Almost as entertaining to watch as he is to listen to, his infectious grooves never fail to impress. His productions and reputation have seen Mathias Kaden reach the upper echelons of house and techno whilst few can match his funk fuelled performances. Mathias chats to MEOKO about trends, dancing and his upcoming work…
Hi Mathias,Thanks so much for answering some questions for us and all of your fans. It’s safe to say that both your productions and performances as a DJ have inspired many people. When did you decide that music and DJing would be your chosen career and who were your influences leading to that decision?
In 2000 I decided I would focus purely on making music and DJing. I was playing for friends and small clubs and got really into it. The music at the time was really good and not everyone was a DJ like it seems now! I had to work hard to get gigs but I wanted it badly and wanted it to be my life.
Which came first for you, playing music, or making it?
I was DJing from around 1996, the producing came later in around 2002.
The house and techno music that you produce has always been very distinctive, giving it a timeless appeal. Whether it’s the slightly darker more minimal pieces of years gone by, the ‘minimal samba’ that you championed over the last few years, or the slightly housier elements we can hear now, what is it that makes your tracks different to many other producers?
I try to just do what I want and not go with the current trend or sound that is in fashion. I play to make people dance and happy which I also hope crosses over into my productions. I love to do dancefloor tracks that I can play in my own sets. The minimal samba was a funny story but I’ve kind of left the percussion style and would say at the moment I’m into the stright roots of house and techno with a bit of samba :-)))) It changes all the time.
You often play back to back, do you prefer to do this or play on your own?
Either way is great….I love to play b2b with my dear friend Daniel Stefanik and also alone. As long as I’m playing I’m happy.
When you do play b2b, who do you enjoy playing with the most, or does it depend on the crowd?
Its always up to the crowd…..but if they don’t get it then I play what I want….nobody cares at that point! Playing b2b is a little different as you are sharing emotions together…..it can be really amazing to push each other higher to another level.
I break out in a sweat just watching you DJ…it’s great to see somebody perform with such energy and enthusiasm. I bet you don’t need to go to the gym very often?
Quite often it feels like I dance more than the crowd :-))))…..….when I start to play, I’m concentrating so hard I don’t know I’m doing it, I just move.
We’ve been really digging your remix of Ramon Tapia’s ‘Pili Pili’ on Suara in the office. Have you got anything lined up for release in the next month or two?
There are some remixes coming for Marek Hemmann, Nick Curly and for a Japanese producer called Sodeyama….and still hot are my remixes for Ruede Hagelstein, Wareika, Emerson Todd and Kink….It feels like I’ve done a lot. My next ep will come this year too!!
Your Studio 10 album on Vakant was released back in 2009…have you got any plans for another album, or is your touring schedule too busy?
I’m really busy but I’d like to work on the follow-up next year…….
You gig all over the world week in week out and obviously a lot of these are organized by your agent. If you were in charge of your own bookings for a couple of months, and assuming you could choose anywhere, where would you go and play?
Actually I’m in charge of my own bookings….me and my booker speak everyday about where I’m gonna play or not….;-)….one dream is to play in Africa…
Cheers for the interview.
By Nick Maleedy
You can next catch one of Mathias Kadens legendary sets at the upcoming OneMore Warehouse event on 22nd September where he’ll be playing alongside another MEOKO favourite, Cesare vs Disorder.
Brian Parsons is the man behind a film project of epic proportions – rather than simply spend a few months interviewing various DJs and producers about the usual cliched subjects, Brian set off on a mission to explore the nuances and subtleties in electronic music and create a piece of film that would stand the test of time – claiming its rightful place in history as a documentary that really goes beyond the standard formula. And he’s achieved that with In Search Of Sound, which is a masterpiece and truly does electronic music justice in many more ways than one. And MEOKO are very proud to be the first to speak with Brian in-depth about the film, ahead of its premiere – the date of which we will be announcing very soon, so keep checking the site for more information. In the meantime, here’s our chat with Brian..
When did you start the ISOS project and what was the reason for making the film?
First off I’d like to thank you guys and to the people reading. Except for a few interviews, such as one I did with Iceland’s national newspaper, we haven’t started our official PR campaign and at this point, after all these years, I have a lot to say.
The real start of ISOS was at the turn of the century when we moved to London but we went to the UK before that and filmed, it just wasn’t collaborative or global at that point. The digital filmmaking revolution was on, and I said to my mate Joel, let’s make a documentary film about all these artists and labels in the UK we both loved. It was an epiphany really, it wasn’t professional or anything like that, we didn’t have any money or backers, just a grand idea that turned into something much more than the initial idea. We looked through our record collections, contacted a bunch of labels and artists then took a trip to the UK and started filming. After we travelled all around the UK, filmed interviews and loads of other footage and after experiencing so many intimate moments, it became evident that there was more going on than a simple documentary film with a single narrative, something was manifesting itself beyond the initial innocent, perhaps even naive idea. There is no way we could have planned for what happened, for what it became, we would never really return from the journey back to our regular lives, something had fundamentally changed. So, the first reason for making ISOS ended up being the catalyst for what ISOS eventually became, which is a globally collaborative film series. I just had this sense that this era, the start of the next thousand years, needed to be acknowledged somehow in a big way for posterity, and that if something wasn’t done it would be another thousand years before we had another chance.
Did you have a clear vision of how it would be from the outset?
I had an idea but it wasn’t crystal clear until the initial trip, the first stage of the ISOS series if you will. The concept was to gather footage the first part of the new millennium onward and include all the different types of music that was happening. I saw it as a once in history opportunity to do something truly epic with film and music, a way to document not just music, but an era, for posterity, and continue filming and gathering footage indefinitely. It was like, hey this isn’t going to happen for another hundred or even thousand years given it was a new millennium, let’s do something amazing, not just another music documentary about this or that band or genre, but something all encompassing, truly epic. The vision I have is far into the future, it isn’t about Techno or electronic music or EDM per se. I’d like to think that at the end of this century when people are living on Mars or in space or wherever, they will be able to watch the series and come away with a better understanding of this era in general and the music in particular.
I suppose you could look at it as a condensed version of everything of this era, a one stop shop so to speak, so people in the future can watch it and see there was more going on than what they might otherwise get through the filter of time into the mass consciousness. It’s like how people now look at the 60’s and say, right, hippies, or 80’s and say right, yuppies. There was much more going on than what get’s through the filter of time. So if you’re sitting there in your Mars colony you could watch ISOS and get another perspective than what will undoubtedly make it through the filter of time. If they have one thing they could watch to get a sense of things from this era, a better perspective, I’d like to think ISOS is it.
How did you gather up all the footage? How did you make contact with the people who contributed?
There are three main ways we gather footage. The first is, the artists themselves film. This is, in my opinion, a good way to capture the honesty and realness of the artists and other people in and around music and sound related fields. There is a tendency to clam up in front of strangers with cameras, especially if you’re introverted as many artists can be. But, when you just give someone free reign to film however they want, there is a noticeable difference often times, and to me as a documentary filmmaker, this is very welcome. Another method is to have friends of the artists or people who know the artists do the filming. This method also puts the artist at ease and there is less, I don’t know, I guess tenseness is the word? It’s just something you have to see when you’re editing and watching all this footage.
The third way is, we will travel to film, or have someone in our network film. If we were to travel to every location and film every interview ourselves, the costs would be astronomical. I estimated the costs, and with travel, lodging, food, and extras etc. it was astronomical, well north of a million dollars.
How we contact people varies. I know allot of people in the music business and that helps, but mostly it’s fairly straightforward how we contact people to be in the film. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a phone call and once in a while it’s through a friend of a friend.
Did you give the contributors any guidelines? I have a list of basic directions I send, things like making sure the sound level is good and preferably use a mic. This isn’t always possible so we get footage that is kinda rough, but it is authentic. I ask everyone to feel free to be creative, film wherever you want, those kinds of directions. The idea is to give the artists or filmmaker freedom to do what they want, to have fun with it. We’ve gotten some very funny stuff too, which will be peppered throughout the series to lighten the mood or change things up. One thing we ask is for the artists to film an excursion, it can be anything really, but if there had to be a main point, I think this would be it, excursions from the global underground. Using this method we’ve received some very cool footage from all over the world and no two excursions are alike. To me, this is exciting and I’ve never seen anything quite like it as far as music documentaries go.
There is a film Ridley Scott and Kevin MacDonald did called “Life in a Day” which is similar to ISOS in that it is globally collaborative, however it focuses on regular folks from around the world rather than music artists and music/sound related people, but we were first as far as the global collaboration goes. Since we’re a small indie operation, I think it’s important people know we are the first to have done such a thing, otherwise it would just be ignored or maybe overlooked. It’s significant and people should know it doesn’t take millions of dollars and big connections to do something historical; you just need imagination and determination to see it through.
