THE ART OF IMPROVISATION Cosy dinners, regular sport and lots of reading is a popular plan for getting through the winter, but the most effective (though less virtuous) way to withstand the creeping depression of the dark season is putting on something fabulous and going out regularly to lose yourself on a dancefloor. Few pastimes can claim the same capacity for transcendence that dance can. Also, when it comes to dance performance there is something about the visceral aspect of this art form that seems especially affecting in a contemporary age preoccupied with increasingly abstract and intangible communication; whether watching a performance or ‘performing’ ourselves, dancing touches a nerve and is inherently human. A topical subject with a lot of scope in other words, and so it was with much optimism and verve that the process of collecting ideas and material began. Very early on we hit upon the first and pretty obvious challenge of covering a subject defined by movement in a static medium, and ironically over time this issue, for all its light-hearted and uplifting intentions, became one of the most trying we’ve put together. Dogged by lastminute cancellations, impossible to reach people, debilitating colds – it has been an endless stretch of improvising. But somewhere in the process the parallel to our chosen subject struck me: the spirit of dance after all IS improvisation. It all started to make weird sense and so we carried on, somehow managing to pull some very elegant moves to suit an unpredictable groove. There is of course an incredibly wide range to dance, and a significant part of that is highly choreographed – i.e. the very opposite of spontaneous improvisation – but the beauty in highly rehearsed dancing is still that it looks and feels so natural and instinctive. Artistic vision, relentless practice and superior physique combine to create this mesmerizing illusion capable of setting pulses racing and tears welling. If you tend to connect dance performances only to dying swans then it’s time to meet Constanza Macras and Toula Limnaios, two brilliant choreographers who discuss their boundary breaking work in contemporary dance with Jean-Robert Saintil. For even more insight into the physical mode of artistic expression,
Paul Sullivan has photographed five individuals from very different worlds of dance, also taking the opportunity to find out what motivates them to move. That most dancing doesn’t require any conscious motivation is clear. A decent amount of space and fantastic music is all most of us need for this primal urge to take over. As always we’re introducing music that falls under that category, but for the dance issue we’ve really tried to pin down the artists or sound capable of inducing the kind of primal states that have you moving in unexpected ways and tearing at your clothes, for hours. Although very different from each other, producer/live-act Portable and the Cómeme crew behind the infamous BumBumBox parties are what you need to be checking out. Music aficionado Federica Linke gets to the heart of their magic in Hear This. Speaking of magic, we’re incredibly excited to present Chris Saunders’ exclusive photos of the Tshe Tsha boys, a Shangaan dance act, which Chris shot on-location at Shangaan electro producer Nozinja’s home in the Soweto Township. Hope you enjoy this issue about all things dance and better yet that it gets you out there flexing to the beat. Just respect the golden rule: No parking on the dancefloor!
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Inspired by varying topical themes Electronic Beats Magazine appears quarterly and free-of-charge. The last half a decade has seen over 20 engaging issues come into being and most of these can be ordered independently from a subscription from our online shop. Subscribe to Electronic Beats or make a gift of a yearly subscription for only €10 within Germany or €20 internationally. Single issues can be ordered for €3 (Germany) and €6 (international). More information and all orders via the online shop: WWW.ELECTRONICBEATS.NET/EBSHOP
04/2010 THE DANCE ISSUE TUNE IN 08–35
Exhibitions Worth A Visit / News.................................10 Etsy..............................................................................12 Ones To Watch: Eliphino...............................................14 Ones To Watch: Russ Yallop...........................................15 Tough at the Top: Gary Numan.....................................16 Electronic Beats News...................................................18 Feature: Electronic Beats 10 Year Anniversary...............19
MOST WANTED 66–93
Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.....................................68 Dress to Dance with Kitty Hanson................................72 »Swan Like« Fashion....................................................74 Barcelona City Guide....................................................86
Tshe Tsha Boys..............................................................38 Vaslav Nijinsky.............................................................46 Contemporary Choreographers ......................................50 What makes you dance? ................................................60 Let’s Dance! / No, thank you..........................................64
HEAR THIS 94–116
Portable........................................................................96 Cómeme......................................................................100 Scuba..........................................................................103 Footworkin.................................................................104 The Collector’s Guide to Songs About Dancing..............108 Music Reviews...........................................................110 My Music Moment: Milo Smee...................................114
CONTRIBUTORS Jean-Robert Saintil London based Jean-Robert is Editor of Chorus+Echo, Editor At Large for Vs Magazine, Associate Editor for Glass Magazine online and regular contributor for several other publications. He’s also just released his very first EP, Kitten On A Hot Tin Roof on meplus1, which he’s rather happy about.
