Culture

Berlin Jukebox: Erich Lesovsky

Article published on May 15, 2014
Article published on May 15, 2014

There are plenty of mu­si­cians with masks, but do they also blink? The self-des­ig­nated Berliner Erich Lesovsky makes his music with elec­tronic de­vices, into which he breaths life through the use of toys, lights and fire­crack­ers on stage. Today's Berlin Juke­box: trans­par­ent and melodic elec­tro sounds that won't only make you move your feet, but also use your brain. Turn on. 

One wouldn't nec­es­sar­ily make the con­nec­tion be­tween plas­tic toys, flash­ing disco balls and fire­works with elec­tronic music. But those who have seen one of Erich Lesovsky's live sets knows that techno can be some­thing other than a mo­not­o­nous sound loop. Erich, who has been pro­duc­ing elec­tronic music since 1995, in­ten­tion­ally elim­i­nates all pre­con­ceived mu­si­cal no­tions and clas­si­fi­ca­tions; anything of the sort would limit him when he mak­es music. What started out as acoustic gui­tar, punk rock, reg­gae and am­bi­ent music has trans­formed it­self into ex­tremely trans­par­ent, dance­able sounds, which are dis­tin­guished by mul­ti­ple melodies, un­ex­pected sounds and a so­phis­ti­cated beat. 

Erich Le­sovs­ky live at the music fes­ti­val "Plötz­lich am Meer" (2013). 

Erich had his first live per­for­mance in 1988 at the ARM Club&Lolita Bar in Kas­sel, back when he still used discs and an old sound sam­pler. In the mean­time, he has de­vel­oped his own syn­the­sizers, such as the Min­i­mum Theremin or the Atari Punk Con­sole in a Nin­tendo Game­boy shell, and makes ap­per­ances at all im­por­tant clubs in Berlin. His re­leases are spread out across var­i­ous la­bels such as Par­quet Record­ings, Stil vor Tal­ent, Bur­lesque Musique or Uni­vack Records. With Cir­cat Music, he has his own label for ex­per­i­men­tal music. All things con­sid­ered, peo­ple should be care­ful about claim­ing that techno is a stu­pid ca­co­phany of drones with­out any mu­si­cal sub­stance! Erich demon­strates in his live sets that elec­tronic music is not only thought-out and so­phis­ti­cated, but also that it si­mul­ta­ne­ously pen­e­trates the body with such force you will fall into a trance. 

Cafébabel: How did you come up with the idea to wear a blink­ing mask?

That arose out of my brico­lage with LEDs, but how I chose a mask in the end, I can't re­call. So now I have two LED eyes and a mouth that I can even il­lu­mi­nate with three dif­fer­ent col­ors. In gen­eral, masks, makeup or cos­tumes are al­ways ef­fec­tive on stage. 

Cafébabel: How im­por­tant are the­atrics for you in your live sets?

For the tran­si­tion be­tween two live acts after the break, I usu­ally uti­lize toy sounds. Peo­ple im­me­di­ately know when they see a bub­ble gun, that some­thing's about to hap­pen. Why else are we on stage? That's what I find so stu­pid about elec­tronic music; you usu­ally only have to turn a num­ber of but­tons. Nat­u­rally that has got its ad­van­tages be­cause then it's re­ally about the music it­self. But it's pretty bor­ing to watch. I per­son­ally like the Ger­man rock band Bona­parte - crazy stage shows all the way to the end of the night! It's al­ways good when some­one on stage goes berserk: it's lib­er­at­ing for the au­di­ence, be­cause it makes it eas­ier for them to merge with the ex­pe­ri­ence. And for that, you don't nec­es­sar­ily have to bite off a bat's head. 

Erich Le­sovs­ky, Re­gen­ma­cher (2011). 

Cafébabel: What mu­si­cal el­e­ments de­ter­mine your music?

I like melodies and very di­verse sounds; rhythm serves as more of a foun­da­tion. In my tracks, sounds con­stantly shift, ports cre­ate re­ver­ber­a­tion and just as they be­gin to fade, a new sound springs to life. You can change rhythm as long as you like, but no one no­tices and it doesn't cause dis­tress. But the mo­ment a melodie gets added into the mix, every­thing changes. Rhythm be­comes a lot more neu­tral; for me, emo­tion is lack­ing, which can only be dic­tated by har­monies. Music should al­ways try to find a bal­ance be­tween a spe­cific groove and the emo­tions that want to be con­veyed. In my case they tend to be more melan­cholic. In the past years I've ac­tu­ally leaned more fre­quently to­ward hymns. 

Cafébabel: The elec­tronic music scene in Berlin is the biggest and liveli­est world­wide. That trans­lates into a lot of free­dom, but also a lot of com­pe­ti­tion?

I usu­ally break my op­po­nent's arms, so it has be­come less of an issue with time. (laughs) Nah, it's ac­tu­ally a re­ally cool ex­change. It's all about the dis­cus­sion, tech­nol­ogy and mu­tual cri­tique. In the end, qual­ity and sta­mina are the de­cid­ing fac­tors. 

Erich Lesovsky, No Stone Should Be Left Upon (2012). 

Cafébabel: How do you see the fu­ture of elec­tronic music in Berlin? 

There's still a lot of room to grow, if one wants to ex­per­i­ment. The tech­no­log­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties are al­ways get­ting bet­ter and also the fu­sion of dif­fer­ent music gen­res is pro­gress­ing. A lot of peo­ple don't want to ex­per­i­ment, though, but would rather em­u­late what once was. If you lis­ten to the Beat­port-Charts every­thing is pure rep­e­ti­tion. That's how it is with trends; some­times House with a lot of vo­cals is hip, then Min­i­mal, and then there's some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. In the mean­time, elec­tronic music has be­come a fit­ting busi­ness for many. Last year, for ex­am­ple, dis­cosounds and 80s syn­the­siz­ers were trend­ing. My guess is that it will con­tinue, but I'm out of that cir­cle now - luck­ily! I don't read any scene mag­a­zines, rarely lis­ten to elec­tronic music, and don't know any DJ charts. Some­times I like to lis­ten to punk rock for days be­fore mak­ing a new techno track. 

CAFÉBABEL BER­LIN has turned on the juke­box

Fed up with the eter­nal sun­shine of Top 10 hits, radio loops and Spo­tify playlists? From April 2014 on­wards, we will in­tro­duce you to young mu­si­cians, DJs and live acts from Berlin who still have the mu­si­cal power to sur­prise you. Check out the juke­box! More tracks and playlists on Face­book and Twit­ter.