Secret weapons galore as the Berlin mix legend shows us how it's done!
A true OG in every sense of the word, the lifelong record digger and die-hard music aficionado Estimulo has been pushing the needle in Berlin’s deep underground since the late 80s! His regular collaborations with like minded music obsessed guests to present marathon live streams of the notorious EstimuloShow are the stuff of legend, the most recent of which have been streamed live from his basement in Berlin with guests like Huerta, C.K, Flørist and Adi Toohey stopping by for some cake and an extended b2b.
Wowing even the most astute of house heads without even breaking a sweat, Esti’s selections simply are one of a kind, drawing upon the deepest of deep cuts from his 30+ year record collection to share with the world an incredible ear for rare and forgotten dance music.
A dubbed out “listening mind journey” as he describes it, Estimulo mixes up some pure gold here as per usual, and gives us some great insight into the history and inner workings of the EstimuloShow, and the thought process that goes into making his own killer edits!
Hey Esti, how are things? I saw you recently played a party at Super in Aarhus, Denmark with some of the Regelbau crew, of whom we are also big fans of down here.. What can you tell us about the party and how did you connect with those guys.. was this your first time visiting Aarhus?
Hi Myles, first off thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure for me to be able to contribute to your page! The Regelbau crew are indeed a very lovely crowd, and in it for all the right reasons, as they say.
Initially I was just a follower and fan of their releases on their various outlets, then a few years ago C.K and I connected and ended up doing a show together at my studio in the basement. We clicked musically and as friends too so we stayed in contact, talking about music, asking each other IDs, all that haha.
Ever since then it was kind of on our To-Do-list to one day visit Aarhus and play together so finally when they opened their own new club “Super” earlier in 2021, we started talking about me coming over after the lockdown had ended.
I can just recommend very warmly to everyone to visit Super when they have the chance. Apart from the club (that is also open during the daytime as a bar / record shop) being beautifully designed and furnished (lots of wood!) and lighted I would like to point out that the sound in there is just heavenly, in the booth as well as on the floor. You can notice there is and was a lot of love being put into that place, on all ends. And as they are doing strictly pre-sale events, you get a familiar intimate feeling with a crowd that is really into it! Had an absolute blast playing there and they are really lovely hosts too, showed me around town and generally took very good care of me. Shout out to Chris, Mette, Simon, K. Dallas, Natal and everyone else at Super!
I first became familiarised with your DJ sets and incredibly deep digging selections through your long running EstimuloShow, a live streamed digital radio show that you host with guests from your studio in Berlin that often streams for 3, 4 or 5+ hours. Tell us a bit about how the show has evolved over the years, and how long has it been running for now?
EstimuloShow as a live internet radio show for me was the next step after running a mix page that offered sets for download (Mixomat) for some years, since 2001. From my professional background in IT I was already dabbling with video and audio streaming servers for some years before that and the final push to do a live show myself came in 2007.
I have always been hugely fascinated with the real-time, spontaneous and anarchistic aspect of live radio (as opposed to pre produced, tailored content), especially pirate radio, and setting up my own page with my own streaming server was a modern day extension of pirate radio (minus the illegality).
So when I first started, it was just me playing a few hours for some friends every Sunday night, I think I promoted it a little via Discogs forums and/or Myspace at that time.
Very soon other people started to join, some contributed DJ sets and became regulars, like Makarov, others just came to hang out and listen, in fact it became a little Sunday afterhour party at my old apartment in Neukoelln near Boddinstr.. I remember often people came directly from clubs to the show. So you could imagine the early days like a private gaff afterhours session (+ a live stream).
After a few months of doing that i noticed that committing to doing several hours of show every week could get a bit much so i decided to shift down to doing it about once a month and throw open some slots for friends and fam to stream on the Sunday afternoon / night slot via my page, most notably Truly Madly from London – back then and still one of my favourite selectors of all time – who joined in 2008 and ran a regular monthly slot from his gaff for many years to come.There was also a Chicago slot hosted by Chicagodeep and Taelue (Perpetual Rhythms) for some years.
This kind of rotation went on til about 2016 when we decided to call the regular schedule quits and ever since then I’ve been running it as a irregular sunday afternoon show usually alongside one or more guests (also started to stream it via Facebook, then Youtube). Also I always uploaded it to Soundcloud afterwards.
Over the years I had the pleasure of hosting many fantastic guests that I adore a lot in my basement. My partner Nerina and I always aspire to make it a little fiesta with cake, coffee and dinner. I want guests to feel welcome and as much at home as possible, not just run in, play a set and run out. And I think the nature of EstimuloShow of being a jam session without stylistic or time limits in place gives DJs the opportunity to fully express their art.
On the side I also started a monthly slot at Cashmere Radio in 2017 where up until the lockdown i continued to bring guest DJs to the studio.
On your Soundcloud page you list your location as being ‘on the fence’ between Berlin and Argentina.. what can you tell us about your Argentinian connection, and what do you know about the current underground scene for dance music over there?
My main connection with Argentina would be that my wife, Nerina, is originally from Buenos Aires. I’m afraid I can’t really tell you that much about the current Argentinian underground dance music scene at the moment, as our long planned visit last year was cancelled by the ‘rona last minute. Basically Nerina and I already had our suitcases packed and standing at the door when the notification of our flight being cancelled plus the travel ban came in, just the day before the first lockdown started.
