Cowlin Presents: Alex Niggemann
DJ, Producer & Label Boss, Alex Niggemann took a break from in his relentless schedule to catch up with Cowlin as he embarked on his US tour and released his latest EP.
Alex, welcome! Lets start talking about the recent tour you’ve been on. How was it?!
Hey, thanks for having me. The tour was pretty dope – lots of traveling though and a bit too little sleep. But it was worth it!
Back to your roots, how did you actually get into the music life ?
I played piano from a very early stage, got into breakdancing and writing my own rhymes, and as my brother was a DJ, when I was a teenager, I was always surrounded by music. At some point, I started sneaking in his room when he wasn’t at home and started spinning tunes. A little later I started to produce my first pieces of music and got caught up in it all. So, I knew very early on that I wanted to refine my skills and study Audio Engineering to become a pro.
On a daily basis, how much time do you spend in the studio and are there many tracks you’ve produced that won’t get a release?
Well, my days from Monday to Thursday usually have the same routine. I get up early, do some sports, then do the first emails or interviews and after lunch I’m usually in my studio until 7 or 8 pm. Monday to Wednesday I produce or do mixes/podcasts if scheduled. Thursdays I go through demos and promos to prepare for that weekend’s DJ sets. As I strongly believe that not every track you finish is necessarily a release, you can bet that there are a lot of unreleased tunes. For my album in 2012 I started with around 80 tracks. This year, there have already been 15 finished ones and only a couple of them see the light. Some of them, I think, are not good enough and some of them are just meant to be played out in my sets.
Stellar EP. A 3-track masterpiece that has been well constructed! – How long did this take to complete? Was this completed on the road or during time spent in a studio?
These tunes were done during a very tough period at the beginning of the year. I set myself a pretty high standard production-wise with the music I released last year, which led me into a kind of a creative hole. I wanted do better than I already did in 2014 and put myself under a lot of pressure. In the end I forced myself to relax and just go with the flow. I realised, once again, it is hard to be creative when you set yourself limits/borders music-wise. So, in some kind of way, this EP is influenced by the dark moments I had before producing these tunes and the moment I taught myself to just let go and do something different, instead of trying to achieve something I did before. These tunes actually relieved me and I think you can hear it? It’s something different to what I did last year, although it still has the melancholy and drive that I love to combine in most of my music.
What does your studio set up consist of?
For me the main important stuff is the room itself, so I invested a lot in the acoustics of it. Then, monitors. I have 3 pairs to be able to compare between them sound-wise. I work with Logic as DAW and use plug-ins and some hardware in combination to work on music.
You must have travelled all over the globe playing in different locations. Where has been your favourite country to play?
Every country is different and has it’s own way to party and celebrate music. The reason is also the cultural and political background – it’s tough to say exactly. You can also not generalise about all the cities in each country. As I like diversity in music, I also like the diversity of cultures and their own way to party, so I can’t really chose a single country.
You also run two record labels, any up-and-coming artists you can tell us about?
You definitely should keep an eye on guys like Denis Horvat, Speaking Minds or Jona (who’s releasing his album on AEON pretty soon). They are all very talented and make great music in their own way. They share the same ideas and ideals regarding music as I do, which is very important if you want to built up something and grow as a family
Any tips for producers sending music into your record label to help them be successful?
Listen to the current sound of the labels; be sure your music is high quality. As I said before, not every finished track is a release and if you’re able to put some loops into Ableton and use some pre-sets of a plug-in after two years, that doesn’t make you a producer or an artist. Take your time with music, as it is with passion and perfection. Don’t sound like everyone else does, be different – I don’t want my label to sound like 90% of the music that is out there, I need something special.
Which festivals are you madly excited for this year?
Strafwerk, Oasis and Montreux Jazz Fesitval.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Quincy Jones, Nas or Pharell Williams – all musical geniuses!
Before you DJ, what do you do?
Usually, I take a nap.
Your most favourite track to play mid-way through your set?
There are a few…
If you have a shy crowd, how do you help them to get motivated?!
I always dance and scream myself while I play – people usually, don’t have a chance to be too shy then.
How can you explain your style of music to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
There is not certain style. Music does better than words. Just listen to it!