Damiano von Erckert, born and raised somewhere around Cologne (Germany), currently a resident of Berlin, has been a staple name amongst the proponents and apostles of love-based, feel-good, dance music for nearly a decade. A busy owner of three labels (AVA. Records, DVE Records and Tony Travolta Records), he managed to release such artists (and in some cases friends) as MCDE, Move D, The Egyptian Lover, Prosumer, Hodini, Ron Trent, Mall Grab and, of course, added his own productions to this impressive roster of restless, creative individuals.
4 studio albums, more or less 10 EPs, 3 Boiler Room sets and countless other gigs around the world later, Damiano’s label AVA. just dropped a new EP from his German friend Am Kinem and we are very excited here at Bolting Bits that he agreed to do a mix for our “Mixed by” series and also was keen to answer some questions.
Guten Tag, Damiano. Absolute pleasure to have you here. Thanks a bunch for contributing a mix to our series! How things have been for you lately? And where are you at the moment?
The pleasure is mine! It’s been a good year for me so far with a lot of fine experiences. I spent most of the time djing and working myself into new fields of dance music, finding new records and combining them with the organic dance music I usually play. I’m in Berlin right now. The city surely has an effect on the way I play, it feels right though! You’ve just started your residency at Rinse FM. How this one came along?
Yeah for over a year now -- we’ve just extended it from one to two hours per month. I think Move D and Mall Grab, both AVA.-pals, already had Rinse residencies and that’s how the connection came about. Rinse is doing a great job when it comes to electronic dance music, I’m really happy to be part of that.As far as we gather, you’ve spent quite a bit of time living in different cities like Cologne, London, Bordeaux and Paris. You also played extensively across Europe. If you had to pick one city for living and one for playing/partying, which ones will it be and why?
That’s a tough one. I really enjoyed living in all those places. They’re all quite different. I can’t really say which city I’d pick to live but I really do like Marseille cause it’s warm and by the sea. Rome is also beautiful, but so is Lisboa. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up somewhere on the country side, close to the water. I love Italy and France, so maybe there. For partying I’d say Berlin. Feels like an island of freedom with 24/7 quality and intense partying. No restrictions! Than again, Amsterdam, London and Paris are good places for all other kinds of genres. Thankfully it’s so easy to travel and work all over Europe -- there are really too many nice things to see.
You also had a chance to tour in Japan and Australia. What aspects of being in these faraway countries have you enjoyed the most? Would you say that cultural mindset and how people do/go about parties there differs from European mindset? If so, in which way?
Japan and Australia are both great countries to visit. Japan’s cities are very overwhelming in terms of size and population, it’s crazy how many people are living there in a super organised way. It’s incredible how respectful they treat each other -- at least that’s how it seemed to me. Most of Europe feels much more loose and unorganized. The way they perceive music and the kind of record shops they offer is quite unique. You can find every record in Japan! Australia on the other hand like a second home to me. I have loads of friends there and Melbourne is still one of the places I could imagine to live for a while. People are very humble and relaxed. And it seems like the consciousness about food and culture is on a very high level all over Australia, which I like. There’s also my all time favourite festival called “Inner Varnika”, which is set in the countryside. It’s like a 3 hours car ride away from Melbourne CBD. My agency over there, Bizarro, is a great partner to work with. The people over there appreciate a good party in a very cool way. Everybody should go and experience both countries!
Yeah exactly, at the beginning it was mostly music from the guys in Cologne -- Funkycan, Retrogott, Hodini, Twit One, Murat Tepeli… The label was founded in 2011 and not too long after we also launched our own webshop (www.avarecords.de) and the Bandcamp site. It was never really meant to be vinyl only and since we love the way Bandcamp works, there was no reason not to do it. And it’s going quite well! You can find there everything we ever released, AVA. merch and some of the stuff our friends put out. There’s also more to come! It took us ages to join the streaming game though, we had and still have mixed feelings about it -- but we’ve been uploading everything over the last months and by the end of the year, everything should be up there. Well, I guess you have to move with the times. It just would be nice if it all could work a little more fair. In case you have not heard of UCPS, the User-Centric Payment System Deezer is talking about, I really recommend looking it up. That shit could change a lot. All AVA. records on Spotify: http://bit.ly/avareleases
A bit of both. I always prepare my sets a few days before, having in mind what city and club I’m invited to play. And that’s based on the experience from previous shows in that city. Obviously that’s not always gonna work and therefore the USB stick is a very important back up. All the different places have different vibes, that’s what makes it so much fun actually! In the best case I play all the records I bring, mostly around 40 (which is a cool limitation) and the rest is covered by the stick.
Which clubs/venues, both large and small, left the biggest and lasting impression for you and why? Where would you like to return for another gig or maybe try a venue where you haven’t played yet?
Well, one thing’s for sure: different size, different music. 1.500 people are nice, 20 can be great too. I really love it both. Clubs like Robert Johnson in Offenbach (Germany) are the best for me to play. On a good night it’s filled with people worshipping music, not too much driven by trends and names. And due to its capacity of 300 to 400 people, you can play really hard and stripped back. I must admit, Panorama Bar in Berlin is quite the place for inspiration -- for me as DJ and musician. The Hydra party in London is also a spectacular show, so is the Present Perfect Festival in St. Petersburg.
Let’s talk about the newest EP that came out on AVA. Records. It’s coming from your buddy Am Kinem aka Funkycan and he’s from Neukölln, Berlin right? How would you describe the EP and what’s your favorite track from it? Do you know how long it took for the EP to be finished? If we counted correctly, this is already a 5th release from Am Kinem/Funkycan on your label. Can we assume that it’s more to come from him in the future?
Funkycan’s originally from Wiehl, that’s around the corner from where I grew up. We’re really old buddies. When he did that record, he lived in Neukölln, one room away from the AVA. office. I’d describe it as a typical Am Kinem record: A little weird, a little aggressive, somehow melancholic but funny and definitely not stuffy! It also can been seen as successor to his previous release on AVA. called “Hallo Welt”, which is slightly more dreamy. My favorite track on “Combo Breaker” would be “Come Get Some”. He works super fast, in fact, I think he still can’t safe on his MPC -- so once he starts something, chances are good it’s finished that same night. A lot if it is also recorded directly to tape, which is always great fun for our mastering engineer. He did 4 EPs and one LP on AVA., but he’s also part of a lot of other AVA. releases. Funkycan is busy, man -- he’s also put out stuff on Tax Free Records, Workshop’s Out To Lunch and Beatbude.
And what’s cookin’ in your studio lately? Any releases planned/coming up?
Right now I’m in the studio every day working on new stuff. Some of it sure to be released in early 2020. I’m already trying most of it out when I play -- that’s the best feedback you can get. It’s been a while back since I released my last record and it’s cool to see people asking for new music from the DVE lab.
Describe the mix you made for us in three words.
Love Based Music.
And, finally, could you give us three names of musicians that inspired (or still inspire) you the most? Feel free to share some of their favorite tracks of yours as well.
That’s another tough one. Let me check the last three tracks I played on my telephone:
Thanks ever so much for your time and best of luck in your future endeavours!
Thank you for having me!
Interview by Ramūnas