Iman Gerowgan: Hello Kevin, how are you these days?
Ambivalent: I’m great, as always! I hope it’s the same for you.
Iman Gerowgan: What´s the story behind your artist name 'Ambivalent' ?
Ambivalent: It really describes my mentality all the time. I can see both sides of everything, and I often hold opposing viewpoints on many subjects. It can be frustrating for the people around me. I remember 7 or 8 years ago Magda would make fun of me for using that word a lot “ambivalent” to describe my thoughts, and so it made sense as an artist name.
Iman gerowgan: Please tell us about your musical background and how you first got started in the electronic music scene.
Ambivalent: I first started going to electronic music parties in the early 90s to hear industrial, acid house and techno. Washington DC had some cool clubs, but the rave scene in Baltimore was much stronger. I moved to London, and got really interested in DJing, and when I moved to New York in 1996, I started organizing parties. Through doing that, I met a lot of my favorite artists. And made a lot of new friends in music. Many of them became very successful, and it’s been fun to share the experience with them.
Iman Gerowgan: You moved from New York to Berlin. In how far has european´s electro culture influenced you musically? How have your sounds developed over the years?
Ambivalent: I think that the European scene is just more involved in the culture of the music. It’s hard to compare the scene in Europe
to the US, because things change all the time. But in general, there is a more solid, loyal audience for electronic music in Europe. It creates more opportunity to connect with people who share
the same cultural ideas.
Iman Gerowgan: Which role plays 'Minus' and 'Richie Hawtin' for you and your carrer?
Ambivalent: Minus is a great avenue for certain ideas, so that’s a platform. Rich has been a long-time friend, so he’s still a friend.
Iman Gerowgan: You just released 'Brooklyn Weekdays', a new five tracker EP together with Alexi Delano on Richie Hawtin´s MINUS. How did it come to this cooperation with Alexi?
Ambivalent: Alexi is a very well-loved guy in New York. Everyone knows him, and he gets so much respect around the world. And he’s a great guy to have as a friend. I go to Brooklyn very often, and when I’m there, I often call up Alexi to hang out on weekdays when neither of us has DJ gigs. We always would end up in the studio working out ideas or sharing tracks. Eventually we had enough stuff to make a release...
Iman Gerowgan: Please tell us about the ideas, the musical concept behind the EP.
Ambivalent: Really the process was very open. We had a chance to just work for short pieces of time, and sometimes we would just make a loop, and other times we would come back and remix everything we’d done a few months before. There wasn’t really a defined concept, because it happened over such a long period of time.
Iman Gerowgan: What was the biggest challange for you on this cooperation and the EP?
Ambivalent: Maybe the hardest part was remembering what we’d done the last time! And sometimes we’d come back to an old idea, and change it completely until it was unrecognizable... But honestly, it was never hard. We had fun the whole way, because we both have really open minds about the creative process and we both like so many styles of production. So it made it easy to be really open to anything that came up.
Iman Gerowgan: What are you working on at the moment? Which forthcoming releases do you have lined up in the near future? We see your fans keep asking for a new album.
Ambivalent: I have some music coming, and I think it will surprise some people. Hopefully I won’t lose people too much, because I feel like it’s an honest expression from me. It won’t be an album. Partly because I have not heard many people who are capable of making a real album in this format. A lot of what I hear are people repeating the same idea over 10 tracks, and that’s just a waste of energy really. I’d rather have a few ideas which focus their impact, and make some impression on the listener.
Iman Gerowgan: What kind of equipment do you use in the studio?
Ambivalent: I really believe in finding the bridge between analog and digital. There are a lot of tools in my studio which are focused on gaining the benefits of analog stuff, but not sacrificing the advances that are out today. So there are some really old effects units and synths, as well as some digital units, and my computer. No one ever wants to say it, but the computer is the heart of every studio these days. Everything goes through the mixer, and ultimately ends up in the computer at some point. I’m not bothered by this, because it’s all about how you use your tools, not about which tools you use.
Iman Gerowgan: Which electro & non-electro artists inspire you at the moment?
Ambivalent: I’m nuts about Ben Frost. In my mind, he’s maybe the most visionary artist in electronic music today. I also love Tim Hecker. His new album is just pure beauty. I obviously also love a lot of great techno music. I think Paul Woolford is doing great stuff, and I love to play tracks from younger new artists, too. I really like to play stuff from Michael Penman, and Aemkay. But I also try to branch out of what people expect and play tracks from my history. I’ve been DJing since 1995, so I have a lot of inspiration to draw from.
Iman Gerowgan: Do you have non-productiv moments in the studio? What are you doing in such moments, what is your medicine of the mind?
Ambivalent: Sure of course. The worst moments are not when I’m non-productive. The worst moments are when I make something that I totally hate when I listen to it later. I wish there was a cure for that feeling. In the end, the only cure is making more. The answer to every problem is just persevering and creating.
Iman Gerowgan: How do tragedies such as the recent earthquakes, war,.. affect you in your productivity?
Ambivalent: I think they are completely separate. The most important thing we have to remember is that we’re all humans. And if we make music, or if we deliver the mail, everyone is vulnerable to tragedy at some point. And everyone is also obligated to help people when they can. So a tragedy affects me the same way as anyone else - as a human. And my reaction is not more or less important than someone else’s. In an entertainment industry, there’s sometimes this attitude that some people are higher in class or status than another. I just have to emphasize that’s not true. Ever. No one skips the obligation to add some good in the world.
Iman Gerowgan: In May 4th you travelled together with Richie Hawtin, Troy Pierce, Marc Houle and Hobo to Tokyo for a special event: 'Minus Hearts Japan'. Please tell us more about this project and your visit.
Ambivalent: The idea totally came from Rich. He told us that he’d heard a lot of DJs were afraid to come to Japan, and clubs were struggling from DJs who canceled their shows. He asked us who wanted to help, and when Joel, Marc, Troy and me joined up, we bought flights and hotel rooms, and made it an adventure. I think the real reward was seeing how special this was for the people who came to the party. It really felt like such a positive energy. It’s rare for a party to feel that optimistic or fresh, but it was really something I’ll never forget.
Iman Gerowgan: “Music can change the world, because music can change
people“ What do you think?
Ambivalent: It may be true that music can change people, and as a musician, that’s always my highest goal: to reach people in a powerful way. But I think it’s dangerous to assume that music is enough, because music can’t cure cancer. But, if I find a way to cure cancer with music, I promise to give it away for free. How does that sound? Good deal?
Iman gerowgan: What have been your event hightlights of the year so far?
Ambivalent: Hmm, I have to make sure I don’t lose any. For sure the event in Japan was a powerful memory, I think my show in Medellin was also unforgettable. The people in Colombia have really gotten a hold of me. Cocoon in Frankfurt is always great, and they’ve been so supportive to me.
Iman gerowgan: How will you spend your summer? Which events are you really looking forward to?
Ambivalent: I will be lucky enough to spend my summer traveling and playing music for people who like the same things I like. I’m not sure I can talk yet about the things I’m most excited, because they haven’t been announced. But I like knowing that it will be surprising and fun everywhere I go!
Iman Gerowgan: Thank you for your time and the Spotlights interview . We wish you all the best!
Ambivalent: Thank you!! It was a pleasure.