TheFatRat came to play — and to win. The German electronica artist, producer and DJ — known for songs like Unity, Monody (ft. Laura Brehm) and Fly Away (ft. Anjulie) — is also a go-to composer of music for video games such as DOTA 2 and Rocket League. His sound, which has been dubbed “wildly energetic and genre-bending electro,” has earned him billions of streams and millions of subscribers. And thanks to his decision to lift copyright restrictions on his work, his music has been used in 25 million videos that have accumulated more than 30 billion views. He’s an excellent speaker, a leader in the indie music community, and an expert on how tech has changed the music business. On top of all that, he is currently releasing his long-awaited debut album Parallax as a series of weekly singles and videos released every Friday. For some reason, he was game to sit down and make his way through my ridiculous questions. Let’s see if he feels like a winner after that:
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and any other details you’d care to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
Hi, I’m Christian Büttner aka TheFatRat. I’m 42 years old, hailing from Göttingen, a small university town in the middle of nowhere in Germany.
What is your musical origin story?
I grew up making music and learned it like a language, starting when I was two years old, sitting on my mom’s lap when she was playing piano. I was hitting random keys while my mom played. But after a couple of weeks, the keys I hit started matching to her songs. As a teenager I wanted to become a conductor but finally figured out it wasn’t creative enough for me, so I chose music producer instead. I invested all the money that I had saved for a car into a studio. Then I struggled for about 10 years as a producer and finally decided to go the artist route, encouraged by my wife.
What’s your latest project?
My album Parallax! After two years of releasing remixes and eight years of releasing singles, I finally took the step to make an album. Every song has its own artwork and everything together tells one big story.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I have collected all 999 moons in Super Mario Odyssey. Also my music is free to use for creators on social media platforms like YouTube and I make all stems of my music public so people can get creative with it.
How will my life improve by listening to your music?
That depends on the song you choose. Some songs like Xenogenesis will make you feel invincible! In fact, you will be invincible. Pretty much at least. Gravity will still be a thing, but other than that you should be fine. Others like Mayday will make you kinda sad, but at the same time eternally grateful that you are alive.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you have given?
I brought my own equipment to my early DJ gigs and I had to set it up and unplug it myself. At one show, the DJ after me started playing his intro with a HUGE buildup while I was unplugging my stuff. EXACTLY when the first drop was about to drop I accidentally unplugged his player, making the entire crowd jump into a void. They were never seen again.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen?
I was lucky to attend Avicii’s last concert at Ushuaia Ibiza, which was amazing.
What living or dead artists would you like to collaborate with?
Max Martin! He’s not exactly an artist, but a music producer, and definitely the one person that made the biggest impact on music during the last two decades.
What words do you hope people use when they describe you?
“Kind” and “Friendly” are qualities I’m aiming for.
What useful (or useless) skills do you have outside of music?
Absolutely nothing. One of the reasons why I’m making music.
Who can you do an impression of?
I can make a really mean impression of my wife when we are fighting, which usually doesn’t make anything better.
What would you like to be reincarnated as?
A woman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy being a man, but I’ve always wondered how being a woman feels like.
What are your pet peeves?
I HATE it when I’m trying to concentrate and someone else is eating. Especially when that person is right beside me. Don’t know why, but it makes me instantly aggressive and usually leads to a really awkward conversation in which I can hardly control myself.
What’s your greatest regret?
In 2009 a friend of mine who is into programming told me about Bitcoin. I thought I could mine some but then decided it probably wouldn’t be worth the effort.
What are you afraid of?
German bureaucracy and taxes.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
The Illusion Of Sanity.
Who should play you in the movie of your life?
Leonardo Di Caprio. I got so many comments on my socials that I look like him. So he must be a good fit.
What’s your motto?
Live wild and dangerously.
What’s always in your refrigerator?
Whatever it is, it won’t stay there for long ’cause I’m really good at eating stuff.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Not being hungry 24/7 would be nice.
What was your favourite class in school and why?
Not music, that’s for sure. I usually got into fights with the teacher whenever he got a detail wrong that I knew better. Overall I hated school, but I had a fantastic German teacher. In 12th and 13th grade, he used German lessons to teach us communication skills. I still use what I’ve learned back then every day.
What world record would you like to break?
Most-streamed song of all time.
What’s the best and / or worst advice you were ever given?
My entire life people always told me I should try to fit in with the rest. I did, and it was horrible. Things got so much better when I finally gave up on that.