When you enter the universe of the Techno and House DJ culture of Berlin, you will inevitably come across Oliver Marquardt alias DJ Jauche. His desire to become a DJ sprouted already in the mid80s, still in the GDR. Before the fall of the Wall, DJ Jauche completed an apprenticeship as a gastronomy specialist. Which brought him many advantages and contacts within the nightlife culture of that time in the eastern part of Berlin. As a Techno tourist in the early 90s, I witnessed DJ Jauche one or two times in the Walfisch (which is nowadays the KitKatClub), and it was an intense experience of a very special kind, just as it is today. The mix of different styles and subgenres of Techno and House music – such as Piano Break Beat, UK and Detroit Techno, Chicago House or Acid House – is arranged into an impulsive entirety which constitutes his trademark. The assets of DJ Jauche also include his balanced handling of technology. His know-how in regard to mixing skills such as scratching, backspinning or his vehement challenge of the crossfader displays distinctive stylistic devices in his performances and DJ sets.
The following meetings took place against the background of our DJ activity. Whether in Ben de Biel’s former club Maria, the former Fleischmöbelbar in Oderberger Straße or at TVR’s „Dancing Against the Right“ party in the Phonoclub (Prenzlauer Berg). His DJ sets are leaving lasting impressions on the dancers and they are posing a great challenge for the follow-up DJ due to their high energy level. Anyone who has ever watched DJ Jauche’s fingers and looked at his eyes while he was spinning records will have realized with rapture that it is a magician who is at work here, both in the technical as well as in the curatorial sense. His build-up of suspense takes place with rapid changes from release to tension. I like to call this technique of playing records in a very diversified manner carrot and stick.
Hello DJ Jauche! Your desire to become a disc jockey manifested itself in the early years of your East German youth in Berlin. In the GDR, there was an education possibility to become a state-certified DJ. However, as a teenager, you had the idea of applying for a departure permit to leave for the West in order to follow your vocation as a DJ of electronic music. What was the situation like at that time specifically?
DJ Jauche: Unfortunately, that is a question which I cannot answer in just two sentences. At that time in the GDR, there was a youth culture which was virtually regulated and controlled by the state. Somehow, I rather belong to those kinds of people who have much difficulty following a broad mass, and I often like to look the other way at first. This in itself is nothing special, it is rather a formative influence in my youth as a result of education and the sum of the other experiences in my life. In the end, this stance inevitably directed me to subcultures. As it happened to a few others as well, my way led me to music which often helped at that time to find something to identify with.
At a very early age, when I was twelve years old, say fourteen, I started to become interested in dance music. For my youth consecration ceremony, I got a “Double Tape Deck”, and so I could begin to mix and record music and noises with the stereo of my parents. I often glued the cassette tapes together as well in order to reach the desired results. By listening to the radio, I could follow the development of music quite well. Thankfully, people like Barry Graves or Monika Dietl gave me a very good idea of what was going on in the world – even though it was a romanticized variation which was not in accordance with the reality that followed later.
The music back then was Rap, Funk and Soul. In the movie theaters of the East, the film “Beat Street” gave us a chance to witness bits of the Hip Hop culture in America and to find a way to express and develop ourselves apart from the formatted youth culture. Of course, I was an enthusiastic breakdancer who had even obtained a skateboard with the help of some children of diplomats, and I was also busy recording music from the nightly Western radio programs week after week so that I could mix and dance and catch the musical developments. The DJ in that film was most inspiring for me back then – and when I watched the film for the first time, it was clear to me what I wanted to do with my future life. I can remember rather well that I had a girlfriend some time later who always laughed at me heartily when I repeatedly told her about my ambitions to become a DJ and that I already had my first turntables. Not much later came Acid House, Hip House and that Dance stuff from the UK, then the Rave kids and tracks which consisted of many different samplings. It was around this time that I started to put on records in three or four youth clubs in East Berlin – with records I had let sent to me from the “West”.
