With a mere five questions for the mighty Legowelt, it’s difficult to skirt around the oft-quoted musical quirks and tics that risk portraying him as something of a novelty. But part of appreciating Legowelt’s specific point of view comes through embracing all of his eccentricities: the analog gear fetish and the tongue-in-cheek track titles, the Amiga graphics, the seagulls, the frayed and woolly sound quality, and the sheer volume of productions, remixes, and podcasts that he produces year on year. It all feeds into making Danny Wolfers (aka Legowelt, and about 25 other aliases) one of the most exciting figures in techno and house.
His excellent new album, The Paranormal Soul, has just been released on Clone Jack For Daze Serie, so we caught up with him to assess his shrinking studio, as well as quiz him on how he keeps his productivity high, and the yin-yang nature of his production partnership with Xosar.
You are probably the most prolific producer that I am aware of. Do you struggle at all to keep up the momentum? What keeps you motivated?
Well in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s I guess it was pretty normal for a producer to make a lot of records, and even now I know there are some other producers who release way more stuff than I do. It’s not like I try to keep a momentum that I need to release records; it just happens. Sometimes I don’t release a record for months or even half a year. What keeps me motivated? Well, first of all, this is my job. I can’t do anything else, so it’s pure survival, for one thing, but it’s also a lot of fun to do. I live this job 24 hours a day, from when I wake up to when I go to sleep, with 100% devotion, and when I make music it just keeps flowing into my brain from another dimension or something. Over the years I have trained myself to be in that dimension for most of the time, I guess. Also the people that like it and buy it, “the fans,” so to speak—they keep me motivated, too, because then I think I am giving them something they can enjoy.
I read in an interview with you from earlier this year that said you had scaled down your studio, selling a mixing desk and some of your gear. How many hardware synthesizers do you own now? And if you were forced to, which ones would you say you couldn’t live without?
There is stuff all over the place because I lend it to friends, so I am not sure how many keyboards I got, but let’s say about 20. I can live without any of them; my only emotional connection to some is that I had them from very early on, like the Juno 106, Yamaha DX21, Pro One, Korg MS10. I won’t sell those ’cause they have been with me for a long time.
As a listener, The Paranormal Soul seems to have a more consistent jack/Chicago influence than your other albums. Was that something you were aware of when writing the tracks?
Hmmm. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s a jack/Chicago influence at all; only the track “Voice of Triumph” is pretty much going into the direction of authentic Chicago style. For me, it’s way more in the direction of Detroit stuff and ’90s weird English stuff from all over the place. More fluent psychedelic deep space. That’s what I wanted to do; at least, I wanted to move away a bit from the staccato, primal, raw, jacking Chicago sound.
There was a rumor that 14-year-old synthesizer prodigy, Synthex, was in fact your most stealthy alias yet. Is there anything you’d like to confess here?
No, I’ve got absolutely nothing to do with that. I just tweeted his homepage because I saw it on a Dutch internet forum for synthesizer nerds. I don’t know that kid, either. I just thought it was funny.
You and Xosar seem to be kindred spirits musically. In your own words, what would you say that you bring to your collaboration Xamiga, and the same for her?
She has a more broad melodic sense. For example, her melodies are more exotic than mine and evolve more and take longer, using different colorful scales, and she will play a lot of stuff by hand while I am more into programming it note-for-note into a sequencer. Her sense of structure in a track is also more organic than mine. I pretty much use standard structures but Xosar can derive from that and steer the track into unknown paths. We learn a lot from each other. Like, she taught me how to use Ableton and all that melody structural stuff from above, while I can bring in some more knowledge about timbres and synthesis. And she always tells me I am better at drum programming, but I don’t really think that. I guess we are both not really into drum programming and more interested in the atmospheres that sounds and melodies can create.