Anyone who’s encountered Stephan Bodzin’s music won’t be surprised to learn that he's the son of an experimental musician. Born in Bremen, Germany in 1969, he's quite clearly his father's son, and as a DJ, live act, producer and label owner, he occupies an enviable position within dance music's fold. An individual whose music and approach have aged like a fine wine, he’s arguably been enjoying the finest form of his career over the past five years.
So what better time to take stock of it all? Here, we highlight some of the key points of Stephan Bodzin’s life in music...
The trance phase (the ‘90s)
Some of Bodzin’s earliest productions were as part of Pulzar, a duo he spearheaded alongside Oliver Huntemann. Their track ‘Evolution’ appeared on the ‘HB/Project’ compilation, and was released via the J.U.I.C.E imprint back in 1994. Bodzin also worked with Kim Lacour around this period, with Lacour, Bodzin and Huntemann forming KayCee. Responsible for tracks such as 'Sunshine' and 'Love Stimulation', these anthems caused quite a splash on the White Isle back in the day. That said, it's not a period Bodzin looks back on with particular fondness...
Learning to DJ (2006)
Hard as it is to imagine now, Stephan Bodzin only became a fully-fledged DJ in 2006 at no less than 36 years old. Having practically lived inside a studio since the age of five thanks to his father’s considerable synth collection, it was actually his brother who taught him to DJ after Oliver Huntemann left a pair of his turntables in the studio. Starting off by mixing two of his own tracks together, he then spent two months learning how to DJ for eight hours a day before playing his first set to four-hundred fans in Hamburg.
Herzblut Recordings (2006)
Bodzin formed his own label, Herzblut in 2006. Still going strong to this day, the label recently released a brilliant 12” by Luna Semara. Firmly committed to high-quality recordings, Herzblut is a label that embraces a firm dedication to unearthing new talent and has also played host to some of the scene’s most prominent names. Previous alumni include Dominik Eulberg, Max Cooper, Pig & Dan and Bodzin’s regular collaborator, Marc Romboy. With over 60 releases under its belt, Herzblut Recordings has since become a true powerhouse in the German electronic music scene.
‘Liebe Ist…’ (2007)
Bodzin released his debut album in 2007 via Herzblut. A celebration of the minimal techno style he’s best associated with, ‘Liebe Ist…’ confirmed Bodzin’s status as a producer of considerable repute - and someone whose production nous was far from limited to the EP format. Always prolific, Bodzin had put his name to almost twenty releases the previous year, with his well-known penchant for collaboration proving a regular factor. He might well be a former classical composer, but ‘Liebe Ist’ emphatically marked Stephan Bodzin as a musician who wasn’t afraid to make a strong statement of intent regarding his new found style.
Super Flu – Jo Gurt (Stephan Bodzin Remix) (2014)
It’s far from just collabs and solo records for which Bodzin is known. Indeed, when he pops up with a remix, it’s nearly always one that's worth savouring. Back in 2014, he did exactly that courtesy of his remix of Super Flu’s ‘Jo Gurt’. A record that really blew people’s minds, it bared all the hallmarks of a classic Bodzin jam, albeit with arguably even more of a dancefloor dynamite. A reminder to all about what a great remix is capable of, Bodzin’s interpretation achieved that most elusive goal of a rework — it manged to eclipse the original! Stunning work.
2014 would prove to be a vintage year for Stephan Bodzin. Aside from his Super Flu remix, he also released ‘Sungam’ to great acclaim. A track that quickly earned a reputation as an instant classic, it was regularly featured in best-of-year lists thanks to its dubbed-out beat and electronic organ. Such was the response to the record that it warranted a remix package, released via Marc Romboy’s Systematic in 2015. A classic Bodzin track and a spiritual synth-based journey, if you’ve never encountered Stephan Bodzin’s work, then ‘Sungam’ is a good place to start.
Collaborations, collaborations, collaborations…
Few producers are as adept at embracing the collaboration process as Stephan Bodzin. Whatever happens when he’s in the studio with the likes of Marc Romboy or Oliver Huntemann, there’s no doubt that it’s a way of working that really brings his talent to the fore. Under their various project names (Bodzin & Huntemann, Rekorder or H-Man), the duo have released a string of fantastic releases, while their rare b2b sessions are the stuff of legend. Aside from Romboy and Huntemann, Bodzin has also found time to release alongside the likes of Caitlin Devlin and Thomas Schumacher. Unafraid to let go of total control in the studio, Bodzin (and whoever he is collaborating with) always seem to yield stunning results.
‘Powers of Ten’ (2015)
‘Powers of Ten’ is Stephan Bodzin’s second solo album. It was released in 2015 on Herzblut and was intended as a tribute to Robert Moog, the inventor of the Moog synthesiser. Named after the book by Philip and Phylis Morrison which discusses the nature of the universe, ‘Powers of Ten’ is a musical journey through smooth, grooving techno beats and beautiful synth lines. Want a copy? Then be sure to head to Discogs, where copies are on sale for no less than £150!
'Without it, everything would appear to be nothing more than a hollow shell’
This is Stephan Bodzin’s famous quote on authenticity. Having made what he called ‘bad but successful’ music in the 1990s, he is now defined as a musician by a steely determination to create and refine his own sound. Calling it simply 'techno' and nothing else, he pays no attention to trends and always follows his instinct. ‘I don’t give a shit about any direction any genre takes at any time. I’m doing music from the bottom of my heart’. It's this firm refusal to be pigeonholed that’s made Stephan Bodzin one of the trendsetters of the modern techno world.
Playing with a live band
While as a stand-alone live performer Bodzin is already near impossible to beat, he recently pushed the envelope even further by getting a whole dang marching band to join him on stage during a recent set. Combining his peerless live technique with the immense brass and percussion of the live band made for a pretty unforgettable experience and one that we hope could be recreated in some capacity in future. This collaboration, as with his studio collabs, showcased once again how diverse the talent of Stephan Bodzin is and how exciting it is when he teams up with other musicians. What all this proves, as if it needed further proving, is that Bodzin is a tireless artist who shows no signs of slowing his willingness to innovate and experiment within his field. No doubt we'll still be singing his praises for years to come.
Cover image via Stephan Bodzin Facebook page / Natascha Romboy Photography