Actually, it was rather absurd (short of impossible) that I wanted to mix with two belt-driven record players by RFT, but it gave me the opportunity to play this very different kind of music for other people, even though it was often only for thirty minutes. It was a wild mix of the genres I have already mentioned, and occasionally, I caught some rather distraught glances. When the Berlin Wall broke apart in 1989, I bought two turntables the following week and located the pivotal record shop of the day, “Pinky Records”, and from then on, I spent many hours learning how to mix two records. A little anecdote at the end: At that time, the DMC championship preselections were taking place. It was where the DJs with the best free sections of mixing were chosen, but everything was based on pure Hip Hop mixes. Unfortunately, I cannot exactly remember how this came about but I was invited to the discotheque “Joe ander Hasenheide” in order to be the first participating DJ from the former “East”. I made last position which was even announced, and furthermore, I was the only DJ who had put on House Music and who could not mix at all. It was like a nightmare turned into reality, but it was also a very entertaining experience, if only in hindsight – after all, I died a couple of times on the stage that night. Ha Ha Ha …. An experience which quite left its mark.
Because of the reunification of Germany, your wish to spin Techno House vinyl was fulfilled in a very short time. Back then, you were also active as an organizer. What exactly were these parties and where did they take place?
DJ Jauche: They were relatively puristic parties. We (with we, I am referring to myself and some of my friends who had all become addicted to this new thing) rented preferably phat sound systems from various sound companies plus a handful of fog machines and stroboscopes. In the beginning, that was totally sufficient. One or two years later, laser installations were added. In those days, I hosted smaller parties for thirty to forty people who were a mixed group of friends and friends of friends. They took place at a youth club in Weißensee, for instance, or in the garden at the parents’ house (when they were out). Soon, the idea came up to rent larger “spaces” in previous culture centers of the former GDR and to host the parties there.
In a flash, I was slightly in debt since no one really had a clue about this kind of business. However, this was no reason for the young to discontinue. The first party with over 800 people suddenly showing up did not take place before 1992, and it was finally the first one without financial losses. We had parties at the “Come In”, a location in Adlershof, or frequently at a culture center of a tram court, or in empty or squatted houses as well. In the Berlin districts of Prenzlauer Berg or Mitte, we organized parties in cellars or vacant S-Bahn arches.
In 1995, I brought in my older brother Sven Marquardt for some events as door bouncer – those were virtually his first experiences with the matter. Around that time (1989 – 1992), the party community here in Berlin wasn’t that large. There were the people around Westbam (Low Spirit), the Tekknozid parties, the UFO, the Tresor and the Planet – and I did my thing there as well. It is my great fortune today that there are still people who are coming to my parties and that I can fall into my bed grateful and exhausted after having played music for eight or nine hours. If I remember correctly, it was already in 1991 when I put on music for the first time, together with DJ Zappa in Magdeburg. That was quite a surreal night, but in those days, there were many surreal moments anyway.
After the big Techno boom which was driven to the climax by Low Spirit, Frontpage etc. at the end of the 90s, the Techno scene of Berlin was slightly running idle. What were your impressions of this time?
DJ Jauche: I have not really experienced a truly idle state during the last thirty years. People have always liked to dance – not only since House and Techno. In 1993 and 1994, I thought for the first time that it would be coming to an end soon. And then, I had these thoughts again in 1997 and 1998. As silly as it may sound, but this was my firm opinion once more in 2001 and 2002. Generally, I have never aligned myself with existing currents, and it has seldomly been my experience that there was one “scene” moving together in one direction. It became clear early on that other ideas applied for people from the former FRG than for us kids from the former East.
Oliver Marquardt alias DJ Jauche, Jack Flash, Robin Masters Orchestra, Machomovers, Rockford Inc.
