We caught up with him from Berlin to chat over his new record, his time in lockdown and his obvious love of vinyl…
Roland Leesker – Interview with Minimal Mag
Roland, welcome to Minimal Mag, can you start by telling us a little about how its been for you with the re-opening of clubs and the easing of restrictions.
I am really happy about the situation getting better in general, thanks to our amazing scientists! But I am also aware of the fact that there are still many obstacles for artists, agents and promoters all over the globe. Personally I was on a short tour with a befriended DJ last weekend, we went to Paris and a festival in Leipzig and it was amazing to see how energetic and thankful people were, celebrating music and life again. I had the impression that everybody really appreciated it and I hope that we can all keep the awareness of how blessed we are to be able to participate in such special moments.
During the pandemic, many of us had to be more creative than ever to keep afloat especially those within the entertainment fields. Were their any innovative ways or things that you did during the lockdowns that you’d like to share with us?
With our newly founded label management and distribution unit ‘Get Digital’, we got the chance to support some of our best friends all over the world in actually creating new jobs for them. We have really appreciated their help and ideas during this time. This makes me very proud as a friend and entrepreneur.
You’ve mentioned that, for you, house music is a way to re-connect with ones inner soul, and that’s the vibe you seek to create when playing out and producing. How does this new release with Get Physical represent a part of your soul?
I have reached the point of no return. For me there is ‘No Way Out’ of a life with and around music. Music has given me a lot and helped me through some rough times.This record is my way to share some of that energy and I love to see people reacting to it!
There are two remix artists on your new single; Detroit house and techno collective Scan7 and the classically trained pianist Francesco Tristano. How are these disparate influences reflected in the two remixes do you think?
I simply adore them for their work as artists, as well as their great personalities and they did an amazing job! Scan7 did exactly what I was hoping for, they nailed my personal taste 100%. And Francesco takes the track to another level. He completely surprised me with adding the vocals of his wife and chopping the music into bits and pieces, the way only he can handle the keys. I can listen to both remixes on repeat and will never get enough of them.
Tell us about the name of this EP, is there a story behind it?
There is a famous surreal movie called ‘l ángel exterminador’ by Luis Buñuel, where a couple are having a party when the servants suddenly leave their posts. Contrary to social conventions, the guests stay in the house overnight. The next morning they all find that they can no longer leave the room they are in, even though they are not physically prevented from doing so…. I wish I could produce music with that kind of force 😉
After finding your passion for music, one of your first jobs was working in a vinyl shop – Delirium Records, where you went on to open it’s first international branch in the USA. With all the moving and travelling you’ve done, where are your favourite record shops and how do they compare to record shops when you were younger.
Nowadays my favorite shop is Discogs really. I am mainly looking for legendary Disco and Hip Hop records as well as techno classics which I lost at some time or have just learned to know of and this is the best place to find and get them in best quality. When I was young my favourite shops definitely were Phonica in London as well as Vinylmania in New York.
You have a very interesting history, after only 2 years of opening Delirium Records you put down the headphones and started studying International Finance and Law in China, Great Britain and Germany. Although to the music industry you may have seemed quiet, what was your relationship to music during that time.
This time as a student was such a good experience, it helped me to better understand how unimportant I am myself and that there are so many amazingly talented people all over the place. Also it was great to be just a normal dancer (again), outside of my hometown Frankfurt where I already was known as a DJ and could not go out unrecognised anymore… In New York as well as in Sheffield, I was just another clubber. I used any opportunity to hear some of the greatest DJs play and I was always on the dance floor not giving a shit about anything else. In China we had no music at all but Tai Chi lessons which awakened my interest in the internal and external martial arts and I still am a student of The Way.
Looking through the rest of 2021, what are some things you are particularly excited for? Gig’s, personal time, travels, etc…?
During the last 24 month I invested a lot of time and cash into my Disco vinyl collection and I am so keen to play a few of these together with my beloved colleagues John and Philippo from The Doormen On Vacation!