First of all… Thanks for your time…. I can imagine you are very busy and answering questions can be tedious…
2012 was quite a year for you and your label… with a remix for David Lynch’s “Pinky’s Dream”… how did this come about, and what does it mean for you?
We’ve all been fans of David Lynch for quite a while, so when this opportunity came up the term “dream come true” really was happening. The original is also not something we’re normally asked to remix which added to the fun. If I recall correctly our manager bumped into his in an airport and they wanted Seth to do it but Seth decided we should all do it together and so we had a go at it. We did have to bounce it back and forth to Lee in Chicago which I normally hate doing because then people are on different wave lengths but we didn’t have time to all be together so it was the only solution. All and all I was happy with what we were able to turn out.
For me it’s very special you remixed Violett back in 2006. It made me discover not only the Argentinean guys but also you lot, the new skool of Detroit. Back then it felt like the start of something new. Now we’re in 2012 it’s clear you’ve made a success of everything you were spearheading back then. How do you feel it’s gone and what kind of journey has it been for you personally?
It’s been a weird strange ride to say the least with a lot of ups and downs. We were pretty broke and busted upon arriving in Berlin but we slowly got some steam behind us and are doing quite well at the moment. Each of us has had their personal demons to battle at different times but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The whole journey so far has helped me grow so much as an adult I can’t even believe it. And we’re still in that infant stage!!!! The label is only two years old and although it’s not been a blockbuster type label we’re doing great. On top of that, we all haven’t been touring that long…maybe steadily for only 4 years. Very exciting indeed to see what the future holds in store!
Where do you live now, and where do you feel most connected with?
I bounce around quite a bit but am spending most of my time in Berlin and London, I’m also making more of an effort to visit my family in the States more. I’ve been away from home for about 5 1/2 years now but only in the past year I’ve really started to feel homesick. Not for America, but mostly my family. I’m watching my nephew grow up in pictures and it’s frustrating that I cannot be there more. I guess because of more travel I don’t feel too connected to any city but am trying to be more connected with my family.
Can you tell us about some of the artists you’ve unearthed through Visionquest. What kind of sound or esthetic are you looking for right now?
Tale of Us and Footprintz have been the two standouts in my mind that we’ve “unearthed” I guess you could say and while we may not be uncovering any unknowns at the beginning of 2013 a lot of the releases are from artists that are new to our roster… Terje Bakke, Wareika, Voigt & Volta and Subb-An will make their Visioquest debuts next year. Clarian (one half of Footprintz) will also be releasing an EP and an album. As everyone knows the aesthetic is always changing with us so I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.
How do you decide on the future releases?
Ha, umm. Some are no brainers and some we go back and forth. No fist fights just yet 😉
If it says ‘Visionquest remix’ on the package, who of you four is behind it? Or is it all four who get together in the studio? How do y divide responsibilities?
It really depends. I’m working all the time and I don’t mind transferring files over the internet to bounce ideas back and forth but some of the guys can’t handle it and it becomes a nightmare quickly. After the last go I think we’ve made it clear to each other that if 3 out of 4 can’t sit and do it together, it won’t be titled Visionquest. When we do manage to get together normally one person will be on the computer and the other two will be playing with synths on the side until a framework can come together. Once we have our basic framework it goes quite quickly and we can really flow on an idea. A basic rule is that If you’re sitting at the computer and you’ve got nothing going on, get up! Let someone else take a shot to keep things moving forward. Food/cooking breaks are also very frequent 😉
Tell us all about your album with Cesar. How did it come about, what does DRM stand for?
We have been longtime friends, and the situation just came together. The album idea really took shape after an EP we made for thesongsays didn’t come out due to complications with the distributor. That process took forever, so we just decided, “Hey, let’s work towards an album”. DRM is an acronym for “drum” and “dream” – both essential to us in making the music we make.
What kind of studio set up did you use, how did you work with Cesar?
We were using a mix of computers and hardware. We’ve both acquired a bit more kit since finishing in June so the next one together should have a slightly different sound although we want to continue recording live musicians and chopping them up. 90% of the work was done with us sitting in the same room together. Some bits I was travelling to London to work at his, some bits he was at mine in Berlin. I think that’s part of the reason it took us so long from when we actually decided to go forward with the album we weren’t down the street or a short train ride away.
If you had to define what you do, how would you sum it up?Trial and lots of error. Did you ever imagine as a child that you would be DJing all around the world?
I feel very fortunate to be doing what I’m doing with my life right now. Even when we moved overseas I wasn’t sure if it would pan out to where I could continue to live from DJing. At age four or five I told my parents I wanted to be a steam shovel operator. They probably weren’t too thrilled to hear that even though it was coming from a preschooler. Then about 20 years later I told them I was quitting the family business to move to Berlin to become a full time Dj, They weren’t too ecstatic about that either but they’ve been super supportive the whole way. That has meant so much. When times weren’t the best they were there too pick me up, that support has been everything.