This is what happens because of different conditioning. For the ones who had more experience with capitalism, we were the necessary evil in order to make money with Techno, and by 1993, it was clear that it is a business. Just remember all those sponsors at the Loveparade that year. Ever since then, there have been to many egotistical figures, so you cannot speak of a true togetherness. By the end of the 90s, everything beautiful and horrible in the Techno electronic universe had been said and done. And since it seemed that no one had any ideas for a “whole new thing”, it was then the Minimal Wave which actually brought the next low after the commercial VIVA trash. On the other hand and unexpectedly, a lot of people were excited about it, and the Minimal Wave got Techno (taken as a whole) out of a low point. At that time, I was dealing even more consciously with House Music , since it is my general opinion that we Germans are falling way too much for marching than for dancing – and with House Music, you are very far away from that.
When I came to Berlin in the summer of 1999, a change began within the Berlin club scene. On the one hand, purist Techno found another venue with the Ostgut, on the other hand things got rather posh in Berlin Mitte with Electroclash and champagne bars in the toilets, like in the Cookies. What kind of changes did the new millennium bring for you?
Dj Jauche: I would say, on the whole, I was moving in the middle of all of that. On the one hand, I organized parties in what was the Sage club back then, a venue slightly more chic (funnily enough, it was the former location of the Walfisch, and for me, these spaces had been my second home years earlier – I recently put on music in the KitKatClub which is located there nowadays). On the other hand, I had parties in the Ostgut which was the complete opposite. Suddenly, House Music was very fitting for the stylishness of those who had recently relocated to Berlin. A new scenery began to develop. More and more organizers and DJs came to Berlin and took over the existing structures, thus changing them as well of course. At that time, the money found its way into Berlin – and the city began to change because of that. I was part of a studio collective in the Torstraße.
Through the years, I had a lot of change of neighbors, like Jay Haze, Sierra Sam, Shonky, Mijk van Dijk, Monika Kruse, Namito, Tanith, and there were often people in our studio who came from the BPitch Control periphery around Ellen Allien. Virtually, the soundtrack for Berlin Calling was mixed back then in the studio next to mine. I had Fritz Kalkbrenner for one recording in the studio or the boys of Fettes Brot, and sometimes, “Gentleman” came for a visit since his drummer also worked in the neighboring studio. I recorded a remix for the Ärzte there or a Mix CD with Marusha, aside from my own Mix CD series “Extreme Couching”. So there was a whole lot of different influences and people inspiring each other – and we also recorded the last album by DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft) in that studio which is called “Fünfzehn Neue DAF-Lieder” (Fifteen New DAF Songs). Given the time of the turn of the century, those were still relatively untroubled and occasionally even wild days in our studio court. In 2009, the house was vacated, and one year later, a new hotel was standing there.
Was it relevant for you to have your own label and to produce music? On which label have your tracks been released, and are there new productions?
What followed directly as the second vinyl was a bootleg of a song by John Paul Young called “Love is in the Air”, and this led to some confusion, in the course of which I was ripped off rigorously. Especially by “Milk and Sugar” (two gentlemen who – between you and me – I have been regarding as undignified squirts till this day). After this, I landed at the Berlin label “Sonntag Music” where I published four or five singles and two albums with my former DJ colleague Björn Brando under the project name “Machomovers”. At the same time, I also did the “Extreme Couching” series about DJ sets. For various labels, I made remixes which I published again on another label of mine under a different project name. On “Baalsaal” from Hamburg, I published one EP, and shortly thereafter on “Frankman Musik”, “Fiakun” and “Society 2.0”.
An album with singer Desney Bailey followed next, around 2010, and then I took a break, because I thought that there was way too much music coming out. In 2013, I had one EP on “Acker Dub”, and it was not until 2017 that I started again to publish my own music, this time on a label of mine called „Flaneurecordings“. Under this label, I released my first solo album in 2017 and 2018, “Nachtboutique – Dirty Nights and Boogie Lights”. In 2019, a second album with Desmond Bailey followed, and in the same year, I brought out my second album “Spreekind” (in December). At the moment, I’m at catalogue number 12 with the label. I am always making sure that the things that I can or may publish are released in vinyl. Records remain a beloved and valuable medium for me.
