Prosumer is more that just an artistic moniker for German DJ Achim Brandenberg. The nominative determinative is a way of life for the artist, in which he both produces and consumes media between his creative output and his skill set as a DJ. Very few people can lay claim to the title of Prosumer quite like Brandenberg, who had his start in music amongst the shelves of Berlin’s most famous record store, Hardwax. He understood early in his career the importance of immersing yourself completely in your chosen art form before attempting a career in the desired field, and it’s something that’s carried through to his work as a DJ and producer to this day. He’s esoteric knowledge of music is multi-dimensional and he never limits himself to any era or genre in dance music, catering to broader tastes with his idiosyncratic personality tying each set together.
His DJ work sees him travelling each weekend and while he’s productions are rare, calculated releases, they are great examples of a perfectionist at work. It all stems from a deep-seated appreciation for music and sharing this appreciation with like-minded people. As a result, Prosumer’s music has featured on labels like Playhouse and Running Back, while his skills behind the decks has been well documented by the likes of Fabric’s Mix series. It won’t be the first time he’s visited us in Oslo, and his sets at Jæger in previous years are still talked about today around the water cooler. He’s very much the DJs DJ, with an acute knowledge of the dance floor, which sees him in tune with the atmosphere of the evening, and it always comes as a surprise to find out it stems from a very introverted personality. It makes us all that more curious to find out what drives the man behind Prosumer and so we wasted no time in calling him up at his home in Edinburgh.
Hello Achim, How have you been?
Pretty good. I had a bit of a wild tour and now I’ve got some days off from DJing and I had friends visiting this weekend. This week I’m going back to work, so I have my first gigs Friday and Saturday. Tomorrow I go to London to see Floating Points live and I’m looking forward to that.
His album was so good?
I love the album, and what I’ve heard so far from the live show has been amazing. I think he cannot do anything that is not amazing. Once, when I was playing plastic people we had food before at his house. Sam (Shepard) was cooking, and he got up at six in the morning, to start a BBQ, and it was amazing food. He can never do anything mediocre.
He’s also a neuroscientist if I’m not mistaken?
And he designed an amazing DJ mixer last year too?
Exactly, on the side. (Laughs) He’s a fabulous producer and DJ and he’s ten years younger than me. He makes me look bad in front of my parents! (Laughs)
How long have you lived in Edinburgh?
It’s been three years now.
So you’re quite settled?
Right now it feels great and I don’t see a reason for moving in the future. The thing is the balance I get here, that I don’t get in Berlin anymore. It takes me 20 minutes to get to the airport. I live in the city centre, but it’s quiet like somewhere in the countryside. It’s just perfect.
When I think of Edinburgh I immediately think of the Edinburgh festival. Comparing the creativity, are you influenced any differently in Edinburgh in relation to Berlin?
It’s much smaller than Berlin, but I wouldn’t have lived in Berlin for 15 years if I didn’t enjoy the grittiness of it, and Edinburgh has a bit of that, but differently. It’s a very creative city. Look at the output of firecracker records – what Lindsay is doing there and the guys releasing music on the label. It’s a creative city for the area I’m working in and not just for the Edinburgh festival and comedy.
Your name Prosumer, which is about producing music as you consume it. Has the idea behind that changed at all after Berlin?
I haven’t thought about it at all. I don’t have much time for producing nowadays. I’m a terribly slow person. What takes me the most time, is basically being able to take a step back. I need to have the feeling that I’ve had enough time to think about stuff, and to be honest; I don’t have that at the moment. Making music is always an expression of your self and for me the big thing is always wondering, is there something that only has a meaning for me, or is it something that has the potential to be out there. So I always wonder, does it only make sense in my head, and then I need the distance and I don’t get that as much.
Do you find yourself more active /creative when working with other people then, like you’ve done in the past with Murat Tepeli and Tama Sumo in the past?
No. Of course it’s inspiring to work with others. I think it pushes me to bypass what I just described, the thing that only makes sense in my head. It is already filtered, because I worked with somebody else on it, so that makes it easier to put stuff out.
So, for you it’s important to makes something that’s not only for yourself, but will bring others enjoyment too?
Sometimes you have this thing where your head gets really really excited about something and then you find out that everybody knows about it already, and it totally blows your mind, because to you it’s new, but to everybody else it’s like whatever. It’s maybe a bit like that. God, it sounds horrible, how complicated am I (laughs). Is it about not embarrassing myself? I don’t know. It’s something like that. Is it in my head or is it a thing.
And is it the same for you when you DJ, because I’ve heard you describe yourself in other interviews as an introvert when it comes to playing music?
I’m still terrified when I DJ, but the thing is it’s music of others. It’s easier for me to trust that, because it’s music that moves me, otherwise I wouldn’t play it. I think it has the potential to do the same thing for other people, so it’s much easier. I don’t second-guess that as much as I second-guess my own production.
Is DJing essentially a way then for you to communicate directly with the audience as an introverted personality?
Lindsay from Firecracker, he describes DJing as being a bit like the Wizard of Oz. So, it’s all smoke and mirrors and, in a way, it is like that. With playing the music I love it is a very personal thing and it is a very intimate thing, and I have this smoke and mirrors in front of me, but I can communicate with the audience indirectly.
It’s more of a feeling that you communicate.
Yes, you resonate with the music and ideally others do as well. The same thing that makes you smile in a record will make somebody else smile on the dance floor.
Another thing that came across in other interviews is that you have a penchant for guilty pleasures, like karaoke, pub quizzes and most importantly deep fried Mars bars.
O, that’s what everybody refers to as typical Scottish cuisine, which is a bit insulting, because we definitely have better food than that. Deep fried Mars bars, I’ve had twice in my life. One time I had it and I thought it was amazing. I was drunk and it was the best thing ever because it was greasy and sweet. And then I had it sober, and I’d have to say, I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Have you ever seen a Scottish person eat one?
I have, but definitely not when they were sober.
Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to music at the moment?
I just had visitors and my friend started humming a song. It took us two days to figure out what it was. The three of us were signing along, humming along to some apps on the phone to find out what it was, and couldn’t for a day and a half. It’s a song from 1968 and the band is called, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch. The song is called “Legend Of Xanadu”.
Wow, that’s quite a title. Do you ever sneak stuff like that into your DJ sets?
I wouldn’t with that track. Yesterday we were joking about it, because there’s one sound in there, a bit like a metallic whip. It’s a very unusual sound that is actually quite interesting, but I probably wouldn’t go as far to sample it and use it in a way. It depends on the night, but there is stuff I throw in that might seem a bit silly.
Do you prepare your sets like that, or does it all just happen in the moment for you?
Sometimes I have an idea of what could happen, but usually that’s over-thrown by a million factors. Of course, since I don’t have all my record collection with me, it is a preplanned in a way, but in my bag there’s always ten records where I will know it’s very very unlikely that they will get played, but if I get to some point where I could get away with playing them, it could be fun.
Do you have any set ideas for your upcoming set at Jæger, any records that you’d like to play?
I spent three weeks at home and I was listening to new records, but also going through some old stuff, so a pile has been building up here of stuff that I hadn’t played yet, or haven’t played for a while. I think some of those will definitely survive in the bag until I go to Norway. I remember the club being intimate and dark, and gives me some idea of what to play.