There is something about Sascha Funke that really gets our gears fired up. Following the release of his recent “Acatenango” EP on You And Your Hippie Friends, we connect with the German virtuoso covering casual car drives with Rebolledo, his connection to the Hippie Dance crew and summers in France, next to him carving out a characterful and eclectic mix.

Sascha Funke is one of the most exciting and influential non-singlet music producers walking the face of the planet right now. We’re calling it. An unmistakable creative character with a penchant for hypnotic lines, bright colors and well structured soundscapes to take your mind off the daily minutiae or, even better so, to bring you some hand-in-the-air euphoria during your weekend. Over the course of his 20-year running career, the Berlin native has carved out a strong legacy that travels far beyond the reaches of contemporary electronic music.

From complex minimalism and spaced-out ethereal soundscapes to multi-layered musical atmospheres, the diversity of Sascha’s discography is comprehensive to say the least and immediately apparent after a casual stroll into his back catalog. Between a multitude of iconic releases on record labels like Multi Culti, Endless Flight, Kompakt Records and Turbo Recordings, his traversing amalgamation of experimental electronica doesn’t stay singular for a moment and dissolves into tangible imagery with an exuberant amount of flair.

With Sascha just adding some serious weight to this already strong legacy with the release of his Acatenango” EP on Hippie Dance‘s sister label You And Your Hippie Friends, the Berlin-based producer showcases that amalgamation to pin point perfection. The package travels through a full range of colorful soundscapes, laser-sharp synth arrangements and hypnotic weirdness over the course of three carefully structured compositions and has already been picked up by a wide array of highly lauded tastemakers.

In our eyes one of the most versatile and exciting acts out there, both in the studio department and his DJ performances, and one that we’re more than excited about to welcome into our Straight Forward series, as we talk about his recently released EP on You And Your Hippie Friends, casual car drives with Rebolledo, his connection to the Hippie Dance crew, and summers in France with his wife Julienne. Next to him assembling a characterful and eclectic mix ranging from 90’s party anthems to upcoming Sascha Funke material.

Photographer: Marco Dos Santos

Photographer: Marco Dos Santos

Welcome Sascha, good having you here! First off the usual icebreaker – how have you been and what did your day look like today?

As you may know, I am a big football fan. So my daily routine at the moment kind of revolves around the World Cup. I am trying to watch as many games as possible, in between working in the studio and playing with my little son after he comes back from the kindergarten.

Your first offering in 2018 has just hit the selves via Hippie Dance’s sister label You And Your Hippie Friends. Titled “Acatenango”, the EP heralds the release of your first original material in over a year. What have your been up to in the meantime?

I released an album called „Lotos Land“ on Endless Flight in June last year. And a remix EP for the album came out in February this year featuring Tolouse Low Trax, Dreems, Tuff City Kids and Junto Club. Since then i’ve worked on my EP Acatenango and on various remixes for Dreems (came out in December last year), Tuff City Kids, Sebastopol, Strapontin and Mijo & Local Suicide – all to come out in the next few months.

The package draws a very diverse painting of sounds over the course of three tracks, whilst still sounding extremely attached to each other. Tell us a little about that composition of influences and their origins.

The first track called Aggravate was been made at the beginning of 2017. In my opinion it still has the vibe of my previous record on Turbo Recordings and I used most of the same equipment. The basic idea behind the track Acatenango was to create a dialogue between two very opposite kind of sounds. On one side a very classic MS20 sawtooth and on the other side these weird flutes sampled from an old record. Finally for Surumu, I went into a kind of breakbeat direction with the classic rave signal which I loved so much when I started listening to techno back in 92.

Although this is your first release on You And Your Hippie Friends, the release’s press sheet, written by Rebolledo, draws a very colorful and longstanding friendship between you and the Hippie Dance crew. How did you guys get affiliated?

Rebolledo and I met the first time almost ten years ago when he used to live in Cologne at Superpitcher’s place. Whenever Julienne (aka Fantastic Twins) and I came to Cologne, the four of us would hang out together all the time. And every time we were on tour in Mexico, we’d spend time at Rebolledo’s house in Pitaya together with his family. So it’s been a longstanding friendship indeed. Soon after they started, Julienne joined the label and released some of her music there so the connection became even tighter. Plus, Rebolledo has always been very supportive of my music, playing all my demos in his sets. So I feel quite at home on the label.

He also mentions a bit of a recurring phenomenon, of you guys cruising through Berlin whilst listening to your new tunes. How does a typical car ride between Rebolledo and you look like, and how did the record found its place in the universe on the record label?

Definitely not as spectacular as riding with him in Mexico on board of his 1973 Porsche 911! I used to have a BMW 520 from 1987, now I have a newer family- friendly car, so not as glamorous, but still a decent place to listen to music and take Rebolledo around to our usual Berlin spots. The Acatenango car ride happened last Fall and Rebolledo took the tracks to play them all winter in his DJ sets. When we met again in Mexico in February this year, he asked me if the tracks were still free to sign and I said yes.

