Sven Vath

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1994

With “Accident In Paradise,” German musician/DJ Sven Vath truly breaks down the barriers in electronic music. The instrumental music of the LP brings together elements of techno with soundtrack music, and places equal emphasis on melody as sonic experimentation. As a result, Vath’s album will appeal equally to both rave kids and the older crowd that has propelled Enigma and Deep Forest to success.

Vath started off his music career in the mid 80’s with a project called Organization For Fun. That band mixed elements of early House, New Beat and spoken vocals from Vath. They became pop stars in Europe but split after two albums when Vath wanted to do his own thing (the other members went on to form Snap).

“I was kind of a marionette and didn’t feel so comfortable in that position and said I wanted to do my own stuff,” he says. “So then I started my label EyeQ.”

Vath started up another label, Harthouse, two and a half years ago. That label has gained great acclaim in both Europe and America due to the success of such acts as Spice Lab.

“It’s my own baby, my little playground where I do what I want to sign and experimental stuff,” says Vath.

In addition Vath has the third label, Recycle or Die, which is a pure ambient label that puts out limited edition CDs.

Vath has been DJing for 12 years and has his own club in Frankfurt, The Omen Club. Though he has spun a variety of styles, he is now focusing on trance and tribal techno and plays it every Friday at his club. Vath says that because The Omen Club is the only place that will play that style for the whole night, people have been coming from all over Germany to attend.

“It’s kind of a techno mecca,” he says.

When he DJs, Vath goes all out and does 16 hour sets. He sees DJing as a performance, as he doesn’t ever play his own music live.

“For me, it’s kind of a meditation into trance,” Vath explains. “I’m very into my music when I’m doing this and for the people here in Germany and the people of Europe, we always create a special vibe together. The people realize that I’m not just coming to pick up my money or something, that I’m really totally into the music. I’m on a mission!”” Sometime next year, Vath wants to tour with a big multimedia event that will combine his music with the work of other artists. It will be highly theatrical, spanning the entire evening. “It will be a spiritual evening with many different things going on, this is the way I see my live performance in the future.”

Vath’s music seems ideally suited to work as a soundtrack for stage, film, or other visual media. He acknowledges this and says that over the three month period “Accident In Paradise” took to make he was constantly getting visual ideas for the music.

“I always see a movie in my head when I’m doing my music,” explains Vath. “It’s like painting a picture with a lot of fantasy involved and always a story, not just a song, I have stories to tell and fairy tales. This is the way I see my music.”

Vath’s music has been labeled “Ambient,” even though it is quite a bit different from much of the other music given that name. Vath feels the term is appropriate for him, though questions much of the other “ambient” music.

“I see now this big ambient flood in England, and everyone’s putting just one tone with a little effects and maybe a little bird singing, and this is an ambient album,” he says, laughing.”I see for myself the taste of electronic mind music to be more classical. I think to produce ambient music you have to be in this special mood for the music. The stores with every record stamped with ‘ambient’ have nothing to do with that!”

Unlike many other techno musicians, Vath does not use his own label to release his music under many different names. He does have one side project, The Ascent of Nature, but prefers not to spread himself too thin musically. He does do remixes for the other artists, but is very selective and will only do tracks that he likes.

Vath is currently at work on his second solo album, which will be out in the fall. The format of the LP will be three characters, all part of Vath, represented by three songs each. Vath isn’t saying much about the upcoming project, though he explains that “it’s going to be a journey in sound definitely.”

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