For our feature interview of the week we showcase our very own frisky Radio Hype Chart Essentials show host and long time friend Ingo Vogelmann. With over two decades in the scene and nearly 10 at frisky Radio as both a host and A&R Ingo’s contributions to electronic music have been substantial. Ingo runs three successful shows on frisky: the 8 hour marathon show “LIGHTWORKS”, the legendary Ambient show “TIME OUT” and the “Release Promo Hype Chart Essentials” where he showcases the best new material from the most significant promo pool for progressive dance music. This week sees the release of Ingo’s brand new remix for Knights Templar ‘Leopard Heart’ which is out on Pav Parrotte’s ‘Asia Music’ . We had a chance to catch up with Ingo just prior to the release, we talked about his recent move to the Philippines, friskyRadio, mastering and a whole lot more. A transcription of the interview is below and we hope you enjoy it.
1. It’s been a while since we interviewed you so we should probably give people some sort of background info so let’s start with some basic stuff. How long have you been DJing and producing? How did you get into electronic music?
Ingo: That’s a while ago. When I was 5 years old for some reason I started drumming on newspapers with pencils (that makes a great snare drum sound!) and plastic buckets (tom tom!) until my mum was fed up and let me have drum lessons, outside our home. She was truly annoyed by all the noise I was making. That’s how it all began. When I was 16 a BOSS Dr. Rhythm fell into my hands, that was the first time I got a hold of an electronic instrument. I started composing drum patterns, layered it with music I had and recorded that on music cassettes, so technically speaking that were my first ever productions. Actually it was in 1992 when Ramirez released an album called “Terapia” when I got hooked. I listened to it add my friends home, he was really into Techno already at that time, and I had to admit that I really liked it. We used to go to a club called “Modell Traumwelt” (Model Dreamworld) in my hometown Essen, and that’s how I ended up trying out DJing for the first time. Around the same time I produced the first Techno tracks on my first ever computer, with a tracker software based on DOS. It simply played samples, there wasn’t much to modify or modulate, other than the sample volume. Pretty basic, but it sounded great already. But a few months later I was on Cubase, and this opened up a whole new world to me.
2. Where do your musical roots lie and when did you know you wanted to pursue electronic music seriously?
Ingo: I grew up with a 10 years older brother who was a multi-instrumentalist like my grandfather, who played 9 instruments and wrote classical music. My brother played in a band and I was very excited attending his gigs. There was my big brother on a stage being kind of a rock star, I was so proud! That’s when I knew I wanted to become a musician. Also, my mother had a pretty good soprano voice and sang all day. I was permanently surrounded by music, when no one played it with his hands or voice there was always a record or the radio on. I had a classical, rock and jazz background, but was heavily influenced by the progressive rock music of the 70’s, so when all that House and Techno thing came up I hated it! I never wanted to create electronic music until I sat in front of a sequencer for the first time and realized what kind of potential that had. You could do everything you wanted, and I really loved that vision.
3. So some of your fans may or may not be aware but you’ve recently moved to Manilla, Philippines. It seems like it’s been a very positive move, tell us about how it came about and what you’ve got going on there musically. And has it given you new found inspiration in the studio?
Ingo: Moving to the Philippines had a whole armada of reasons. I was fed up with Germany and Europe for a good while and I knew I will have to leave for quite some time, must have been a few years that I played with that thought. I just didn’t know where to go exactly. I was in Florida with my friend Alexis ‘Shamanah’ Rhigas, at his place in Delray Beach, and we had a lot of intense conversations about life, existence and the perfect wine, when I told him a story of life, and suddenly he asked the right question: “Why don’t you do it?”. I never really asked my self that question, but in this moment I felt like this question — or the answer to it — was the missing thing. So, that’s when I decided to move to the Philippines. It’s a very private story, so I can not share the whole background.
