There is no doubt about it, Milton Bradley is a true stalwart of Berlin’s and Europe’s ever expanding techno scene.
A household name next to the likes of Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock, he has been hard at work since the early 90’s producing techno under an array of aliases including the mind-bendingly thick and irrefutably recognisable “Milton Bradley” acid as “Alien Rain”, the “end of the world”, ultra-gloom/death cinematic techno under “The End Of All Existence” and the raw, industrial cuts as “K209” alongside Henning Baer.
Milton has been at the top of our wish list for some time now so we were thrilled when he agreed to sit down with us for a in depth chat about everything from growing up in East Berlin, experiencing the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification thereafter, the state of techno in the 90’s, EDM, some of his side projects Alien Rain Records and K209 as well as a bunch more. Enjoy.
B: Where are you and what are you doing right now? Apart from answering these questions.
At the moment I am at home working on a podcast, new releases and stuff like that.
B: Being born and raised in Berlin you must have seen and experienced a lot as a child and teenager, can you tell us what it was like growing up in Berlin? Did you grow up in East or WestBerlin?
Berlin was always a special place because it was divided through the Berlin Wall in the East and West. East Berlin people weren’t allowed to go to West Berlin and young men from West Berlin did not have to go to the army because West Berlin was in the middle of East Germany. So a lot of artists, punks & students moved to Berlin, maybe that’s the reason Berlin is some kind of a breeding ground for subculture.
East berlin was the capital of East Germany and it was also some kind of the flagship of East Germany so the quality of living was much better than in the rest of East Germany. I grew up in the East part with some restrictions that East German people had, but Berlin offered a lot of possibilities for me. I went to a lot of exhibitions and museums, I could be in the footplate of trains because my grandfather was a train-driver, I played in our backyard or in the old teardown buildings and so on. After the wall came down I immediately discovered the west part of berlin and the upcoming techno scene. I can’t put
into words how many impressions and experiences I made that time. This was probably the most interesting and exciting time in my life so far.
B: What was it like for you when the wall fell? How was the reunification for you?
As I mentioned in the question before, it was an exciting time, the fall of the wall came nearly out of nothing for most of the people. There was happiness all around. Thousands of East German people travelled to the West every day. For me it wasn’t like I felt free from now on, it was more like a lot of new things happening, new places to discover etc. Especially Berlin as it doubled in size overnight.
B: What do you do enjoy outside of music and techno?
It totally depends on my mood; I am interested in different stuff like science, mathematics, old computers, cars, old video games and so on. I also like meeting and talking to good friends.
B: How do you relax?
I am surrounded by music related stuff all the day so it isn’t easy to relax. Currently, sleeping or just sitting on the couch and/or having coffee with friends and talking is a way to relax for me. I also fee relaxed when I just hang around in Japan.
B: It’s know that your opinion of Techno at the end of the 90’s was that it was “over-used” and “stagnant” can you tell us why this was your opinion?
In my opinion there was the first, I call it “big crash” of the scene in the mid 90’s. You could hear techno out of every car, even some TV commercials and TV jingles used a kind of techno. There were gig raves everywhere and a lot of super cheesy techno-sounding music like “smurf-techno” came up.
After that a lot of things changed. I remember the slogan “back to the clubs”. A lot of new, fresh stuff and labels like surgeon/downwards and all that came up but at the end of the 90’s and early 2000 it seemed to me the euphoria of the early years disappeared. Most of the records sounded random to me. It seemed that the new upcoming music production software made it possible to flood the market with all the up-tempo, percussive, loopy techno that somebody named “schranz” and that really wasn’t 100% my thing. I actually somewhat quit following the whole techno thing. I don’t even remember that many good records from that period, but that’s just my opinion.
B: In recent years, with the help of many budget airlines, Techno has become widely more
accessible throughout Europe. As a result there are a lot more parties, festivals & open airs for weekend partygoers to attend. Do you think this is purely a good thing for the scene?
The world is getting smaller, as they say. I think its good because at the end it helps the scene to “survive”, to “progress” in a way… Everything has two sides. On the one hand a lot more people discover techno and maybe become apart of it (as a producer, DJ, promoter and so on)… on the other hand maybe there will be one day when everything crashes again, because it will be too much. But that is life, everything comes and goes, it’s all too human. If something is too much there are always people who are sick of it and they probably want to do something different, something “against” the hype or the so called “overground”. The music always develops, it’s an evolution. People come up with new
ideas, perhaps thinking about what to do next, what was wrong and hopefully it all starts again with a new concept, new ideas, some new artists with fresh sounds etc. It’s like a correlation between under- and overground.
B: Where would you like to see Techno go in the next 2-5 years?