After a gig in the Phonoclub at the TVR party “Dancing against the Right” where we both participated, I spoke with a dancer from your crowd. She mentioned that she would go with you and some others immediately afterwards to the next gig in the “Golden Gate” club. I thought wow, these are some very faithful fans, and I looked at my watch which said three o’clock in the morning. A positive charisma is as important for a good DJ as the daily vitamins. Even after more than thirty years of creative work as a DJ, you are not radiating any signs of fatigue. What is your secret to a balanced life?
DJ Jauche: I simply love what I am doing and I am grateful that it is still possible for me to do this. I did not become a DJ for reasons of fame or money but simply with the approach that I wanted to give people something good to take along, to express myself and to do my very best at the same time. I gain a lot of positive things from the energies of long nights and often go to bed in the morning very exhausted, yet satisfied and grateful. There are so many happy and thankful people who are coming out of their shells, dancing together, laughing and experiencing themselves together – it is a form of bliss. I am often experiencing my DJ gigs as some sort of meditation, and putting on records also requires a very high concentration.
„There are so many happy and thankful people who are coming out of their shells, dancing together, laughing and experiencing themselves together – it is a form of bliss.”
I am merging with myself and the people in the club. And the work with the records and the music almost reaches a collective perfection of harmony. In addition, I often do not consider myself so important. Let’s be honest, I am mixing music by other musicians and if everything goes well, people are dancing to it. This may be a nice vocation, but I also would have liked to become an astronaut, a Greenpeace activist or a Nobel prize winner – but for these things, it wasn’t quite enough. Furthermore, I have placed great value on a healthy balanced diet for many years now, and I have been jogging five or six times a week for over ten years now. I also go swimming, and I do a little Yoga every now and then. I am very mindful to have a lot of rest, and even regular sauna visits prove to be quite sensible. I am a rather reclusive person, I have been deliberately keeping my circle of friends small for decades, and have maintained my friendships for a very long time now.
I already mentioned the event “Dancing Against The Right” by the TanzVersammlung Rosenthaler (Rosenthaler Dance Meeting). If political parties like the AfD had their way, our Free Space of the Techno Club and the experiential quality connected with it would be heavily curbed. As a Techno and House DJ of the first generation from Berlin, you among others virtually conceptualized the values of the Techno movement. There is a picture on your Instagram profile which expresses this in a very original way. How do you generally assess the responsibility which a DJ should have in times of populism towards his or her followers and also display openly?
DJ Jauche: First of all, I would like to mention that I do not necessarily perceive myself as an artist, and I also view art and artists separately, I am however a person who is creatively fabricating. Basically, in my view there is a responsibility that artists and other creative people have towards the society in which they live and work creatively. They often have a different point of view regarding the events, even if only because of the luxury of having more free time at hand. Time for contemplation, or a dissenting perspective, or a deviant path of life. It is surely also their duty and their responsibility to point out shortcomings. In my opinion, all persons who are in some way players in the public sphere have this responsibility. It is my belief that criticism keeps you awake. However, having a social or a political consciousness is not necessarily part of a DJ’s craft, and only the fewest of DJs could be called artists. There is no need to delude yourself about that. Especially nowadays, anyone who is able to plug a USB stick into a player perceives himself as a DJ. Among them, there are comparatively as many or few conscious, awake and attentive people as in the rest of humanity – and the least of them are artists. Techno has always been a political matter for me, a matter of representing openness, respect and tolerance. These are first of all leftist qualities which are not to be questioned in any way.
For me, this is not a matter of right or left – I was raised humanistically by my parents, and it is my hopefully good judgement which leaves me no other option than to stand up for the values which should improve the lives of all us. I cannot relate to xenophobia at all, or to the notion that a tree should be less entitled to its existence than a human being. I am also convinced that we as the Western world need to take responsibility for a lot of shitty things on our planet. Nor am I a friend of „communities of faith“, although I can understand that people require something which they can believe in. In the end, the driving force always seems to be fear. Fear makes people believe in obscure conspiracy theories. Or it lets them become Nazis because they feel terrified by strangers. Or it makes them the redeeming crusaders who brought a sea of blood in the name of the Lord. Or, or, or…
At the end of march, you were supposed to be standing at the turntables again for the Oldschool Rave Tekknozid by Wolle XDP, and I recently caught your DJ set from the Tekknozid Rave in December 2019 which you mixed from various electronic genres like Techno, Trance, Piano Breakbeat and House Music. Chapeau! Which of your gigs were your own personal highlights?
