So you want to throw a party but don’t know any DJs. It’s hard to imagine but in Lüneburg in 1997, Matthias Reiling and Hauke Freer had no other choice but to DJ. With Matthias playing funk and soul and Hauke playing house and techno, it became the start of a long career behind the decks.
Today the boys are better known as Session Victim, a house production duo out of Germany. It was a natural progression for the friends who were both music lovers from a young age. Matthias spent many years playing in punk and hardcore bands while Haute skipped school to go to record shops.
“We spent a lot of time together hanging out and listening to music. We both played but never together,” Matthias said.
“We both were DJing, Matthias playing soul and I was playing house and techno,” Hauke said.
It’s their varied tastes that have lead to Session Victim to create such a unique dancefloor sound. They take the best parts of all the genres they like and let music of the past inspire the music of today.
“We work best when we’re in the studio, buy a few cheap $1 records, listen to them and get inspired,” Hauke said. “We never set the tempo, we never say we will make a house tune or a disco tune, we don’t want to limit ourselves, we just want to explore.”
“(It gets to the point where) We are not playing the music anymore, the music is playing us,” Matthias said. “We are both really attracted to these moments. It’s really important to strive to that.”
After they started producing music in 2007 it wasn’t long before they caught the attention of Jamie Odell, better known as Jimpster, who got in touch after they’d released their first record ‘No Friends’ on Real Soon.
“Jimpster messaged us, this was back in the Myspace days, saying ‘I just played your record at Sonar at night’. He just said keep it up, I like it,” Hauke said.
“Our music wan’t for Freerange (Jimpster’s first record label) but he got in touch (later) and said he had a new project. We had already bought the first three or four releases on Delusions of Grandeur. And that’s been our home since.”
They’ve released two records on Delusions of Grandeur since, ‘The Haunted House of House’ in 2012 and ‘See You When You Get There’ in 2014, with Jimpster becoming somewhat of a mentor to the pair.
“He has helped us grow in these albums,” Hauke said. “We encouraged him to criticize us everywhere.”
“We got emails this long (Matthias gestures at a very long list) and we’d go through everything in there,” Matthias said.
“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t painful sometimes but working with him made the album 20 per cent better because he pushed us,” Hauke said.
The boys have also put out several releases on Retreat, a started by Hauke and Quarion in 2009. Hauke had to sell his VW to start it, but they’re now up to their 18th release.
“We put out two or three records a year but it’s not your typical label,” Hauke said. “They have to have a connection to us. Everyone involved was living close by and are good friends. We don’t have any plans changing that.”
It’s been two years since their last LP and although a third has not been slated for release yet, the boys have started making music again. Hauke travels from Berlin to their studio in Hamburg at Matthias’ house a couple of times a month to listen to $1 records and get inspired.
Despite their production success, with their last album making the best of lists on XLR8R and DJ History, DJing is still at the core of what they do. As vinyl enthusiasts, Matthias and Hauke are always digging for records in every city they go to, with stops planned at A1, Academy and The Thing while they’re in New York.
The record shops are an important place for both, with some of their favorite shops in Germany including Oye Records in Berlin and Groove City and Smallville in Hamburg. They also do regular in store appearances, playing at Vinyl Dreams in San Francisco last weekend.
“These are the places that get us into music and these are the places that feel like home,” Hauke said. “I use to skip school and hang out at record stores. I use to listen to every new record they got in but I could only buy one and the owner would never get mad. He knew we would get hooked. It didn’t pay off for him because his store closed but all the other record stores have him to thank for that.”
Session Victim are DJing at Good Room on Friday, February 12, with Honey Soundsystem, Octo Octa and JKriv & Aaron Dae. Grab your tickets here. They also assured us they’d be back in New York soon to play live. Stay tuned for round two.