20 Questions With Adam Beyer: The Techno Legend on Working With Kevin Saunderson & Loving Billie Eilish

For Beyer, the project is another milestone moment in a three-decade career, during which he’s become a leading tastemaker of the global techno scene, maintaining underground credibility while also playing some of the biggest dance festivals on the planet — including Tomorrowland, Ultra and EDC Las Vegas. Beyer is based in Ibiza, where he’s a mainstay of the island’s club scene during typical seasons, and where he lives with his wife, techno producer Ida Engberg, and the couple’s three daughters.

Here, Beyer shares how Saunderson influenced him, the perks of being married to a fellow techno star and how his daughters have inspired his appreciation for Billie Eilish.

1. Where are you in the world right now, and what’s the setting like?

I’m at home in Ibiza. The weather is good here. It’s like being on holiday, except I’m going about my daily business which is training, working and taking the kids to school.

2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

It was a KISS album, because I was a massive fan of them when I was five years old. It was called Double Platinum; it was a double pack. In my head it was a good deal, and it was slightly cheaper than the single one — and I didn’t know that much because I was five — but then it turned out it was the disco and glam rock stuff from the ‘70s. I’d seen all the cool stuff that was on MTV, and the videos from 1981 and ’82 with “Heaven’s on Fire.” So I was hugely disappointed and cried for days, because I had spent all my savings on it. And I f–king hated that album and never listened to it, because it wasn’t what I thought KISS was.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do they think of what you do for a living now?

[Editor’s note: Beyer’s father passed away when he was 13, and his mother was able to circumvent a law that says a child isn’t able to access their deceased parent’s estate till they turned 18 to get money to buy him his first pair of turntables.]

She’s proud, and I think my father would have been as well. He aspired to be a musician and stopped school and was a drummer for awhile, but I think my grandmother forced him to go back to school. He worked in insurance and also for IBM, one of the early computer companies in the ‘80s, so he became serious and did that. But I think his secret dream was to be a drummer in a band. I think he would have loved it. My mum was working in kindergartens. She’s obviously very proud. They saw the whole thing from when I was young, and it just transformed into what it is today.

4. What was the first song you ever made?

I started to play the recorder in school at around seven or eight, and I used to write little lyrics and melodies on it. But I don’t remember what it was called or what it was about — I just have a vague memory of trying to write my own tunes.

5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into electronic music, what would you give them?

I’d have to go with Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Most of the tracks still get dropped today, and you can reference a lot of U.K. techno from it. It had a massive influence on me throughout the ‘90s, and I still go back to it now as I really enjoy it. It is a timeless album.

6. What’s the first non-gear thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as an artist?

I remember buying a CD player from money I made playing a New Year’s Eve gig when I was 14. I made about 150 quid and was blown away by that, as it was a lot of money back then. It was exactly how much the CD player cost. Apart from that, I bought vinyl with all the money I made.

7. What’s the first electronic music show that really blew your mind?

I remember going to one in Denmark called Love Core, and the line-up was probably the most insane line-up I experienced back then. It was 1993 or 1994 when I was fully eating techno. I remember Jeff Mills was playing, Basic Channel live, DJ ESP from the Midwest — who is Woodie McBride, who made amazing acid at that time — Acid Scout from Disco B, Electric Indigo from Austria and Vapour Space on Plus 8. We were a group of friends, going down and staying up for two days, and doing the whole experience. It was just amazing.

8. I know Kevin Saunderson has been a big influence on you. Were you nervous to work with him on this E-Dancer project? 

I wasn’t nervous actually, as Kevin is really easy to get along with. Although he is one of the founders of techno, he’s very polite and a gentleman, so he never made me feel nervous. Whenever I saw him or met him in the past, I always had a really good vibe with him. It was quite an obvious collaboration to do for me. He actually originally asked me to work on a track with him and that’s how the whole project started.

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