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STEFAN BETKE / POLE

Stefan Betke has been shaking the electronic music world with his releases for some time now. His new album, R continues Pole's adventure into minimalism, with collaborations with Burnt Friedman and Kit Clayton. themilkfactory caught up with this very secretive musician.

Stefan, what are you up to at the moment?
What do you mean? Musically, I am into experiments and testing how it is to work with guitars and other instruments and cut them hard and rough.

Do you work in a specific way or would you rather not set yourself any rules?
I always worked in a specific way; this is part of the Pole idea. I mean, donít misunderstand me, but to have an idea how to work on things doesnít mean youíre not flexible at the same time, and keep your eyes open to see the little mistakes and all these nice things to find the real interesting things in music.

Your three first albums formed a trilogy. Was it always your intention?
Yes.

German musicians have always dominated electronic music. Why is that?
I don´t know. It depends how you see electronic music. To be honest, I have no idea if it is like you say.

Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
Well, I really like to listen to hip-hop at the moment. Producers like Mos Def and Pete Rock or Skeme. But I also like to listen to jazz, stuff like Art Ensemble Of Chicago. It looks a bit like I am coming back to my roots, which doesnít necessarily mean that I will produce hip-hop albums in the future.

What is the last album you bought?
Dj Spinna on Rawkus, and the Velvet Underground 5 CD collection. 

You¹ve recently collaborated with Kieran Hebden from Four Tet, and, on your latest album, you¹ve also had people remixing some of your work. Is working with others something you are keen on doing?
I didnít collaborate with Kieran. I did a track in my studio, and he remixed it, and I did the same with his track. But we never met in a studio, which is, in my opinion, necessary to have a collaboration, or letís say, the minimum would be to work on one thing together, if not meeting in a studio.

Who in particular would you like to work with?
I donít want to talk too early about future things.

You are a respected remixer yourself. Is there anyone you haven¹t had the chance to do a remix for and would be happy to do?
Well I think it is not really my business to decide this, but I think there are a lot of interesting producers in the world, and it would be really interesting to remix their music. Not every track is good for being remixed though. Some, or maybe most of them, should stay as they are, because they are good enough. Sometimes, theyíre just not my cup of tea.

How did you get involved with the Slag Boom Van Loon project, and what did you think of Mike Paradinas¹s own remix, which sounded very similar to your own work?
Mike asked me if I would like to do a remix, and I agreed. Sometimes it is really very simple and I thought: I like Boards Of Canada and I like Four Tet, so why not. But to be honest I never thought that Mikeís mix is similar to my music; that is interesting. Why do you think so? Maybe because he used some sounds that I could have used? Maybe I should listen to it again.

What about people you certainly wouldnít remix anything for?
Do you talk about music you donít like?

How would you describe your influences and how do you think theyíve influenced your music?
Do I have influences? I mean is it realistic to say so?

Since you started releasing records, there seem to be a handful of musicians who get their inspiration from your work. How do you react to that?
Well I enjoy it and I hope these producers will find their own way of producing music. So long as they only get inspired by my work, it is totally fine, but if people start copying things, than it is kind of boring....

R compiles Raum 1 & 2, originally released on Din three years ago, plus variations on these tracks, remixes by Burnt Friedman and Kit Clayton, as well as Raum 3 & 4. Can you tell us how the project started, and how it ended being what it is today?
Well we had the idea to work with these ultra rare tracks I released on Din Records, and Burnt said that he would like to do a rework of both, and I did the same. But in the end, I did four new tracks instead of a rework. It took us a long time, and then Kit Clayton joined us, and I had these new tracks I did with D. Meteo on the guitar and finally we decided to release it on ~Scape. Thatís it.

What decided you to set up your own label, and how do you manage between ~Scape and your career as a musician?
I like good music and I like to release it. When I met with Barbara (we are running ~Scape together), I decided this was a good time to start the label, since I could share the workload with her. And this is how I manage between ~Scape and Pole. Without Barbara, it would be impossible.

Who would you like to sign?
We have this phrase in German: donít talk about the egg before the hen made it.

You recently mixed Komfort.Labor for WMF Records. Why wasnít it released on ~Scape?
We have a ~Scape residency at the WMF club once a month, and Komfort.Labor vs ~Scape is the name of the night there. All residents (four of them all together) are doing it and it was never supposed to come out on ~Scape.

How do you see your music evolving? Is it something you think about?
Yes of course I do. But I donít talk about it.

Thank you to Stefan.
Email interview September 2001.

Interviews + Features
10'04
DUB ETC... Si-Cut.db/Pole The Spitz, London, 23 September 2004

Reviews
08'03 Pole
09'01 R
07'00 1 / 2 / 3

THE SURFER'S GUIDE TO POLE
~Scape
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