The DJ Sessions


Podcast 720: Gajek

| November 2, 2021

The child of political activists, Matti Gajek was born in the GDR and lived through his first revolution shortly before entering primary school. As a child, he was always surrounded by music because his father was a huge music fan. “Records were as precious as gold for him, for his whole identity,” Gajek recalls. “So when I grew up I somehow listened to the archived history of western popular music using technology that itself came from a different side of this history, the history of my family, of their troubles and dreams and joy.”

He first heard electronic music through a cassette tape received from a friend of his father’s that contained a couple of Underworld tracks and some gabber, and he’d listen to it on speakers built from spare parts his grandfather had secretly collected in his job as a technician. When he moved to Berlin in his early twenties he became involved with the city’s club nights, he became hooked by music some more. In particular, he loved the motoric rhythms of kraut music.

It was in his hometown, Schwerin, that he began experimenting with production, and when a friend gave him Reason it suddenly felt like the “right thing. “I really started making electronic music because I was curious about how it’s done,” he adds. After Chris Clark, for whom he’d completed some animation work, passed some of Gajek’s sketches to Modeselektor, Restless Shapes was conceived. It was his debut album but the music had been ripening for years.

If there was a breakthrough, it came with 2017’s ’17 LP, which explored the possibility of making a contemporary version of kraut music that is completely free of nostalgia but connects to the energy of the music—the futuristic drive, the boldness, the minimalism. The album marked the young producer as an exciting figure in sonic experimentalism, so much so that we included it among our favorite releases from that year. He followed it last year with Vitamin D, this time on Clarke’s Throttle Records, exploring memories of East Germany during the ’90s after the collapse of the Berlin wall. The title refers to the old East German practice of injecting newborn babies with high doses of the vitamin shortly after birth, which happened to him as an infant.

Nearly three years have passed since Gajek last featured on XLR8R, talking about his production, and in celebration of his latest release—an album as SIM CARD HØLDER alongside Drone Øperator and Ian Bruner—we wanted to reconnect. With his much-anticipated podcast, he presents a playlist of recent and contemporary tracks by his favorite musicians that he finds interesting and relevant. You can expect 17 tracks that broadly fall within the realm of psych and folk-inspired offbeat electronica, with sweet atmospheres, intricate and introverted beat structures, and complex percussion patterns.

01. What have you been up to recently?

I’ve been doing the first jobs and gigs after the pandemic. Which I am thankful for, but it still feels strange. I am still figuring out how to navigate all the different phases of the pandemic and the mental impact that they have had. I am also working on music, trying to stay focused, but also taking care of myself!

02. What have you been listening to during lockdown?

Honestly, I can’t really remember. But I was very thankful for every piece music that was released. Whether it was on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or wherever. I do remember that Good Sad Happy Bad brought a lot of joy to our tiny lockdown Christmas party with their album last year.

03. What have you been listening to recently?

I’ve been doing a lot of research into avant-garde music from the GDR, the country I was born in. There is a lot of very interesting music but it’s hard to get your hands on it. I am working on a radio show to get it out there to newer generations of listeners who are interested in experimental music.

04. What drives you to make electronic music?

It’s the art form that I have chosen, at least until now, to express myself. To negotiate what interests me, what influences me, and what I am struggling with. It brings me joy and makes me feel at home.

05. When and where did you record this mix?

Mostly in the morning in my studio and on the kitchen table.

06. How did you go about choosing the tracks you’ve included?

Making a mix for me is always a good moment to revisit the music that caught my attention but somehow got lost. I check back and see what works together.

07. What’s next on your horizon?

Right now I’m working on a B-Side project of my 2020 album, Vitamin D, which will include live recording alternative versions and tracks that didn’t make it onto the record. Last Friday we released our album SIM CARD HØLDER which is a project by Drone Øperator, Ian Bruner, and me on Blueberry Records. I am also working on a new album.

XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.

Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.


01. Lutz Glandrien “Strange Drums, For Drums And Tape” (ReR Megacorp)
02. Claire Rousay & More Eaze “Smaller Pools” (ECSTATIC)
03. Alpha Maid “DOGGY” (C.A.N.V.A.S.)
05. Aho Ssan “Simulacrum 1” (FRKTL Remix) (Subtext Recordings)
06. Villaelvin “Rey” (Hakuna Kulala)
07. Hans Reichel “Shanghaied on Tor Road” (FMP)
08. Orphan Fairytale “Luminous Creatures” (Ultra Eczema)
09. Mussi “Racing” (Petrola 80)
10. Betty Hammerschlag “Bodiesss” (Not On Label)
11. Hunt “EOS Crawling” (AMEN)
12. Otro “Untitled (16 March 2020)” (Eastern Nurseries)
13. Fauness “Am I Ready” (Abîme)
14. Drumloop “Pharmacy” (Unknown)
15. Drone Øperator “Frøst” (Not On Label)
16. Skúli Sverrisson “Volumes” (Sería Music)
17. Laila Sakini “Hold It Heavy” (Laila Sakini)

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