When Dixon entered the Berlin club circuit in the early 90’s, he quickly established his name based on the strength of his DJ ability. Back then, confidence and experience gained by putting out mixes on the internet didn’t matter as much as it does now. You had to practice, of course, but when your set was tight enough to take it to the clubs, there were opportunities to do so. But those opportunities meant responsibility. A residency did not mean playing the same club every once in a while, it meant playing the same club every week, and in some cases every night.
The crowd did not consist of people that wander in and out of clubs, it consisted of people who went straight to a certain venue because they knew the resident DJ would deliver the goods this week, as he did last week, and would continue to in the weeks to come. As long as that happened, there was no need to move on.
In such a context, there is no faster way to learn how to become a world class DJ than by regularly making people dance through a set that lasts the whole night. If you can’t hold the crowd for hours, you fall through
It’s learning by doing, the hard way. Not only did Dixon learn quickly, he loved every moment of it. Starting out low, slow, unfolding the flow, working towards a peak, then working towards another, turning up, turning down, to find the exact point from which to swing moods, to find the perfect way to create a lasting experience.
Once you had passed your exams with distinction in the nightclub school of that era, you could rely on it forever, and Dixon did just this. His residencies, then and now, are based on a stylistic and technical versatility, skill, attitude, stamina and the experience from countless nights honing ways to direct a crowd at will.
Keeping this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Dixon extended his reach beyond being a club DJ through a medium closely connected to the DJ craft; he compiled and mixed the off limits compilations, which became very popular and introduced his impeccable style of mixing to the public, beyond those who had already heard him play in a club context.
Later he branched out to even more success by doing a highly influential mix compilation for the Get Physical label’s Body Language series, a mix CD that inspired people worldwide. These releases showed the sincerity of Dixon’s dedication to his profession.
Although Dixon was to follow his own path throughout his career, he certainly wasn’t insistent on traveling alone. He used events to introduce foreign DJs to Berlin crowds, raised his profile by providing memorable support slots in the process, and contacts were made.
As he traveled abroad he got to know likeminded souls from all over the globe, and his reputation grew. Meanwhile back home, he made bonds with Jazzanova and became involved with their vibrant Sonar Kollektiv label.
Never the one to shy away from challenge, Dixon made his first foray into label and A&R work by running Sonar Kollektiv’s sub-label, Recreation Recordings, where he set up a testing ground for his personal view on house.
He introduced Âme in the process, two comrades from the traditionally strong deep house scene of southern Germany, whom he brought to the Sonar Kollektiv stable, and in no time at all they were receiving acclaim from all sides.
In 2005, the reign of minimal sounds in Clubland was gaining momentum, as much as house was losing it, and soon Dixon came to the conclusion that there had to be a way to maintain his preferred sound while so many DJs and artists were reducing the musical ingredients of their output.
The choice was simply either to adapt or to rebuild. Dixon decided for the latter and took the next step with another Sonar Kollektiv sublabel called Innervisions, which he founded with Âme. It was clear from the beginning that this label was intended to make a difference, and it was clear from the beginning that all the connections Dixon made with likeminded souls should come into fruition with it.
It was a platform that was thought of to keep up the house tradition for all that had stayed so faithful to it over the years, but it was also intended to breathe some fresh air into it.
And so it did. Dixon’s famous rework of Tokyo Black Star’s Blade Dancer knocked on the door, while the second release, Âme’s future classic Rej EP was breaking right through it. The following releases by befriended artists confirmed the almost instantly good reputation of the imprint and within a short time it became obvious that something was being achieved that not any label could: a sound that was innovative while maintaining its identity. And this began to seep through the scene, affecting the way other labels recruited and published their roster.
While being developed on the back of a longstanding tradition, Innervisions kicked house back into focus, and many others were happy to join in, either again or for the first time. Always interested in adding value to a good thing, Dixon soon used the success to put other ideas into action. The label was parted from the Sonar Kollektiv mothership and became independent, and the trademark artwork of the label was getting connected with sought after fashion and design items, carefully conceived to meet the high standards of the Innervisions camp and its supporters.