If you think about the continental-European beat scene, a lot of names come to mind. One of them is fLako – heavy bass, tight samples and incomparable groove mark his productions. The sound design is stamped with perfection. He gained fame through his remixes – in 2008 he delivered the club banger of the year with his Remix for Vortex Cookies on Up My Alley. After growing up in Germany he soon relocated to London and embarked on a journey to new musical realms after the releasing his album †œThe Mesektet† this year.
You have a Chilean background; do you have any musical influences from this country?
fLako: I’m actually proper German, I grew up in Germany, went to school there. My South American influence has everything to do with my dad playing music at home. A lot of Latin music, which inspires me. I still love Salsa and Cumbia and I listen to it a lot. I don’t know if you can hear that influence in my music. I think its still a very big part of who I am musically, that’s for sure.
How did you get into music making?
fLako: I started off with classical guitar lessons, the guitar is my first instrument – that’s also from my dad’s side, he used to play the guitar and I guess I was just interested in this instrument, just from listening to it and seeing my dad play. This is what I properly learned. From that point on I played with bands A bit of a classical road into music. Eventually I discovered Hip Hop one day, just listening to some stuff of my friend’s collection, and I was really interested in that and I really liked it. Obviously something caught me about all the instrumentals, and how samples are chopped up. I always wondered how they did it and tried to find out about it. Doing that I built my knowledge about it and my interest in it.
Was it hard for you to switch from an instrument to making music with samples?
fLako: I think it was a flawless transition really, because I started off first recording my own stuff, tried to get familiar with all the equipment, recording the guitar, some drums and percussion and what not – eventually bringing in elements from the turntable. I left the guitar on the side at some point. But I recently discovered that approach again – singing and songwriting.
So there’s this one song with a male vocal on it, †œI want you† – is this you?
fLako: Yeah, it’s me singing, I really enjoy singing but I was a bit shy with it – so I used another name. Just to have a clear separation between what I do as a producer with instrumental music. So this is another thing for me, another approach.
So Dirg Gerner is you…
fLako: Yes, that’s me. That’s me and I try to bring this to the next level as well.
»I just wanted to express that this is what I did back then and where I am right now is elsewhere.« You are collaborating with yourself…
fLako: Yeah, it’s a bit schizophrenic, isn’t it? (laughs) I’m not a spilt personality. It’s a little bit like MF Doom – the music and the mask. To do music under different names helps a little more to channel outputs. It makes it a bit easier to bring out very personal things in you and not having to that under your real name. I’m still quite shy with that.
So if you sit down in front of your drum computer, what is it that you look for?
fLako: I find it vey hard to answer that question because the approach that I have is finding something that feels right and feels right to my ears. So I guess I naturally take my influences and try to get close to what I know. And obviously I’m a different person to whomever I like. Sometimes I have a track by a certain producer and I’m stunned by the quality of it – that it makes me want to do a similar thing. But I can’t, which is a good thing. Because along the lines I find my own way, my own thing. I always have something in mind – where I want to go. The result is something that happens along the way to that.
You used to work at a film production office as a day job. Did this help you to advance your skills?
fLako: It definitely helped me a lot to understand the technical side of it. I learned how to use compressors and effects on vocals and also working with other people. Recording vocals and music for movies, especially the technical side of it. That was really interesting and helped a lot. Not so much the musical side of it.
So you released the album †œThe Mesektet†. In the press text it said that this release marks the end of an era. What does that mean for you?
fLako: All the music you hear on that album is a couple of years old. And I think that I went farther away from that already. I just wanted to express that this is what I did back then and where I am right now is elsewhere.
There’s also a mythological meaning of †œThe Mesektet† – did you come up with the name?
fLako: Yes, I actually had a chat with Alex Nut – he was was setting up his label called Ho Tep, who is one of the kings in the ancient Egyptian world. That inspired me to read a little bit about it – that’s how I found out about the Mesektet. I liked the idea of reincarnation and inventing yourself again and again on a daily basis.