Berlin producer Mechatok wants dancing to his music to feel like you’re in a movie

Published April 24, 2018

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Timur Tokdemir feels there’s something lacking in club music. Narrative, drama, emotion. With his project, Mechatok, the 20-year-old German producer wants to bring blockbuster empathy to the club, making you feel like you’re in a movie when you’re dancing to his beats. That’s the idea behind his forthcoming EP, All My Time, a collection of four elaborate and stirring pop-influenced dance songs, which he spent most of 2017 composing.

Tokdemir’s 2017 was “quite an adventurous year,” he tells me over the phone from his apartment in Berlin, the lively artists’ haven he moved to from his native home of Munich. After releasing his debut EP, See Thru, at the end of 2016, he found time in the space between tours to work meticulously on his new EP. Seeing much of the world last year—he toured South America, Asia, some of the U.S.—made Tokdemir slow his roll a little bit to value patience, both in his work and his personal life. “Realizing how quick shit can happen, once the stars are aligned, made me feel I shouldn’t always sit at home and have this massive urge for success or recognition,” he tells me. “I spent loads of my years before being able to make music and living from it, worrying about how to make that work. I’ve learnt to enjoy empty periods, or chill periods, where shit’s not that exciting or loud.”

Tokdemir’s been playing guitar since he was six and making beats since his dad bought the family an Apple computer, equipped with GarageBand, when he was 14. He’s been putting music online since age 15, finding his path through self-exploration and collaborations with artists like Toxe and his close friend Mobilegirl, and collectives like London’s Bala Club, or his old label Staycore. Last year, after releasing See Thru, Tokdemir told Dazed he struggled with classification: “Whenever I would be categorized, as a human being and also as a musician, it immediately felt wrong, even if I came up with the category myself,” he said. “The music I make and its development reflects that. That search for identity itself is probably one of the biggest inspirations and keeps me ambitious.” On All My Time, Mechatok is much bigger and deeper than before. Now, it’s clear he’s coming into his own, discovering his sound even more clearly. But he’s still bucking the idea of labels, even when talking about classifying emotions.

Instead, he aims to make his music conjure specific, but nebulous, feelings. He’s fixated on the uselessness of words. “I wanted every single song to feel like a scene of a movie,” he tells me. Tokdemir likes the idea of how a mainstream film—a tearjerker, a blood-pumping thriller, a coming-of-age drama—has the ability to arouse distinct feelings within an audience. With the tracks on All My Time, he’s focused on a song’s potential to evoke strong emotions—as opposed to “intellectual concepts.” He wants to move people, inside and out. “There’s only so much you can really say,” Tokdemir says of the futility of language in comparison to music or images. “But it’s an attempt.”

There are emotions you can easily label and describe, and then there are the shades in between. Hues and nuances that evade definition. That’s what music is for, tapping into the space between. Tokdemir, with his deep, composed voice, describes All My Time as a “gradient of emotions.” It’s about the “transitional moments,” he explains, the times when what’s bubbling inside you is more difficult to discern.

The bright, fluttering and flashing “Skies of Tomorrow,” for instance, is “a feeling of hope, mixed with a feeling of worry,” he says. “You look forward to the undefined future, what might happen, but at the same time there’s an undeniable worry that comes with it.” Or the EP’s murky, booming title track, which Tokdemir says captures the experience of being so deeply sad that you “accept that state, you embrace it, and there’s an element of euphoria or relief to it.” That melancholic euphoria is a feeling he’s referred to before, a theme he keeps returning to in his pop influenced beats. This time he took the whole year to dive into just these four songs, pumping them up with intricacies. “I felt I had to iconize them, so they become relatable to anyone and not just a diary entry for myself.”

Tokdemir is determined to note that the EP’s cover, too, is iconography, deconstructed and rebuilt for Mechatok’s purposes. His friend, the artist Kim Laughton, started, jokingly, with just a knob. It was like something you might find on a corny YouTube EDM mix, Tokdemir explains. Though the EP is definitely playful, it’s not a joke. So Tokdemir and Laughton added the moon phases, a reference to how long it took Tokdemir to make the record, represented by non-Western lunar measurements; to transitions, to emotional gradients.

MECHATOK’S ALL MY TIME EP (PRESTO?! RECORDS) IS OUT MAY 25, 2018.