Following on from Part One of our interview with legendary Berlin producer Mijk van Dijk, here he discusses the ’special magic’ that was in the air in the early to mid 90s, how Japanese Manga influenced his sound, and his future plans.
Q. What are your memories of the Berlin scene in the early 90s, and do you think that today’s scene has lost some of that magic?
In the early 90s, we were inventing everything – techno parties, techno music production, building a completely new scene. The music was new, black, polished chrome and came over the summer like liquid night, like Emmanuel Top’s Turkish Bazaar.
I recently remixed the tune 1993 by German electronic poop duo 2raumwohnung, I wanted to create a more instrumental remix but in the end I kept all the vocals, because singer Inga Humpe perfectly describes the feeling of that year.
Those were exciting times and each year felt like a decade. We were also a bit like a secret worldwide society, which everybody could join, if he or she shared our passion for music, party and community.
The Internet did not exist yet, and you had to be inside the scene to have access to all areas.
Now, aspiring producers know which equipment they need to produce our music, ravers know which clubs are hot and which are not, and our music is distributed by files and streaming instead of haptic media such as vinyl EPs and mix tapes.
So yes, a lot of the magic has been lost.
What’s also gone, I think, is the knowledge of how to operate old technology – a MIDI-based hardware studio, samplers with SCSI interfaces, DAT-recorders and so on.
But techno is still going strong and kids that join the scene today will probably still think that they are having the time of their lives… and talk about 2018 in 25 years like I am talking about 1993 today.
Q. What were the circumstances that led you to first go to Japan, back in 1994?
I met my friend and Brothers-in-Raw partner Toby Izui, aka Tobynation, in Berlin in 1993. We raved at parties, went for dinner and played DJ gigs together.
He played records from Japan by labels like Frogman and Torema, which I found very exciting.
Toby was the ‘techno ambassador’ between the German and Japanese scene, and gave his promoter friends in Tokyo hints of who to book and look out for: Sven Väth, Dr. Motte, Resistance D., myself. So I came to Japan for the first time after Christmas 1994 and a loving relationship between me and this country started.
Q. Why do you feel such an affinity with Japan?
It’s a friendly nation. People are not aggressive but polite. Not self-centred but considerate.
Japanese history is like a fantasy tale. The present is a highly technological society, like a looking glass into the future of our societies. The food is amazing.
And most of all, I have many good friends there that I dearly love.
Q. You are a big fan of Manga – would it be fair to say that you are trying to do with music what Manga did with art?
That sounds inspirational. I have never thought of it that way.
Manga was a huge inspiration for me in the 90s, especially the works of Masamune Shirow, like Appleseed, Dominion Tank Police, Orion and ultimately Ghost In The Shell and Man-Machine Interface.
More than the anime, Shirow’s graphical works are full of cyberpunk philosophy, which had a great impact on me and my music. I was very proud when he agreed to design the cover artwork for my first best-of-compilation in Japan, the Multi Mijk CD, mixed by my friend Toby Izui.
That CD, maybe more than any other of my releases, unifies everything about Japan and myself.
Q. Why do you think people keep harking back to the early years of dance music?
A lot of youth culture movements have been started with or accompanied by music – Rock’n’Roll, Reggae, Hippie Rock, Punk, Mods, Ska, Wave, etcetera.
Techno was maybe the last music-related youth movement. That, of course, is fascinating.
I keep hearing very often from younger techno fans that they would have loved to have been old enough, or even born, to experience those early years.
The times were liberating, the parties were fresh and new and tracks from that time are still full of inspiration.
Q. If you could give your younger self (c. 1990) a piece of musical advice, what would it be?
Not much really. I would rather watch myself doing things back in 1990 with all that naivety and enthusiasm, and try to take that back with me to 2018.
Q. What is currently on the agenda for Mijk van Dijk – any new releases, events, tours?
I recently released the first microglobe EP, titled Peace 4 All. microglobe 002 is in the making and should be out in January.
microglobe very much leans towards the sounds and structures that people know from my music in the 90s.
On a darker tip, I also recently contributed two tracks to the first compilation of the reborn Force Inc.-Label, out soon.
I’m aiming to play more live shows next year and hope to bring them also abroad.
[Thanks again to Mijk for the interview. Further interviews in the ORIGINS series can be found here]