Michael Mayer is synonymous with dance music. In fact, you would be hard pushed to find anyone within the industry who has contributed as much time and effort on an international scale. As an artist, he has toured to millions and to this day remains one of Germany’s core musical celebrities.
His work as a producer and label owner has shaped, reshaped and continues to shape the genre of techno whilst also contributing to a wider range of music including remixing the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Foals and Rufus Wainwright.
Mayer and his team are also behind the infamous Kompakt. A record label, an artist agency, a distribution wing and for many a symbol for everything dance music should stand for. Evolution and forward motion have been at the core of everything Kompakt stands for.
On May 31 we invite Michael Mayer and his Kompakt family to London to The Cause for what will be an epic all night long dance party. Ahead of the date, we thought it was time to talk to the man himself and find out what is behind the headphones.
We are super excited to bring you and your Kompakt family to London. You will be joined by Patrice Bäumel & Anii. The music is an integral part of what Kompakt is about. However, as an outsider looking in Kompakt is bound by much more than music. What values do you look for in a person when considering bringing them into the Kompakt family?
If you dig deeper into Kompakt’s catalogue you’ll quickly realize that we’ve never been signing artists purely on the basis of a particular musical style. The range of genres we’re covering is pretty elastic. What we’re looking for while listening to as many demos as we can – we receive around 50 a day – we’re looking for the artist’s personality to shine through their music. Often enough, I don’t get to meet the artists in person before signing them. But I’ve developed a keen ear over the years. The majority of the artists we’ve signed turned out to be really nice people. too. Values I like in an artist are an abundance of creativity (obviously), good work ethics, friendliness and modesty.
As the co-owner of Kompakt Records and Kompakt distribution, you must have a vast array of music passing through your hands. Is there a track, album or EP that stands out above the rest, for better or for worse?
Kompakt in the eyes of many has defined a genre. In an interview, you are quoted as saying, “What I would like is for people to think that the label gave techno music a more human face; a smiling face, as opposed to the machine-like music that people seem to connect to the genre.” Looking back after 20 plus years do you think you have achieved this?
We recently spoke with Steve Lawler and he said the thing he missed most about dance music in its early years of illegal raves was the sense of the unknown. DJs, promoters, and dancers no one knew what they were doing everyone was ‘winging it’. Do you think dance music’s move towards a corporate industry is for better or for worse?
Who has been the most influential figure in your career?
If you could look back 15 years. What advice would you give a young Michael Mayer to succeed as a DJ?
…and to succeed as a person?
Dance music has over the years been a form of expression used to unite and drive social change. What role if any do you think music plays in modern society?
Finally, if you could collaborate with one musician past or present who would it be and why?