"I Saw Smiles and Tears in the Crowd!" Stephan Bodzin is Back, With a New Album

Melodic techno icon Stephan Bodzin walks us through the setting, sound, and rituals behind his third studio album, Boavista, out now via Herzblut Recordings.

9 min
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Oct 12, 2021
Cameron Holbrook

One of dance music’s most innovative and recognizable stars, German live act, DJ, and producer Stephan Bodzin, has been a beloved figurehead of the international techno scene for over 15 years.

From his critically acclaimed 2007 debut album Liebe Ist — released via his Herzblut Recordings imprint — to his frequent collaborations with Marc Romboy and releases on labels like Systematic Recordings, Bedrock Records, Life And Death, Global Underground, Afterlife and more, Bodzin’s vast body of work is both prolific and authentic to its core.

Spending two months in Brazil during the height of lockdown in 2020, Stephan Bodzin found it the perfect setting to get started on his third studio album, Boavistanamed after the city that inspired its creation. Having just dropped the 17-track LP, we caught up with Bodzin to learn more about his time in Brazil, how revisiting old projects and stargazing helped him formulate the album, his new live setup, his return to the stage, and more.

Stephan Bodzin’s Boavista LP is out now via Herzblut Recordings.

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Hey Stephan, thanks for joining us! How was your summer?

Ace! I moved to Lisbon, setting up a new life at the moment and enjoying a pretty good amount of sun these days. With the album release ahead I’m pretty excited about what’s coming and can’t wait to see the new show running, hopefully for ADE.

Can you bring us back to your first moments on stage performing in front of an audience once lockdown restrictions were lifted? Where were you, and what was running through your head?

That was clearly the show at Brooklyn Mirage back on July 21st with a super fun b2b with Maceo Plex. My live show right before that was something which I can’t put into words. It was one of the first big events for me for such a long time, the tension was extremely high and everyone was just over the top anyway by being out again, in the middle of a crowd at all, and then me just dropping a low-end bassline through a massive sound system. We all were missing that impact so much. People and I went actually, totally nuts. I had to sit down a few times to hide my emotions a bit, and I saw smiles and tears in the crowd too. A show I won’t forget, that’s for sure.

You spent time in Brazil this year to work on your new album, Boavista. What brought you there, how long were you there for, and how do you think the setting helped you?

Yeah I actually spent two months over there, just some miles away from the Boavista area, which is incidentally how the title for the album came up years ago already. Brazil was never on my personal map as a place to hang out until some friends, who have a nice house in Bahia, invited me last winter. I took my family, a laptop, headphones, a tiny MIDI controller and went there in the middle of Covid to realize how safe and beautiful that decision was.

We had the best time, walking endless beaches, eating healthy only, enjoying life full-on. At one point, after some weeks, I started feeling a bit lost without doing music at all and opened another bottle of wine and my laptop. I haven’t been this clear and off the whole business for a long long time and everything I tried, everything I rediscovered, sounded so good suddenly. From that day I made a ritual out of it, doing one track a night plus shooting the Milky Way after. That resulted in 20-30 tracks and some impressive photos.

Cameron Holbrook is a staff writer for Beatportal. Find him on Twitter.

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You dug into your unfinished music archives for the album, picking 25 favorites as a launch point for the LP. How many unfinished projects did you sort through, how far back do they date, and what was going through your mind while revisiting your personal techno time capsule?

My laptop is still full of gems for sure. I definitely didn’t make it through all the content and ideas I collected since 2018. I compiled a lot, refreshed a lot, mixed things up and had to re-record and finish a lot back home in a proper studio of course. But at one point in Brazil I realized that it’s an album I’m working on here and not just fixing some tunes. A good workflow-starting kickoff was actually a remix I produced there — laptop and headphones only — for Mathew Johnson’s legendary “Marionette,” which will be out later this year.

Tell us more about the album artwork — what inspired it?

The artwork was inspired by the variety of possible interpretations of Boavista, which means “good view,” and can be a good perspective on a landscape, but also on life in general. This is so positively connected that it had to be this colourful, this intense, and overdone spectrum of what can’t be described anymore. Again, I was working with Daniel Rossa, who also did the visualizing around powers of ten back in 2015. I’m more than happy and proud to work with this absolute outstanding artist again. He’ll join me for some near future shows to perform his art live — I can’t wait to see that stuff created in real time.

You are releasing your album via your own Herzblut Recordings imprint, which has been on hiatus since 2018 — are you considering releasing more new music on the label?

Not at all. I’m no A&R, I just opened Herzblut again to stay independent and keep the rights for my music in house.

What’s your favorite toy in the studio at the moment?

Most probably my two new buddies joining me for my new live-setup: the Moog Matriarch and Modor dr-2. Both actually played a big role in producing the album so it’s logical to bring them to stage now. It’s going to be plexiglass overkill doubling the setup with that stuff.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

More sun, more shows, more fun, less nos. Wow, now that’s a nice one. Seriously. Working hard on the ADE shows, bringing the Boavista tour on stage there. A huge USA-tour is coming. Many clubs scheduled over the winter. And already preparing everything for the Boavista remix album, which will feature around 25 mixes by — let’s say you might know most of them — and has its release February 22. So, busy and productive times ahead. Though I’m still saving some energy for my family and sailing the river Tejo.

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s North American Editor. Find him on Twitter.

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