Bastian Volker or less formally as Baaz was born and raised in the South of Germany and now resides in Berlin. From a more sleepy hollow and picturesque background showing interest in Hip Hop at an early age, Baaz now works and plays in Berlin producing and djing Deep House music playing at clubs including Club Der Visionare, Suicide Circus and Weekend. Baaz and his basic groove house style has caught the attention of labels including Quintessentials, Sthlmaudio run by Agnes and Elevate run by Dan Bell.
Early next year we will be greeted with Baaz’s first artist album on Sthlmaudio Recordings presenting all the emotions and ideas that underpin an artist learning and growing without being influenced too much by the city he resides in.
Keep It Deep caught up with the German Producer pre-Christmas for a chat and also have a podcast presented by the artist to accompany the interview.
KID – Bastian going back to the start of things, can you tell me about growing up as a child in south Germany ?
BAAZ – I grew up in a little village with around 2000 inhabitants. It is surrounded by vineyards, woods, lakes and there is a huge scary nuclear power plant close by – no joke.
Well, it was nice to live there as a child at least.
KID – what did you like doing and found interesting whilst growing up?
BAAZ – I liked hanging out with friends, skateboarding, playing basketball, being outside amongst nature and things like that. Besides that, everybody was looked forward to getting their driver’s license. It wasn’t easy to make weekend plans without a friend in your group who was a little older and felt ok to be the driver for the whole crew.
KID – Growing up did you play any instruments?
BAAZ – I learnt to read music at elementary school but actually I forgot everything later on. My parents tried their best to enthuse me to learn an instrument but I wasn’t interested at all. Unfortunately skateboarding and hanging out with friends was more important for me at that time. Some months ago I bought a book about learning to play the keyboard. At the moment it’s just enough for some typical minor deep house chords but I really want to learn a lot more! My plan is to take lessons very soon in the new year.
KID – You found hip hop quite early on, what was the scene like back then in Germany for hip hop and was there any stand out albums or artists you can remember?
BAAZ – Besides some classic German hip hop bands, I listened to quite a lot of music from Jurassic 5, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock and Wu Tang Clan. A really important information source for good American hip hop was Yo Raps! on MTV. I absorbed this television show and remember searching for the 36 Chambers LP by Wu Tang Clan for weeks.
Actually I didn’t know the music on the album except maybe one or two songs but somehow I knew I would love that album. I can exactly remember the feeling as I finally found the album in a record shop in the next big city to my village.
It accompanied me for a very long time!
KID – How did you discover house music and which labels artists albums influenced you?
BAAZ – My first girlfriend was responsible for discovering house music. She already went to clubs with just a house or techno line up. I didn’t know anything about this kind of music at all. I thought no, that’s not my world!
At that time the Homework lp from Daft Punk was really hot. She listened to this album all day long. In the beginning it was so exhausting for me but after a while, I started to like it more and more and my interest in this kind of music became bigger and bigger. The first few labels I discovered were Glasgow Underground, Henry Street and Strictly Rhythm for example.
When I was around 15/16 years old every third Saturday I took the train to the next big city (40 miles away) to go to a little record shop. I remember that the shop owner was extremely arrogant towards me however I found some really good stuff there, so I had to go. Two years later the shop closed.
KID – What clubs and parties did you go to and how did they affect you?
BAAZ – The most important and inspiring club was definitely the Stammheim in the city of Kassel. A lot of international artists played there and was around 150 miles away from my village, me and my friends we constantly went there for well over five years. This place had a big dance floor with house and techno on separate floors and there was a huge chill out area. I remember the chill out area being a medium space with couches, beds and chill out djs and live acts. The club booked acts like Nightmares on Wax or Super Collider just for this room and they played there on Sunday mornings! Every few weeks the club changed the decoration also which was interesting, I can remember a little waterfall in the chill out area, for example they got so much love for the detail. It was just amazing and this chill out area was also a bridge from hip hop to house and techno music for me and my friends. Back in the 90’s the hip hop, techno and house scene was much more separated in Germany in comparison to today but in this chill out room nobody cared, everything became one. The djs played downbeat, bossa nova, house, and also ambient. I really miss such nightclub places in our present climate.
KID – Can you remember your first gig?
BAAZ – If I remember correctly, it was a new years eve party. We rented a little basement room somewhere in the countryside. I played records from labels like Djax, Up Beats, Tresor Records and some early Perlon releases, I can remember my mixing was horrible!
KID – You now live in Berlin, what made you move there?
BAAZ – I felt so far away from the music scene, except for two or three friends nobody shared my passion for good house music. Quite often I felt misunderstood, on one side it was good to develop my own ideas without direct influences but on the other side I was totally missing going out to house music parties, good concerts or the music socializing that goes with it, another point was also a new job offer.
KID – You now live in Berlin how are you finding it?
BAAZ – It is amazing!
