In a rare, in-depth interview, celebrated DJ and Innervisions founder Dixon reflect on fame, the changing nature of the electronic music industry and his starring role in Grand Theft Auto, together with the esteemed selector and Running Back label head Gerd Janson.
Dixon and Gerd Janson talk GTA, DJing and the importance of criticism | Red Bull Music Academy:
WATCH NOW: https://youtu.be/Z19QNrnmhRI
Dixon (AKA Steffen Berkhahn) and Gerd Janson are two of most celebrated and hardest working DJs in Germany. In October, the pair sat down on the Red Bull Music Academy lecture couch for a rare, in-depth look into their careers, personal lives and the contemporary electronic music scene.
Taking place as part of the Academy’s 220th-anniversary-edition in Berlin, the frank and engaging conversation spans the highs and lows of running a record label, the art of all-night-long sets, and the high demand for self-promotion faced by emerging artists today.
In addition to offering insights into the upper echelons of the electronic music industry, the lecture also includes unflinching self-assessment from both Janson and Dixon, who has consistently been ranked as the world’s top DJ.
The lecture is now available to watch in full on the Red Bull Music Academy YouTube and is hosted by Christine Kakaire. Standout moments include:
- 11.10 – Gerd Janson on the challenges of being a journalist and a full-time DJ and label boss. Is criticism weakened by the natural bias of being in the game?
- 54.15 – How Dixon deals with the inflated expectations that come with fame during his sets.
“When I became no.1 [in the Resident Advisor poll], it changed everything . . . Things came with it that I didn’t like. I will start a show and all the phones come out. I have it in my contract to drop the lights completely for up to 10 minutes, to squash this.“
- 1:02:00 – The Resident Advisor poll: Dixon reflects on the positives and negatives of being voted as the world’s best DJ – and why ending the poll may not have been as simple and progressive a decision as it may have seemed.
“With this poll now gone, what is left for festival promoters to judge? Ideally, we would think it’s all about the music but it’s not . . . what’s left is Instagram now.. My initial [reaction to] how they explained why they don’t do this anymore [was] ‘Amazing decision.’ It took courage to do it . . . So I was initially behind it but now I feel that it’s got even worse without it.” (Dixon)
- 1:02:00 – Gerd Janson on the changing status of the DJ and the nature of clubbing audiences.
“I became a DJ because I was on the level of the bartender. They served the drinks, I served the music. People danced with one another. Now, people are trying to be in the booth, on a stage. I’m not nostalgic for a former era, that is just how it is.” (Gerd Janson)
- 1:11:00 – Dixon on appearing as a character in Grand Theft Auto, and weathering the criticism that goes with moving away from underground culture.
“I knew from the beginning it’s going to be big . . . but there will also be a lot of badmouthing in the scene, like ‘How not underground is all this anymore and how stupid is it to have a DJ in a video game and look where he’s coming from, why is he doing that?’ But I thought that for me, it didn’t matter because it’s this one-shot opportunity that you have and you should just go with it.“
- 1:34:10 – Gerd Janson on choosing to embrace life as a DJ.
“It’s a privileged lifestyle. My living is playing other people’s music. No one tells me to play this many gigs, that is my call. I don’t drink or do drugs. That helps, although perhaps it’s not exactly helpful for me to get in the mood . . . I find the whole ‘DJs Complaining’ thing ridiculous. Other people really have to work for their money!”
Read the full transcript at redbullmusicacademy.com/lectures
Revisit some of the highlights here: redbullmusicacademy.com/about/projects/berlin-2018.