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BUTCH: ONE STEP AHEAD

One of house's hottest properties

With huge records like 'No Worries' and hits for Rekids, Noir Music, Visionquest and Hot Creations, his new collabo with Christian Vogt is already doing damage all over the shop — and there's more where that came from, the feted house cat tells us...

“I loved the DJs in the movie Wildstyle, with the breakbeats and the freshness of their parties. Initially, I was into hip-hop more, but my big brother dug techno and asked me to record a techno radio show on a Saturday night while he went clubbing. I thought the music was cool but it was a while before I was really into it. It wasn’t until I actually went clubbing as a teenager that I kind of understood what it was all about.

It’s music that transcends the ear. It needs to be felt.” So says German DJ/producer extraordinaire, Butch, and it’s fair to say that he’s a man who’s fully converted to the sounds of 4/4. A prolific producer, Butch has put his stamp on a number of records for some of the scene’s most seminal labels, with Rekids, Sei Es Drum and Cecille among those who’ve courted his services over the past decade. And with a roll call like that, it’s hardly surprising he’s considered one of house music’s most alluring and unpredictable producers.

Growing up in Mainz, Germany, Bülent Gürler (as he’s known to his family and friends) started experimenting with sound by the time he was in his late teens. A second-generation Turkish immigrant, he’s very much part of a new wave of sons and daughters who revelled in Germany’s late '80s/early '90s scene, the likes of which Ricardo Villalobos, a long-time collaborator and good friend of Butch’s (who we’ll touch on later) is arguably the most renowned. Yet while Butch is quick to point to his musical education in his hometown (and nearby Frankfurt) as central to his tastes, he’s also at pains to point out that it wasn’t always better in the day.

“I don't want to glorify the past,” he says. “The ravers back then were all wearing ugly-ass clothes and had their tribal tattoos, which I really don't care for. I know this sounds superficial, but on the other hand it also illustrates this myth that ‘back then, it was only about the music and now it's just about being cool'… as that just isn't true. Usually most people have both that desire and love for the music. It's still the same in many ways.”

NO WORRIES
Unsurprisingly then, Butch is a man who emphatically belongs in the camp marked ‘music lover’. He’s also someone who prefers to look forward rather than backwards, and it’s a trait that courses through his music too.

While the rest of the world had their heads in a spin thanks to the onslaught of minimal, Butch was crafting off-kilter techno, showing scant regard for the rulebook by releasing ‘Nomad’; an unashamed acid house anthem that was completely at odds with the times. When tech house came to be the predominant sound some years later, Butch released ‘No Worries’; a soulful, party-starting, sample-heavy bomb that would grow to be one of Ibiza 2010’s most recognisable anthems — very possibly because it was just so different to everything else at the time.

If you’re beginning to detect a pattern here, it’s that Butch isn’t one for sticking to conventional practices. When we quiz him on the subject he heartily agrees, and laughs as he tells us that he’s “already one step ahead of us all”. But we couldn’t know he insists, as he “makes music on a daily basis, so what I release is usually completely different to what I am making at the time of the actual release.

At the moment I'm darker again, working with psycho-acoustics and trippy grooves”. “These developments,” he continues, “aren't conscious choices but more natural movements as I follow my intuition and try out new things. I get bored quickly so I switch genres all the time.

So as I say, it's not a conscious choice. I have some ideas for a song and I'm not afraid that it might not be what people want or expect from me. I couldn't be making music if I carried those thoughts around with me. From my first release I've had people liking and disliking what I do.”

SHAPESHIFTING
The latter statement definitely rings true, and while a number of purists question how Butch can work with Ostgut Ton’s Virginia as well as the aforementioned Villalobos — but also remix for the likes of Steve Angello and Riva Starr — it’s not something that’s of any concern to him. As if to hammer home the point, Butch is a producer who doesn’t care for what’s popular or in vogue, preferring instead to let his most valuable assets — his ears — lead him in the right direction. And his latest outing is very much indicative of his penchant for going at it as only he knows how.

Released on Shield’s revivalist-leaning Rebirth imprint, the ‘The Infamous’ EP, a collaboration with Christian Vogt, sees Butch in devastatingly impressive form, as he goes back to his roots on a label where doing so is par for the course.

A deceivingly delicate number, it sees Butch don his Balearic hat with some distinction thanks to its nimble melodies, while the track’s abrasive percussion provides a fitting and excellent contrast. With its jazzy overtones and strident kick, it could almost be mistaken for the work of St.Germain, but it’s particularly telling that it’s Butch — rather than the esoteric and much renowned Frenchman — who comes up trumps with a jazz/house number here.

“With this track, I felt like flexing my jazz muscles,” he affirms, “and I’m really pleased with the result. Christian [Vogt] came to my studio and we had a great time together. I had already prepared a little something and Christian was down with it immediately, had great ideas and then we welded it together. I’m happy to say it even exceeded my high expectations.” And high expectations, we soon realise, are pretty much what make Butch tick.

When chatting to him, DJ Mag is almost immediately impressed by the confidence with which Butch talks up his music. When we put it to him that he’s perhaps always been a confident producer, he doesn’t dispute our claims, and is quick to agree.

“Look,” he tells us, “I didn’t ‘make it’ because of some fairytale-style lucky break, but because I worked hard and persistently at it. I worked in the studio for years on a daily basis for about a decade until I started to have my stuff released. It was only when I started to feel the music I was making was good enough to pass on that [Butch’s fellow Bouq Records label boss] Amir and I worked on getting the connections.

Living in Germany and near Frankfurt that’s not so difficult [to make connections]. You just go to the parties, introduce yourself and pass on your CD or whatever. If you’re lucky you’ll get their email address and stay in touch. With others you’re not so lucky — you just have to keep at it.”

AMAZING RESIDENCY
While Butch’s scaling to the top of the electronic music tree might be attributable to a mix of talent and perseverance, there’s no doubting that glowing endorsements from some of house and techno’s leading lights have made his path to the top that much easier. “Ricardo [Villalobos] supported me really early on and I’m really thankful for this, as him digging and playing my records really opened doors for me.

He is obviously a really great artist and even more importantly, a lovely human being. The likes of Sven [Väth] and Richie [Hawtin] are also great guys, and their endorsement has meant a lot to my career and development as an artist.” 

Considering the type of music he puts his hand to, it’s of little surprise that Butch’s stock in Ibiza has grown year-on-year. Having recently played with the Visionquest crew at Space, he’ll also DJ at Circoloco at DC10 this season, while there’s also the small matter of Cocoon’s Closing Party later on in the summer.

If Sven & co supported him way back when, it’s obvious that their passion for Butch’s sounds is as unrelenting as its ever been. While Ibiza’s keeping him busy DJ wise, it’s Butch’s new project, Otherside, that’s taking up most of his recent production efforts. A label and a live act that he’s running with his partner, Hohberg, the duo will also be working on a debut album.

Next year, however, Butch promises to be back on the island with an “amazing residency that I’m really excited about”, before sarcastically laughing and telling us that his recent production emphasis is a case of “business before pleasure”. Friendly and articulate, it doesn’t escape DJ Mag’s thoughts that Butch is the very antithesis to some of the scene’s less engaging and frankly pretentious house and techno heads. But then again — as you might have noted by now — Butch is a man who likes to do things as only he knows how.

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