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Parallx – To create music that energizes new generations, both now and in the far future

fot. Parallx / Frills

How strong does the early music influence shape us as humans, artists and – in general – members of a particular genre’s lifestyle? Let’s ask Parallx – a Berlin-based DJ, producer, owner of the ISARN label and an open-minded music passionate. Invited by Theia Crush, Jonas will play on 6th April in Warsaw’s Oczki club. A moment before his upcoming gig, we spoke about the music past he grew up in, as well as about the strong future-oriented attitude he has. Not only in terms of sounds, but also the mentoring ideas he shares with ISARN’s emerging talents.

Agata Omelańska: Hello Jonas, so nice to have you here! As you’re a 90s kid like me – and this decade is really a milestone in the history of music – maybe let’s start from a small throwback.  

Could you please describe your very first memory related to electronic music? What was it, how old were you and what role it played in your life – both as a youngster and an artist?

Parallax: My earliest electronic music memories trace back to my childhood years, around the age of 8 or 9. Back then, I owned a cassette player with a built-in radio, which became a constant source of fascination while I was playing with Lego. Tuning into different radio stations and recording my favorite songs onto cassette to listen to them later brought so much fun to me. 

Years later, while exploring my father’s basement, I stumbled upon this very old cassette player. Transporting it to my Berlin apartment, I unearthed a tape filled with acid techno recordings from the late 90s – a discovery that, initially, caught me off guard. However, as I reflected on my journey as a DJ and my profound affinity for old-school techno, it all began to fall into place.  

Another important moment in my electronic music journey occurred in 2008 with the discovery of Crystal Castles, whose innovative and rough sound profoundly influenced the direction of my own musical endeavors.

fot. Parallx / Frills

90s hip-hop, britpop, grunge, nu-metal, industrial, R & B or neosoul, as well as the whole sack of the electronic music sound. What did you listen to as a child / teenager? Before you turned into the techno / rave scene, which music was the closest to your heart?  

During my childhood, my musical world revolved primarily around 60s rock classics, all the hippie shit my father listened to. From The Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon & The Animals, and Jefferson Airplane. A cherished relic from those early years is a Rolling Stones cassette – a gift from my father on my 6th birthday – which had a profound influence on my musical journey. 

As a teenager, my passion for rock music persisted, fueled in part by my love for skateboarding. It was through skate videos like “This is Skateboarding” from Emerica (2003) that I discovered new music. Even now, listening to those tracks transports me back to the golden days of being a teenager and just enjoying the world of skateboarding. I miss those times!  

In my later teenage years, my musical tastes shifted towards punk rock, finding solace in the raw energy of bands like The Misfits, The Dickies, Johnny Thunders and The Stooges. Although I occasionally attended punk concerts, my introverted nature often hindered my full enjoyment. Electronic music remained on the periphery during my teenage years, as it lacked the strong connection to skateboarding that defined much of my musical exploration during that time. 

This fusion also explains my affinity for EBM, as it embodies the raw energy of rock within the techno realm. However, in recent times, I’ve been exploring a broader spectrum of genres, leading to a more diverse musical palette where the rock influences aren’t as immediately apparent. I got a bit tired of this ”evil” music. I need some more happiness in my music now. 

How did these early inspirations influence you later? How did it shape your taste and brought you to music production? And how did this all bring you to the Parallx project?  

The impact of this music on my journey as a producer is evident in my style. My productions tend to be gritty and heavily distorted – a characteristic that’s particularly pronounced in my earlier works, such as those released on R Label Group. For instance, the remix I did for Radical G (R Label Group 2021) and the collaborative track “Ehre” with Chris Tnebris in 2020 seamlessly blends techno with my rock music roots. 

There are actually some reasons I asked so much about the 90s. This decade is popularly considered “the last creative one” and nowadays people seem to be obsessed with all these past trends – copying, mostly. From your perspective, how does the situation look in the electronic music field? Is the scene equally crazy about the 90s and the whole globe is?  

I can see why the 90s earned that distinction. It was likely the last decade where entirely new genres emerged, whereas since then, musical innovations have been more incremental. However, leveraging today’s technologies allows us to reinterpret those genres in fascinating new ways, which greatly intrigues me. 

Personally, I feel like I was born a bit too late. I often wish I could have been a producer in the 90s or early 2000s, exploring new subgenres simply by experimenting with different synthesizers. Unfortunately, that kind of organic discovery seems less attainable in today’s musical landscape. 

fot. Parallx / Frills

Okay, let’s leave the past trends in the past and focus on you today. Let me introduce you shortly: a Berlin-based DJ, producer, owner of the ISARN label, RSO & SYNOID resident… Which of these duties do you dedicate most time to? And what you’re working on right now, when it comes to your music? 

Running the label is a major time commitment for me. Thus far, I’ve been handling everything solo – from selecting artists and managing paperwork to creating artwork and social media content, as well as handling orders. While I have the necessary skills for these tasks, it can be overwhelming at times. Fortunately, one of my artists is now assisting with communication and demo sorting, and I’ll soon have external label management support. However, due to financial constraints, I’ve been unable to hire help until now. 

