Enamoured by electronic music culture at a young age, Michael moved to Cologne just as his teens came to an end and got a job in a record store — Delirium. Riding the first minimal techno wave, a few years later he co-founded Kompakt — now a distributor, record store, booking agency and recording studio, as well as a pioneering electronic label. He started his own Total Confusion parties too, a concept he has exported to various other European cities over the years — including to Fabric, which led to him recording one of their earliest mix CDs in 2003.

Kompakt has been immeasurably important for techno in Germany and across the world, and when not DJing at weekends Michael spends his days overseeing the operation and sometimes making his own music. Equally at home working solo as collaborating (most notably with Superpitcher for 2007’s SuperMayer album ‘Save The World’), he is now just releasing his third album, ‘&’.

As you might expect, the ‘&’ album consists of twelve collaborations with acts as diverse as Agoria, Miss Kittin, Prins Thomas and Kolsch. “After some solitary studio years, I felt the urge to open my doors again,” Michael tells DJ Mag. “Half the fun was putting the team together. I've opted mainly for long-time companions but also people I relate to in my many ways and whose music continues to inspire me.”

From widescreen motorik opener ‘We Like To Party’ with Roman Flugel through popcorning electro burbler ‘State Of The Nation’ with Brazilian don Gui Boratto and onwards, the album is an understated creative triumph. Here are the tracks that Michael says helped shape him into who he is today…

01. Alan Parsons Project ‘I Robot’ (Arista, 1977)

“Alan Parsons were my first favourite band, and although they also did some gruesome stuff I still love them to death. Every time I listen to 'I Robot' I'm entering this deep state of shock because the production still sounds so good — after nearly 40 years!” 

02. The League Unlimited Orchestra ‘Things That Dreams Are Made Of’ (Virgin, 1982)

“While growing up in the ‘80s, I was crazy about British synth-pop. 'Love And Happiness' is the instrumental dub version of Human League's album 'Dare'. Again, the production still sounds shockingly fresh. I still play 'Things That Dreams Are Made Of' in my sets here and there.”

03. Mr Flagio ‘Take A Chance’ (Squish, 1983)

“This track was on a mix-tape recorded by a neighbour of mine who was a DJ at a local discotheque called Drops. In hindsight, I can say that it's his fault that I became a DJ. I non-stop listened to that Italo-disco mix-tape all summer long and Mr Flagio's vocoder voice remains engraved in my heart until this day. I'm still playing this track whenever I can.”  

04. Adamski ‘Killer’ (MCA, 1990)

“’Killer' might be my most played record ever. It just doesn't get old. It encapsulates a moment in time for me when a new record could literally change everything. The future was wide open and the overall vibe was so uplifting. The flipside title perfectly says what I felt when I first heard 'Killer' — 'Bassline Changed My Life’.”

05. Project 86 ‘Legends’ (Nu Groove, 1991)

“I could have chosen any other How & Little productions from that time, they're all amazing. They were instrumental in the creation of Brooklyn hardcore, but it was their deeper side that really got to me. So simple, so sexy. They suddenly disappeared when Nu Groove went belly-up in 1992. I'm still wondering where they have gone…”

06. Photon Inc ‘Generate Power’ (Strictly Rhythm, 1991)

“I had to pick another record from 1991 because that was the year when it all became clear to me — house and techno are the best music on this planet. I'll never forget the first time I was dancing to 'Generate Power'. I truly felt the power, and it became the beginning of my long and hefty love affair with DJ Pierre's Wild Pitch sound.” 

07. Motorbass ‘Flying Fingers’ (Motorbass, 1993)


“In the early ‘90s, I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop. De La Soul and all the Native Tongues acts ruled my car stereo. Then I slowly lost interest in downtempo music. The enigmatic ‘Transphunk EP’ with its graffiti-style artwork, organic sampling and excessive scratching sounded like instrumental hip-hop on speed. Three years later Motorbass released their album 'Pansoul’, which for me in terms of innovation almost equals Daft Punk's 'Homework'. Almost!”  

08. Grungerman ‘In Tyrannis’ (Profan, 1995)

“When Wolfgang Voigt released his first ‘Grungerman EP’, it was such a revelation. By sampling German folk singer Reinhard May, he broke a huge taboo. Combining German pop vocals (our parents music!) with abstract techno — that was so radical and new. It was an important moment of empowerment for the German scene. Don't be afraid of your roots. Just let your creativity flow and if something's uncool, make it cool.”

09. Closer Musik ‘One, Two, Three... No Gravity’ (Kompakt, 2000)

“This short-lived project by Matias Aguayo and Dirk Leyers is responsible for some of my favourite Kompakt moments. Closer ‘Musik’ is as much techno as it is pop and experimental. It's very cloak-and-dagger but full of love and beauty.” 

10 Westbam & Nena ‘Oldschool, Baby (Piano Mix)’ (Low Spirit, 2002)

“Like most of the guys of my generation, in 1982 I fell in love with Nena. With her red leather mini-skirt, blue top and red creoles hanging from her ears, she was the coolest girl I’d ever seen on TV. Westbam, on the other hand, was another teenage hero of mine. In 1989, he was Germany's answer to Coldcut, S-Express, M/A/R/R/S and all that. More than a decade later Nena and Westbam recorded this track together and it instantly turned into one of my signature tracks.”