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In The Studio: Kaiserdisco

German production duo Kaiserdisco turn up the heat in the studio...

Patrick Buck and Frederic Berger paired up as Kaiserdisco back in 2008 to deliver a unique take on the tech-house sound. Their 2013 dancefloor smash ‘Meet Me On The Floor’ raised their profile, and they’ve produced almost endless remixes and original productions since on labels such as Drumcode, Suara, Snatch and Get Physical. DJ Mag Tech spent a little time at their Hamburg studios to find out how the boys get into the groove...

What was your first entry into the world of electronic equipment?

Patrick: “I bought my first bit of equipment back in 1995. It was an Atari ST with Cubase on it as a sequencer program, running in combination with my very first multi-timbral synthesiser, which was a Quasimidi Technox. The keyboard I used was an old Roland E-20, which I already owned before.”

Frederic: “I’ve never had any hardware equipment. I started my first productions with a Mac Pro and Logic. I also tried to work with Reason or Fruity Loops, but decided to keep on working with Logic as it was the best software in my opinion.”

Tell us about your studio space and how you’ve developed it over the years...

P: “We work in our studio, which is based in Hamburg in an old factory building. Over the last two decades we’ve moved about four times into new studio rooms, until we found the space where we are now, and have been for about 12 years. We went from no hardware and gear in the beginning, and now after so many years we have started acquiring quite a collection. Back then, computers were not as strong and fast as they are today, and everything had to be done outside the computer for the most part. Most of the equipment we had is still in the studio, but we do not use it that much anymore, almost everything happens with a computer. We switched from using a lot of hardware to working almost completely inside the machine, with software and plugins. I guess the most important piece of equipment is our Apple iMac with tons of plugins.”

F: “Yes, it’s mainly all with a computer now and in the end, the whole production process is much easier and we are a lot faster with finishing a production, if everything stays inside the box and we are only using the virtual kit.”  

P: “But it’s always great to use some hardware from time to time. The haptic sensation of turning some knobs on a hardware synthesiser feels much better than drawing a track automation line in Logic.”

So, which key pieces do you like to go back to?

P: “I still love my old Clavia Nordlead synthesiser, with its funny wooden pitch bend/mod wheel. Another one that I still like a lot is the monophonic analogue synthesiser Pulse by Waldorf, with its super fat and brutal bass sounds. It’s not very easy to handle, or to integrate its sounds into productions, but it’s just outstanding.” 

How do you work together, what is your process?

P: “Usually we start at 11am from Monday to Thursday. Sometimes Tuesday to Thursday, it always depends on how stressful the weekend has been. Frederic turns on the machines while I set up a pot of green tea. If we are working on a production, we always work together in the studio. I am generally in front of the computer, doing the programming as I am the more educated producer, while Frederic is giving me feedback, offering ideas when the production is halting a bit, and doing email stuff in the meantime.”

F: “Yeah, our preferred method of production is to sit in the studio together, creating a groove and jamming around on the keyboard until we find a nice and catchy theme that we like. Sometimes we have an idea when we are on tour or when we are just listening to a track or a song from somebody else. Then we try to make a short memo, so that we can remember the idea when we are back in the studio. In the end, there is only one thing that all our productions have to fulfil: they have to fit into our sets.”

P: “It’s more or less always the same. Usually we start with creating a one, two or four-bar groove pattern, which is built out of a mixture of single drum machine sounds and sometimes loops or single sounds taken out of loops. Afterwards we program a bassline so that we have an outstanding and rocking groove at the end, which has to be so interesting that it can run for minutes or even hours without you getting bored.”

F: “Once we’ve got to that point, we’re about halfway there. The next step is most often the hardest; finding the right main theme played with the right sound. Once that process is settled as well, the rest is only craft. Doing a proper and interesting arrangement, working on the track automation and putting in some effects. Finally, at the end, there’s a little mastering, to have a playable DJ master. We use Logic Pro X for all this with many plugins and software instruments, which vary from track to track.”

You guys are very prolific with your own productions and remixes, how do you manage this as well as DJing/touring?

F: “It’s a 24/7 job and you can only do it if this is your real passion. We love what we do and so we can handle that. We also take a yearly creative break in the summertime, when we are only touring and when you won’t find us in the studio.”

P: “It’s full-on a lot of the time, but taking breaks and time off now and then is important to help with your productivity in the studio. As we have a studio at home, it’s easy to find yourself sitting in there more often than you should and not knowing what time of the night it is.”

Is there a natural synergy between you two when it comes to recording and producing?

F: “When we are in the studio our brains seem to be connected to each other, and very often we don’t even have to talk a lot. Mostly we have the same ideas at the same time, and just have to look at each other from time to time to receive a nonverbal confirmation about the current production process.”

P: “Yeah, we have known each other for such a long time now and know what the other one is thinking. We can act and behave more or less as one during the whole production, which helps things run smoothly in the studio.”

For a more detailed look into how Kaiserdisco work in the studio, watch them on our DJ Mag TV channel where they go into more detail on the techniques of their production process.