As a DJ, producer and remixer, Michael Mayer remains one of Germany's core celebrities in dance music. It's no secret that he spends his weekends traveling around the globe.
It's likely throughout his career he's played in front of millions. Then, as a co-owner of Kompakt, he spends his weekdays deciding what will be released on the label and working with the label's artists and overseeing Kompakt's distribution wing - the home of over 50 record labels. Amazingly enough, he manages to sneak into the studio on occasion to produce his own music and remix the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Foals and Rufus Wainwright. And of course there is Supermayer but more on that later. It's safe to say he loves being challenged and regardless of the pressure is never putting less than 100% of his heart and soul into everything he does.
Born in 1971 in the Black Forest, he was exposed to DJing as a young teen when he befriended a neighborhood DJ and light designer who gave him mix tapes and snuck him into the local club. "The image of someone standing behind the turntables is carved into my memory. I knew at once that was what I wanted to do". Taking up the trade of a paperboy a wee 14 year old Mayer managed to earn enough for turntables and a mixer. Soon after, he was the star of the school dance and maestro for the local birthday parties. At the tender age of 18, Mayer graduated to the world of disco and became Saturday night resident of Achern's leading club at the time, Why Not. Sadly short-lived, Michael's musical tastes didn't match the crowd's bid for commercial cuts and so he was banished to peruse more "underground" projects.
By this time it's the early '90's and dance music couldn't be any bigger. Michael joins up with a local DJ adversary, Tobias Thomas and two other friends to create the DJ team, Friends Xperiment Sound System. The team dissolved due to Thomas moving to Cologne and the others to Berlin leaving young Mayer to decide between province or capital. Cologne wins and with Tobias Thomas he reinvents Friends Xperiment but commits to a straight 4/4 - house and techno mandate. It runs like wildfire, playing all over town which included a residency at the legendary IZ club - Cologne's community hub of that time.
Due to the numerous worldwide DJ gigs and responsibilities at Kompakt, Michael Mayer only finds time for his own productions at irregular intervals. Following a slew of 12'' releases, in 2005 he took the time off to produce his debut album Touch. In the dawning age of post minimal, Touch combined different aspects of house, techno, and even cosmic disco which Mayer relates to his ties with early italo-disco. Touch was an accomplishment of Mayer uniting a lifetime of influences. He was especially drawn to his childhood heroes Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis who were responsible for the sound of Alexander O'Neal and the S.O.S. Band, The Steve Miller Band, and Alan Parsons Project. But Mayer's intention was never to load his own music with references, as is so commonly practiced in electronic music. Regardless if you are influenced by other people's music when creating your own sound, Michael Mayer strongly feels that "DJ music in particular is all about updating tradition – to look ahead and in the past, both at the same time".
He takes his remixes just as seriously and regardless if it's Miss Kittin or Depeche Mode, he carries through with endearing qualities that resonate like a signature regardless of the style of music he brings to the remix. Mayer is renown for converting the mood and meaning of the original to it's opposite. A great example would be his now classic cover of Sade "Love Is Stronger Than Pride" - a friendly cocktail ballad contorted into a hard and sinister "schaffel" techno tune.
Finally, Kompakt sees the long-awaited release of Michael's sophomore album Mantasy, a long-awaited, indispensable update of Michael Mayer’s production sound and an essential release for the label in 2012: "It's my second solo album, but for me it’s really the first one”, says Michael, and indeed the masterful sequencing and high production value bear witness to an artist in full control of his medium. The album’s title refers to the escapist momentum of a cinematic journey into the unknown, a tribute to history’s great explorers, „to characters obsessed with an idea, to totally wrong conceptions of the world and faulty sea charts, to inconceivable exertions, all that lunacy“, but also an intimate trip to the core of the Kompakt sound itself, whose main ambassador has always been Michael Mayer.
Though he remains dedicated to the 4/4 kick drum, Michael Mayer is by no means a techno purist but is constantly striving to look beyond one's own nose, to shift frontiers and to go in depth. His compassion to the scene, devotion to music and his craft as a DJ and producer has set him in a standard that few have been able to accomplish. "A DJ has a certain responsibility. He has to play progressive, contemporary music and combine it with the past. It is all about entertaining people, but you must not under challenge nor overstrain them. You must be subversive and play music that no one would have ever dreamt of listening to voluntarily at the club. You are both, entertainer and educator."