Orbital Reflector is a Munich based collective that have gifted our PLUS floor with their inventive musical curations more than once, by now. They have been responsible for some of the town’s most exciting events over the past years with an acquired taste in left field electronic dance music aesthetics, that challenge DJs to develop new and evocative musical dramaturgies and are just as soulful and seductive as well as experimental and unheard of – and equally suited for deep listening and enchanting dancing. Orbital Reflector develop well needed, alternative narrative to contemporary dance music that prove that harder, faster, stronger isn’t necessarily better.
It’s clear just by looking at their musical curation that they’ve got a lot on their mind about (dance) music and events.
We had a few questions for Kiawash, Paul & Simon ahead of their upcoming date on our PLUS floor on Saturday, the 13th of January with Mika Ori, Nosedrip and Zwist, next to Marie Davidson, DJ Stingray, Jonas Friedlich and Bae Blade on our BLITZ floor. Here we go!
Make sure to follow Kiawashs instagram for all the news about upcoming Orbital Reflector events & news: https://www.instagram.com/kulanz.mfg/
Hi Kiawash, Paul & Simon. Let’s start with a very general question: What is Orbital Reflector about?
K: Hosting and supporting artists who play music rich in contrast and finesse. Appreciating them staying in tune with their own creative practice in the bigger picture.
How did you get to know each other – and what was your main motivation behind forming Orbital Reflector?
P: We started out with 6 founding members, around 5 years ago, mutual friends of which only the three of us remained living in Munich, in the end. After playing a rave in the outskirts of Munich, the idea came up to run a format that all of us were missing. In fact, the motivation was to explore a hypnotically slow but heavy, maybe even industrial sound. As most of us are DJs, there was a desire to establish an environment or platform where we could regularly express ourselves in that field. We are incredibly thankful to Import Export for harbouring this venture from the very start, as our early development would not have been possible in any other place.
How has the motivation evolved and maybe even changed over the course of time? How did you adapt to new developments in Munich?
S: Over time it became a major priority for us to focus on aspects like the room, the lights and the unique experience of a specific event, rather than playing a DJ set. Leaving aside the adolescent ego to a certain degree might have added to this shift.
P: The projects of OR and FORUM are sometimes countering certain commercial trends that we consider as problematic. That happens more or less organically. We also try to avoid adapting to some of the developments happening in the city. Still, we critically discuss those developments within the cultural landscape on a regular basis.
K: There are two things we definitely adapted to, after the lockdown breaks. One is the increased openness between local artists, which we celebrate with FORUM. The other thing is quite a “bummer”: Most of the indie promoters, including us, were not able to sell as many tickets as before, which was not only, but also due to an impressive variety of cultural events. Even if we appreciated that variety individually, it in fact resulted in lots of financial struggle within the scene.
[note from the Blitz team: Orbital Reflector’s SoundCloud page is full of the thrilling, conceptual sets recorded from their highly recommended FORUM event series:
Were there any inspirations in form of other collectives and artists, from Munich and elsewhere?
K: The Pappen-Parties and Monticule Festival were definitely some of the important Munich-related sources of inspiration for Orbital Reflector in the early days. Lena Willikens and MSJY are worth mentioning here in terms of DJing. We would also listen a lot to Hivern Discs, Versatile and of course, Stroom.
What can people new to OR, and people already familiar with OR expect from your upcoming PLUS floor takeover? How did you discover and get to know Mika Ori, Nosedrip and Zwist?
K: It is the first time we are having (even two) guests over from Belgium and I believe that the Belgian heritage (as referring to New Beat, Acid, Trance, EBM, …) is going to be somehow present in that room. I have a feeling that it is going to be exceptionally euphoric and sweaty for a January night. On the other hand, there is a passion for experimental and calm music which all of them, including Zwist, have in common.
S: That is also how we got in touch with them in the first place. Paul, Kiawash and I have been following Nosedrip on NTS radio for quite some time now. Paul Linke was the one to play lots of releases from Ziggy’s label Stroom during our parties and listening sessions, sometimes during the setup ritual.
Mika Ori hosted lots of great shows on LYL and Kiosk Radio, including a very recommendable back to back with NVST, that was aired last summer.
When Kiawash and I went on a “research-trip” to Offenbach to listen to Lena Willikens, upsammy, Laurel Halo and many more on behalf of the EOS-festival, I met Zwist for the first time, as we spontaneously visited him at his studio in an industrial area outside the city.
Have you maybe even collaborated with any of the artists before?
K: Yes, in a way! When I played my first ever conceptual vinyl mix at an art exhibition in Munich, Zwist performed a fantastic noise live set. That was how we got in touch on an artistic level, for the first time.
Tell us a bit more about the previous Orbital Reflector parties on our PLUS floor. How have the parties changed over time?
