Strictly Underground with Didier Dlb

Can an underground truly still exist in the age of the internet and social media? With everything available at a swipe of a screen, there’s very little left to be discovered and that extends from information, to the clandestine acts of governments all the way to culture and music. What used to be the coveted secret of a few has become common knowledge and what became of Techno, its artists and its DJs was a familiarity and popularity that extends way beyond its origins. Few are still able to honour its underground roots with the likes of Ben Klock and Dixon becoming common household names, but even in Berlin there still exists pockets of a community, the clubs, the artists and DJs that embody that original spirit of the underground movement that started it all.

Tim Brüggemann is such a figure and whether he’s DJing under the alias Didier Dlb; producing as one half of Turmspringer with Robert Gallic; running the label Compute Music; or hosting is legendary 5vor12 nights at Golden Gate, he is one of the few figures that maintain that ideology, an ideology that he he’s carried with him all over the world, with its roots in Berlin where he’s been propagating it since the 1990’s.

At 45 today, Brüggermann is an elder statesman for the scene, but he’s been and remained an immovable figure on the scene. Starting out in the world of Funk, playing all manner of events, he found a calling in Techno in the mid-nineties and established the Didier Dlb moniker. A fortuitous meeting with Robert Gallic set him on the path to production as Turmspringer, while in the early 2000’s he became a significant figure at Golden Gate, establishing his 5vor12 after-parties some 15 years ago, which to this day are spoken of in revered, hushed tones all around the world. He remains a prolific observer of the underground, and is able to travel the world, spreading its gospel through his selections and his sets, wherever those might take him.

He continues to produce, DJ and host events and has cultivated an established  career from his home in Berlin. As Golden Gate’s popularity keeps growing and Didier Dlb and Turmspringer continues finding new audiences, he remains grounded in the scene that started it all, the last exemplar of an ever-diminishing underground. We caught up with the DJ, artist and label boss when he stopped off at Jæger last week for Mandagsklubben for a Q&A session and he shared significant insights in the underground and the industry through his experience. 

Hello Tim, how was your night at Jæger?

It was good, though not many peeps showed up, but we could eventually get them all together.

Was there a track in your set that you felt particularly captured the feeling of the night?

Not particularly, but the people went really well with the Tech House part of my set.

You’re career stretches all the way back to the 1990’s in Düsseldorf, and playing a venue like Jæger on a Monday night must seem an entire world away. How have you seen the scene evolve and what is that integral consistency that’s remained in your opinion?

As I said, it wasn’t as packed as when I played there last about  a year ago, back then I was downstairs and probably represented the Oslo scene at its best.

Is it true that you started out playing funk? How did you arrive at electronic music?

Well without funk there wouldn’t be any good Techno nowadays I believe. I got infected with the Acid House scene right away, went to Berlin in 1995 after a year in New Zealand, and from 1999 I started playing Techno.

You can certainly hear a degree of funk in your production work. What do you think it adds to the music that’s unique to you?

I am a bad musician, everything starts with a sample, that actually dictates the harmony.

What inspired your initial move to Berlin and how do you think it’s affected your career?

The narrow minded scene at Düsseldorf and my stay in Auckland probably. Though I have basically played with all the big boys out there in the biz, I never had a career like theirs. I am making a living from it and can say I strictly stayed underground if such term exists today.

Berlin is the epicentre of electronic music today. As person that’s always been there working in the underground how have you appreciated or regretted the scene’s rising prominence?

I appreciate that the city brought me out to pretty much all the continents besides South America as being a part of the underground scene that everybody wanted to get involved with.

But I regret telling everyone about it , but hey nothing stays the same … I am ready for another City … so please tell me…

Golden Gate has been an immovable presence in Berlin all this time and you’ve played  significant part there both as Didier Dlb and Turmspringer. How would you describe the venue to the uninitiated?  

Well it’s a bit of how it was back then, free without attitude.

There are a few people I know  from Oslo that make Golden Gate the only stop on their trip to Berlin. What do you think is the crux of its appeal, setting it apart from other Berlin clubbing institutions?

The family vibe , our door policy maybe …

Your 5vor12 night there is in its 15th year and is spoken of in revered tones. What is the night all about and what does it usually sound like?

Well I guess it was the start for Golden Gate as a “ Techno Club”. I first tried Friday Nights inviting the local heroes in 2003, but it simply wouldn’t work out that way and I also wanted to present myself to the scene and got tired of paying money on other djs. At the time I was still playing Funk stuff mostly for the film industry, and even weddings. So we started the afterhours simply because nobody did that at the time. A close friend was working at Ostgut and he would promote our parties, without him, I believe Golden Gate would be very different place today. It was the time when Ostgut closed and a lot of party peeps where basically on the streets homeless and made the Golden Gate their new home, a living room of sorts.

Do you have a preference between production and DJing and how do they influence each other in your experience?

Well as a dj you should know the structure of a Techno track but from the finished track to actually putting it out is a long long time; it took me almost 10 years. The track that Robert (Gallic)  and I did on his album for Jazzanova in 2002, was only the guy with the idea, which Robert made into a track. I think they are two very different things; there are a lot good producers that are shit djs and the other way around, I would consider myself in the second group of people.

How does it compare working in the studio alone and with Turmspringer?

Well it’s very different, Turmspringer has two minds, opinions, feelings  towards the result.

Can you tell us a bit about your label Compute Music?

Well Robert started tonkind in 2005 and I joined it for our first releases as Turmspringer but tonkind was his baby from the start and I was into partying too much, getting to know the people just getting involved somehow. Compute was launched in 2015 when I was 42 years old and the reason was all the good producers around me having the same problem; a lot of tracks but no idea how to get it out there. The big labels closed their doors many years ago, it’s a hierarchy you won’t get in to.

For example after our first release on Get Physical we joined the agency for 5 years without a single gig. Promoters just wanted DJ T & M.A.N.D.Y, cause that’s how it works pretty much in all the big cities. I had a funny experience last year on my little Mexico tour. I asked the promoter what kind of music the people of Tulum are into and he proudly replied I shouldn’t be bothered; he is doing parties with Dixon & Solomun. I just thought the easiest way to make a successful party is to book Dixon (if you get him of course ) but basically you just need money. What’s much more difficult is to sell a nobody to the people, particular in parts of the world where there was no underground and Techno directly became mainstream thing.  

The label’s focus is clearly on the dance floor and computer music of course, but what else do you look for in music and artists for the label?

The focus for Compute Music is not just on the dancefloor, nor on any  particular style.

Is there anything your really excited about in the label’s near future you are eager share with us?

Well I am working on my album right now, it is a collection of tracks I did over the past 15 years and it will be a not for the dancefloor at all.

And that’s all the questions we have Didier. Thank you for visiting us and until next time, can you play us out with a song?

I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she would meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man
No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
I saw her today at the reception
A glass of wine in her hand
I knew she was gonna meet her connection
At her feet was her footloose man
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need
But I went down to the demonstration
To get your fair share of abuse
Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
If we don’t we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse”