Talla 2XLC is considered one of the most important pioneers of the techno/trance scene. The sixty-year-old is far from thinking about retirement, he tells the JOURNAL.
SIZE 2XLC: I am, so to speak, a Bernese boy and a Griesemer at that. During my childhood, I always went to my grandmother’s house in Bornheim on weekends and I discovered all the cinematographic genres at the Schützenhof cinema, from Kasperle and Pippi Longstocking to Ulysses and Godzilla. I love Frankfurt in all its facets, from the multicultural to Eintracht Frankfurt to the banks of the Main, the city. I’ve been a DJ all over the world, but I never wanted to emigrate. The only thing that bothers me here is that there aren’t enough clubs these days and the city needs to do something. See Berlin, the club culture is better supported there.
You are considered a pioneer of the techno scene. The term “techno” comes from you. Tell us how it happened.
After my apprenticeship, I worked in the 1980s at City Musik, on level B of the main station, as a record salesman. I ran the entire dance department. DJs and regular customers knew that I was familiar with electronic club music. They always came to me and asked if I had any new electronic equipment in stock. But the records were sorted from A to Z and not by genre, which was a bit tedious. I told myself that this sound is created using new technology. With synths and drum machines. The tech music seemed too big, so I shortened it to “techno”, put it on a disc separator and sorted out everything electronic. At the time, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Front 242, Italotracks, etc. The abbreviation had nothing to do with the current subgenre, but with the technology used to create it. I then used this word as an event name when I founded the Frankfurt city techno club in 1984.
Even back then, at the record store, you knew music was your life. How long did it take you to get to the DJ booth yourself?
So at home I was already my own DJ, but I got my first gigs around 1980, and that’s when I counted. Actually, it all started when I participated in several DJ competitions at the dance school in Kiel-Blell. My old classmate Thomas Bäppler, aka Bäppi La Belle, took me to the dance school. After I got first place in the third competition, the director of the dance school asked me if I wanted to participate in the teen disco on Sunday afternoon. This is where I discovered my love for DJing. At that time, I was already a guest at Dorian Gray and I was inspired by DJs of the time like Bijan and Freek. I also played more and more clubby and electronic music at dance school, much to the displeasure of the boss. I left the Kiel-Blell because another dance teacher and friend took us to No Name, where I started the techno club on December 2, 1984.
The whole world is now dancing to techno. How has techno developed over the past decades?
Good question, techno or electronic dance music left behind the first germ cells like Frankfurt, Detroit, Chicago and Berlin and became a global phenomenon. Techno has become accessible to the general public and unfortunately also commercial, technology allows many people to DJ who do not know how to do it and who are in fact more showmakers than artisans. The audience doesn’t care, the main thing is cake in the face and the organizers want the event to be sold out. But there are still many people who are also interested in music, because in my opinion it is the most important thing.
You once said: techno is also made by hand. How to compose a good piece?
The idea comes first. It could be voices, a snippet of language, a melody floating around in your head, or if you’re inspired by something else musical. So you sit down in front of the equipment and start producing. I don’t just make my own songs, I also like to do remakes or covers. I just covered and released “Forever Young” with my English singer Gid Sedgwick. Alphaville agreed and the fans celebrated and sang.
Who are your role models?
Musically, it is Freek Adams, a Dutch DJ who lives in Frankfurt and has played at Dorian Gray and Weissen/Pi, among others. He influenced me a lot with his music selection and mixing. Today I really like Schiller, as a person and as a producer. Not from a musical point of view, I would call our mayor Mike Josef, I count on him to make good things happen in Frankfurt. And I hope that he will visit me again at MOMEM and that we can move this cultural institution forward, and not just for the people of Frankfurt. MOMEM is a good thing for Frankfurt, I would like to have more support. From the city, but also from the inhabitants of Frankfurt.
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed a lot. Are you still partying like before?
It was not an easy time for any of us and especially for the young people who were approaching the age to leave. I was exhausted at home from all the canceled concerts and started live streaming on the Twitch gaming channel, totaling around 1,200 hours during the pandemic. Almost every day and at different times of the day and night because I not only wanted to be a DJ, but I also wanted to eliminate the frustration of being cooped up at home for everyone. I now only broadcast on Monday evenings from 8 p.m. (twitch.tv/talla2xlc). As far as the party is concerned, it has evolved enormously into a festival, where I am also found a lot. We have a big festival in Frankfurt, the Word Club Dome. I actually like both, the big stage for the show and the proximity to the club audience. I’m a ramp pig (laughs), I need connection with fans. My two home bases are the MTW and the Europalace. In the latter, I am organizing another big party on four floors on December 26th.
You’ve been DJing for almost four decades now. Do you ever think about quitting?
I said in a previous interview that I DJ until I bite the dust (laughs). I hope to have some more time there, I love playing for the fans and as long as they want to see me I will continue to do so. Health is the most important asset and I wish it to everyone.
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