Well Spent Adulthood

30 May 2012 | 1:40 pm | Cyclone Wehner

"I don't have favourites all the time – and I also don't listen all the time to music and usually I'm not up-to-date. I'm not a DJ and [so] I don't buy music all the time."

German micro-house pioneer Isolée (aka Rajko Müller) is an enigma, avoiding the music media that hypes him. Nevertheless, the producer's influence spans such genres as minimal (really, the noughties' reboot of techno), deep house and nu-disco. Even those indietronica types Hot Chip are indebted to him. Still, Müller will always be known for the 1998 classic Beau Mot Plage

Trüby Trio's Christian Prommer notably covered Beau..., jazz style, for 2007's Drum Lesson Vol 1, together with Derrick May's Strings Of Life and Josh Wink's Higher State Of Consciousness. "I've heard it once," Müller says. "I was very curious to hear what they did to all the synth melodies in a live session. But the version was more based on the Freeform Five remix – which is great, by the way – so it was going into this Latin direction with the vocals, et cetera. I was a bit disappointed that they did not really cover the original version, but I guess the Freeform Five version was more suited for a jazz cover."

The Frankfurt native spent some of his early years (from age seven) in Algeria, his father working in foreign development. Here, Müller attended a French primary school (the Isolée handle comes from the French word for 'isolated'). Resettling in Frankfurt at 12 proved challenging, Müller's German poor. "I haven't returned to Algeria since we came back to Germany. I kept a lot of great souvenirs. I sometimes ask myself how it would be to go back. I think it might not be as nice as in my 'child memory', because as a child you experience the world in a very special way. It might be like taking the magic away from my memories. But, of course, I'd love to go back there just to see what it's like nowadays – and because it's great country where there is a lot to see." Ironically, Müller considered becoming a teacher. "I'm not sure if I would be happy doing this everyday in the German school system," he rues now.

Müller hit on electronic music through '80s synth-pop, rattling off as his favourite bands Depeche Mode, The Cure, Talk Talk, OMD, Front 242, Bronski Beat, The Human League, Propaganda, Nitzer Ebb and DAF. He'd try to craft his own electro as a school boy. In the early '90s Müller, who'd subsequently tired of synth-pop, was then exposed to techno and house – Basic Channel, Chez Damier, Romanthony... "These records made me discover how intimate, sophisticated and trippy club music can be." Soon he was seriously cutting demos. A local DJ pal hooked him up with the Playhouse crew. Müller aired Beau... – and 2000's cult debut album, Rest. He eventually followed with the universally acclaimed LP We Are Monster. In the interim, Müller transplanted to Hamburg, close to his beloved sea – and home now for a decade. He also split from Playhouse.

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Early last year the analogue boffin, his releases intermittent, quietly presented a third album, Well Spent Youth, another exploration of cerebral tech-house – this time on DJ Koze's Pampa Records. Müller is already planning fresh material, having just rebuilt his studio. "I am working, but there is nothing to announce so far," he says reticently.

In the past Müller, who exclusively performs live, has claimed that he listens to little techno, house or 'dance music' at home, but today he counters that. He does play EDM – occasionally. "I never name any artists, because I don't have favourites all the time – and I also don't listen all the time to music and usually I'm not up-to-date. I'm not a DJ and [so] I don't buy music all the time. If I don't have any new stuff to listen to, I look between my records and listen to some older [ones]."

Müller was last in Australia to headline 2009's Berlin Sessions tour. "All I can say is the scene in Australia was very enthusiastic and welcoming – we had a very good time." In June he'll make his third visit, with gigs in Sydney (as part of Vivid LIVE) and Melbourne. And Müller is keepin' it niche. "The set I'm playing is based on the last album [Well...] with some older and some unreleased