He may not be the most famous Marcel associated with Berlin’s Berghain club, or the Ostgut
Ton label, but Marcel Fengler is undoubtedly one of the brightest new producers to have
recently emerged from that scene. Through a short but sweet stack of 12″s, remixes and EPs
under his belt, Fengler has honed in on a sound all his own, one that fuses the pounding
familiarity of classic tech-house with free-spirited melodies and distinct sound sources, creating
tracks that are easily recognizable as his own (and just as dancefloor-ready). For a style so
repetitious and pounding, Fengler somehow infuses his passionate humanity in every track,
whether it comes from a snipped vocal, a thunderous rhythm or a shimmery chord. It’s really
great stuff, and in talking with the gracious and friendly man himself, it’s hard to not get excited
for all that he has in store for the future. I think we should all take a lesson from him and make
the time to play djembes during a colorful sunset.

How did you first find out about the Berghain scene and get involved with it?
In the late ’90s, I went quite often to the old Ostgut Club, which was the predecessor of
today’s Berghain club. After the closure of the E-Werk in 1997, the Ostgut club rose to fill the
gap of the Berlin club culture for me. I was attracted to the dark and authentic attitude, the
ecstatic atmosphere and the extravagance of the venue and people which I still feel today
at the Berghain club. After the Ostgut club was shut in 2003, I discovered that the Berghain club
was in search of new talents. Luckily for me, my chance came. I played one night, and since
that night, I am grateful to say, it was the moment that my life changed.

Was there any specific musical inspiration that made you want to produce electronic music?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from the techno sound of the 1990s. Besides Aphex Twin and
techno from Birmingham I was also riveted by reduced albeit complex forms of the genre. I
remember my first club experience with Robert Hood and Claude Young on the decks at the old
Tresor venue. It was coupled with an unbelievable way of mixing, and sometimes I couldn’t bring
optics and acoustics in balance, so it was raw but incredibly funky! I love all these sounds and
still enjoy playing them as DJ today. And, of course, it also still influences my creative work.
Such impressions are constant companions and make this job so exciting. But above all my main
focus is creating something unique and new when I am producing.

Did you play any other instruments beforehand?
I started to play electric guitar when I was fifteen, but gave it up just one and a half years
later. Needless to say that it was not my finest talent, and now I probably wouldn’t be able to
play it if you asked me to! If I could choose my time again it would probably be drums as my
instrument of choice. I do sometimes enjoy sitting with friends, a nice sunset in the distance,
beating our djembes. I do love a good sunset!

When you are creating a track, how much are you thinking about what it will be used for,
versus the pure art of creating music? How much consideration do you give to entertaining a
crowd when writing a track?

I honestly have to say that I don’t think a lot about the capability of a track to entertain. I’m
a very emotional person and decide often pretty intuitively whilst producing the direction the
track will take. The most important thing is what I feel, and which emotions appeal to me throughout
the process. I try to stick to these principles, and take on board any advice and criticism afterward,
which I am always happy to take on board.

Do you try to write music for all sorts of emotions? As in, would you want to have happy,
sad, angry and contemplative tracks in your discography, working the entire emotional spectrum?

Emotions just arise unscheduled during the entire process. Sometimes they influence me more
intensely so I can introduce them into my sound ideas. Of course I’m excited about having more
facets as a producer and pass them on to new projects but for my discography I’m not really
planning a collection of all different emotions as possible.

What do you feel is the biggest musical limitation to what you’re doing?
To be honest, there are just a few things which restrain me at the moment. Overall I like the
fact that this branch is always moving. Limitations change, some of them deflect and others
get sort out. At the moment I am considering relocating my studio, which is currently in my
home, so I will be able to produce at any time I am feeling creative.

Do you have any plans for an album? What will you be releasing next?
Currently, I’m working on a couple of remixes for Time 2 Express, Soma and Perc. Furthermore
new releases on Mote Evolver and Ostgut Ton are planned. And in spring, there will be something
to carry from my own label. But of course the biggest upcoming project for me will be the next
Berghain mix CD, which will be released late summer this year. My debut album is then scheduled
for 2012.

How important is the physical club set-up to your music? Do you take acoustics into

The layout of a club doesn’t have a great deal of influence on my record selection. When I play in
a club for the first time, I tend to watch a few videos on YouTube, ask colleagues, make short
soundchecks before the gig, nothing too researched really. I have detected repeatedly that even
the most dynamic sounds work on each floor with the right crowd. In the end it’s just 100%
Marcel Fengler.

What would you say makes your DJ performance unique?
For me it’s important in my sets to put the tracks together like a puzzle which in the end tells
kind of a story. Even the roughest sounds can then create wonderful moments if you combine
them with more deeper and sometimes even epic sounds. In these moments you can sometimes
surprise yourself. I love those kind of moments because very often they set lots of positive
energy free in yourself which gets transferred to the crowd.

What is your understanding of how techno and dance music is viewed in the United States?
What was it like to perform here?

Techno was and is significantly influenced from the United States for sure, but it’s difficult to
assess how the techno scene is viewed in the United States these days. Despite this, I think
there are a lot of guys who know exactly what the techno scene is, and especially what
underground is about and what’s going on over there. My own few experiences with the scene
have been pretty nice, and I have received increasingly great feedback from the United States
following my premiere last year. Friends invited me over to New York to play at the famous Bunker
and subsequently at the Kontrol in San Francisco. Both clubs differ from each other, but I had a
wonderful time. I hope to get to play there again very soon!