Finn Johannsen on House, Berlin and Balance

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Finn Johannsen is the kind of DJ we didn’t think existed anymore. He has an encylopediac knowledge of music and it’s apparent when watching him play that his understanding of music moves him while he’s moving the crowd. The Berlin based DJ has been a fixture in house music since he began spinning in clubs in the ’80s. His command of music has led him to branch out from DJ’ing, as a buyer for legendary Hard Wax in Berlin, where he curates a selection of sometimes very hard to find vinyl in different genres, like dub or acid techno. He’s a co-owner of Macro Records, a label which reps artists like KiNK and Morgan Geist. He’s also a writer, contributing to electronic bible Resident Advisor.

Our favorite thing about Finn, is his dedication to vinyl. He only plays vinyl during his sets, which is quite a feat, considering he tends to play marathon sets (we caught him during a three-hour feat). It’s easy to keep the crowd moving when you’ve preselected a surefire mix with whatever is trendy at the moment, but Finn chooses to keep an eye on the crowd and let that determine which record he ducks down to grab from the thick stack he’s brought with him (did we mention he doesn’t play the same set twice?).

We asked him to tell us a little bit about how he got started, the state of the music scene in Berlin and his advice for aspiring DJ’s. Catch the Q+A below.

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What attracted you to house music?

When I first heard house records in clubs, internet was not an option. I learned where it came from from magazine articles, but later on. I liked that it condensed a lot of music I liked before into something new, which sounded primitive, fresh, and effective. For me it was just another step in the chronology of club music though, albeit one that surpassed early fad status very quickly.

How has house evolved since you first started spinning?

It absorbed a lot of music styles and got bigger and bigger. But it also fragmented into countless sub-genres. Nowadays the style is as detached from its origins as it is close to it. And that is not even a contradiction. It seems anything is house, and nothing.

How do you think social media has changed the way music is shared?

Social media has changed everything in terms of accessibility. You can be up to date with anything you are interested in, no matter where you are. The problem is that you are also up to date with anything you are not interested in, and there is not much you can do about it.

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