Picture: Jan Philipp Janzen by Frederike Wetzels
Picture: Jan Philipp Janzen by Frederike Wetzels

Dumbo Tracks

DUMBO TRACKS is the project of Cologne-based producer Jan Philipp Janzen (Von Spar, Die Sterne, Urlaub in Polen). His self-titled debut album features contributions from Markus Acher (The Notwist), Portable, Roosevelt, Marker Starling, Julian Knoth (Die Nerven), Indra Dunis (Peaking Lights), Eiko Ishibashi, Julene and DJ Koze. Together they explore the different facets of dub and its musical horizons. Sometimes it sounds like it comes directly from the Black Ark Studios, but much more often it is transatlantically transmitted via The Specials and DJs like Don Letts, Andrew Weatherall or Adrian Sherwood.

Whoever says dub must also say studio music. At least in the sense that studios have played an increasingly important role in the history of dub music. The birth of the genre is closely linked to the studio and its possibilities to vary, change and improve during and especially AFTER recording. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and King Tubby – they called it versioning – went wild and invented not only dub as a genre of its own within reggae, but also the modern studio musician.

If you jump in time – from the seventies to the present – as well as topographically – from Kingston to London to Cologne – you end up in the Dumbo Studio. Where glorious albums have been crafted and elaborated in recent years, a most daring attempt at international universality is now emerging.


1. Member of Von Spar, Die Sterne, Cologne Tape & Urlaub in Polen

2. plays/played drums with Owen Pallett, Scout Niblett, Stephen Malkmus, and The Field

3. produced/mixed/recorded bands and artists like The Field, Die Sterne, Stephen Malkmus, Coma among others


1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?

This varies. It might be the music from another artist, a walk in the woods, a musical instrument or a story someone tells me or that I read. Nevertheless, the mood I’m in when something interesting comes along is the the most important part of it. Like most people, I don’t feel very inspired when I’m sad.

2. How and when did you get into making music?

My father is a musician and he had a rehearsal room with his band in the house I grew up in. Music was all around and a big part of the everyday life. I really didn’t had the choice to not make music.

3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?

Oscar Peterson – Night Train
Steve Reich – Drumming
Studio 1 – CD1
Tortoise – Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

4. What do you associate with Berlin?

Bipolar disorder

5. What’s your favourite place in your town?

My studio. I’m very happy to go there more or less everyday if I’m not on holidays or touring.
I feel privileged to earn my living with a task I really love to do.

6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?

I would become a pilot.

7. What was the last record/music you bought?

Anne-Sophie Mutter / Herbert von Karajan / Berliner Philharmoniker – Ludwig van Beethoven Violin Concerto

8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Roy Nnawuchi/Dean Blunt.

9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?

Performing Ege Bamyasi by Can as Von Spar together w/ Stephen Malkmus Köln/2012
and seeing lcd Soundsystem at Maria am Ostbahnhof 2003/Berlin

10. How important is technology to your creative process?

Absolutely super important. On one side it’s a source of inspiration on the other side it’s thee tool to concretize musical ideas.

11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?

No siblings!