Federica Linke Federica Linke grew up in Sardinia surrounded by white sheep and white beaches, forever reading Stephen King novels and listening to heavy metal. After discovering Faith No More, she's open to every sort of musical landscape, as long as it’s innovative. In Milan, she studied American literature, ended up working in the waste management and writing for several music magazines such as Mucchio, Superfly and basebog.it, the first Italian webzine about electronic music. After years of raving around Europe she recently settled in Berlin: the place where most things happen.
»I like to listen to Future Islands, Human Puppets, Murder, The Wave Pictures, DM Stith, Andrew Bird and many many more. I like to watch Bored to Death, Mad Men, Californication and a few more I like the clothes of so many designers, it's hard to mention just a few. I work as a stylist. And I actually love to create something new from what others already thought up.« WWW.RAINER-METZ.DE
Chris Saunders is a photographer and filmmaker from Johannesburg currently living in Treviso, Italy. Initially working in the fashion and advertising industry, he’s moved into documentary photography and film too. Winning a one year grant at Fabrica, Benetton’s creative research facility, Chris researched and helped produce two issues of Colors Magazine. Busy Chris is also responsible for the Team Uncool Fashion blog and still finds time for collaborations with fine artists from South Africa and abroad. WWW.IMAGINATION.CO.ZA
“They only want you when you’re seventeen, when you’re twenty-one, you’re no fun,” sang Ladytron. Bestowed with ageless depth and talent, twenty-one-year old Eliphino defies such predictions and with a distinct sound all his own classifies as a lot more than just ‘fun’. Striding out of the shadows while doing his own thing, Russ Yallop’s take on house is something to keep your ear out for. What’s a celebration and pretty in pink? An additional 16 pages for the Electronic Beats 10-year anniversary!
Louise Bourgeois - Me, Eugénie Grandet
“I’m working on a show about Eugénie Grandet for the Maison de Balzac in Paris, opening next November. I love that story. It could be the story of my life”, Louise Bourgeois declared to London’s Guardian barely a year ago. Eugénie Grandet is the literary work Bourgeouis identified with all her life. Via this exhibition six months after her death, the artist shares moments in her life and more particularly her childhood with us. Just as personal as her sculpture installations, such as the giant spider representing her mother, but on a more intimate scale marked by a return to painting and stitchery. MAISON DE BALZAC47, RUE RAYNOUARD | 75016 PARIS NOVEMBER 3, 2010 – FEBRUARY 6, 2011
Nan Goldin – Berlin Work
The Berlinische Galerie unveils a new exhibition focusing on Nan Goldin’s chronological survey of work that she was able to realise during the extended periods she spent in Berlin between 1984 and 2009 including unpublished archive material. The exhibition features around 100 selected photographs somewhere between glamour and the gutter ranging from rare moments of normality to hardships, violence and excess. Goldin’s photographs are interwoven with her own life and fate as she lost her closest companions to AIDS and struggled with personal battles with drugs herself. A voyeuristic journey of a life pushed to the limits. BERLINISCHE GALERIE ALTE JAKOBSTRASSE 124-128 | 10969 BERLIN NOVEMBER 20, 2010 –MARCH 28, 2011
INTO THE GROOVE
Choreographer Ayman Harper’s new piece is a collaboration with the renegade musicians of Matmos, well known for their use of strange objects in their work as well as their collaboration with Björk on Vespertine which added an ethereal sheen to the more angular approaches of the singer’s previous work. With The Lid we expect nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the three-headed collective’s iconic heavily chopped, screwed and over layered sounds combined with movement. PREMIERING AT MOUSONTURM IN FRANKFURT ON 10.-12.12.2010 WITH FURTHER PERFORMANCES AT HAU3 IN BERLIN ON THE 15.-18.12.2010.
