In conversation with Lars Bartkuhn

In dance music culture, we love to put people in boxes – something that has long frustrated those artists whose careers transcend arbitrary musical boundaries. Lars Bartkuhn is one such artist. Although known for his starring role in the story of Needs – a production crew and record label that also included his brother Marek and DJ and music journalist Jan “Yannick” Elverfeld – Bartkuhn’s first love was not deep house, but jazz, fusion and Brazilian music.

Even so, the impact of Bartkuhn and the Needs collective within deep house during the late ‘90s and early noughties was significant. An outlier in their home city of Frankfurt, a metropolis more often associated with harder, more abrasive forms of dance music, Needs not only won the support of those who inspired them – the likes of Joaquin ‘Joe’ Claussell, Ron Trent, Danny Krivit and the late Phil Asher– but also a new generation of German DJs and producers. One of these was Gerd Janson, who wrote lovingly of the impact Needs releases made on him for the liner notes of Rush Hour’s recent Needs (Not Wants): A Retrospective compilation.

Despite this success, Bartkuhn’s relationship with dance music has always been complicated. When the initial Needs era drew to a close, he moved away from house music for an extended period, instead taking time to work on a diverse mix of projects that included a jazz and Brazilian music-inspired album for Sonar Kollecktiv, a string of epic ambient releases, and the realisation of a long-held dream to tour with a jazz quintet – his own Passion Dance Orchestra (an alias he first used for solo deep house singles in the 1990s).

Seven years ago, Bartkuhn finally returned to club culture via a surprise EP on Neroli. Since then, he has delivered sporadic solo singles and collaborations with like-minded producers Aybee and Trinidadian Deep. There’s more to come, too, thanks to a recently struck partnership with Rush Hour. This will see Bartkuhn release a wealth of singles, EPs and albums, in a variety of styles, over the next few years.

Earlier this year, Bartkuhn hopped online for an in-depth chat with journalist, author and dance music historian Matt Anniss. The pair discussed Bartkuhn’s musical history, Needs, narcissism in music and what we can expect from his relationship with Rush Hour.

Lars, that's a very impressive array of guitars on display behind you.

That's just a fraction of my guitar collection. How many have I got? Here in Brazil, around 12 – there's plenty more still in Germany, at my parents’ house.

It seems fitting because you started out in music as a guitar player, right? Or was it piano you played first?

A bit of both. My first serious attempt towards playing, technically, and with lessons, was the guitar, but before that I played around with keyboard instruments. We always had an organ and a piano at the house [when I was a child] and I messed around with those. Early on, I was quite into noodling around creating harmonies to the records I heard, using the organ at home. The first instrument that my parents bought me, when I was 12, was a synthesiser workstation by Roland. I had a friend who was a synth nerd, and he recommended that they buy it so that I could record my ideas straight into a machine. A year after that, I got seriously into guitar playing and that's where I got my chops [laughs].

To me, the fact that you played traditional instruments – by that I mean guitar, piano – before getting into production is the key to understanding you as a musician and producer. You clearly had a love of music from an early age, which was encouraged by your parents. It was a similar scenario for your friend Ron Trent, who started playing percussion instruments when he was quite young.

Yes. His father was a serious percussionist – a professional. Ron sometimes speaks a little in riddles – he just says what he needs to say – but as I understand it his father taught him.

I partly brought up Ron because you contributed to his recent album as WARM, What Do The Stars Say To You.

The first track on the album we kind of co-wrote. Around two years ago he approached me with a demo. It just had a groove, a bassline and some loose keyboard improv. It was rather static, so he asked me to write some material on it – he said, 'just do your thing'. 

We share the same passion for music. I met Ron a couple of times in Chicago, through my best friend in the city Anthony Nicholson. They had a working relationship 20 years ago as USG – Urban Sound Gallery. I think that's my favourite project that Ron has been involved with. I met Anthony first, and through him I met Ron. The three of us were feeling very much like spiritual brothers. We were in the same deep house realm, but we also came from the same musical background – we're all into hardcore jazz-funk, boogie, jazz and deep Brazilian music. This was the thing that the three of us always shared when we were hanging out in Chicago. We were hanging out for 10 hours, just listening to music and surprising each other with records that the others didn't know.

