Rick Bull, the Australian techno producer otherwise known as Deepchild, has spent the last several years living in Berlin. If it seems you’re constantly hearing stories about local musicians who’ve opted to up sticks and move there, well, there’s a good reason – the city is one of the most creatively vital places around. He’s taken up residence in the bohemian borough of Neukölln, and soaks up its influence every day.
“We’ve been living here for four years, but I’ve been playing here a lot longer than that,” Bull tells me. “I love learning the language, I love the reserved German temperament, and I love being part of a community. People live in blocks of flats in Berlin, and there are a lot more communal spaces, so you get to know your neighbours. I like that sense of community. The city is liberal, and open-minded, and just really beautiful. It’s an idea as much as it’s a physical place, and the sense of excitement you feel from new people who come here reminds me of the excitement I felt when I heard techno for the first time.”
The newest Deepchild album, Neukölln Burning, was inspired by the area of town he now calls home. “There are little fragments of Middle Eastern music that come through on the album, samples and rhythms,” Bull says. “Those elements reflect the strong Turkish and Moroccan population of the area. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, and so there’s always been a sense of familiarity to Neukölln that reminds me of my young years. It’s an unexpected confluence – Berlin’s a new place, but it reminds me of the places I knew when I was really small.”
The album was also inspired by the bitter cold of German winters. “Coming from a warmer climate to somewhere like Berlin takes a lot of adjustment,” Bull says. “It was very cold when I was making the album, and it was a time when some other personal things weren’t going too well, so there’s a sense of darkness and insistency that informs a lot of the music.” At the time he made the record, Bull was attempting to kick some medication he’d been taking for a long time. “That was a bit of a disaster,” he says with a rueful laugh. “Coming off meds in the middle of a cold winter in a new place was tough.”
Bull’s next Sydney show will be a live performance for the Mad Racket crew, and he promises plenty of new material. “Mad Racket is a very special one for me,” he says. “It’s been years since I played a live set for them, so this time around I’ll be playing bits and pieces of the new album, but the majority of the set will be new material that nobody will have heard yet. I have a couple of bits that are supposed to be coming out on a label called Convex Industries.”
I ask what the new tracks sound like. “The material I’ll be messing around with is noisy techno, a little bit industrial-sounding. My love of dub techno has been resurfacing of late, so there’s a bit of that in there. I have DJ friends in Berlin who have been playing a lot of older, darker, harder stuff in their sets. When I’ve been DJing lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Robert Hood and Joey Beltran and LFO, those really hanging tracks.” He tells me that his own new material is along similar, much darker lines. “I think Mad Racket will be kind to me.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN