XDB is Kosta Athanassiadis – German by birth and in residence, with Greek parentage. His roots are in the central German town of Göttingen. It was here that he began DJing in the early nineties; where he worked in a record shop; where he ran a radio show for five years; and the base from which he established the Metrolux record label in 2006.
For many people, it was at this point that XDB appeared on their radar. His debut ‘Jackintosh EP’ and the following ‘Descap EP’ made a splash with heads, but whilst the shimmering dub techno moments were perhaps the most obvious hook, subsequent tracks defied easy categorisation – an early indication that the person behind the music took a broad view of electronic music, caring not for stylistic pigeonholes.
Further releases mapped out more of a defined aesthetic for the label, with XDB’s own work sitting alongside contributions from Atheus and Arne Weinberg. By 2007, Kosta’s music had caught the ear of other outlets; including Francois Kevorkian’s Deep Space Media (a sublabel of Wave Music) licensed ‘Descap’ and ‘Descap live’ for re-release. Brendon Moeller was the A&R at that time and a 4 track EP on Wave Music followed in 2009.
The same year, Patrice Scott put out the first XDB release on his own Sistrum Recordings, which saw Kosta tailoring his output to a cleaner, more Detroit-inflected sound. In tandem with his production work, XDB the DJ was coming into his own. An avid collector of vinyl since his childhood (Kosta’s collection presently numbers some 10,000 records); he had honed his craft in clubs and on the radio – mixing monthly on his own ‘Case Check’ show. 2008 brought an early highlight – spinning at Japan’s lauded Labyrinth festival alongside the cream of the international deep techno and house scene.
Kosta’s DJ sets draw upon his expansive record collection, playing right across the board of electronic music. He has no shortage of technical skill but it’s his selection that truly shines – putting the music itself at the forefront, letting songs breathe when need be, and delivering plenty of head-scratching ‘what the hell is this track?’ moments.
It’s on this that Kosta has built his reputation. Tastemakers such as the now-defunct mnml ssgs crew were quick to snap him up for a guest mix in 2009, and several of his online recordings have been picked up for Resident Advisor’s ‘Mix of the Day’ spot. In 2010, XDB played at the UK’s highly-regarded Freerotation festival – starting a love affair with the event that’s seen him come back every year since. The festival secured Kosta’s place within a fraternity of fellow musicians and DJs who also prefer to let their music do the talking – likeminds who recognise the purity in what they do, and are all the more respected because of it.
That same year, he remixed Detroit heroes Norm Talley and Aaron Carl and in 2011 produced releases for the Dolly, Harbour City Sorrow and Echocord imprints. 2012’s highlight was a split 12” with Kassem Mosse and in 2013 he was reunited with Sistrum Recordings for the ‘Frocks’ record. 2013 also saw the rebirth of Metrolux after a 3 year hiatus, with ‘Edition 2’, an excellent Various Artists release.
When it comes to producing, Kosta favours a slow and steady work rate, opting to focus on quality control rather than record shop ubiquity. His DJing keeps him in the public eye, but one gets the sense that XDB prefers to operate in the shadows. There’s a refreshing lack of gimmickry to his approach – keeping it low-key allows him to be judged solely on the basis of talent. Arguably, it’s an innate quality – the way he wants to play it; the way that brings him most satisfaction, but it’s helped establish his reputation as an artist of considerable merit, winning the approval his audience and peers, alike.