Seth has just been voted number 1 DJ on the RA polls. Do the polls matter and do you personally take much notice?
I’m extremely happy and proud of Seth and all the success he has had in such a short period of time. Knowing him for over 10 years now, it’s been crazy to watch the transformation in his DJ career. But to me and the guys he still just plain old Seth and he’ll always be that to us, no matter what number he’s tagged with in whatever reader poll. A lot of people put too much stock into those end of the year, “best of” things. I understand how they can help a career or DJ fees or a booker but I’m pretty apathetic about them overall. There’s a limited number of electronic music publications and because of that I think too many people put too much stock in the opinions of these writers, whether it’s good or bad. Fan polls can be cool but then you find out that only England and Italy are voting so that’s not so accurate either. The bottom line is that no poll can ever tell you who the best DJ is, who the best live act is, label, track etc because everyone’s taste is different…and that’s a good thing.
How do you define success?
Being happy with yourself.
You’re finishing off 2012 with a gig at Cargo in London! Why is this a special night for you, and what kind of expectations do you have?
I really am hoping it’s special. New Years Eve can always be a bit disappointing but this will be my first in London and I know when friends have played London in the past on NYE they said it was great…so my expectations are quite high. Hopefully this years turn will prove to be just as memorable for us at Cargo as it was for my friends in past years.
What does 2013 have in store for you…?
Hopefully a bit more mental stability and more focus. I’d like to complete my solo album plus EP’s for Life and Death and Supplement Facts and get started on another album with Cesar. There are remixes in the cue of course. We’re going to launch the new Visionquest website hopefully by February which will include a lot more user interaction, podcasts, webshop and online MP3 sales. We’ve also discussed doing our own sample packs. Visionquest 13 will also be kicking off in late March (www.yourvisionquest.com).
Interview by Katrin Ritcher
Catch Ryan next at Cargo NYE presents: Post Apocalypse with Ryan Crosson (Visionquest), Omid 16B & Shane Watcha – Get Your Ticket Here / 8pm – 6am / 83 Rivington Street; Hoxton; London EC2A 3AY; United Kingdom
Remember the days when Sunday and Monday mornings were spent dancing in dodgy public toilets and seedy S&M clubs? Well, if you’re an east London club kid then you probably do… MEOKO caught up with Liz Mendez, one half of the promotion duo behind Kubicle that has brought us so many memorable after hours and saucy soirées. With resident DJ’s that have included the likes of Lee Foss, FB Julian, Clive Henry, Richy Ahmed, Luca C and Toni D, not even mentioning their spectacular secret guests who regularly grace the decks, Kubicle has been one of east London’s quality hidden treasures for the last seven years. Liz talks to us about her favourite memories, festivals and future plans..
Hi Liz, Thanks for speaking to us today. Kubicle is celebrating its 7th birthday on the 16th December…you must be proud! What were you doing prior to Kubicle and how did you get into throwing parties?
Hi Nick, yes I’m so proud of Kubicle my business partner Sonia and I have worked so hard to keep it special and it’s great to see it grow in so many different ways. Ive always been very conscious with the decisions made for Kubicle its definitely a project that is about the love not the money.
We are passionate about providing an experience with Kubicle and retaining that family “kubi” vibe.
All my friends still come to my parties and that’s important to me its always a sea of familiar faces mixed in with the new. Prior to Kubicle I’d been hosting parties since i moved to London to go to University. I started by doing a Hip Hop party every Tuesday night with my friend DJ Nikki in a private members bar called 57 Jermyn St. We had a crazy few years hosting for the likes of Eve, Kelis, NERD, Missy Elliot, Mos Deff, Lucy Pearl, Nas, Eminem, Guru, Run DMC, Jam master Jay those kind of people it was so much fun and I learnt a lot.
Over the years, Kubicle seems to have earned a real cult following of fashionistas and kubi kids, where did the idea for Kubicle come from?
We first started KUBICLE in “Public Life” a tiny victorian toilet converted into mini daytime rave hence the name “Kubicle”.
Originally it was an after party every Sunday and Monday morning from the summer of 2005!! before we moved to Whipping rooms 🙂 I’m still called Lizzie toilet in some peoples phones which I still find quite amusing.
East London is full of creatives and fashion students etc who at that time often did not have to go to work at on a Monday. We catered to that plus Sunday was always our favourite day to party because it avoided all the Saturday night Brigade…Sunday was always a lot cooler.
Looking back, do you have one specific memory that sticks out in your head from a Kubicle Event?
There are so many to choose from where do I start? Kubicle on NY Day is always memorable, everybody always ends up with us at some point throughout the long session. All the djs after their gigs want to come and hang out after jumping on the decks.
