I've mentioned this a few times, but I really start to fall in love with the German beat scene. Not only because I live here, but because I believe there is a strong community and people who push forward like the protagonist of today's feature - TESK.
The Darmstadt-based producer crafted an amazing mix and in we also had the opportunity to chat a bit about his journey, music and a few other things. Enjoy!
Where does the name Tesk come from?
The name TESK arose from the time me and my mates started doing graffiti. We stuck together for quite a while expanding our skills. It was the same time we decided to build up a rap crew.
We were completely hooked by Hip Hop and everything related to the culture. So, after a while I started making beats for the crew and adopted my writer name as my producer name.
You're from Germany - I would say one of the places in Europe which really picks up when it comes to instrumental hip hop. Who are other German producers you follow and like?
There's quite a lot of producers that I follow and like. The first beat smiths that really got to me were DJ Embee from Sweden and I.L.L. Will from Germany. The jazzy influence in their productions laid a solid foundation for my further musical excursions in jazz, soul, funk and world music. Lately, Figub Brazlevič and Joe Corfield got me hooked on their super grimy and soulful vibes.
Over the past years I've been working closely together with Philanthrope from Austria and B-Side. from Berlin. We've established a nice workflow by inspiring each other through exchanging our most recent ideas and drafts and working out tunes together.
But as mentioned before, there are far too many good producers out there that know their craft very well.
A few months ago, you dropped your Spotless Minds LP - beautiful work man! What's the story behind it?
After my first crew broke apart, I'd been producing a lot of music without knowing what to do with it. I never thought about releasing an instrumental album on my own without any rap contribution.
But modern media and the related beat hype really opened a new way of getting things out there, so I decided to make a selection of the tunes I'd been working on to create an album which tells a story and offers warmth for cozy evenings.
You often work with the guys from Chillhop who are good friends - who did the whole thing started?
Philanthrope connected with Chillhop some years ago. With myself planning to put together a beat record, he thought the label would be the perfect platform for getting this smooth hip hop sound out to the public.
After first going digital, we are now going to release the LP on Vinyl. It has always been one of my greatest dreams to have a physical release of my music. The album’s going to drop on 15.09.2017 on Vinyl Digital. Pre-order is already online.
Can you take a photo of your setup and walk us through? Do you only produce or play instruments?
My recent setup is quite basic. I’ve got dozens of digital sounds to work with and a lot of samples from vinyl which I’ve collected since I started making beats. I also play piano for some years now, it really boosted my understanding for harmonies and complex melody structures.
I’m thinking about taking a closer look on string instruments too, because it’s impossible to catch their organic sound and transfer them into a digital instrument that covers the full range and dynamics.
Another addition to my setup is the Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2. I’ve neglected playing live over the past years, but after releasing Spotless Minds and stocking up my repertoire of live-beats, I’ve caught fresh motivation.
What's next for Tesk in 2017? Any live performances ahead?
For this year, I've been planning to produce some tunes for rappers from Germany and the United States. Keep your eyes open for Des Brennan from New York and Schmero from Magdeburg.
I'm also working on a new release, which will be a bit more grimy and straight-forward than Spotless Minds. After starting out smoothly with my first LP, I now need to get my hands on some more banging material for live gigs.
Another project I'm cooking on is a collaboration with one of my former crew members. Going by the name Grossstadtschamane, we want to create a mix out of throwback Hip Hop and spaced out harmonic structures.
But the project which moves me the most is DVNSTKREIS, a collective consisting of two likeminded artists delivering audial and visual experiences between electronica / triphop and world music. We teamed up some years ago and now we are working on soundscapes for experimental movies and exhibitions in the Rhine / Main area.
Late 2017, we’re planning to put out our first release called THE SEA. It’s a collection of lo-fi / triphop music that will throw you back to the golden era of 90’s music.
If you could collaborate with any artist (producer, instrumentalist or vocalist) who would that be?
Well, I’d love to collaborate with a lot of artists. Over the past years, Maribou State & Pedestrian from the UK caught my attention with their lush electronic vibes. Their music moves me deeply and made me think out of the box again.
Other artists I’d love to work with are Fantompower, FloFilz, Flying Lotus, Joe Corfield and a lot more. Collaborations always emphasize the possibilities of what comes out and let you step out of your comfort zone.
Cheers mate! Any last words of wisdom?
Hope you guys enjoyed our chat! Catch up with Niko's music on TESK's artist profile and free download the mix here.
From my point of view, the most important thing is to keep the focus on what really touches you and find a way to carry this feeling into your music. Never step into the trap of comparing your own tunes with another artist’s music too frequently, because it can create a false image of what you’re capable of.
Try to think out of the box and establish your own footprint in today’s music business.