Sunday, 30 August 2009
I'm a stubborn old fool at the best of times, but I have really been holding out on this one. Zomby has received more critical praise from the likes of Reynolds, the FACT team, and pretty much anyone else interested in the intellectually stimulating next big thing, than any other artist I can think of in recent memory. This is not easy music, far from it, but after a few listens, you know somehow, it might just work. And work really well. RA wrote a recent article about the Prologue records output, coining the sound pushed by artists affiliated with the label (most prominently Donnato Dozzy), as headfuck. Um, excuse me, but THIS is headfuck. , I'm not so mad on the rave throwback stuff, mainly because its sole purpose seems designed to validate Reynolds' nuum theories, but One Foot Ahead Of The Other is some pretty serious shit.
I got into dubstep in quite a big way in 2007, but somehow lost my way. Wobble is obviously glorified donk, but the early Digital Mystikz stuff like 'Earth A Run Red' was to me, mindblowing. Keeping the music in my peripheral vision, I haven't really dipped into it again until recently. Check out the mnml ssgs Scuba podcast to see how heavy this stuff really is, especially when it is presented in and around the liminal zone between techno, dub techno, UK bass, and garage. And with that, I'm off to see Hard Wax's night at Horst featuring the Hotflush roster of artists: Scuba, Jamie Vex'd, et al. Ciao.
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Here is an interview I did with Seth Troxler recently.
So you played Fabric this weekend. How was it?
It was really good, I played before Steve Bug. It was a really good lineup, Steve Bug, Hearththrob, Slam, Nathan Johnson, and Room 3 was 2020 Vision so it was really a mint party, it was packed early and Fabric was really going off.
And do you like Fabric?
Yeah it’s super, it’s my favourite place to play.
Yeah, yeah, in the UK for sure.
Because Ricardo offered his Fabric Mix as a gift to room one and it’s a place that gets a lot of people excited.
Yeah I played once when Ricardo was playing and it was really amazing.
Yeah because I saw you at the Berlin Beach Break event with Ricardo Villalobos, did you have a good time, what did you think?
Yeah it was great an amazing time, super fun. The Club Der Visionaere people put it on, and we have our night right now, and it’s a really nice family thing.
I wanted to ask you, because you mentioned that you were here with a bunch of Americans and there is a history of Americans in Europe, not specifically in music but talking more generally in the arts. In the 20th century people like Gertrude Stein, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, do you see yourself as part of a coterie, or perhaps as a continuation of that?
I mean, we do have a lot of the North Americans in dance music all moved over here, you know and it’s really right now in the arts all around, there’s something about here (Berlin) that’s really rubbing us up the right way. It’s a really great community and art seems to have really had an explosion. I think it’s the rents, the raves, no one really has a job at the moment so…
But do you see yourself as part of a community, or a coterie, here of Americans?
I definitely see myself as part of a group of Americans and we’re trying to create some concepts and make some new ideas, but all of them are not located here, however some of them are.
So is it a geographical thing?
Well, it is a geographical thing, you know with the Wagon Repair guys, and the M_nus guys, and there’s a lot of other Americans. I’d say we kind of have our own kind of thing going here, like Mike Shannon and those guys, and we’re a community for sure, and we’re branching into all working with each other more and more. So you can think of it like that, but to be modest, it’s best not to think of it like that. If something comes out of it in the future, in an art historical sense and people look back, and think wow that was a really great time period that’s for them to decide.
So do you think that perhaps a sound could develop out of it, or do you think the idea of you guys being over here, coming from Michigan, a sound could be born out of that?
I think we all od have our own sound, and I mean, it’s kind of different from Europeans. I’m not saying it in a negative way but culturally and how we grew up with dance music and our ideas of dance music, and how we play, is just a different sound. In that sense it’s very tight knit.
You don’t see one developing though?
I don’t know, there has been a lot of cross-pollination of helping out with ideas, but with developing an entirely new sound I don’t know. With the Wolf+Lamb crew, and our crew, we are trying to develop a new sound. But each group is separate. I mean with Berlin in general you have the advantage of being able to work with people and develop ideas who are doing different sounds which is beautiful, each different pieces of art, and everyone has their own different group or crew, doing what they want to get involved with.
I also wanted to ask you, because I mentioned earlier that my father is Colombian so I grew up at home with salsa omnipresent you know, meringue, salsa cumbia, and that has definitely filtered into my music tastes subsequently in overt ways and less overt ways, and so I was wondering if you could maybe tell me a bit about your influences because I know dance music in America is not necessarily something people might have been exposed to from a young age.
