Exploring the hypnotic depths of techno through a mix series and regular parties, the Patterns of Perception collective has made itself a name in the Berlin techno landscape. This month they are celebrating their second anniversary, and we caught up with them ahead of the festivites to discuss inspiration, inclusiveness and how it all started.
You seem like a group of people very much sharing the same vision. How did you find each other?
Bianca Shu: The group has evolved very organically. We have been lucky that each of us has quite different skills, contributing to the group as a whole. For instance, Steve and Ray are both designers, so they do all the posters, the logo and so forth. Zilka works with press, Kim, Ray, Steve and Andreas are all dj’ing, and I do a lot of events. So I do much of the organisational stuff in the background. So it’s weird how we naturally came together and it just happened that we had these different roles for each other.
Kim Bergstrand: Actually, we met through a mutual friend at a barbecue party here in Berlin.
BS: Yes, we met in the summer of 2013. And one and a half year later we made an event together for the first time.
Steve Duncan: That was an event called Thai & Techno, where we were exploring the group’s passions, food and music. That gave us a good feeling of collaborating, and how to work together constructively. We did four such events and, as Bianca said, we developed a really organic, positive kind of workflow. I think we are very much on a similar page when it comes to many things now, which is great.
BS: It’s pretty amazing actually.
KB: So we started with the Thai & Techno event, which in the beginning was more about the food. It was more like an after work type of thing.
BS: Yes, it was meant to be a fun and casual pop-up event, where people could have different types of Thai street food, Thai inspired cocktails, and listen to a bit of music.
KB: Music wise it was more ambient, chilled out.
BS: Yes, a little bit more funky, and then moving into a proper techno party.
SD: It was funny how it developed, because I don’t think we really envisioned that the techno part of it would be such a big thing. At our first couple of events we were surprised that the music would continue for far longer than we thought. And that was when we started to think that this is something we could explore more, while at the same time getting a clearer focus on one thing.
KB: It was just a crazy amount of work with all those different elements. The food, the cocktails, the music, decorating the space – there were so many things. So then we started looking for a location to do Patterns of Perception.
When was this?
SD: That was late 2015. We were looking for suitable venues for quite a while.
BS: And then we actually heard back from two venues almost at the same time. First we got offered one date by OHM, and then we heard back from Arena as well. So we tried both. We did our first event at OHM, with natural.electronic/system and Marco Shuttle.
KB: That was really cool. We were so excited to have the date in OHM, and thought a lot about who to book. Natural.electronic/system has been around for a long time, they have dj’ed for many years. I first heard one of their podcasts maybe seven years ago, and thought they were really good. But when I tried to find out where I could see them play, it seemed like they had disappeared. They weren’t playing anywhere, and there was almost no info about them from around 2012 and forward.
So then we thought we should totally try and book them. It fitted perfectly with the kind of vision we had. We were a bit worried if people would know who they are, but actually quite a lot of people in Berlin came to our party, people that had seen them play at Labyrinth or heard their podcasts, just as we did. In addition we invited Marco Shuttle, which was a really nice combination.
BS: At that time there wasn’t anyone doing this kind of techno. That was also such a big thing for us. We wanted to create a space where we could listen to the kind of music we like.
Zilka Grogan: Yes, that was the overarching concept.
SD: That was a big part of the discussions we had when developing the concept. What kind of music we could really imagine, acts we wanted to see. Then we were talking about deep techno, really hypnotic, deep sounds. It was not like this didn’t exist in Berlin, but it was difficult to find a consistent night, where you could just enjoy a certain sound. So that was part of what we wanted to bring to the scene.
Another thing I really liked about our first event was the chemistry between the artists. Because a big part of the experience is to bring that food part from the Thai & Techno-days to the artist dinner beforehand. We generally have it at Bianca and Kim’s place, where Bianca cooks amazing food. And there they were greeting each other as old friends, which really contributed to the energy of the night. They were really excited to play together.
BS: It was like we were all friends from before, just having a meal together. The first time I met Valerio (natura.electronic/system), when he came up the stairs and I opened the door he said: “Bianca, ciao!” and gave me a big hug.
