Philipp Straub is an Austrian based DJ, booking agent, and promoter who's been actively on the dance music scene for more than two decades. He started building his legacy in late 90's and he managed to become one of the most prolific acts within the underground music community. For the last couple of years, he's been successfully merging multiple ambitious projects as well as his own DJ career. His music is regularly released on respectful labels such as 8bit, Bedrock, Intec, just to name a few.
As a C.E.O of Titan International and head mentor of Burn Residency, where he's working with his fellow friends Carl Cox, Pete Tong, John Digweed, Dubfire and many others, he's supporting new talents and helping them become part in the world of music business. With his strong presence and positive mind, Philipp Straub will continue to spread his knowledge, experiences and musical horizon for years to come. We've invited him to share his stories and impressions for our lovely 101 series of articles.
What was the funniest / most bizarre request you’ve ever had while playing?
Well, in the years behind the decks I've had quite a lot of weird moments. The typical things like "can you play David Guetta, Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Dogg,...“ or requests such as singing happy birthday to someone, etc… and that doesn't make any sense if you really listen to my music range.
I remember when I've played in Hungary maybe 15 years back or more and a guy approached me. He was so amazed by the music that he offered me to take his wife with me. I refused gently so he offered she could give me some "physical support" under the booth while playing. Not necessary to mention I also refused that in a kind way! I also once had to call a car that was blocking the exit. Also in Hungary.
The number plate had many "7" included which means "het" or "hetesch" I think. So, up to today, this is one of the 3 words I know in that language. Besides the Hungarian words for "cheers" and "thank you".
Can you describe your setup for us?
I started with vinyl. Then, I've added some effect machines and also a 909 sometimes. In 2000, Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva introduced me to the Final Scratch which is basically a pre-version of today's Traktor. I've switched to that and I was one of the first 100 digital DJ's and I've played with this set up for a while.
After a while, I've again added more effects until I even got rid of the vinyl players and played fully digital, carrying my own Allen & Heath 3D at that time. At some point, I was tired of carrying all the gear so I switched to CDJ's, which I still use. I did that when Pioneer introduced the USB solution. It's the easiest setup with which I can express myself in the best possible way.
I love the Allen & Heath DB4 a lot and I have one at home but I don’t want to carry it and no one uses it sadly accept John Digweed so I don’t get to play often on it. I'm testing some new effect machines once in a while but none really blew my mind. Sometimes I do add a loop sampler called Grabber that I have since I was 15 years too. Lately, I'm impressed by the new Denon gear too.
Could you tell us the story about your first gig?
That was in an after hour club in Vienna and it was around 1993. I've trained DJ’ing at home for more than 2 years and I did it every day, sometimes even in front of my friends. So, I was confident; at least I thought so. :) When the "it" day came, I woke up and I was very nervous.
I went to the club which was packed but was I too nervous to start and I went home depressed. Next week I tried it again and this time I've succeeded. It became a residency that I've played for some years and it was amazing! Since that, I never left this field and I've tried to go back into a booth as often as time allows.
Name three artists that currently inspire you.
Speaking about music artists... Nils Frahm, Marek Bilinski, Acid Pauli.
Recall the worst experience of ‘killing the vibe’ in the club.
Well, we all try to erase these memories, don’t we? :) So the first memory that comes to my mind was when I've played Space Terrasse at the closing last year for Carl Cox on a Tuesday night. I've managed to play an awesome set, the place was packed, the vibe was amazing and it was streamed by Ibiza Global Radio and others. I built the set to a momentum and I wanted to finish it with a real peak time track "&me - Shadows".
The tune has a second big break and it goes really mental after it. Well, I had bad luck because somehow, the first time ever, the USB connection to my hard drive broke down and the player went into emergency loop right before the end of the break.
I wasn't able to continue at all so I had to end the set with some effects. It was ok. People didn't quite notice it since I was supposed to nearly finish anyway, but the vibe was just killed right before things would go really mental…
What do you do before and after your set?
Before the set, I most of the time eat well, light and not too much. I also try to have some time in between, where I'm able to digest. I often also edit and work on my playlists right before going to the gig. I don’t like doing this so late as then your ears are not that fresh, but often time does not allow it differently.
After the set, I normally have some drinks, I chat with the people and I furthermore enjoy the vibe a bit. It's really boring and sad if you end up alone in your hotel room after a big party with a great set and you still feel the vibe, but have no one you can share it with.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I would say working in a travel agency. I was promised I will travel a lot. As matter of fact, I didn't travel at all but I was only asked to sort out the catalogues for months and months. I've used the time than to sell tickets for events and ended up with my own subdivision in the agency as the exclusive partner for all major festival at that time. But that's a whole another story.
What are your favourite labels at the moment?
Bedrock, Kompakt, Cocoon, Suara, Einmusika, Keine Musik, Kindisch, etc… Way to many to name them all.
Imagine a cold winter, a fireplace and two glasses of wine—what song would you play?
I wouldn't play any. I would listen to the sounds of the fire, the cracking of the wood, the snow falling on the roof and enjoying the silence with someone I love.
Last but not least. What's the best advice you've ever received?
I got it from Chris Liebing. Got with the flow. Simple but true!