Today we proudly present an exclusive interview with German electro star Peter Vincenz Wenk, better known as Digitalfoxglove. The interview came about in a rather unorthodox way. We got an email from him with his new remix of Leeds indie-band Heads We Dance and an invitation to ask for more information. Some emailing back and forth led to an improvised chat interview, complete with the soundtrack of his live-streamed mixing.
I’ve edited out some off-topic discussions, like the differences between Swedish and German Christmas foods and favourite rum drinks, but if you’re really interested you could email us and we’ll be happy to indulge you. It still has a chatty feel to it, so bare with us when we're jumping between the topics.
When the interview starts below, Peter had already told me about his plans for an album release in the summer. He had also played me a snippet of his upcoming track “Synthetic Sunshine”, which we’re eagerly anticipating.
First off, how did you come up with your name?
I thought about a name and I wanted something... poisonous. A Foxglove is a deadly flower and then I added "digital" since I make electronic music.
You’re German. Where in Germany are you from?
I'm living in Darmstadt, a small town near Frankfurt. If you would translate it to English it would be "Gut city", so well, it’s the end of the world…
Gut city, eh? Yeah, 'tarm' is gut in Swedish so it sounds about right.
(here we had a linguistical discussion about the similarities between Swedish and German and the influence of German on Swedish from the Middle Ages)
So when did your interest in music develop?
Oh, that started really early when I was around twelve years old. I had just got my first computer and a good friend from school brought Impulse Tracker 2.14 (for DOS) to me. I think it was around 1994 or 1996. I messed around a lot in that little program; sampled a lot of stuff, crazy work for a dumb kid but it was so funny to play around with. When I turned 17 and started my everyday work I stopped making music till I was 23.
I listened to heavy metal and stuff and went through almost every genre. Then I met Aleks from Discodust. We were working at the same company for a while and are now good friends. He brought back my fire for electronic music. I'm 26 now so that was in the 90s..
So how did you make contact with On the Fruit Records?
That also happened thanks to Aleks. He got me in contact with Franck (Freak You) and we both loved each other’s 'trash and unfinished tracks' folder so much that we decided to do a collaboration. Now we are really good friends too. One of my best I think despite the geographical distance (Franck lives in Antibes, France).
Speaking of your music, it’s no surprise that you say you listen to metal. You can sometimes hear that sort of guitar walls in your music that sounds a bit like French trash electro, but with a twist.
I think that’s because I overused distortion on for example “Brassionata”, but I’ve left that style a bit. On the other hand I'm a big fan of Rammstein. I just received a fat banner of their new album. It’s three meters wide and one meter high. I’ll hang that over my screen. It says 'Love is there for everyone'…
That’s nice. So, trashing your old music are you, hehe?
Yeah I'm going to change my style a bit. I’m trying to get a bit more funk mixed up with dreamwave and also some heavy passages.
Yeah, that sort of trashy French electro has evolved a bit hasn’t it?
Yeah it has definitely. Speaking of that, I'm working together with Slaughterbrains too on a new track that shows the direction that I'm moving in.
(Here Pete played a snippet of the upcoming collaboration)
We recorded it via Skype during a live jamming session while having some drinks…
Sounds great! I think that you have a great feeling for melodies and harmonies, especially in the track with Freak You.
Thank you. Well, I’ve never played any instruments, except drums when I was younger. Because our family was not very rich, I never got my own drum set and I had to find another way to make music.
So your musical influences are metal and Rammstein?
Haha, no not really. Sure, I love metal but if I have to decide which music really influences me then that is some work of Miami Horror and all that nice sounding 80s stuff. But I really don’t have fixed genres that I like – I'm always trying to do different stuff, like the little dubstep influenced breakdown in my “Take my Picture” remix.
Do you dj?
Yeah sometimes, but I'm focusing on production. Sure, djing is fun too and I think in 2010 I will play some more gigs. But what I'm often doing is djing online!
(at this point Pete sets up a stream and starts mixing live online, with our chat sprawling out to discussions over track selections, favourite drinks etc)
Do you play in any clubs in the Darmstadt area?
I’ve just had two gigs so far. One was in Salzburg the other one in Dresden.
…Oh, I got more info for you! “Beasts and Flowers” will be re released with remixes by We are Enfant Terribles, Justin Faust, Diamond Cut, FFair, Underhall and Jungle Fiction.
Cool, that’s great news! On On the Fruit?
What’s your favourite music right now?
Miami Horror – “Sometimes”, some Justin Faust stuff, the new Monsieur Adi – “We are the Romans” and of course Freak You's remix of it.
Tell me about the collaboration with him. How did it work?
For “Beasts and Flowers” it was like... I did some melodies, especially chords and leads and some bells. Then I was talking to Franck and he said wow, let’s finish this one together! I exported what I had so far and then it was just taken to another level. So let’s say he did the polishing of everything and also was the man behind the nice bassline and the long sweeping chords that starts at about halfway into the track.
What’s your relation to these 8/16bit sounds? I mean I grew up playing videogames with these sounds.
Oh, I love chip tunes! I'm a passionate C-64 fan. I had one since I was 10. I used to play Kikstart (a motocross game) on it, and Giana Sisters of course. I had an Amiga 500 too. I played with Protracker on it. And Firepower 2000 and North and South.
So what do you think will be the direction of "French electro" in the future? You were talking about more dreamwave stuff…
That's not an easy question, but I think Kris Menace, Alan Braxe and other big ones have put that music to a whole new level. I think it will just get more… 'real'. With real instruments; live played bass and that sort of thing.
Thanks for the chat and the great music and good luck!
Heads We Dance - Take My Picture (Digitalfoxglove Surprise Remix)
Moulinex & Xinobi - DISCO Texas Theme (Digitalfoxglove Remix)
Visitor - Los Feeling (Digitalfoxglove + Wonder Remix) (repost)
Digitalfoxglove feat. Freak You - Beasts and Flowers (also on Arnie's Best of 2009 mixtape)
Grum - Woah (Digitalfoxglove Remix)
Digitalfoxglove - Brassionata
And, finally, here's the actual mix Digitalfoxglove did during the interview:
Digitalfoxglove - Liveset for Tracasseur