Unapologetic German Techno

Sawlin is well known to any inclined techno fan ever since his regular Vault Series releases.

Together with Subjected and Mørbeck, he broke through on the label Vault Series, which the trio used to hone their individual sounds before branching off into solo endeavors.

His early releases squirmed with personality, and perverted vocals and offbeat sounds are still trademarks today.

Not much is known of Sawlin – as the Vault Series website reflects: “What are letters, signs and words, when the records and the productions speak their own language?”
Intrigued by his mysterious character, we decided that it’s time to ask Berlin-based Ronny Sawlin some questions …


Hi Ronny, let’s start from your musical roots. When you decide to being this musical journey and start to think about it? Which were the waves and the personalities that influenced you the most when you started your career?

I am a typical child of the 90s. I never felt that energy again. I always remember her when I hear the music of that me. I often thought that it was just the age. but over the years I’ve read a lot of biographies and reports, so I know it had a lot to do with the ages. Just the contrast was just so strong. On the one hand the dreary, gray everyday life with these lousy people and on the other hand this colorful music that has promised you everything. … and has kept a lot.

I did my first education in 2001 and was a one‐year course called “Sounddesigner”. I already knew that I would live on the music someday. Later I had a housiger project with two Partners. That was a major Milestone for me, because my Music landed on Vinyl for the first me. I was incredibly proud. I mean it only took 10 Years 😀

It really started with Vault Series. There been suddenly a lot of attention. I realized it years later. I knew nothing about the sales and how to measure popularity. till today i got problemes with that. It went a little more mountain up, as Sven Väth then charted me with my Delsin at that me. I didn ́t know that I was already at the height of my success. Now from the distance i got a little more overview. At that me I thought that being a normal affection. Moerbeck and Subjected had told me then that we are very popular. But I never understood why they told that. Even on demand, they could describe it hard. It was more a feeling. A feeling that I had less because I never djing.

Oddly enough, I never oriented myself to personalities. What was good from today’s point of view. some of them turned out as disappointment earlier or later. Performance witch wasn ́t really one, or rather coincidental. There are really less personalities..One of them would be for example dj Koze. Or the Basic Channel, Guys. This is a Big cinema we would say. Pay attention to the identitarian character;)

How do you see yourself evolving professionally / musically from your earliest beginnings up until now.

Uhhh … I knew quite early that I would become a musician. In 1999, many of my friends bought a computer for games and word processing programs. For me, the computer was just for making music. un l then I was already 3 years a DJ. A Friend who left Germany in 1997, has given me a book about Audio engineering. I was so obsessed that I read and learned the book, which also described among other things “noise reduction systems” for cinemas, without even remotely understanding what was behind the info. I thought I would find out how to get into the music. Until my mother had bought a computer (text processing;)) and a friend of my brother had installed rebirth there. The same day, I ordered a computer in the catalog. Of course, with the smallest monthly Rate there was. If they had offered one euro, I would have paid one Euro every Month ll today 😀 Until it was delivered, I did not have fingernails anymore. From then it went deeper and deeper into the Music. In the beginning, I collected all the freeware and samples that could be obtained over the years. Mostly through the Mag ́s of that Time , wherever a cd with demos was in it. The day the Mag came out was the best one for a couple of years. I also went to further shops, when I knew that the magazine came out a day earlier.

In 2001, for the first me, I got the opportunity to show live what I can do. We played at a huge private party where galluzzi (very popular than me) was as well. We took our big desktop computers and crt monitors to that place. From then on I knew that playing live was i want to to in the future. I just like it to be more active in the music over the me I play. Before I releaesed, I played a lot live bofore my first release. it as a great me. Everything was so relaxed. No big businesscrap and so on. In 2007 or 2008, 2 friends and I started a small crew and begin to publishing on our label. That was very minimalist and housy. That’s been a quite long way ll that Point. We even played at Sonne, Mond und Sterne festival. Some of you might know that. But 2 of us moved more and more towards harder sound. After 3 releases we already canceled all further releases.

Then at the me when ”Subzero” by Ben Klock came out, there were an atmosphere of departure, like in the 90’s just little smaler. These Neo Bigroom Techno. I felt like that was what I had been waiting for. Then subejected suggested starting a base for us where we wanted to release our facets. And it was to the right me. At the same me I started to study at the Sae in order to devote myself to mastering proplerly. I already have done that a long me ago. But then I saw it as a career perspective. When the Ann Aimee (Delsin) came out I started to become freelancer and i traveled around for a few years. Today I am more Mastering Engineer than a Musician. 3 months ago I decided to start my own business with a Label. I’ll go back to Bikiniarz where Vault was back then. Vault has developed in a different direction that these music would no longer represent. Unfortunately there are some delays right now. But should be in about a Week to buy on Vinyl.