The speaker blew up once mid after party in the toilet that was hilarious as nobody wanted to stop the party.
Our door girl let in the police to the whipping rooms with open arms when we were so over capacity thinking they were kubikids in fancy dress. Hamiltons amazing Kubicle roof top parties in Hatton Garden when it started to rain and we all went under the umbrellas and refused to go home. We have always done a die hard 2nd Jan after party since we started Kubicle 7 years ago I remember when we did it at Cable St we propped Jamie Jones up at the door who had passed out and he was the first thing everybody saw as they walked through the door………
Picture by Kenny Campbell – KCTV
………All our birthdays are so memorable the Dolphin Terrace, the brick house terrace, Tbar and Fabric birthday room three with kubi hosting.
That’s just London, Magical Festival moments are always the best. Kubicle Glastonbury parties in Shangri La over the years are always amazing and the pagoda stage at Secret Garden Festival has such a beautiful view over the lake as the sun goes down…… Lovebox after parties in Metropolis getting stuck on the beach and how could I not mention Ibiza here and Berlin. Bar 25 was the most inspiring place i have ever been to, we are so happy to have been a part of that.
In recent years, Kubicle has been found at some of the biggest events around Europe including Lovebox, Glastonbury and so on, can you give us a little peep into any exciting plans for 2013?
As always we have a lot on for next year. We are programming our summer and working on the creative & production for the festivals already at the moment which is fun. The monthly parties in London and all the Bank Holiday Sundays at Basing House our new home.
Happy to be back at Glastonbury next year with our kubicle party on the Sat night in Shangri La and we have also been asked to program the Hub all day Sunday which can accommodate thousands 🙂
We’re involved with Lovebox a lot more this year come and check us out in the VIP on Saturday last year was amazing. Secret Garden of course and other new festivals we have been offered to do the VIP of Eastern Electrics, Croatia, Lots more Berlin we have hosted a few parties in the Chalet which is a great venue. We will also be based in Ibiza again this year so watch out for that.
Obviously lots of people do associate Kubicle with Public Life, it must have been a very sad moment when it finally closed down?
Its a shame that it closed down but it was due to greed from the owners letting in other disreputable parties who ruined it for everybody else. We had not done an event down there for so long as we had totally out grown the space but we just decided to throw in a last minute free toilet as it was our birthday. The place had already been under surveillance for some time and we were just unlucky it was our day that they came down in force to close the place down.
All the egyptian clad party goers spilling out onto the street in the morning was also a moment i will never forget 🙂
Onwards and upwards. You have two big events coming up at Basing House, One is your 7th birthday on the 16th December and the other being New Years Day…what have you got lined up? And have you found a new home in Basing House?
Yes we have a new home at Basing House. I love it there, the management and crew are so cool it’s good when you’re all on the same page which is hard with club owners. So happy to be doing our birthday and NYDay parties with them.
The 7th Birthday is going to be so great with all our favourite djs playing a few special back to backs.
Lee Foss, Richy Ahmed, Luca C, Mark Jenykyns, Toni D, Guilhem Monin and Francesca Lombardo who we welcome to join us, it will be the first time she has played for Kubicle so I’m looking forward to that.
We’re also doing the Light box on the 2nd of Jan following Circoloco and Hot Creations now that one is going to be incredibly messy.
Check out the Francesca Lombardo Exclusive MEOKO mix – Click Image
I’ve actually got some pretty spectacular memories of Kubicle at the Whipping Rooms on Cable Street. I used to end up there on many a Monday morning. Can you tell us a little more about it for our readers who weren’t lucky enough to witness it first hand…
Wow the Whipping rooms I cant believe that we actually got away with that it was basically a Dominatrix called Madame K’s S&M studio. A friend had recommended the unusual space for a kubicle party so we had to go and check it out. It was at the back of Cable St Studios which was pretty derelict at the time with nothing much going on apart from the seedy side.
Our first party there was hilarious think it was Mr C’s afters following Superfreq. We arrived and Madame K had been holding here own little soiree just before us and we got to see it all in full swing so to speak. They had love swings and cages and bondage saddles and a dentist chair all super weird and freaky. We had MANDY come and play at that first party and we literally had to go round to tell everybody if they wanted to stay they had to pull their trousers up before our guests arrived!! After that episode we made sure all her clients had left the building before we started our party whether you loved or loathed it, it was definitely memorable and still spoken about today.
When did the Monday morning after parties end?
After Whipping we went back to “Toilet” for a few more years and concentrated on the Sundays but we still do all the Bank Holiday Monday after parties so I guess they have not completely stopped.
Maybe a sign that you’ve become extremely busy in your career outside of parties? How is Liz Mendez Vintage going?
