In a now long forgotten world, many generations ago, a bird like shape emerged from wooded darkness, floating and fluttering, drifting and dreaming. Backlit by a bright glow of iridescent light, the undecipherable form wore a dazzling golden mask. Its long beak swooped down like an inverted horn and since then, people have referred to the mythical being simply as Claptone.
Years spending wandering medieval landscapes have informed Claptone’s view of the world, experiencing both magical mystery and muted melancholy he enchanted onlookers with occult instruments and beguiling sounds. Forever surrounded by a sense of intrigue, the world soon cottoned on to the elusive yet enchanting musical powers of this otherworldly beast. The results are that today his shamanistic sonic powers take him all around the world.
It seems the first thing almost every interviewer asks you is about the fact that you are, and will remain, masked. You continuously point out that we are all masked. I agree. Self identity is constantly shifting and we change our masks depending on who and what we are in the presence. However, as artists a rise of popularity usually equates with a pressure to be what people have branded you as. I think we have seen a lot of artists crumble under this sort of pressure to perform. How much pressure do you feel to be the mask? Or do you find the mask has allowed you a higher level of authenticity and freedom to experiment, both in creation and performance?
You are right wearing a mask does take me out of the equation personally. I don’t have to market my private life. But it does not shield me from the expectations my fans might have towards my work. So with music I walk the line every artist does, the line between constant repetition and constant change. Luckily music, especially dance music changes so quickly – so many artists, so much output – that it allows me to try out a lot of things within a very short time span. This lowers the pressure you’re talking about.
Obviously the mask gives you a unique sense of identity in comparison to other artists, what advantages do you feel this gives you in terms of recognition?
It’s time we start seeing that not only Claptone, the Residents, Kiss, Daft Punk or Der Plan are masked, but also Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and even Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan or Eric Clapton for that matter. The latter let their face become their mask and trademark. The bigger they got as artists the more they got stuck in only one of the many roles their identity was able to play. I would like to think the fact I reflected on this empowers me to live my image or perform my identity much more consciously. I might have more control over it. But these masks we wear in public makes all of us recognizable.
I know you are from Berlin like many similar artists of your genre, tell us how the city has influenced your identity.
Berlin is my home for now. Of course there is a lot of creativity here which is very inspiring, but it’s not only the music. There are a lot of arts, photography, and history that defines Berlin. It is part of my DNA, it is part of my sound.
You tour primarily as a solo DJ, but your Immortal Live Show involves two performers. Also, some nights of your DJ tour find you in two places at once, often times hundreds or thousands of miles apart. Is Claptone two people in the studio or two people just for live shows?
There are things in this world that should not be analyzed, defined or questioned, if you ask me. And there is my Clapjet. Anyway, the happiest moments in life cannot really be put into words or be documented, they should simply be enjoyed and last as beautiful memories. Claptone is a mythical being. My mission is to bring love, light and happiness to the world, all this comes in different shapes and colors, at different times at different places.
Your DJ gigs find you mixing your own tracks and other songs while the Immortal Live Show features your own music as the focus. How does performing Immortal Live differ from your DJ sets?
DJ shows are a beautiful way of communicating with my followers and also to express my mood and my feelings. I also love to share a variety of music that I like with my fans to see if it touches them the way it touches me. DJ shows are very much for the moment, to smile and to just get lost for a little while, while Immortal Live is more of a full audio-visual Claptone concert. I take you on an emotional journey into the world of Claptone, which may set free some deeper feelings for one or the other and creates memories that last forever.
A few years back you released your hit single ‘No Eyes’ that really solidified your position as a producer, now it is featured on your album ‘Charmer’. Has this album always been a long-term project of yours?
The success with ‘No Eyes’ gave me confidence in writing more vocal tracks and this was a stepping-stone for me to write the album ‘Charmer’. Although this track may seem old to those who have been with Claptone since the beginning, but without this track there would be no ‘Charmer’ album so it shows how important it is to me.
Because you just finished the album are you taking a break on producing and focusing on your tour at the moment?
No I never focus. It comes as it is. It comes if it feels right. While on tour I don’t have a lot of energy to produce but I do love remixing, it’s always fun to listen to a song and see where I can change different parts. When producing my own music, I am a perfectionist. But with remixing, as long as I like the basic idea of it I can transform it into something great.
Which track from the album is your personal favourite and why?
The great thing on this album is that my favourites change almost each time I listen to it. It’s just 13 great songs including the singles ‘No Eyes’, ‘Ghost’, ‘The Music Got Me’, ‘Dear Life’, ‘Puppet Theatre’ and the brand new, ‘The Only Thing’. Depending on my mood and the situation I’m in I prefer this or that track.
For your future releases, do you see yourself adopting the same model of releasing a few singles and building up to another album release or trying out a different release method?
I am open for any release model; it has to make sense music-wise. After the success of “No Eyes’”it was clear that I wanted to produce an album, I got so inspired and had all these ideas in my head. But of course, an album is the not right place for all music to be released and who knows what happens next? Definitely something, you will find out soon.
So I know that you are trying to remain anonymous, how does that work work in terms of collaborating with other producers?
It’s a no-go. I work with other vocalists because there are so many amazing ones out there. I don’t think the worlds of Claptone and the worlds of any other producer will mix very easily. Most likely not at all. It has to be a natural match. Maybe David Guetta asks me one day and it will work.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2016?
At the moment I’m on my #GoldenSummer Tour, which starts and ends in Ibiza. The first stop of the tour was the opening of Amnesia. The complete summer-long journey will span around 20 countries and around 70 shows, ending in September back at Amnesia. Throughout the summer I will also be playing several other gigs at Space, MK‘s Area10 night at Pacha and the Together events.