Offtrack, Radio, Dirk, Rumpff
By J.C. Tripp
For the past decade DIRK RUMPFF has produced the fortnightly radio show OFFtrack radio, one of the internet’s freshest and most innovative music casts. Rumpf is one of the pioneers of internet radio who’s excellent music choice has earned him a global fan base and stellar reputation for programming musical “pearls”.
With OFFtrack radio DIRK RUMPFF has found the perfect vehicle for his sincere devotion to music: his goal is about beating a path through the unthinkably big jungle that is contemporary music, to seek out the tracks that really mean something, and at the same time creating a platform for his extensive network of music and friends. A place in the virtual space where bridges are built and a multiplicity of musical currents can come into contact with one another. It’s a place where that which has long since ceased to take place in conventional radio can happen: dramaturgy, adventure and surprising changes.
The same vibrant selection of music of Offtrack radio can be found on the Sonar Kollektiv released “…broad casting” compilation which takes in the spectrum of sound heard on the program. Compiled by Rumpff, “broadcasting” features exclusive music by Slope, Clara Hill, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Mark Pritchard and many others. It is a record of Rumpff’s wide-ranging tastes and impeccable selection.
(biography – with some revision – by Hannes Bieger / Dirk Markham , courtesy off Sonark Kollektiv)
MundoVibe: You have been a pioneer in webcasting with Offtrack radio. What led you to start the program back in 1998 and what has motivated you to continue?
Dirk Rumpf: Back in ’99 i started university in a little town in marburg (Germany) where i joined the local student radio. it was a lot of fun even though it involved a lot of duties in order to being able to broadcast. An internet radio station called cyberchannel opened its doors in a town near by and a friend did a d’n’b show there that i hosted when he was away. after a while they asked me if i would like to do my own show. back then it was only streamed live without any archive whatsoever. we could see the numbers of listeners online. i believe it never exceeded 20. nevertheless it was worth the effort to drive an hour to get there every week. the station went down a couple of years later and thats when i hooked up with simon brant in london (RIP) who just launched freaked.co.uk. regarding the motivational aspect i suppose it´s just the good music that i feel needs to be heard.
MV: The music Offtrack features seems to span a wide range fo styles from acoustic to hip hop and beyond. So, you are clearly not bound to any
one genre. How do you tie it all together?
Dirk: whenever someone asks me what music i like/play i don´t know what to say. somehow there are pearls in any kind of genre. can´t say that i am an expert in any genre but i think diversity is the key.
MV: What is the criteria for a song to be played on Offtrack? What are you seeking in a track?
Dirk: somehow with the show i try to create the soundtrack i like to listen to while on my bike to work or sitting in a train watching outside or just before i want go out. can´t name you any criteria but i suppose it´s just whether i “feel” a song or not it will get a spot in the show.
MV: You are a member of Jazzanova’s “extended family” with a longtime relationship with Alex Barck and their Sonar Kollektiv label. How did
this friendship begin and how do you work with Jazzanova?
Dirk: well, the friendship also began in marburg. i actually invited juergen to play at a party but he was away so alex came instead. we had a great time and a couple of weeks later he invited me to play at their clubnight in berlin which was of course a great honor for a little student dj like me. he introduced me to the rest of the crew and after that we always invited eachother to our parties also after i moved to munich. alex also talked me into moving to berlin and soon after i saw myself reading bedtime stories to his kids. today i am in the sonar kollektiv office almost every day since i started to produce with roskow under our little season & sygaire alias.
MV: Webcasting has become a great phenomenon for underground sounds, since most radio stations ignore it. What impact have you seen Offtrack radio making in terms of exposing music and expanding the scene?
Dirk: It´s difficult to say. From my point of view i would say the show probably hasn´t changed anything but it´s always nice to hear that people really enjoyed this or that show. some may have even discovered new music through the show which is exactly why i am doing it.
MV: What is your production setup for the program?
Dirk: very very simple. only 2 turntables, a cd- player, a 2-channel mixer, mic and a laptop to record the whole thing.
MV: Do you ever feel pressure with playing certain labels or artists based on your audience?
Dirk: never. it is strictly 100% the music i like.
MV: Since a webcast is a one-play type of program, unlike radio where there is rotation of songs do you feel that webcasts play a substantial role in “breaking” artists?
Dirk: i believe webradio is still a niche-thing. The “regular” listener still only tunes into his/her FM-transmitter. due to the large amount of webradio-stations you really have to dig to find the ones that you like. on the other hand you find a station for every kind of taste. nevertheless probably also here the ones who shout the loudest have the biggest audience. or you build your audience over the years and rely on word by mouth. it takes time but i still prefer that way. is there still a way for new artists to break through just through their music? thought it always goes hand it hand with an image campaign….
MV: You are a warm and inviting voice, which gives Offtrack a unique personality. The program is much more than just the music. How do you approach the presentation of the program?
Dirk: that´s a charming compliment. my friends actually make fun of my “radio voice”. can´t help it. it´s like a switch turned over once i have a mic in my face. actually it just happens. never have any kind of presentational approach in my head
MV: You recently released the compilation “Broadcasting” on Sonar Kollektiv. How did this release come about and how did you choose its tracks?
Dirk: some artists made their way to the sonar kollektiv because i kept bugging alex and juergen to listen to their demos so alex one day proposed to just compile a cd with all those tunes so i don´t have to bother him anymore. after 2 years of collecting and listening i ended up with this selection. important for me was that the tunes have a certain timelessness to them. it would have been a bit pointless for me to just gather the current hits and mix em up. for some of the tunes it took a lot of convincing, long emails, phonecalls to get them exclusive for the compilation but in the end i am happy with the result.
MV: Is Offtrack a labor of love — is there income from it or is it not important to you.
Dirk: it definitely is. actually i invest more than i gain also considering $$$ but it´s worth every cent and minute as long as there are listeners appreciating the show.
MV: It must be a great effort to produce Offtrack on a regular basis, what keeps you inspired to do it?
Dirk: again, it´s mostly the amount of exceptional music that is floating around in the big music jungle out there
MV: Who are some of the artists you see coming up in the future? Any new
genres that you see emerging?
Dirk: I suppose everyone is keen to know which musical genre is coming up but for me it doesn´t really matter what´s hyped at the moment. there a lot of exciting producers at the moment. for me a guy called clonious from vienna is goin to twist some ears soon but there are constantly artists that i have never heard of before that surprise me. recently the ensemble du verre produced a beautiful albumthat will hopefully reach some people but also artists like carl borg and dimlite are always inspiring to me among many others.
MV: It seems that even though the music industry is going through major
changes, the music just keeps coming. Do you see more quality music as a trend and how do you see the market evolving?
Dirk: actually foremost the quantity has increased. you really have to be outstanding these days do make yourself heard (or have a clever businessplan or styling-assistant) could write essays about my view on the current state of the music industry but i rather not. the internet obviously plays a major role- both good and bad.
MV: One issue we face at Mundovibe is the lack of feedback from readers. We know they’re out there but we don’t often hear from them. Do you face a similar “silence” from your audience?
Dirk: I am always surprised that there is someone listening at all. the feedback is sparse but constant so i know there must be someone tuning in out there
MV: What are some of your other ventures in relation to Offtrack? Where do you DJ? Is there an Offtrack party?
Dirk: due to my day job i am a bit tied to getting up at 6am every morning so i can´t dj too much or my patients would be at risk but at the weekends i sometimes play some tunes here and there in small clubs.
MV: Will there be an Offtrack tour in the future?
Dirk: no plans so far but i am on a little road trip through europe this summer and if my old car doesn´t break down you might be able to hear me spin some tunes on the way’