Currently, I’m busy working on remixes, tracks for various compilations, and nearing completion of my next solo EP, along with a 5 or 6-track EP featuring material from my 2023 live set. Additionally, I have four other music aliases spanning different genres – two for leisure and two more serious endeavors.

While most people know me through my Parallx project, it represents just a fraction of my studio output. I plan to unveil one of these secret projects later this year, marking a significant musical milestone for me – possibly the most important in the last decade. 

I must admit that I’m super curious about your label, ISARN, and the story behind it. How and why did you decide that you want to create something on your own? How long it took from the plan to become reality and what kind of artists / genres do you want to release?   

The narrative behind ISARN draws from the region where I was born – West Germany’s Ruhrgebiet, once an industrial powerhouse dotted with coal mines, now characterized by abandoned factories and dilapidated working-class homes. This environment served as the catalyst for crafting a storyline around my label. During the planning stages, a friend suggested that establishing a background narrative or fictional universe could help me to build the label and its identity. Thus, ISARN was born, revolving around a dystopian or utopian industrial world, with its name derived from an ancient German term meaning ”Eisen” – meaning “Iron” in English.

The decision to launch ISARN stemmed from my growing discomfort within R Label Group. My last solo EP with them, RP5, took a grueling two years to produce and left me feeling disheartened and disconnected to my music. It became evident that a change was necessary. Thus, I started to think about starting my own label, a move that proved transformative. Planning ISARN spanned about a year and a half, and while it’s still a work in progress, it has been instrumental in broadening my artistic horizons and giving back my connection to music. 

Musically, ISARN is bound only by my personal tastes. I’m committed to releasing music that resonates with me, whether it’s a killer drum and bass track or even rock music. The next ISARN record will be a fusion of rock and industrial techno, it will be a super interesting release for sure! 

ISARN’s slogan, “Future Youth Energizers”, really catches an eye. In your opinion, who deserves to be named with this title and why? Which business model you chose for your label and do you feel – somehow – responsible for artists you release or promote?  

The slogan “future youth energizer” encapsulates our mission succinctly: to create music that energizes new generations, both now and in the far future. In essence, we aim to produce timeless electronic music that resonates with future audiences, inspiring them to dance and discover techno music. Every artist who has released on our label embodies this ethos, serving as a true “future youth energizer”. 

I feel a strong sense of responsibility towards the artists on my label, particularly the main ones. While it’s impossible to equally support every artist, especially with the influx of newcomers on the VAs we are releasing, I prioritize nurturing 2-3 artists whom I mentor and guide. I strive to impart the knowledge and insights I’ve gained from my own experiences in the techno scene over the past decade. Much like Kobosil was a mentor to me, I aim to be the same for my artists. It’s vital to support and nurture young talent, particularly when recognizing significant potential.

As far as touring is concerned, currently you’re playing mostly in the nearby – in Germany, Italy, France, Spain or the Netherlands – but in the past you also visited other amazing parts of the world. What’s the raver’s vibe in Latin America, Georgia, Israel or Taiwan? What you’re always taking with you from these far away from European home performances?  

Latin America holds a special place in my heart as one of the most interesting regions to perform in. Having visited it 7-8 times, I continue to be astounded by the remarkable achievements made in such politically and financially unstable environments. The promoters there consistently demonstrate an exceptional level of professionalism, meticulously orchestrating every aspect of events, from the  soundsystems to artist care and lighting. These parties often draw crowds of up to 6000 people, which is why I make it a point to return multiple times each year. 

My experiences in Taiwan have been equally unforgettable. During my two visits, I was amazed by its culture and nightlife. Taipei is still one of my favorite cities to travel to. I think I’ll come back this year. 

Georgia, too, has left an indelible mark on me. Playing all the big clubs in Tbilisi, including Khidi and Bassiani, has been nothing short of extraordinary. At Bassiani, I had the honor of playing my first proper closing set, spanning nearly 10 hours — an experience that will stay with me forever. Additionally, performing at Spacehall was a personal highlight.

The energy in all these countries far away from Berlin is amazing! It’s different since in most of the countries techno music is still something new and the people are more excited about it. In Berlin we have such a long history, the people are more used to it. 

And what vibe are you taking with you to the upcoming gig in Warsaw? You were invited by Theia Crush – young, but very high-qualified organizers and promoters – to Oczki club, in the middle of Poland’s capital. What can we expect from you, and which artist from the line-up you would like to play back-to-back with?  

I’m really looking forward to playing in Warsaw again! Expect to hear my signature blend of old-school 90s and 2000s techno, with the possibility of mixing in some pitched up power house tracks that I’ve been exploring recently. I’m always open to letting the vibe guide me, so it’ll be exciting to see where the night takes us! 

I’m also thrilled to see so many familiar faces on the lineup. Sept is an incredible artist whom I deeply admire; in fact, we previously played b2b during one of my last performances in Poland. Additionally, Mervh and Violent are both talented artists and wonderful individuals. Mervh holds a special place in my heart, as she was featured on the first ISARN VA release, making her part of our label family. 

Thank you so much for the interview, Jonas, and time dedicated to Underton! Good luck, all the best & see you at Oczki’s dancefloor, or right under the DJ booth!

Instagram: @parallx_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parallx666

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/parallx-bln

Bandcamp:  https://isarn-label.bandcamp.com

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