Amazing I love it. I’ve been working on my website that’s just about to go live in the new year where you can buy online. I’m still selling out of Lucy in Disguise in Soho and plan to do a pop up in Ibiza next year. I’m styling, art directing and loving that side of things.
Besides your London events, you’ve also been throwing parties abroad. How was your recent trip to Berlin? Do you have any more plans for Kubicle outside of London?
As I mentioned earlier Sonia and I will be based in Ibiza over the summer so we are just working out our Kubicle plans now. We are going to do a couple of dates at Sankeys as that went really well last year. I’m all over Berlin and cant wait for the next one I’d love to do something at Renate its right up Kubicle’s street.
We have been in talks to maybe do something in Australia next year a boat party and Croatia is calling. I also really want to do something cool in NY and LA.
You’ve had some amazing resident Dj’s in Lee foss, Toni D, FB Julian, Clive Henry, Richy Ahmed to name a few. Not even mentioning the special guests you’ve had down to play. How have you maintained such a high quality for such a small and intimate party?
We are a kubi family between us and our residents. Its always about the Music and the love, no greed no attitude just amazing vibe and music. Our residents will keep on growing we have just added Luca C to the mix and have a few more to announce next year.
Any plans to do bigger events in London or will Kubicle always remain personal and intimate?
I’m happy for Kubicle to remain intimate that’s what it is all about I mean we stretch to 500 max but once you start going over that you loose the vibe. It would be easy to hire a warehouse stick in a couple of headliners and thrash it out but its not the way for Kubicle. I’m more interested in the festival side of things in that way we can definitely grow I’d love to organise my own festival one day. Just want to say a big thank you to all that have supported us throughout the years the djs, the industry peeps, the kubikids, we could not have done it without you. xxx
Hi guys, so firstly, congratulations on the fourth birthday. Obviously you’re both a little older than four…is there a back-story to Cerca Trova? How did you guys meet and where did the idea for Cerca Trova come from?
Rossko: After one night out I came home in the early hours of the morning and I sat up watching the Discovery channel not being able to sleep (As you do!) there was a documentary about Leonardo Di Vinci. These “art detectives” were trying to solve the mystery of whether it was myth or fact that his famous lost painting was hidden behind a mural he painted in Italy for centuries. On the mural the words “Cerca Trova” were inscribed by Di Vinci, this was his cryptic clue that had people believe that this was where his master piece was kept hidden. Till this day they still don’t know! Cerca Trova means “Seek And You Will Find” and it was at this point in the documentary the light bulb went off in my head – this was the beginning of the concept and from there we started to organize the first party from this point.
Rossko: I remember it like it was yesterday – It was a collection of all our close friends and party people that we had met through years of clubbing in London. It was a very personal and intimate party for around 250 people. Tolga Fidan and Hector were headlining, we spent weeks going out meeting new people, taking down email address & mobile numbers to those we felt we were right for the party. We were chased by the Police on a number of occasions for putting up posters in the wrong places around East London – we wanted to reach out to all the right people..
The party had such an amazing vibe – it was so raw and the music from start to finish was so on point. We were so green on how to put on parties…I think that made that party even more special. We grew mainly from people talking to their friends about Cerca Trova, I think if it wasn’t for word of mouth, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
You’re famed for finding edgy basement and warehouse locations for your events. What makes you do this rather than using a more traditional venue?
Daniel: We never once thought about using conventional nightclubs when we were planning our first parties. From the outset we wanted the party to have a raw and underground feel to it, this reflected the music we are still pushing to this day. We found that finding new environment’s really captured people’s imaginations. This really added to the atmosphere of the parties and it created a concept which we have kept; Seek And You Will Find. When we found our first venue, it was the final piece to the puzzle that brought all our ideas and ethos together. We wanted a relaxed atmosphere which we could control, we really wanted people to let go and forget what was going on in the outside world and more importantly the focus was around the music that brought like minded people together. I think larger clubs and bigger promotions have to think about attracting the numbers and look at which artists are current and in the now, they know this will bring the masses to fill their night – So I think they miss a lot of areas that we want to cover as a party.
With the exception of Fabric there aren’t really many big London clubs pushing that cutting edge House and Techno sound that we love. Is there a gap in the market for it in London?
Rossko: I think there is defiantly a gap to bring more House & Techno clubs to London. I just think there needs to more thought that goes into it. I’d like to see more intimate venues pop up with good values rather than larger business-minded clubs. In recent years we have seen these come and go and to be honest I think their failure was missing the point of what House & Techno is all about. All you need to do is look at the clubs that have been successful in the past. If you look closely enough you always see a trend, amazing residents, amazing sound, lighting and everyone connected inside the club from the door staff to the directors even down to the door policy…all are on the same page. Im sure there is a lot more behind to running a successful club than what I have said but I think those are the foundations that will give longevivity to the House & Techno scene. I’d definatly like to see clubs use less outside promoters and brands and concentrate on bringing back in-house nights and promotions.
