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01 Q&A Rampa Header Portrait

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Finding Limits with Berlin Sound Artist Rampa

  • Words Vidula Kotian
  • Date 15 June 2022

Trying to catch up with Rampa is like trying to catch a chimera. When we finally get him on the phone, he’s in between gigs heading next to Cannes, Monaco, Zurich, Milan, and then Tel Aviv. While this kind of schedule might make anyone’s head reel, the founder of the Berlin music label Keinemusik is just glad to be on the road again, doing what he loves best—boldly mixing Afro-house, bongos, and unpredictable breaks into his melodic house sets.

An eclectic producer who has regularly featured on the top of house charts, Rampa’s tendency towards the unexpected is what makes him shine. Experience it for yourself with the Spotify playlist he created for our Berlin destination guide. We spoke to him about the city’s music scene back when he started out in 2009, his label, and his evolution as an artist.

“Everything is super intuitive. It’s a good range of different genres and artists but still a certain vibe I feel when I’m in Berlin.”

02 Q&A Rampa Berlin Inspo
03 Q&A Rampa Berlin Inspo

What was the music scene like in Berlin when you started out in 2009?

It was super exciting. Everything was new. I moved to Berlin in 2004 from the countryside (in Southwest Germany). The memory is pretty blurry as I was partying a lot, a lot, a lot. So, there were a lot of clubs in the center of Berlin and now most are outside. Now people are also willing to travel longer to get to a club.

Which clubs did you go to?

There was Cookies, Picknick, Rio, WMF, and Scala…all located in Mitte. What else? Oh, Stern Radio. Weekend back in the days was super cool…I don't want to judge. I’m just not at as many parties anymore because I’m not in town as much, but there were a lot of illegal raves, like in subways and parks. I think in Corona times, that popped up again. So, I wouldn’t say that the scene or the city changed. Maybe it’s just me not being as present here as I used to be in the early 2000s.

What kind of music was popular then? Techno?

Yes. I mean it changed here and there, but the main core of the sound in Berlin was electronic music for sure. I think that’s something, right? I hope it stays like this.

04 Q&A Rampa Berlin WMF Dancing People Heikeollertz

DJ Mitch at WMF circa 2001 Images by Heike Ollertz

05 Q&A Rampa Berlin WMF Bar Heikeollertz

A bar from the Palace of the Republic Installed in the WMF by F.r.e.d Rubin

06 Q&A Rampa Berlin WMF Dancing Tv Heikeollertz

DJ Highfish at WMF Installation by Visomat Inc, circa 2001

What led you to start the label Keinemusik?

It just happened naturally. We met, we made music, and then at one point, we thought, let’s give it a name. The name Keinemusik came from my mom because she was listening to the sound and said, “das ist keine musik” (this is no music). But the group has shaped up over the years—some people left or did something else, but the core group has stayed since the start of the label in 2009.

What does playing more consciously mean to you?

That means I play less and I’m pickier with the shows. I try to avoid playing as much as is possible and being at every party. I take more time for everything because it can become very stressful very easily. It’s so much fun and tempting, so you end up saying yes to a lot. Then you realize that you must physically do all of this. It looks easy in theory and on Instagram but, there’s no sleep, so much traveling, and the physical stress adds up. I decided I didn’t want to lose the joy of doing this. That’s why I limit myself to 42 shows per year.

How many shows did you play before?

Maybe I played 120 or something like that. It was a lot of jetlag and lack of sleep. I think, in general, limitation is a great thing and it got really lost for everything. Before, music had more value. Now everything is available 24/7. I can watch any movie I want on demand. I have all the music I want. I don't know a song, I press Shazam. Having everything all the time kind of makes it makes it boring.

What are some of your favorite music venues in Berlin?

For our shows, we’ve tried for the past few years to always find offbeat locations—a venue without any branding or expectations. So, the last one we did was in a big warehouse called Wilhelm Hallen in Reinickendorf, which is now becoming a regular venue. That’s also where we have our studio. Even though the first night we got shut down by the police, we had a nice two-day event. The one before we did in bowling alley, which was one of my favorites so far. We put our sound system into this classy bowling alley at SEZ. It’s an East Berlin sport facility with a pool, sauna, badminton, table tennis, and a big garden. It’s kind of out of order but they have this huge space that has its own charm. Besides that, we did parties at Else and the first party at Funkhaus before it became a venue. It was probably around seven years ago, and I remember it was difficult to get the people out there. It felt so far away. Now the cool clubs like Heideglühen and Sisyphus are all outside. People got used to the journey.

Also, we don’t do that many parties in Berlin. Once a year mostly. We play less and I think that has more power. Two times nowadays is already a little bit much. Even in London or Paris, we try to do one show per year. Otherwise, it becomes too much.

What is your first musical memory?

The first one, I remember I think was Violent Femmes or like a punk record from my older brother. It’s the first one I can put in connection with the artwork and the name. I must have been eight or 10. And then the first record I bought was 36 Chambers in vinyl. I remember I also got some records from the older brother of my best friend. I don’t recall the names because I’m so bad with names—so bad that I sometimes don’t know the names of my own songs!

Did the lifestyle changes prompted by the pandemic effect your creative process?

Everything slowed down and all the pressure was gone. But it was also scary. We got lucky at this time and got offered a part in the Grand Theft Auto computer game. That kept me busy because I was composing the score for the game. Since we appear in the game as real characters, we had to do motion capturing and design our clothes. We teamed up with our friends at the clothing brands MISBHV and Public Possessions. We also created two mixes that we perform in the game.

07 Q&A Rampa Portrait Beach
08 Q&A Rampa Vinyl Covers2

How did this collaboration with Grand Theft Auto happen?

I met the creator in Ibiza, and we partied together. I think he just really enjoyed the vibe of when we played and asked us if we wanted to be in the game. The cool thing is that we are basically a key element in the story. The mission is that you have to become our tour manager and meet us in the club and then fly with us to this private island where we play a private show but there is a drug boss. Anyway, we kind of developed the story together. Of course, they had the idea, but we could also suggest our own ideas. It was interesting in terms of the sound and how that all works. We performed that show in a motion capture studio. To see this come to life and play it on the PlayStation…that was cool.

How did you pick the tracks for the Spotify playlist that you did for our Destination Berlin guide?

I just picked whatever came to my mind. Also, I have my super long crazy messy playlist where I store some stuff of mine, some stuff of friends, and some stuff I just like. Everything is super intuitive. It’s a good range of different genres and artists but still a certain vibe I feel when I’m in Berlin.

What is your feeling when you’re in Berlin?

Listen to the playlist. It’s songs that I listen to when I’m here, like in the car on the way to the studio. It’s really hard to say this song is only Berlin. It just feels like home and my friends…that’s the feeling.

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