APHE is a producer and DJ based in Essen, Germany. His sets combine dark, heavy rhythms and driving baselines with a melodic, yet melancholic, touch. From dark minimal to techno, he creates an uncompromising club atmosphere, always varied and diverse. “It’s about the music and not about how you look or what you do. You don’t have to be in the spotlight ”. APHE is far from promoting himself, what drives him is the sheer joy of music, performing and discovering new places.
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APHE performs as both a DJ and produces his own music – his sets and tracks are detailed, mystical, playful, melodic, bass-heavy, going forward. He has enjoyed success internationally, in Poland at “Pötzlich am Meer” Festival, in Mauritius, and in Montreal, Canada. His music output is massive: almost every day a new track is worked on or created in his home studio in Essen. His music can be found on labels such as Shadow Wulf, Alula Tunens, Subios Records, Soupherb Records, Music4Aliens, Anarkick, Copycow, AlpaKa MuziK, Evil Flow., Mincode, and his own label — Friendly Critters. APHE has many years of stage experience, from smoky techno basements to large festival stages. A well-balanced, warm hearted guy who can always tell a funny story from his colorful life, he is all about the music and the joy of sharing it with others – and the music is heavy.
With an established career under his belt that’s only gaining more and more success, APHE sit’s down with Six AM to chat about everything that he’s been up to.
Welcome back to 6AM APHE. We’re excited to catch up with you and get to know more about your project origins, achievements, and goals for the new year. The last time we covered your amazing work was on your third release and first EP with Shadow Wulf Records for ‘The Pack Survives’. Tell us what’s been keeping you busy lately.
Due to the Corona situation I had full focus on producing, so there has been a lot of releases since then. 2022 was all about playing gigs again, most of them were international gigs, like, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Canada and India and a lot in Germany, and of course, continuously creating new music.
Also my Label „Friendly Critters“ started releasing music and needs my attention, so I kept myself pretty busy with music, which is absolutely nice.
We’d love to unpack the origins behind your stage name. How did the name “APHE” come about, and what was it about its German translation for “ape” that you resonated with?
The German word for monkey is “Affe”. I took that, but since I’m a special little monkey, I wanted it to be different. So I went with APHE, which is pronounced the same way. Replacing the letter “f” with a “ph”, like in dolphin, or photography, was my way to have the name, but in an uncommon way. Kind of like Mötley Crüe or Motörhead used the “Umlaut“ in their names. Doesn’t really make sense, but looks cooler.
Speaking of German culture and language, you’re based in Essen. Walk us through the Techno and Psytechno scene in Germany, especially the fast-growing “darkside” community. How is Germany’s scene special to you?
Of course there’s Berlin, with a huge club scene and still a lot of underground parties and is probably not comparable with anything else. Soundwise, dark minimal/Psytechno is on the rise there but still a bit of a small niche compared to the more industrial, fast, rough techno sound. I am located on the western part of Germany, the Ruhr area, close to the Netherlands. We have a strong scene with a lot of producers and DJ´s and therefore an okay clubbing scene. Cologne has become a pretty good place to party in our area and that dark minimal, psytechno sound is strong there. Also Hamburg is a nice address for that kind of sound.
Anyway, the techno scene throughout Germany has become super popular, which of course, is a nice thing. But we are also spoiled, if we re not going to a party today, we just go tomorrow, or go to a party just to hang out and talk instead of dancing. When I played all these gigs in foreign countries, where the scenes are about to grow and are more in a state of underground, it was the absolute opposite. Everyone who came to an event was looking forward to it, came to dance and party and enjoying the night, because the next event might happen in a few months. I enjoy playing events like this, cause its more of an underground feeling, like 10-15 years ago back home…but with the sound of today and a Funktion1 or void Soundsystem.
APHE @ SUBIOS SHOWCASE, Goethe Bunker, Essen
On the topic of music and community, can you share with us what your experience has been like working with Shadow Wulf Records? Any note-worthy “wulf pack” moments you’d like to share?
Working with Shadow Wulf can easily be summed up with two words: absolutely professional. Period. From the first mail when they initially reached out, over the release planning and promotion, up to the Artist relation, everything is just top notch. It is flawlessly organized and everything is super scheduled but you never get the feeling of being just another artist releasing music on their label. That’s why I’m always down with releasing on Shadow Wulf. When labelhead Erin (Crescendoll) toured in Europe, we had the chance to meet and hang out and it was immediately more of a family/gang situation and not just business, like being a part of the pack. I’m coming to L.A. on the 18th of march and I can t wait to meet the rest of the Wulfpack!
The Pack Survives EP – APHE (SW008)
You’ve also done an amazing job with creating the label Friendly Critters alongside the prolific producer TiM TASTE. What are your goals, mission, and directions for the label?
Thank you, well first of all I just felt like having my own label would be a logically, smart next step. Since I really suck when it comes up to organizing, I needed some help for all the “business” related stuff, so I asked Tim to join, since he has a lot of experience due to running SUBIOS Records. We’ve been friends for a long time, basically live next to each other, and I trust him on that, so he was my first choice. I do all the creative part, like drawing the artworks and mainly choosing the releases and doing the artist relation stuff.
Music wise we welcome of course everything that is dark, groovy minimal. We had already some proper releases by known artists like David Phönix, Peku, Georgi Z and Neumann, but we absolutely embrace new and yet unknown artists too, like our next release from a super young and talented dude, called Berto, from South Germany. He sounds a bit like old Breger stuff. And of course Friendly Critters is a home for me and Tim to have releases on, either alone or when we do have collaborations.
From being at the global forefront of the Dark Minimal Techno and Psytechno scene to having your 2023 year packed with upcoming international gigs, how do you stay well-balanced and humble in this industry?
I am a humble person anyway and I know that I’m lucky to have the chance to experience everything that has happened and will happen, just because I do what I love to do.
Creating music and living out my creativity has always been the most important part in my life. It’s my “me-time” to calm down on a busy day, it’s my vent from everything that has troubled me in the past, it’s my distraction from reality for a while and it’s the best way for me to express myself and let things out. So my motivation is basically an urge inside to do so, which, on the other hand was never driven by the thought of becoming “famous” or successful with this.
When I started producing, I never had in mind that this would get me all over the globe to share my music with an audience or doing all this in a professional way. Now I am at this point and I’m happy that I manage it to not getting sucked in by the industry too much and still be at this with passion, which I think is key. Playing live is always pure fun and I enjoy discovering new places and meeting new people and sharing my music live with an audience and getting to see and feel their reactions is just priceless, so playing a lot of gigs is nothing that stresses me out.
We appreciate you sharing your journey with us APHE. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m really excited to perform in L.A. on the 18th and discovering the City and the scene. Also new music is on its way, so stay tuned for that. Thanks to everyone who supported me and my music in any way and thank you for the interview!
Connect with APHE: Website | SoundCloud | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Beatport | Bandcamp