Event producer, label manager, and DJ are just some of the jobs that Dan Faulwasser, also known as Dan Drastic, calls his own. Growing up in Chemnitz, Germany, Dan was a child of the early techno scene in Germany. “In the 90s, I was 15 and my cousin was a DJ. He took me to a really shitty party somewhere in the mountains, but they let me play records for 30 minutes… It was hard because I didn’t know the records, it was hard but no one cared. Pretty quickly I stumbled upon early techno and early house, a lot of hip hop as well. Commercial hip hop that blended with house. Becoming a DJ was a plan [for me] suddenly.
Coming from a place that was not a major metropolitan center, Dan had to work harder than most just to discover music. Living in East Germany as a kid, he would record songs directly off the radio that they were streaming from West Germany. According to Dan, the quality of the music often depended on the weather and getting a clean signal. “I didn’t know the names of tracks but I always had new stuff. We listened to everything… the techno stuff came later with the early 90s.”
These days, Dan works full-time as a label manager for the iconic Moon Harbour Records. He also runs their radio show and plays the occasional gig when the right opportunity comes around. For Dan, it was an interesting journey to get to this point, one that started with him throwing his own events in his hometown.
“At some point we just found a space, an old factory, and started making partiers there. We actually did it by the books. If the police came we wanted to make sure we didn’t get shut down. It was nothing nice but it was fun. There would be one toilet for 300 people but we had two floors with different music… we always tried to have a techno floor and a house floor but in Chemnitz, the techno floor was the busy floor.”
As Dan worked to help foster a positive scene in Chemnitz, the rest of the country followed suit. Germany as a haven for techno is in part made possible by the government. Clubs are allowed to stay open all hours with very few restrictions. The scene is vibrant with an incredible community around the underground sounds. Although Dan got his start promoting and DJing in Chemnitz, he eventually moved to Leipzig where he transitioned to an industry role, focusing on becoming a label manager for Moon Harbour.
“I moved from Chemnitz to Leipzig because the scene in Chemnitz was not working anymore. I had no job at the time and it just felt right. In Leipzig, there was already a good club scene. There’s an art university here which means every year there’s new people coming in that are open-minded. People are friendly and accepting, there are no closing hours so the clubs can stay open all weekend.”
After settling in Leipzig, Dan quickly joined the Moon Harbour family, releasing music with them until eventually, he joined the team as a label manager. Despite their long-running success, running a small independent label is no easy feat. In today’s music scene, especially on the electronic side, there is a tremendous proliferation of independent, and artist-driven labels. In almost 20 years of existence, Moon Harbour has managed to consistently sign high-quality music, and identify incredible up-and-coming talent in an ever-growing scene.
“For us, we only release music that we really like. Music that we think has some sort of longevity. We focus on tracks that we think aren’t just about a trend happening right now. It needs to be timeless. It’s also about working with artists who want to stay with us. We don’t want artists to see us as a springboard for the next step, we want to have a relationship with them.”
Dan has been with Moon Harbour for about 15 years now. In his time with the label, the electronic music scene has changed drastically. When Dan started in 2006, the biggest trend in electronic was a more minimal style of music. This was reflected with early releases from Matthias Tanzmann, Marco Faraone, and Luna City Express.
Over the years, music production has become more accessible, allowing more people to experiment and create high-quality music. With youtube courses teaching music production, and the need for a studio becoming less important, there has never been more amazing music being created. “The sounds have become more complex and layered. It’s [tech house] turned back into house. House has always been more full and groovy. People are getting so much better at mixing their music as well. The product you receive as a demo in the last 5 years is so much higher quality than it used to be. It’s not just a couple of loops and let’s call it a day. A lot of artists are making relatively original tracks, working with vocalists… the bar is just higher now.”
Even for a veteran like Dan, it can be hard to keep up with a revolving door of new talent and production concepts. “When I started making music in the early 2000’s I borrowed a version of Fruity Loops Studio that only had like 8 tracks I could use… making good music now is easier than ever… This is another reason why I stopped making music, I’m just not good compared to these guys now. There are enough people who are really good that they don’t need me anymore.”
In the last few years, Moon Harbour has continued its run of excellence. Recent releases like ‘Scratchin’’ by Detlef and Cloonee, and ‘Evolve or Die’ by Hot Since 82 are just a few examples of how Moon Harbour stays fresh and consistent. Focusing on quality tech house and deep house, with an eye always on the future has allowed Dan and his team to stay at the top of their games for decades. Dan releases 3-4 Moon Harbour radio shows every month, highlighting new music that the label enjoys, and Moon Harbour will continue to release music regularly for years to come.
“We have always had our lane. Kind of on the deep house scene while also doing tech house when we can. The idea is to not get too cheesy or mainstream, while also not going too deep.”
Listen on SoundCloud
Listen on Spotify