ART:CAST #35 & INTERVIEW Hazel

His name is a mixture of the German words ‘Hase’ and ‘Esel’ but Berlin based producer Hazel definitely has more to offer in his music as well as his being than the two not so wild animals. As the co-founder of Sol Eterno Hazel and his partner in crime Braunbeck have raised the bar when it comes to percussive influenced House music. Now that catalogue #3, ‘Sole EP, is ready to be released the label founder finally makes his first appearance on his very own imprint. Shortly before the cooperation with Fabian Braunbeck is to hit stores Hazel found the time to sit in with Torture the Artist to speak about boxing fights in the middle of the night, stuffed animals, instruments from other countries and of course his relationship to Fabian. Furthermore, he is responsible for the latest art:cast.

Torture the Artist: Hello Max, tell us something about your day.

Hazel: Hey there, I still have a few thing to do according to our new release coming out this month, but its Saturday and it was my friend’s birthday at midnight. He is a trained boxer and his wish was it to have a box fight at a friends bar (Morphin Bar), where a boxing ring had been installed during the daytime. At 12 o’clock sharp the bell rang, he turned 30 and the fight started. After two matches the bar opened and the party started. All in all it was a very cool experience with a decent underground vibe.

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We where joking about this ‘THINGbut could not identify it clearly.

Torture the Artist: How did you come up with your moniker Hazel’?

Hazel: That’s a pretty funny story. A few years ago, I spent a rather exuberant night with a few friends at the Stattbad in Wedding, Berlin where my formerroommate ‘Rampa’ played a show that night. The Stattbad Wedding had always been one of the best locationsin Berlinfor me. Nevertheless, the name ‘Hazel’ came up on my way home. It was quite early in the morning,when we startet walkinghome, when I found an unidentifiablestuffed animalnext to an old clothes box on the street. We where joking about this ‘THINGbut could not identify it clearly.So in my interpretation it looked like a mix between a rabbit (Hase) and a donkey (Esel), so in German these two animal names combined result in Hazel‘ and a new species was born. Since that day, many of my friends call me by that name. So I thought why not use is as my artist name.

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One thing is clear, the longing for warmth during winter in Berlin is vital.

Torture the Artist: You are about to release your first EP, ‘Sole’ in cooperation with Fabian on your label Sol Eterno. The word ‘Sole’ seems to play a significant role for both of you, does it emphasize the longing for warmth in a cold city like Berlin, or what is the story behind it?

Hazel: One thing is clear, the longing for warmth during winter in Berlin is vital. Sole‘ was born out of the blue since we needed to find a name to save the project, which we planned to release on Sol Eterno. Then we thought:Well, soundsalright! Let’s stick withthe name!.

I don’t have a specific preference for percussions. I just like to record them because it adds an organic almost human touch to the productions.

Torture the Artist: Having a closer look at your upcoming EP, where does your preference for percussions derive from?

Hazel: Every time I visit a foreign country, I try to take a piece of musical culture home with me, e.g. a certain instrument. Just a few weeks ago I went to Marrakesh where I found a hand made drum which is made out of pottery and camel skin. Back home I recorded some drums, which we used for the ‘Sole EP. But I also purchased some shakers made from coconuts and a pan flute made out of bamboo but can’t remember where I bought them. Generally I don’t have a specific preference for percussions. I just like to record them because it addsanorganic almosthuman touch to the production.

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Torture the Artist: Would you consider yourself a team-player when it comes to productions and in addition to that how do you complement each other?

Hazel: As Fabian and I run the label together, we wanted to produce an Eto showt hat we are a team not only in terms of working together on the label but also when it comes to musical cooperations, which worked out quitwell I think. <winks> Also I’d say we exchange working methods and learn techniques from each other that further our own production skills.

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Torture the Artist: Whats an outfit that goes hand in hand with your music?

Hazel: I’m not so much of a fancy fashion guy but the quality has to be right and it takes a while to find the right piece of clothes I like. The same goesfor a song when I produce it. It might take a while to find the right sound I’m satisfied with. For both, my outfit and my music, I’m a bit picky and love to keep it clean.