Was there anyone you wanted involved but couldn’t get?
So far everyone we’ve contacted has agreed to take part in the project and at this point there are far more artists that have agreed to be a part of the series than what’s on our website but they will be added soon enough. Artists and people that actually work at labels are most always very cool people who are open and understanding of what we’re doing.
How long has it taken to make the (first) film from beginning to end?
That’s actually not such an easy question to answer because of the nature of the project. The production started over a decade ago and is on-going, but the first volume after I’d decided what would go into it, was edited in a few months. We did a special showing at the Anthology Film Archives in New York during CMJ, just a test showing really, and after that I radically re-edited the entire first volume. That’s the one that won the London Underground Film Festival. I’m very picky when it comes to editing. Nothing is ever “finished” it seems, there’s always something I would change, some little part, or sound effect. It drives me crazy sometimes, but I know other filmmakers who are the same way. Mind you, when it’s editing time or if I have a deadline I’m pretty fast. So, even though it has been a long time gathering footage, though that’s mainly due to the nature of the project, when it comes time to edit I’d say it’s relatively quick. Mind you, we now have allot of footage in our archive, with more coming in on a regular basis, so it takes a long time just to sort through it all and decide what will go into each volume in the series. Fortunately I have become intimately familiar with the archive and had some advice organizing it from a professional British archivist.
What (is) the most difficult aspect of making ISOS?
That would be keeping track of everything. If you think about it for a minute, you’ll understand the complexity involved. Just to give you an idea, I’ll give an example of the average scenario and you can multiply that by a hundred. My sister, who is also a producer with ISOS, is someone whose taste I trust implicitly, and she’s been a tremendous help. Another person who has helped make things less difficult is Igor our web guru. There is a huge amount of work involved and to be honest, if it was just me doing everything, this project would be next to impossible. It’s people collaborating worldwide, even if just a little, that is the key to this project.
What do you think it says about ‘electronic music’ and the people that make it?
That’s a tough question, I mean, it says so many things, both about the creation and the creator. Music is as diverse and unique as the people who make it. ISOS isn’t about electronic music per se, but it is a major factor, mainly because the state of the art in music and sound technology is usually something electronic. One thing that’s become evident, when hearing from people who make it, is the futility of trying to define music by using genres as a means of categorization. I think a new approach to categorization or rather identification of music, needs to be developed, a terminology that disambiguates, because, as it is, music is thrown into these meaningless ghettoes and it could be a lifetime before someone discovers music they might actually love.
What ISOS says about the artists who create the music is revealed over the course of the series. The careful observer who stays with the series, watches each volume and pays attention, will, I think, come to understand music, and it’s creation, on a deeper level or more completely, and the importance of opening up to new sounds, not limiting one’s self to any one spectrum of sound.
Now, there is music that, in my mind, has a sound that is just a cookie cutter copy of other music. You tend to get that with genres when you have millions of people using similar sounds, software and formulas. Not sure what that says about the individuals who make music like that. It’s a bit like a chef only creating one type of dish with one flavour profile.
At the end of the day ISOS is a grand adventure, and what it says, and what one might learn from it, is, like music, entirely dependent upon the individual. It’s supposed to be fun with some education thrown in for good measure. People learn better when they’re enjoying themselves and not being preached to, at least that’s true for me. One thing is for certain and that is, a tremendous amount of patience and care, not to mention time has gone into this project and whatever people get out of it, I really do hope they enjoy it.
What’s your own personal history with electronic music? How did you get into it etc… ?
I have a fairly long history with electronic music. I’ve been a synthesist, owned synthesizers and produced electronic music. I started off with a number of analogue and digital synths. At first I was in bands then started producing music on my own. I started a label called and then started throwing raves and had a couple clubs. Through it all I’ve been a lover of music, in particular electronic music, especially innovative sounds, but, even though the science behind it all is fascinating, for me it’s about emotion really, more than anything else and how it makes me feel.
My earliest exposure to electronic music, from what I remember, was pretty funny actually. I was very young, maybe seven or eight years old and on a trip to Disney world with my grandparents. There was this guy performing at the plaza where we were eating, think it was the space area? Tomorrow World or whatever it’s called. Anyway, this guy was surrounded by synthesizers and he was doing the most absolutely cool stuff, I mean real spacey, mesmerizing stuff that just left me in a trance. The whole experience stuck with me and I never forgot it. Later on in life I worked at this plant nursery over the Summer to buy my first synth, which at that time were very expensive.It was so hot and miserable working in the greenhouses, but I was so determined to buy a synth and start making sounds, it was all I thought about. I’d go to this music store after school and spend hours with headphones on playing with synths like a Korg Mono/Poly, Roland Juno 106, Jupiter8, JX8P, Polysix, an Arp Odyssey, Oberheim Matrix 12, a Mini Moog. I remember it like it was yesterday, it was wonderful and I would get lost in sounds for hours.
So, I had been creating electronic music for many years before getting into digital filmmaking. It went into this project with some background and understanding. I was intimately familiar with electronic music and passionate about it and this lead to the vision for ISOS. I don’t think I would have thought about it, nor would it have had the characteristics it has, if I had not had a background in electronic music. Also, I think ISOS will appeal to electronic musicians because the interview questions and many of the things we talk a
out, the way they’re talked about, are things electronic musicians and mus
cians in gen
ral think and talk about in their lives. That’s not to say filmmakers have to have a background in the subjects they make films about, but if they do I think it can make for a richer, more in depth film.
Who were you into when you first got into electronic music?
I was into all kinds of stuff but the strongest influence came from synth players like Nick Rhodes, Richard Barbieri and David Sylvian of Japan. Their sounds are so wonderful and atmospheric. Also Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire, Kraftwerk, YMO, Ultravox, Visage, Heaven 17, Human League, Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream…There are loads, but all the Duran Duran B-sides, especially songs like Tel Aviv and Sound of Thunder, and all the stuff from Japan…It was like another world to me, very futuristic sounding, mysterious and unlike anything else I’d heard. I also appreciated the older more experimental stuff, like Stockhausen, and John Cage, but again, it’s about emotion to me. I’m looking for an emotive experience and music has the power to do that. Even today I’m always searching and expecting to hear something that affects me on a personal level and there is allot of good stuff out there.
Are there any particular moments or pieces of footage that you were really impressed with or would consider to be a highlight of the doc?
That’s a tough question for me because there are many. It was difficult during post production because there is so much footage that I wanted to include in the first volume, but because of time considerations, and how it worked within the context of the rest of the footage in the film, had to be left for future volumes. Some highlights are Retina.it and their interview and excursion near Mount Vesuvius. They loaded up these comfortable chairs, like you’d have in your living room, and brought them out on this stretch of road on this peninsular with Mt. Vesuvius in the background. In this case, an avant-garde filmmaker Pier Paolo Patti filmed the footage. What these music/sound artists Idrioema did was also fantastic and surreal. They didn’t appear in the footage, rather, they filmed inside an old electric power generating museum in Lisbon, in black and white, and replied to the interview questions via voiceover. Mouse on Mars submitted some interesting cinema verite footage from their HQ and studios in Dusseldorf and were very funny. Ruxpin, an Icelandic artist, filmed beautiful footage from the wilds of Iceland around the geysers. Eysteinn Gudmanson, who filmed the Icelandic group mum also filmed beautiful shots of icebergs and wildlife. Autorotation filmed all the steps in their creative process, from initial idea to finally going to Berry Street studios in downtown London. Andy Carthy from Mr Scruff gave us a very special in depth interview and fantastic tour of his studio and his vintage instruments. Mark Henning’s footage was kinda funny, he included all the outtakes, so, for example, he’d answer a question, mess it up, then start again, he’s so precise and such a perfectionist, I love it. He also took us on an excursion through Berlin, which is good fun. Visually, it’s amazing and random, something you get when people are free to film where and how they want. See, I’ve gone on a bit because there is so much, but hopefully this will give people an idea.
Mind you, all the footage is edited over the course of the series, and so, you become familiar with the characters throughout the series. This makes it more interesting and draws people into the various plots and subplots, and all the different narratives that are woven throughout the course of the series. It’s not easy to hold people’s attention these days, people are used to things like Facebook now and everything is what’s next, what’s next. You’re constantly scrolling and looking for the next thing. So, we give them that, but we also want people to actually learn things, pick them up via osmosis, and all while enjoying themselves while jumping from place to place around the world.
One thing that’s impressive and worth noting, besides the sonic and filmic diversity, is the amount of geographic diversity and locations. The film jumps from one environment in one part of the world to a completely different environment in another part of the world, from the wilderness, to a rooftop in New York or London, then a split second later you’re on the other side of the planet in Tokyo or Mumbai. It can’t be stressed enough how epic it all is. Another thing worth pointing out is, ISOS encompasses just about every kind of filmmaking style imaginable. It also features footage from dozens of different cameras and filmmakers and the result is unpredictable, something like Exquisite Corpse, except with filmmaking. Each filmmaker and segment is unlike the rest. It’s very eclectic.