You must have learnt a lot from throwing so many parties. Have you had any major catastrophes that you’ve had to deal with?
Daniel: I remember two days before one of our events we were told the new basement venue we were using had been closed down by the local council due to problems that were out of our control. You can imagine the stress this caused, but we always try to remain positive and find a solution than look at the problem. These are the risks that occur frequently when you deal with rogue venue owners – thankfully we have always had great support from close friends and other promotions so we used our contacts to find a new venue close by. In-fact we got the green light on the day we released the address, that is how close we came to a major catastrophe. In the 4 years we have learned a lot and are always looking at how to tweek and improve from the last party, that’s so important to us.
You’ve had some amazing artists play at Cerca Trova including Tolga Fidan and Dan Andrei but you also push the upcoming local talent. Which sets have gone down as the most legendary at your parties would say?
Rossko: Locally Antony Difrancesco’s middle set before Dan Andrei really got me dancing, normally I’m in the background at the parties but I had to stop what I was doing and put my head down and dance to myself away from everyone at the back of the basement. Lee Rands 4 hour b2b with Chris Maran still goes down as one of my favourite warm ups at CT, I only wished that we recorded it – it was amazing to see the crowd arrive early and get into the set straight away.
Daniel: Internationally; Federico Molinari really played with the crowd and sucked people in, very hypnotic with so much groove. He is one of the best technical DJ’s I seen for a long time, 3 deck mixing and using a lot of tools and acapellas to give it that third dimension. Not only his sound and skills but as a person he is such a great guy – the perfect gentlemen. We have a lot of respect for people like Federico.
So the 1st of December will see you turn 4. What have you got planned for us?
Rossko: Lee Burridge is coming to play an extended set along side Daniel and myself. Not much more needs to be said, we all know what we can expect 😉 He is one of those DJ’s that if your in the know – then you know.. As always we have been searching high and low for new and interesting spaces that fit the bill to host our parties. We are really excited to be working with a professional team and new venue which has restored our faith with venue owners. We will be giving you the usual Cerca Trova treatment, as well as installing a four-point sound system really giving us that extra clarity and warmth.
Lee Burridge is indeed a top booking and a fantastic DJ. Assuming you didn’t have to worry about DJ fees and booking agents, who would your ideal lineup consist of?
Rossko: I have been a big fan of Terry Francis for a very long time. His older productions and aliases I’m very fond. He has always captured me and every time I see him in Room 1, 2, or 3 at Fabric. More importantly he has always delivered a sound to compliment the room and line up for that night – a proper resident DJ. I’d love to take him out of Fabric just for one night!
Daniel: For me this is one of them, Lee has always been the first artist on my list to book. We wanted to wait for the right time and moment to book him (3 years) and we felt that our 4th birthday would be the perfect party to introduce him to our underground party away from his usual club and festival environment. Steve Bug is also another established DJ that has interested me since the first days of buying the Pokerflat vinyl. I’m also a big fan of Pablo Denegri which I am sure in the future we will be introducing from Argentina.
Besides throwing underground parties, have you got any other plans for Cerca Trova? Have you got any personal projects on the go?
Daniel: Next year will see the launch of Cerca Trova Recordings, which will be a limited pressing vinyl imprint. Like the party, the label will be a base for me and Rossko to release on aswell as featuring E.P’s and remixes from previous guest DJ’s that have played for Cerca Trova. We want the label to have that intimate and family feel to it – like the party. Each track will be focused around their experience at the party they played. We felt going into our 5th year was a good point to have another platform to express the music and the artists we currently respect.
Finally, if you could choose one, what’s been your favourite Cerca Trova memory so far?
Rossko: My favourite would have to be when we done one of our London special events; inviting Geddes and Enzo Siragusa to spin with us. Halfway through the night when Geddes was playing we had a power-cut, everything went pitch black and you can imagine what it must of felt like in a pitch black basement. 15 minutes went by which felt like an eternity while the owner frantically was checking the fuse-boxes to fix the problem. Suddenly, out of know where we heard the thud from the amp and before anything else turned back on we see the lights from the 1210 decks light up – Geddes instinctively picked up the needle and dropped it at the right point at the end of a break down which by in a few seconds when everything had powered back up it dropped straight back into the tune he was originally playing…The whole place erupted you could feel the energy in the place go through the roof!
Daniel: Dropping; Antonio’s – Hyperfunk in the basement, the crowd went completely bonkers! Not bad considering it’s a 15-year-old 2-step track…
Also at the end of our Autumn 2012 party at Autumn House, Rossko & I played a rare back-to-back set at 6am unannounced, we both knew it was the right time to connect and have a jam. You could see the sun coming up through the slats in the warehouse and small windows behind us, it completely changed the mood and the vibe of the party. This is what gives us the bug to continue to do these parties – creating special moments like that leave a lasting impression.