How do you channel your emotions and ideas through music?

Not at all. They channel me. That’s not something I can influence. I can only learn to use it effectively. Over the years I have learned how to instinctively implement my feelings. Best of all, do not try to influence them. Your feelings always know much better what you want and need. If you need a different result, then you have to work off the pent up feelings beforehand through music.

If you don’t mind us asking, can you briefly explain the production process when you’re creating a new track? Do you use analog synths, tape machines, or other “retro” gear to reach your own sound, or is it all digital emulation?

I prefer a hybrid way of working. There are important advantages on both sides. i could, even without that anyone realize it, produce a track completly on an ipad. No one would hear a difference. You only have to know how. The digital workflow is simply faster and more effecttive. And tonal, the computing power is currently sufficient to generate or process high‐quality sounds. Anyone who has ever compared analog and digital bass notes that analog is s ll in the advantage. same like Compressors and Distortion. it will quickly wash it out in the lower frequencies. Even inside a synthesizer like my Evolver by Dave Smith is built that way. 2 analog and 2 digital Oscillators. With analog Filters and Distortion. But basically I like to work with hardware. We like to underestimate how much we work with our eyes rather than with our Ears. It will rely more on Graphics than on the Sound. That’s easy to Test. Mix a song “in the box” and once on a hardware Mixer. I Promise to you that the hardware Mix gets be er. I also have a Revox b77 Tape Machine. But I think I gonna sell it. There are really good emula ons that can hardly be distinguished from the original ones. For example the a800 on the the UAD. In addition, the integration is often very disturbing. And the device is quite maintenance intensive. Otherwise I have a modular system that allows me to dive into. There are just unlimited possibili es and you can assemble your individual parts of a sound exactly. So really created for innovation. Also has a meditative function. If I’m too mentally too tense, that solves the knot. then I have the Korg Volca that delivers exactly what I need for live and a cool old school rompler what is my master keyboard as well. In most cases, the Evolver and the Modualrsystem is enough for me, because they are so complex that I can dive into and jam nicely outside of the computer. I create a kick without too much sub before and then i record a very long modula on session.Then i cut it into usable Parts. That’s the basis. When processing, I use tools that will do the job best for the task. This is laboriously tested So ware and Hardware or Stock Plugins. Nothing sounds better than an API2500 compression and a Ableton EQ makes a sufficient equalization. I always work towards the goal or sound accordingly. Less ideological. Retro makes no sense. Because there is not what you need to do retro, because techno “lives” from innovations. However, beginners or blenders can be recognized by an ideological work additude. Ask yourself what the result should be and which tool does that best and how to recognize that.

Does the writing process differ depending on which label its comin’ out on? Or do you let it come out more naturally and whats your thought about makin a record?

I have already answered with ques on 3. I tried it at first, but it does not work. Your Soul does not care for it. In the end you just try to judge the market. But that just makes you unhappy. Then you cramp and rowing in all directions like a drowning who permanently struggles without land in sight. It’s the best to have fixed labels where you know what they want and that they are attached to you. But this is rather rare today. The situation is currently very tense that labels are releasing more and more it the direction to the success. Then it will be released in all directions (styles and artists), if a release does not work. But imho you have to endure thet as a Label. Otherwise you will lose your identity. And when you look around, people with identity are very often successful. 

Electronic music is growing pretty rapidly as a global scene, with the exploration of techno constantly evolving and birthing new styles. Especially as a live artist, where you can go off in so many different directions; what are you most excited about for the future of electronic music? 

I let myself be surprised as well. I must confess that I do not have an overview. I try to avoid being taken in by external things. I go my own way and hope that eventually find more people who want to listen my Music. But I notice some development in modular performance. Not least because I have an own modular system. You can now watch musicians on stage again. That did not exist for a long time. But I would wish that the colleagues put more risk in their sounds. Especially the modular system offers so much for innovative sound. many soundexamples are sounds i would get from hard wired synths.

Swapping now to the DJ side of things: what have been the most special events you’ve played at over the last 6 months and why?

Basically, I only play live. That’s why you can be honored to have one of the rare DJ sets. I generally play a little less. Therefore I can only report solid experiences in the last 6 months. Solid in the sense of a relaxed atmosphere where I feel very well, as I am always very tense at special Events. Rather a shadow side of the live play. But that has gotten better over the years. I’m more into parties then. So new ideas for songs and more from the people. I then improvise more at such events. So come up with new ideas for songs and get more vibes from the people.

Berlin has become an essential pilgrimage for fans of techno, ambient and experimental music’s darker corners. Reveal us your opinion about Berlin scene, your current homeport?