What’s your ultimate aim with the film?
To me, ISOS is for posterity, it is something beyond the ordinary. Practically speaking though, we want to show the film in as many places and to as many people as possible and make the film available first as a special collector’s edition Bluray. We have some big plans for the film series and it needs a distributor that can understand it, but at the end of the day we are prepared to release it on our own, and considering this new era of digital filmmaking, that is happening more and more nowadays.
We’re using what’s called a “Long Tail” distribution plan as opposed to a traditional “Big Launch/opening weekend” traditional Hollywood type plan. It allows us to build up a greater amount of interest first, before an official release. We’re also going to use a Hybrid Distribution strategy as opposed to a traditional one. This is something developed by a film consultant, Peter Broderick, and will allow us to maximize distribution worldwide without, for example, one distribution company having the rights for twenty plus years.
Is there an underlying message?
There is an underlying message, actually there is more than one, but I want to leave it up to the viewer to discover. What I can say is, we live in a time where the creation of music and the technology to make it, is phenomenal and the possibilities for music creation are wonderful, but at the end of the day, it’s the creators, not what’s used to create, that is of course key. It’s interesting to see musical equipment once considered, perhaps obsolete, is being re-visited and used to create a new, contemporary sound. One of the many things we focus on is analogue synthesizers and the resurgence of the sound produced by them. That is one of the threads that runs through the series.
We also focus on the cutting edge of sound production, so you’ll see some interesting technology there as well. Just as a small example, how many people have ever heard of a Notron? You’ll see the first one ever made in ISOS, and that’s just one small example of we take it to. It’s well rounded I think as far as music/sound technology, we don’t paint ourselves into a corner and focus on any one aspect of music, like only electronic music, or even only music period. We focus on anything and everything sound, with music being a major, perhaps the most important aspect of sound. But we also focus on other aspect of sound, such as Cymatics, and all of this will come out in future volumes of the series. The music though especially is independent, non-corporate, underground music. There needs to be awareness of this and I hope ISOS can be a light that shines on it for the world to see.
What kind of reaction are you hoping for from your audience?
It would be nice if the audience appreciates all the effort that went in to making it and just enjoy watching. I remember reading somewhere that, during the screening of 2001 someone, I believe it was Rock Hudson, stood up in the middle of the film and walked down the aisle saying “could somebody tell me what the hell this film is about!” Something like that would be amazing, but when it’s all said and done, it’d be nice to have some recognition to what we’ve done. Maybe some media or press people can help with that.
How would you describe the film, in simple terms?
A visually interesting film that is eclectic in style, substance and sound, featuring a tremendous variety of music artists, record labels, people and places, with excursions from all around the world.
What would you say is its biggest selling point/most unique feature?
I’d say the music artists that are featured, the global collaboration, the fact that dozens of filmmakers are involved and also the look and feel of it. It’s the first of its kind.
When did you get to the point where you decided the time was right to collate all your footage and put the first volume of the film out?
(laughs) Well, it was just about damn time, that’s all. I’d thought about releasing the first volume a few years back but I felt something was missing, it just wasn’t ready. Since ISOS is an on-going effort and we’re continuously adding new artists and footage, there really is no “ending” so to speak, so putting a volume together is a matter of editing. As far as ISOS being finished, I don’t think about it like that or in that way, it’s a journey, not a destination. Except for a few people close to the project, I’ve never really explained things to anyone the way I have in this interview, it’s all been a bit mysterious and quiet really. I haven’t sought any big publicity for it or contacted media yet. It’s more like aprocess of osmosis,and after a few edits, some showings, then re-edits and aside from some minor changes we’re going to make for the Bluray, the first volume is ready.
How do you feel about the current growth of electronic music?
I would have thought EDM, for example, would have been on mainstream radio years ago, and even now it’s not, not really, but I actually think now that might have been a good thing. By keeping it underground and out of the mainstream all these years, it’s made it stronger and more apt to last. It still has a strong underground component. Kraftwerk, for example, is not a known quantity among the average American.
What is exciting to me is how spread out it has become, all the variety, it’s truly amazing. When I think about the times I used to walk into music stores and ask about synthesizers and the sales guys would say something like “why do you want a synthesizer, that’s just a passing trend, what you need is a guitar” (this actually happened) or there was a sort of hostility towards the subject of “all this damn electronic music” and synths in particular, it’s hard to imagine now that was not that long ago.
Also, the fact that what used to cost at least half a million dollars or more, you can now have in a corner of your bedroom for the price of a computer, some software and a synth/keyboard controller. I remember drooling over the Fairlight which used to cost a couple hundred thousand dollars, but now you can have a setup with more power and more control for less than a grand. Now, Fairlights and other instruments are back in vogue, with artists like Com Truise for example, and being used to make completely new sounding music. It’s just wonderful and I hope people keep looking for ways to create new sounds and make new music with the vintage gear. There is no reason not to because all that can be said and all that can be done with that gear was not all said and done when it came out, because most people didn’t have access to it. So you have this situation where alot of people are getting into the older new stuff and making new music and that is awesome, but you also have completely new kinds of music and sound instruments and equipment, and that is exciting too.
What’s the next step? Where can people see the film?
We’re creating a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for Bluray production, PR and other things. We have thousands of fans and alot of interest but a PR campaign letting the press and media know about it, I think will help take things to the next level. We’re planning some showing too and will show at some more film festivals.
Every year that goes by in the British house scene sees Heidi grow ever more successful. Moving permanently to London from her native Canada at the turn of the millennium, she’s worked her way up from record store shop assistant to world-renowned DJ to now national radio presenter on BBC Radio One. Attractive, fun, talented and ambitious; Heidi has it all.
So it’s little wonder she’s joining the eye-wateringly good lineup for the Saturday night opening of Mancunian institution. The Warehouse Project. It’s revered reputation can draw jaded London clubbers out of the capital and past Zone 6 to experience its exquisite programming throughout the season, but it’s the opening weekend that is always a big draw. Which explains why for Welcome To The Warehouse, on Saturday 28th September they’ve roped in Nicolas Jaar to play live, Seth Troxler, Maceo Plex, Four Tet (DJ set) Ben Klock, Julio Bashmore, Scuba, Joy Orbison & Jackmaster B2B, Jacques Greene, Andrew Weatherall, Soul Clap, Justin Robertson, Bicep, Krysko & Greg Lord and of course, Heidi, who is playing B2B with that other first lady of UK house, Maya Jane Coles.
It’s a clever pairing as the popular producer has just appeared on Heidi’s most recent Jackathon compilation so fans of both must surely be delighted by this addition to the line-up. With all this and more in mind, we caught up with Heidi ahead of Welcome To The Warehouse…
Hi Heidi, how are you?
I’m fantastic. I just landed in the Ukraine. Its 40 degrees and I’m about to play Kazantip Festival. It’s been described to me as Mad Max meets Burning Man… Hmm let’s see. I’ve never been to this country before. I like exploring new places.
You grew up in Windsor, Ontario in Canada, and it seems that over the last few years, some insanely good electronic music is coming out of Canada. Be honest- is there something in the water over there?
…… Um. Not sure. I’ve been gone for so long that I haven’t really been keeping track of what’s happening in Canada. All the artists I know from Canada don’t live there anymore with the exception of Tiga. I think the UK is on fire at the moment. So many great artists breaking through.
What inspired you to make the move to London back in 2000?
Well I first moved to the UK in 1997 for over a year then came back permanently in 2000. The music drew me here. I’ve always been in love with the UK. I was an indie kid. I thought I would come over here and try and get a job working for a rock label. That obviously didn’t happen. I got swept up in the electronic music scene by accident.
You describe your style as “booty-shakin’ house”. How did you learn to shake your ass?
From a TV program my sister and I used to watch when we were young called “The New Dance Show” from Detroit. Get on YouTube and check it out. It’s brilliant.
If you were an alcoholic drink, what would you be and why?
Mezcal. Because it brings you up… not down. And also gets you jacked.
Considering you’ve played literally the best clubs across the globe, all the best festivals, got your own national radio show, released on Get Physical, not to mention your success with Jackathon… If you can pinpoint it, what do you think has been your career defining moment so far?
I guess making the leap of faith into choosing this as a career and putting every last ounce of energy I have into it. I could have flopped on my face. I stuck it out and proved myself to my peers. Every achievement after that was because I gave 110% of myself, treated everyone with genuine kindness, and sacrificed things in my life that people take for granted.
You’re playing the opening weekend for The Warehouse Project- in your opinion what makes Manchester a great city to play in and what makes WHP so special that people will travel from across the country to experience it?