Hi Steve, thanks for talking to us. You’ve just played the closing party at Amnesia, how was it? With Chuckie headlining the main room it must’ve been quite a mixed crowd…
Thats not how it works at Amnesia. What goes on in the inside room at night on the Saturday, is very different to what goes on in the main room, which is in fact the terrace on Sunday morning. Its 2 completely different crowds..
Your Viva Warriors night at Sankey’s came to end a few weeks ago. Now that you’ve had a bit of a break from it, how do you reflect back on the season?
It was amazing, better than we could have ever expected. Not only were we packed every week, which is nice, but more importantly we had an amazing crowd and that’s what I was really happy about.
In terms of the amount of competition in Ibiza, did a lot of thought and preparation go into making sure each week stood out musically from the scores of other events?
No we just did our own thing, there is no point trying to be “in competition” with anyone in Ibiza, because there is soo much going on and many of the super clubs have super budgets and can out do us in marketing, advertising, etc. So, we just focused on what we were doing, putting quality first and putting lots of love and passion into our party, and with that hope it works. And it did.
OneMore Halloween w/ Steve Lawler + Livio & roby at Hern Street Car Park – Picture by Goodmoodz
Similarly, did a lot of planning go into how yourself and the other Viva warriors would approach each night? I imagine there had to be some variation in what the residents would play week on week..
As an artist and DJ I dont plan music, music needs to be free and unplanned. The only planning we did was with the night itself. There was one other resident and this year that was Darius Syrossian, who is an incredible DJ and Producer, we also had regular apearences from Julian Perez, who in my eyes is one of the most talanted DJs to come about in the last 5 years. You just need to hear him to believe it.
Of the 10 parties you threw, were there any particular standout favourites? Why?
We did 12 party’s and honestly they were all amazing, we never had one single low point throughout the whole season. Overall what stood out to me was the vibe we created in that room. Fuck it I’ll say it, not something that looks good me saying, but it’s true and that is there is only one other night that had the sort of vibe we did and that was Circo Loco at DC10 on Mondays. I played other clubs and nights on the island, but none of them came close to the vibe in our room. It was incredible.
Is there anything that has come out of the experience that you perhaps weren’t expecting? (Perhaps a new artist, a new friendship, reactions from the public..)
I wasnt expecting for our first year to be rammed like it was, I thought our first year would be a laying the ground type year, setting the foundations. So that was very exiting for me to know in just our first year we exceeded all expectations.
Are there already plans in motion to do it all again next year? Is there anything you would change in any way?
We learnt alot this year as you do in the first year, we know there aremany things we can do better, like our promotion and marketing, we knew we didn’t have much to play with as far as promotion etc. We know which DJs we will invite back and which new DJs we intend to invite etc. So yes, there will definitely be a VIVa Warriors Season 2 next year.
One artist that has seemed to have really blossomed under you is Darius Syrossian – he was the only Viva artist to play every single event of the season. Is he someone you’ve come to rely on more as time has gone on? Why is this?
I took Darius on 3 years ago, and he was just about to sell his records and give up his career and move on. I told him no way should he do that, I told him I will take you on sign you to my label, and lets show people what you’ve got. Put some things into action, gave him certain responsibilities like the radio show, and of course making him the other resident DJ of our new night in Ibiza Opening the room every week, and sharing a mix compilation with myself. All these things will give Darius a platform to show his skills as a DJ and for his production. VIVa Management also look after him, so we made sure he was getting music out and not just selfishly on our own label, but also others to get his music to the public. And it’s worked. We put alot of attention into Artist development at VIVa HQ, as you know it’s something I have done for many years with several artists because it’s something that I have personally enjoyed. I took pleasure in seriously helping the careers of Audiofly, Livio & Roby and Simon Baker.
Next up on the label is seriously one hell of a talanted artist called Detlef. You wait till you hear his album!
What’s the next big project for yourself and Viva?
For myself, it’s having a baby! Which comes early next year. I have a string of releases scheduled to come out and I am focused on touring VIVa Warriors worldwide and throughout the whole of next year. For the label the next big project is Detlef, his album will be out early next year on the label followed by a vigarus touring schedule and his summer residency in 2013.
Bruno Pronsato is somewhat of an enigmatic figure. Not only is he in no way Italian, as his name suggests, but his music does not lend itself to any single genre, existing independently of itself in its own, self-forged categories. At once deep and minimal, dance-floor orientated and explicitly technical, his music has been, for so many years now, brilliantly packaged and presented via his widely appreciated live shows, admired as much for their sonic value as for the auteur’s unwavering energy and enthusiasm. MEOKO caught up with Bruno ahead of his debut visit to South Africa to discuss exactly how it is he views himself as an artist.
