Hi Stephan. Thanks for the time to speak to LWE. It has been a while since we saw you play the Tobacco Dock Car Park for LEAF – How have you been?
Great, thank you. A lot of things have happened and I’ve had the pleasure of playing at a lot of other very interesting venues like Love Family Park (big festival here in Germany), both Hyte @ Amnesia and at ADE, the Sunwaves Festival in Romania – to just name a few. And a lot of cool club gigs. I just come back from a weekend in Portugal playing Porto and Lisbon together with Pan-Pot.
What’s your favourite thing about the London crowd?
The London crowd seemed very open to me and I had an amazing time at LEAF last year. It was really a special moment for me to play in such an amazing venue for such a party willing crowd. The UK scene with all that heroes like Sasha, Digweed, Leftfield, Norman Cook, etc. always had a big influence on me. Sasha’s Xpander was on continuous loop in my Grand Theft Auto car back then!
If we were to walk into your studio what would we see?
My piano, a guitar, saxophone and my DAW with a couple of big screens and some controllers. What you don’t see are analogue synthesizers and other external gear what might be a bit surprising for somebody who writes electronic music. I really like all those machines, but in the end real total recall is way more important to me because it gives me the freedom to switch between projects very easy… and with all those amazingly good plugins from Native Instrument, U-He, etc. I don’t really miss the external gear I had back in the past.
What is the most important bit of kit / instrument to you in the studio at the moment?
Definitely my piano. For me it’s the most beautiful instrument in the world because you really can express every possible feeling with it. Of course, there aren’t that many moments where the piano finds it way into my electronic music but besides electronic music I also have the pleasure to write music for movies sometimes. Even if it’s a techno club track, I play the theme at least once on the piano because the abstraction helps me to find out if I really like the musical idea or not. The second most important thing in the studio then is my DAW.
And how does your studio set up transfer to your live sets?
In a way, it’s quite similar because for my live sets I also do everything in the box and combine this with a bunch of external controllers. I travel with an Akai APC40mk2, NI Maschine, NI F1, Dj Techtools Midi Twister and a keyboard. For me it’s very important that I’m able to recreate the feeling and soul of my tracks for every single gig. My live sets are always different and never the same, but the core of the original tracks is always there and that’s just possible if I can bring almost everything from my studio to the stage too. On stage I’m working with Ableton live, in the studio with Cubase.
Techinically wise, what is the most challenged part of playing live as opposed to DJing?
I could use more arms and hands 😀 When you play live, the music is just changing if you do something. That means that you have to be completely focused and on point for 60-90 minutes. That’s not really technically challenging, but you need a good condition and I’m completely braindead after a performance.
Does playing live give you more freedom than a DJ set would?
Yes and no. Yes on a per track level because I’m able to interpret every single track that way I think it fits best to the current mood of the crowd. No on a set level. Of course I’m totally free in which order and how I play my tracks but there are limitations because in the end I just have my tracks.
Do you keep the set up for your live sets pretty consistent from show-to show, or do you add tweaks depending on the party / venue etc?
I keep it pretty consistent in terms of hardware because in the end it’s like an instrument that you have to learn like any other instrument. Before I played live for the first time I locked myself away in the studio for six weeks just for practicing. What’s changing constantly is the music and how I play it. Every crowd and every evening is different. Sometimes you need more energy, sometimes less. Sometimes the things have to be more epic, sometimes I play everything a bit smaller…
What’s the best thing about being part of the Second State family?
That I found a real home for my music. I feel understood and the support from everybody is amazing. We all come from different backgrounds but we all carry this idea about electronic music in our hearts that completely goes back to the feeling we had at that very moment we listened to electronic music for the first time. I believe that is a seldom thing today where electronic underground music is also a business for a lot of people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that people can make a living from electronic music but sometimes you have the feeling that they forgot why they started out in the first place.
You can catch Stephan Hinz playing with the rest of the Second State crew in London in March 2016 with The Hydra… click here for more info.