It is by far my favourite place to play in the UK. Mancunians have always embraced music in every form and have spawned many amazing bands and set trends that the world eventually picked up on. They have a lot of heart. When you live in a place that has shit weather most of the time and little to do, the next best thing is to completely immerse yourself in music. I can relate to those people, as that’s what I did when I was younger. Music has been my outlet to everything wonderful that has happened in my life.
After having Maya Jane Coles feature on your latest Jackathon Jams compilation, you’re now going b2b with her at WHP. What can we expect from you both in the midst of a stunning line-up?
Honestly the only thing you can expect is a massive height difference. Haha. We are just going to feel each other out as we go along. Our styles have a bit of crossover and it will be nice to see where we take it. I like the element of surprise.
You credit working at London record store Phonica as transforming you from “vinyl fanatic to budding DJ”. Retail can be a funny place- what’s the weirdest experience you ever had with a customer whilst working there?
Nothing weird. Just guys never taking my answers on questions they ask me about music seriously. They would always ask me something, I would tell them the answer then minutes later they would ask one of the guys working there…. and they always gave the same answer as me! Idiots.
What would you say is the most unexpected record in your own personal collection?
I like so many different genres of music that it all looks unexpected to the untrained eye.
What was the first song, or type of music, you remember truly touching you in your formative years?
The first, and always my favourite, is Prince’s Purple Rain album. It changed my life and was the first piece of music I owned.
What’s next for Jackathon?
I have a slew of EPs lined up with some shit hot producers on remix duty. That’s all I’m sayin’. Can’t give away all my secrets.
You recently had Richie Hawtin on your Radio One show, describing him as “truly inspiring”. Who’s the craziest guest you’ve ever had?
They are all crazy in their own way. I usually tend to get people on who make me laugh and have a great sense of humour. Makes for good listening. Music shouldn’t be so serious all the time. The Soul Clap boyz are the lights of my life.
Do you have any plans or desires to move from radio to TV?
If the opportunity presents itself I’m all over it. I would love to.
And finally, what motto do you live your life by?
Even when you’re tired, sick, lonely and hungover: keep it to yourself. Nobody likes a complainer… And The Golden Rule: treat everyone the way you want to be treated. One thing I can’t stand is a diva DJ.
Diynamic has become a hugely popular label. What were the ideas behind it when you started the label 6 years ago and how does it feel to see it become so popular?
When we founded the label almost 6 years ago, I think none of us expected that we will stand in the position we are now in 6 years later. I feel very flattered that our music has received so much recognition. We always did what we love and that we have been successful with it is just amazing. We are very proud of it, sure, but more the fact that we have a great group of talented artists and that we’ve all become friends and a family.
Have you got anything exciting lined up for us on Diynamic over the coming months?
Always! The next EP is coming from H.O.S.H who is collaborating with Malonda again.I think this can be something big. We are also doing an extra music video for that track and also a radio version. The concept of the video is ‘Neon’, like our Diynamic Neon Nights residency at Sankeys Ibiza.
2DiY4 is your new sister label, how does it differ from Diynamic and what are your future plans for that?
After Diynamic’s huge success my label partner Adriano and me wanted to create a platform on which we can experiment and release music which would not fit on Diynamic outright. So we created 2DIY4 to do exactly that. It’s basically a bigger platform for different music. Actually we had more kind of bootleg tracks and only one indie band release from Pool, who are close to finishing the second one. We also planned to have release with The Teenagers, another indie band from Paris.
Before signing a track, which boxes does it have to tick? Do you decide if something gets signed or does it go to the vote with other people involved in the process?
I’m the first contact and then I send it to my partner. Then I play the track and check how it works, after that I send the track to my boys. It’s always a long way to the final product. We don’t try to change the track, but I talk very much with the artist till we are both happy. We keep the style and feeling, but sometimes you have the feeling that is not 100%. So we try to make the best of it. I always say to them, this is actually the track we signed and we love, so let’s try and go other ways to have the best result so we are all happy with it.
Not only are you a top DJ, producer and label manager but you are also a club owner. Although we haven’t been there ourselves yet, EGO in Hamburg has a great reputation! Can you tell us a little bit about the club? Do you have a hands on roll in the management or do you leave all that for somebody else?
In the beginning you have to do it mostly on your own and the team network is building during the time, but I have to admit that it is sometimes not so easy to bring it all together. I have a great partner who takes care of the label work mostly. We have four other people who work for us in the office, for both the label and the club. My sister manages mostly the club, but she has as well two assistants, who take care of the bar and logistics stuff. And she’s there mostly every weekend. I do the booking for the club only, but I’m involved in everything that happens for sure.
There’s a lot of talk on the proposed price changes in music licensing by GEMA which threatens Germany’s great nightlife culture. What are your thoughts on this and will it have an adverse affect on EGO?
This situation is super hard for all of us but even more for the bigger clubs. In the end we also have to see what this will mean for us. Our club is running well, but what we earn is not as much as that. It could mean we’ll have to close the club.
Your Diynamic Neon Nights residency is running throughout the summer at Sankeys Ibiza. It’s a great venue, but what made you decide to do it there?
We chose maybe the hardest way for a newcomer on the island: new club, new brand with Diynamic Neon Nights and only our artists playing and no other host or promoter to fill the club with guest lists or support. But we loved the challenge and our Diynamic nights have been running everywhere througout Europe and have been going very well, so we thought ‘Let’s do it!’.
And why Neon?
It was important for us to give our baby a name with a small concept behind and a new brand. From all the ideas we got, this was the one where everybody felt like it could work ‘cause it’s a fun aesthetic choice and it gives us lot of headroom to play with the name and concept. We thought it fits also very well to the basic light and design concept of the club. Combined with our sound, I think it has been a good idea.
Now imagine this scenario…you’re playing on a boat party and everybody is having the time of their lives when pirates board and take over. Things are looking pretty bad until you see one of the pirates is really digging your tracks. He asks you to join him over on his Pirate Ship as resident DJ. What do you do?
[Haha] If this is the only way to save our lives, i will go for it for sure! Maybe I’m able to change the minds of the pirates during my residency, that it’s not so friendly what they do.
Words by Nick Maleedy
Solomun plays Diynamic Neon Nights @ Sankeys Ibiza every Tuesday till September 11. Solomun’s Watergate 11 is out now.
Teenaged producer Alfie has just released his latest EP Uncomfortably Numb on Brighton based record label Blah Blah Blah and is set to play London’s latest inner-city dance music festival, Eastern Electrics, later this summer. With records previously released on Tighten Up, the label founded by his brother, the noted producer A1 Bassline, and graced the hallowed booths of Fabric at the tender age of 16; it’s fair to say that the young artist has already accomplished a great deal more than most, before he’s even reached the legal drinking age. It’s difficult not to let his young years be the first thing to catch your attention, but the more you discover about him, the more that feels like a disservice. Polite, intelligent, incredibly grounded, with a penchant for making house music that you want to listen to again and again… you can’t help but be charmed by Alfie.
Hi Alfie, how are you?
I’m good, thanks, cheers for having me.
Most 17 years are doing A Levels and/or annoying people on the bus by playing tinny music on the smartphones. You’re already off achieving things many can only dream of! What do you attribute your success to?
Hard work, dedication to music, not just making music, but also studying music, listening to all kinds of music and not trying to be too single minded about music. Listening to good advice and trying to be a nice person, which is the best advice I ever had; why be a horrible person when it’s just as easy to be nice?
How old were you when you first started making music?
I’ve been around music all of my life through my family, but personally, I started becoming really interested in making it at about 15, I had my first release at 16 on Tighten Up records.
Who are you biggest musical influences?
My brother (A1 Bassline) has been a massive influence on me and in being instrumental in me making dance music. Outside of that, I have a great love for various genres, jazz, r’n’b, old and new hip hop, ska and a lot of different genres of dance; particularly garage, techno and house. I’ve grown up on a lot of Garage, especially Dem2, / US Alliance (Dean Boylan), as my Dad was his manager and I’ve spent a lot of time around him, he gave me the sampler he used for Destiny (E-Bay…. only joking).
Congratulations on playing Fabric at the tender age of 16. What are your plans to be so groundbreaking at 18 and 21?
Captaining England’s football team, then being Heavyweight Champion Of The World… sorry couldn’t resist that. Honestly, it may sound cliché, but I just want to be doing this for a living, forever. I love music, I live for it, and I can’t stand it when some people don’t appreciate what they have and take it for granted.
What’s it like playing at most world-revered clubs before your peers can even contemplate going there?
Obviously it’s an honour to be playing some of the places I have. I’m also extremely excited to be playing Eastern Electrics Festival as last time I was at the O2 it was as the main support to The Fall, which I still have to pinch myself about.
Do your friends ever get envious of the lifestyle?
