Dominik Eulberg: In a beautiful place out in the country
If you happen to find yourself in Germany near a serene reed encircled lake as the sun is setting, you just might meet Dominik Eulberg , telescope and a glass of red wine in hand as he engages in his hobby of bird watching.
You might also meet the 26-year old DJ and producer at any one of a number of clubs and festivals around the world, mixing cutting edge techno with his own innovative productions and playing alongside many of the standout producers on the scene at the moment like Alex Smoke, James Holden, Nathan Fake, Donnacha Costello or the Wighnomy Brothers.
Scheduled to appear on Stage 4 in the afternoon at the Awakenings Festival in Holland on July 2nd before joining Donnacha Costello at Nitsa in Barcelona later on the same night, Dominik is clearly a very much in-demand artist and producer. Add to that, gigs at Germany's Melt! Festival and 10 Days Off and an appearance at the Cocoon Wild Life residency in Ibiza alongside Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos and it might be a while before Dominik gets a chance to indulge in his ornithological interests this summer.
Dominik Eulberg is definitely one of the hottest new producers of the moment, and one to keep an eye on, having picked up Best Newcomer in Germany's Groove Reader Poll Awards in 2004. And, as we recently found at the Cross Mountain Nights party at Womb in Tokyo, a more than capable DJ too.
Resident Advisor caught up with Dominik recently to talk about the two loves in his life: music and nature.
2004 was a great year for you with the release of “Flora and Fauna”, which was definitely one of the minimal highlights of the year! You also released a bunch of great singles, and did some great remixes for Roman Flügel, Steve Barnes, Le Dust Sucker, and Tiefschwarz. Plus you won Best Newcomer and Third-Best Producer in the Germany Groove Reader's Poll Awards. How do you feel about the last year and a half?
Yeah, it's … it's gone by very quickly. I've been producing music since 1994, but I never really had the ambition to make records or be famous. But then suddenly a year ago, I don't really know why, I was motivated to do more, to produce full tracks, and suddenly everything went very quickly. And now I'm sitting here! I still can't really understand it all!
What attracted you to electronic music?
I grew up in a very rural region, a very natural region. My parents didn't give me a TV until I was 14, so I never really understood technical and electronic things. I was fascinated by nature, studying it, exploring it, going bird watching, catching butterflies and checking the species. And then, in the beginning of the 90s, I first heard electronic music and for me it was so musical! And I couldn't explain how these sounds were produced and generated. I mean, I can explain when you've got a guitar you're making a … [mimics striking a chord on a guitar] you know what I mean?
Yeah, it's immediate!
Right. But these electronic bubbling sounds … well, I was fascinated, and I said, “I must do this, I must know how this works!” So I bought a lot of analogue equipment and I started to produce music, but it was only academic. I only wanted to find out how it all worked. The desire to produce whole tracks only really came in the last year.
So it was like a mystery?
[Smiles] It was a mystery, which fascinated me.
You mentioned before about nature and growing up in a rural area and I've read that nature is a really big inspiration for you.
Yeah, of course.
Do you find any similarities between the sounds of nature and the sounds of minimal techno?
Many people think techno and nature are at total polar points: one is totally artificial and one is totally natural. But for me there are a lot of parallels. For example, the rhythm of nature, the rhythm of the trees, of the flowers, everything is floating, everything has a rhythm. The first thing you hear is your own heartbeat in your mother's womb … there is rhythm all the time. And a lot of sounds I use are natural sounds. I sample a lot of natural sounds, but many people think these are synthesizers. For example, if you compare the quaking of a 303 with the quaking of frogs it's very similar.
The reason I ask is because the final track of Flora and Fauna starts with a lovely sample of some birds and insects. How often do you incorporate nature samples into your tracks?
I do it often but you sometimes won't hear them directly, the natural sounds, because I modify them with effects. But I don't only sample natural sounds, I also look to nature for inspiration for my tracks. For example, in nature everything is floating but something can happen at any time, something unexpected, like a bird suddenly comes out in front of you. And I try to paint this picture in an acoustic way with a lot of surprising and teasing sounds.
I read that you work as a Park-Ranger part-time. Is that true?
Yeah. I study geography at university, with my majors being ecology, biology, and geology. I work a lot in national parks as a ranger conducting tours, showing tourists the beauty and value of nature. I do this in a few national parks. I also like to go on my own about 2 or 3 times or week to relax from the hectic music business. It's very meditative for me to watch birds and nature. No stress!