Hi Bruno, thanks for your time. I was genuinely surprised to hear that Bruno Pronsato wasn’t your real name. What’s the story behind it, and why did you go for something so italian sounding?
The name comes from my ex-wife’s brother, actually. I always loved the sound of his name. the first record I released I thought I would use it as it sounded so much better (at least to me) than Steven Ford. At that point I never would have dreamed this would become a career.
You are especially revered for your percussion sounds – described as ‘piquant’ in one article i read and likened to those purveyed by Ricardo Villalobos. Are they a part of your repertoire you focus a lot of your time on?
Well, I played drums for 16 years before I started making electronic music. so i would say that percussion has always been a huge part of my musicianship. It’s what I feel I do best.
Your sound feels quite minimal at times. Was the whole European movement several years ago a big influence on you at all?
Ha, there’s that word again. I sort of came into my own within the community around the time of the so-called minimal movement, and because of that I feel people perceive my music as minimal. If you could see my studio projects as they exist in logic, I think your opinion would be quite different.
Coming from the US, what’s your opinion on the recent rise in popularity of EDM? Are you surprised that dance music has finally been allowed to become mainstream?
Well, EDM has been big in the US before, so it’s no surprise that it’s found its way back into the mainstream. I believe things that reach a mainstream status are good in a way because what usually happens is people that are truly interested in the mainstream find their way to more underground roots. Interested people usually educate themselves and that’s always a good thing.
Have you seen any change in the more underground scenes as a result? By that i mean, do you think it could be widening the appeal of electronic music in general?
As i mentioned above, it seems that interested people will find their way back to the roots and the more underground sounds. It always takes the mainstream to present people with what the possibilities are.
You recently played for RA at Decibel in Seattle. it must feel great having such a respected festival take root in a city that must mean a lot to you – has it changed the city’s sonic landscape for the better do you think?
It’s hard to say. I don’t live there anymore, so to say things have changed on a daily level, I wouldn’t know. I will say that the people that I knew there before I left seem to have a bit more of an interest in electronic music in general. Seattle has always been a more indie-rock focused city, so to see electronic music being taken more seriously is a nice surprise.
You’ve moved about quite a bit in your life. Are you still happy living in Berlin? Apart from the techno and amazing record shops, what’s the best thing about it?
I am still very happy in Berlin. I think what I’m liking more and more these days is the variety of places to eat. When i first moved here there was a pretty big gap between plain food and fine dining. There has always been extraordinary places to eat, but i think Berlin is sort of filling that middle ground a bit more these days.
The public are yet to hear any original productions from yourself in 2012. Did you decide to take a break after the release of Lovers Do last year? When will you next find yourself in the studio?
I did take a sort of small break after the birth of my daughter, but I have been mainly busy with collaborations. I released the Public Lover LP with my girlfriend last february, and just released a record with Daze Maxim as ‘Others’, which just came out a week ago. Sammy Dee and I have our Half Hawaii collaboration which will be out on Perlon later this year or early next.
Although you haven’t released anything original so far this year, you must constantly be updating your live show with bits and pieces to keep it fresh. Tell us a little bit about your performance ethos. Do you ever play tracks that aren’t yours?
I am constantly working on music. Some of the music I make goes into a live set – the more dance floor oriented stuff. I sort of dissect those pieces from those tracks and move them into my live set. the more home-listening stuff goes into ‘tracks.’ I never play other people’s music in my sets.
You’re playing three dates in South Africa at the beginning of November, including one where you’ll be playing on a train platform in-between two subway trains. Will it be your first time there? What do you know about the scene there? How are you feeling about the shows?
Yes, it will be my first time in SA. I am very happy about this. I have never really heard much about the scene down there, so that is another exciting aspect. I have prepared some special music for the shows there. Speaking briefly with the promoter I feel like there may be a bigger appreciation of my more abstract sound. I have been trying some new stuff out here and there to see how they work. Hopefully by the time I reach SA i’ll have nailed it.
For those of you unaware, DJ, producer and label owner Tom Clark is not, as you might presume, British. He is in fact one of Berlin’s hardest-working electronic musicians, with a career spanning from the early 90s and his days as a resident at Tresor, to the present day, where his label Highgrade Records throws regular parties at Berghain and Panorama Bar. Celebrated for championing what can only truly be described as tech house, in its purest form, Clark is very much a DJs DJ, which is part of the reason everyone is so excited that he’s returning to play at the Cartulli’s3rd birthday on November 3rd in London.
Hi Tom, thanks for your time. You’ve been involved with electronic music in Berlin for over 15 years. What are the main differences in the way the music is presented and consumed in the city today as opposed to back then? Do you miss the ‘good old days’?