What should and shouldn’t happen? The party should never end 😉 just kidding; everything should grow slowly and maintain a good, healthy level. I would like to see more people with visions and concepts in their music even if not everybody understands it in the beginning. Of course as a record collector it would be great if vinyl would stay alive. People shouldn’t make such a big sell-out of the current hype around electronic music and then perhaps people wouldn’t copy successful styles and music that much just because of hype and fame or something. This could lead into a next “big crash” and could mean clubs have to close and so on.
B: What is your opinion of EDM?
Honestly, I am not following all that stuff and hype, however if people like it…why not? Maybe that’s the way that they discover electronic music. There are always people who are more interested in music itself and then probably dig deeper into it and discover other, more underground stuff or/and become part of the scene.
B: Are you more hardware or software oriented when writing music & producing music and do you feel restricted in any way?
I use both, but mostly software. I am not the crazy guy collecting hardware; I spend most of the money on records. I don’t have that much hardware but currently I like to use the x0xb0x. In terms of software, I don’t feel restricted as I always try to find way to manipulate sounds with different software. The next step would be some kind of mind controller that could make the sound I have in my
B: K209 is one of your side labels & projects that you and Henning Baer created. K209-3 is our personal favourite record with your track “Emotional State Of Shock” being our favourite track. Can you tell us how you came up with the name K209? and the meaning behind it?
A couple of years ago Henning Baer and I were jamming in the studio and we made a track together. To release it we decided to start a new label, our own label, and I came up with “K209” because it was the room number of the studio were it all started. We also decided to name our back 2 back DJ performance “K209”. That’s how it all began.
B: In 2012 you also started the label “Alien Rain” which focuses on classic 90’a deep, trippy, acid rave tracks. When I listen to most of the records it takes me back to when I would listen to Plastikman. Was he a big influence for you in the 90’s?
I’ve been missing this kind of acid that was played to death during the 90’s. I was really up for playing and producing this sound again. I wouldn’t say that Plastikman is a big influence but he is one of them alongside artists like Emmanuel Top, Damon Wild, Misjah, Mindscape, etc. I just made it in a way I like.
I had the idea of this acid label a couple of years ago; most of the tracks were made at the end of 2010. It was also planned as a temporary project. I played live sets only in 2014. I don’t want play this kind of sound “to death”.
B: Grounded Theory is a monster of a party with line-ups that rival some of the bigger clubs in Berlin. Set inside the dark, industrial, cavernous space that is Stattbad, it really feels like the perfect place for techno parties. Many clubs rose from the ashes of abandoned power stations, banks and other various locations after the fall of the Berlin Wall, can you tell us why Stattbad was chosen to host the Grounded Theory parties?
Grounded Theory is actually an event that Henning Baer and a friend of him are running; I am not involved in all the organisation of the event. I am only the resident DJ since nearly the beginning.
B: Grounded Theory also recently celebrated their 5th birthday in September with Alan Fitzpatrick, Randomer, Acid Maria, Henning Baer and yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about that party?
It was a great party (as always ;-). Unfortunately I couldn’t listen to all the guest DJ’s because, I had played the opening at the Boiler Room floor and then Henning and myself played a back 2 back set at the bunker floor till the morning.
B: Speaking of Boiler Room you played there in 2013 (link). How was that experience?
I really like the Boiler Room thing because I always like watching DJ’s while they are playing. I was really excited about it and a bit nervous because people can see every move, every mistake you are making and they can repeat it at home all the time… You know what I mean? I was thinking about my set the whole week, what records should I play? and so on. It also felt a bit strange ‘cause all of the crowd is behind you so you can’t see how they react to the music you are playing. It’s a bit like playing at home with cameras.
B: You recently played at Dommune in Tokyo, were you surprised at how small the venue was?
I have played there 2 times, I was not really surprised about the size cause a lot of people told me that it’s really small. It’s not really a club it’s more a radio station that gives you the ability to come and dance. It’s a nice place that reminds me of the Boiler Room and I really like the guy Naohiro Ukawa who is doing Dommune; such a nice and funny guy. I remember, when I played there the very first time he was going crazy with some breakdance moves at the end of my set.
B: Musically, what has been the highlight or your career so far?
I’m not sure what I would mention as a highlight… Playing at strange places are mostly highlights. I remember playing in Siberia, I was really sick that week but I really wanted to go there. I was so excited and it was very interesting because I couldn’t imagine that there would be a club with techno music in the middle of nowhere. My “The end of all Existence” performance at the Atonal Festival was also a highlight for me because the location, the video installation and the festival itself were the perfect place for it. The surprising success of my first release and of the Alien Rain project are also highlights to me.
B: Thanks for your time Milton, do you have any last words or shout outs?
You are welcome; it was a pleasure for me. For all the people out there, musically, do what you want to do and what makes you happy!