TALK: AHMET SISMAN founder of The Third Room T3R by Fraser Bonar

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Stone Techno Festival 2022 is being held at the Zeche Zollverein, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, preserving a part of and standing as a monument to the coal industry of Germany. How did such an incredible site become the site for a techno festival?

I am organising since 2015 different open airs there, since 2017 under the brand The Third Room. But indeed, it took me a lot of time and effort to convince the foundation that this place is literally made for such events and that the architecture of the whole site fits perfectly to our concept. I don’t easily accept a “no” as a first answer. I mean it is the most famous landmark of the Ruhr Area which represents the industrial history of the region like nothing else. Hosting events and exploring the creative potential of the World Heritage is an important sign, that subcultures and alternative scenes have a place to thrive. This is not only important for the city, but also for the whole region. We need these kind of lighthouse projects for the scene which has basically experienced “a reset” in the last two years. 

2022年音符技术节将在Zeche Zollverein举行,这是联合国教科文组织的世界文化遗产,保留了德国煤炭工业的一部分并作为纪念碑而存在。这样一个令人难以置信的地方是如何成为一个电子音乐节的场地的?

我从2015年开始在那里组织不同的露天活动,从2017年开始以The Third Room的名义组织。但确实,我花了很多时间和精力来说服基金会,这个地方确实是为这样的活动而生的,整个场地的建筑完全符合我们的概念。我不会轻易接受 “不 “作为第一个答案。我的意思是,它是鲁尔区最著名的地标,代表着该地区的工业历史,没有什么比这更重要的了。举办活动和探索世界遗产的创意潜力是一个重要的标志,即亚文化和另类场景有一个繁荣的地方。这不仅对城市,而且对整个地区都很重要。我们需要这样的灯塔项目,因为在过去的两年里,这个场景基本上经历了 “重置”。

What would you say to members of the public who had concerns about this particular use of the venue, considering that any modern usage of historical landmarks is pretty much guaranteed to be controversial, especially since the festival itself does not directly reflect the mining past of the site?

I disagree with the last sentence. The Stone Techno Festival embraces the past of the mining history in a way which no other project did before. For example, we went 1000 meters below the surface of Zollverein und recorded samples out of inorganic materials and composed new forward-thinking music with the newest technology available to us. We have a collaboration with the Ruhr Museum which has permanent exhibitions about the History of the Ruhr Area. This multidisciplinary concept is worldwide unique and is telling a story to has deep roots with the region itself.

To the first question: there are different perspectives of how an UNESCO World Heritage should be managed. There are those, who want to protect the site and there are those, who want to be selective about the cultural programming. This is a never-ending discussion and sounds like an old tape from the past century. My approach is a different one: I want to be inclusive and progressive with my concepts and ideas. I am looking at the most exciting playground that the region has to offer. So, I want to play with it and if someone says “no”, I want a reasonable explanation. Since now, I didn’t get one or at least I didn’t accept it as being reasonable. So, I do believe respecting a place and creating something new out of it, are not contrary to each other. It just requires a different mindset. I want to encourage this approach because our region needs this more than ever. Culture doesn’t happen on its own, it must be created and cultivated.

To sum this up: places like Zollverein, which are in the centre of public interest, do have a cultural mission and duty. This heritage doesn’t belong to an elite circle, it does belong to all of us, to the people.

Photo by Charlote Ernst



对于第一个问题:对于如何管理联合国教科文组织的世界遗产,有不同的观点。有的人想保护这个地方,有的人想对文化项目进行选择性的管理。这是一个永无止境的讨论,听起来像是上个世纪的旧磁带。我的方法是一个不同的方法。我希望我的概念和想法具有包容性和进步性。我所看到的是这个地区所能提供的最令人兴奋的游乐场。因此,我想和它一起玩,如果有人说 “不”,我希望得到合理的解释。从现在开始,我没有得到一个,或者至少我没有接受它是合理的。所以,我确实相信尊重一个地方和从它那里创造新的东西,并不互相矛盾。它只是需要一种不同的心态。我想鼓励这种方法,因为我们的地区比以往任何时候都更需要这种方法。文化不会自己发生,它必须被创造和培养。


The lineup is as colossal as the surroundings will be for the event. Was there a particular approach taken when looking for artists to play over the weekend, or a specific range of sounds and styles that you wanted to showcase?

