Wolfram is another name for the hard metal element known as tungsten. It’s also the given namesake of an Austrian DJ and dance music producer, Wolfram Eckert.
Friday night, he DJs "Dear Japan, We Love You," an art exhibition and silent auction, at Open House Gallery in Soho, in benefit of Japanese earthquake victims. On Saturday, the Austrian dance maven throws his debut CD release party at Swat Bar in Chinatown. The fun-loving, heavily accented dance-music maven, who’s been in town since Monday, indulged our curiosities. The result appears below.
Why did you decide to do the CD release in New York as opposed to somewhere with a larger dance music community such as Paris?
I did it actually in Berlin last Saturday, a release party with Andy Butler of Hercules and Love Affair who is singing on the record. And so this is just the second one, in New York, with Kim Ann Foxman, also of Hercules and Love Affair, who is also singing on my record. So just basically, I have a few release parties all throughout the world. There’s one coming up in London in two weeks. So I like to celebrate myself. I have another label in Japan but now to do a record release party in Japan is a bit tricky, or it’s just not working out. And we set a different release date for the US release.
So you’re not putting it out on your own label, Diskokaine?
Yeah in the US I’m just putting it out digitally on Diskokaine. But in Europe it’s on Permanent Vacation and they press vinyl. And in Japan the label is called Ultra-Vybe
You’ve only been putting out music on your label since 2005, but you know some pretty big names in the scene. How did you get so entrenched in this so quickly?
I don’t know. I’m really lucky, I don’t know. Sometimes you just get introduced to people. I was lucky to meet the Hercules Love Affair guys like three years ago. And I had Andy Butler, who’s like the main Hercules, to record his new album in Vienna. So he stayed four months at my apartment in Vienna and recorded the new Blue Songs album there. And I guess, it’s just like sometimes people help me with my singing on my record and doing remixes for me. And then I do something for them. Like for example, I met like Moby in Miami. He was wearing a kimono and weird shoes. And I met Hercules at a weird bar called Gold Bar here in New York. I’m not sure if it was a gay bar, but it was a weird bar. And the others I met like doing gigs sometimes, like Legowelt, who is on the album, I was playing with him somewhere in Holland. And Haddaway, I just called him actually.
So, Moby was wearing some interesting clothes and you just approached him and said, “I like your clothes?”
Another friend of ours, called Princess Superstar, she introduced us, she is a singer and rapper from New York. And then I gave Moby a CD, the Sally Shapiro album, back then. On the album, my email address was on the back. But I didn’t say anything to him like, write me. But two weeks later he wrote me and was like hey I love this and can you make a remix for me.
Moby interviewed you for the next issue of INTERVIEW Magazine. How big of an influence is he on your music?
He sends me .mp3s of his new album or I send him my whole record before it was released and he said for example I should not release one song so it’s not even released because he said that doesn’t sound really professional. So I really like his opinion on things.
You put out music by Sally Shapiro, basically helped start her career. Holy Ghost!, you’re friends with them, Hercules and Love Affair – you’ve worked with all these people. Was it always your strategy to be a known producer before releasing your own stuff to make it more widespread?
I think there was never a strategy behind the whole thing what I did. It’s just like I do fun stuff and with friends, because I’m not a great singer. I mean you can hear my English. It’s not even proper English. So it’s not clever to sing. So I always thought when I did a pop album I thought I need somebody like an entertainer who can sing. That’s why basically I ask all my friends, like Holy Ghost!, like all these, to appear on the album. And to sing. And I don’t care if I’m more known as producer or just DJ.
But do you think working with these people in the past has helped your album gain some ground now?
Yeah I think for sure it helps that people talk, or the media talk more about this album, because they’re like wow this guy’s got Haddaway or Hercules and Love Affair on it. And where I’m from, Austria, sometimes it’s people diss me for that: “Hey you just got like nice big mobiles, lots of phone numbers of famous people.” So sometimes it’s also kind of hard because they’re just like: “Hey, he looks nice and has a nice haircut and has lots of phone numbers and that’s why he’s in the media.” And so sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. I don’t know. But I would do it the same way. So I would do it again.
But don’t you think you have all those phone numbers because you’re talented and those people want to work with you?
Yeah I think that because I didn’t pay them. And so maybe they really like my instrumentals, which I sent them or played for them. Because they could easily say no. They could say: “Hey Wolfie, you’re a nice guy, let’s have one more coffee, but I’m not singing on your record.” And I would be not crying, I would be: “Yeah I tried it. No problem.”
You seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of dance music. Your album’s all over the place. What’s your favorite era of dance music?
I think my favorite era is kind of disco but not really disco, because I like the early time when Kraftwerk started. Kraftwerk back then was the only act who did what they did. So there was not really a name for that? Back then it was called maybe electronica. Or just really electro. But not the electro which is electro now. So, then it was later on, late ‘70s, ’77, it was disco when Giorgio Moroder produced Donna Summer, “I Feel Love.” I think disco back then when people heard disco in like late ‘70s they also saw it as like cheap music, cheap dance music. And now people are like wow, this is the holy grail of disco, blah blah blah.
So that’s your favorite era, but you also seem to have a lot of ‘90s rave and house sounds on your album. Were you a fan or a part of that scene at all?
I grew up and I was like ten years old and I like the first few years of the ‘90s. ’93 was like the end for me. “What is Love?” And Mr. Vain – “Culture Beat” that was like the last good thing for me for the ‘90s. And then it was all crap actually.
When do you think dance music started to change for the better?
See like dance music, pop dance music was never really good. But I don’t know that much about the ‘90s commercial dance music, Eurodance. I just know like the early scenes, which I liked. And then I kind of hated it. Because it was like cheap, like Vengaboys, or like Aqua. That was kind of really bad.
Well the fact that they wrote a song about Barbies sort of sums up what you’re saying, right? It’s cheap and fake.
Actually the idea of writing songs about Barbie, I liked that. And Aqua, they are a fun one. So they are actually fun. And I remember, I played one of my first mixtapes like 8 years ago on the radio station. I played an Aqua instrumental cover because the melodies are actually good. It’s just sometimes how they produced the Eurodance music.
Dear Japan, We Love You, Open House Gallery, 201 Mulberry St. Between Kenmare and Spring 6-9 p.m. Wolfram Record Release Party, Swat Bar, 59 Canal St. 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. $5