Frankfurt’s Techno-pioneer in interview: Alex Azary

Foto by Daniel Woeller
Postproduction by Meike Wittenstein
Remix by Schultzschultz

Hello Alex, we hope you and your family are doing well in this special time. The last time we had an interview with you was in 2018 and a lot has happened since then. After you already celebrated the handing over of the keys for the location at Frankfurt Hauptwache in summer 2018, there were some problems with your planned project, the „MOMEM“ (Museum Of Modern Electronic Music). Which incidents did you have and could you manage everything?

Yes, thank you very much, we are doing well according to the circumstances – it’s been a crazy year, but we are making the best of it. That’s true, we actually wanted to open before 2019, but unfortunately we became a local political pawn for some time. Our original plan was to open at the end of the year with the Paris Philharmonic’s Electro – from Kraftwerk to Daft Punk exhibition, which is now being held at the Design Museum in London. Everything was already firmly planned, the contracts were ready to be signed on the table. That would have been a perfect opening, of course. Nevertheless, we didn’t let ourselves be discouraged and, in numerous personal discussions with the political leaders – and ultimately the parties among themselves – we were able to find a way to release the funds promised for MOMEM and thus to enable MOMEM.

As we have heard, the opening of MOMEM should be planned for September 2020 and you have already started with the reconstruction work. We can imagine that now, due to Corona, there might have been other complications. How is the reconstruction going and for when is the opening planned now?

That is correct, we had planned the opening for September 2020. The reconstruction started in January and we originally even planned to open before the summer. But the issue was off the table in March at the latest. In this respect, we are also affected by the Corona crisis, not only because the conversion has become more difficult, but also because many planned meetings and talks about cooperation had to be postponed for the time, as our contact persons were either in home office or could not be reached at all. But the decisive factor is, that we expect several thousand visitors at the opening, so we can only open when clubs and events can take place again. That’s why we have postponed the opening first until September, and because of the requirements from our government in Berlin, we are currently aiming for November.

Currently we have completed reconstruction phase 1 and are just starting with reconstruction phase 2, i.e. all the fixtures and fittings of the Children Museum have been removed and the renovation of the rooms has been completed. Right now we’re starting the installation of the MOMEM inventory, before we commence with the construction of the exhibition in phase 3.

Even if there are still corona-related delivery problems and other complications, I expect that we will be able to open in November.

You have a mix series in cooperation with HYTE, which recently released Mix 10. Can you tell our readers something about the process of creating this project?

The idea came up during a chat with Michi Weicker from HYTE about all those live streams…
Eventually I suggested that the format does not replace the experience of the music and that it would be more important for me personally to hear really new music instead of watching a DJ on the computer. Especially since there are so many good and innovative releases, labels and producers around currently. Because of the closed clubs and cancelled festivals many people probably won’t get to hear the best tracks at all. Michi told us that HYTE has different ideas to develop new formats between podcast, streaming and radio and to introduce new artists, so we straight away suggested that we might deliver a podcast too. 

How did the name „Ahead of the Curve“ come about and was it clear from the beginning that you wanted to do the mixes together with Mr. Rod?

I’ve been playing with Mr. Rod for several years now and he also started the chat with Michi and got me in, so it was obvious that we would do it together. When we are playing, we usually play alone all night long, so our set always makes a curve across genres. That’s how our podcast should be, like a club night condensed into a 60 min mix, from a soft start to a groovy party starter part to the peak and finally to the end, floating away again. For us the attributes topicality, sound, quality and innovation are more important than the question whether the tracks are electro, house, acid, techno, rave, dub tech or deep house etc. – in contrast to many current DJ sets, which often only remain within one genre. At the moment I’m mainly inspired by tracks produced by the new generation, but capturing the spirit of the early days as perfectly as if they were around 92 already.

When we had to think about how to name the podcast, the title „Ahead of the curve“ was the obvious choice because of the Corona issue on one hand and the topicality of the track selection on the other. The name basically reflects the program.

A question about the current situation: As a pioneer of Frankfurt’s techno and electro scene, you have experienced and shaped the development of the clubs, club life and the expansion of the scene at first hand. How do you feel when you think that almost an entire cultural scene is almost on the brink of collapse. How satisfied are you personally with the help and understanding that our scene currently receives?

Of course you can’t be satisfied and I really hope that there will soon be a change in thinking on the part of politicians, especially since there is obviously enough money available. The distribution of the money is actually quite scandalous and will surely become a big issue again, as soon as we take a closer look behind the scenes. 

There are now more than enough figures and statistics to prove that clubs, festivals and events are an important economic factor and also a major employer. It’s bad enough that you have to use such statistics to get attention from politicians, because club culture is so much more – it is a breeding ground for innovation and creativity, but also the social glue of society. 

You have to be very careful when it comes to government relief programs for culture, because when politics talks about culture, it usually means theatre, opera and orchestral musicians and not the independent scene, which usually has to struggle even under normal circumstances. 

Club culture now has to pay the price for failing to organize itself in the last decades. A great and important job is done by the Club Commission in Berlin – actually the only association that is lobbying there and this should be supported even more by our scene, because only with united forces you can attract attention and publicity. That’s why we supported the „Night of Light 2020“ for example – but besides the companies, clubs and organizers, we also have to make sure that artists, DJs and so-called “solo self-employed” people are not only granted a subsistence level, but also that the loss of income caused by the lockdown is compensated. We must speak up next to the established and subsidized cultural scene, because unfortunately, this is the only way to be considered in the distribution. Club culture is much more than just partying and dancing, this must finally be realized by society and we want to try to show this in MOMEM as well.


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