SD: We also don’t have big line ups, we don’t have five or six acts playing. We try to keep the guest acts down to two, maximum three if we have a live act.
BS: That also helps us to really focus on the artists, when we are together having these artist dinners. When you are so many people it’s hard to actually really spend quality time and have a nice conversation.
Had you experienced such a coherent, hypnotic night as you were referring to somewhere else, or was that just something you were envisioning?
KB: We were definitely influenced by different parties and festivals, but there was not one party that we had as a reference. If you look at the bookings at Labyrinth festival in Japan, it’s obvious that we are inspired by a festival like that.
SD: I think another inspiration was mnml ssgs, Chris SSG’s old podcast series. I think he had a very coherent, super interesting podcast series with artists like natural.electronic/system, Donato Dozzy, Tobias., Eric Cloutier, all these acts.
KB: It was actually started by an Australian. It is funny that there is this kind of connection.
You have been doing Patterns of Perception for two years now. What inspires you to keep on going?
KB: That’s a nice question. Because sometimes you wonder.
SD: That might be somewhat different for each of us, but for me it’s really motivating to try and challenge ourselves. To think about any interesting new directions we can take our sound that still makes sense within the broader context. Always trying to bring something interesting for our audience, our listeners.
ZG: Something that keeps me constantly involved and engaged, and has been a big driver for getting involved, is that it’s a project run by really good friends. That underpins everything we do. At the end of the day we balance each other and we bring each our individual skill to the table. But we also work very well together because we are really close, I think.
BS: Yes, I think it’s such a pleasure working with one another. We have so much fun.
KB: Not always. We have our differences, but I think these differences are very good. We don’t agree on everything, people challenge each other, but at the end of the day we are friends. So it is a lot of fun as well. It’s very rewarding when you put on a good night, especially if you have worked on a booking for a long time. It took us a year to get Sebastian Mullaert to our party. That was a special night, where he played a very long live set as Wa Wu We, which he never did before. So the satisfaction of seeing that on that night, and the feedback you get from people is really cool.
BS: And the people you meet, the community. People from other cities in Europe or Australia and Japan.
KB: It’s all a bit of a community. I don’t think that’s unique for deep techno, but you definitely feel it with the people that go to festivals like Parallel or Labyrinth. There are many of our friends there, but even if they are not your friends directly, you meet people there and you click straight away. It’s not only the music, you’re often connected as people as well.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s a softer kind of techno, allowing people to relax and open up a little more?
KB: Yes, definitely, it’s softer. And I think it has its roots in a sort of hippie mentality, a little bit of a trancy kind of vibe. Very chilled, very respectful people in general. In some sounds or club styles you sometimes have a crowd that’s a bit more aggressive. But within this sound, this deep techno space, you don’t have that.
SD: And spirituality is an important aspect.
It also has a connection to psytrance.
KB: It has this psychedelic feel to it, definitely. You get a bit of the same feeling.
BS: You have Son Kite and Minilogue.
KB: That’s a very good example. They started out as psytrance, and slowly moved towards minimal techno and deep techno. But it all kind of made sense, if you listen to the progression.
How did you come up with the name “Patterns of Perception”?
ZG: That’s actually a good story.
KB: It’s the result of a big acid bender.
ZG: It would be hilarious if that would be the story!
KB: It’s not. It’s a nice story.
BS: How I really got into techno was listening to Minilogue play at Berghain five years ago. It was one of the most incredible sets I’ve ever seen. It elevated me in so many ways. What I love about that kind of slow burning techno is that it’s so subtle. You have to really pay attention to all the different changes to hear all the colours. And then we were in a gallery in Australia, where we saw this artwork. When you first looked at it all you could see was a red line of light. But when you moved your eyes across you saw different texts. It has to do with how your brain receives light slowly.
KB: It was an optical illusion. When you moved your head, in the periphery you could see different messages written. We were really captivated by this light installation.
BS: It was called “Patterns of Perception”. When you first look at it, all you can see is a red strip, but when you pay attention, you see these different messages. It is the same with the music, you have to pay attention.
Looking back at the past two years, is there a special moment that has sticked to your mind?
