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Dominik Eulberg Talks Nature, Conservation & His New Album

The talented German DJ and producer has played sets for Cercle and released on labels including K7 Records.

Dominik Eulberg is a German DJ and producer whose artistic take on electronic music combines deep atmospherics with stripped back percussion and melody-rich synth lines.

Known for his melodic style, Dominik Eulberg has released tracks on iconic record labels such as Cocoon and Traum.

He is also a talented DJ who has travelled the world to headline events in cities ranging from London, UK to Sydney, Australia, in addition, to live streams for brands like Cercle.

Soon Dominik Eulberg will release his six studio album called ‘Avichrom’ which is forthcoming on the highly influential label K7 Records.

We caught up with him to learn more about the album and the new single ‘Schwarzhalstaucher’ plus some of his passions outside of music…

Hi Dominik, it’s nice to be talking with you today. What part of the world are you currently based in, and what’s the current situation with the pandemic, are the local clubs open?

I live quite secluded and withdrawn on a lake in the heart of “Westerwald”, a low mountain range which, topographically seen, lies between Cologne and Frankfurt. The current pandemic situation is dramatically affecting the arts and culture scene here as well. All clubs are closed, and no dance events are allowed. Since artists have no lobby or union, they have a very hard time hoping for solidarity compensation. Due to the digitalization of the music industry, many musicians earn well over 90 per cent of their income from live performances. This is especially dramatic for young artists who are just building something up, such as having to pay off a house loan. Art and culture should be seen much more, they are so important to our system. They are the social glue of our society, balancing outlets for excess energy.

I wanted to start by asking a little about your musical background. When did you first start producing electronic music, and how did you first discover the genre?

I’ve been producing electronic music since 1993. The first time I listened to techno music really intensively, it was on Sven Väth’s radio show “HR-3 Clubnight”, I retrieved that natural, apodictic flow of life in it very much. No matter what we do, the sun rises and sets, it’s a natural flow or rhythm that always “hammers” through. It’s great to dance to a continuous four-four time. The first thing we hear in the womb is the heartbeat, and our heartbeat even synchronizes to the tempo of the music we listen to. Techno is also the most libidinal, the most instinctive music. We switch our brain off and our emotions on while listening to it. Humans are the only beings that can synchronize in collective to an external impulse. This ability, which we celebrate there in the dark techno room, is in principle what has made us a highly civilized being.

You first came to my attention in 2006 when I heard your Bionik release on Cocoon. How has your sound evolved since then, and what are some of the other labels you have worked with?

My first releases under my own name were on Ware Records and Raum…Musik. Then I released for many, many years actually exclusively on Traumschallplatten, for example, my debut album “Flora & Fauna”. I also opened my own small label “Apus apus”. But at the moment I feel more like producing albums, because here you can simply express more and go into depth, telling the whole story. Since my last album “Mannigfaltig” I am now at home on !K7 Records. In the beginning, I was very naive and unaware of how to produce music, but that had its appeal because it opens up new ways of doing things. Experience is something wonderful because it expands the range of options. But of course, it also carries the danger that you can get lost in this endless sea of equipment and methods. That’s why I always try to have only equipment in my studio with which I can form a deep relationship. You never know beforehand whether the chemistry between the equipment and the musician will work, so you just have to be tentative. You only find out if you can swim or not when you go into the water. It’s also important to me that I have a suitable instrument for each timbre or ingredient. It’s like cooking. What good are ten different salts if you don’t have any pepper? That’s why my equipment is hard-selected and diverse, consisting of analogue, digital and acoustic sound generators. Of course, over time, favourite gear automatically emerges, which also form your own trademark sound. For me, these are also analogue effects, like the Bricasti M7 or the Eventide H8000. I have a colourful palette of synthesizers that I use for certain purposes. For example, the Prophet 5, Deckards Dream or Moog One for pads, Jupiter 8, GRP A4, Omega 8 or Mac Beth Elements for basses.

Before this interview, I watched the video for your latest single ‘Schwarzhalstaucher’ and I wanted to ask if you could explain the concept, as it’s a very bountiful accompaniment to your music?

For me, nature is the most ingenious artist of all. Its diversity of forms and colours are life-affirming symbols of the symphony of being. Beauty in nature is no accident, it stimulates our childlike wonder at the miracle of life. Its feast for the eyes allows an admiring appreciation to flourish in us, which bears fruit in a more mindful striving and an emphatic desire to protect. It is in the world of birds that the diversity of natural beauty is most magnificently displayed. Viewed side by side, a gallery of bird species looks like a collection of precious gems. The opening track “Schwarzhalstaucher” should, on the one hand, tease this targeted sound cosmos, as a distilled conglomerate, which is why it is probably the most colourful and manifold track of the album. For composing the track, I visualized and imagined this beautiful grebe species with bright red eyes, the famous „fire-eyes“. The grebe is switching elements again and again, between air, land, water and underwater. The artist Swen Jaton and his students, implement this vision of colour in the world of birds in a fictional, imaginative way: a mythical creature is bringing the wonderful splendour of colour to native bird species.

I’m told that you are passionate about wildlife, and studied to be a conservationist. I’d love to learn more about this, and how it inspires your music?