DJ Jauche: Unfortunately, the rave in march fell victim to the virus. I was looking forward to that very much since I could have played a four-hour opening set this time. There are too many personal highlights for me to mention, so I would rather bring up two events that were entertaining and embarrassing. Both happened on „television“ and both were broadcast live. There was one instance when I was invited as a DJ, and in between came a performance by Jürgen Drews. I was asked to mime the DJ during his performance, which I did reluctantly but slightly jingled. Mister Drews jumped and sang, whirled around to me and beamed at me singing, the chorus set in, and he held the microphone in front of my nose, and a surprised grunting noise emanated from me. Despite the playback, the vocal microphone was open of course, and so my confused sound was sent over the broadcast transmitters…
An earlier television appearance was similarly inane. At that time, we were a two-man team putting on music with four turntables, and we were allowed to explain and demonstrate this in a music show. We came straight out of the club at the time after spinning records all night and rolled up with a convoy of five cars at the TV station. I cannot remember anyone being even remotely sober (apart from the driver of course, I think…). There were two complete test runs of the show before the live broadcast would begin. When it was our turn, one of the show hosts came and conducted the interview with us and asked us then to give the presentation of what we were doing exactly. We started mixing busily, but there was no sound at all, and once again in my life there were irritated glances all around me. Anyway, after about 30 seconds, the show was saved by switching to the next „contribution”. To this day, it’s a mystery to me what didn’t work back then. At least we weren’t to blame for this live broadcast fiasco, I hope. Haha.
What words of good advice do you have for the future generation of DJs and producers?
„It is only with the heart that we can really see,”
is what I would like to quote here. And the five minutes of fame are not half as useful as they seem to promise. I couldn’t give any more advice.
The Corona crisis has brought about both positive and negative perspectives for Berlin’s club culture. On the one hand, there is the emergence of initiatives such as Clubcommission and RCC (Reclaim Club Culture) which support the local scene of clubs, DJs and Techno musicians, thus enabling a greater solidarity. On the other hand, the tourist stream to Berlin (and therefore to the clubs) will be at a very low stage for a longer while. This will present the Techno clubs of Berlin with a new challenge after the long lockdown. What opportunities do you see for Berlin’s electronic music culture?
His fans follow him faithfully to his gigs, such as to Globus (Tresor), KitKatClub or Griessmuehle.
DJ Jauche: This ongoing gold rush atmosphere, of course, attracts a vast number of gold diggers – and how could such a thing be good for any form of culture? Should Fortuna be kind with us, some things could be slimming back to healthy proportions and the focus on what is essential could gain a realistic chance. Unfortunately, however, I find myself in doubt whether this will apply to society as a whole and whether society will be able to utilize the created opportunities. This, in turn, should serve even better as a possibility for development for subcultures – however the current club scene of Berlin is just very far away from that. Of course there are the small exceptions every now and then, and these allow you a quiet moment of hope. The Berlin Clubcommission is still a mystery to me to this day whose solution has not yet entered my fields of interest. In principle, this organization is certainly a consequence of the years in order to protect, increase and support the market value of the clubs in Berlin’s gross national product. I think it is good that there are people here who are trying to stand up for others and to help them. So far, I haven’t had any contact with the Clubcommission, but then again, I don’t have a club. I have also looked over the „primer“ of the RCC in which I read a lot about rules of conduct and other regulations.
