Finding ‘Fusion’ with Len Faki
Finding ‘Fusion’ with Len FakiJuly 16, 2023
Len Faki is a force. The German DJ/producer and label head of the ever-evolving Figure imprint has been at the forefront of the techno scene since the turn of the century, famously taking up residency at the illustrious Berlin club Berghain when it first opened back in 2004. In addition to dazzling crowds on a regular basis at techno’s most revered destination and throughout the world’s club and festival circuit, Len Faki has produced dozens of classic dance floor anthems such as “Mekong Delta,” “My Black Sheep,” “BX 3,” “Superstition (Azid Mix),” and his unforgettable peak-time edit of DJ Hyperactive’s “Wide Open.” Despite having a bulky discography that boasts releases on some of techno’s most reputable labels (his own included) Len Faki has never put out a full album of his own. That is, until now…
Fusion has arrived. The adventurous and meticulously crafted debut long player from the techno mainstay that spans over 24 tracks in a powerful, blissed-out, and heartfelt sonic statement. The debut album shows Len Faki looking inward while simultaneously pushing his sound forward with an artistic dance floor approach that is distinctly his and his alone. His journey on the path to Fusion started during the early onset of the pandemic, finding what he called “limitless” time to dig deep into his studio approach, tapping into a wellspring of newfound creative energy that rejuvenated his confidence and self-awareness as a producer.
Disc 1 of the LP sees Len Faki doing what he’s always done best, crafting no-frills, driving techno that has defined his musical journey up to this point. Disc 2 veers left into new rhythmic territory, with ambient, broken beat, electro, and house music explorations that show Len Faki’s congruous passion for the art of electronic music in all its forms. What we are left with is a Fusion that represents all the punchy, melodic, spacious, rolling, assertive, introspective, and uniting sounds that paint a full picture of an artist who is as curious and motivated now as he ever has been.
We got the chance to catch up with Len Faki to further explore his incredible career behind the decks, the refreshed studio approach that helped give rise to his Fusion album, the wholehearted connection that some of its tracks share with his life story, his plans for the future, and more.
Thanks for joining us! How has the summer of 2023 been shaping up for you thus far?
I´m very good, thanks for asking. I feel fresh and full of energy for the summer and festival madness. not long ago, I spent some days off in the mountains. it became a tradition over the last few years to have some days off at the beginning of the summer to prepare for festival season. This year was less free time because of the vinyl box we were finalizing for my album. There are so many details to decide, consider and rethink over and over again with an eightfold vinyl box with all colored vinyl and eight covers inside. I underestimated the work and time that has to go into this, but I´m happy we decided to do this since I want to give something back to my people by creating a very special box for them. Today as we speak, I´m still vibrating from the weekend. I just came back from Awakenings Festival, which was impressive. An enormous stage and so many people in front of me, a great vibe, only smiling faces, and meeting dear colleagues makes it a summer highlight each year.
Growing up, what was your earliest musical memory? Can you take us back to the first time electronic music captured your imagination when living in Stuttgart?
My parents are Turkish, but I was born in Germany. They were part of the first immigrants moving to Germany for work, and I grew up with both cultures. My earliest musical memory is my dad with his 7″ ’70s vinyl collection. He had a stereo tower, and the vinyl was his treasure, locked at the bottom of it. He showed me as a young kid how to use a turntable, and we listened to his music together.
My first electronic music experience was very different. I was 14 and into punk and metal at that time. My plan was to become a drummer in a band… This was until a friend asked me to come with him to a club with electronic music, and it changed my life forever. My drummer dreams were history after this experience. From this night on, my whole life was about electronic music – it was love at first sight, 100%.
Today we’re focusing on the arrival of your highly-anticipated debut album, Fusion. Now that the release date is upon us, how are you feeling, and what are some of your biggest takeaways from this creative journey?
I feel great. Sharing Fusion feels amazing.
This huge album project accompanied my life for such a long time now that part of me feels a bit strange and will miss this time, but I love that it is out in the world. Available for everybody to spend fun, joyful, inspirational, or whatever time with it.
I got many takeaways during the production time. It was the first time in over 20 years that I had the chance to spend so much ongoing, what felt like limitless time in the studio and with music, which was the biggest joy to me. It brought me a bit closer to myself, like reinventing myself, my studio skills, and my development as an artist to a whole new level which turned into a huge motivation about everything to come. It felt refreshing in a way. And I realized during this time that producing music is equally important then DJing for me. I need the creativity and artistic part just as much as being the DJ.
