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“My best ideas come when I’m out walking” — Michael Mayer is a DJ, producer and part of the team behind Cologne electronic label Kompakt | Photo: Thomas Schäkel
“My best ideas come when I’m out walking” — Michael Mayer is a DJ, producer and part of the team behind Cologne electronic label Kompakt | Photo: Thomas Schäkel

A day in the life of Michael Mayer

|   day in the life

The city’s Belgian Quarter is where you’ll usually find the DJ and producer

For a night owl like me, there’s nothing worse than having to drag myself out of bed at seven in the morning. But Tuesday is my day to get the kids ready for school and seeing their first smile of the day always makes up for it. Once they are out of the house, I like to get back into my nice warm bed. Having a leisurely morning routine is a real luxury for me because I don’t have time when I’m on tour at the weekend. After reading the news, and having a quick first glance at my e-mails, I head to the office. My company, Kompakt, is just a stone’s throw away from my apartment near the Stadtgarten park. Which means that there are quite a few days when I only move within a radius of 200 metres. I sold my last car back in 1994 and have been a devoted cyclist ever since. Cologne is wonderfully flat and the city’s cycle lane network is being expanded at long last. Would I like a city centre free of cars? Yes please! However, I’m also well aware of how lucky I am to have everything within easy reach.

The Stadtgarten is the spiritual centre of my life. I also like to use it as an outdoor conference room for long telephone conversations. I find that my best ideas come when I’m out walking and there’s nothing to distract me. Some of the trees in the park are over 150 years old. They have survived two world wars and were around when the city centre was still free of cars. In keeping with the true spirit of Cologne, the old trees extend a warm welcome to those from foreign parts, housing an impressive swarm of green rose-ringed parakeets. These are one of the prominent features of the park’s wildlife and defend their territory valiantly against the attacks by the crows from the nearby green belt. Yes, the parrots are an invasive species – but I have grown fond of them and their aerial artistry!

In the late afternoon, I go shopping for groceries. If I don’t have much time, I generally stop by the large Rewe supermarket and Basic organic store on the other side of the park – also picking up bread from the Heinemann bakery and wine from Weinpunkt on Antwerpener Strasse. If I have more time on my hands or fancy a change of scenery, I go to Atlas in the heart of Ehrenfeld to buy fish. Or I pay a visit to my favourite branch of Rewe on Appellhofplatz, which I discovered through my involvement with nearby radio station WDR Cosmo. What I really love about this supermarket is that it has a deli counter – which I love because they mean less plastic waste, more choice, ­better quality and genuine human interaction. I’m passionate about cooking. For me, preparing food is a meditative act, a gentle transition between a busy working day and evening activities. And as a DJ, I really appreciate the art of making graceful transitions. In a way, cooking and DJing are the same – and most good DJs I know are into cooking.

But I also like dining out. My favourite restaurant is Akira on Hildeboldplatz, in my opinion the most authentic Japanese restaurant in Cologne. I have never eaten better agedashi tofu anywhere – not even when touring in Japan. Miniature dachshund Mokka is part of the furniture there and now an honorary member of my family too. Tuesday nights are the only time I actually get to produce music. In any case, I am only creative at night. I can set my watch by it: when eleven o’clock comes around, my creative juices start to flow. Every Tuesday. It’s usually dawn by the time I finally emerge from the Kompakt basement. My bike knows the way home. Provided there’s no headwind, I only need to pedal four times and I’m there.