NEWS BY PAUL SCHLOSSER
RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
Chris Habana’s last range of accessories was highly inspired by the late eighties – early nineties house music and doused with contemporary edgyness. It’s the minor detail that stands out to us, like quotes that are embossed and cut into some of the pieces taken from familiar house music tracks. With his A/W ’10 collection Chris Habana is back at it, but this time concentrating on a more religious ethos, drawing upon his own Catholic upbringing with holy rosaries and embellished crosses. CHRISHABANA.COM
RHYTHM IS A DANCER The current Autumn/Winter collection by Berlin-based design label mono.gramm refers to dance and the effect of movement it has on the clothes. From season to season the design-trio developes unusual though utterly wearable clothes consisting of complex draperies and basic materials while keeping the colour palette neutral. With cardigans coming oversize and cozy, the line always looks effortless while creating an elegant impression. And the life’s-a-breeze, easy attitude doesn’t end here: What also makes mono.gramm’s latest achievement so special to us is that each look of the current winter season is inspired by a figure of modern dance from Berlin dance company cie. toula limnaios. MONO-GRAPHIE.COM
AROUND THE WORLD
What rhymes with MINI Cooper? MINI Scooter! And when we are talking about scooters we’re not referring to those candy coloured bumper cars we all know from fun fairs. Exciting things are happening since MINI belongs to BMW stable and monoculture is a thing of the past. The new MINI Scooter E Concept in typical MINI design sprung to our attention on its practical two wheels. A MINI as we have never seen it before! Perfect for dashing through the city where even a regular MINI could be held up in a traffic jam. Packed with clever functionality -there’s no need to worry about your smartphone falling out of your pocket as you’re scooting around town – it snaps right into the cockpit, acting as an ignition key and easy-to-see GPS unit. Oh, and because combustion engines are so passé, the scooters are of course powered by electricity. MINI.COM
INTERVIEW PAUL SCHLOSSER
GOOD VIBRATIONS Etsy is an eBay of sorts of the do-it-yourself movement and surely one of the world’s most vibrant marketplaces for artists to sell their handmade goods. It was built by artists for artists – and for those consumers conscious of the true value of handmade goods and their creators. You can find items by category, tag and colour, and even search for local sellers. Reason enough to provide due space for this literal treasure trove and speak to Etsy’s European director, Matthew Stinchcomb, who helped open the company’s first international office in Berlin and its Labs, a community workspace where you can take part in Craft Nights and other occasional events. What’s new at Etsy these days? What’s the so-called Etsy Lab all about and can anyone just come along for a visit? A lot is happening at Etsy right now. We are launching tons of new features on the site, and working hard to create better experiences for our members around the world. We recently started supporting multiple currencies, and will soon make it easier to find products based on location. Etsy Labs Berlin is a community centre and event space for small business, DIY and artist community in Europe. Located in Kreuzberg, the space is home to regular free events and workshops that focus on micro-enterprise and the work and ideas of creative entrepreneurs. In addition to our own programming, we are proud to offer free use of the Etsy Labs for events, meetings, and exhibitions. Anyone may apply to use the space. Find more details at etsy.de/ blog/labs How did Etsy come about? Etsy was conceived by Rob Kalin in early 2005. A painter, carpenter, and photographer, Rob found there was no viable marketplace to exhibit and sell his creations online – other e-commerce sites having become too inundated with overstocked electronics and broken appliances. Are you much of an arts and craftsman yourself ? I am a printmaker and a photographer, but, thankfully, there are makers on Etsy far more talented than me. When was the last time you purchased something on Etsy and what was it? Yesterday. Vintage leather baby shoes for my unborn child (due in a week). What are your favourite things being sold these days whether vintage or hand-crafted? I am really into baby stuff, both vintage and handmade. Etsy has incredible vintage finds from around the world. I am also very into feltidermy (search ‘feltidermy-faux’).