But we are planning to go to Buenos Aires in 2022 so I’m very much looking forward not just to get to know this country and its wonderful people but also to connect more deeply with the music scene over there.
On Soundcloud you’ve also been posting up some archived sets ripped from tape recordings of old radio shows from the 90s and 00s, as someone who is fascinated by the sound of live recordings from the previous generations of DJs, listening to those felt really nostalgic (especially with the funny early 90s ads from the KISS 100 FM rip). I’m guessing you would have a pretty sizable archive of these old radio rips… can we expect to see a few more being shared?
I’m glad to hear you are as big of a fan of old radio tape recordings as I am! I have always been spending a lot of time taping radio shows of my interest, especially in the 80s, 90s and early 00s, when FM radio was still so omnipresent and of existential importance for every music nerd. And when I had the chance to be in an interesting location like London, for example, I also unpacked my boombox and started recording.
So yes, there are basically boxes and boxes of tapes in my attic and every now and then I still go through them and eventually digitize some of them. So you can definitely expect some of them to still come up in the future (more London pirates, some more recordings of Twen FM which was one of the very few FM pirate radios in Berlin in the late 90s, early 00s, or just regular FM radio dance music specialist shows that aired on state or private radio stations).
I know that you’re also doing a lot of personal edits and remixes for your DJ mixes, I’m wondering which kind of records will often stand out to you as a potential candidate for being edited/remixed, and have you always edited digitally or did you first learn on reel-to-reel back when you were starting out?
I would say the potential candidates for edits and remixes usually fall into these categories:
Sometimes you hear a really really awesome track but it seems to be just stuck in the state of a “sketch”, with a length of 3 minutes or even less. So with editing you would simply try to enhance its length to make it more suitable for your set and enjoy it longer.
2.) Dodgy parts
The track has some absolutely mind-blowing parts but also some less amazing ones.
The Edit would then emphasize on the mind-blowing parts, and cut the less amazing ones.
Sometimes you would just really like to rearrange a track, so you chop up the parts and put them in a different order. Maybe layer some different parts of the song too. For example, there would be an amazing pad but just for a very short time in the middle / break, and you’d go ahead and lay that on top of the whole song.
4.) Mash up two tracks.
Sometimes you discover by chance that layering or mashing up two different tracks results in something that is more than the sum of its parts.
5.) Lacking Production
Add another kick, bassline, percussion, etc. Sometimes a track is awesome but it lacks something production-wise in your point of view, so adding a kick, or another drum track could possibly do wonders.
6,) Merge different versions
Sometimes merging different versions/mixes of a track really does the trick as well.
7.) And of course mixtures between all of these aspects happen as well.
I did my first rudimentary edits ever on my fathers reel-to-reel machine in the 80s. Needless to say that nowadays its become all digital due to convenience reasons.
I play a lot of my edits in my mixes because I think its the only place where a DJ can still be truly creative or original about his set (apart from if you’re making your own music of course). In a time when everyone knows almost everything thanks to Discogs and Youtube, it became increasingly difficult to still surprise with unturned stones, so I see making your own edits as a part of your unique selling point as a DJ.
You’ve mentioned that your close old friend Maciej Szalonek who you ran parties with as Futura in Berlin sadly passed away recently, I’m wondering what are some of your fondest memories of the parties you guys used to throw together, and what you loved most about his music taste and DJing style (I know you used to do a lot of radio shows together as well..)
I still feel devastated and lost for words over the sudden loss of Maciej recently. I had so much appreciation for this guy, not just musicwise and for the energy and aspiration he brought to futura (he was the original founder of futura), but also as a friend and conversation partner and I will just miss the fuck outta him.
So I guess it is a bit too soon for me to go very deep on the subject but from the top of my head, the futura party that we hosted in about blank in July 2011 with Snuff Crew, Prosumer and Hardrock Striker (Skylax) – all three floors including garden open and kept on well into the next day was definitely one for my history books.
What I loved about his DJing style was that aside from his vast knowledge and music collection, he really didn’t have any limits in regards to genre, so he kept on being a source of inspiration for yet unexplored music for me. When we played together, we usually set ourselves a theme for the set and would dig deep into our collections to bring out the gems of that specific theme, whether that would be things as diverse as Downtempo and Chill-Out (like on our last show we did together in May 2021) or Hardcore / Rave of the early 90s (like on one of our Futura Radio Shows from 2012).
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us? What was the inspiration or vibe you were trying to create, and are there any special records in there you would like to mention?
The objective was to create a driving, yet easily listenable mix, so yes, I suppose the “listening mind journey” aspect was definitely in the foreground with this mix and that would be also the concept I would grasp from all the mixes i’ve heard coming from your page in the past. Also had the recent new lockdown here in mind with clubs (and basically everything social) shutting down again so it was kind of my soundtrack to ease the lockdown blues of the first two weeks.
I think my love of everything Dub and dubby definitely shines through on this one. I intended it to be a balanced mix of some of my own edits, some secret weapons, deep cheapo diggins, old faves and some brand new and unreleased music blended in for good measure.
I would like to give a shout to all my friends who gave me new or unreleased music that was featured in this mix, amongst others the Ordinaire crew from Strasbourg, Henning Telephones, H:B:E:M (HistoryBeginsEveryMorning) from Zürich and 2 Bit Crew (AKA C.K and Optic) from Aarhus.
Thanks again for the invite and hope y’all enjoy the mix!