So when you go into national parks do you often take a sampler with you to make samples?
Yeah … sometimes. Not all of the time. I've got my telescope for watching birds. But I don't make samples all the time, because I don't want to feel any pressure when I go into a natural area. I want to feel free, and I want to feel no stress from work.
It's a release.
Speaking of nature, the packaging of “Flora and Fauna” is really interesting. However the extensive liner notes are in German. Could you tell us a little bit about the packaging and liner notes? Is there a message in the album?
Yeah. I selected 10 animals and plants from European flora and fauna that each have a distinct feeling for me. I produced a track for each animal and plant that creates those feelings, and then I wrote a short text for each one; describing it, what it is, where it lives, and also some funny things about it. Not to teach people, but more to make them think, “Oh, I didn't know that, that's funny, that's interesting”; to create an interest in nature, because it's a very big aim of mine to bring people back to nature. And I think with electronic music you can reach people very well. If you're an ecology fanatic with a reindeer pullover, nobody is listening to what you're saying. But this music, this fresh techno [smiles and makes a pushing action with his fist, indicating pumping techno]… So, I wrote a text for each one, and even the names are … [looks at CD cover]… here they are again; the eagle, deer, crab, bird, flower, salamander, creek…
What's the last one? The picture is very small.
Ah, it means “The purple red sun setting on a reed encircled mountain lake with a glass of red wine in the left hand and a smoke in the right hand.”
I actually get a similar feeling from that track! It's a very beautiful final track.
Yeah. I wanted to paint a picture, that you are sitting on the mountain lake and the sun's going down… With the red wine, and a cigarette. That's a beautiful image!
I read that sometime soon there will be a remix EP of “Flora and Fauna”. Can you tell us who is doing the remixes?
It will be a double EP. Nathan Fake is doing a remix. Justin Maxwell from Palette Recordings from San Francisco, he's a good friend of John Tejada. Young, but very talented. He's doing a remix. Then, Adam Kroll from Traum Schallplatten. And Andre Kraml from Firm Records. And Metope from Areal are also doing a mix.
I've noticed that RobagWruhme has done a couple of remixes for you. Do you have any plans to remix any of his material?
Yeah, there are plans. This month we actually did a textual remix for each other for a newspaper. I wrote a text about him and he wrote a text about me. It was a lot of fun. But, yeah, we have a plan but we've had no time. I like him very much, I admire him very much as an artist, and as a human he's one of the most lovely humans I know, and one of the most talented and innovative producers I know.
I was going to ask more about minimal techno generally. At the moment there are a lot of really exciting, interesting new producers including yourself, Robag, Ada, Mathew Jonson, Luciano…
James Holden, Alex Smoke, and Nathan Fake.
Yes indeed! How do you feel minimal techno is changing? Is it even minimal techno anymore?
I won't say that I make minimal techno. I won't say that. I think a lot of these young producers shit on conventions. “Minimal artists must make minimal techno, House artists must make House”. We make everything in our lives the way we want to make it. Artists like Alex Smoke, they don't want to be put in a pigeonhole. So we shit on these conventions and only do what we want and what we think is good. And I think this is making a fresh wind.
Yeah, that's making things more exciting and interesting and different and opening the scene up for different people to come in.
Yeah. A lot of people think only in terms of conventions: minimal, house… We say, “good music is good music”; if it sounds good it's good, no matter what it is.
Fantastic. Do you have any idea how your sound will develop in the future?
Yeah, I also don't want to think in conventions. I want to feel free to make what I want. And I think my sound will go both crazy and more peaceful with each release.
Finally, what are your plans for the future as a musician, and as a nature lover?
As a musician I don't really plan. For me it's a hobby, it's still a hobby. Okay, it's increased to the level that I'm earning a lot of money with this now, but I also want to keep a distance from it. Because I know the music business is a short life business, and sometimes it's very rude and cold, and I want to keep a distance from it. I want to have a second leg to stand on. So as a musician, I don't stress; I make what I want, when I want. But I plan to finish my studies, and my perfect idea of a fulfilled life will be that I'm working in a National Park showing people the beauty and value of nature, and living in a house with a chimney, and sitting in the evening with a laptop making some pushing minimal techno tracks and sometimes traveling around the world.