Stuttgart. Whether Tokyo, London, New York or Berlin – as one of the hottest DJs and music producers in the world, Felix Jaehn is generally on the road a lot, travelling from one gig to the next. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, this globally known superstar from Germany also has to stay at home. The DJ, who has been a Mercedes-Benz Brand Ambassador since 2016, is spending this time in his home in the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. However, his turntables aren’t standing still: He’s using the opportunity for digital performances, new songs and inspiration.
Felix Jaehn uses his expertise in music to support the Mercedes-Benz music streaming platform “Mixed Tape”. As with other streaming services, Mercedes-Benz customers are also able to listen in their vehicles to the “Mixed Tape” platform using the MBUX infotainment system. On the occasion of this year’s anniversary of the launch of “Mixed Tape”, star DJ Felix Jaehn created a playlist with his favourite songs of all time.
The 25-year-old artist is already able to look back on a number of successes in the music industry: He’s been awarded nearly 100 gold and platinum records. His career took off in 2015 with a remix of the song “Cheerleader”. It topped the music charts in more than 55 countries – including the United States. It was the first German title to take the number-one spot in the US charts since 1989. For the most part, he taught himself his musical DJ skills. He also took classical violin lessons as a child and studied at Point Blank Music School in London after graduating from high school.
Felix specialises in tech, deep, and sunny chill house music and is especially known for upbeat dance tracks. However, he took the time over the last year to develop his sound and himself personally, devoting himself intensively to songwriting and self-acceptance. To do this, the music producer even gave up his mobile phone for two months over Christmas and took a time-out from social media. In an interview with Mercedes-Benz, the international music star talks about how the topic of mindfulness is helpful to him particularly in the current situation and how he is putting his time at home to good use. Felix Jaehn provides answers in regard to these and other current topics.
Felix, for many weeks now, people around the world have been leading very limited lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are restrictions on travel and contact with others, and many people are working from home. Cafés, bars, theatres and of course clubs are closed. What kind of changes have you seen in your everyday life?
I’m also working from home. I’ve been back at my home on the Baltic Sea for four weeks now and I’m still working a lot – almost more than before – but I’m doing everything from home. That has made me a lot more productive. There’s so much travel time that is no longer part of my life. In the meantime I’ve fallen into a routine: I work at night, get up at noon and then enjoy the day out in the sun. I’ve created a new wildflower patch in the garden, I spend time with my family, I do housework, and I take care of any business matters that come up with my business partners who work during the day. Starting at 9 in the evening, I lock myself in my studio and stay there all night – until around 6 or 8 in the morning. I end my “day” with a session of meditation in my garden. To be honest, I really enjoy this routine and the way my day-to-day life is structured now.
It’s a challenging time particularly for artists and self-employed creative types, since concerts and events are all being cancelled. In response to this, some artists are moving their concerts into the virtual world. You’re also deejaying every Sunday on your Instagram channel under the title of “INSTA AIR”. What are your thoughts on these digital performances?
It of course makes me sad that all live gigs were cancelled. In the meantime, my entire summer performance schedule has also been cancelled. That’s something that hasn’t really hit home for me yet. That has been my life since 2015, what I was doing every day! And my expectations for this year were also quite high, of course. However, I’ve learned to always focus on the positive, and the disappointment about all this quickly faded away. I’ve changed gears now: I do INSTA AIR every Sunday and I think it’s quite nice that I have the opportunity to continue to share my passion from home. Digital performances are a lot of fun. I get the same adrenaline rush and really crave the chance to do these gigs – every Sunday is “show day” and I look forward to it! The most important thing is that it gives me the opportunity to have fans join and talk to me on a live Instagram feed. That way I stay in contact and connected with them – that’s really nice!
How would you say that artists can make a meaningful contribution right now?
I think artists can simply continue to pursue their art. We are fortunate to have a platform to share our art in the form of the online world. For me, music is about conveying emotions, expressing yourself and – for me personally – spreading good vibes. I want to make the day a bit better for my fans and for people in general.
Many people are using this time to take up new hobbies or to pursue ones they have long neglected, to spend more time with their families or to enjoy nature. How are you organising your time? What projects are you pursuing?