I studied biology with a focus on ecology and nature conservation and worked as a national park ranger after my studies. I am still very active in the field of nature conservation, writing books such as my current non-fiction book “Microorgasms Everywhere”, which was even chosen as “Knowledge Book of the Year” here in Germany. I even love nature awareness games, such as the multimedia bird quartet „Fiegende Edelsteine“. I am an ambassador for many nature conservation organisations, a guest scientist at the Museum Of Natural History Berlin and have my own television programmes, such as SWR’s “Eulbergs Kosmos”. With the renowned nature filmmaker Jan Haft, I am constantly working on TV and cinema films, such as the current cinema movie Heimat Natur“. As I said, for me nature is the greatest artist of all, an inexhaustible cornucopia of inspiration. I always finish the concepts of my albums first, that gives me a red thread for writing music. On the other hand, music is a wonderful vector, because it is low-threshold and fun, to sensitise our fellow human beings to our home, nature. So I can use my reach as an established artist and the stages that are offered to me to open up people to this so important task of nature sensitisation. It is always the causal chain: we only protect what we also appreciate. This childlike amazement at the miracle of life is what I would like to pass on to our fellow human beings, to open their hearts.

Talking from the point of view of a conservationist, what are some of the basic things we can all do in our daily lives to take more care of the environment?

We must not fall into the trap of selling indulgences, such as thinking we can hang up a nesting box and thus avert bird mortality. Garden birds are relatively well off. But who will help the meadow nesting birds or the inhabitants of moors and wetlands? Their populations are in a dramatic decline. We can only solve the big problems at the political level, and that is why we have to put our crosses in the right place in elections, sign petitions, support nature conservation associations, increase the pressure. And as consumers, every purchase decision is ultimately a ballot paper for or against nature conservation. It cannot be the case that ecologically compatible produced food is the most expensive and not everyone can afford it. Sustainable nature conservation always works only with social justice. The hidden costs of repairing the damage to our ecosystem caused by cheap products are charged to the back of society. Only a few benefits singularly in monetary terms. Lobbyism is the big problem, the greed for money that slows down urgently needed transformation processes. Everything that goes against nature also goes at the expense of human welfare. Especially the damage to biodiversity will have devastating effects on us. The climate crisis raises the question of how humanity will live on earth, but the loss of biodiversity raises the question of whether we will survive at all.

What conservation projects are you currently involved with?

Ufz that’s quite a lot. On the one hand, I am one of the local nature conservation officers here. I monitor breeding birds and supervise the amphibian migration with protective fences along roads, etc. On the other hand, I am currently developing new nature awareness games. For example, an insect quartet, where you can scan a QR code to see a 3D model of the insect, which we created at the Museum of Natural History with the new “digitisation road”. At the museum, I’m in the tradition of Humboldt’s educational ideal of uniting art and science into a holistic view, and we’re currently planning many exciting science communication projects. For example, a book in which I transcribe animal sounds into notes and then play them on my synthesizers. I’m also working with the artist Matthias Garff to recreate the respective animal species from everyday objects and waste in the form of sculptures, which we’ll then use for a two-year touring exhibition. Then we also have a “bat in concert” project: With the help of a bat detector, we first transform the emitted ultrasonic signals into a frequency range that can be experienced by the human ear. These sounds are then routed through various analogue effects chains and synthesizer loops that are triggered, side-chained or ducked at certain thresholds. The result is meditative ambient music that invites deep contemplation due to its repetitive but never predictable character. We integrate such bat sound installations at festivals, such as Wilde Möhre last year. A chill-out floor a bit off the big stages, where bats are the musicians, the headliners of this floor. Bats are solely the musicians, the composers, of the music being created. We merely provide them with a human set-up as an “instrument”. If no bat appears on the “stage”, we hear no sound. We then smuggle the names of the species of bat that “perform” here into the official line-up.

Black-necked grebe is forthcoming from your new album, could you tell us more about that release and any concepts behind it?

My 6th studio album is called “Avichrom”. This neologism essentially means “bird colours”. The theme for the record is the world of birds and their exuberant variety of colours. Mother Nature has used her entire colour palette here. For each of the eleven colours, a native bird species can be found by name. The eleven tracks on the album are named after these species.

I remember the live stream you did for Cercle a few years ago, and you are known to be a talented DJ. Do you have any gigs or live shows planned for the coming months?

Of course, I usually play more than 100 gigs a year. You can see the list of my upcoming gigs on my webpage. But at the moment Corona is throwing a spanner in the works again and stage-related cultural life is at a standstill in Central Europe. Unless you fly to faraway continents like South America or India, shows are very difficult to plan right now. And I don’t want to go on such long journeys for an ecological reason at the moment. It’s not feeling sustainable and it’s not viable for our ecosystem in the long term. Social injustice in the distribution of resources is a big problem for our species.

Thanks for talking with me today, before we finish, is there a message for fans or anything else you would like to add?

Nature is the simplest, most cost-effective and healthiest key to happiness. You don’t need much, just some basic knowledge and perhaps a magnifying glass and binoculars to broaden your horizon of experience, and off you go into a colourful adventure land. And right on your own doorstep – even in the smallest of places, such as a handful of earth – you can experience the miracle of life if you direct your senses towards it.

You can pick up a copy of Dominik Eulberg’s new single ‘Schwarzhalstaucher’ from HERE.

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