When I got the demo from Ron, I knew exactly where he wanted to go from the groove. So, I wrote some little melodies on top and then started singing what I played to create a vocal arrangement. I put in as much as I could, but he did restrict me to a chord progression that he wanted in a continuous flow. I would have liked to have written some bridges, but it was nice to contribute. Afterwards, he did whatever he wanted. I was positively surprised that he got Ivan Conti [from Azymuth] to play drums on it. It's a great project in my opinion because Ron is very honest with his music and with this album he is showing where he comes from and who he owes. He's not saying, 'I'm the guy who invented this' – he's really giving dues to people who deserve it.

In my experience, he's very respectful like that. When I interviewed him a couple of months ago, he gave a lot of people praise. We also touched on Chicago house history and some of the issues that tend to get in the way. It was interesting to hear Ron's perspective.

He uses words like ‘ancestors’ when he talks. For me, he has a different take, and he is really respectful. In a way, I think he learned that from hanging out with people like Louie Vega, Joe Clausell and Danny Krivit, who are also very…complete DJs. They know so much more than how to fill up a dancefloor and really think of it as an artform and a craft, which has its own history. Ron learned a lot from them, particularly that it's about more than dance music, because dance music has all these sources. Dance music is an art form that's channelling a lot of different things. I've met Danny and Joe a couple of times and to me, they are different to most DJs nowadays. 

Of course, they are pursuing their careers, but they're so respectful towards the music and so grateful – it's almost a spiritual or religious thing. The way they observe music, they don't see tracks as tools. Ron is like that, unlike some others. Anthony is also like that. He is shyer than Ron and he’s not living the same life, but inside he is the same person. I've met thousands of people – talented and untalented – who have a big career, but it is rare to see people with that passion for music and that love for life in general. On one hand the passion for music, on the other interest in things like movies and art, or in Ron’s case architecture. I see that a lot in those kinds of people.

Where do you think you fit? From the sound of your music, you seem like someone with that frame of mind. There's a timeless feel to your dance music productions that is not just rooted in the manipulation of machines.

Yes, yes, yes! You know what? I have to be grateful to my brother Marek, because he prepared my path in terms of dance music. Now he’s a scientist, but back then he was a hardcore hobby DJ. When he was still in school, he was already collecting records. I was a jazz nerd. For me, jazz and classical – as well as punk and heavy rock, as I played in bands – were really important. 

My first manic passion for anything was jazz. That's when I became a nerd, collecting records and checking the credits to see who was playing on them. Jazz was the first thing where I felt like I needed to study that family, that tribe. When I became a hardcore jazz nerd my brother became interested in electronic music. Back then I was a musical snob – I found electronic music interesting and neat, but I didn't take it seriously to be honest. I always loved Jean-Michel Jarre as a kid, and Tangerine Dream, and I loved jazz musicians who embraced technology. I was a massive Pat Metheny fan at an early age and loved his work with Lyle Mays. Weather Report too – people who embraced technology really interested me.

Pure machine music didn't really resonate with me, but since it was my brother I thought, 'cool, if he's into it, it must be good'. But I put it to one side. When I started studying jazz guitar and composition at university in Cologne, I suddenly dropped interest in that scene because it was just… boring. I was already an accomplished player and playing gigs when I went there, and people of my age [at the university] were still absorbing music and not really playing. I found it really boring there – not academically, as there was interesting stuff to learn, but I thought the environment was uninspiring. We had a couple of rehearsals and then a school concert, but there were no gigs at night-time or anything like that. I went home to my home town at night, 200 miles away, to play with my cats. I didn't find that scene in Cologne. 

Funnily enough, the club that I played at in my home city, afterwards they had DJ sets and my brother played. That's when it started to click. That was around 1998, when Spiritual Life emerged, Masters At Work were doing Nuyorican Soul, and labels like People Records in West London were releasing this soulful, jazz-influenced dance music. I could also hear the influence of heavy disco. I thought, 'wow, there's a big spectrum here going on'. There was a wide variety of people who were making inspiring music.

I heard these long Joe Clausell remixes with solo sections, and I thought, 'I might find a space in here – it would be more interesting than just absorbing Miles Davis academic studies at the university, transcribing John Coltrane solos'. I love Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but I thought, 'where will be the benefit be for me if I just study the past? I need to find something right here, right now'. Jazz at that time was really boring for me. Nowadays there's a lot of interesting jazz music, but 15, 20 years ago it was pretty boring. When I heard some of the records my brother was playing in his DJ sets, I thought, 'that's the spot for me because I can combine that love of driving rhythms with bringing a sensitivity of my own'. I'd heard music by a handful of producers who were trying to bring a different sensibility to dance music and thought if they could do it, I could try it. For me, it was a challenge and an inspiration. 