I wouldn’t say so. I still go for a kick about with my mates over the park and go to local parties with all of my mates who I went to school with, plus I still play football of a weekend and have some good friends in my team. That’s my lifestyle really, music and football.
How did you come to be on Blah Blah Blah Records?
Me and my manager (also my old man) had been approached by a few labels, but they came across as the ideal label, the right ideas etc. They are a label going places.
Do you consider Tighten Up to be your home label, one you’ll always release on?
Well that’s a tough question, I don’t think so, it’s a very open label and there is no contract, no terms apart from the cut. If anything comes along, then there is no pressure; I’m a totally free agent. I have a few labels knocking at the door and we are definitely doing another release with Blah Blah Blah in the New Year.
Your hometown of Oxted has produced a number of musical luminaries- your brother A1 Bassline, Joy Orbison… Louise from Eternal… how does it feel to follow in their footsteps?
That Louise better be looking over her shoulder… 😉 You left out a couple, especially FOLD, he’s doing some great stuff at the moment, also with his other act Homepark. Again it’s an honour to be following in their footsteps, especially Christian (A1 Bassline), he’s my hero. I was gutted when he left home just over a year ago, I hardly get to see him these days, when I do we always spend a bit of time playing tracks to each other, but mainly we just get lost in the TV playing Call Of Duty and Fifa.
You previously did a guestmix for Rinse FM, could you ever see yourself going into radio as well, further down the line?
That’s a way off, but if it were offered I’d love to. Rinse or NTS would be a dream; I’d do one of them in a flash. I’m actually doing a guest slot on NTS on the 26th July on the Deep Shit show with Adam Parylak, Edwin (Foals) and Jack (Friendly Fires),which again, I can’t thank them enough for their support. After that, I’m straight over to Dingwalls to see K-lashnekoff , another underrated genius.
Your new EP Uncomfortably Numb has had support from Catz N Dogz, Sei A and even from XLR8R. Are you surprised by the great reaction or is it all part of the master plan?
I’d like to also mention the support I’ve had from Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin, Four Tet, Addison Groove, Oneman, even Skream and Groove Armada. There is no master plan as such. There is some sort of plan and yes the reaction I’ve had so far has been unbelievable, all of my current day favourite artists bigging up my music is beyond what I expected. It seems to be hard to know when you have made a good tune, I don’t think anyone is really entirely happy with what they have made. I watched a documentary on Roy Orbison and someone asked him what his best tune was and he said “I haven’t made it yet”. He was a genius and a very sad loss.
What DJs and producers are really inspiring you at the moment?
Most of the above plus the likes of Skudge, Levon Vincent, Kyle Hall (who I had the pleasure of meeting the other day), Omar S, Basic Soul Unit, Shed, Mike Huckaby, Boddika, KiNK, Kerri Chandler, Groove Chronicles, Juan Atkins and Boo Williams.
What can people expect from your set at Eastern Electrics festival next month?
A lot of my own tracks, a few new bits and I’ll see what the reaction is from the crowd and go from there really.
Everyone has embarrassing music tastes lurking in depths of their youth but you’ve been making awesome music instead. Can you please tell us what the most embarrassing record you ever bought was and make the rest of feel a little bit less jealous of your musical prodigy?
I’ve been so lucky, and luck is a big part of anyone having any sort of success, but I’ve never had to buy much music as there has been so much of it around me. There are so many records and CDs in my house in virtually every room and more in the attic, I’ve still got so much more to get through, but my biggest guilty pleasure is probably a bit of Pink Floyd. The first record I bought was Miles Davis a rare 10inch in the Esquire series called Blows.
What’s the best bit of advice that’s been given to you about the music industry?
As I said earlier, work hard and try to be a nice person. Everyone loves a grafter.
Alfie’s new EP Uncomfortably Numb is out now on Blah Blah Blah Records.
Leaving behind his birthplace Buenos Aires to firmly establish himself in Berlin, mecca of electronic music and THE place to make it not break it in 2012, Argentinean live musician and producer Dilo is known for his exquisite audio. His productions that sound like crystalline experimental techno and house are, quite simply put, some of the most marvelous releases around, and as part of the smooth-sounding dream-cream pop band Monotax, he’s done an incredible job to get electronic music lovers into live band formats again. Regularly surfacing on various labels — may it be on his own imprint, Igloo Records, which has released material from the likes of Pinkler Ismael,From Karaoke To Stardom and himself, manifesting himself as the abstract yet fluffy Elephant Pixel –, he’s published music on Hope Central, Soma, Telegraph, Einmaleins, Trapez, LessIzMore, Esperanza, Adjunct, Minus, We Are, Dumb Unit, Clink, Unfoundsound, Leftroom, Romanphoto, amongst others. And it does not stop there. Teaming up with Los Angeles’s oddball [a]pendics.shuffle, their goofy identity Cascabel Gentz is ruff-shuffling the floors once more.
In 2009, Dilo released his first album called “Waheira” on his own label Igloo-Rec. Its title song pushed all the way into Beatport’s Top 10 and hit the De-Bug Magazine chart at number 2. This massive debut was followed up by a double release with remixes by Mark Henning, Agaric, Kate Simko, Someone Else, From Karaoke To Stardom, Elon, and many more. Now, three years down the road, he is about to give birth to his second longplayer, “Ethereal”, a true love child born in the hazy gap in between the floor and outer space. For those in the know, it is clear that his move to Berlin has played an important role in Dilo adjusting his outlook on music, life, and the industry in particular, working even harder to make himself heard. Recently playing at Barcelona’s edition of the ultra-established minimalist Mutek festival, he is now regularly accompanying his live acts with his own vocals, which he also lent to Fritz & Lang. Playing an important role in his current productions, his gentle voice is giving his often clinical and microscopic sound an earthen tone and feel, whilst paying tribute to his everlasting love to the Beatles and their colossal harmonics.
His Latin American roots gently shimmer through the cool and often grey Berlin summer vibes, making his MEOKO podcast offering the perfect soundtrack for this summer as well as offering a taste of what it means to be Dilo these days.
Hey Dilo, great to catch up with you again… tell me about the mix first..
I wanted to express my momentary situation, music-wise….what I’ve been listening and playing lately and which things are influencing me. I also wanted to express what it’s like to live the Berlin summer with its random weather and constant rains.
Where and what are you playing recently, what is being something you consciously dig?
Recently, I’ve been playing a lot in Berlin and Hamburg, as well as the Mutek Festival in Barcelona, in Switzerland, at the Black in Odessa (Ukraine) and I’m excited about what’s next: My Igloo Night at Chalet, the new club by the former Bar25 crew, Azora Festival in Hungary, and then my USA tour in September and South America in November.
How on earth was Mutek? Did you play as Elephant Pixel or Dilo?
I played as Dilo and did vocals live. I played tracks by Dilo, Monotax and Cascabel Gentz, my project with [a]pendics.shuffle.
It’s been a very good year for you, no?
So far so good…though you cant really relax. It’s work you do pretty much every day and you have to keep it up.
How does this challenge feel for you? Is this what you yearned for when you left Argentina for good?
I try not to think too much about the “challenge” itself. It’s true tho that moving here permanently was a clear challenge in the fact that now I have to play for the whole year and not just for four or five months. I’m glad that so far it’s going well! Truth is that bookings have been going well for the last eight years so I could have moved here before, I just didn’t want to do it. Now I’m sure about it.
So now, playing live has become a mayor focus?
No, I still work hard on the label and on making music. I’ve been working for nearly three years on my new album, “Ethereal”. I also have been doing lots of collaborations with friends in Berlin. I did stuff with my old friend and collaborator Nicolas Stofenmacher and his new project Fritz & Lang, as well as new songs with [a]pendics.shuffle, Justin Nabbs, Pipo Vitch, Shadi Megallaa, just to mention a few. I don’t know when it will come out as I don’t have a label bugging me about this, it will be done when it’s done and it will be on my label Igloo. It will be a double album delivery. Let’s say it’s double but it will be released in two parts. I love my label Igloo and it’s the label that most sounds like me so at the end it’s natural to be released on my own imprint. If this release will generate interest of other labels, that’s welcome too.
So… how does ethereal feel?
It feels like a lot of work. And it feels like tripping sometimes. In any case… better you tell me how it sounds! On each part of the album are around ten tracks which will be showing all my different faces, but everything will be signed as “Dilo”. So you get to hear Monotax, Elephant Pixel, Cascabel Gentz all together somehow.
How will they finally find together, what will be their faces? Will they all become one?
Basically expect dance floor tracks but not just that, let’s make it a double bet by adding some “songs” and electronic elements like IDM and ambient to it. A bit like how started off with my first album “Waheira”. The artwork was done by a wonderful artist i discovered when i was playing in Sao Paulo, Brazil. His name is Antonio Failache.
Do you like owls?
I love nature and animals, I seem to have something with birds. Owls, penguins, albatrosses.
