We know Berlin as Germany’s clubbing mecca, but many of the city’s favourite DJs earned their stripes in Frankfurt, another city with a rich electronic music history. Many of the Frankfurt area’s most influential artists (Ricardo Villalobos, Zip) moved to Berlin years ago, fleeing their hometown for the cheap rents and anything-goes clubbing culture the Hauptstadt provides. Roman Flügel, a producer who’s been shaping the sound of Frankfurt since the 1990s, took a while longer and only relocated to Berlin a few years ago, long after his hometown peers had made the same move.
Flügel’s new album, Eating Darkness, lands on Running Back on May 7. To celebrate, we asked how this Frankfurt legend has been spending his time in Berlin.
We didn’t realise you lived in Berlin. When and why did you move here?
About three years ago. After spending most of my life in Frankfurt and the Rhein/Main area I felt some need for a change. And where else would I go in Germany when you’re into what I’ve been doing for quite some years?
What does Eating Darkness, the name of your new album, mean?
It’s a tiny reminder that creating and creativity is a powerful counterpart to negative emotions. Even in times where almost everything I’ve been doing for the past 25 years is on hold due to an ongoing pandemic, music seems to be a way to stay positive and not be eaten by darkness.
What do you like best about Berliners?
I really enjoy their way of talking. There’s a certain repartee that’s really refreshing.
What’s your favourite album made in Berlin?
Halber Mensch by Einstürzende Neubauten still sounds exceptional after all these years.
What’s your favourite Kiez to walk around in and why? And what’s the perfect soundtrack for that?
Most places are still new to me in Berlin, but I do enjoy Kreuzberg a lot. That’s because of its diversity and its history. It’s also the place where my studio is. I visited Berlin for the first time when I was 16, back in ’86, and strolled along the wall around that area with a lot of fascination. That is still present. With the risk of getting a bit too nostalgic, David Bowie’s album Lodger would be a great addition for a walk.
What’s your favourite way to get around the city?
I prefer to take a bike in general. Using cars often takes too long depending on the traffic and I hate finding a parking space. I’m also taking the U-Bahn if the weather is too bad. I really enjoy the old-coloured U-Bahn stations like Hermannplatz designed by Alfred Grenander.
Outside your studio, where’s your favourite place to be alone?
Sometimes I take a walk at the remote riverside around Alt-Schmöckwitz. It’s a beautiful place to get yourself grounded.
There’s been a lot of talk about the ethics of DJing at parties during a pandemic (Soho House is a recent example), with some criticised for playing gigs abroad. What’s your take on that?
I refused to play any gigs abroad or unofficial shows in Berlin and, personally, I don’t think it’s a great idea to do the opposite. It’s been tough for everyone who’s been making a living from playing shows. But it’s also not the most clever thing to risk anyone’s life for a party before most people get a chance to be vaccinated. What I don’t like, though, is the way the “discussion” goes on the internet when it comes to slaughtering your opponent. It’s just not helpful and we should still try to call on rationality to make things better together.
What do you hope Berlin’s club scene looks like after the pandemic? Among all the talk of clubs closing, gentrification, etc, what gives you hope?
Berlin will be back full force. Creativity is key. We’re here to create and, because of that, I believe there’s a future, even for an exceptional nightlife.
Finally, what’s a track we should listen to right now?
Everything by the label AD93 is recommended, but especially “Avril” by Venus Ex Machina.