Is there a particular trend within handcrafts? Yes, big chunky knits and dazzle camouflage are kind of hot right now. But the trend I see is about connectedness and community. By nature, we are creative beings, we long for the tactile, and through creation we are connected to other humans. When production is done in some anonymous factory, in some developing nation at great social and ecological cost, we are not connected to an object or the people who made it. Imagine that your house is on fire. Your kids, spouse, pets are all safe, ok? Now, you can run in and grab one object. What is it going to be? Your laptop, your flat screen television? Sure, they may well be the most expensive things you own, but they are anonymous. There are a million others identical to them. There is no ONE behind them. On the other hand, there is only one quilt that your grandmother made, and there will never be another exactly like it. Grandma’s quilt has a story. It is an expression of a human to whom you are connected. And to me, it is this connection that it is important. Connection equals community. And the desire to be a part of something is innate in us all. What percentage of the sale price actually goes to Etsy? 3.5 percent, 96.5 percent goes to the artist From mended woollen socks to the Vagina Pillow or a Vulva Necklace to decorate one’s décolletage, Etsy website has no lack of bizarre objects to keep one entertained on a Sunday afternoon scroll. Are there criteria one has to meet before making sales? It must be sold by the person who made it. You may not go to Africa and buy a bunch of necklaces from the Masai and then resale them on Etsy. It is about direct connection between maker and consumer. Beyond that, the sky is the limit! Vagina pillows may not be your thing, but I am glad Etsy is a place where you can find them.
Nice selection of rare vintage boots – from jamesrowlandshop
Jewelry line inspired by antique artifacts and natural specimens WWW.ETSY.COM/SHOP/LUXCORONETTE
Rad custom-made leather accessories from Garbage Dress’ Zana Bayne.
Affordable and insanely cute gemstone jewellery
Wide range of unique fabrics
LET ME LOVE YOU Eliphino. LF. I know. The moniker of 21-year old Tom Wrankmore, who looks set to be the next bright young thing to break out of the post-dubstep ghetto with his gorgeously crafted beats, rich with emotion and longing. Sketching a neon line over dense, buzzing drums and nervous percussion, his sound sits somewhere in between the best bits of bass and something far more ethereal. TEXT GARETH OWEN
Marking the edges of his own sonic universe with deft use of repetition, sampling and locomotive beats, Eliphino first caught our attention when he appeared on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Electric compilation with ‘Let Me Love You Forever’. A toy-town melody reduced to a simple refrain joins vocal samples atop frantic drums. The song moves along on a barrage of repetition and yet never becomes boring. It simply buries the feeling deeper into your mind with every listen. Quietly releasing music for over four years, first with his Out Of Phase EP and later his Made Seasons EP – a selection of strung-out instrumentals – it was his inclusion on the Brownswood compilation that brought him to the attention of the wider world. Moving from Leeds to Manchester and now to London, Eliphino began DJ’ing at 15, and was crafting beats on an MPC not long after. He was a resident DJ at Drum Major in Leeds, playing host to hip hop’s great and good, including slots with Madlib and Q Bert, before taking a residency at Hoya Hoya when he moved to Man-
chester. It was in Manchester that he also supported Flying Lotus and Tokimonsta and, playing alongside these beat pioneers, he picked up a production tip or two utilising the experience to forge his own distinct sound. Now residing in a Seven Sisters (London) warehouse, he is about to drop the record that will tip him into the stratosphere – the Undivided Whole E.P. Released on new label somethinksounds, the four tracks touch on everything from the emotion of Sasha, to the disembodied nervous beats of post-garage London. Undivided Whole is a journey through a post-everything club landscape where all that matters is the feeling distilled in the music. Having had his four latest tracks on constant repeat, I have no doubt that, measured against the barometer of ‘good music’, Eliphino stands head and shoulders above the copycat beatsmiths. Did we mention he’s only 21?
