Wedged between the check-out at the hotel and his flight to Chicago, we were able to grab Mike Bierbach, better known to many as Rødhåd, for a quick chat about his label, friendships, fans, social media and the underground-mainstream culture.
The previous night at Montreal’s Stereobar, Rødhåd delivered a ground-shattering techno set layered in a beautifully complex pattern, keeping the Stereobarites pumped from beginning to end of his 3 hour journey to mayhem and back. Contrasting strongly with his busy, high-energy productions, Bierbach was the epitome of cool and calm upon our meeting. Toting his jacket, a pack of cigarettes, and his luggage, he sat on awkwardly spacious couches situated in his hotel lobby, and graciously met with a total stranger to divulge in some hot topics. After a short introduction we dove right into it.
When speaking to Alex.Do a few weeks back, he gave us the impression that you are very much friends first
And we wanted to know if this is something that makes your label unique?
Well, it’s the music really and that’s the first reason. Second, it’s the idea behind the label, the way we all look at it shows we share the same vision. I actually met Alex a long time ago and I liked him as a person first– hahaha– and as a DJ too. But actually, that’s how the Dystopian crew started. We were friends and also met our other partners and artists one by one. But we see our relation also as a network, as a fundament for the own individual process of becoming and being an artist. You don’t need to be a techno lover, we also appreciate all different influences on us. We also have and had friends on the label, for them dark and melancholic techno is just ONE style they want to express, and we also open our directions into more music genres release by release.
Is it hard to separate friendships from business?
It’s sometimes not easy. Of course, I make business decisions with the label and I’m getting music from artists who are also my friends, which may not fit with the label. It can be a little weird to make decisions like that, but in the end because we’re friends it’s easier for me to sit down and talk to them and find a way to help. Also, with my partners at the label, we’re not always on the same page. We disagree, we can get into big fights but we find a deal at the end of the day. It’s like a marriage haha, you just have to find the right way to handle this stuff. Sometimes we argue, but it always stops and we put our differences aside to find a solution – makes no sense to continue to argue and we know that.
You mentioned that you all envision Dystopian in the same way. How would you put this vision into your own words?
It’s hard to find the right words… hmm. We all loved these special movies, books and style like architecture, or even just simple pictures. I think this is a little bit sad, but this is nearer to where we are now than an actual utopia.
You see what’s happening in the media, you see what’s happening in the world. You can be with your phone and connected to the world all the time. Like George Orwells “1984”. But, and I say it nearly in every interview, as much we love melancholia, darker atmospheres, as much we are also able to deal with our hope and passion and put it into music, dystopia doesnt mean it’s always a bad ending.
Interesting that you mention being watched… I noticed during your Boiler Room you wore t- shirts that said ‘DYSTOPIAN IS WATCHING YOU’ – quite in line with your philosophy.
Yeah, you know the thing is from George Orwell’s book 1984, like the whole Big Brother concept. It’s a bit funny!! Boiler Room for me personally, with Dystopian, is a bit contradictory… because that’s the thing, everyone is watching me and that’s really a central feature of dystopian movement. But we watched them and they watched us, so everyone was happy!
How do you feel about pictures and videos being shared over social media?
It’s a good question. I mean, normally I don’t like to take pictures in the club because it’s the room where you can – or no, you SHOULD – be free and do what you want, and not have to go online the next day and see your picture taken in a strange moment. So, I try to respect that and hope the club and festival people also understand this.
And on the other hand, for sure it’s true there’s the marketing part that’s just changed so much in the past 10 years or so, more recently with Instagram – people are really interested in that.
The younger generation are coming to the clubs, people in their 20’s who grew up with their phones in their hands. I remember when I went to my first parties, I didn’t even have a mobile phone!
But, we all like to see old videos from the 90’s at warehouse raves too, you know. At the moment though, it’s a little bit too much, you’re like a person of interest and people come from everywhere and take long rides or planes to see you and it’s like being a popstar or something; that’s not the main idea for me behind why I create techno. I like to be part of the dancefloor, not separate from them. I’ve had arguments about posting on my social media. Sometimes, I get advice saying I should post more on my Facebook, but I don’t post if I have nothing I feel I should share. I just started using Instagram, but I just like to post pictures and photos I can feel.
It’s a bit like the underground has soaked up some of the mainstream characteristics…
For me personally, I dont think there is “real underground” anymore. I think it’s also time to find a new word for “underground”.
Of course, there can be small parties with about 150 people and that’s good – we need that as well and I like to play parties like this. But even these parties are connected with social media, everyone is talking about it. It’s so easy to get access to techno and the so called “underground techno”. It seems like electronic music is everywhere these days, which I accept and I try my best to give a little influence back to the scene!