Christian Graumann, better known by his DJ name Ticklish, curates the latest FvF Mixtape, fusing together his own remixes with R&B and hip hop tracks by the likes of Kaytranada, Flamingosis, and Jorja Smith.
How did you get into music?
My parents are very musical people. I grew up around my dad playing guitar and my mum listening to a lot of music from South America such as salsa and merengue. But I didn’t get into music myself until I started playing the drums when I was around 11. I picked up the guitar a few years later. Naturally, the dream of becoming a musician was always there, but I imagined myself as more of a long, shaggy-haired rock musician back then.
Yancy – Usher Flip
Koen – Somebody Send This To 50
Flamingosis – Finesse (Hey Baby)
Yancy – All I Have
J.robb – 6lack Remix
Folamour – Petit Prince Du Macadam
Khalid – Talk (Alamaki Nola Bounce Edit)
Ticklish – BFODAS Reboot
Ticklish & Uki – Nice For What
Jorja Smith & Burna Boy – Be Honest (Ticklish & Qnoe Remix)
Koffee – Toast (Ticklish & Qnoe Remix)
Khia – My Neck My Back (Brad Braxton x Omar Duro Remix)
Anderson Paak – Come Down (Taimles Trapfunk Remix)
Ticklish – A.L.M.V.
Vitus Tribe – That Baile Thing
Burna Boy – Pop Ye Collar (Vandalized Edit)
SZA – The Weekend (Leonce Bounce Remix)
Ayzon & DUFTE – Señora Sonora
Kaytranada ft. Mick Jenkins – Grey Area
August Mae – Marquesina
Asadjohn – Money In The Bank
Top Down (Buzz-T Intro Edit)
Childish Gambino – This Is America (Say3 & Vlvt Jones Afro Edit)
Smooth Operator 3000 & Ticklish – Mase da Favela
Ticklish – Ponto Ai Amor
Tera Kora – Whine Up
Big Pun – Still No Player (Bonxo Edit)
Goldlink – Joke Ting (Yuto x Alamaki Remix)
Sango x Rod Lee – Boy Don’t Waste Me De Amor (Ticklish Reboot)
Ticklish & Qnoe – Blue Fingers
Cajmere – Brighter Days (Ticklish Reboot)
Radical One – Mas Queso
Austin Marc – Carti Verse
What are some of the first records and bands you started listening to when you were younger?
The first records I remember buying myself were The Offspring’s Americana and Bush’s The Science Of Things, but I also had Wu-Tang Clan and Eminem albums on tape. I’ve
always liked both rock and hip-hop, a dual interest which is embodied by my love of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game soundtracks.
You’re originally from Hamburg. When did you move to Berlin and why?
I moved to Berlin a few years back for family reasons. I became the father of twins and I wanted to be with them and see them grow up. They are super smart boys and I’m very proud of them. Of course, Berlin also has its advantages for artists due to its vibrant club scene and the number of musicians and DJs that are based here. But I’m convinced that, in this digital age, if you master your craft and stay consistent you can be successful wherever you’re based.
“Collaboration is the key to making tracks the best versions of themselves.”
A lot of your tracks are R&B based. What do you like about this genre of music?
I listened to R&B a lot at the time when the likes of Aaliyah, Toni Braxton were on hot
rotation on MTV. Every time I hear those tracks now I get a strong feeling of ’90s/’00s nostalgia. The thing that fascinates me the most about R&B is the intense emotions it can create through melodies and chords. The harmonies that are used create a tension which makes me do an instant stank face.
You have a series of edits called Reboots. Can you tell me what the idea is behind this series?
I came out with my first Reboots installment in 2013 and I have released a new volume every year since. The basic idea is to take songs that I really like that aren’t really for the dancefloor and translate their vibe into a club context. It’s like a remix. My edits can be really simple and quickly done. I just take a track, make it a bit faster, and put banging drums on top of it. That’s what makes them so fun and rewarding to make. It’s super interesting what a tempo change can do to a song. I remixed a couple of 90s slow jams and just altering the tempo and changing the pitch gives you an instant uplift. It
also makes the track sound like a chipmunk Kanye West sample from the College Dropout times.
How do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
For my DJ sets, I want to play tracks that make the people go crazy but that still have positive vibes. For songs I release on Spotify that aren’t necessarily for the dancefloor, I feel like I have more freedom. I just wanna make people feel like I felt when I heard my first favorite R&B tracks. I’m working on a couple of R&B tracks at the moment actually. I’m collaborating with singers and it’s a very different process to remixing. In remixing you can be done in a couple of minutes, whereas when I’m composing I take a lot of time coming up with the basic ideas. It takes time finding chord progressions, lead melodies, and the right drums. But when a good singer lays down their vocals and it all comes together, there’s this nice moment of euphoria. I believe that collaboration is the key to making tracks the best versions of themselves. I value my collaborators’ opinions, especially because I tend to over-criticize my own work and also find it hard to know when to let go of a track. There’s always stuff you can improve, but it’s not really healthy to hold on to a piece of art, as you can be in danger of losing the idea that was there in the first place.
How did you choose the tracks for your FvF Mixtape?
There’s a lot of different stuff I like from friends and producers I really dig. With shorter mixes, I try to make them very club focused. But on this one, having one entire hour, I started with some chill vibes and worked my way up to more intense club tracks.
Christian Graumann, better known by his artist name Ticklish, is a German DJ and musician based in Berlin. He is well known for his series of remixes named Ticklish Reboots, as well as creating his own original tracks. This interview was produced as part of our Mixtape series, in which international creatives curate playlists of music that inspires them. Head over to the Mixtape section to find out more.
Text: Emily May
Photography: Mike Freudenthaler and Kai Paparazzi