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Ocotber 17, 2006
by Lerato Khathi
Peter Kersten holds one of the most enviable positions. That of co - running one of the most consistently brilliant record labels and not content with that; he also produces some of the most forward thinking & absolutely gorgeous electronic music. He has also opened 'Smallville'; a record shop in Hamburg.
I caught up with him to try and find out more...
Lerato: I first got hooked on to Lawrence, via your sublime, self-titled album on Ladomat 2000. This led me to the 'Teaser' 12", on both Dial & and Ladomat; as well as 'Corporate Identity' on Dial and the 'Sporturlaub' 12" on Kompakt.
You have gone on to release 2 more albums under your Lawrence moniker, namely, 'The absence of Blight ' released on Dial, as well as 'The night will last forever ', on Novamute.there is also an album under your Sten guise - ' Leaving The Frantic', as well as numerous 12" 's as both Lawrence & Sten. Not to mention the remixes you have done for other artists.
When did you start making music?
Peter: I started playing the computer and machines in 1997, 2 years before my first release on dial (dial000 "shoes")
Lerato: There is such a richness and depth within your music & those warm, lush chords:); usually associated with Detroit Techno. Has Detroit music had any influence in your music & what are your musical influences in general?
Peter: Detroit electronic music is maybe the main influence of my music. I firstly fell in love with Detroit Techno in 1987 listening to the first Transmat releases. "It Is What It Is" by Rhythm is Rhythm still is one of my all time favourites. In the mid- nineties I discovered deep house - Theo Parrish and Moodyman kicked me to produce music on my own, again a big Detroit influence.
Lerato: You record under the aliases Lawrence & Sten. I'm under the impression
(please correct me if I'm wrong), that you created Sten as a way to differentiate its more dance-oriented sound from that of Lawrence. Yet the musical differences between the two don't seem so great that the Sten material couldn't simply have been presented as the next stage in Lawrence's evolution.
So, if it is the case that the stylistic differences are subtle, why the Sten persona?
Peter: You are right, Lawrence productions are getting more into the dance floor direction. But Lawrence is my all-in-one alter ego, the next release can be beatdown, deephouse or ambient, Lawrence is the definition of the sound. Sten is my kind of techno moniker.
Lerato: Is there any meaning behind both the Lawrence & Sten aliases?
Peter: Firstly its just names, but people have always nice ideas- Lawrence of Arabia, Pete Lawrence of Felt, Peter Kersten...
Lerato: There is a distinct analogue feel to your music. What is your studio set up?
Peter: My set up has become mostly digital. I am a computer musician. With a computer you can create nearly every sound, and I love the more analogue warmth, but I am too lazy to get organized in a big studio with a lot of complicated machines.
Lerato: What is your role / involvement at the Dial imprint?
Peter: Dial is a quite a low organized label, a family of producers, everybody takes care of everything. Sometimes I am doing promotions or I speak with my friends at Kompakt distribution. Sometimes I am just happy how it all works.
Lerato: There is a strong aesthetic that is evident in your music and the music you release from other artists, on Dial & not to mention the cover art.
Do you come from an art background?
Peter: We use the cover artwork as a place for our friends who are into visual arts. Especially David Lieske (aka Carsten Jost) who is a contemporary artist himself; loves to look for unique pictures. It is a nice gift to the people who like our music, they get a little piece of art.
Lerato:You are currently in demand as a remixer, having remixed works by artists such as Antonelli, Arp Aubert, Quarks, Goldfrapp, Martin L. Gore e.t.c.. How did the remix for Martin L. Gore, come about? & Were you a fan of Depeche Mode's output, prior to that remix?
Peter: In the eighties I was a big fan of Depeche Mode and I still appreciate their music. Martin L. Gore is deeply into minimal electronic dance music, on the last Depeche Mode tour, they played a Lawrence track before the show somebody told me..
Lerato: You played at the Ghostly after party for the DEMF.Was it your first time, performing in Detroit? How did you find it? You made your Mutek festival debut, also this year. How was the festival for you then?
Peter: The whole US tour this year was pretty amazing. Detroit is an incredible city. A ghost town with so much love for the music. The after parties at Demf where really far out and I love all the Ghostly people. Also the Mutek festival was a big highlight. I firstly missed my flight but then the manager of Mutek Alan Mongeau organized a second option. After all I had my favourite Lawrence life show. Next day I really enjoyed the minus picnic in Montreal with Magda, Troy Pierce, Marc Houle, Richie Hawtin and Riccardo Villalobos.
Lerato: With the much talked about, demise of vinyl what possessed you to open a record shop?:)
Peter: For a long time I missed a well organized record shop, run by people who are really in love with the music. To open a shop was a dream come true; and the people are so thankful. Smallville has become a great place to be in Hamburg.
Lerato: You seem to be involved, in the Hamburg club scene, quite a fair bit; what with gigs, it seems nearly everyday of the week:) Tell us a bit more about these nights and the whole electronic music scene as a whole in Hamburg?
Peter: The scene in Hamburg is so exciting. A few things are happening. You have the cosy but fucked up mini club Golden Pudel. It is open seven nights a week with guests from Warp, bpitch, Liebe*detail, Spezial material, and many more including a monthly Carsten Jost & Lawrence night. Our Record shop Smallville organizes parties in different places, nice small clubs, to quite big events.. A regular Techno club is missing at the moment, but the people are quite in a rush to get information every weekend where the best parties will take place.
Lerato: Lastly, any future releases to look out for, from Lawrence /Sten as well as forthcoming releases on Dial?
Peter: After the Dial 31 (Lawrence "Deep Summer Hole") we are really looking forward to start the Smallville Record label. First release with tracks of Julabs, Sten and DJ Swap. Pantha Du Prince stands in the row to release his new Album "This Bliss" on Dial in late november. In Japan Toshiya Kawasaki of Mule Musiq just released a Collection of Lawrence tracks and remixes "Lowlights From The Past And Future". This will be internationally released by the beginning of 2007.
More info available from
Interview conducted by Lerato Khathi Co owner of the Süd Electronic imprint as well as programmer of the Süd Electronic events in London.
Süd Electronic will be hosting the first ever UK, Dial Records all-nighter party on the 15th December 2006 with DJ sets from Lawrence & Carsten Jost and a live set by Pantha Du Prince.
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