Michael Mayer

Kompakt, Cologne
Profile picture for     Michael Mayer

Over the past four decades, Michael Mayer has done many things: maintained an internationallyrenowned DJ career; co-steered the Kompakt record label, physicalstore, and online shop;andproduceda slow butsteadystream of singles and albums, both solo, and in collaboration withthe likes of Superpitcher, Reinhard Voigt, Kölsch, Barnt, and–on his 2016 album,&-aplethora of talents from dance music and beyond. He’s also released several ground-breaking,legendary mix discs, from 1998’s gorgeousNeuhouse, to the epochalImmermixes, pluscontributions to both the Fabric and DJ-Kicks series. Key to all of this, though, is the decorousdrive of his clear, yet open-minded aesthetic, and a wide-eyed, thorough-goingappreciation formusic in all its variety and complexity.When talking about this deep love of music, Mayer’s eyes light up: he’s clearly got the spirit inhim.“I enjoy digging in all kinds of genres.What I’m trying to excerpt from all that is somethingthat could function within the realms of Kompakt or my DJ sets. I’m constantly trying to findinspiration somewhere to take the label or my DJ sets to the next level.My life is hunting downtracks, identifying them, and trying to bring them to the world somehow.” You can sense thisbroad aesthetic purview in thealbums he’s released via his Imara imprint: new albums fromHeiko Voss and Servicio Al Cliente;reissues ofNigerian psych-rock with Ofege,the Americansoul-funk of Greenlove, andclassic Cologne electronica by Schlammpeitziger.As Mayerclarifies, though, this all weaves back into his calling as a selector. “I will always be,first and foremost, a DJ. Everything else I do, being production, curating the record store,curating the label, I’m doing all that with the heart of a DJ.” When asked what’score to being aDJ, why it’s so important to him, he replies, simply, “It’s like a compass to navigate through thisworld. I’m striving to bring joy to this world, and make people happy, but at the same time,there’s always this educational thing. You want to play them the best possible music and themost state-of-the-art music right now.”Sometimes, that music is Mayer’s own, and he’s alsoalways slowly working on new productions; there’s an EP, maybe an album to come, but it’ll takeits own sweet time.Ultimately, though, Mayer’s reflections on the work he does suggest an approach to life that’sbuilt around care and consideration; around the spirit of sharing, both sharing the music thatMayer spends his time digging out for listeners, and sharing the space of the club, the venue, butalso the collective, the crew, the heads that gather together wherever there’s a great night to behad.“I deeply care about this music, this company, the scene, the people,” he concludes,reflecting on his multi-faceted career to date.“It’s a whole filtering thing: filtering through thebullshit and presenting what I think is music that should be heard.

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