One of Germany's most highly regarded house producers, Henrik Schwarz has bridged dance music, classical, jazz, pop, and several other genres through his inventive DJ sets, remixes, collaborations, and compositions. Initially known for making deep house tracks heavily reminiscent of Detroit producers like Moodymann and Theo Parrish, his records caught on with numerous house DJs, and he became an in-demand DJ himself, releasing one of the definitive entries in the long-running DJ-Kicks mix CD series in 2006. Schwarz transitioned from being a DJ to a live performer and improviser, and collaborated extensively with fellow house DJs/producers Âme and Dixon, as well as Norwegian jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft. He also ventured into classical music, composing material for ballets and chamber orchestras, and releasing Instruments on Sony Classical in 2015. In addition, he has remixed songs by artists of nearly every genre, including Coldplay, James Brown, Carl Craig, Boy George, Ane Brun, and countless others. Also a noted software developer, Schwarz created a compositional patch for Ableton known as the Schwarzonator.
Born in Southern Germany, Henrik Schwarz started out as a DJ, spinning hip-hop, jazz, and Detroit techno in local clubs. He started producing music in 1992, initially with just a few synthesizers and drum machines, and he acquired his first laptop in 1998. This drastically changed his methods of both producing and DJ'ing, and he began taking music more seriously. He moved to Berlin in 1999 and worked as a graphic designer, reserving Sundays for music production. Klas Lindblad's Moodmusic label issued Schwarz's debut EP, Supravision, in 2002. The Marvin Gaye-sampling slow burner "Marvin" became a hit with numerous DJs across the world, particularly influential BBC host Gilles Peterson. Schwarz began touring across Europe and the U.K., and released several other hit records, including Chicago and Welcome to Sunday Music, which kicked off Sunday Music, the label Schwarz co-founded with Lindblad in 2003. Schwarz released successful remixes of house artists like John Arnold and Alex Smoke, and explored an increasingly organic sound with tracks such as 2005's "Leave My Head Alone Brain."
In 2006, Schwarz, Âme, and Dixon collaborated with Chicago house legend Derrick L. Carter on an EP titled Where We At. Schwarz also released a highly acclaimed installment of !K7's DJ-Kicks series that effortlessly traversed genres such as soul, free jazz, Detroit techno, and reggae. The mix included Schwarz's well-received remix of Coldcut and Robert Owens' "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." 2007 saw the release of Henrik Schwarz Live, a similarly eclectic mix CD, which was entirely different from the 2005 promo-only release of the same name. Also that year, Schwarz's eerie Walk Music 12" appeared on Moodmusic. Following collaborations with Amampondo and Kuniyuki Takahashi, Schwarz (along with Âme and Dixon) released 2009's The Grandfather Paradox, an ambitious mix CD that traced the history of minimalist music from Raymond Scott and Moondog to house producers such as Etienne Jaumet. Schwarz, Âme, and Dixon also performed together at various festivals and concert halls, releasing A Critical Mass Live EP in 2010.
By this time, Schwarz had begun regularly working outside of the dance music world. His initial collaborations with pianist Bugge Wesseltoft resulted in the 2011 full-length Duo, followed three years later by Trialogue, with the addition of E.S.T. bassist Dan Berglund. Additionally, Schwarz was commissioned to write or arrange compositions for Chamber Orchestra Stuttgart, Ensemble of Tonhalle Zürich, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and other orchestras and ensembles. He also scored part of Masse, a ballet performance that was held at the Berlin nightclub Berghain; its score was released by the club's Ostgut Ton label in 2013.
In 2014, Defected released an edition of their House Masters compilation series that contained a selection of Schwarz's remixes, original productions, and collaborations. Instruments, which featured arrangements of tracks from Schwarz's back catalog performed by Tokio Secret Orchestra, was released by Sony Classical in 2015. Following Running Back's 2017 release of Schwarz's more aggressive tech-house track "Not Also You," he put out a solo piano EP titled Works Piano on Between Buttons, his own !K7-affiliated sublabel. The following year, Schwarz released the genre-blending Scripted Orkestra, a collaboration with the Metropole Orkest and conductor Jules Buckley. The album appeared on !K7's modern classical imprint, 7K! ~ Paul Simpson