He is a DJ and producer of house music who experiments with musical styles from jazz to classic. Recently, he tried to marry club culture to the massive sound of symphonic orchestras. Henrik Schwarz, 43, who hails from a small town in Southern Germany and became an internationally acclaimed DJ in his second home, Berlin, combines digital and analog music as am ambitious art project. He has a new CD out that proves his success. Yet, he admits in our interview, at some points he nearly gave up.
Mr. Schwarz, when and how did your love for music begin? For me, it started with „Walk This Way” by Run-D.M.C. When I heard that song for the first time, I just had to run to the store and get the album. From then on, I spent all my money on music, particularly hip-hop CDs.
You were 14, when „Walk This Way” was released. Were you already into making music yourself? No. To this day, I have no idea why I never learned how to play an instrument. I just couldn’t focus, I think; I was interested in so many things. When I was 18, one of my buddies bought a computer. We connected it to speakers and started experimenting. Since then, I never stopped.
Who were your musical influences? I was listening to hip-hop, jazz and soul. Techno was something I didn’t really care for at that time. Actually, I thought it was terrible. One evening, Jeff Mills from Detroit performed at our local club; he’s a techno pioneer. And he changed everything for me. I wasn’t interested in anything else anymore.
Did you start working on techno music with your computer? No, computers weren’t very powerful at that time. I had to buy so much hardware — a mixing panel, sampler, synthesizer, drum machine. I started working as a DJ, though, and played mostly techno. But, frankly, I thought the music was just a fad. I started working on my own sound. But all in all, music was just a hobby for me.
Schwarz, who previously worked as a graphic designer, says he owes his career to technical progress: By the end of the 90s, CD burners were on sale everywhere. That afforded him the means by which to play his own music when DJ’ing. During one performance a record manager for the Moodmusic label heard him play „Marvin” and asked for the CD. Schwarz hesitated — he had only the one copy— but ultimately gave it to the guy. Turned out to be a wise decision: A year later, Moodmusic published Schwartz’s first electro album, „Supravision“. „And then,“ he says, „everything happened very fast.“