With a remarkable music career that spans over two decades, what made this the right time to release your debut long-player? Have you considered releasing an album before?
The thought and wish existed for many years.
There have been album releases from me, but many years back when I still had different artist names. But I have never found enough time to produce a Len Faki album. I didn’t want to do this next to touring, with only 1-2 days a week between meetings. My aspiration was high, and I knew I would need ongoing time to create what I had in mind. And on my holidays or travel free time, I spend most of it editing or remixing tracks for my sets to create a unique experience for them. So when this pandemic came, I was in the studio from the first day on and hoping that this could be my chance to finally make it happen.
The tracks “Halide Pt. 1” and “Halide Pt. 2” have quite a special and emotional significance to you. Can you tell us more about these two stunning compositions you’ve dedicated to your mother?
Yes sure. During the production time, my mum got ill with Covid and went to hospital. She fought for several weeks but fell into a coma and died. This was a very difficult and emotionally challenging time for me, and I was more than grateful for having my musical outlet to handle my feelings in a nonverbal way. Halide is my mum’s name. “Halide Part 1” came into being in the first weeks when we still had hope that she could make it. This track also contains a voice message she sent me shortly before she got ill. For everyone who speaks Turkish… “Halide Part 2” was produced after she had died. I wanted this track to contain all the energies that were circling inside of me. The fight, the coma, the heaviness and abyss that was opening up in front of us but at the same time, the hope and love I was feeling. By far the most difficult track I have ever made because of the personal examination of my feelings at the time.
Are there any other tracks on the album that hold a specific meaning or a special place in your heart that you can tell us about?
There are quite a few tracks that have a connection with my life. It was not my intention and I have never had this before. Maybe it happened because I was so deep into this studio and production process that I merged with the music into one energy. This turned the album into a very personal project and makes me quite emotionally attached, which I normally would try to avoid, but it felt like not having a choice this time.
To name two tracks with meaning.
“Sexuality My Reality” it was already quite some time into the pandemic and my urge for a crazy, wild club night grew and grew. I realized that it is not only a thought in my head but a real physical need that got bigger every day. Similar to the need we have for sex. It felt like cold turkey, which turned into this track and vocals. I spoke the vocals myself. Have never done this before, but for this track, it felt right.
“Hymn.” Those two versions were the last ones I made for the album. There are more wars on our planet, but with the war in Ukraine, it felt or feels so intense that this happens so close to us. In a country which I like a lot. That I have been to not long before and that I always feel so welcomed. I was so upset about this situation and couldn´t wrap my head around the question of why we just didn’t manage to live together in peace. I wanted to create something beautiful with positive energy, filled with love and lightness. The second version is about the fantasy, the imagination to put down the weapons and end the war.
Can you tell us about the aesthetic choices not only behind the Fusion album artwork but the three Fusion EPs as well?
This was a very long process. I liked the first concept we had, but the execution turned out to be so difficult to impossible and in the end, we had to change the concept in the middle of the project, which first seemed to be a nightmare. And somehow it was, but we found a US Artist, Ryan Crotty, that happens to make the most beautiful paintings, and their energy, many layers, details, and brightness visualize my album in such a great way that I was instantly hooked when we found him. The artwork turned out to be the most difficult part of the album, but in the end, I am super happy with how it turned out. In the vinyl box, each of the eight vinyls will have its own cover and the visual art and music merch perfectly into one unit. It will be super nice.
What can we expect next from your seminal Figure imprint?
I just signed a new UK-based young artist for the label LKY which I´m very happy about. He is someone Figure stands for. A young artist and a talented, passionate producer. Very dynamic and brings a fresh breeze into our techno world. The release will come this year. Also, there is another great album project planned for next year that we are very excited about. It will be a great one.
What are you most looking forward to later this year?
There is a new project of mine starting in September already. It´s called “Hardspace” and will be independent of my Len Faki alias. The music is 100% club or floor focused. Consisting of tracks that I remix solitary for my sets, including tracks that have never been remixed before or even unreleased ones.
It will be released on vinyl as well. Always a double EP for each volume, and over time the range of styles and concepts behind will unfold.