What the Hell—The Private Life of the DJ Legend

DJ Hell's big exclusive interview: a conversation on dreams, role models, and visions, and his journey from the local Bavarian disco to the best clubs in the world

Deutsches Museum

DJ Hell 1991Deutsches Museum

The Life of DJ Hell

For decades he's been considered one of the most famous techno DJs worldwide. From Tokyo to Dubai, Buenos Aires to Barcelona, DJ Hell—real name Helmut Josef Geier—has played in countless major clubs across the world and is even the one behind them. In an exclusive interview with the Deutsches Museum, Hell tells us how he actually wanted to be a decathlete when he was younger, how he even skipped a Kraftwerk concert for a soccer match, and how he went from being a disc spinner at a small local Bavarian disco to becoming one of the most successful DJs on the planet—and why his hometown roots are so important.

DJ Hell on his carefree childhood, his dreams of becoming a decathlete, and why he even skipped a Kraftwerk concert for a soccer match…

DJ Hell Interview Teil 1Deutsches Museum

Even if he missed out on a Kraftwerk concert as a teenager, DJ Hell played more and more music by electro pioneers, such as this remix of the classic It's More Fun to Compute at the Hell/Dunkel Festival in Düsseldorf in 2016.

DJ Hell plays KraftwerkDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on his musical inspirations growing up—a wide range of influences, from Thomas Gottschalk and Dieter Thomas Heck, Iron Maiden and The Police, and even Otto Waalkes and Fredl Fesl.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 2Deutsches Museum

It might be quite hard to believe, but DJ Hell, alias Helmut Geier, was even a fan of the wonderful traditional Bavarian musician Fredl Fesl, pictured here at a yodeling event in a show hosted by Robert Lembke…

Fredl Fesl AnlassjodlerDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on his first DJ outing in a disco in his Upper Bavarian hometown, on his escape to Munich, and how he got onto the latest albums of a record label in London.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 3Deutsches Museum

With his pioneering track Jack Your Body, Steve Silk Hurley gave house music its big breakthrough. The hit spent two weeks at number 1 in the UK charts at the beginning of 1987.

Steve Silk Hurley Jack Your BodyDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on his interest in house music around the end of the 1980s, how he gained a foothold in the Munich music scene through a soccer tournament, among other things, and how he achieved his international breakthrough in 1992.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 4Deutsches Museum

The 1992 track My Definition of House Music was DJ Hell's first self-produced single. It sold over 100,000 copies and became a club hit, making him one of the first techno DJs who didn't just release records but also produced them himself.

DJ Hell My Definition of House MusicDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on how he ended up playing in front of a million people in Berlin, how he resisted the temptations of selling out, and how he still founded his own record label against all odds.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 5Deutsches Museum

The track I'm a Disco Dancer (and a Sweet Romancer) by Viennese techno pioneer Christopher Just was released on DJ Hell's International Deejay Gigolo Records.

Christopher Just Disco DancerDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on selecting artists for his record label, and how he obtained the licenses for the re-releases on his International Deejay Gigolo Records label.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 6Deutsches Museum

The album Halfmute by Californian post-punk new-wave band Tuxedomoon was originally released on Ralph Records, and was later re-released on DJ Hell's record label International Deejay Gigolo Records.

Tuxedomoon HalfmuteDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on balancing his work as a record producer and DJ, and how he helped shape the electroclash genre and even gave it its name.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 7Deutsches Museum

A cover version of the new wave hit Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart, now remixed by Canadian DJ Tiga.

Tiga Sunglasses At NightDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on the strange story behind the song Kernkraft 400 by Munich duo Zombie Nation which he published on his record label in 1999 and which became one of the most-played stadium anthems worldwide.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 8Deutsches Museum

…it's also been the official celebratory anthem of the German Football Association since November 2019.

DFB TorhymneDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on the physical efforts and challenges of the high-intensity sport of working as a DJ, competitive thinking in the sector, and where and when he always take his breaks.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 9Deutsches Museum

The room designed by DJ Hell in the Flushing Meadows Hotel in Munich.

DJ Hell Zimmer Flushing MeadowsDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell on alcohol, drugs, and other stimulants doing the rounds during nights out, the great art of DJ'ing, and how he developed his technique over several decades…

Dj Hell Interview Teil 10Deutsches Museum

…and, in the last part of the interview, goals and visions and DJ'ing into old age. Why Giorgio Moroder's not a role model for him, and how he came to be the regular DJ for FC Bayern.

DJ Hell Interview Teil 11Deutsches Museum

The mixing desk that the star players of FC Bayern, headed by Jürgen Klinsmann at the time, would use to pump themselves up with music.

…with the original signature of Franck Ribéry.

DJ Hell FCB AnlageDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell jungDeutsches Museum

As DJ Hell so often says nowadays, now is the time for his music: a few highlights from his productions from almost three decades. This is a song called Ultraschall, with the same name as the legendary disco at the old Munich-Riem airport where DJ Hell was a resident DJ.

DJ Hell mit Frack und FliegeDeutsches Museum

…and heard here is a 2018 remix of 1994's Hell Don't Get Angry (Hell ärgere dich nicht) together with Jeff Mills.

DJ Hell verzerrtDeutsches Museum

For Your Love from his 1998 album Munich Machine was a groundbreaking record in the development of electroclash, according to a review by British newspaper The Guardian.

DJ Hell SaxDeutsches Museum

Follow You is from his 2005 album NY Muscle, which DJ Hell produced in New York. As the the website allmusic.com wrote: "This is the sound of nighttime New York City from the outsider perspective of an infamous German named Hell, and it's dark, dark, debauched fun."

DJ Hell mit HutDeutsches Museum

DJ Hell SaxophonDeutsches Museum

This is U Can Dance from 2009's Teufelswerk. The singer? Bryan Ferry! The Tagesspiegel newspaper wrote the following about the album: "High-class German techno as a poignantly rebellious statement against the zeitgeist. A manifestation of debauchery that shouldn't actually exist in these times of pessimism over the future of physical records."

DJ Hell Car Car CarDeutsches Museum

More recent is the song Car Car Car from his album Zukunftsmusik, released in 2017.

Credits: All media
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