Last question of this interview before we’re off into the mix. Who is the night owl talking like a journalist in a taxi… at the beginning?
That’s a piece of an interview executed many years ago by a radio station from Munich – recorded at Aula Magna, Seph’s and Pablo Denegri’s studio in Buenos Aires.
As frontman of The Shamen back in the early 1990’s, Mr. C rose to prominence with the success of tracks such as ‘Ebeenezer Goode’ and ‘Move Any Mountain’. In recent years he is most well known for his part ownership of The End, one of London’s best ever venues, his own night Superfreq which he continues to tour around the globe, his label under the same Superfreq guise which relaunches this year, and of course his legendary DJ sets which incorporate all that is good in electronic music.
From milkman, to MC, to one of the world’s most respected DJ figures – Mr. C chats with MEOKO about some of his secrets to success and the importance of meditation, confidence and a positive mental attitude…
Everyone has a different story of how they got involved in electronic music. Yours is better documented than most with your background in MC’ing and the Shamen. Can you tell us about your very first ‘clubbing’ experience?
I started clubbing at only 13 years of age, first going to the disco pubs in Hackney Road & Shoreditch & then to the Lyceum Ballroom in the Strand & Busby’s in Tottenham Court Road. I then hit all the CB radio clubs which were awesome in the early 80’s & by the time I was 16 I was going to the Titanic in Mayfair & Xenon’s in Piccadilly. It was at 16 that I started to MC in the clubs.
At what point did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
I knew I wanted to be involved in music & nightlife from about 15 years of age which was why I started writing rap lyrics.
Which point did your parents accept that this is what you wanted to do?
I’m from a single parent family & my mum was always happy with my choice until I hit 21 & gave up my last regular job to be involved in DJing full time at which point my mum went nuts. We had a big row & she told me “We can’t fucking eat vinyl”. 6 months later she ate her words when I was bringing in a comparable wage to my last real job, which was a milkman.
You left school very early with no qualifications but have gone on to become very successful…what would your words of wisdom be to a young nipper asking for some worldly advice…keep your head in the books and you’ll go far, or work hard but party harder?
I think that if you have a chance to go to college then you should go, but there are many poor families that can’t afford to send their kids to college. To these kids I’d say believe in yourself & your art or chosen profession.
As my lyrics said in “Move Any Mountain”: Put your mind on what you want & you will go higher, put detailed thought into every desire, believe in yourself, you’ll know what you’ll find, there is no can’t in a trouble free mind…
If you work hard for what you want, have vision & visualize in absolute detail, feeling the joy of achievement as though it’s already achieved & work extremely hard to achieve your dreams, then they will indeed come true. The reason I’ve done so well is because of my complete belief in myself. Also, I thoroughly recommend learning meditation as this connects you to the world of the ideas & also makes your belief in yourself more powerful.
It’s been 4 years since ‘The End’ very sadly shut down. Do you miss it and do you ever see yourself opening another venue again?
No I don’t miss The End. I do look back with the fondest of memories as it was the best club in the world & through the sale of the club, I was able to really help out my very poor family financially which alone made it worth closing. As of yet I have no desire to open another venue, I’m very content doing my Superfreq events the world over so no more owning clubs & tying myself down just yet, but never say never.
You moved to LA after the end of ‘The End’. How does your lifestyle differ there to the one you had in London? Would you say it offers you a better quality of life?
The quality of life is way better, just think about the incessant rain that London has had for the last 8 weeks. London is like New York in that’s it very fast. Here in LA things are so much more relaxed, the people a very friendly & the lifestyle is so much healthier. Also I bought an amazing house here in LA which for the same money would’ve got me a crappy 3 bed semi with tiny rooms in a crap area, so on the whole I’d say the quality of life here is way better than in London & because of that I have no desire to move back any time soon.
Did you know there’s a hotel in LA called Mr. C? This extract was taken direct from their website: “Mr. C Beverly Hills represents a modern version of old-world simplicity, stylish European glamour, providing today’s traveler with a comfortable, elegant and effortless experience…” Sounds like they’ve named it after you??
I did know that there’s a hotel with that name. Maybe I should go along & ask them if I can design one of the rooms.
2012. The Olympics or the end of the world as we know it?
Well of course, even with all of the people slagging off the Olympics, it will still be a wonderful sporting event that pulls together all of the people of the world & that’s why it’s so important & great that London is hosting it.
As for the 21st of December 2012 doomsday prediction is all nonsense but the shift in consciousness is very real indeed. The Mayans didn’t include leap years so that date would actually be August last year & everyone can see from the use of social networking that the consciousness shift has well & truly happened with so many people talking about things like meditation, positive thinking & being the change that we seek. Also people are being very active in changing world politricks & such like so we’re living in very exciting times indeed.
We loved your track ‘Dark Moon’ on Wagon Repair. Have you got any upcoming releases scheduled?
I have lots of upcoming releases. I’ve just had part 2 of my new EP with [a]pendics.shuffle called Something Strange on Adjunct Audio released on vinyl 1 week ago & the original was out in April. I also have my remix of Money Dish by David Scuba & Mikael Stravöstrand on Riff Raff coming out next month & the month after that I have my remix of Obel by Fractious being released on NB records from Austria. I’m also re-launching Superfreq Records in the Autumn with the first of those releases being a new Mr.C EP & I also have a new project with Affie Yusuf as Indigo Kidz & my Sycophant Slags project with Adultnapper also coming out on Superfreq. I’ve really stepped up my studio activity over the last year or more so expect to see a constant flow on new music as Mr.C, Indigo Kidz & Sycophant Slags from here on in.
You’re a firm supporter of meditation, like you are electronic music. Which do you think has benefitted you the most?
Without meditation & positive thinking, which I’ve been doing since I was 17 years old, I would not be doing so well in my music career.
DJ Polls always bring up a lot of entertaining debate online. If you HAD to choose one, who would top your list as best DJ?
I think all DJ polls are bullshit & detrimental to the music industry as a whole. I have many DJs that I love to listen to which differs depending on my mood & what I want to hear. If I had to pick one DJ though, it would be myself. I used to be conceited, but now I’m absolutely perfect. 😉
Many people might not be aware that you are selling your entire 14,000 strong vinyl collection on Discogs. How’s that going? That is quite a task!
It’s going great actually. I have friends doing it for me & splitting the cash with them & it’s such a buzz to know now that all of that amazing specialist dance music is no longer sitting in a locked garage gathering duct but being enjoyed by people that have been searching for those tunes. There are about 3500 up now & about the same amount yet to go up.
What would you say if you received a phone call from Paris Hilton asking you for some DJ lessons?
If she paid me handsomely I’d teach her to be one bad arse DJ.
Now then, imagine this scenario… an alien lands and asks you to follow him. He takes you to one of his alien after hours, where you feel quite at home, and he tells you… ‘When I send you back to earth you will have the power to change one thing’ … what will it be?
It would be that every man, woman & child above the age of 10 years old would meditate for 20 minutes twice each day. With that would come a complete Human consciousness shift & world peace.
MEOKO chats to Basti Grub of Desolat fame about his new album “Primavera” released on his own imprint Hoehenregler this month. Basti Grub loves to dabble with out-of-boundary sounds, styles and rhythms, rare track titles and surprising combinations, making the exotic sound domestic and the domestic cool. His forthright, joyful attempts to take the seriousness out of the contemporary music scene doesn’t stop him from sounding seriously solid, creating multifaceted tracks that do not seek to be fashionable but rather reflect deep playfulness and sincere personal pursuit of expression in a contemporary manner. Celebrating the exuberance of sound from different parts of the planet, he combines what catches his ear – the freaky afterhour conversation about pizza in one of his tracks being a full-grown example and weaves everything into a quirky yet calming stream of perception. The full-grown musician is led by passion and personal taste: Swing, reggae and an aching desire to be able to speak and understand Spanish are some of the keys to decipher Basti´s music.The producer found recognition for his releases on his own imprint Höhenregler as well as hot beds like Desolat, Cocoon, Movida, Suara Records, Compost, International Freakshow, Style Rockets, Dame Music, as well as upheaving the scene with his first album “Dschungelorchester”. With “Primavera”, Basti Grub stirs up the outdoor/ afternoon club fauna in love with eclecticism and novelty sound once more. MEOKO chatted to this talented artist from the Frankfurt country side in various late night sessions via Skype.
Hola buenas noches. Hope you are great and happy to receive the feedback from our MEOKO music department saying they really love your mix?
Heeey hallo, glad you like it! Really! I also really enjoyed making it. I do and did not have any other objective making it than enjoying the music, and I hope it´s as enjoyable for other. It´s always the same with me, if I like it, I play it, without giving it a thought.
This is also your “doctrine” when making music… you are very intuitive. So what are the feelings that drive you through music?