I notice the most things in and out of the scene like everyone else. Through official media or word of mouth propaganda.For me it has changed not so much. At first I thought, ok, fine. Maybe there is an interesting exchange of ideas. But nothing. There are many groups that like to stay among themselves. It prevail the fear that anyone would recognize them their amateurishness. Or anyone want to take them away some skills or so on. I am actually someone who likes to work with others. There are many new and great things out there. Ideally, both grow independently of their technical knowledge. Provided you harmonize. As a technician for example, I always need perspectives from the outside. once it went so far, that I thought about to post a request on Facebook or Instagram. Simply with my own fans or colleague. Just someone you does not know so well. It ́s the most exciting situation. Please let me know if you feel like to do it when I’m back in Italy. 😉

Is there a book that left a deep impression on you in the recent year, which one and why?

There are many. spontainiously 2 comes directly in my mind.

The First EP on arts i named „Verrat am selbst“ it ́s the tle of one of Arno gruen ́s books. Unfortunetly i cold find only 2 Books in english. He changed my way of thinking and seeing the world completely. The author is a psychoanalyst and researched the soul. Comprable to Erich Fromm. Very many clever and illuminating thoughts. I have learned a lot about myself and the Humans in general. He can tell you much about human suffering, pain and the origin of human abysses. One example:

>>> If a person is not allowed to experience his own pain because he has been instructed to dismiss him as weak, he will have to seek it in other living beings. Such a person will humiliate, torment or mutilate others in order to get hold of their own repressed pain. At the same time he will deny this action to hide his own mental mutilation.. <<<

The other is “Convinced!” By Jack Nasher. Also available in English The book opened my eyes. He spoke in a TV show about the case of Joshua Bell. Who had played in a subway station. he was not anybody. The guy played on a 2 million violin at world class level. He usually plays in sold­out opera houses. But almost no one noticed that in the subway. Until this book, I thought that good music will prevail by their own. but who of the listeners has a professional competence to hear the quality? since I know, if you want that people recognice your quality, you also have to tell about your quality. This can be an interview like this, or in the way of video diaries on facebook or instagram posts. That’s not so easy though, because everyone else does it as well. you have to be just as creative in marketing as in the music itself. If you have learned to think creatively, that should not be a problem. if you know what creativity means and how you recognize it. Unfortunately, marketing is frowned upon. but everybody does it. only uncontrolled. Successful people gonna tell you it ́s just their music. Don ́t trust ́s a trap 😉 

What are your plans for the next few months? Any exciting projects you can tell us about?

I have not made much music for the last 2 years because of my son. But now that he’s starting to become independent, I can make more music again. Especially where I now get more sleep again. Lack of sleep is a real killer. But I also have to admit that I lost a li le confidence and was pessimistic … maybe even it stayed a li le. but making music is something that I can not abstain from. Even if I do not release anymore. There is s ll so much to discover. Especially with the iPads there are tons of new opportunities for sampling the environment z.b. It is a mystery to me how much the same stuff comes out anyway. It could be so easy. in the future i gonna post much more on instagram to show the fantastic world. maybe so i convince the collegues out there a li le.

This year comes on my own new label 2‐3 releases. There I go back to the origin. My beginnings at Vault Series. It will be reduced again. Of course, with the new things I have learned and lived, it will s ll be a development. This higher, faster and further has made quite red in the last 2‐3 years. I have a lot of material from this me. But I prefer to hold that back until it’s interesting again. I think a good strategy. So I always seem a bit ahead of me. Provided you have a Label that parti cipates. That’s where the long‐term relationship with a Label comes into the Game again. 😉

In October, I have a return to one of the first Labels on which I have released at the beginning of my career. Then there will probably be a 3 track release on Technorama. But it may well be that there will be a remix. This happens more often on this Label. If so, I’m curious who it is. i ́m very excited.

And i got 2 more confirmation for podcasts. 

Let’s end with a question that, while sort of cliche, always gets an interesting response. Which up‐and‐coming artists are you excited about? 

For those who are not there yet, who are coming into my perception through their sound. The last one was Blawan and his projects. I always wait to see how people develop after their hype. Or unveil itself as a fluke. Joefarr is currently under observation. A lot of innovative and in‐depth production, with a clear Footmark. Shxcxchcxsh has also created a lot of “new”. Brilliant production, the complexity reminds me of the burial production. Nevertheless, very independent. Otherwise I was always surprised by Van Bonn and Yuji Kondo.

Thank you for having spent your time to let our readers know more about your music and thoughts!

I have to thank everyone who read this and follow my music deeper than on the surface.


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