By that point, my brother had met Yannick, who back then was Editor in Chief of Groove magazine and a professional DJ. My brother was going to his parties, then invited Yannick to play at his events and they became friends. All of a sudden, I made a couple of records with my brother, released on a local label called Stir 15, then after two or three records, the three of us founded the Needs label. But if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have encountered this musical universe so I'm grateful for that. It happened so naturally.

The three of us pooled together our money to add equipment to the effects units and few bits of gear I had. We bought a Mackie mixing desk, an MPC and a sampler and started making music together. Since I was the guy who knew how to play guitar and piano, and was into guitar amplifiers and equipment, it was my role to translate our ideas into music. But it was the three of us there dreaming about what sort of music we wanted to hear in clubs. 

Funnily enough, I always had to ask the others to try something different. Early on they'd say, 'that's a great groove', and I'd say, 'let's try another part'. We had a lot of discussions like that, about whether to leave a track or bring something else to the table. But I always asked them because I'm respectful of their artform – and DJing is an artform. I always asked them, 'Can we do this? Will the dancefloor still be active if we go to a different chord progression?' 

I think people would agree now that you succeeded in what you were aiming to do, but did you initially find it more difficult to develop an inherent sense of what would work on the dancefloor? Were you reliant on Marek and Yannick at that point and their DJ perspective?

No, not at all. I was 23 or 24 when we started, but I absorbed the music I was hearing in the clubs, and I felt it in my heart and my body. I could have done it technically all alone, but it was very comfortable having those guys around me. Later, I kept working and sometimes finished off tracks alone at the studio after they'd gone home, but it was very comfortable for me to feel their vibration. My brother is also very eloquent when it comes to describing music. It was almost like he was giving philosophical input. Yannick sometimes would say, 'keep it simple' or 'we need a more driving hi-hat for this part'. These were things I maybe wasn't too aware of. But even today, I'm not taking too much care about those things – I'm just letting it all pour out. They gave me some direction – 'Lars, you're exaggerating with this introduction', these kinds of things. Since we had positive feedback from the first record onwards, I thought, 'there's no big secret – we can do it how we want and set our own rules'. That was very encouraging for me. It's funny that 20 years later, I became more concerned about those things! Today I'm a little more hesitant, but that's the story that a lot of musicians will tell you. You become more respectful towards your own craft and question more the little details…

Is that because of the weight of what you've done before in your career?

Maybe not what I did before, but you become more aware of how great the work of the ancestors is. In my case, if I want to contribute something and pollute the sonic ether, so to speak, it has to be worthy and it has to have a certain value. If you have a personality like mine, you become more respectful over the years. 

Early on in your career, it's important that you don't start too respectfully as you have to let your energy out. I have a lot of discussions with fellow producers and musicians about these issues. I have a friend who is a drum & bass producer from Germany (Kabuki) and he said to me, 'Lars, could you ever make a record like your first record again, even if you wanted to?' The answer is 'no', because you have a different view on things and this overview that you have is a bit restrictive. When you're starting out, you don't know about any restrictions. If you wanted to make a kick too loud, you made a kick too loud. Nowadays you don't do these things.

There are so many examples in dance music culture of people creating amazing things by doing them wrong, technically speaking, or just trying out things with instruments that the designers had not anticipated – look at DJ Pierre with the TB-303, or how Unique 3 sampled feedback and used that to create the bass tone on their pioneering bleep techno record ‘The Theme’.

Exactly, or how jungle was created by playing records at the wrong speed. Absolutely. 

Going back to Needs, you’ve already mentioned some DJs, producers and labels who inspired you, but who and what else, if anything, were you trying to emulate?

Our biggest common influence was the New York sound, but also Chicago and Detroit – we couldn't always agree on it! But if we could choose where we wanted to be sonically at that time, it would have been New York, because the sound felt more 'total' – it had songs as well. Early on, the Underground Resistance releases were like holy grails to us. Sometimes it was like, 'let's put on our Mad Mike glasses and try to do something like that'. 

Our respect for New York and New Jersey – Strictly Rhythm, Blaze, dozens of other producers and labels – was massive, but we never wanted to copy the sound. Firstly, we weren't living there, we weren't black, we weren't going to the same nightclubs, and we don't have gospel singers living on the same block or whatever. That was a metaphysical or philosophical thing in our hearts, but we never wanted to copy that sound. The party energy that we wanted to achieve was music that would fit in there, and funnily enough our music did fit in there because DJs like Timmy Regisford and Danny Krivit did play our records. 