Information regarding how one should behave and what behavior is permitted, what purpose this institution serves, and so forth. I found all this very interesting and was even a bit surprised at how much regulating is needed to have a Free Space. Also, people are being marginalized by these rules when they are of different political convictions. I think it is always better to integrate in order to effect a change in people’s thinking, however, other people view this differently again, and so we must see that we can live together peacefully and healthily. You know, I have seen how the experience in the club, on the dance floor, the togetherness, has changed people for the better. It wasn’t necessarily in all cases the drugs and the alcohol which caused this change in people – but always and again it was the music and its experience. Freedom moves between the tones, in all our minds, and also the freedom that we grant others. What once inspired me about House/Techno was how this music could bring people together. I experienced nights when the Nazi stood next to the punk, the hookers between skinheads, the young secretary danced with gay guys, the bar threw a round of vodka for everyone over the counter, or the bouncers drank a short one with the guest whom they brought to the door afterwards because he was too drunk, or, or, or… I met all sorts of people with different approaches to life itself. It didn’t matter if you were hetero, queer, monogamous, polygamous, a cat fool, a skinhead, whether you were 16 or 80 years old or just a run-of-the-mill person.
Within our culture it was about understanding one another, accepting oneself and another, and coexistence, influencing each other and growing – and so on and so forth. I have experienced very little violence in the clubs over the years and, in comparison to all these years, not much sexism. Ultimately, we all have the same right to life, and I also believe that we have a responsibility to show other people new and different things. I mean, should I go to a House club as a straight person and then be bewildered that there are two guys shagging at the bar right next to me, then I have simply seen something new, for one thing. And should that view not be to my liking, there is the option of moving two meters further – and so, end of subject. A free space is always the one which we allow ourselves and others, and without it, a positive change would take place rather seldomly. It is exactly this that many people I met have benefited from.
„From time to time I get the feeling that this often quoted free space in the club, in the way it should be, no longer exists at all.„
I may see these things this way because I have encountered exclusion in all my life. This started early in school, when I was antagonized because my family had relatives in the FRG, in the „west“. It happened once or twice that the children of the Stasi and the comrades’ children chased me across the schoolyard, until I finally defended myself out of necessity. Then later, in my education, there were those issues like having my hair dyed red or my way of seeing things differently (not in the ways the state wanted to convey) which led to the consequence that the completion of my training was properly spoiled. After the “turn”, the fall of the Wall, for many years a person born in the GDR was something like a “second-class-citizen” and just an “Ossi” (Translator’s note: a pejorative colloquialism for people from the former East German republic). Thus the topic of exclusion has been running through my life to this day. Clearly, as a community and society, we must ensure that extremists, fanatics or radicals of any kind, whether politically or religiously motivated, do not succeed in obstructing, intimidating or even destroying us as a modern and open society.
At the moment we also have „United We Stream“ as a club-like togetherness. I have been trying to get involved with the initiative through various clubs where I’m putting on records. My booker made direct contact and … it did not happen anywhere that I could contribute my share for the cause – as someone who has been hosting parties here in Berlin for so long, who is spinning records often, who publishes a lot of music and who has been one of the initiators of the whole thing since the late 80s and the early 90s. It’s not that I find this surprising, but since I’m always one who strolls around thinking positively, at least I wanted to give it a try. This is where we, as a scene, are finally standing together.
The Techno look of the beginning 90s as presented by Altern 8 from the UK, is reminiscent of the current everyday scenario of protection against the Corona virus. What is your daily routine like in these times of the Corona crisis, do you have more time to produce music? What is happening to your creativity at the moment?
DJ Jauche: My daily life is basically structured in the same way as before. I wake up, I let the thoughts wander away, and a little while later I find myself at supper. Personally, I think I am relatively lazy in these days, however, my girlfriend rather does not share this opinion. Just last week she called me a „workaholic“. It is not that bad, I am working quite a lot and from time to time I forget to switch off the working mode, but I treat myself to a lot of breaks. My creativity does not suffer in particular from the Corona virus.
In conclusion, would you like to direct a few personal words to the readers on the subject of Corona?
DJ Jauche: To be honest, not really. At present, people get more than enough messages to keep the spirit. This present experience that we are going through may help people to begin living more consciously – but whether this will be the case, and for how many, we shall see.
Many thanks for your extensive statement, DJ Jauche!
* The interview with Oliver Marquardt alias DJ Jauche was conducted online.