As a child you mean?
Well my parents were into house music and reggae.
So you came from that heritage already?
Yeah my grandfather was into jazz so I was listening to that from when I was really young, and then got into classic rock, and my parents’ music, reggae, and 80s pop you know, and also rap and RnB and my dad had a radio show, and that had a huge effect on me, just having that music around me, shaping what my musical tastes are today.
Do you still make room for other genres like that?
Yeah definitely, I’m always looking for new music. That’s the thing for me that is so amazing you know when I can find something new, like fuck yeah, I can’t believe I’ve missed this for this long, how did I not know about this, it’s really exciting. Like I really just got into a lot of late-70s, early to mid-80s indie rock you know, like the early Rough Trade stuff, Young Marble Giants, Silver Jews (who aren’t on Rough Trade) but that kind of sound, and it’s really blowing my mind and I’m trying to create more of a crossover sound right now – well not crossover, I hate that – but I’m trying to make stuff that has more of a (hesitant) a pop side in some ways.
So pop is something you are interested in?
Yes pop is something I’m interested in but not traditional pop, more contemporary dance music mixed with more of a pop influence kind of like early dance music, early Detroit music where they were kind of like these dance pop records you know with these vocals with great hooks and I want to move into that more and writing songs rather than just dance tracks.
Well some of your remixes now are definitely becoming more pop orientated like the Fever Ray stuff. Not pop per se but that spectrum.
Yeah that spectrum exactly. It’s really fun for me and right now I think it’s a bit different to everything that is coming out. There are so many beat tools, and it’s like, let’s make something that I’m really interested in, and there’s no need to follow a trend, and it’s cool do what you’re interested in and if people get into it then cool, if not then whatever. It’s all kind of a game of luck anyway.
One thing I’m curious about, and I guess this is to do with your personal development, is do you feel that maybe you need to do that pop or crossover thing to get a wider audience?
I think it’s just for myself. It’s something I’m really enjoying right now I always want more or the most out of any experience and right now with doing this I want something more, I want to broaden myself and what I’m making musically, and it’s really fun for me. I’m not trying to restrict myself but it’s so much harder to actually write a song. To write a beat track it’s cool, it’s like bla bla bla, but to actually write a song it’s like ‘Fuck this is hard’ you know, really difficult. But it’s making myself think more and I’m really excited about that.
In terms of DJing vs producing , do you have any personal preference? Is it the buzz from the crowd that gets you going?
I started out as a DJ, I love DJing and that’s why I don’t play live. I enojy being a studio producer, and I love making tracks at home during the week and working on projects with friends, but I love going to parties, you know, I’m 23 man, I like the good times.
I wanted to ask a bit more about Berlin. How long have you been here?
Two years. I’ve been coming here since I was at high school, my junior year was the first time I came here so when I was 17 and I’m about to be 24.
That’s quite uncommon though no?
Well, I came over here with family when I was 17 and 18 after I graduated from high school I came over and played and hung out, and started coming out every summer ever since, and then I moved.
How’s the German?
Oh not so good. Sadly.
How about the rest of you guys?
Um, Shaun can speak some German, but he’s been here for 5 years. You know with travelling so much and hanging out with that group of all Americans has made it more difficult to learn the language. The people are so accommodating, like if you live in other German cities like Munich or other places they’re a bit more strict on you learning German but here everyone wants to practice they’re English with you, which isn’t really helping so much.
So it’s the summer and that means summer anthems. I wanted to know if there is someone you are really feeling at the moment – someone who’s really getting you going or a track in particular?
Oh wow. Right now my friend Benoit is making some amazing music. He just started a new project wth Bruno Pronsato and it’s also kind of like on the pop side. I’m actually a litte envious I didn’t make a couple of songs as well. It’s kind of like New Order mixed with Bruno Pronsato.
So it’s kind of like a side project, like Audion and then Matthew Dear?
Well Bruno and Benoit started this group, Notre Dame and the Fear, and they’ve got this other project with Sergio Giorgini who has also released for Wolf and Lamb which has blown my mind away with some new tracks he’s written. Him and Ryan Crosson just made a new track which is like Perlon and New Order, which is kind of like the perfect mix.
And where do you see yourself in one year, and then perhaps five years? Or where do you want to be?
Well, still making music, and I have a few projects I’m working on now like a blog and radio and some other, more interesting things for myself, and I hope to keep interesting people. I’m really interested in being a culturalist in some ways and keep making parties, but not just straight up parties but cultural events.
