Born as Helmut Geier, DJ Hell has played out for more than two decades. In 1985, he was one of the first in Germany to play house music, though later, through Gigolo, he put out lost classics by Chicago house legends Bobby Konders and DJ Pierre. He also re-released what’s considered the first Detroit techno song, “Sharevari” by A Number of Names, and rekindled the career of new-wave heroes Tuxedomoon. One of Gigolo’s key releases is Hell’s compilation of early-’80s German post-punk, New Deutsch, whilst the career defining album Teufelswerk came in 2009. Across 16 exquisite tracks divided into two themes, “Night” and “Day”, Hell laid down cosmic grooves, dark Hicaho and Detroit techno and lots of narcotic sounds that showed how much he has achieved in his long career.
There are many examples of Gigolo and Hell blurring the lines between music and art, a popular aesthetic in Hell’s arsenal and one that was celebrated in two gallery exhibitions; one in London, and one in Berlin both in 2007. Today, Gigolo in Berlin is to Hell what the Factory in New York was to Warhol. Like Warhol, Hell is the man with the vision, whose enthusiasm and inspiration to this day is fueled by, and rubs off on, the close-knit family of musicians, fashion designers, photographers, film makers, video artists and actors who surround him.
In 1992, Hell’s haunting debut single, “My Definition of House Music” became a dancefloor hymn, selling 50,000 copies. Three years later, Hell recorded a live BBC John Peel Session in Munich, and since then he has released ten-minute jams such as “Wonderland” and “Electronic Germany”, whilst the most pleasant, eyebrow-raising moment in his career was the collaboration with Bryan Ferry, “U Can Dance”. When Hell launched his International Deejay Gigolos Empire in 1996, his rebellious creative streak gave the label a punk DIY aesthetic. An open-ended techno imprint with a natural pop sensibility, Gigolo immediately stood out and attracted like-minded artists such as Fischerspooner, Vitalic, Miss Kittin & the Hacker, Tiga, even the Pet Shop Boys, Jeff Mills and Dopplereffekt.