A post for Omnified by Arian Bozorg
Jens Kuhn, commonly known by his pseudonym Lowtec, has been a fixture in the German electronic music scene for the last two decades. As well as producing music, Kuhn is also the founder of Out To Lunch and Workshop, releasing experimental and wistful house music for the in-between stages of the night.
In the 1990s, when he was young, Kuhn often drove four hours from Schmalkalden in the Thuringian mountains to party in Berlin. Kuhn said Berlin parties at the time were “improvised and more one-off.”
The Berlin club landscape at that time inspired Kuhn to create his own music and build a scene with friends in his hometown. They started to DJ, put on small parties in the countryside, and produce their own music.
“We used to live in a shared flat with a small studio,” said Kuhn. “Everyone bought a little bit of equipment and we all brought it to the shared flat and we started to produce together.”
It was out of this scene that Kuhn set up his Out To Lunch label to release his own music and that of his close friends. Distribution was difficult in the beginning. Kuhn approached the renowned Berlin record store, Hard Wax, for a release. They turned him down initially but still asked to hear some of the tracks.
“So I sent him the files and he said ‘ok, I’ll take 300!’ That was the start,” Kuhn said. “Luckily they sold out very quickly. That was the beginning of a lot of luck.”
After 18 releases, the label temporarily closed up shop in 2005 before reemerging a decade later in 2015. In 2006, Kuhn also started Workshop with Evan Tuell, the artist alias of Paul David Rollmann. Today, the two labels continue to be a cult favorite, known for their beautifully understated music.
But music has never been Kuhn’s sole passion. All the while developing his first label in the mid 90s, Kuhn studied engineering. Years later, Kuhn still resides in Schmalkalden and keeps busy at his day job developing cars.
“People often think that it’s hard to manage these different things all together, but it works,” Kuhn said. “It can be stressful sometimes, but on the other hand it can get boring when there is nothing going on.”
Even with a full schedule, Kuhn continues to release music each year, sometimes venturing out on other labels. For his new project, Kolorit, he teamed up with Workshop labelmate Kassem Mosse. He said the project was “born out of [a] spontaneous situation in Bristol when we were both playing for Idle Hands.”
Although they weren’t prepared, they decided to play together that night. The music clicked immediately and Kuhn said the sound was “very organic.” Kuhn and Mosse enjoyed themselves so much that when they had the chance to recreate the show in a Vancouver warehouse, they jumped at it.
“Then we went straight to the studio to see what happens,” Kuhn said.
The pair met up in October 2016 in Kuhn’s residence in Schmalkalden. They’d hike during the day and spend the nights in the basement recording music.
“We brought some of our favorite instruments and recreated the live situation,” Kuhn said. “We recorded long sessions. Later we made edits from the material.”
In the lead up to their debut album release later this fall, Kuhn will once again be making the four hour drive from Schmalkalden, to premiere his live show with Mosse at Berlin Atonal, where they will recreate those long sessions from the studio.
Berlin Atonal runs from Aug. 22 through Aug. 26. The premiere of Kolorit’s live show will take place at Kraftwerk Berlin on Saturday, Aug. 25.