For years, Redshape was the man behind the red mask. An anonymous person who - through his work and mystery - has contributed to the renovation of the sources of techno in Europe, its parting from classic sounds. He started to release his music on labels such as Delsin and Music Man in 2006. Before long he created his own label, Present. He hasn’t stopped making what is now known as “the future of the sound of the past” ever since. Today, many people have discovered that the man behind the intensely coloured mask is Sebastian Kramer - a veteran of German techno who one fine day decided to wipe the slate clean, changing the scenery. However, the weight of Redshape’s music is such that the alias has transcended the real person - his true identity being an almost irrelevant subject.
This Saturday, Redshape will be performing at the sala 2 of the Razzmatazz club in Barcelona, also known as The Loft. As an appetiser to the gig, he sent us this set (“vinyl only”, he says proudly) in which he gives us his vision on dance music: futuristic and calm, with moments of coldness and warmth, of abstraction and space voyage, pulsating and passionate. We can also hear some of his most recent recordings, such as the 12” “Son Of A…” released on Present. Everything else is of a similar calibre. So unfasten your seatbelt: as soon as you press play, you will be floating.
During the last two years, your output has remained quite restrained. Particularly in comparison to the period around 2006, when you burst into the scene as Redshape. What have you been up to during this period? Why the slow pace after the release of “The Dance Paradox”?
From my point of view the output didn’t really slow down that much. Right after the album I released another double 12" on my label Present (06 & 07), which aimed at the more dance floor side of things and took me quite a while to produce. I could have split it into two separate releases. Together with "Future Shock EP" on Delsin, the remix for Black Dog and Martyn & Sistol – that’s three EPs and three remixes in 2010, which is not that restrained in my opinion. Furthermore, touring the album and preparing / doing the drummer show took some time. In 2011 I plan to concentrate on my label a bit more.
Do you feel that the interest in techno has suffered a decline, in favour of a return to house as the big dance genre? Do you ever think about this kind of cyclical movements, or is it something that doesn't bother you at all?
I wouldn't say I don’t care - but the genres have melted together big time in recent years - so I don’t see a huge difference anymore. For me house music with a punky techno attitude was always the thing of interest.
In general terms, you have kept your sound very faithful to certain parameters. Do you think it's important for an artist to keep their focus on one direction - working on it until he completely creates his own personality? Is this correct in your case?
I neither think in parameters, nor in forcing myself to create a specific personality. I do what I feel most - and in my case this is based on the sounds of Detroit & Chicago, plus the drama of some recent indie rock music. I can’t speak for others, but I'm sure if someone follows his/her way of thinking, it's gonna be unique in every case.
Do you ever feel “tired” of your sound or with the need to explore new directions - or do you feel that there's still many twists that you can still apply to it?
That happens, yeah. Actually I'm more tired of what I think people are going to expect. One of the reasons I decided to go "undercover" was to prevent that, but that’s not possible and also not too bad – it keeps the machine running.
Recently you have premiered your new alias, Palisade, with a 12” for Laid. Do you plan more releases under that name or was it a one-shot affair? Will it reflect your more housey side?
There is gonna be more Palisade stuff – although I’m not sure if this will happen soon. At the moment I'm finishing up the live set for Palisade (to premiere at Melt!) which contains many new tracks and ideas I have for the project. Generally speaking Palisade reflects the more laid back side of things for me.
Until now, your label Present has been exclusively reserved for your own material. Will it always be like this, or may you start releasing music from other artists? Is it because you haven't found the right artists or because you just want to use it as a platform to release your music without having to deal with anyone else?
No clear answer to this - maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But yeah, it's hard to find appropriate music/artists and I probably don’t feel ready for that right now.
This month you're returning to The Loft club in Barcelona to play live. Has your live-set approach changed much in recent times? Will you play new stuff?
The set changed quite a lot recently. I replaced most of the setup and also re-recorded all tracks to make them sound better on a PA. It's still a work in progress set as I’m adding new tracks on a weekly base. And yes - there will be new stuff.
Your debut album as Redshape, “The Dance Paradox” was very well received and remains one of the best works of 2009. Do you plan to follow it up? Are you working on it already?
I'm kinda working on it - yes. I just finished a soundtrack for a short - and I am considering doing a separate release of this. A new album is on schedule to be finished by autumn this year - so expect it for early 2012.
For a long time, your real name was a mystery - but now it's kind of public and it even figures in your Discogs entry. However, for a long time, it was like a small secret in a small circle, very protected, allowing you to keep a low profile. Was it helpful for you – allowing for anonymity, rather than the stalked Burial?
Luckily I never had such problems. It feels like I am saving it somehow and for the moment I'm still very happy with it. It almost feels like having a good friend you meet every weekend.
Was the anonymity simply a way to dissociate Redshape from your previous projects, or do you still believe anonymity is an important concept in techno?
Mainly that was the reason yeah. But anonymity is good thing to a certain extent - or at least used to be. I won’t start talking about "Auras" and stuff - but there is definitely something to it.
What are your immediate future plans, music and non-music wise?
Perfecting Palisade & Redshape live PA, a new 12" after summer, album album album. Take a bit more time off - go swimming - have a balanced life.
Is there anything you can you share in regards to the mix you’re doing for us (and we haven’t listened to it yet)? Is there something you’d like to communicate, is there an aesthetic purpose or specific idea behind it?
The mix was a "stand up & mix" thing - with no pre-selection of records or any ideas - just going with the flow on a very sunny day. After the first 30 minutes it made some sense to me - so I tried to focus on that line. For fun I underlined it with "some peoples" dialogue - which kinda communicates a lot. It's cheeky and rough, done with vinyl & the sun.
PG Podcast 042
Redshape takes us on a one-hour voyage to the heart of the most soulful techno of the moment, alternating his own material with high-tension electronic experiments and references to the classics of American techno. Get ready to float.
“The Dance Paradox”
“In Trust We Space”
1. Dirk Von Lowtzow: “Tod In Theben I” (Dial)
2. Phidias: “Cygnus Astratus” (Freund Der Familie)
3. Japanese Synchro System: “Check It, Spread It (C2 Main Mix)” (Life Line)
4. Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir: “Arise (Trus'Me Remix)” (Syncrophone)
5. Jeremiah Feat. Vusa Mkhaya: “Khawuleza (Oracy's Phantom Sound Mix)” (Base)
6. Redshape: “Manhatten” (Delsin)
7. Urban Tribe: “Program 1” (Mahogani)
8. XDB: “Desert Storm” (Metrolux)
9. E-Dancer: “The Move (D-Wynn Mix)” (KMS)
10. Jay Ahern: “Deep In The Feeling (Morgan Geist Re-Version)” (Cheap & Deep)
11. RNDM: “Hideaway (Dub)” (Laid)
12. Ultramarine: “Hooter (Carl Craig Remix)” (Real Soon)
13. Prosumer & Murat Tepeli: “Serenity (Soundstream's Dusty Machine Mix)” (Ostgut Ton)
14. E-Dancer: “Heavenly (Juan Atkins Re-Mix)” (KMS)
15. Redshape: “Son Of A…” (Present)
16. Fitchie Feat. Joe Dukie: “Midnight Marauders” (Sonar Kollektiv)