While sensual electronic-pop auteur Dan Bodan hasn't been chasing the limelight, the conceptual art graduate has been continuously releasing remarkably individual material. From the heart throbbing croon of Aaron to Hunger Games' lucid jungle, we've been wanting to get to know more and more. With his second album quickly approaching on DFA, we dialled him up to discuss living in Berlin, working with others and totally nailing his visual aesthetic. Cue the incredible playlist.
What is it about Berlin that keeps you rooted in the city?
It's basically the longest I've ever lived in one city my entire life, so there's that. But also I've gotten to experience it really change and that's totally fascinating to me. When I moved here nearly eight years ago it was exciting because it was this massive empty capital city that seemed willfully ignored by the rest of Germany.
A lot like how the city's described in that book Dahlgren: no lights, empty streets, secret spaces, crumbling buildings inhabited by people who were more like denizens than citizens and you would just roam around all night looking for somewhere interesting to waste your time. Within about the past two or three years everything's changed so rapidly you kinda wonder if that ever really existed. But, what's new is also really exciting. There's so much money and interest in the city now so it's fertile for really ambitious projects and people. For better or worse.
So I think that's why I've stayed, to watch that narrative unfold.
Do you spend much time at the Berghain?
Less and less. Berghain used to be this place that was kind of scary but magnetic. Like the building could literally swallow you up. So when I'd go it was always spontaneous and the nights there were like an x-rated Indiana Jones film with a really impressive techno soundtrack. I never really knew or cared about the music playing, it was just part of the experience. So now that it's this worldwide phenomenon and I know everything about the sound system, and the DJ's and the bouncers and the secret ice-cream parlour, it's just not as special so I usually just go when my friends play. But that's kinda true for all clubs, I'm just older.
What other artists do you interact with? Do you consider yourself as part of a scene?
I wouldn't consider myself part of a scene, but that's been something I actively try to avoid. To keep a critical distance and steer clear of scene politics (which i basically can't deal with). When I work with someone it's always specific, I don't want to just layer what they do to a song I wrote, that's boring. I interact with other people on a project to project basis so I try and develop relationships with as many artists in the city (and everywhere) so that when I have an idea, I can refer to this catalogue of really awesome people and be like "Yeah she should produce this" or "I love his After Effects styles" or "Oh, they said they played saxophone in grade 10".
How important is visual identity in your work? You seem to work with a lot of friends. Is it easy for them to realise what is in your head?
It's important because I know that it's the key most people use to access music and I know how I form opinions based on press material, so I'm extremely careful about what I put out into the world visually. I do a lot of my own design because I'm still developing how the music should look, which isn't always easy to express and has definitely caused friction in the past with collaborators. But more and more I'm finding people who I trust and who understand what I'm trying to say, and are able take these ideas away from me and apply their own to create a really beautiful universe for the music to exist. Like Julien Ceccaldi, who developed the album design, it was like he heard the album and came back to me almost immediately with something that rang true. It was such a good feeling!
How do you describe your live performance for those yet to see it?
Right now it's pretty simple and is mostly focused on my singing. The tracks are usually reduced to a few elements and a sexy DJ plays and manipulates them while I sing overtop.
Your next album Soft is set for release in October. What are your ambitions for this next step of your musical trajectory?
I'd really like to develop a more interesting live setup, with instruments and like a men's choir of soccer fans or something. But try and do something really unique so I feel I'm giving something special to the audience when they come see me. And because Soft took so long to write I'm already writing the next album, and developing a sound pallet for that so I can start screwing around ASAP. Oh, and I'm commissioning some really cool remixes for Soft. Oh and a neat Soft sweatshirt.
Do you have any recommendations for a book to take on summer vacation?
Atta by Jarett Kobek
The Lamb - John Taverner
Jericho - Joni Mitchell
Emotion - Destiny's Child (E+E Remix)
Scythians - M.E.S.H.
Devils - LOGOS (Palace Remix)
True Love - Pyrolator
50Megatons - Sonny Russell
Red Hot Car - Squarepusher
Ritual Feast for the Libido - Cro Magnum
Round About Midnight - Karin Krog
AS Live (excerpt) - Amnesia Scanner
Blow - LFO
Kingston Town - Lord Creator
Butterflies - Michael Jackson
Send in the Clowns - Dorothy Collins
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