Purple Disco Machine has simply been a phenomenon over the last 5 years. After exploding onto the scene in 2013 with ‘My House’, a perfect example of ‘Deep Funk’ which spread around the world like wildfire, PDM has been busy touring, whilst still finding to collaborate with some of the most acclaimed musicians of the last few decades.
Here, we chatted to him about how he fell in love with the Funk and Soul tunes that formed the basis of ‘Deep Funk’, his experiences growing up listening to illegal techno in East Germany, and what convinced him to collaborate with Gorillaz.
You were born and grew up in Dresden – what was the music scene like in East Germany back then?
Growing up in Dresden wasn't that bad. We had a bunch of illegal Techno parties back in the 90s, where I had my first club experience. I was 17 or 18. The actual nightclub wasn't an option for me then because I always got rejected by the bouncers even though I was 18! Even when I was 19 or 20 I looked like a little 16 year old boy LOL.
Did your parents influence your taste in music growing up?
Absolutely. My father collected vinyl from when I was a little kid and I grew up with classic 70’s & 80’s UK rock & pop music like Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, or Pink Floyd. I soon developed a fascination for vinyl and especially old soul & funk records. I then started to collect vinyl seriously – but I also bought CDs as well if I could not find the 7” or 12” vinyl version. I just had to have the track!
You’ve said that your favourite decade of music is the 80s - who inspired you most from that time?
For me the 80’s wasn’t just about the great music, it was everything. The clothes, the movies … I loved watching 80’s TV series like Knight Rider or The A-Team. Even today when I need something to chill out to, I watch old movies from the 80’s.
When you were younger you worked in a record store and this paved the way for your career in music. How did working in a record store help you in your pursuit to making music?
A friend of mine owned the record store and I was working there for a while. I spent my entire salary on vinyl records. I was literally my best client! For me that decade was the best to help me learn more about the music scene and how everything worked behind the scenes. Publishing, sales … and I was always up to date and got the freshest best promos first. This was really important in a small city like Dresden.
Since you began making music you’ve been one of the key pioneers of ‘Deep Funk’ - how would you describe ‘Deep Funk’ to those who may have not heard of the genre?
It’s been a long long journey with plenty of ups and downs. When I started making music 15 years ago it wasn't that easy compared to today. I knew what kind of music I wanted to do but I had no idea how I could produce it. I started with sampling the old vinyl records from my father and it sounded atrocious!
It took me a while to understand how a synth and a sampler worked. But I was never tired of making music, and even today I spend my studio days with that same smile on my face. When I get that special idea for a track or a remix, I start dancing and clapping like a little kid. (Fortunately I don’t have a live cam in my studio. ;))
Your career really stepped up to the next level after you released ‘My House’ on OFF Recordings in 2013. Did you know you had such a huge hit on your hands when you were recording the track, or were you surprised by how much people loved it?
I had this sample idea in my head for years but I never tried to work on it. One night I searching for an idea for my new EP and I found that sample on my Hard-drive. It took me 4 hours to finish the song, and from that night I knew ‘this could be big’.
I played the demo track the next weekend and it was the tune of the night. People came up to me asking for the name of the track. Even after 4 years this track is really special for me and it was absolutely a door opener. But to be honest I never expected this kind of success. After 10 years of making music you become kind of disillusioned about becoming the next big DJ who is travelling around the world - but it happened and I am still living the dream I guess.
Recently you’ve been remixing tracks for artists from quite different genres like New Order and Two-Door Cinema Club. Have you been consciously trying to branch out, or is working with those guys just something that happened?
Over the last 2 years I have gotten so many remix requests every week and sometimes it is hard to say no. But I did remixes in the past 12 months really just for those artist that I really love and respect – such as New Order, Two Door Cinema Club, Jamiroquai, and Gorillaz. I need this special connection either to the song or to the artist. Otherwise I’m not sure I could do something good.
Your latest remix of Gorillaz’s ‘Andromeda’ has now hit over 1.7m plays on YouTube alone (congrats!) - how did you come about remixing that track?
My management got this request and before I even listened to the song or got the offer I said yes. Remixing these kinds of bands is an absolute no-brainer. They are legends. The allure for me is to grab songs from a different genre and create something new. That’s what I did with the Gorillaz. I just took the acapella and created a new track around.
Who are you particularly excited to be seeing at this year’s 51st State Festival?
These kind of festivals are always something special for me because you meet a lot of DJ friends and colleagues, and you can also explore new artists, or artists you absolutely love to see live. I’ve never seen a set by ‘The Reflex’ but I love his Disco Edits. Masters At Work are also a must see at the festival. Seems I’ll have a busy schedule!
What’s next for Purple Disco Machine in 2017?
I just finished my album and it’s coming out at the end of the summer on Sweat It Out Records. It has been such a long and exciting journey but now I’m so happy and can’t wait to see if the people will like it. The album was the perfect platform to play with the whole Disco genre.
Finally, what (apart from playing 51st State!) are you most looking forward to this summer?
Definitely Ibiza. It has become like a second home for me since I stayed there with my family last summer. This year will be even more busy because I’m playing Pacha, Glitterbox, and Ocean Beach. It’s going be another amazing summer on the White Isle.