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When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?

So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from Germany, the Solingen-based electronic talent Topic (aka Tobias Topic).

Topic, Solingen, Germany, Astralwerks/Universal Music

What’s it like where you’re living? I live in Solingen, which is a city located in the west of Germany near Düsseldorf and Cologne. We´ve been in lockdown on and off over the past year now. At the moment, we are on lockdown again, so all the restaurants, shops and clubs are closed. You can basically just go out to the supermarket. So, I´ve been spending most of my time in the studio.

What kind of income-producing work did you lose? There were a lot of live gigs planned for 2020. Festivals and events I really looked forward to, but that would have meant being on the road for quite a long time. Now I´ve had much more time in the studio to create music than usual. So yes, of course, I´ve lost important live gigs, like all musicians during the pandemic, but luckily, as a producer, it didn´t hit me as hard as the artists, who have to rely on live gigs. It gave me a lot more studio time to develop my sound and work together with other artists. I also made quite a few remixes in 2020, such as the “ily” remix for Surf Mesa, which is different to years past. 

Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? I´ve been working on a lot of new tracks and am preparing for the time when we all can hit the road again. I miss the vibe! I haven´t learned anything new, to be honest. In the beginning, I wanted to cook more and was really motivated to do so, but as it turned out, I´m so very bad at it – I gave up. My talents tend to be limited to music and sports, I guess [laughs].

What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? I´m not doing anything different than the years before. But I´d say finding your own sound is ultimately the path for a career because it gives you some kind of freedom. “Your Love (9PM),” which just came out together with ATB and A7S, is just the best example for it, as you can hear it right away. The typical ATB guitar riff paired with my “melancholic dance music” sound and the voice of A7S results in a perfect symbiosis!

In the studio, what’s your set-up? DAW? My former music teacher was the one who introduced me to producing in the first place. Back then, he used Logic to teach us how to produce. Up until today, I´m still working with Logic Pro X. My favorite plug-ins are kind of everything from UAD. My only kind of vintage hardware is my Moog Sub37.

What’s your creation process in the studio? Always depends, as I have no recipe or routine for making music. I mostly go on trips with Alex (aka A7S), who I´ve been working with closely for a couple of years now, and start some rough ideas first. Back in the studio, I then work on those ideas.

What’s your typical DJ set-up? I´m a simple guy: USB stick, Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS2 players, Pioneer DJM-900NXS2 mixer, and I´m good to go! I think that´s what 95-percent of the DJs use these days. That´s what I started with. I like to stick to the things that have always worked well for me. 

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? Safe to say, I will value going to clubs so much more than before. As soon as it´s safe and the clubs open again, I’ll be the first to go! 

Have you done anything online recently? Not really. Live-streams just don´t really do it for me. There is no feeling without a crowd! Even at the best and craziest venues, it just doesn´t feel right!

Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? Elton John’s “Circle of Life” – the “Lion King Theme.”

Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Listen to good music, eat well, and meditate.

To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.

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