The Berlin-based underground club producer celebrates his astonishingly good new album Superlative Fatigue with an extra special mix – expect UK funky, kuduro, hard drum tracks and more
Erik Wiegand, the Berlin-based DJ and producer better known as Errorsmith, likes to think of his new album, Superlative Fatigue, as “rather accessible and cheerful”, a reflection of his desire to balance the less serious side of underground dance music with something more sincere. Indeed, the album, Wiegand’s first in 13 years, finds him on significantly smoother terms than 2004’s self-released Near Disco Dawn, a record which was put together from raw, freeform live recordings captured between 2000 and 2003.
After a brief period spent considering whether to take up another moniker for Superlative Fatigue’s release, he eventually stuck to his original name. “I don’t want to put myself in a box and limit the sounds I can release as Errorsmith,” Wiegand tells me as we connect one afternoon over Skype. Where Near Disco Dawn embraced austere, loop-driven electronics, his new album, which is out via experimental electronic label PAN, sets its sights on more colourful synths and beat patterns that sit somewhere between dancehall, UK funky and techno.
That’s not to say though that the idiosyncrasies of Wiegand’s past work, either by himself, as part of MMM with Berghain mainstay Fiedel, or alongside Sound Stream as Smith N Hack, aren’t present on the album. From the pitch-shifted robotic vocals of opener “Lightspeed” to the ecstatic, maniacal synths of “I’m Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable”, Wiegand’s mark can be heard firmly all over the record’s eight tracks.
An album that has been six years in the making, and finished following a prolonged period of frustration at being unable to complete projects, it was largely assembled using a digital synth tool called RAZOR which Wiegand developed himself alongside German technology company Native Instruments. Using his own self-built tools to create music has been a part of Wiegand’s creative process since his first solo release in 1999. Viewing samples as too static, his own instruments have allowed him to develop a sound all of his own stamped by warped, glitch-ridden experimentation that’s not afraid to test dance floors.
Ahead of Superlative Fatigue’s release, Errorsmith put together our latest Dazed Mix, which presents music from his new record alongside cuts that he says have a “similar rhythm or vibe” – expect UK funky, kuduro, hard drum tracks and more. He also spoke to us about his first forays into house and techno, as well as the ideas behind his new album.
Could you tell us a little about your introduction to house and techno before forming MMM with Fiedel in 1996 and producing yourself?
Errorsmith: I was listening to a lot of radio in my hometown of Kassel in the late 1980s, and I was interested in a lot of different music, particularly classic hip hop – Boogie Down Productions, Jungle Brothers, that kind of era. There was radio from Frankfurt which is not very far away from my hometown, so I was able to hear people like Sven Väth and other DJs playing on the radio at that time. I found this compilation CD called Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit in a local record shop which had all the heroes of that sound on it like Derrick May and so forth.
I moved to Berlin in 1991 and started listening to more radio and going to clubs here. I came across a DJ who was very influential to me, not only because of the music he played but also because he connected me to lots of friends like Fiedel and Frank (Timm, aka Sound Stream). His name was DJ Niplz, and he had a radio show on Kiss FM in Berlin. Sadly he died of AIDS. He specialised very much in house and techno, but he had been a DJ for a long time before I met him, since the 1980s. He knew a lot about the history of the music, and he played plenty of disco as well. It felt like an introduction to the roots and it made me really appreciate the history of house and techno.
“My personal interest is mainly in music that makes people dance... that is very creative and doesn’t follow expectations” – Errorsmith
Would you describe Superlative Fatigue as a dance floor record, and do you always keep dance floors in mind when you are producing music?
Errorsmith: My personal interest is mainly in music that makes people dance. I can listen to other stuff and appreciate it still of course, but it might not give me as many kicks as dance music that is very creative and doesn’t follow expectations. I really like music that is danceable but very fresh. I definitely made this record with this idea in mind. I know a lot of my music can be challenging in a dancefloor setting though – definitely with my previous solo records.
A lot of the material on this album was debuted at Unsound Festival in Kraków last year, so was that show significant to its development?
Errorsmith: That gig gave me a big push to finish the album. I was already working on all of these tracks before the show, and it was very nice that Unsound asked me to play even though I didn’t have any hype around me having a new album coming at that time. It gave me a push to work faster on the ideas I had for the album, and gave me my first opportunity to present those ideas to an audience to see their reaction. When you work alone in the studio for a long time, you can lose some sense of objectivity, so you can gain it back from playing that music for an audience. What I do live is very similar to what I do in the studio. I like to jam in the studio with my set-up. When I play live, I use a lot of RAZOR synthesisers and plug-ins so I’m able to physically control the sound and change things in a drastic way.
Could you talk me through the new album’s title?
Errorsmith: The title came after the tracks were produced, so it’s not something that I had in mind as a theme at the time. I had a look through a collection of interesting words and phrases that I keep to give me inspiration for titles. I think I read the two words together in something about Donald Trump. He’s the perfect example of superlative fatigue. He always speaks in superlatives, like there’s a video where someone has cut together all of the times he uses the word ‘billions’. He uses certain words so much that everyone becomes tired of it and it just means nothing. Anyone with a brain will know that it’s nonsense. But also in social media you find an over-usage of superlatives to get attention. I like it as album title, because in a broader sense it reflects the balance of the over-the-top, at times hysterical and ridiculous character of the album which is the superlative part. The sincere and strong emotional side of it, the fatigue part, is a kind of reality check.
“Donald Trump (is) the perfect example of superlative fatigue... he uses certain words so much that everyone becomes tired of it and it just means nothing. Anyone with a brain will know that it’s nonsense” – Errorsmith
How did your connection with PAN label head Bill Kouligas come about?
Errorsmith: We were introduced by Mark Fell. Mark and I shared a stage in Berlin and Bill expressed his interest in releasing something from me. He was very welcoming and I was very frustrated at that time that I hadn’t been able to finish something for such a long time. Shortly after that, Mark and I worked together and we were discussing where to release it. We thought it would be a good idea to share it via PAN.
Usually I would release my music myself. All of the MMM and Smith N Hack records have been self-released too. I wondered if I should do that again with this record, but it took so much effort to just finish the album, so I didn’t want to do the label work as well. The outcome is stronger when you work with other people and you can generate more interest. I really like that PAN spans the spectrum from danceable music to really experimental stuff – that is hard to find elsewhere, and it reflects what I like about electronic music.
01. NKC – “Codeine Crash”
02. Errorsmith – “Centroid”
03. Superficie – “Fantazma”
04. Tom Trago & Bok Bok – “Get Me What You Want”
05. Fiedel – “Positron”
06. Anti G – “Just A Test”
07. Errorsmith – “Who-Is”
08. French Fries – “Bug Noticed”
09. Robert Hood – “Clash”
10. Dj Nigga Fox – “Principe”
11. Bambounou – “Alpha”
12. Lil Silva – “Flex vs. Pulse”
13. Nadus – “No Feels”
14. MMM (Errorsmith & Fiedel) – “Jack 7”
15. Helix – “Stacks Riddim”
16. Errorsmith – “Lightspeed”
17. Lil Silva – “Gobble That”
18. DJ Nedwyt-Fox – “Hino Dos Mil Mambos”
19. Mouse On Mars – “Jack Is Out” (Arson Only edit)
20. Marfox – “Funk em Kuduro”
21. Qeei –” Prrosigo”
22. Sully – “Assembly 1”
23. T A M – “Watty”
Errorsmith’s Superlative Fatigue is out via PAN now