Text Hidzir Junaini
Interview courtesy of Avalon
There are few names as revered in techno as Ben Klock, and with his phonebook-thick list of accomplishments, that’s pretty understandable. The Berliner’s been released by Ellen Allien’s BPitch Control as well as the legendary Ostgut Ton, and is now also one of the most recognisable residents within the temple of techno known as Berghain. Famed for his marathon sets that can last up to 12 hours, Ben obviously never runs out batteries or inspiration. The man is techno in its purest incarnation – driven, authentic, beautiful but never cold. And that’s why we couldn’t resist getting chatty with Ben.
You’re known now mainly as a pure techno guy but what kind of musician did you envision yourself being as a youth?
When I was young, I dreamt of being a rock star one day. I tried lots of different things. I played classic and jazz piano, played electric guitar in bands and was even singing. But then, experimenting with synthesizers and electronics became more attractive to me. I liked these endless possibilities that you have with electronic music.
And as a DJ, what kind of stuff did you play starting out and how did it progress to techno?
At the very beginning, I played mainly drum ‘n’ bass or even before, when it was called jungle. But pretty soon, techno got me hooked and I stayed with it. I still love the hypnotic sound of a repeating bass drum.
When you’re making that move to becoming a professional, did your parents understand?
Yes, they even came to my party! My father was also a creative guy and later when he listened to my album and saw me play at Berghain he was pretty proud of me and he understood that there is something special about it.
What does being a resident at an institution like Berghain mean to you?
It’s a home to me and a magic place. Sometimes when I play there, I feel like it’s my cathedral. I think it’s the place where you can learn to understand techno if you are not into that music. When you stand in the middle of the dancefloor of Berghain, you can learn to see and feel the beauty of a bass drum. The industrial but beautiful and breathtaking architecture of the place and the sound system is the perfect environment for techno.
How do you find the stamina to play these 12-hour shows there?
The music, the people, the spirit. When I’m in the zone, there is no thought of counting hours or anything like that anymore. There is just a flow. And it can be a very intense experience. You can go deeper than in short sets. It’s a mind trip and a physical journey. Of course, it needs very special places for those marathon sets. Berghain is the only place in the world where I play 12-hours shows.
Besides Detroit, most people tend to think of Berlin when thinking of techno. What makes the city such a techno hotbed?
It’s the history of the city. The wall came down at the same time when techno was born. And the city offered the perfect environment for that sound. It was pretty rough looking at that time, not really pretty – like Detroit in a way. And it offered countless empty spaces, buildings or basements that people used as club venues. It was pretty easy to throw parties at that time, not many regulations. And if they really closed your illegal party you moved to the next free space and started again there. Also Berlin was a pretty poor city. And techno was never the sound of a wealthy, rich society.
What are your plans for the future?
I really would love to discover new talents for my Klockworks label. I get sent a lot of demos but that moment when you say, “Wow, what is this?!” happens very, very rarely. That was the case when I saw DVS1 playing his live show during one of my tours in the US. I thought, “Wow, who is this guy?!” and they told me he never released anything. That was special. So I’m looking for something that blows me away.
Keep in time with Ben by clocking in at myspace.com/benklock to listen to his music.