DJ style: “No DJ, live.”
Best known for: “Live techno.”
Emerging on Ellen Allien’s BPitch label during the tail end of the ‘90s, Paul Kalbrenner has become one of techno’s biggest global artists. The Berlin producer has achieved this by focusing on album production and an unexpected career side-step: in 2004, the film director Hannes Stoehr commissioned him to provide the soundtrack for the movie Berlin Calling. This led to Kalkbrenner performing in the leading role. The film became a surprise hit, and drew audiences all around Europe. Crucially for Kalbrenner, the soundtrack went platinum and the single ‘Sky & Sand’ spent over 120 consecutive weeks in the German singles charts.
While a documentary about Kalkbrenner’s life on the road followed in 2010, he has exclusively focused on his own production work, releasing a total of eight studio albums to date.
Kalkbrenner’s energetic live shows have played a key part in his ascent, and in recent years he has shared festival stages with mainstream acts like Florence & The Machine, Iggy Pop and Blur.
This ability to rock a crowd even drew attention from the German government, and in 2014 they asked him to play a headline show in front of the Brandenburg Gate as part of the ceremony to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Kalkbrenner performed to over 400,000 people at the event.
Last year, he celebrated his underground roots with his ‘Back To The Future’ mixtape series, a trilogy that chronicles his personal history of electronic music’s arrival to Germany. The series went viral, amassing over 1.5million downloads. A 10-date country tour sold out within minutes.
2018 saw him release his eighth studio album, ‘Parts Of Life’, a deeply personal work that embodies his entrancing techno sound.
Words: RICHARD BROPHY