We are very happy to share the latest addition to our mix series, coming from Manamana. As a DJ duo consisting of Leipzig based, Map.ache (Jan Barich) and Sevensol (Alex Neuschnee), Manamana have been long time residents at Nachtdigital Festival and toured as part of their showcases at the likes of De School, Corsica Studios and About Blank.
They also run the label, KANN with close friend Bender and celebrated it’s 10th birthday with club nights across Europe, a showcase at Nachtdigital Flex and through their Family Horror x Good Times.
Alex and Jan were kind enough to answer some of our questions, enjoy the read!
Hi guys, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves, where you grew up?
Jan: We both grew up in Leipzig during the last period of the former GDR, that was about to end in 1989.
Can you tell us a bit about growing up with music and it’s influence on you?
Jan: The biggest influence for myself was more the time than a specific musical genre. It was a special time (beginning and mid 90’ies), a time of a big social upheaval and radical change for everyone. Safety and structures broke off and millions of unknown possibilities emerged immediately.
Inside this inimitable period of time, all over the eastern part of Germany tons of subcultural clubs & venues emerged from the ground, as well as in our hometown.Very fast I got in touch with all kinds of the brand-new excitements from punk to techno.
How did you first meet? What was your motivation for creating KANN (with Bender), and to start DJing together as Manamana?
Jan: I was working in a record shop around 2001, where Alex was one of my favourite customers. Not long after that we got booked together more often by local parties and the chance to realise our shared passion for music, dancing & partes. Manamana were the first concrete results of the common ground. Together with Dennis (Bender) we decided soon to start a label project to express the own interpretations of dance music.
A lot of good things took place at this time, it was a pretty good vibe not only in town. A lot of people started DIY projects with much effort in ideas music events and stuff. Looking back today it seems like this was the final innocent time of Techno & House, doing your own thing was the biggest motivation.
Can you describe some of the challenges, and benefits of running a record label and store (under the KANN umbrella with Bender), while touring as Manamana?
Jan: The challenge is the concept at the same time. To DJ, run a label & record shop and set up events had all belonged together for a very long time. All parts being very essential to the other. Its all about influencing each other, with projects and personal input. It evolved slowly into more and more work, as all of us decided to bring into focus the parts we put our hearts into most. Which meant, Alex closed the record shop & I quit my full time job at a big venue called Conne Island.
How would you describe the Manamana sound? And how does it differ from how you play solo?
Jan: We love house! That’s our base. We love dancing & watching other people dance while you play the music you like. So it is more about a feeling than a certain sound. I would describe it as music that tries to touch people with a lot of groove and melodies. Manamana is running for more than 12 years now, which means we are also not immune against tendencies & hypes. So the challenge is always to stay at your side and not forget the time you live in.
Luckily for me house is the most timeless music you can imagine, that makes it much more easy 🙂
Can you tell us about one or two of your favourite KANN releases from recent years and why?
Jan: Hard to tell…I am really into the Falke releases, because of his vibe and the strong emotive sound. It still touches me when I listen to the records.
Alex: I would point out “Banana Split” which contains various tracks from DJ Assam, Falke, Map.ache and His Master’s Voice. Big fun to stick something like this together.
Your anniversary compilation, Family Horror X Good Times is one of my favourite releases of the past year, there’s such a diverse array of amazing music. Did you have any criteria for selecting the music or those featuring on the compilation?
Jan: Its our boon and bane, as we are still in love with a lots of different kinds of music. We always try to keep by ourselves if we decide what to release. That means it’s all about listening to any kind of music and then realising something is happening while hearing. That’s why it is hard to find the right words to make any criteria real.
For the compilation I think it was the occasion that brought the amazing result. We asked everyone for their contribution to our 10th anniversary compilation and we did not have to decline any music for it, so it seems like everyone really got into the groove.
Leipzig is home to many renowned clubs including the Distillery, Conne Island and IFZ. Can you tell us about the nightlife in Leipzig and the positive impact of the club’s on the local communities?
Alex: I guess what’s noteworthy for the nightlife in Leipzig is that it was always driven by people who are themselves obsessed with music, party and cuddling first. You can easily have a good time in this little, big city since the 1990s with underground raves, spontaneous pub parties and afterhours.
There is also a strong antifascist movement and people who don’t take it easy too run a club which ensures a loose, equal and save vibe mostly.
IFZ just won the German award as “Venue of the year 2018” which marks a well-deserved acknowledgement overall for their cultural work over a few years with Conne Island, Pracht, Distillery, Mjut and other venues.
On the other side i’m afraid there’s a bit too much going on right now every weekend, but there are maybe not enough people in town to dance on all these floors at the same time. Personally, I wish that more people of both sexes start making records, or try running a label beside just throwing parties and of course DJ at times. It has to be done.
