For this uniquely personal retrospective spread over twelve vinyl discs, Sven Väth takes us back to the early days of his DJ career. On What I Used To Play we meet great pioneers of electronic music, gifted percussionists, obscure wave bands, and innovative producers of a bygone 'new electronic' era. Rough beats and irresistible grooves from the identification stage of house, techno, and acid remind us not just how far electronic music has evolved over the past four decades, but how great it was to dance to EBM, techno, and house for the very first time.
If there is one protagonist of the electronic music scene who has remained curious, innovative and at the very cutting edge of music for over four decades, it's Sven Väth. His multi-layered artist albums and Sound of the Season mix compilations have been defining the genre for over two decades, and even today, he is constantly on the lookout for the next top tune to add to the highlights of his next set. At least, that's the case when he's not producing them himself as an artist or remixer. "Actually, it's always been part of my DNA to think ahead," and nothing had been further from his mind than looking back at his past, but when in spring of 2020 the international DJ circuit had to be scaled down to virtually zero, the 'restless traveler' suddenly had time. Time to stop and reflect on "how it actually was back then, at the very beginning of my career..."
"It was a great trip and with every track, beautiful memories came flooding back".
In the London apartment, he had just moved into, Sven has set up a "little music room", where he cocooned himself for several days, "to look way back for the first time and review my musical journey through the eighties, so to speak."
The interim result was six thematically oriented playlists with a grand total of 120 tracks from 'early 80s' to 'Balearic late 80s', together with excursions into afrobeat, European new wave, and EBM sounds and a few epochal techno/house tracks from the USA in between. From these 'Best of Sven Väth's favorites', the project What I Used To Play crystallized. Sven remembers how the Cocoon team reacted to his proposal: "They found the idea of making a compilation out of it MEGA from the beginning and everyone said 'Sven, go for it', but then, of course, the work really started, namely, to clear the rights and to get clean sounding masters of the up to 40-year-old tracks. There was also disappointment, of course. We couldn't clear certain titles because the rights holders in the USA had fallen out with each other or simply disappeared from the scene. In short, it wasn't easy, but now I can safely say we got the most important tracks."
Finally, after two years of research, curation, design, and administrative fine-tuning, the "little retrospective" from 1981 to 1990 is available. The exquisitely packaged, and three-kilo heavy box set is not only physically impressive, WIUTP is also the definitive record of Sven Väth's musical development. On each of the twenty-four sides of vinyl, you can trace track by track, what influenced him during which phase, and how he took off as a DJ from his parents' Queen's Pub straight into the spotlight at Dorian Gray. There and at Vogue (later OMEN), Sven became the style-defining player in the DJ booth that he still is today.