Interview conducted by our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider.
When I first heard Session Victim’s See You When You get There, back in 2014, it took my taste for house music off at a tangent. Over the last decade the German duo have been on the edge of the arc, constantly producing tracks that go above and beyond, and way outside the norm. Transcending trends. Their new E.P., The Intangibles, released this week on the pair’s home-from-home label, Delusions of Grandeur, is crafted to perfection and set to write the next chapter in these cut-above-the-rest artists` constant ascent. Here, Matthias stops for a moment to share a bit of their story so far.
Photo by SC.
It’s lovely to talk to you Matthias. How are you and where are you?
Thank you so much for having us. We are really good, being healthy, and able to spend lots of time on creating music. I’m in Berlin today, two train stops from the studio, and three from Haukes’ place.
Hauke lives in Berlin, but I split my time between Hamburg and Berlin these days. Our studio is in Neukölln, so I probably spend three out of four weeks here right now.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about you and what you’re up to?
My name is Matthias, I’m the bass player in Session Victim, and right after talking to you I will split the rest of my afternoon between chopping drums on the ASR, chopping vegetables for dinner, and chopping monsters in Elden Ring.
What do you love about Berlin?
My Love for Berlin? Hmm, first and foremost my people… girlfriend, friends, fellow musicians. Next in line is Heideglühen, my favourite place to go to for dancing, chilling, hanging out. If you haven’t yet, you should come check it out.
Do you think that Berlin is still the best place to be for a music producer?
Haha, I don’t think Berlin was ever the really “best place to be for a music producer”. There’s great things about Berlin, like the enormous club landscape to explore and get inspired by – but then there’s difficult things – like the enormous club landscape being so vast and over-saturated with lots of people in it for very different reasons than yourself. It’s all a matter of perspective and state of mind, isn’t it?
The place you both grew up, Lüneburg, can you paint us picture of what it was like growing up there?
Lüneburg is a small north German town, close to Hamburg, with a rich medieval history and, well, not a crazy huge variety of cultural offerings for a teenager – at least not 120 years ago, when we went to school there.
We’ve told this story before, but Hauke and me actually met through a common friend, and we all got together because we wanted to throw a party with actual turntables, beat-mixing, and all that good stuff. So one guy had one record player, another guy had the second one… I didn’t have anything at that time, but I tried to make that up through enthusiasm and determination.
How did you establish that you were going to be musical buddies? What was the catalyst for this relationship?
We just fell in love with dance music and DJing together. Digging, learning production techniques – we did most of this stuff together. There’s no catalyst other than music, and all the joy that comes with it – but sharing all this definitely is the key and centre to everything Session Victim.
What kind of music were you both into back in those early years? Did you share the same tastes?
Yes, and no. At our first parties, Hauke would mainly play techno and electro, while I was really into drum & bass. Our concept was to switch the tempo at a certain time of the night – which went way better in Lüneburg, with our 50 to 150 people audiences than it did when we first tried to take that whole thing to Hamburg, hahaha.
Did you have a big plan back then that you wanted to be globetrotting DJs?
Yes, of course. After we managed to not get shut down by the cops at our first jam – which took place in the asbestos polluted ruin of a World War II ammunitions factory – we quickly realized that this was the safe and solid career option our parents had always wished for.
Was radio important for you then?
Me, no. Not at all. Well, not true: There was one show: Black Traxx with DJ Marius No.1 – hip hop, mixed from records, a true unicorn in northern Germany at that time.
Were you and Hauke doing anything musically before Session Victim came about? Did you produce or release music on other labels?
When we started Session Victim “officially”, the metal band that I`d been playing in for 10 years had just ended. Making beats came even earlier though, when someone gave me a 4-track sequencer program for my Amiga 500 in 1991 or 1992.
What was your ever first release as Session Victim?
Our first solo release was the No Friends E.P. which came out on Real Soon in 2008. We did get the chance to do a remix of Hi Murda by Agnés for Resopal Red one year prior to that though.
What do you know about the music industry now, that you wish you knew back then? What would you tell a young Matthias and Hauke?
Don’t believe the Hype! That’s a good question, as today’s industry has changed a lot since back when we started. I’d tell myself to be patient, and that things will come together in a way I cannot imagine. Also, to get myself a job and buy a few Jupiters and CS-80s ASAP, haha.
Which do you think has been your most notable release?
That’s hard to say, since lots of things have turned out to be important for our development over time, especially looking back on it. That being said – the process of writing our second album, See You When You Get There, which we started at our friend EO’s studio in San Francisco, when we stayed there for 4 weeks in 2013, had a major impact on my personal perception of us being musicians, of how fortunate and lucky we were to be able to do this – two idiots from Lüneburg recording and album in fucking San Francisco! As grateful as we were, and are, about this, we also felt like: If we don’t turn our chances into something well then we really don’t deserve it! It worked, it still works, and I still wake up sometimes and can’t believe it.
Are there any of your records that you feel should have gotten more love?
