Subjected is the Berlin-based artist responsible for the label Vault Series. Since establishing the label in 2010, he and his partners, Sawlin and Mørbeck, have been operating with their heads down, with the notion that the quality of the music is more important than the personas of those that create it.
As an artist, Subjected has become well-versed in the art of production, DJing and live improvisation. With releases on Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe, Oscar Mulero’s Warm Up Recordings, and Prosthetic Pressings among others, Vault Series has been Subjected main outlet over the years to release his own material.
In the lead up to his debut Australian tour, Subjected chats to Bunker about his recent Boiler Room set, the future of electronic music, and of course his label, Vault Series.
B. We saw that you played at the Boiler Room in Berlin recently. How did your set go? How do you usually prepare for a set like this, knowing that it’s going to be recorded and watched by people long after the event has past?
It went all well. It is always something special for me, when I play in front of a camera. Two weeks ago I played for be-at.tv (it is the same idea like Boiler Room). Honestly I was more nervous there, because it was my first live stream ever.
When I’m preparing a set, I think about my opening track and I always make a playlist in Dropbox and copy it to my USB. That’s it.
B. On Vault Series’ Soundcloud, the description reads “Vault Series and the artists don’t care about a biographie or big discographie. What are letters, signs and words, when the records and the productions speak their own language.” This is a really great principle to direct the project by letting the music do the talking. Do you think with the power of the internet and social media, that there is too much noise surrounding artists and their releases?
Man, this description is really old and it’s still true. But the power of the internet changed. When I was writing this more than 6 years ago I was more into underground and I only wanted to focus on music and nothing else. I didn’t want to write a bio, take some pictures and stuff like that. But time changed me. When you play for Boiler Room with the live stream, or you play for Awakenings with a lot of it’s own photographers, or even if you work for a bigger label with a pushing promotion agency, you can’t have the underground attitude anymore, you have to go a step further. You can’t say please don’t film me or make pictures of me, the whole concept of this will not work. This is a result of the evolution of the internet. And I think it’s good for me as an artist. To focus more on music and keep my feet on the ground is still my main goal, I’m doing it now but in another way.
Since 2010, Vault Series has been an outlet for Sawlin, Mørbeck and yourself to release music on, but recently the label has branched out with releases from other artists. When and why did you make the decision to do this?
The structures of Vault Series changed, because the original acts wanted to go their own way. That was good to me. So, I had the chance to open it a little bit to new, fresh artists. And now I’m very happy with the recent roster – Mistake Made, Andrejko, Sawlin and Escape to Mars. It’s always fun and a pleasure to work with them.
B. Can you tell us a bit about Vault Series live? You and Sawlin played your first set under this moniker in 2010 and have since played a few other events over the years, but it seems like it’s on very rare occasions! Are you two still working on your live show together or are you focusing on your solo sets more?
We played a few Vault Series live acts in the past because the promoters wanted only this live act. This was caused by the label’s philosophy back in the day. It was all a little bit shadowy. Later on we did some Sawlin & Subjected live shows, but these shows were very special and very rare. We are focusing on solo sets now because we’re still going our own way. And honestly, I’m more a DJ than a live act. But we don’t know what the future brings, maybe we will work on some shows together in the future.
B. In 2015 alone, you pumped out 4 EPs on 4 different labels! Other than your own, you’ve released on labels like Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe, and Oscar Mulero’s Warm Up Recordings. How do you approach producing for these labels?
From all of the EPs, I only had 2 tracks in mind for Vault Series, because producing for these labels was more about doing program music. When I confirmed every release I focused more on the style of the label itself, but with the typical Subjected mood.
B. Growing up in the Hellersdorf district of Berlin during the 90s, you would’ve witnessed the wave of techno that hit Berlin after the fall of the Wall. Do you remember when and where you were the first time you heard techno and what your reaction was?
When I was eleven years old I heard Westbam’s LP Bam Bam Bam. It was my very first contact with “techno”. Every time when I listened to tracks like “Wizards of Sonic” and “Celebration Generation,” I got goosebumps. EVERY TIME. I’ve never had this before with music and my religion teacher told me, when you have goosebumps from music, it is the music made from the devil, but I didn’t believe her. So I got connected to this music. 2 years later I was listening to Radio Fritz regularly, with it’s techno streams from techno festivals on the weekend and it’s weekly radio shows by Paul van Dyk and Marusha.
B. Electronic music globally is growing at a rapid pace, with the exploration of techno constantly evolving and birthing new styles. Especially as a live artist, where you can go off in so many different directions; what are you most excited about for the future of electronic music?
I really like what’s going on. But in my opinion it’s really hard to bring something new, everything is being repeated within 10 years. This is a problem of music in general, you can’t do something completely new because everything what you can imagine already exists. It’s like reinvent the wheel. For me I’m more excited about the evolution of the facilities of producing music. My goal for the future is a complete modular system, for producing stand-alone tracks.
B. If you had to describe techno music to your great-great grandmother, how would you do it?
You will not like it. It’s monotone, it’s dark, and the synths are sounding faulty.
B. Finally, later this month will be your Australian tour! What are you looking forward to most?
I’ve never been to Australia. Everything I know is from TV or other media. I honestly wanted to go surfing. I’ve never done this before, I only do windsurfing. But when I’m in Australia it will be winter, so my chance of going to the beach is low. I will only spend 5 days there, so my schedule might be tight. If I had more days, I definitely want to do some tourist stuff, taking a photo of a wallaby and going diving.
Watch Subjected’s set for Boiler Room earlier this month!
1. What track of yours are you most proud of? untitled 1 & untitled 2 (upcoming VAULT020), FMRA on ARTS, SHIFT on Warm UP
2. What was the first vinyl/CD/tape that you bought? Rok – Defender (2×12”) & Ellen Allien – Stadtkind (2×12”)
3. What was the name of the venue where you had your first gig? Distillery Leipzig
4. What was the first piece of equipment you bought? 2 x Technics MKII in 2001
5. What’s the longest set you’ve played? I don´t know. Maybe Stattbad closing 6h or Tresor closing app. 6h