Yes I am, it just spills out of me, it´s like a fountain, all kinds of feelings, it depends which music it is I am listening to, making or playing. I am inspired by all kinds of African music, bongos, and Jazz, I also play the piano and other instruments, so I am really open towards any kind of artistic expression.
Which set-up do you use?
For the mix, I simply used Ableton. In my Studio, I mainly work with Logic and Ableton, but of course I also have different synths, drumcomputers, modulars, and instruments. When I play live, I use a drumcomputer (electron) and a controller (apc40) as well as a keyboard and my mac. And when I play in open airs, I have a friend accompanying me, playing live violin.
Did you use many of your own tracks in the mix?
I hardly use my material when I make podcasts that are posted online, which is down to the fact that many of my tracks will never be released. I make songs that are only for my use. But people nowadays do not have problems with taking parts of other peoples productions to play them themselves, no matter how low the quality. And I sincerely believe that a live set should be exclusive so people get to listen to something completely new every time they come out and listen. If I only play what I release, it makes more sense to book a DJ who plays my stuff.
Basti Grub mixes MEOKO 020
Are you a harsh self critic?
Yes. I am into self-scrutinizing and tend to criticise my music very harshly. In my opinion, all artists should be doing this, as this would be lowering the amount of below-standard music output washing the shores of Beatport. It´s very depressing to hear the charts and want to believe that that´s what the people want. I know people pay to be charted. I, at some stage, was willing to do everything for fame, so I called them up saying I had an Christmas present in an envelope ready to be posted to them if they would be willing to consider my output. No, just joking. I didn´t. But, it´s quite painful and deglorifying for an upcoming, rather unknown artist to see how the mechanism works and pay your way into publicity via advertising etc. It takes the magic out of music and makes this business seem scumful. Nevertheless, I am really pushing my album right now because I really want to know what people think about it. I really want to know what it takes.
Did you rework your tracks a lot, and how long did it take to make your album Altogether,?
it was a very long process. Not making the tracks themselves, but the process of filtering out what I wanted to be included in this longplayer. It´s been three years since I released my first album, and since then I have been making a total of four or five complete albums. Nevertheless, they did not appeal to me in the order they were created so I ripped them apart and rebundled what I had. And I made a few new tracks specially to make it feel complete. In total there are nine tracks as there did not fit any more on a CD, but I will also release a tenth track as a digital bonus.
You worked with Andres Zarzuela and Daria once more who add to th especial vibe of the album with their songs and voices… how did this come about and what does their support mean to you?
For me it´s so important. Andres is a super friend of mine and we work together for quite some time now. I really think he has a beautiful voice and I really enjoy it making music with him, even if it does not result in a track. With Daria I have another project going which has nothing to do with the club environment, we so enjoy working together. Same goes to quite a few artists, I sincerely enjoy working and cooperating and I end up learning and giving so much, I do not want to have it any other way.
The album is released on your own imprint, Hoehenregler. What´s happening on this label, what can we expect in the near future?
There will be quite a few really interesting releases, right now my album, then some EPs by Felipe Venegas, Larry Peters and myself. Then I am planning to do a remix album, most remixes are already finished, they come from Butch, Martin Buttrich, Felipe Venegas, Tube&Berger and a few other surprise guests. I am also planning to do a remix contest! Keep your eyes peeled.
Thanks you and big thanks again for the great MEOKO podcast.
If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise…bounding down into a small valley surrounded by a tall and beautiful forest, you notice the welsh puddles vibrating, the bass reverberating between the trees and a kaleidoscope of colours glowing in the depth of the woods. Twangs of every genre of electronic music begin to reach your ear drums, teasing you into the darkness of the forest, becoming clearer and clearer and evolving into luscious beats as strange figures emerge from the twilight, stumbling, laughing, and dancing into the night.
This is no teddy bears picnic. This is Gottwood 2012, and it’s seriously good.
As we trudged to set up our tent in the absolutely tiny campsite in the rain and mud on Friday afternoon (the festival began Thursday evening), I wondered how many spirits had been dampened by the rumours of flying tents and floods the night before, wondering if it had been such a good idea to drive for hours to get here…but my fears were unfounded. After wondering about 20 steps from tent to forest it was quickly apparent that everyone was on a complete Friday high despite the inches of mud, all wooping and prancing beneath the tall trees. In the marquee named Summer Of the Wood, we caught rising stars The Other Tribe a six-piece group from Bristol (sound producing city of the year?) who combine British indie sounds and infectious electronic beats to produce dance-inducing vocal tracks including their summer anthem ‘Skirts’.
Delving deeper into the forest we found the Boxford Caravan stage at the heart of the festival, in a grassy courtyard surrounded by stables and some random sofas, swings and haybales, was a caravan converted into a DJ booth, where we experienced one of the best sets of the festival; Max Cooper. Really starting the night off (and for some climaxing it), Max is a man infamous for his intelligent techno . Yet with heavy influences from all areas he produced a genre-smashing live set, killer remixes interweaved with beautifully melancholic originals, and he completely entranced the large crowd gathered beneath the caravan, in fact throughout the festival I heard punters continue to sing the praises of the set. Playing tracks from his new EP ‘Mechanical Concussion’ which were pounding and heavy; perfect for the growing crowd, his astutely altered and steadily building festival sets are guaranteed to get the crowd sweating, and this was no exception.
We staggered off having danced perhaps a little too excitedly for the first big set of the weekend to find Tiger and Woods hiding somewhere in the woods, and where we found them proved to be the most magical stage of the festival. Under a stone archway we walked through a small passage into a walled garden, which led to awe-inspiring RFID visual dome. Not too big, very hot, and very magical, as soon as we entered we found people lying on the ground staring up at the starry night projected. This was constantly changing to stunning visuals and colours that proved a completely surreal environment, perfect for Gottwood. The set, like their brilliant ‘Through The Green’ album, was full of their classic disco vibes , combined with bass line tracks like ‘Just An Illusion’ and the encore of fun and dreamily sampled ‘Gin Nation’, perfect for the intimate space that the duo devoured.
Back to the marquee in the woods and It was soon time for what became my absolute favourite set of the festival…Huxley. This man is at the forefront of the British electronic scene, combining his perfected house with home-grown garage, which has evolved into some kind of beautiful hybrid genre that is huge in the charts and clubs right now, and from his performance at Gottwood its clear to see why. His music and remixes are infectious and incredibly danceable with a great track selection for the festival. Highlights included his popular bass driven house tracks ‘Box Clever’ and the deeper and smoother ‘Let it Go’ which has been a favourite of 2012 so far. He also dropped Bashmore’s ‘Au Seve’, perhaps the festival anthem of this year, which causes a raucous in the crowd, but not as much as his frequent samples of old school garage and early rave. Mixing Liberty City’s ‘If you Really Love Somebody’ with ‘Rhythm of the Night’, the atmosphere soared sky high and culminated in a hyper young girl performing the splits on the DJ booth….make of this what you will, but it’s safe to claim that every single person in that tent was having the time of their life – Huxley included. This is the effect of a fantastic DJ, and in fact something that Gottwood seems to bring in general– it brings out the best in both artist and crowd to create an amazing electrified feeling.
Late Saturday morning I woke to the shouts of the man with a megaphone pleading for rizzlers and other sodden necessities, which was quickly answered with friendly help. So far, Gottwood’s crowds must be the friendliest I have known, perhaps it’s a combination of it being such a small festival with quite a hippy vibe, or perhaps it’s the freshness of the line up and diverse entertainment and setting – what ever it was, it worked. New friends were continuously made, people stopped for chats with one another, everyone seemed happy to help those is need whether it be a spare rizzler, sharing warm cider or carrying an extremely messy person back to their tent. I should also mention the fact that (for once!) security were absolutely lovely as were bar and festival staff.
We decided to explore our surroundings Saturday afternoon, and semi drunk frolicking in the forest ensued. Everywhere you looked there were random little tipis and huts, artwork, a tree house, make-shift tyre wings, a shisha bar, bunting and ribbons hanging from branches, bails of hail to fall into, and even a forest style sitting room complete with hammocks, 70’s style armchairs, and glowing lampshades strapped to the trees overhead. Music started at 12.30 and we were more than happy to explore whilst listening to the sounds of rising stars and those already cemented in british electronic music, the crowds had already began to gather and dance already creating a buzzing atmosphere even within the rain, mud and hangovers of the night before. People had gone to serious effort to create a unique and fun environment that fitted with the Summer of Love theme, but it was night time where the forest really shone. The ambient lighting sent huge clusters of tree’s alive with colour, while thousands of fairylights lit up pathways and beckoned people to stages.