ZG: When Mathew Jonson got on the decks with Sebastian Mullaert at the Wa Wu We party. That was pretty amazing.
SD: That was mind blowing. Two big inspirations.
Was he just doing it spontaneously?
SD: Yes. They have a track they collaborated on, so they played that one together. Mathew was kind of hanging around the front, he had come to watch Sebastian’s set. It was funny, because it was very tentative at first, just doing a few things and then stepping back. It didn’t go on for hours, it was more like a 20 minute thing. But they were really jamming together, playing their latest release. That was a really amazing moment.
I can imagine.
KB: Yes, that was cool. And of course the first party. Or Svreca’s closing set at our first birthday at About Blank last year. There have been so many good sets…
Is there something else you would like to add?
ZG: One thing is that we would like to give our artists the opportunity to play something they might not always have the opportunity to play. It has also been amazing for us to see the way people respond to the music at our parties. It’s not always so straightforward, or what they are used to hearing in a club. So that has been quite overwhelming, to see everyone smiling, having the best time.
BS: A good example of that is also when Ben Buitendijk was playing for us. He was so elated when he finished, because he had played the same track at another party, where the crowd was hating it. It was a bit challenging, and they were really not into it at all. But when he played it at Patterns of Perception people were loving it.
KB: That’s something we have heard from other artists as well. They feel they can really play the music they want, and not what you’re supposed to play in a techno club. They are not scared of playing something deeper, slower or more challenging. It is really nice that we have these kinds of people in the crowd, that are really up for it. They trust it and are very open-minded.
ZG: I think that makes the party quite inclusive as well.
KB: Yes, the party is really for everyone. In the Berlin techno scene you often have this exclusivity. At our parties – as long as you are a respectful person, and you’re contributing to the vibe in a positive way – you’re welcome. That is a really important thing to us, not to create this exclusive, cool group, that only some people have access to. That’s not the way we want to run our party.
ZG: It’s not meant as a criticism of anyone, it’s just how we see our party.
BS: Exactly. It should be about the music.
We asked each of the Patterns of Perception members to choose a favorite track that encapsulates their two year journey so far. Check out their selection below.
Kim Bergstrand: Artefakt – Narcosis
“Graceful, hypnotic acid techno that’s been on heavy rotation in our group ever since it came out almost 4 years ago. Narcosis sounds wonderful both in a club and outdoor context, which makes it the perfect Patterns of Perception track.”
Ray Pham (Hysteria): Dasha Rush – Emotional Emergency
“Amazing and in my opinion, underappreciated track. It’s mysterious, dark, gritty and has a killer kick that will break any dance floor. Something I experienced when I had the chance to drop this record at one of our OHM parties, a moment I won’t forget anytime soon.”
Bianca Shu: Minilogue – E De Nån Hemma
“These guys are the reason why I got into techno in the first place. I remember listening to their 3 hour set in Berghain 5 years ago. I was totally swept away by their abilities to construct a story, taking their audience on a twisted journey of discovery. This track is 45 minutes long and does exactly that, it is truly serene, beautiful and exciting all in one. I hope that the next party’s 22 hour curation can also provide such a journey for everyone, can’t wait!”
Zilka Grogan: Polar Inertia – Major Axis
“I remember hearing Andreas play this track during one of his closing sets at an early Patterns of Perception party. It brought such energy back to the dance floor right before close. I never could have imagined at the time that we would book Polar Inertia some 2 years later – it’s a nice measure of how things have grown since.”
Steve Duncan: Kalawila – Virunga
“An iconic track from one of our group’s favourite artists. This trippy broken-beat number has been heard several different times during sets from our residents, and was also a popular addition to our Monument mix from 2017.”
Andreas Maan: Jana Sleep – Aching
“Jana Sleep is a producer I’ve been paying attention to for a few years now. Her sharp percussion contrasts with round, warm bass sounds, and rhythmic restraint. This is one of her best, from back in 2014. I’m eagerly awaiting her next releases on Hypnus Records, one of my favourite labels.”
Patterns of Perception // Two Years: Facebook Event
Check out Patterns of Perception’s podcast series on Soundcloud.
Photos: Minttu Tuunanen