XDB [ Gottingen, Germany ]
If love is built on trust and respect, then education and diversity are the foundations of a sublime reputation. What does it take, then, for an artist’s career to stand apart in the very big pond of electronic music producers? Germany’s XDB has been DJing since the early 90s, and his creative growth enhances his decisions of what labels and musicians he chooses to collaborate with. After years of working in a record shop, he launched his Metrolux label in 2006 and works closely with producers Atheus and Arne Weinberg.
Much of his studio work is created in the dark, beginning late at night and continuing on to the next morning, and he’ll usually take many sessions to complete a track that satisfies his own high standards. Lately, Kosta Athanassiadis is garnering the overdue attention of popular writers and fellow musicians. In April 2009, he delivered mnml ssgs’ 25th podcast in two parts – the beloved bloggers had seen XDB perform at Tokyo’s Labyrinth festival about six months earlier, and eagerly anticipated the chance to share a live set he’d recorded in Hamburg with their readers. In the following month, Intrusion contributed a podcast to Resident Advisor, and incorporated XDB’s live version of “Descap,” which was released on Metrolux before its re-release on Francois K’s Wave Music label. The latter was his big break, and since its issue in 2007, Kosta has been developing a renowned name as both an admirable businessman and creative artist. XDB’s throbbing basslines predate the rapid, wide-spread popularity of “the Berghain sound,” which is why one of his latest releases was a step ahead of everyone else.
Out on the still-fresh Delikat Records, his Mihon EP is as bright as the daytime, bringing techno out from dark, concrete rooms and into the sunlight. The title track is speedy and kinetic, and, like the Descap EP, the release includes both produced and live recordings of “Unago,” which has the sound of a child’s imagination gone wild. He also has a release on Sistrum, which is owned and operated by Detroit’s own Patrice Scott. The label’s discography expands slowly because Scott is highly selective, but he and XDB share the vision of pushing a sound that is influenced by Detroit but not trapped by its legacy. “I still prefer 909 drum sounds and atmospheric strings,” says Athanassiadis, but the intrinsic, storytelling element of creating music is his highest priority.
The lifestyle of the ever-touring DJ is an ideal one for XDB, which fuels his encyclopedic passion for music. When he isn’t spending time with his family, coaching tennis or growing his vinyl collection – which exceeds five thousand records, at this point – he is often working towards a production deadline or traveling to perform. Kosta intends his DJ sets to be full of organic warmth and depth, and it’s here that he lives up to his reputation as a historian of electronic music. His live sets repeatedly curate a greatest hits playlist that pores over the blueprints of dub, house and techno from the last thirty to forty years. He sees his music heading in a direction that ranges from deep and soulful Detroit house to raw, analogue sounding dub techno, which is executed brilliantly on his last Metrolux EP, Cagomi. XDB is currently looking forward to the release of the Lost Tape EP on Wave in late November 2009.
Throughout his growing popularity, XDB has kept his identity nearly silent, allowing his music to be unpolluted by preconceived notions that comes with branding one’s image. “Less is more,” he suggests, applying the advice to inspiring and established artists. In the end, it was this tactic – of letting the music speak for itself – that cultivated the respect and trust of his fans. If that isn’t love, then what is?