4. How is the nightlife in Manila compared to other places you’ve been and performed?
Ingo: Nightlife in Manila is very vibrant, diverse and active. Talking about House and Techno, there’s lots of stuff going on, and a lot of this is very experimental as this kind of music doesn’t have a real long history here. People are hooked and try things out, some of that works for a larger crowd, some doesn’t. A lot of businessmen have discovered the EDM bubble, so this cheap crap is quite popular here, but there’s also a very nice and faithful underground scene, and I’m glad to be part of it and a DJ for that scene.There are hundreds of venues here in Manila, but actually only one real underground House and techno place, and that’s TIME. I’m a resident DJ there, and I really love this club. The audience is quite mixed between expatriates and Filipinos, and as always the music connects and makes friends. On weekends people go nuts at this place, there’s really a lot of fun going on. The difference might be that people in Europe and other parts of the western world are constantly worried about this or that. Life in the Philippines is lighter, people don’t worry too much about stuff. It’s easier to let go of things here. And you see and feel that when people party.
5. You’ve got a new remix out this week on Asia Music, it’s a very cool beefed up tech house track by Knights Templar and you’ve put your own techno spin on it. Tell us a bit about how you approached this remix.
Ingo: Oh, that was one of those classic situations where the original is that good that you feel like “when I don’t do something completely different I’m gonna fuck it up”. You cannot make a great original better, you can only completely approach it from another perspective and create something new that is as close as possible to the original. So, I wrote some new synth lines and gave it a bit of an organic touch. At least I think that’s what I did.
6. I’m sure you get your fair share of both remix and original requests but it’s rare that we see any officially released music from you, why is that?
Ingo: Let’s face it: the majority of productions is made to support DJ’s getting gigs. That’s where they make money. That’s no different from me, the only difference is that I don’t poop out a track a week, and I focused on other production work and audio services. When it comes to my own work I have put my priorities into producing albums, which is much more meaningful to me. I want to tell stories with my music, take people with me on a journey both when I play live and when they listen to my productions. My fans keep listening to my stuff from years ago as well as the new productions, today’s dance productions are forgotten within a few weeks. My time is too valuable to create something no one cares about. Yeah, I just remixed Knights Templar for Asia Music, and I know people will play that remix for more than just one or two weeks, they will also play it in four years.
When you make a living from music entirely you have to focus on the things that both make sense to you and finance your life. I needed to find a working combination, and I’m happy with how it works.
7. So you’ve been producing for many years now, how has your studio changed in that time?
Ingo: I’ve never been a gear junkie. I feel better when I get the best out of a very minimal setup. I can create something huge with very little gear. It’s about going deep, not wide. Today I have two computers (for different tasks) sporting a couple of DAW’s like Ableton Live and Reason, audio interfaces, a mixing desk, master keyboard, a hand full of controllers, a good and really old analog Harman/Kardon tube amplifier and good monitor speakers. For surround things I have another digital amp and the needed speakers. All of this isn’t very expensive, nothing to show off with or impress people. And seriously, I couldn’t care less. For me it’s about the musical result, and I think that’s something I can be proud of. Don’t get me wrong: I love my gear, some of it is really old and in perfect shape, it has character and sounds very warm. I combine the old stuff with new technology, and that’s how it all works for me.
8. You are also a mastering engineer, it seems like a very tedious activity, do you enjoy it and what percentage of all the mastering engineers out there do think are actually good at what they do?
Ingo: All theory is nothing when you don’t have exceptional ears/listening abilities by nature. That’s not something you can learn, you just have it or you don’t. Imagine a basketball player that’s only five feet tall, that doesn’t really work. So, some folks go and buy a lot of fancy gear and plug-ins and call themselves “mastering engineer” then. That’s not how it works. You can hear that on a daily basis. I’d say around 70% of masters sound shit. Most of them have a destroyed signal and a good portion of that 70% leaves close to zero dynamics. People use compressors and limiters as if the devil would force them to do so, otherwise he eats their souls. Less is more. And God or whoever created a volume knob for a reason. If something isn’t loud enough for your ears just turn it up!
I enjoy getting the BEST out of music, not the worst.
9. friskyRadio is without a doubt the most listened to internet station for the electronic music. The lineup of shows is hugely impressive, what are your favourite shows to listen to and which one are you most proud of bringing on board?