I’m spending a lot more time in the studio. It’s been a long time since I produced and learned so much! I have time to look at tutorials, to try out new synths and to just play around again without any time pressure. I feel a bit like I’ve been transported back to 2014, to before my success started, when I was just at home in the studio every day. That’s exactly what I’m doing again. Apart from that, I’m enjoying the time with my family a lot, and we are growing closer together again. My brothers and I all moved out many years ago and were only seeing each other two or three times a year. Now we are getting to know each other all over again. And I’m spending a lot of time in the garden and enjoying nature.
What tips do you have for other people during this period of quarantine? How can the time at home be used in a meaningful way and the challenges of social isolation be overcome?
For me, the key is to be productive. Right in the beginning, I had a couple of days where I didn’t really do anything all day except spend time on social media, check my mobile phone and watch the news. Then I quickly started to feel pretty down.
I want to be active and creating things. I like it when I’ve made a song and can lie in my bed afterwards in the evening, knowing that I achieved something; I like it when I’ve worked in the garden and can see that it looks better than it did before; and I like it when I tidy up the house, when I paint pictures, when I’m trying out many new things. I think now is the time to do everything that we don’t usually find the time to do in our hectic day-to-day lives.
It’s also very important for me to keep myself physically fit, to exercise, to meditate regularly, to keep my calm in order to continue to see the positive even in this situation.
You concern yourself a lot with the topic of mindfulness and meditation. How are they currently helping you cope with the disruption of COVID-19?
They’re helping me to an incredible extent. I’ve learned to be satisfied with being by myself in the present moment. In recent years, I’ve often felt isolated, emotionally withdrawn and lonely. I’m now completely at peace with myself and satisfied. I can spend several days alone and still be happy. I don’t feel lonely, I no longer feel sad, I’m never bored, I always know what to do with myself! Having a positive attitude towards the world, just going with the flow, living in the moment and realising that there is always enough around me that I can feel grateful and happy about.
Last week you released your new song “Sicko”, on which you collaborated with Gashi and Canadian newcomer Faangs. In your opinion, each one of us has a “sicko” in themselves that comes out from time to time. To what extent does that apply to you, and how do you manage to keep these dark character traits under control?
There was a certain point in my life where I felt like such traits had taken over: I was letting myself be guided by the wrong motives, such as greed and consumption. I was looking for happiness in all the wrong places and ultimately it was very unsatisfying. In addition, “Sicko” is also about my crazy lifestyle: I’m always on the road, my life is so extravagant and absurd that hardly anyone can understand the pace, and it’s difficult to have a relationship because I’m not able to be around enough. In regard to the good and bad sides, in this time of retreat I’ve learned to “water the good seeds” within me. I think we all have character traits we like, along with some we don’t care for. I focus on the good and, which allows the bad to automatically fade into the background.
You yourself keep bees at home, eat vegan food and drive a fully electric EQC – awareness of environmental issues and working to minimise climate change are important to you. Do you think that the COVID-19 pandemic will change people’s attitudes and lead to better protection of our environment?
The peace and quiet are what I notice in particular and the environment as a whole can breathe a sigh of relief.
I can only hope that there will also be a long-term effect and that there will really be a change in people’s consciousness of these issues. In the economic upturn after COVID-19, when everyone is looking to revive the economy as quickly as possible, we can’t ignore the environment. We should view the current development as an opportunity for a new start and rebuild the economy from the ground up with more environmental protection.
What do you think the takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic can and should be? What are we to learn from this?
In my opinion, we can learn that we don’t need as much as we always thought we did; that we can be satisfied and happy with ourselves, with our families, and in our environment. When we are finally allowed to travel again – which is a great privilege – we should do it conscientiously and really enjoy it! And in future, we should just have meetings in a video conference and only travel if it is really necessary!
The Mercedes-Benz music platform Mixed Tape is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year and released a special compilation for it, which you were allowed to curate. What did this task mean to you and what approach did you take?
This was both a very special task and an honour for me. I took a lot of time making the selections in order to create a playlist of my absolute favourite songs from 15 years of “Mixed Tape”. It was a lot of fun not only because I make music as my full-time job but also because there are just a ton of great tracks and artists.