So like curating parties?
Yeah we throw parties, one in Zurich, one here at Weekend, and the Need I say More party in Detroit during the festival and we’re going to try and open up with some other American promoters and create not just parties but things which are like wow, an experience. You know, expanding the idea of what is a party, what are people’s ideas of musicians or the whole idea of what is dance music culture and what it can be. This is something our group of friends is really trying to – well not tryng to work on or trying to mould – but make into something we are interested in.
So bigger than the music then?
For sure, for sure.
Bigger than just a lifestyle choice then?
Well that’s where it gets a bit weird because it is a lifestyle choice but I would like to connect more things of our lifestyle, or my views on life with the music so people who believe in our music, can see that and understand what our lifestyle choices are.
But more than that at the same time?
Yeah exactly. That’s something that right now is, that needs to be noted, that the lifestyle of some of the people in the underground, the people who make music, Perlon, Spectral, Playhouse, M_nus, all the labels like this, Wolf+Lamb; the people going to these parties and listening to this music, aren’t like the normal dance music crowd. You know, they’re a lot more educated and more fluent, and there’s a lot of people working in that who are also working in the arts and if there is some way that we can make those two points known, I think this musical genre, the music that we are making, in the future will be looked at in a broader sense.
As like a cultural artifact?
Yeah exactly and somehow making it a cultural artifact by doing your best to document it, or make it something that is documentable is a goal I think not just for myself but for this music as a whole.
Friday, 28 August 2009
In a previous post I wrote about the Berlin fixed gear scene. It's not massive (lot of single speed, not much fixed), but it's cosy and homely, like a provincial am dram society. You always know where you stand. Not with these girls. I've seen some pretty crazy fixed gear shit on Youtube. The MASH guys always have a few fun tricks up their sleeves and I always wonder how those dudes at the Messenger World Champs manage to pull off those 145m skids. But this is just off the hook. I mean seriously?!
The best thing about being friends with DJs on Facebook is when they post a few tracks they like on their profiles for everyone to see. These two tracks come from Patrice Scott, one of my favourite DJs around (and playing in London this weekend). Kick starting things with a breakbeat-y Anthony Shakir number ("One of the most underrated producers of our time..."), that wobbles all over the place, he follows it up with (as he puts it) "Classic Chi town Heat!!!". Social media you say?
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
I (used to hate but now quite like) Russell Brand, I like Katy Perry, I could learn to dig Ne Yo and Taylor Swift looks like she could be my cup of tea. I've always quite rated MTV for their work in the 80s and the way they can do BIG like no one else can, and I adore West Side Story. So I guess, almost by default, I'm quite a big fan of this. Does that make me gay?
Monday, 24 August 2009
Friday, 21 August 2009
Another of the tunes savaged by Sherburne in his 2008 end of year poll, but one that I actually really like. It can't all be bad though as he seems to love My My's 'Fast Freeze' which I adore and wrote about here. I'm also a big fan of 'Remember Love', but that is more thanks to Bar 25 than any Pitchfork review. Speaking of the Bar, as of today, they are opening their doors for a gargantuan 250 hour party that will last until the 31st August to mark their "official" closing. That's 10.5 days of non-stop partying! However, inside sources seem to suggest that with a global recession currently fucking everyone up the ass, the Mediaspree development that was supposed to signal the end for the area has encountered problems of its own with tenants pulling out quicker than a pissed yet suddenly self-aware sex tourist in Ho Chi Minh City. Here's hoping to if not another year of 25, then at least some hush hush parties over the next few months.
Incidentally, this currently sits atop the July 2009 RA Top 50 DJ Chart. Thoughts? Not too sure myself. More into number 2 which can be found here. Also really really feeling this at the moment:
Todd Burns wrote a really nice piece on the New York House Renaissance for RA which bares a startling resemblance to one written a few months earlier by yours truly, (which can be found here) but it really was a nicely researched, touching piece. As predicted, Levon Vincent (in partcular) and the rest of the Underground Quality guys and dolls are slaying all before them. Bring on Tape!
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Here is my latest review for RA.
Stadtstrandfluss seem to have dominated much of the Berlin summer party circuit with a combination of great bookings, interesting locations and a professional (not to mention very German) logistical operation that towers over some of the city's other open air offerings. After the well-received Berlin, Beats and Boats party which saw a slew of Berlin's top labels including M_nus and Poker Flat commandeering a boat and taking to the Spree for an all-day aquatic adventure, the savvy promoters turned to an all-day beach party outside Berlin on the balmy banks of the Langsee. With Villalobos lined up to play alongside Zip, Bruno Pronsato, Thomas Melchior and Fumiya Tanaka, this was clearly not to be missed.