Honestly, no. We are getting so much love for what we do, I’m not asking for anything. The songs that have gotten the most attention have rarely been the ones that we expected to do so – and that’s fine with me… and to be honest, I can imagine that some our our “sleepers” maybe sometimes get picked up at a record store and make someone happy in the way that they made us feel when we made them – and that alone is a very comforting thought.
As a long-time Session Victim lover, I have a few of your records… Ahem! I really enjoyed the cover of The City, which you brought out a few years back. Such a cool vibe. Is there any more music along these lines to come?
Thank you for the support, and I’m glad you enjoyed that one! The original is a favourite song for both of us – we played it as the last record of the night quite a few times. We love doing cover versions – especially when playing with friends, like in this case Carsten, Jamie and Linnart. Not all of them need to be released, but in this case, we really wanted to do it – and I’m quite certain something like this will happen again.
I guess you found that record on a dig. Do you still love to dig for rare gems and dusty obscurities?
We do love to dig. It doesn’t have to be rare or particularly obscure – just new and exciting for us. Hitting the record store with a few quid, browsing, meeting people, maybe get a recommendation from someone, or just stumbling over an interesting looking cover art – all that is just quality time.
I remember very well when Hauke found The City at a store called “Death Of Vinyl” in Montreal – the same day, and place, I discovered Le Chat du Café Des Artistes by Jean Pierre Ferland. It was a great day!
There’s so much new music around, but what artists do you think are making great stuff at the moment?
Hmm, let’s see: There’s some interesting rap at the moment, for example Rome Streetz, Rapsody, and Benny The Butcher, are people that I really enjoy right now. Talking jazz, I love the last Kokoroko album – I can’t wait to see them at Xjazz Festival Berlin.
You are both vinyl only DJs right? Do you never play with a stick?
No, never. I don’t even have a USB stick. Hauke has a USB tentacle that moves when you plug it in, but you cannot store data on it.
Your recent release on Rhythm Section was incredible. Was that fun to work on and any more plans to work with Bradley?
Thank you! We are very happy with that record. Emily, Mali and Bradley from Rhythm Section have been friends of ours for a few years, and the idea of doing a record together has been tossed around for quite a bit. At some point we sent them a bunch of sketches of which they immediately picked Orbits Of Dust. We said great, let us produce the rest of the E.P. and get back to you – which we did. The whole RS crew is amazing to work with, and even better to hang out with – and hell yeah, we can definitely imagine doing something with them again in the future. We need to make the right music for that first though.
Delusions Of Grandeur is a regular spot for you – home turf in a sense. How far do you all go back, and what is it that brings you back time and time again to DOG?
Because Tom, Jimpster, and the whole gang are, to quote Tina Turner, “simply the best”, for countless reasons. We’ve been quite lucky with most of the people that we’ve had the chance to work with, but this crew we would not trade for anyone or anything.
The Intangibles E.P. goes bang from the off. Surprisingly, it chills as you go though the record. Congratulations it’s gorgeous! Can you tell us about the release?
Thank you again! I never heard the expression “bang from the off” before, but I will steal it and use it on the next person who asks me what The Intangibles sounds like!
With E.P.s, we often try to put tracks together that share a certain energy but, from a DJ perspective, can be used in different settings and at different times of the day. My personal highlight, as of now, is the A-Side, Motivation. We approached the whole arrangement from a very reduced, dubby angle, with just a few elements, and lots of live knob twiddling, rather than meticulous automation programming. Well, to be fair, bit of that was added when we revisited it a few weeks after the initial jam session, but most of the track happened in just a few hours, with us head-banging in the studio.
At some point we took a little break and watched a video clip by Ras Stimulant, just because we like his voice, and his way of putting thoughts into words. When we went back to the arrangement, we accidentally started the video alongside the sequencer and it sounded so spot on, that we reached out to him right away, sent him our sketch and asked if he would be up for doing something together. Although he didn’t know us, he was very nice and open to it right away. We highly recommend you check out his youtube channel!
I see you are playing at KALA. The line up looks very tempting. Is it your first time playing at the festival?
It’s not only our first time at KALA but also our very first time in Albania, so we are super excited! We’ve only seen a few pictures and read a few names from the line-up but it sure looks like a fantastic set up! We can’t wait!
How are you rave batteries these days, are they still fully charged?
Fully charged indeed. We also got the big ones, those with the extension packs you know. Tell them junior selectors to charge up, leave the backstage and join us on the dancefloor!
Do you ever drive each other nuts? What`s the secret to staying a productive duo?
Yes, of course we do. We`ve been best friends and business partners for more than a decade, and we take pride in the fact that neither of us has killed the other one yet. Whatever differences we face, it seems that our passion for music and love for each other is always able to overcome the obstacles along the way. This feels like success to me more than anything else ever has.
Session Victim’s The Intangibles E.P. can be ordered directly from Delusions Of Grandeur.
2 thoughts on “Interview / Matthias Reiling / Session Victim – By The Insider”
I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading Maze’s words here
I’m very glad to hear that amigo