The core of the line-up consists of the participating artists of the Stone Techno Series 2021 and 2022. On Top of that we have invited some long-stay and upcoming artists. Plus, I wanted to curate a floor only with local talents, so they do have the chance to play also prime-time slots.
Apparently, the project title itself is giving automatically a certain musical direction. I see the word “Techno” more as a general terminology for composing music with the newest technology available to us. So, I want to show all the facets of electronic music at the series and festival as well. 


很明显,项目名称本身就自动给出了某种音乐方向。我认为 “Techno “这个词更多的是指用我们现有的最新技术来创作音乐的一个通用术语。所以,我想在系列和音乐节上也展示电子音乐的所有方面。

Alongside the festival, there is also the Stone Techno Series. In 2021, this consisted of four EPs, featuring 16 artists. This year, a sample library has been announced, curated by Matthew Herbert. Could you tell us about this project?

The collaboration with Matthew Herbert was being developed in cooperation with the New Now Festival and Mutek Montreal. As part of a new digital arts biennale at Zollverein we had the chance to create a new sample library with the sample king himself. Matthew has dedicated his life to this “art form” and was the perfect candidate for this task. There were several stages of creating the new sample library and brining the Stone Techno Series 2022 to life.

We have selected three different settings for recording the new sample library. 1000 meters underground of Zollverein, the amazing Mischanlage (our home base) because of its special acoustics and the newly opened exhibition place called “Zentrales Schaudepot” (our first Arte Concert Stream) where you have endless sampling possibilities. Alongside with Dr. Achim Reisdorf (Geologist, Ruhr Museum) and Lorenzo Dal Ri (Sound Designer) we have spent four days recording different kinds of minerals, surfaces, musical instruments made from minerals and ambiences of shafts, tunnels and more.

Later on, Matthew has processed and arranged those samples for us and performed a premiere at the Mutek Showcase as part of the New Now Festival in September. In October I have received the complete library and started with the curation for the new Stone Techno Series. Now beginning of July, we have the results of sixteen unique tracks exclusively composed out of million years old inorganic material. 

除了音乐节,还有 “石头科技 “系列。2021年,这包括四张EP,有16位艺术家。今年,已经宣布了一个样本库,由Matthew Herbert策划。你能告诉我们关于这个项目吗?

与Matthew Herbert的合作正在与New Now Festival和Mutek Montreal合作开发中。作为在Zollverein举行的新的数字艺术双年展的一部分,我们有机会与样本王本人一起创建一个新的样本库。马修将他的一生都奉献给了这种 “艺术形式”,是这项任务的最佳人选。创建新的样本库和将Stone Techno Series 2022带入生活有几个阶段。

我们选择了三个不同的环境来录制新的样本库。Zollverein地下1000米处,令人惊叹的Mischanlage(我们的大本营),因为它有特殊的声学效果,还有新开放的展览场所 “Zentrales Schaudepot”(我们的第一个Arte Concert Stream),在那里你有无限的采样可能性。与Achim Reisdorf博士(鲁尔博物馆的地质学家)和Lorenzo Dal Ri(声音设计师)一起,我们花了四天时间录制了不同种类的矿物、表面、由矿物制成的乐器和竖井、隧道等的环境。

后来,马修为我们处理和安排了这些样本,并在9月的 “Mutek展示会 “上进行了首演,作为 “新现在节 “的一部分。在10月,我收到了完整的资料库,并开始为新的石头技术系列进行策划。现在,从7月开始,我们有了16首独特的曲目,这些曲目完全由百万年的无机材料组成。

Stone Techno Festival perfectly brings together the harsh modernity of current techno music with the historic backdrop of Western Germany’s coal mining industry. But turning to the future, are there plans already in place for a repeat next year? 

Yes, definitely. We have already reserved the second weekend of July for the next year. This is a long-term concept and we are at the very beginning of it. There is a lot of potential yet to be explored.