had the pleasure of speaking with one of Germany's Down-tempo
pioneers over dinner while he was in New York promoting his
sophisticated new offering "Great Delay." At some
point since his last album, Shantel (Stefan Hante) absorbed
the vast cultural and musical influences from his DJ treks
around the globe and has constructed new material based on
the natural beauty of opposing forces. "Great Delay"
is a contemplative record full of soul and rich melodies from
an artist far removed from the pretentious embellishments
of the music industry. He had a lot of interesting things
to say about working on his new album, the winter music conference,
shepherds with cell phones and offered some insight into his
work that combines a huge array of interesting instruments,
subtle electronics and the passionate vocal work of his guests.
How was the Winter Music Conference?
It was quite funny, I came straight from Brazil and wasn't
in a very good mood, when I came to Miami, on one side I was
kind of shocked because the whole situation there is such
a fake, it's a big show off. You have all these silicon breasts,
silicon in their lips. It was a fake you know but I got to
go see the ocean five times a day! I enjoyed it a lot but
it has nothing to do with making music, with creating anything
or just to represent something, it's not connected at all.
How has your response been in the US?
Where are you headed after New York?
I have done a couple of interviews and they were very nice,
after tomorrow I will be headed back to Germany. I've been
around for a few weeks. I was in Brazil shooting a video and
before that I was in Paris and England.
Are you sticking to strictly DJ dates or do you have any
plans of performing live?
I have already set up a live band with nine musicians on
stage, the same musicians that I used for recording the album.
And we did the first show at Popkomm festival in cologne.
It's like the Winter Music Conference but it's more "real"
you know? It's more down to earth.
"Higher Than the Funk" was nominated as one
of the top 15 albums of the year, URB named it down-tempo
album of the year, and you received great reviews. Did you
feel any particular pressure when you began work on "Great
Delay" or feel like you had something to live up to?
When I finish a project like an album, immediately I am thinking
about what the next step is. I always have strong wishes and
visions, thinks that I really wanted to do and when I started
with Great Delay, I had this idea to make a combination of
warm, acoustic and fragile sounds and to combine it with Electronica.
This was such a big idea for me that I'm not thinking about
it, I don't put myself under pressure. Since I already knew
what I wanted to do, I take my time to work it out and it
is very important not to put too much pressure on yourself
with these types of things.
this your first time working with a string quartet and more
I'm always very connected to acoustic instruments. When I
started making music I learned a lot of instruments. I started
playing Violin when I was 16 and I have a very strong feeling
for these types of instruments. I don't make a difference
between an electronic environment and a so-called acoustic
environment, is doesn't matter you know? Only a matter if
it sounds good or not. This type of sound is very connected
to me and I wanted to do it. In the 90's everything was so
about "making tracks" or being connected to club
culture which is great and that's how I started but I think
we lost a bit of soul. It became more sound design, tracks
7 and 8 minutes long, everything sounds so in shape and I
wanted to have a change here, definitely.
Who were the vocalists you worked with?
It was Michael Romeo from London, he is really into the Dub
scene and I worked with him in '95 on my first album and didn't
see him for ages until I met up with him again in some airport
somewhere. Immediately we came back to this strong point where
we started a few years ago and I did some stuff with him.
In Tel Aviv I met Efrat Ben-Zur, and I also did some songs
with Andreà Palladio in Frankfurt and Liane Sommers,
the woman I also worked with on the last album.
Who is the vocalist on "Tiens"?
It's a funny story; it is a voice that I found on a very
old record of my grandmother's. The label was scratched up.
I had this record for a very long time. I worked on the playback
of "Tiens" and it was almost finished and I then
I put only the voice from the record on it and it worked so
good, it was such an organic thing, a magic moment. But I
don't know who she is; it's like from a dream or something.
The magic about this track is that it has a very strong gypsy
attitude. I love gypsy music, it is the only music that is
out of any concept and comes directly from the heart. They
immediately start to perform, they put themselves in a mood
and then they start to sing, sort of like Blues. In Eastern
Europe you can find great examples of this kind of performing,
I love it, it's very emotional.
Was a majority of the album recorded in Tel Aviv?
Yes a lot of the album I did in Tel Aviv. I was invited a
few times to DJ in Tel Aviv and I found it to have a very
special and intense situation there. I was very attached and
immediately I was meeting DJ's, producers, and musicians so
I set up a situation for myself there. I got an apartment
and I started to work.
Was there a particular reason behind the location? Do
you think the environment effected the record at all?
No, when I worked in Frankfurt I always tried to invent
something that I didn't have in Frankfurt, for example, this
association or feeling to become; to have this Mediterranean
flavor, to be a bit "light" whatever that means.
When I worked in Tel Aviv I discovered my melancholic side
and the situation there was absolutely warm, I had the sea,
everything. I like these sorts of opposites and this is the
sort of thing that inspired me. I am very careful in working
with exotic elements because immediately you can lose yourself.
You can impress people very fast because it will always catch
you somehow but you can also lose yourself immediately. You
have to find out your own universal language and for me it
is very important for me to be original. You have all these
sub genres like the Nu-school or downtempo or the new school
of Jazz, it's too much, you get lost immediately. I'm not
in school you know? I'm over this. I'm always attracted by
things that are normally not to be fit together. In Brazil
you have this organic jungle and then you have this amazing
architecture which is very technical and very mechanical but
the combination of both is fantastic. I saw this guy today
wearing a soccer jersey with an advertisement of a refrigerator
company on it which looks so cheap but the combination of
these macho, masculine guys with something that says "Seamen"
on it, it works. Another time I was in the mountains of Italy
and there was nothing there, only shepherds. After hours walking
by myself I met these shepherds, they are cooking over fires
and all of a sudden they pull out their cell phones and they
talk with their woman "Ah, I'm coming home in one week."
It's amazing, I love it.
Could you tell me a little about your musical upbringing?
I started to learn instruments very early but I always wanted
to be a graphic designer and artist. I wanted to work with
visual things, this was my vision because with music, I was
not that serious. I did it, I played in bands but I never
had the ideas to live from this and suddenly when I was studying
graphics I started to organize parties. I also started DJing
in the late 80's and the problem is that I was looking for
record and couldn't find them so I went to a friend's studio
and I asked him "can I try some stuff in your studio?"
I went there for 2 or 3 months in the evening and this is
how my first album came out. We decided to make 1000 copies
of this material we recorded and after one week they were
sold and immediately. I found myself in the music business
to make more copies. I was getting invitations to DJ in London
and I was like "Oh my gosh whats going on?"
You have your own label right?
Essay recordings. It is more a ritual situation. I hate all
this music business bullshit you know? It's horrible but I
like the idea of having a label, you can control everything
but I have a license deal with K7 but I don't have an office.
I like this idea, maybe in a few years I can release material
from other guys but its nice to play with little things, to
make business cards with your title on it, passing them out
in Miami (laughs) It's inventing something. I like manipulation
in a very subtle way, a very positive way. -Justin Hardison
Shantel's new album Great Delay is available now from Studio