From his humble beginnings in Frankfurt to taking the global stage next to Luciano and his Vagabundos crew, Robert Dietz has firmly established himself as one of the mainstays within the today’s contemporary club scene. His unique take on house music and his wild DJ sets have led to his records being released across some of the community’s biggest record labels, including Get Physical, Saved, and Cadenza.
We caught up with Dietz to hear about whose had the biggest impact on his career so far, and what new and upcoming talent he’s digging.
Tell us about your production setup.
My production setup is comprised of a mixture of software and hardware. For a software sequencer, I work with Ableton Live, using synthesizers and effect plug-ins from Spectrasonics, Native Instruments, or Sound Toys, for example. On the hardware side, there are drum machines and synthesizers like the Tempest from Dave Smith and Roger Linn, the Mini Moog Voyager, a small modular system from Doepfer, and Eventide effects. The speakers are the ATC SCM25s.
Which track or release that you have produced is your personal favorite?
I was recently listening to the older music I produced and a track that has one of the most personal touches and is very important for me is “The Sorrow,” which was released on Deep Vibes in 2008. It is a very melancholic and dark track without the four-to-the-floor beat.
Who would you consider your biggest influence in house music?
Even if so many people are dropping this name, Ricardo Villalobos was the one who introduced me to the wide spectrum of house music in the late ’90s with his endless DJ sets. He helped me discover a vast number of records from all these different important producers of the history of our music. But also, at the same time, the Frankfurt-based record shop Freebase had a huge influence on me with their selection of music, too. I think altogether it was a combination of the city, the clubs, and the DJs performing there.
Which new producer have you been most impressed by this year?
Hard Work Soft Drink is a whole new crew in my hometown in Frankfurt at the moment. This so-called next generation has a lot of talent, fresh ideas, and great music in the pipeline. They all experiment with modular systems and do their thing far away from the hype or the typical success formula. Thilo Dietrich is one of them, and his first official work is a remix he did for Sascha Dive that is going to be released soon on Deep Vibes.
Which new labels are you most excited about?
One particular label that is not new anymore but caught a lot of my attention recently is Tzinah from Romania. They release music that is straight to the point. Chunky bassline weapons from young and talented producers without the usual bombshell effects.
You’ve had releases on the prolific Cadenza label and performed at many of the label’s events. What factors do you think have made the label such a success?
In my opinion, plenty of different factors. Of course, a big one is the music that’s been released on the label, but as well, the success and the profile of Luciano and his brand made it very fruitful.
What has been your favorite city in the world to DJ in, and why?
That is a very difficult question to answer, as there are so many cities all over the world I really enjoy DJing in. But one of the outstanding ones is definitely London, with all its legendary clubs and after-hours, as much as the underground warehouse events. The crowd is so diverse, very open-minded to music, and so enthusiastic. It’s always a pleasure to DJ and rave there.
Favorite or most memorable experience of DJing at a festival?
Same here—a large number of memorable experiences—but the Womb Adventure festival in Tokyo last December was something special. I had the chance to perform in front of around 7,000 Japanese fans that were very thankful and dedicated to the music. The energy that they gave back to me in return was overwhelming.
Who is your favorite live electronic act?
During this year’s Sonar I had the chance to see the new live project Premiesku, and it really hooked me. They perform with only analog gear—no computer and no digital setup. Everything they did came right out of the machines. It was really refreshing for me to see a live act that is not constantly looking into his laptop.
What releases can we look forward to from you this year?
Besides my first double-CD mix compilation on a new London label called Arkitekt, which is going to be released in October, and a featured track on the fifth anniversary compilation of Cécille Records, I haven’t scheduled an EP for the end of the year so far. But as summer is just fading and I finally get back to the studio, everything is possible. Let’s see where the road leads me.
Photo by Julia Ziegler