Our Passenger of the Month in March 2022: Dead Rabbit!
A master in pop, hip hop and beats: Dead Rabbit
As Marsimoto’s producer, Dead Rabbit reinvented German pop music a bit in the mid-noughties. Now the Rostock native is giving himself a reboot. On his first own albums “Dark Shades / Bright Lights” he gathers old heroes, long-time friends and new stars for a new future.
It’s one of those boiling hot nights of summer 2018: almost unreal and yet palpable with every pore. Life is happening under Dead Rabbit’s Neukölln studio, and plenty of it. CDs, records, tapes are piled up inside, along with a few mementos of his successes with artists like Marteria or Samy Deluxe. Deady turns another one and the stereo a little louder. Just a nuance, almost imperceptible. But it has to be that way. Martin Göckeritz, as the Rostock native is called by his real name, is what you can justifiably call a reserved person. He is not a man of big words, not a friend of big gestures. But when he talks about music – perfectly imperfect vocals from Jamaica, the influence of Timbaland and Björk, the hi-hat he found last night, the vocal track he mixed today – something opens up inside him. The eleven-year-old boy who stumbled across hip hop culture by chance and eagerly absorbed everything he could grasp then radiates out of him. The fan who actually still can’t believe that he himself is now part of this big, magical world. Yes, even more: he has decisively helped shape it and continues to do so.
Dead Rabbit grew up in Rostock. His father is a conductor, his mother a pianist, he himself played the violin and sang in the choir. Music was always there in his life. But when he got his hands on the first mixtapes with songs by Nas and Wu-Tang, it had another quality. What he heard there wouldn’t let him go. So he got himself more mixtapes, connected with local greats like DJ A-Rock, the Underdog Cru, Gabreal and a certain Marten Laciny. He shot photos at the city’s jams and skate contests, which earned him the respectful nickname “Photomartin”. But more than anything else, he was fascinated by the beats, the force of a sound system, the dark, mystical, even abysmal of the night. This fascination has never left him.
At the end of the nineties, Dead Rabbit invested his savings in equipment and began to build beats and produce songs in changing constellations. He finally found his brother in spirit in Marten Laciny, then completely unknown, but blessed with the same hunger and madness that he still carries within him today. In the summer of 2006, the two released the first Marsimoto album “Halloziehnation” in a very small edition via the indie label magnum12. In the 30 song fragments – rapped by a green mythical creature with a love of weed, football, fun and gluttony, and with only one exception produced by Dead Rabbit – there was Timbaland, Stones Throw, Company Flow, Grime, The Streets, Björk, Jazz. But above all, there was a lot of their own in it. While the rest of Deutschrap Germany tried to copy Aggro Berlin with maximum cramp (and maximum failure) and thus barracked themselves more and more into their own paralysis, “Halloziehnation” did everything differently and fresh. Virtually overnight, everything was back: rave in rap and rap on the radio. Marsi and Deady came out of the deepest underground – and changed pop in this country forever.
As a result, Dead Rabbit produced on all Marsimoto albums and worked with artists like Samy Deluxe or the recently deceased Seeed singer Demba Nabé aka Boundzound. Around 2015, the idea matured in him to record his own album. The fan in him had spoken out and to him again: “People like Melbeatz or Plattenpapzt have made cool producer albums that have become German rap classics. For me, it’s something very special to now also be able to make my own record.” Or to be precise: two records – which could hardly be more his own.
Dead Rabbit may have studied history. As far as his music is concerned, any nostalgia is alien to him. “Dark Shades” and “Bright Lights” are firmly in the here and now – and show how pop can sound in the post-genre age.
The facts up front: “Dark Shades” is the international album, “Bright Lights” the German-language one. There are twelve songs on each, most of them produced and recorded at the Deady HQ in Berlin-Neukölln. You can hear old heroes like Samy Deluxe or Bay-C from the legendary dancehall combo T.O.K.. Long-time friends like Marteria and his permanently drunk alter ego Marsimoto. New stars of the streaming era like Kelvyn Colt, BRKN or Bausa, whose “Was du Liebe nennst” spent a whole nine weeks at the top of the German singles charts. But there are also real new discoveries like the German-Turkish singer/rapper Mesu Diye or Noémie Wolfs from Belgium. There are real world stars like Agent Sasco, who has already recorded hits with Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar, and there are complete unknowns like the rapper Sola Plexus, who once gave Dead Rabbit a demo at a DJ gig in the Ruhr area. There are small anthems and big basslines. Retro dancehall and future pop. Quiet moments and fodder for the today-I-can-tear-up-the-world playlist.
All of this is held together by Dead Rabbit’s truly unique production style. A real Deady stands out – whether it’s Marsimoto crashing over a fucked-up breakbeat or BENDMA singing a bittersweet breakup anthem in slow motion. In his beats are the callfe of rap, the broken of the night, the intuitive of the DIY culture dancehall, and at the same time an unerring sense for harmonies, arrangements and contrasts, which he got from his earliest childhood. Above all, however, there is an underlying melancholy and unobtrusive depth in his beats that weaves through even the most apparent turn-up moments. Dead Rabbit makes no secret of the fact that the three years of album production weren’t always easy; that the dream he’s living has wrenched him from sleep often enough; that freedom can be maddeningly debilitating as the fridge gets emptier and the nights get longer. All is not gold, even if it is written on the golden record on the shelf. But you can still find beauty even in the greatest darkness, if you only look long enough. That is the subtle message of “Dark Shades / Bright Lights”.
The two titles, at first glance a harmless game with often-used images, can also be read as a biographical turning point. The dark days of Struggles are behind Dead Rabbit. When his two albums are released on 21 December, the day of the winter solstice, a new era will begin. For him – and for everyone who has a thing for sound with soul and edges. Dark Lights, Bright Shades, maybe it’s the same thing in the end anyway. Because in real life there is always both. And in real music anyway.
Find out more about Dead Rabbit on Spotify, YouTube and Instagram.
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