To those with even a cursory interest in the Techno, Markus Suckut is probably a familiar title - tracks such as ‘Hunt’ and ‘False’ proved more than strong contenders for 2012’s end of year lists. Having released for iconic labels such as Stroboscopic Artefacts and Len Faki’s Figure SPC, Suckut’s productions tread a line between gritty industrial sound design, and hypnotic, groove laden Techno.
Following an impressive slew of 12”s since his debut in 2010, Suckut has recently taken on the perilous challenge of releasing in the album format - however ‘DNA’ by our reckoning takes on this challenge with ease, and presents perhaps the most unique sound we’ve heard yet from Markus.
With the album’s release planned for the 20th of this month, we were given the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Markus, to discuss the new album, his own imprint ‘SCKT’, and the pressures of making music for your heroes.
SL: I believe i’m right in saying that your not a Berliner, and are somewhat removed from the heart of the Techno scene in Germany, considering this, how did you first encounter electronic music? Was it part of the landscape for you whilst growing up, or was there a particularly pivotal moment?
M: Yes that’s correct, I’m not living in Berlin and to be honest I really enjoy that fact. Where I live is definitely not a huge space for a Techno scene in the clubs, it’s more about the house thing, may I say the more commercial stuff. I mean, I really like Berlin and try to stay longer when I play there to meet friends and to do some shopping. But for me it’s nice to have that contrast of being on the road and coming back home to have a chance to lean back and to relax. I guess if I would live in Berlin, the influence and the inspiration would be a huge difference, and I think it’s good that you don’t know all the time whats happening music wise in Berlin. May a few people recognize that in my tracks, that I do my thing without any influence of other Techno artists in my area.
SL: At what point did you decide you wanted to take a more active role, and begin DJing and producing?
M: There were no particular plans to do it professionally, it just happened somehow and I think that’s the way it should be, isn’t it?
SL: Judging by your DJ sets, and your choice to keep your own imprint ‘SCKT’ vinyl only, you have a real respect for the format, what drives this passion for you?
M: Vinyl was the first medium I got in touch with when I started DJing. For me it’s all about the feeling, to go into a record shop, spend a few hours and in the end you have something to hold in your hands.
It’s so nice to hold music in your hands, instead of just using files. It’s also about limitation for me, you are not able to have all your records with you when you play at a club.
SL: In a relatively short space of time you have managed to release on some of the most well respected labels in electronic music, how did your relationship with these labels develop? Especially Len Faki’s Figure SPC, who will be releasing your debut album in May.
M: Yes, everything turned good for me in such a short time. It’s incredible and still can’t believe that. It’s unbelievable to get the respect and attention of people who have been in the business for such a long time, and are kind of legends to me. Especially with Len it became like a friendship, we have fun together when we are on the road and have a chat more than once a week. I never thought about that album thing before and it just happened, cause I felt at home at Figure. Len gives me a lot of freedom and that is great, because it shows that he trusts me and and believes in the music I make. So I decided to concentrate just on Figure and my own label SCKT in the future.
SL: Is it exciting or daunting to produce music for your heroes? Is it something that makes it easier or harder to work?
M: It is exciting to me. It is great to get that kind of attention but it’s always hard for me then. I always think ‘oh i don’t want to fuck up in the studio’ and not disappoint.
SL: Having picked up a lot of attention for your early releases on Stroboscopic Artefacts and Figure SPC, you began an impressively prolific remix schedule. Do you think this period helped to develop your skills? Also is it something you will continue to do in the future? I read somewhere that you wished to focus more on your own original material.
M: Yes that’s right, I am taking time off doing remixes but there are still some to get released during the year. I came to a point where I realized that I don’t have the energy to focus that much on remixes anymore. Of course I think it helped a lot to get recognized out there, especially with remixes for Alan Fitzpatrick and names like that. But as I said, I’ve realized that it’s not the same, like in the beginning when I was doing less remixes. Thats why I’ve decided to focus more on my own original stuff now and I try to be very picky in the future with remixes for sure.
SL: ‘DNA’ is your first major project, and a brilliant one at that! It seems you have really found your own sound, and the album is a way of projecting that fully. Is this a fair assumption?
M: Well, I would say ‘DNA’ is my second major project, but I think that’s just my point of view in this case, cause it’s really hard to do a good job with your own label.
