Ultra Music Festival 2022: Interview with Boris Brejcha
Boris Brejcha is in his hotel room in Mexico City, where he just finished an appearance at EDC Mexico. The German DJ/producer is happy that the gig gave him some time away from the cold European winter.
“The weather is much better,” he says new times on Zoom. “We hang out all day by the pool.”
For Brejcha, being away from his Frankfurt home was a regular occurrence. If there was a big dance music festival somewhere, chances are he was hired to play there. Never mind the endless club gigs that probably had him racking up more frequent flyer miles than he knew what to do with.
Then came 2020, and everything came to a screeching halt. No club or festival gigs, something that for DJs like Brejcha has become an essential part of their career. Few DJs and producers can make enough money from productions alone.
Still, Brejcha took advantage of the pandemic to relax and enjoy the slower pace.
“Twenty-nine years was like super packed with concerts, and every year [I plan] take my holidays between December and April,” he notes. “So I was on vacation when the coronavirus [started] in 2020. It was the first time in my life that I could sit all summer in my house and garden and do nothing. I had time for my girlfriend and for my family, and, of course, I had time to create new songs. For me, it was perfect.”
That doesn’t mean Brejcha hasn’t missed connecting with the audience in a live setting. While all music benefits from a social setting, dance music is perhaps more closely tied to public spaces than most genres. The act of dancing itself is communal. Sure, you can dance at home, but half the fun is fueled by the energy of those around you.
“It was the first time in my life that I could sit all summer in my house and garden and do nothing.”
The same goes for DJs. Any shrewd producer knows that once you’re behind the decks, you not only control the sound coming out of the speakers, but the crowd as well. A good DJ set has hills and valleys that take the crowd on a journey.
“Nowadays DJs are also like artists, so people look in front of the DJ what he’s going to do,” says Brejcha.
There is a common misconception that all a DJ does is push buttons. Although there is some pre-programming, especially in the context of a music festival, just turning a knob and throwing your hands up isn’t enough.
“For me, I sit Monday through Thursday in the studio producing new tracks and new content for my shows, because I only play my own music,” Brejcha explains. “It’s hard to impress myself and people with new tracks, and I’m going to mix those tracks on stage.”
That drive to put on a good show may have ultimately led to Ultra Music Festival giving Brejcha and his label, Fcking Serious, a stage at this year’s event. It also, surprisingly, marks Brejcha’s debut at Ultra – something that’s quite mind-boggling considering his stature in the industry.
He laughs when asked what took him so long to make his Ultra debut.
“I don’t know, man,” he says.
The festival returns to Bayfront Park March 25-27 at Bayfront Park, and it marks Ultra’s first event since 2019’s adventure in Virginia Key, which was plagued with logistical issues. (Getting more than 50,000 people in and out of Virginia Key via the Rickenbaker Causeway alone was destined to hit a snag.)
Brejcha’s debut will be Friday, March 25 on the Cove Stage, part of the Ultra’s Resistance festival concept within a festival, along with fellow Fcking Serious artists Ann Clue, Moritz Hofbauer and Deniz Bul. Brejcha will headline with a three-hour set.
“I would be happy if only I played there with all the other headliners,” Brejcha said of the opportunity the Ultra gave him. “It’s super huge for us to be able to bring our Fcking Serious team to Ultra. Everyone understands that we love each other and work really well together, and the music fits in as well. We just want to show people that.”
The German producer has performed in Miami before, most recently at Club Space in 2021, but this will be his biggest performance in front of an American audience to date, a milestone he still admires.
“It’s a super big festival, and people come from all over the world,” he marvels. “That’s crazy, man.”
“I was saying [my girlfriend]’Maybe when the corona is over, no one will want to party anymore.'”
Brejcha admits he was nervous during the lockdown that the pandemic would dampen public appetite for in-person events.
“I was saying [my girlfriend]”Maybe when the corona is over, no one will want to party anymore – I mean, if you live without partying for two years, why should you start partying again?”
Of course, his fears were unfounded and he’s been very busy since theaters began to slowly reopen last year. Even Ultra, which faced pushback from ticket holders for withholding refunds for the canceled 2020 event, sold out this year’s festival.
“I learned that people really like to party,” Brejcha says in retrospect. “They love that we come back to party.”
In case you need to get in that party mood, Brejcha posted space diverhis first album for Ultra Records (no relation to the festival) in 2020 and quickly followed up with never stop dancing in 2021. Both feature the producer’s signature tech-house style, making them a favorite with dance music fans.
But also be sure to listen in the direction of the stage during Brejcha’s set, because there’s always the possibility that you’ll hear something that isn’t ready for prime time yet.
“Every time I’m on stage, I’m going to play a lot of songs that haven’t been released, that’s for sure,” he confirms. “All of our artists only play their own music, so when people come to our stage, they can be sure they’re going to hear a lot of music they’ve never heard before.”
You have been warned.
Boris Brejcha at the Ultra Music Festival. Friday, March 25, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; ultramusicfestival.com. Exhausted.
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