Interview: Kaiser Souzai

German DJ, producer and label owner Kaiser Souzai has been a driving figure throughout the European techno scene for several years, releasing his energetic style of club music on labels like Set About and Tronic.

Also heading up his own Ballroom Records label, he has been responsible for pushing works from Boy Next Door, Teenage Mutants, Stanny Abram.

We recently had the chance to speak with him about his labels, his recent collaborations with FAC3OFF, launching different projects for different styles, and covid-19. Get the full discussion below.

Let us talk about your new release in collaboration with FAC3OFF, what’s the main inspiration behind this one?

FAC3OFF sent me a track for a release on Ballroom Black, which inspired me to add some additional parts of my own, and he was a fan of what I did, so we decided to make it a collaboration. I already had an idea for another track, so we finished that together, and put those two pieces of music out as a collaborative EP.

Did you connect with FAC3OFF through his releases, or did you first make contact outside of music?

I’ve known FAC3OFF’s productions from when he was associated with Trapez, as he was on the label around the same time I released my 1976 track on the imprint. I’ve been aware of him ever since and picked up quite a few of his tracks over the years.

What made you choose the name Kaiser Souzai, and is there a story behind it?

When I first started this project, it was with another friend of mine (who is now one half of Kaiserdisco). We were just producing tracks and releasing them on vinyl, but since we were not playing DJ sets, nobody knew our faces, so we were like Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects, as in that movie no one knows what the bad guy Keyser Söze looks like. We are not villains though, not in my opinion anyway.

People know your Kaiser Souzai alias for a peak time style of techno, but I understand you make music as Purple Kaiser. What separates the two projects?

I began making techno when house started to get commercial. I was still enjoying techno and loved DJ’ing with energetic techno tracks. I also like producing more melodic and film-inspired music, so I decided on calling myself Purple Kaiser to make that style, but it is still very danceable, and meant for clubbing, although it also works for home listening.

What labels have you already released on as Purple Kaiser, and what is next to come?

The first official release was a very light summer-y track Spreedside, which was an ode to my earlier Berlin years, and that was put out on the Bar 25 label. I also remixed a track called Antarctica by The Scumfrog, who is a fantastic artist, producer and songwriter. I released that remix on my label Ballroom Purple, and now I have finished an album in the Purple Kaiser style, which I will release on Ballroom Purple. I’ll be putting out the first single this month.

Do you find it hard making music in more than one style, and where do you usually look for inspiration?

I love to jump from one style to another. I am also a drummer and started out playing rock and jazz for a couple of bands. My biggest inspiration right now is film score music, and I am also getting into doing soundtracks for movie trailers, as this is an outlet where I can also use my production and writing skills.

Which labels do you really respect, and are there any labels you hope to one day release with that you have not had the chance yet?

Well, I am a big fan of Maceo Plex because of his sound and way of thinking. To me he is a true artist and producer who also speaks his mind. I saw Carl Cox around 2002 at Space Ibiza inside the Discoteka room and man he blew me away with his skills at playing on four turntables. Schranz techno at its best, and I have not released with him, but would love to do so one day.

And lastly, with lockdown somewhat easing around the world, how much are you looking forward to playing in clubs again?

Let me speak my mind here, it will not be the same for the foreseeable future, and that means for the next few years to come. The lockdown measures will continue and drive the whole scene of club owners, promoters, DJ’s, bookers, management etc into bankruptcy. But having said this, I cannot wait to travel again, and play my favourite places, should they survive!

I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for a happy ending, as one thing that’s for sure is music will never die, and somehow the scene will find a way to survive. I wish for everyone to stay strong, and pull together during these unusual times, but most importantly, please stay safe!