What did it mean for yourselves and the local scene with the recent abolishment of closing hours for clubs? Do you think Leipzig will grow to attract international clubbers in a similar fashion to Berlin?
Jan: Even before they abolished the closing hours, there was no real closing hour. There were already 24h parties before. so this was more a symbolic political act & commitment to the nightlife scene of Leipzig from the city government. They already know for years the important role subculture has in terms of appeal, tourism, and development of the city. This was luckily a logical move.
But comparing it to Berlin, this will not effect any development of the growing club scene in town. As you can see already, some clubs already were shut down or closed. After high expectations there is often kind of disillusion what a small town like Leipzig really can handle to become a more bigger player in club culture. You can compare it with real estate. What I think is that we still have to be so lucky to have such a proper, vibrant scene that is already big enough for the needs of a city of this size. Have you ever been to Leipzig airport?
How were your run of shows, as part of the Nachtdigital 20th Anniversary Tour as well as your own KANN 10th Anniversary Tour, playing at the likes of De School, Corsica, Ankali. Were there any particular highlights?
Jan: For me, De School has always been the place with the best vibe. We were lucky to play an extended set upstairs at Muziklokal. What I remember is: people were groovin as hell and we could just stay deep as home.
But Corsica was amazing too, in the end we played an endless b2b2b with DJ Dustin. Generally, the “family” nights have always been the nights with the best vibes.
Are there any clubs that you have a particular affinity for playing?
Jan: All places we haven’t been to, are something we are looking for.
I remember watching “Escape To Olganitz” last year before attending my first Nachtdigital Festival and seeing yourselves (Jan and Alex) feature in the Documentary. Manamana and KANN as a label are synonymous Nachtdigital, can you tell us about the first time you attended the festival and what it means to yourselves?
Jan: We met Steffen, Jenny & Leo in Leipzig around 2007. Fortunately they saw us play in places like Conne Island, Ilses Erika or this show club called “bar” and invited us to open the tent in 2008 for Lawrence & Efdemin. we were really excited to play. The same weekend the very first KANN record arrived, just a few days before the festival so we brought some to give it to some DJs in Olganitz. That’s why Nachtidigital is not only a milestone for KANN & Manamana – it has a main symbolic value and means for us many longterm friendships, common experiences. It was a door opener for Manamana to start to play more often out of Leipzig.
The atmosphere within the Tent during the KANN 10th Anniversary label showcase (at Nachtdigital Flex) was amazing! It really supported what I have heard of Leipzig events, and Nachtdigital in particular having a ‘family atmosphere’. How did the showcase come about and how was the experience from your perspectives?
Jan: More than a year ago, we told Steffen Bennemann about our plans for the 10th anniversary of KANN. Immediately, he offered us the chance to join the tent for one night. This was one of the special moments for everyone last year. Nachtdigital has been our true NYE for 10 years too. Luckily we became a part of the family and by that we got next to our yearly festival contribution many more opportunities to play at Nachtdigital Nights all over Europe.
Can you name some of your favourite labels, DJs, producers and even promoters at the moment?
Alex: We both got really hooked by the music from Sepp recently, a house producer from Romania. I would also name Adam Stromstedt, who will probably release some music with us this year, and Incienso from New York as a new favourite. The label run by Anthony Naples and Jenny Slattery has a wicked Buttechno EP coming up this month, which can be heard in the mix.
What future releases can we expect from KANN over the next few months and 2019? What’s coming up for your respective solo projects, and Manamana?
Alex: Innere Tueren a self-titled album by Ergin Erteber will arrive shortly, it follows projects such as Things From The Basement and is co-produced by Jan (map.ache). We work on this since a while now and hope some people will dig the music as much as we do.
Then after several tracks, remix input and countless hours together, Mr Perm serves a full EP on KANN called „Quewupp“ and proceeds an relentless way in march. Thereafter nothing is confirmed yet, as we still play with ideas and tracks from different artists.
Can you tell us a bit about the idea behind this mix?
Alex: The audio was recorded at ://about blank on Jan 19 in Berlin. We were asked to play the opening part during the Sweat Lodge anniversary party, which means also our new agency from now. Gently tried to move the crowd who just arrived on the dancefloor from a cold Berlin outside. As always one after another.
Catch Sevensol (DJ) and Map.Ache (Live) at Corsica Studios on Friday 8th February as part of Make Me x Nachtdigital with Ben UFO, Demdike Stare, Paquita Gordon, XDB, Truly Madly and More, and at Nachtdigital Mint (2nd to 4th August).
Words by: James Acquaye Nortey-Glover