Answer Code Request: The Freedom to Experiment
East Berliner Patrick Gräser is coming back to Paris on February 15th for BLOC #004 as Answer Code Request [ACR], the alias he has been DJing and producing under since 2010. Gräser’s discography is a beautiful illustration of his evolution towards a unique techno sound that has gained him a monthly residency at Berghain and releases on Marcel Dettman’s MDR. His podcasts and DJ sets demonstrate his ability to turn a dance floor into a techno melting pot, as he sets no boundaries for himself in terms of range and style when on the decks. His productions and remixes, furthermore, reflect the work of someone who is fearless, ambitious and serious about perfecting a sound he can call his own. ACR answered some questions for Ascension before his debut in Paris as Answer Code Request. He kindly opens up about what DJing means to him, what he enjoys doing when he’s not in the studio and what his favorite guilty pleasure track is. Gain insight into an artist whose versatility has been spawned by Berlin’s competitive market but whose focus rests on leaving behind timeless tracks.
You had been producing and releasing tracks for almost 10 years before your first formal release in 2008. How did those ten years affect your style and vision as ACR?
Let me clarify this, I had only been producing tracks as a leisure pursuit before my first formal release in 2008. I started to produce with friends in 2007 but it was not my sound and I wanted to develop my very own style. I began to work on my first ACR track, 'Escape Myself', in early 2010 as I have always been able to identify myself with the 'UK sound' and also drum & bass. I am always thrilled and curious when I develop a new sound that is mine. In a nutshell, ACR is a versatile sound.
Your remixes are, to say the least, mind-blowing! How do you approach a remix and how does it compare to producing your own tracks?
Before I start on a remix, I will listen to the original first. There must be certain elements in it which I like. So when I decide to devise on it, I'll get to around say, two-fifths of the track while still sticking to those elements in the original piece.
In production, usually I'll have an idea beforehand. Sometimes I do begin on spontaneity, it all depends. I need to be in a good mood otherwise I will not work on any track.
What does being a DJ mean to you? Do you set certain goals/expectations for yourself before a set?
It is very important for me to play my music and represent myself as an artist and that people like and enjoy what I am playing. Sharing my music is exceptionally important to me. I try to give 100 percent for all my dj sets and live shows, and hope that the crowd will go home happy after my set. Perhaps I've been a little self-critical, I want perfection in my music.
Berlin is home to amazing talents. How would you describe the competitive environment there and what do you think sets you apart from your “competitors”?
It is competitive, no doubt about it. The market is huge so that explains why many artists would consider being in the industry and moving to Berlin. There are many talented djs and producers here which I respect. However, instead of feeling competitive, I allow myself to be influenced by them as I am very versatile with my production. I don't really compete with anyone, maybe myself, (Laughs).
What I do observe these days is that many people want only the big hype. They forget about their passion for the music they are doing, but I guess to each his own. What I really want is to hear my music being played in the next 10-20 years, what you call 'timeless'. That's my primary goal.
Has becoming a resident at Berghain influenced you? If so, what aspects of Berghain have affected you and how?
Being a resident influences me to a professional level. I have more opportunities than before and at this point I am satisfied with the direction that my career path has taken.
Playing on a monthly basis in Berghain, I've gotten the chance to play longer sets, sometimes a stretch of 7 to 8 hours. This allows me to `communicate` with the crowd better as I like to be able to take them on a journey with my playlist. This is only possible when I am doing the closing set which I really enjoy.
Your podcasts, dj sets
and productions reflect that you have a very diverse style and unique ability
to transcend styles, genres and sounds. What can we expect from the live set
you are currently working on? When do you plan on performing it?
My live set will showcase the experimental side of me. An hour of pure 100 percent ACR sound and style, both released and unreleased tracks of mine.
My next live show is in Glasgow at Subclub.
You played in Paris over the summer with Klock and Dettmann, how was that experience and what impressions do you have of the techno scene in Paris?
It was my first time playing in Paris in front of a massive, wide audience. I was blown away to be honest. I played the warm up set for Marcel and Ben and didn't expect that Parisians would be receptive to techno. With this, I am looking forward and excited for the upcoming Bloc Party in Paris.
What is your guilty pleasure track?
Just too many, maybe 'Karmacoma' by Massive Attack.
When you’re not in the studio, what do you like to spend your time doing?
Spending time with my wife and 6 month old son.
Croissant or Pain au Chocolat?