All three tracks on the EP are named after a family of thoroughbred racehorses, hence the release’s artwork. Are titles just titles, or is there some sort of underlying reference going on there? What’s the story?

It’s kind of a tribute to the time when sport in TV was not totally dominated by football. In the 80’s this horse named Acatenango was a big star and won 3 times the title Galopper des Jahres in Germany. As much as I love football it’s a pity that nowadays less popular sports are completely ignored by public German TV channels.

On the matter of families. As your wife Julienne (aka Fantastic Twins) comes from France, you spend a big portion of the summer there. Tell us a little about how you spend your time there, and have you been able to master the French language already?

I have been speaking French for almost six years now. It took me a while and I will never be able to compete with Julienne’s German but it’s okay. When we go to France we take as much music equipment as we can fit in the car and we build a little temporary studio in the countryside. It’s in the Auvergne in the middle of nowhere. While Julienne’s parents take care of our little boy we work on new music. It’s great to have a change of environment once a year to work and live in.

It’s been a while since we saw an update on the Saschienne front – the collaborative project between Julienne and yourself. With both of your solo careers flourishing at the moment, can we expect something from Saschienne in the near future?

Nothing planed yet. We are indeed both too busy working on our solo projects and touring. It will still take some time until we can work together again but we both know it will happen at some point, whether as Saschienne or under a new moniker.

Being operative as producer for over two decades, what hardware / software is prominently present in your set up nowadays, and where there any additional implements used for this EP?

For the Acatenango EP I used the same set up that I’ve been working with for several years: Moog Voyager, MS 20 and the Prophet 08. I bought a Yamaha CS reface last year which plays the string sound in Aggravate. Many drum sounds came from the Nord Drum 2. Recently Julienne and I bought an old Eventide H 3000 which is the best effect processor we’ve ever had beside our Roland Chorus Echo 501.

After the success of last year’s “MZ” on Turbo Recordings, “Surumu” seems to take over that legacy of peak time weaponry for this summer. Can you explain to us how the track came together? What was its first aspect and how did it evolve until its final form?

I am an old raver who grew up with the classic rave sounds and melodies. Maybe that’s the reason why I am always trying to compose catchy tunes. In the case of Surumu I wanted to create a rhythm pattern that had a breakbeat feel to it. The first UK labels I bought records from like Edge Records and Rabbit City had the same kind of sound and I guess it had a strong influence on me. Now, when I’m working on a track, I never think in terms of „peak time“ summer hit kind-of-thing. I didn’t expect Surumu to have the success it seems to have achieved lately.

When listening to both tracks you hear an unmistakable diversity in sound direction, something that carries through all your release. Tell us a little about that dynamic studio output. Is that a result of you challenging yourself creatively, or rather a development of your interests?

I am not really challenging myself. The diversity comes naturally. I have collected influences and inspirations over the past 20 years and this will always be apparent in my music. The idea of producing not only club orientated music has always been especially important for me, to widen my musical horizons.

Also my music equipment has changed over the years. For the first ten years of my career I produced mostly everything with sample based sounds. Most of the samples were from old pop records. That’s why I was never afraid of mixing or playing with different styles. Since 2010 when Julienne and I started Saschienne I became a synth maniac and stopped working with samples completely. Now with Acatenango i have gone back to using samples again. The story I try to tell through my music will be always changing.

What are your plans for this summer – anything in particular you’re looking forward to?

I am definitely looking forward to going to France and until then having a great World Cup.

You’ve been a big football fan since your youth. With the World Cup going on right now, and Germany off to a bit of ruff start, should we be worried?

Yes indeed. It’s time for a new generation in the German team. The old players need to step back. But this is the usual problem you can see in every big team. I can totally live with it if Germany is going out early in the competition. For the final I will be in France already, so I hope France wins this year.

Tell us a little about the mix you’ve cooked up for us – where is it recorded, favourite tracks, inspiration, atmosphere, etc.

It’s been recorded at home, in my studio. I played some old numbers, like for example the Weatherall remix of New Order’s World In Motion, by far the best football song of all time. Another classic is the last track called Cyberspace. It’s one of the first tracks I remember from when I started going clubbing in Berlin in 92. Beside that I played a new remix I did for Mijo & Local Suicide, which will be released this month on Roam Recordings.

What’s on the horizon for Sascha Funke?

At the moment I am working on a new single for Multi Culti. Thomas von Party and Dreems introduced me to Niklas Wandt, who recently released an album with Wolf Müller and is one part of the band Neuzeitliche Bodenbeläge. We had a a couple of sessions together and I am very happy about this collaboration. He is a great percussionist and singer.

Anything else you want to share with us?

Good luck next time to the Elftal! We will miss you at this World Cup.

Acatenango is out now via You And Your Hippie Friends. Grab your copy HERE

Sascha Funke: Facebook // Soundcloud // Instagram // Discogs
Hippie Dance: Facebook // Soundcloud // Instagram

Photo credit: Marco Dos Santos