Justus Köhncke Doppelleben

Justus Köhncke Doppelleben
Germany may be known for Sprockets-style weirdness, but beneath their freak-show skin beats an electro-pop heart, which is why the music coming straight out of Cologne has of late taken on a decidedly accessible edge. Kompakt recording artist Justus Köhncke helped kick-off the vocal techno trend currently raging and his latest full-length includes plenty of tracks with his gentle and charmingly average Teutonic singing over top. Doppelleben means "double life” and the album title neatly encapsulates Khöncke’s creative schizophrenia. Co-produced with Fred Heimermann, his old partner in avant-house crew Whirlpool Productions, the new record jumps from melodic synth-pop tracks perfect for radio — albeit on either open-minded ’80s-era airwaves or some future period when radio might not suck so hard — to more familiar instrumental club cuts. Alas, last year’s killer floor-filler "Timecode” has been shrunk in half, however the almost equally-addictive sophisti-disco track "Elan” manages to keep the beat moving over a full eight minutes. But from the vocodorised laidback digi-funk of "Schwabylon” to "Alles Nochmal” and his whaaa?-inducing German-language cover of Carly Simon’s "Coming Around Again," Köhncke’s third full-length is aimed predominantly at your iPod.

How did you hook up with Kompakt and how does your music fit in with their aesthetic? The people that run Kompakt nowadays have been rave buddies from the early-’90s on because Cologne is a small city. In early 2002, although I thought the aesthetic would not really fit, after the successful release of the twelve-inch "Jet/Shelter," they wanted me to do an album. And so it went.

What does Doppelleben represent to you? The title is mainly about the two worlds inside the music: pop vocal stuff and rather abstract instrumental club tunes. What that represents to my real life is, of course, existent but private.

Do you ever find it difficult to reconcile your techno and pop tendencies? Rock hard, sometimes. But it's all music at the end of the day.

So what does the term "pop” mean to you? To me "pop" means music that can be felt and understood without any special knowledge, education or language. [Stevie Wonder said] "Music is a world within itself; it's a language we all understand."

Why do a German-language cover of a Carly Simon song? Because I always loved this one, and I fell over it while recording Doppelleben and I just had to translate these beautiful broken-marriage-lyrics into gay German. (Kompakt)