dream that I’ve had for a long time and that finally comes true. The new setup will open up completely new possibilities and I can almost feel the ideas for new tracks bubbling up inside of me. So new music is coming 100%.

Len Faki’s ‘Hardspace Vol.3’ is now available on Hardspace. Stream and download here.

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