I’m not one to look regretfully back at the past. For electronic music it was naturally an exciting time, because there was a real feeling of optimism that a kind of revolution was coming. But these days it’s basically just as exciting. There are well established clubs and equally amazing parties. Above all, there isn’t a fight for acceptance of electronic music anymore. Of course there is a lot more competition now and the market has become a lot more professional. Who could have guessed back then that a DJ would need a manager, or that new media such as Facebook could become so pivotal to the success of a DJ? The definition of a DJ has also changed a lot. Now it’s not enough to simply play records, you also have to be a producer and even more, to have your own label.
Berlin must be a tough place to be a DJ – everyone involved is so up-to-date on the music that you must have to work really hard to both impress and separate yourself from the rest. Did you feel a lot of pressure DJing when you were making a name for yourself? Would you say Berlin is the hardest city to DJ in the world?
The level in Berlin is altogether very high and many of the worlds best DJs live here and play regularly in the city. In some clubs it’s always a challenge to play because the club people in Berlin are constantly listening to the creme de la crème of DJs, week after week. But that simply spurs you on. And naturally, for your own artistic inspiration it’s also a big advantage.
How did the Highgrade relationship with Berghain and Panorama Bar first come about?
I’ve know the management of the club for years and used to play for them at the former club ‘Ostgut’, so there is a long-standing connection between us. The personal connection certainly had something to do with us getting our label parties in the club, but this alone wouldn’t have been enough to sustain a long term relationship. Ever since we have been promoting nights there, we have always made an effort to do a great job and I think Berghain also values us as a good and solid partner.
Few people have had the chance to really gain an insight into what Berghain/P-Bar is all about. In your own words, how would you describe it both as a space to play at and as an institution to have grown personally so close to?
The Berghain club has given techno music a new lease on life and is, in my opinion, also partly responsible for the wider revival of techno. DJs like Marcel Detmann and Len Faki have measurably influenced this sound. But the main thing is really that everyone who ever goes there feels inspired. The mixture of the people who party there can’t be found in any other club, anywhere.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt about life and DJing as a result of your sets at Berghain/P-Bar?
Probably to be patient. A lot of people may think that when you’ve played there once or twice then it’s all on. But most things happen in small steps. Only a few people achieve a kind of super ‘boom hype’ in a very short time. Most of the successful people I know have worked hard to get there. Therefore, I’d say keep it steady, stay true to yourself and keep on your own path.
They say London is Europe’s second city for electronic music. How would you compare/contrast the two cities in their attitudes and approaches to dance music? Are they dramatically different?
I would say that both cities are very different and not so easy to compare. There are probably a similar number of clubs in London as in Berlin but London still has location problems. A lot of parties happen in the same locations. In that way Berlin is extremely lucky. There will probably be plenty of locations in Berlin for the next 20 years. However I think London can still be very important for a musical career. In Germany people say that when you’re successful in England, then you’ve really made it! That’s definitely true in electronic music.
Highgrade Records has long had the reputation for putting out top-quality tech-house. This is a wide and often disputed sound, so what does tech-house, if anything, mean to you?
The term tech-house has almost taken on a negative meaning in recent years. But it basically describes best what we do on Highgrade. Our sound has always been in the middle somehow. Never really house, never really techno. It’s just what we do. We’ve stayed very true to this over the years and haven’t followed every new trend hype, like a lot of others have. A couple of years ago there were labels who brought out only minimal and techno and now suddenly they’re releasing deep house, a la Crosstown Rebels, just because that’s what’s hip right now.
Highgrade is such a prolific label, sometimes release 2 EPs a month. Is this something you guys think is important, to keep active and constantly fresh?
Sometimes we’ll bring out two EPs in a month, and that’s almost always one digital and one vinyl release. We think it’s important to maintain a regular output. Electronic music for the club can be pretty short lived these days, and sometimes there is so much good material available that we just want to get it out. Apart from that it’s important for all the core artists in our roster that they can regularly release a record with us.
Finally, you’re playing at the 3rd birthday of Cartuli’s day, at which you’re a resident. How did you first get involved with the party? What can we expect from your set?
I’m pretty sure they just booked me the first time. Then it was somehow love at first sight, and the vibe at the party is really something special. Basically everything just seemed to fit and the boys asked me if I wanted to come and play more often. Now I’m back again and I’m very happy about it. Expect something groovy and twisted… Panorama Bar House with a bit of kick arse Berghain techno thrown in!
Catch Tom Clarke next in London at the 3rd Birthday at Cartul’s Day alongside Claro Intelecto, Alexkid, Kasper, Rico Cassaza, Unai Trotti, Dead Echo, Monika Ross, Ken & Davy and more
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.