K: We started this series at Blitz about a year ago, in February 2022. By now, we’ve seen our OR night in the PLUS room in relation to various conditions, considering both the lineups on the Blitz floor and the seasons of the year. In such a takeover – I actually prefer not to call it that – we, as artists, ourselves appear mostly in the openings, sometimes together with friends from the local scene. While curating the selection of guests, who appear in the “peak time” and closing slot, I try to follow a holistic approach. Apart from looking at their gigs, radio shows and releases, I am searching for people who are involved in running labels, curating music programs and culture activism. Mika Ori, for example, is contributing a lot within that spectrum. I want to emphasize her work for the platform “Psst Mlle” here. A diverse representation of artists within the program has also become more and more fundamental over time.
P: It is quite difficult to describe the development of the PLUS nights, as there have only been five editions so far. Each specific night had a unique theme to it, based on both the lineup and the artwork. An according vibe resonating to that did in fact manifest on the dancefloor in the end. Let’s see how the themes develop this year!
What were highlights or curious moments?
S: My highlight was Beau Wanzer from Chicago and the way that his set was so perfectly going together with Silent Servant’s closing in the BLITZ floor. Lovely enough, it turned out that they were friends.
K: Marylou really tore it down in her closing set, too. People were losing their minds there!
P: Diamin managed to fill up the PLUS floor within the last hour of our night in November without dropping a single predictable tool. It was an impressively flawless vinyl set.
Where do you feel Orbital Reflector & Blitz connect?
K: Blitz and OR connect in terms of their openness towards a whole spectrum of musical aesthetics, although we are trying to maintain a sense for tradition and heritage in music history. I also believe that we share a passion for hospitality!
You’ve been hosting Orbital Reflector events at various venues in town.
How does this change the way you program and approach events and your sets?
S: When planing a music event, we seek to take into consideration what the location is. While venues and spaces certainly transform over time, we still try not to impose too many aspects, if we regularly contribute with the venue as a collective,
K: Unter Deck is a bar where we simply play and dance, sometimes befriended DJs join us there. At Import Export, we spend lots of time and effort regarding PR, production, logistics, lights and so on, acting as independent promoters with lots of responsibilities. Our nights at Impex are intended to showcase many livesets, concerts and lots of exchange between genres, aesthetical and formal ideas. At Blitz, finally, we try to create a proper club night in the intimate dance floor that is PLUS, while extending the approach that we developed over the years. Curating individual visual artist positions for our posters added a new dimension that I personally enjoy a lot.
How does the reception change? And also: what’s thrilling to you about hosting events in different venues?
S: At different venues the crowd is also different. Hence, the reception inevitably changes. We want to find a balance between addressing different audiences and consistent programming. The thrill lies in variable limitations, resulting in excitingly diverse experiences.
What’s your perspective on Munich and its music scene, especially the club scene at the moment? How do you feel it is doing and what do you think about it?
What do you feel Orbital Reflector – and its sibling Forum – contribute to the scene?
S: I am impressed by the drive of the “next raving generation”. In comparison to the hype about “raving”, the demand for a broader representation of electronic music, let alone experimental music, is comparably small, though. We try to address that. FORUM plays a special role here: It focuses on giving local music enthusiasts an immersive listening scenario with no party pressure and no competition. We are so grateful to have hosted such a colourful series of contributions. All of them are accessible on the OR soundcloud page. I think the recordings speak of their own.
How is the process of establishing such a specialized format in Munich?
Were there any unexpected struggles as well as pleasant surprises along the way?
And how have the experiences from Forum changed your own approaches to DJing and programming the Orbital Reflector events?
S: The process is tough. This platform actually requires a permanent space without costs, as the setting is supposed to be intimate, and the entry fee should be as low as possible, but we dream of it being free entry.
Personally, FORUM allowed a connection to the musical language of people in the scene. That led to new personal connections and feelings of understanding and hope, that are especially meaningful after the pandemic.
A particularly pleasant surprise and experience: KuH [Klein & Haarig] Festival 2022! The energy of the FORUM concept within the festival setting was eye-opening and unique, showcasing a new form of collaboration with LAF e.V. in Pforzheim, that we try to sustainably develop further.
What’s next for OR? What else have you planned, what can we expect?
Are there maybe any exciting collaborations with other crews and collectives in the making, too?
K: Yes there are many collaborative efforts in the making, so 2024 is going to be an exciting year.
You’re all passionate DJs too. Tell us more about your personal approaches – how have they grown and changed with the development of Orbital Reflector?
P: Definitely, when it comes to mood I tend to more or less aim for similar ideas I worked on several years ago, but with styles, genres and tempi I ́ve become much more open.
S: Hell yeah. Being able to work in a voluntary project like this offers some great impulses and opportunities to learn. My taste and approach to both DJing and music in general keeps on evolving simultaneously to our work as a collective.
K: Research, booking and event production result in quite a nutritious soil for creativity. Unfortunately, there is kind of a trade-off in terms of time capacities. But my DJing has definitely been shaped through hosting and collaborating with the many artists that we met along the way. I think all three of us have by now been hooked by a certain thrill that you can get by diving deeply into discographies.
Final question: aside from personal connections and self promotion, networking, etc – what piece of music is on your personal heavy rotation right now?
P: For some time now it is definitely Piero Milesi – Avanti La Tre
S: Burago – Untitled (A)
K: Teakup – Pad Thai Mystic