But I would agree totally by saying that I found my own sound signature. I’ve realized that more and more during the process of writing the album and in the end, it’s 100% me, as Len took it just like I’ve send to him - which is such a huge compliment to me. That’s why I wanted to call it ‘DNA’ - it’s me, what I like to do, what I like to listen to, what I like to play out.
SL: How long had you been working on the album, both as an idea for a project as well as the actual recording process?
M: To be honest, the first track ‘Path’ was done in 2010, even before any release on Figure. I had that track for a long time, showed it to nobody, because I was not sure what I could do with it at that point. After my first release on Figure SPC, the ‘J’, I had to play in Hamburg together with Len, for kind of the first Figure Night in 2011 I guess. I was so nervous, because I’d never met him in person before. We just had rare chats via email, to exchange music and ideas. So we met in his hotel room before the night started and talked closely about my future because he had a lot of unreleased material from me and also the ‘K’ with Jeroen was finished then.
We were just kidding around and the idea of doing an album in the future came up somehow. I said, yes may we should try - I have that one track laying around at home which could fit on an album.
From there on I started to work on ‘DNA’ from time to time, as the idea was to have no pressure. We always said, it’s done when it’s done. In the end it was a good decision to have no pressure at all. At the point where I thought it was done I send it over to Len and it took a while until he got back to me, but the rest you can imagine now.
SL: I may be completely wrong but the album sounds less computer based, have you been working with much hardware in producing it?
M: I’ve bought more and more hardware during that period and of course I tried to include some ideas which I’ve created with my new things. But all the arrangement and basic sketches I’ve done with my computer.
SL: Some of the tracks on your album, particularly ‘Doomed’ and ‘Path’ demonstrate real musical experimentation for you, far beyond the limits of the dance floor. Is this something which attracted you to the possibility of an album? Also can we expect more leftfield leaning releases from yourself in the future?
M: I never had the idea to do that typical thing - like hey, i’m doing an album now, I have to do some experimental stuff. Those tracks just happened and it made a lot of sense to include them on the album for Len and me. I think there won’t be more things like that, as it’s not my idea of doing EP’s or something like that - I always want it to be danceable.
SL: I was surprised to see that most of the tracks on ‘DNA’ are fairly short when compared with some of your other material, is this a shift towards a more concise approach? Or was it an attempt to showcase more of your sound within the album’s time constraints?
M: That was also something which just happened to be, I never thought about a limitation of time on a track, especially on the album, but it was also clear that I didn’t want to have a ten minute track on the album or something like that. Also I was sure that we would do it on 2x12”. I think it would have been a bit sad to have just six tracks on the vinyl format, wouldn’t it?
SL: And to ask you briefly about some of your other activities, what made you decide to set up your own Label SCKT?
M: I was at a point where I had material that I had no idea who would like to release it, and it was always my dream to have complete freedom, in every point. Artwork and music. I think it was the right decision to go that way.
SL: At what point did you decide you wanted to have the remix series on the label? Does this mean that the label will begin releasing other people for full releases?
M: It never was the idea to do remixes and to be honest I don’t remember the point where I decided to do it. I just had that list in my head, if I would do remixes on my label, then just these few guys and I’m happy that it worked out like that. Everyone who I had on my list was cool with the idea doing a remix. The remix series is something special on SCKT, that’s for sure. Next year I will go on to release just my own material again. I have also had a few ideas for another project on SCKT already, and also to take it a step further, but these are just ideas. I really don’t know if that will ever happen. One thing is for sure, SCKT will stay my own little baby.
SL: It must be incredible to have someone who releases as rarely as DVS1 remixing for the label, how did this particular remix come about? Are you still a primarily vinyl DJ, considering the stresses of your hectic DJ schedule?
M: It was during last year. I’ve asked all the guys on my list and told them my idea. To do a different artwork and that it would just be a short series which I would do just once.
Also DVS1 was on my list. I knew that he liked my sound and what I do but never expected that he would do a remix for me. So yes, that’s something really special to me. It took him a long time to finish it, but in the end it was worth it.
I recognized that i play more and more CD’s at the moment, I always try to play vinyl but sometimes it just doesn’t work out in the club, and it’s also a pain in the ass when you take a flight, you never know if your records will show up at the luggage belt.
SL: Finally, what is next for Markus Suckut? I certainly hope it involves a trip to London at some point!
M: There are still some remixes to get released during this year, another remix EP on SCKT which I am also very proud of and of course something on Figure - surprise surprise!