Night time was truly magical at Gottwood and as you delved into different parts of the woods beats would ebb and fade until you found a stage filled with happy revellers, and on Saturday, the happiest of revellers could be found at Matanza’s live set in Summer of Wood tent, who epitomised the spirit of the festival, so popular in fact they played three times over the festival. Their joyous and bouncy home-made South American beats made everyone dance and smile, influenced highly by their homeland, the band from Chile include influences from across the board of musical genres including rock and folk, which lends to the bands unique sound, building to a euphoric crescendo that sent the Gottwood crowd wild.
Later Dinky received great reviews from her set in the Dome, the DJ has released on some pretty fabulous labels including Crosstown Rebels and Ostgut Ton, and her eight year residency at Panorama Bar has earnt her some serious credit – but her success is all of her own making due to her music which combines deep grooves and gorgeous melodies with quite heavy beats and funk, perfect for the personality of the dome and crowd within.
I’ve yet to mention The Stables, where we continuously stumbled in an out of. An outhouse building that included some very talented and bass driven artists, we crammed ourselves into the tiny space, which because of this had some amazing acoustics, and some amazing artists to fill it. The duo Disclosure are huge right now with their new kind of garage and bass music, and although the set wasn’t a stand out for me, they did play some anthemic old garage which the crowd loved, and their own tracks including the great Jessie Ware remix which has really proved the incredible talent of the guys.
Heading back to Summer of Wood for Ed Solo, the man really stole the show in that place playing an intense mix of everything banged together, from hip hop and reggae with his own unique take on bass driven music including the dubby anthem ‘Age of Dub’. Holding the crowd in the palm of his hand, people went completely mental.
We also caught a bit of Groj in The Stables who had to fly back to Montreal a few hours after his set, which would have been hard after seemingly having a whale of a time ensuring punters entered a dance induced trance with his beautiful live set full of minimal and hypnotising melodies that built to a sublime climax, finishing the night perfectly, although many in The Stables seemed reluctant to leave.
Sundays can be tricky at festivals, many people are hanging on by a thread, pennyless and extremely muddy – and Gottwood was no exception to this – but the festival embraced it, brought everyone together, and happily celebrated the last day of the unique event, even managing a sunshine filled afternoon. We spent it dancing to Krankbrother artist’s WildKats who with their blend of grooving house and hints of 80’s disco, splashed with some luscious baseline, ensured the crowd fought through the impending thoughts of Monday and real life. Sunlight on faces, raising their hands and hearts with woops of delight, and the sounds of squelching dancing through the mud; it was simply perfect.
Small means beautiful really fits the bill for this boutique electronic festival, combining the setting of a fantastical acid trip fairytale and the best of underground electronica, talented pioneering producers, and heavyweight masters of the current dance music landscape. But as we know many festivals can have beautiful settings and a fantastic line up, but what sets Gottwood apart is the people and the incredible atmosphere they create; the vibes from this independent and unique event are unparalleled to any festival I have yet to attend. In the festival guide the curators invited us to “be ready to embrace a weekend of the weird, wonderful and most importantly, colourful…Festivals will change for the better when we all elect to take part, to take responsibility – if we all come together”; and this is exactly what Gottwood was all about, highlighting the type of other-worldly home we would all be part of for the weekend to come, and what a weekend was in store for each of us, coming together to lose track of every day life and reality; becoming part of something truly special.
After their sensational season opening last weekend that was the talk of the town, Spilt Milk return with a Monday afternoon Jubilee Weekend Special. Headlining is the marvellous Dinky, famed for her djing skills and her strong productions on labels as prolific as Cocoon, Crosstown Rebels, Ostgut Ton and Visionquest.
Also on board are locals Canary Fontaine vs Zippy who always entertain with their blend of deep, tech and minimal house. Resident DJ and Spilt Milk promoter Tred Benedict will, as always, be on hand to make sure as much milk is spilt as possible…
With the promise of a special surprise guest (who can’t be mentioned due to other commitments that weekend) the anticipation is brewing to melting point.
Oh, and the weather forecast….SUNNY!
Tred Benedict managed to squeeze in a quick 5 minute chat with us into his busy schedule ahead of this weekends party…
Many thanks for your time today. Spilt Milk is really going from strength to strength. There were lots of people disappointed to see it leave the Papermill Terrace last summer, the scene of so many adventures, but your opening party last week at the new space in Hackney Wick was spectacular! We love the name and artwork. How did the party start?
I originally started the party 3 years ago with a friend of mine Charles who I worked with for 2 years, but he has since moved to Australia. I still remember picking the name of the party; we discussed and deliberated all the way up to the night before we had to go live with the event, we had it down to 3 options 1) Uno Mas, 2) Wash, Rinse, Repeat 3) Spilt Milk. It’s kind of funny now to look back at those names and think what was I smoking to even think that they were even in the running Safe to say we came to our senses and Spilt Milk was born and I’ve never looked back!
Were you concerned when you found out that Papermill was no more?
The first time I came across The Papermill I had to have a double take as I must have walked past it 1000 times, but from the moment I stood on that terrace I knew that the space was very special. I was extremely lucky to hit it off with the manager Malcolm who was willing to take a chance on me and let me cause havoc there on Saturday afternoons People took a real shine to The Papermill and everyone has their own special memories of it, so yes, it was a big concern at first not being able to continue there after 2 fantastic seasons. I think my biggest concern was if Spilt Milk would even continue due to the lack of outdoor spaces available in London, but I’m a firm believer of “everything happens for a reason” and after months of searching, myself and Weston (who I now run the event with) found this new space.
Have you found a new permanent home now, or are you planning on moving it around?
It was our opening party last week and it was a big test to find out what people would think to our new venue after being so fond of our previous home. Now located outside of Shoreditch, in Hackney Wick, I can reveal that everyone absolutely loved the new venue as the setup is perfect for what we want to do there, also the new inclusion of 4 Funktion One stacks (which were never allowed to have previously at The Papermill) has gone down very well. I’m very pleased to announce that this location is now going to be our permanent home which we have fittingly decided to call “The Dairy”. However, the most important thing for me is that the venue is totally exclusive to Spilt Milk which makes any event that little bit special if you have that luxury and now we can keep on adding and building to it over the coming summer.
You’ve booked the legendary Dinky for the next event which is pretty exciting. Is there one artist in particular you would LOVE to book but can’t get your hands on at the moment?
Dinky has been a Spilt Milk target for a while now so we are very pleased to have her involved as she is an amazing all round artist. In terms of an artist I would like to see at Spilt Milk I don’t think that I could pin it down to just one but unfortunately this season London has become an extremely hard place to confirm the big headliner bookings due to all the exclusivities now attached to every festival in town, but I think this will only raise the bar with more intelligent bookings-our lineups are looking strong for this season so I’m happy, but I would have to say that Solomun seems to be a hard man to pin down this year but hey, you never know If you book them Wayne……………….. they will come !
You’ve been dj’ing and putting on parties for a while now. The last year has been particularly successful as your recent gigs at Fabric and Cocoon have proved. Have you got any exciting gigs lined up over the summer months?
Outside of Spilt Milk there are a few things on the horizon but there is one I’m very excited about being involved with, it’s an amazing intimate festival called “Meadows in the Mountains” which takes place in Bulgaria and has some of the most surreal back drops I’ve seen. Some of the images from this place will stay with me forever, for example, last year on the Sunday morning Djing at the top of a valley while the sun rises over a mountain but at the same time being above the clouds, that was pretty breath taking and sticks out in my mind. I highly recommend you check it out as it grows each year.
I believe everyone has theirs but I think mine would be from the first season where we had Layo & Bushwacka! play a 4 hour set, which was a huge booking for us and really put us on the map. They finished up with “Love Story” and the vibe at that moment was so electric and captured exactly what Spilt Milk is about with everyone being together and so friendly and all on the level, having such a good time and since then we have gone on to achieve this at every party. Capturing and recreating that vibe is such a hard thing with any event but after seeing last weeks opening party you could see that very special atmosphere has followed us to The Dairy and long will it continue…
Tred, imagine this scenario…someone offers you £50,000 to be resident DJ at the local kindergarten, do you take them up on the offer and what tunes do you download to play for the kids?
Ok so firstly I’m legally in a school with children and 50 grand cash ? I just wanted to clear that up before we continued as that could come across a bit weird. Ok well I’m picturing lots of free Milk which is a good start. I’m thinking these kids deserve better than a coupe of downloaded tracks so it’s got to be the back catalogue of BlackLace on vinyl I have so many good memories as a child rocking out to all those tunes so I would probably ease them in with abit of “Push Pineapple Shake The Tree” followed up with the ‘Okee Cokey” and then a big finish on “Superman”, the bassline in that tune is still so strong and then party bags and cake for all as nobody leaves this rave empty handed !
Haha, what a very thoughtful response Tred. Thanks very much for your time, see you on Monday afternoon!
To be in with a chance of winning two tickets to Spilt Milk, simply comment below telling us who you would like to see play at Spilt Milk…winners to be announced on Saturday afternoon. Good luck!