Torture the Artist: ‘Sol Eterno’ is a rather new label with three releases, including ‘Sole’, so far. What was the motivation of founding a label in the first place?

Hazel: We wanted to create a place where we can do what we like to do without any restrictions!

Torture the Artist: What do you hope to musically accomplish with ‘Sol Eterno?

Hazel: We started the label having an Afro-House touch in all of the releases so far, but this is not a hint where we want to take the label musically in the future. We are open for all kindof interesting influences. The next release, the one after our EP, is different but covers a lot of musical styles. As long as the music is good, we won’t limit ourselves to one genre only.

Torture the Artist: What is your task regarding the label?

Hazel: We don’t have any particular tasks since we always talk things through together and agree on what we’ll do next. For my part, I do the artwork and graphics, but also the financial stuff and the communication with our sales partner Muting The Noise. But actually we, Fabian and I, complement each other pretty well in everything we do.

Torture the Artist: What’s an advertising slogan for your label to catch people’s attention?

Hazel: You should always try to follow your own path and dream of creating something you are 100% proud of and happy with.

Torture the Artist: If you had to characterize yourself with three tracks from any genre, what would they be and which of your characteristics do they stress?

Hazel: Its hard to find characteristics in tracks, so I rather tell you my thoughts and feelings about the music and you can conclude a certain character trait.

Anohni – 4 Degrees

This song touches me, because it draws attention to climate change and our environment, which really care about.

Efdemin – Stately

This track makes me also think about the future and if we will disappear one day or whats going to happen there in future! Some time traveling would be cool.

Mark Blair – Biggie Was A Jazz Fan

I like to think outside the boxandmixing genresmight bring up something interesting and the track does just that.To try new things is what I like to do.

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Torture the Artist:Now that you have worked with Fabian in the studio, what’s an artist you would like to sit in the studio for either one of your next releases or generally, and why?

Hazel: My next release is definitely a production on my own, and probably the one after that too, but I’m planing on going in the studio with Aaaron‘ again for a few new sessions. Also I want to continue working with Fabian, of course. I will see what other opportunities might come up in the future.

I don’t go out as often as I used to, but if there is a good party, there is no chance I can resist.

Torture the Artist: As Berlin offers a lot of opportunities to get lost in its nightlife, how do you manage to resist, if so at all?

Hazel: Well, I don’t go out as often as I used to, but if there is a good party, there is no chance I can resist. <winks>

Torture the Artist: What’s a place you visit in order to release some stress, and where do you go to have a blast at night?

Hazel: I love to go to the lakes around Berlin where we have a lot of beautiful places to go swimming or just relax and enjoy the silence of nature. Speaking of that I would love to be there right now, its freaking hot here today.

On the other hand, if I’m seeking for a blast, I always look forevents that take place in an inspiring location with an even more inspiring lineup, of course.

We looked up on ‘Restrealitaet’, which was a pretty neat platform where you had an account to check out all legal and illegal parties going on the weekends.

Torture the Artist: What’s the club you basically experienced electronic music for the first time and what memories do you connect with that night?

Hazel: I would say it was the Scala‘ club in Berlin, which we used to go all the time and where I experienced electronic music firstI guess. My friends and I were chasing DJs in all kinds of clubs back then, most of the clubs I liked are closed or have changed their vibe, but going out with my friends at that time was always the highlight of the week. We looked up on Restrealitaet, which was a pretty neat platform where you had an account to check out all legal and illegal parties going on the weekends.

Torture the Artist: Name an artist you personally admire but has not got the attention he/she deserves.

Hazel: It’s hard to say, there are too many good artistout there that deserve more attention.

Torture the Artist: If you could choose between one super power, what would it be and how would you use it?

Hazel: Son Gokuit would be. He has a peaceful attitude and fights for the good with a lot of cool friends hanging out with him. And I always wanted to do the Kamehameha‘

Interview by Holger Breuer