We were never focused on one thing. When we tried to do a smooth New York groover there would often also be influences from West London, or UK two-step, or early rave stuff. For us, it wasn't about separating styles. We didn't want to make music that was too eclectic, but we never restricted ourselves to a certain genre. We always had open ears to different types of music.

What you guys were doing with Needs, over a long period, was undeniably distinctive despite the inspirations we’ve discussed. Those releases are timeless and ageless, but they're not very typical of what some other people in Germany were doing at the time.

Yes, but there were people in Germany who were inspired by what we were doing. The liner notes Gerd Janson did for the Needs retrospective is one of the nicest things that has ever been written about our music. He mentioned in there that he thinks that the compilation shows that we were doing things in Germany at that time that nobody else was doing. In a way we benefited from the fact that there was a scene in Germany, and Frankfurt in particular, but on the other hand we were aliens within that scene!

Because there was quality in what we were doing, we were given a place at Robert Johnson, but it was really weird. Our party was like no other party there. Maybe there were one or two tracks you heard at our parties that could have been heard at another party there, but even Gerd's party – which was probably the closest to ours there as they played New York and New Jersey stuff – was very different. We really thought we were aliens in our home. 

Whenever we travelled to other countries we felt more at home, whether that was Tokyo or Paris. Talking to people like DJ Deep, and later Ron and Anthony, was very inspiring. In a way it was good that we had the record shops and the parties, and people like Kerri Chandler were coming, and there was a scene in Frankfurt. But we felt that there was no homegrown collective that represented what we were doing and felt that we were unique in our region [laughs].

But you were part of a global musical conversation, and you found those like-minded people.

Yes! Atjazz for example was a guy who was really into what we were doing early on. He was one of the first people to ask us to do a remix, which was great. It was like, 'a guy in England who we respect and love, who gets to buy our records in his shop in his town, and then sends us a fax'… for me, that was much more important than whether people from my hometown were interested. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, but aside from Gerd and his guys, who were a little younger than us, nobody was interested. We loved those cats – it was really amazing to see them and their knowledge of music. But aside from them, we felt more connected to the global scene.

How do you look back now on the Needs story? You're in a different place now to where you were musically and have worked on many different projects. How would you judge the catalogue of music you, Marek and Yannick put out on Needs?

That's an ongoing process. I don't listen too much to my old music to be honest. Having been tasked with putting together a retrospective, I did check out some of it for the first time in many years. I thought, 'wow, it sounds okay to me after all the years', especially the tracks from the first record. There's a fresh energy to it. Of course, sonically I would do it differently nowadays, but the message that we tried to bring out, it's successful. What we wanted to transmit, we transmitted, and it somehow arrived, maybe not with the masses, but those who know. I'm very happy and proud of that. 

There was a time, in the period between now and the Needs years, where I was very self-critical. I hated the stuff I'd done. I thought, 'this is crap – it's so embarrassing!' I'm so pleased that the feeling has gone away. It's not that I'm patting myself on the back and saying 'wow' – I'm still critical, and I know there are geniuses like Kerri Chandler who I admire so much and jealousy think 'it would be so much easier to be him, as he can sit in his basement and bash out the beats'. For us, it was a lot harder to get out the music, but for what it is, I love it. Maybe there were a couple of tracks in the catalogue that are unnecessary and if you took them out, it wouldn't feel like cutting off a finger. Even Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a couple of fillers!

It's also part of your evolution as a producer and musician, and your collective evolution as artists.

What's funny is that in the moment when I made a track, I knew if it wasn't 100 percent right. I can recall that I was maybe trying to be somebody I wasn't. For me it was always about originality. Coming from the jazz world, having your own musical voice is king. Being a jazz musician is the hardest thing in the world because it's always about originality and not copying John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. For me, being a Pat Metheny fan was a very heavy burden, because when you study that stuff too much, you become the person that you study. It's so hard to shake that off. You almost need to go through therapy to find your voice, unless you're a natural born genius like Keith Jarrett or Miles Davis, these people who are born to have a proper voice on their instrument.

That was a thing I carried over to dance music. I thought it was necessary to have your own voice and make something that only you are capable of and are associated with. We struggled a bit with that. We were going here and there, trying out different things. Today I am still trying out different little formulas, but there are tracks we made that I felt at the time weren't right – that the beat is too Kerri Chandler inspired, or the chords were too much like a specific record. I don't feel good about it. That's the only thing and it's probably normal in a way.