Ingo: I’m super-proud of every show I brought into the game, they’re all fantastic, that’s why I did it. Personally I love to listen to Nick Warren’s show most, now that I have to pick something. There are so many good shows, really, it would be easier to tell you what shows I don’t love too much. But that would be kinda mean, so I won’t do this. But it’s not many, really not.
10. Sticking with friskyRadio for a moment, how has your role there changed since you began DJing on the station and what sort of criteria do you look for when selecting a new show?
Ingo: Actually my role hasn’t changed much over the time. I have always tried to bring the best quality to FRISKY, and that’s what I’m still doing. I have a nose for talent and I think the success speaks for itself. When I have to select new talents the first thing that needs to be really good, of course, is the music. But the people behind that music also should have an attitude that works for us and the fans. We put much weight on reliability and that people actually get what we do and what it’s all about. Fortunately, we have a very solid artist roster with great people in it. With getting big your responsibility also grows. We owe the fans the best quality possible, and I feel very responsible in this field.
Ok now it’s time for some quick fire fun stuff! Ready?!
Ingo: Fun? Always!
11. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?
Ingo: I think it was “Arpeggiator” by Jean-Michel Jarre.
12. What was your first and last DJ gig?
Ingo: My first was at the above mentioned club in my home town in 1992, my last was last Sunday at TIME in Manila, for the “Strawberry Sundae” afterhour party I’m hosting there with my partner Pav Parrotte.
13. What was the first and last record you purchased?
Ingo: My first was “Turn of The Tide” by Barclay James Harvest, and I really don’t know what my last one was. Sorry.
14. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?
Ingo: I did a dance remix for Mark Knopfler, and he and his management really loved it and wanted to see it released. That’s when I suddenly had one of my heroes on the phone, Mark Knopfler. Unfortunately, the record company didn’t want to do it, so it never got released.
15. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Ingo: I officially only hear 40% on my right ear and around 70% on my left, but I still hear stuff others don’t.
16. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?
Ingo: I think Martin Lugtu from Manila is a world class DJ. I have seldom seen someone with a greater talent than him. Then Abdulla Ramo (Knights Templar) is a huge producer talent. If he gets it managed to understand the business better, doesn’t get contaminated by the dirt in it and keeps his feet on the ground, he can become a superstar.
17. Which producers consistently inspire you?
Ingo: Marc Mitchell, Charlie May, Brian Transeau (BT), Trevor Horn, Alan Parson, Simon Posford, Ott and a few others.
18. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?
Ingo: I’d love to remix a full album by Marillion, maybe “Brave”. Something my friend and mentor Marc Mitchell once did. I’d love to get remixed by Charlie May, and I think this will happen.
19. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days and the majority of people feel most of them are mediocre music factories. Which ones if any standout for you?
Ingo: I think Bedrock is the best label ever existed on this planet. And everything that is close to that.
20. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?
Ingo: Dave Seaman’s GU “Cape Town”.
21. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Everything “Adobo”. Adobo is a Phillipine marinade/sauce that is just fabulous. You can do it with chicken, pork, beef and actually everything else.
Drink: I drink coffee all day, love some really good wine and beer.
Drug: I guess you’d expect something like “music” here, but if I’d reply really honest I would publicly admit a crime. People out there, be careful with drugs!
Animal: For some reason I feel very close to wolves and dogs.
TV Show: Right now I’m hooked on “Vikings”. Until “Game of Thrones” is on again.
Movie: I watched a very sweet movie yesterday, “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet”.
Video Game: That’s a world I have never entered, really. I’m totally not into any sorts of gaming.
Album: I’m listening to the London Grammar album right now on repeat.
Track / Song: London Grammar “Strong”. Awesome.
Producer / Band: AU4
Record Label: Ayeko Records
Nightclub: TIME in Manila
DJ: Martin Lugtu
22. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Ingo: Visions Feat. Dianne Lynne – Coming Home (Sunday Club Remix) [Stress Records]. The best dance music production in the history of music with the most amazing piano and phased synth line EVER. Wanna check it out? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PE-geeN5GnA
Ingo’s remix of Knights Templar ‘Leopard Heart’ is out now on Asia Music, you can purchase the release: here