When German Johannes Paluka aka Iron Curtis released his sophisticatedly beautiful, almost cinematic debut album ‘Soft Wide Waist Band’ in the middle of this year, he was immediately inducted into electronic music’s rare group of artists. Zul Andra caught up with the man and talked about the warmth, depth and melancholy found in his music.
Your debut LP, ‘Soft Wide Waist Band’, is an elegant album filled with beautifully woven deep house and stripped down disco. What say you?
Thank you! I’m really pleased to hear that. Actually I had no expectations — I just wanted to deliver something more or less unique. Then it was all in the hands of the listeners.
All 19 tracks on the album are seemingly structured to create one whole running track. There’s a cinematic quality to it.
Compiling tracks for the album was a process that took nearly one-and-a-half years. It contains music I made in different periods of my life. I think the cinematic aspect that you mentioned is based on the over-layering structure I tend to use when making music. Nearly all of the tracks contain ambient and atmospheric layers. Some of these are more upfront, but most of them are subtle and might get the listeners attention in a subliminal way.
You are very much into the melancholic and soulful house; there’s a real sense of warmth in your production. Do you consistently approach your music in that direction?
Well, I do not really think of it. But I have to admit that all of my tracks seem to have a melancholic and soulful kind of edge. It just seems like I can’t avoid that. (Laughs)
Has your birthplace, Nürnberg, got anything to do with your style of music?
My birthplace is Nürnberg in Bavaria but I’ve always had a strong relationship with Hamburg. I have many friends there and am fascinated with the music coming out of Hamburg.
And now you are based in Berlin, how musically different is the city compared to your hometown?
Berlin is much bigger, of course, and over the top sometimes. I do not regret moving to Berlin, but frankly speaking, it took me quite a while to feel at home there. I find myself partying and playing out in venues similar in approach to ones in my hometown, such as Musikverein and Desi. But I’ve met so many great people; not just musicians, DJs or producers, but also a great group of friends.
With the global explosion of EDM, what in your opinion is current state of health?
Oh, tough question! There’s always a good and bad, isn’t there? In a nutshell, if at least 10 percent of the kids who are into Skrillex and Deadmau5 discover music that is behind the commercial curtain, I’m fine with it. Maybe they’ll find themselves listening to Squarepusher, Drexciya or Pantha du Prince one day.
Your style of music doesn’t really fit the main room of overly commercialised clubs. This can only be a good thing for you, can’t it?
It is a good thing for me as I do not make music for big rooms in general. I do feel much more comfortable going to smaller venues.
'O'Hare' - Iron Curtis
For your Singapore debut, you’ll be helming the decks at Zouk’s Velvet Underground — a small, intimate space. Drop us a hint on what the Iron Curtis experience will be like.
I’m so looking forward to going to Singapore and playing at Velvet Underground! I can’t say what I’ll be playing yet as it’s mostly spontaneous. I need to see the people, feel the atmosphere in the room and hear the music from the opening DJs. But I can say that I will play out an eclectic set of house, techno and disco, from old to new, hard to soft, and happy to melancholic.
Iron Curtis guest DJs for DMZ 002 — a collaborative night between Singapore labels Darker Than Wax and Midnight Shift. Funk Bast*rd, Kaye and Norman Chung open with visuals from Avneesh. Sep 22, 10pm at Velvet Underground, Zouk. Entry is at $28/$35 inclusive of two drinks.
Entertainment writer Zul Andra (@zulandra) has his finger on Singapore’s nightlife and drinking pulse. He has also interviewed hundreds of local and international artists in the last five years from the likes of Carl Cox and Lamb of God to BBC TV presenter Simon Reeve. Previously a staff writer and web editor at I-S magazine, he currently writes for major hyper-local publications, The New Paper and inSing.com. Having expanded his reach regionally with articles in Travel + Leisure and Scoot in-flight magazine, he is also considered a respected opinion-maker with columns in JUICE and Esquire. His work has appeared in TODAY, Time Out Singapore, Nylon and ZIGGY, and maintains an award-nominated blog, Kiss My Culture.