I'm interested in what you said about being self-critical. In my experience, besides a few narcissists, I think anyone who does something creative for a living is quite self-critical.

Psychologically, self-critique is probably a sign of narcissism because you take yourself too seriously and you have expectations of yourself that are too high. You think that you're in the league of the giants and because you've patted yourself on the back, you're already a giant. Of course, there are narcissists who are not self-critical, but as people they are shallow. If you're somebody who has observed other people and reflected a lot, narcissism and self-criticism can go hand in hand. I have heard of people who are scared to go on stage and perform at concerts, and they are probably also suffering from narcissism. It's not people who go on stage and are super confident that are the real narcissists, but the opposite – people who shudder at their own high expectations. What are high expectations? It's if you are thinking of yourself as bigger than you are. It's interesting.

I get that, but I don't know whether I agree. I have interviewed people before who are moderately successful in dance music terms and when I cite records they've made that I think are great, they say, 'I've never made anything any good', because they judge themselves against the people they look up to, like you would do with Kerri Chandler or Pat Metheny.

Compared to those people we all suck! [laughs]

How important, in terms of your musical development since the Needs days, has live performance been? I know that you initially moved in different directions during the late 2000s and the first portion of the last decade.

Needs was a short and intense period with a productive phase of around three or four years. It lasted a couple of years longer, but there was already an afterglow. After that, I wanted to emancipate myself and show more of the guy I was, and particularly my background. I made an album for Sonar Kollektiv that showed my Brazilian influences and my classical training and all that kind of stuff. 

I then did different projects. I produced a couple of albums for German jazz acts. I had a pretty good success in Japan with my solo albums and there was a label there who licensed them – there's a couple of albums that have only been released in Japan. That was very rewarding in some ways, but also very frustrating because nobody else was interested. That is something a lot of artists say – that Japan is very generous to them. 

Anyway, in that period I became a bit frustrated. I wanted to separate myself from dance music. That was a kind of narcissistic period in my life, because I felt 'how can you not like what I'm doing now if you liked what I did before?' Okay, what's the big deal? There's no four to the floor or Roland synthesisers involved, but I'm still the same being, making harmonies and beautiful melodies! How can you be so stupid, I educated you with my Needs records… 

That was a pure mess psychologically for me and making music became a very painful process. It took me years to finish a tune. I became overly critical of myself and the audience. It was painful. For at least six or seven years I separated myself from dance music. My last big album that I produced was for an American label, Ropeadope. They had a couple of big fusion bands – Sarky Puppy, who became massive. 

I made an album called Lars Bartkuhn and the Passion Dance Orchestra, which was my first proper jazz album. It was a quintet featuring my favourite jazz musicians in Germany and I even had an orchestra performing with me – I wrote the arrangements and conducted the orchestra in Brazil, which was more affordable. Sadly, the record didn't sell very well. I did another little tour across Germany, and I was having nothing to do with Needs. At that point I didn't even want to be associated with it, because I thought I needed to be successful with the projects I was doing at the time – Brazilian music, jazz records, singer-songwriter material, experimental electronics. I wanted to be all that and not 'the dance guy'. I wanted to prove myself that I had it in me. 

Then there was the Passion Dance Orchestra tour – I originally used that as an alias in the Needs days, but it was an ironic name because it was all just me. When I actually had a band, I really called it that, even though it didn't have much to do with what I did on Needs – I just loved the band name so much! 

When I toured that, I played a festival in Berlin and a guy called Aybee wrote to the promoter, Daniel Best, saying he wanted to play a gig with me. I knew he'd released one record on Prescription, but not much more. Daniel was like, 'Are you in?' I was like, 'electronic music, are you kidding? I'm playing here with my jazz band! What can I contribute to some guy who is probably just banging some electronic drums?' Daniel said, 'no, he is improvising – there's nothing prepared'. I thought that was interesting, because in my band I had all these electronic machines and prepared sequences, but I was also sampling my band live and had various synthesisers that could be used. I had the gear so thought, 'why not?' I agreed to do an improv session with him. 

Doing that gig six or seven years ago reignited my interest in making dance music again. The gig was well received by the audience and improvising that music on stage was a great experience. It was mainly four to the floor things, but also some ambient. Having the component of being able to improvise and play the music live gave me the inspiration to create again. Playing electronic music live was something I hadn't done before. I did a couple of years as a DJ, but mostly without success – my brother and Yannick were much better DJs than I. Whenever I went solo outside of Germany I felt embarrassed. I thought it wasn't for me, but performing the music live on stage… that was really dope. I thought, 'let's do it'.