When good weather kicks in, Berliners seem to have little trouble rising early and heading out to make the most of it, and this was no exception. With a 10 AM start time, and a dedicated shuttle bus ferrying people to and from the venue, the beach filled quickly, although the expansive dance floor took longer to really get going. While the sun was out, many people seemed more content to work on their tans than their dance moves, which was a shame, particularly seeing as there seemed to be no running order behind the decks. Ricardo and Zip took turns to spin a few tracks each, and with most oblivious to the fact they were both on so early, this warm-up set offered a rare chance to see Villalobos without having to share him with a few thousand other people.
Presumably, this wasn't normal for Villalobos either and although he seemed to be enjoying himself, he looked as bemused as I was to see so few people dancing, a fact mirrored by a soporific but delightfully off-kilter set. After retiring for a bratwurst and a dip in the lake, we were lured back by the sounds of Thomas Melchior. Unlike Pronsato before him, Melchior jumped right in at the deep end, playing hard and fast with an aggressive track selection, coupled with an obscene rave horn sample dropped in at will throughout his set that somehow worked amazingly well.
Wearing a rude bwoy gold chain and wizard's hat, he galvanised the crowd, which by the set's end was baying for more. As the sun set, Ricardo stepped up for a back-to-back set with Fumiya Tanaka that adhered to the aggressive tone set by Melchior, but paired it with generous lashings of funk. It was great to see "Baile" so well received by the bronzed and boozed crowd who descended into an ad lib sing-along. It wasn't the cheapest day out, as exemplified by the glitzy-for-Berlin crowd, but not exorbitant, and the cost was more than offset by Stadtstrandfluss' ability to cover all the bases.
Friday, 14 August 2009
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
I've already written a bit about Todd 'God' Edwards here and here, but I thought I should just flag FACT's Essential...Todd Edwards list which gives a real insight into why this man is so fucking important to me and his legions of fans. Guess what sneaks in at number 3 on the list?
Monday, 10 August 2009
Phew. Bar 25's 6th Birthday celebrations were quite something. I'm going to be pulling bits of confetti out of my ass for the next few months, but this last 26 hour stint in that place of joy and wonder was one to savour. Bit too many people, and the music was a touch dodgy at times (ambient disco anyone?), but great fun nonetheless. Oh, and I'm pretty sure Daft Punk played a secret, semi-unannounced set in the circus. This is what the Bar 25 website has to say:
"and because they're Human After All they come from Around The World for an exclusive show: Interstella 2525"
The 2 DJs with dinner jackets and Robot heads on played 'Bizarre Love Traingle' followed by 'Blind' which left me smiling amidst a typhoon of confetti. Incidentally, above is House of House's remix of A Mountain of One's 'Bones'. The Whatever We Want records boys seem to be plodding along quite nicely no?
Thursday, 6 August 2009
I fucking hate Alexis Petridis so much. Every time I hear his name I want to pull out my hair and scream at the top of my lungs. The little smug fucker makes my skin crawl in a way only John Malkovich can. I'm not saying I have mad love for Calvin Harris, quite the opposite in fact, but who does he think he is to savage De'Lacy's 'Hideaway' and Robin S's 'Show Me Luv' [sic]?
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
This has been bugging me for a while. In a previous post, shortly after my return from Ibiza, I wondered what tune it was that Villalobos played that name-dropped himself. It was a sickly sweet pop tune from the 90s of which I failed to remember the name, both whilst at Amnesia or afterwards. After much searching, I have eventually found it out. It is a remix of Lumdee's 'Never Leave You', in which 'Oh ho' is substituted with 'Ri-Car-Do'. Thanks to here and here, I was able to work it out.
It must be the summer because Villalobos fever seems to be boiling over. We caught him this Sunday at the Berlin Beach Break event in Grünau, which was a wonderful day (if not a little teuer), photos and videos to follow soon. Ricardo played well (although far from exceptionally), and it was interesting to hear him drop 'Baile', but the real surprise was Thomas Melchior who delivered a set better suited to Berghain than a beach-based open air, and kept dropping in the most obscene rave horn sample at inopportune moments that really galvanised the crowd. Wearing a rude bwoy gold chain and a wizard's hat (odd look I know), he totally decimated things and along with the 31 degree heat, made the 15€ entry and 3€ beers worthwhile.