It took almost a year till I got used to the big city life but now I feel quite at home here. Iron Curtis is living next door in the same apartments, the Retreat Posse live around the corner, good friends are not far away. There are a lot of good options to listen to underground music of every description and the Hardwax shop is 10 min away by bike.
KID – Where do you play out in Berlin or would recommend?
BAAZ – I play regularly at the Deep In The Box party from Barbara Preisinger through the summertime at Club Der Visionäre or sometimes in clubs like the Weekend or the Suicide Circus but on the whole I play not so often out in Berlin. My favorite club at the moment is the About Blank in Friedrichshain. it used to be a nursery! The atmosphere feels cozy and warm and the crowd is really alternative. Also they have a huge garden, which is perfect for the summer and Sunday parties.
KID – Have you ever been to Detroit, Chicago, New York, these cities that influence your music?
BAAZ – Two years ago I played in Brooklyn and after the gig I had three days to explore the city a little more. The city really caught me as I felt hypnotised all the time I was there. I got such a good energy there. Fortunately a friend of mine showed me some spots like Williamsburg or the Dope Jams record shop besides the typical sights. I really love New York! But I haven’t been to Detroit or Chicago yet.
KID – You had your early releases on Sthlm Audio and Quintessentials how did they come about?
BAAZ – In 2006 I was in contact with Agnes from Sthlm Recordings. He was really nice and seemed quite open to listening to my demos but he didn’t take the first ones. Two years later I sent him another demo pack and on the next day I had an offer for a 12” in my inbox. I was so lucky about that ! Today we are good friends. The contact with Quintessentials happened around one year later. They asked me to send them some music stuff and they liked it.
KID – Can you describe your sound?
BAAZ – My sound It’s a mix of old classic house music elements and some newer ideas. It’s also simple without much melody. I give a lot attention to the rhythm framework It is all about a good groove. When I hear my music, hmm I don’t know. I lack a bit of distance to describe it. It’s hard for me to switch off my critical ear. I think other people could do that job better.
KID – Your music instantly received positive feedback from artists and press how did this make you feel?
BAAZ – Happy!
KID – Your music has a very distinct sound signature which is very warm, can you explain your studio set up and what hardware and software you use?
BAAZ – I have two Roland and one Waldorf hardware synthesizer. I am really into these pieces of hardware. I also have some old Korg drum computers and an old Yamaha mixer. All this and a lot of software also including some Native instruments or Spectrasonics VSTs are amazing. Wavlab for cutting things and Ableton as sequencer.
KID – Which artists and labels are inspiring you at the moment?
BAAZ – I listen to quite a lot of experimental hip hop stuff from artists like OL, B.Bravo, Tom Trago, Grooveman Spot and Flying Lotus. For me this kind of music is the resumption to the old groovy mid 90’s hip hop stuff that I was talking about in your earlier questions. It’s so fresh, good music!!
I also like music from Hyperdub or the Rush Hour camp a lot at the moment. It is like a style mix from Dubstep, quality techno/house and hip hop music for me. It’s really inspiring and exciting and of course music from labels like Deep Explorer or artists like Theo Parrish, Soulphiction or Kai Alce for example.
KID – Are you working on an Baaz album?
BAAZ – Yeah, there is something in progress for Sthlmaudio Recordings but there is no release date yet. I think it will be released next year around spring time maybe. The music is totally different to my house stuff. It’s a mix of ambient, hip hop and dub music and I also added some collaboration tracks with good friends and I’m thinking about a project name for it but I’m not sure about it yet let’s see.
KID – What will you release over the next few month?
BAAZ – I have an ep for a new label run by Barbara Preisinger (Scape) is coming up very soon. The label is called S.O.L. (slices of life). We’ve just finished the mastering and the release date is probably early February.
KID – Winter and Christmas in Berlin, what will you get up to?
BAAZ – I love to be at home, making music, hanging out with my girlfriend and friends, cooking, eating,
sleeping. I really don’t like the dark time of the year. Especially in Berlin everything seems extra dark which I still have to get used to it.
KID - Do you have any new year resolutions?
BAAZ – My new year resolutions are to quit smoking and drinking alcohol, and to try getting some muscles, eating just organic food, and getting a personal trainer for all this stuff maybe!
My real plan is to work out a live-set and see what happens,
Thank you for the interview.
K / D – BAAZ IN TO DEEP PODCAST 003
The third feature on Keep It Deep Baaz In To Deep and Baaz has also provided a podcast to accompany the feature interview so the geeky, the great and the down right inquisitive, can enjoy and dance to the featured artist at their best! More details below:
The Attendants Making Pretty Faces
Ron Trent Time
Various Music Institute 20th Anniversary
Point G Headache
The Collective Movement
Mood 2 Swing Do It Your Way
Paul Johnson Tikkle Me
Kai Alce Ooohhh! (Dubbyman Rmx)
Dj Minx Essential
Anthoney & Marc Kichen The Feeling
Specter Making Me Feel
Jeff Pilon Level 7
Demarkus Lewis I Don’t Need