To be honest, my other projects hadn't been too successful, but I felt at peace with myself. If I can compose and perform the music live, I'm back in it. Coincidentally, at that time Enrico from Neroli asked me to make a record and I said 'yes'. Before that, over the years I had lots of requests to release music for various labels. But Neroli - a label and a guy I always admired - was something I couldn’t decline. 

Then I started touring. Every time I had a new release, not just on Neroli but also Alex's label Utopia, I always did a handful of live gigs. That felt really good. The pandemic stopped it all for me, but through that I also created a lot of side projects. We had a session band in Frankfurt, whose name translates in English as the Electronic Saloon – it featured a great German saxophone player who is into electronics (and who plays on some of my records like „Elysium“ and „Human“), a drummer, Kabuki on modular system and me on guitars and electronics, and we sometimes invited other guests, and we improvised each time for three hours. It was great, but it was all stopped by the pandemic. To be honest, the pandemic really messed with my psychology a lot. I'm now starting to think about coming back and performing again, but now I'm based in Brazil, which makes it more complex.

Where is your head at musically now? Are you still as active in terms of making your own music?

I'm more active than at any time before. I had this run of solo releases on different labels. I also reactivated Needs for a couple of releases, I made a couple of collaborations with Aybee, I made a record with Trinidadian Deep, and I've had a bunch of solo records out over the last five, six years. 

I always knew Antal, at Rush Hour, but he became interested in working with me more intensively. There's a lot of music prepared which will be released by the label in future. The Needs compilation was a kind of a re-introduction for me to a dance music audience. I still have a lot of dance tracks, and songs, on my hard disk, and they are going to be released. 

Right now, I'm not actively thinking about dance music. Have you heard the album I did with Kabuki called The First Minute of a New Day? The funny thing is, that record is everything minus the things that we're known for [laughs]. There are no drums or basslines in it – it's more like a krautrock influenced new age ambient record. We both think that's one of the best things we've done.

I got into modular synthesis over the last couple of years, like many others, and have tried to expand my sonic palette. I'm all over the place musically. I'm done with trying to make it in the purist jazz scene, but I'm not finished with making jazz music. What I'm really into these days is those 1970s records from the ECM label which has always been my favourite. They had a lot of ambient jazz kind of things. I'm really into that, making long, hypnotic, jazzy solo records and overdubbing myself – lots of little improvised loops, and making it a more of a new age vibe. On one hand orchestral, on the other introspective. 

The next project that's going to be released is a solo ambient record of mine – very quirky, very noisy [laughs]. The first side is very noisy and dark and it’s called 'Dystopia', which is what it is – it's describing the way I see the world that we live in. The B-side has more revelatory moments which are becoming anthem-like, even though it's ambient. 

I'm not really into ambient music, I just love the potential of it. I'm inspired by the possibilities it offers my musicality. So, I'm listening to Brian Eno stuff and take off from there. I might be using similar techniques, but either bringing it into the jazz world or using more hypnotic rhythms. This kind of thing. Another album is also ready, but that's going to be released at some point next year. That's more of a hybrid. It's called Nomad, after a single I did for Utopia. There are some hints of four to the floor music, but I kind of reduced it so it is more like a listening experience. That is something I would like to go on tour with and play more energetically to a crowd. In ten years, I don't see myself playing in Berghain anymore, but maybe finding new ways of presenting what I'm doing live. I did play Panoramabar, but I do think 'how long can you do that?' It's a place for the young cats. When I was young, I didn't want to see old guys… it's normal. Now I do want to see old guys [laughs]

What I would love to achieve, when it comes back to touring, is to showcase the musicality aspect as much as possible. Of course, if you're in a club there's always the obligation to make people dance, but of course I don't want to play big raves anymore. I want to bring the musicality, show people it's about music and offer an experience that's more worthy than just sweating your ass off – that you can come home after a dance party being spiritually lifted. For me, the biggest moments when I was clubbing were not those when the DJ banged it out of the club with the hardest grooves, but rather listening to Ron Trent or Spiritual Life tracks in a club. For me that was always the main goal, to get to a point where musicality and spiritual grooves are embraced by the club. It is definitely a goal for me to find the audiences that would appreciate it. 


Lars Bartkuhn - Dystopia (Vinyl)

Lars Bartkuhn - Melancholia

Lars Bartkuhn - Every Morning I Meditate (Vinyl)

Needs (Not Wants) Retrospective (Digital)