Just after Hong Kong’s fireworks ceremony commemorating Lunar New Year, I had the chance to speak with Berlin electronica pioneer, Patrick Bodmer of M.A.N.D.Y. at the highest bar in the world both before and after his set. We had a chat about everything from the current state of the electronic music scene to what we’ve been jamming.
MEB: So first off, what’s it like to be back in Hong Kong?
Patrick: It’s amazing, I mean the impression is that Europe is something like 500 years behind this place. Just look at the skyscrapers and the money-driven economy and general speed of this place. I usually only come here once a year and am always amazed to see just how much changes. In Berlin it’s like when one building site goes up, it takes them five years but here it’s so fast. It’s a very impressive place.
What do you think of the electronica scene here in Hong Kong as opposed to back home in Germany, or Europe in general?
I cannot say that I really have an overview of what the scene like is here. I also have not played a big festival here. All I really know are the clubs I was playing. What strikes me is that they are always really small clubs – only 200, 300 people. Like in Europe we have bigger clubs and a bigger scene but these places in Hong Kong are always quite charming. It may be a small crowd but they are always really cool.
Now you’ve been at this a long time. God, probably back before I was even in high school. What do you think of the newer generation of electronica?
I don’t even know where to start, there are just so many people and it’s evolved and has gone off in so many directions. So tell me, who do you like right now?
Well, a couple of weeks ago I attended a Steve Aoki concert in Macau.
Guys like him are on a whole ‘nother level. He plays for just enormous crowds.
One thing I notice about his music and a lot of other new music compared to yours is that there is a much faster beat and a lot of dub-step being incorporated.
It’s hard to generalize, no? But yes, there is a lot of new music that is dub-step oriented and it’s amazing. But, if you take a look at the production, the production skills required are nowhere near that of artists like Aphex Twin and that was over ten years ago. So when I see something like science-fiction, high-tech, new-beat stuff like what’s playing now I think it does not have as much skill to it or as much soul. When you think about unique talents out there, people with real talent there are not so many. I see many successful and rich music producers and their music is very superficial. Maybe it just fits to a high speed generation like the “iPhone generation” where everything has to be right out front and very quick, so maybe if the music is slower they will get bored. So if you ask me, I feel that my approach to electronic music – I’m very traditional.
You mentioned the difference in production between what you do and what they do. Could you elaborate on that a little more?
I thought, that music and technical skills were already combined in such a great way from people like Herbert and Aphex Twin – that I find it hard to compete with that even 10 years later even with all the new software possibilities.
So who are you listening to right now?
Right now? I really like Redshape. I honestly can’t think of anyone else right now because of so many long distance flights. Maybe I could tell you the name of my father, but my memory is just horrible right now.
Where’d you just come from?
Perth, Australia, and I also played two other places there including Sydney. For an old man like me, four days in a row is something, yeah?
So what about you, what sort of electronic artists are you listening to now?
I like people like Steve Aoki a lot, been listening to him for a few years. Also been jamming a lot of Borgore lately as well some older artists like yourself or Armin van Buuren.
Yeah, yeah, I know them. What about your favourite band?
Oh yes! Those guys have been at this for a long time, like me. There are just so many names out there now. Especially when it comes to new electronic or dance music – it is just incredible.
You called yourself an “old man,” while I wouldn’t go that far, it does make me curious, how long do you think you’ll keep doing this for?
Until I will be really old. As long as I physically will be able to do that maybe. Sometimes I think I need a break, but then, after two weeks I miss the club already a lot. It´s strange, after 20 years of clubbing I am still not tired of it.
As someone that has been doing this a long time, what sort of advances in making electronic music have influenced your sound the most?
None really to be honest. I still work with nearly the same setup as 10 years ago. A bit more software and the new Ableton but that has no influence on the music we do. It’s supporting the production process, but not leading to other directions.
What do you have coming up? Any albums, big remixes, etc.
We just remixed a project of New Order & Westbam, will be released in may, we are working on a remix for Damian Lazarus and other remixes and tracks in studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The atmosphere of the environment there has got more influence on us, than the technical side.
Any final thoughts? How did you like playing at Ozone?
I loved it. Hong Kong is magic.