I CAN’T WAIT My introduction to Russ Yallop was through one song. But I have the feeling that will be the case for a lot of other people, too. Apparently a friend of Jamie Jones et al, he has released music on Leftroom and Mothership as Rusty James, but it is his latest record – on Damian Lazarus’ bastion of underground house Crosstown Rebels – that looks set to bring him out of the shadows. TEXT GARETH OWEN
‘I Can’t Wait’ is the kind of club track I thought wasn’t made anymore. Big room filter house that doesn’t suck, using a sample that would 99 times out of 100 in this context sound like the laziest sampling ever – the Mary Jane Girls’ ‘All Night Long’. It’s just been done to death. However, taut percussion and a relentless beat topped (bottomed?) with a monstrous bass line make this piece of 21st century dance-pop as effective as it is unexpected. A neat use of contemporary sounds, aggressive bass and crowd-pleasing filtering mark out ‘I Can’t Wait’ from the rock solid discography of Crosstown Rebels. A block of sunshine yellow amongst the Rebels’ black and neon. I don’t, however, think that Yallop will be a one-hit flavour of the month. Not only does ‘I Can’t Wait’ stand out from much of his new label’s output, it stands out from much of his own, too. Dark and brooding tracks like ‘Stop Lying’ and ‘Harlem’ are of a distinctly darker tone. They are also deep and very enjoyable – ‘Wired’ will appeal to fans of Ark and Jazzanova alike, which would not be the
first thing to spring to mind when hearing ‘I Can’t Wait’. However, there are hints of colour and what’s to come on tracks like ‘Everybody’s Talking’ (as Rusty James) hidden amongst Yallop’s discography. The undoubtedly massive success of ‘I Can’t Wait’, and a move closer to the cutting edge (though not too far) on his new label, mark a significant progression for a clearly gifted producer who has reached his ‘moment’ by doing his own thing and slowly developing his sound. Perhaps he has not quite got their yet – ‘I Can’t Wait’ is markedly different to a lot of the deep and grooving house he has released so far and it’s still maybe too cheesy for some. Whether this marks a new direction or an interesting diversion remains to be seen, but either way, Russ Yallop is definitely someone worth watching if you are in any way interested in house music. Perhaps not one for the strictly purists, but then again who knows? Let’s keep watching and find out.
ELECTRIC TEXT NEALE LYTOLLIS
Bursting onto the music scene as if from nowhere at the end of the seventies, Gary Numan rapidly established himself as one of the key figures in British electronic music with mega hits like ‘Are Friends Electric’ and ‘Cars’. His iconic 1979 album, The Pleasure Principle, was re-released last year as Numan celebrated over thirty years in the business. Still a busy chap, he’d just wrapped up a U.S. tour when he told Electronic Beats about his career highs and lows. Do you still find touring exciting or is it a necessary evil these days? No, I love touring. For me it is by far the most exciting and enjoyable of all the things I do connected to music. I’ve just finished a fairly big American tour, with dates also added in Canada and Mexico, and I loved every minute of it. The shows are great, I enjoy the travelling, being with the band, meeting people, all of it. It’s just a great way to live. When you look back over your career, can you believe just how long you have been active in the music business? I’ve been doing this professionally for nearly 33 years now which, I suppose, is a long time compared to how long most people survive. I still love it though, and judging by the reviews of my last two albums, my songwriting is arguably stronger than ever, so I see no reason to even think about stopping. Do you still face the same problems and pressures today as you did when you were first starting out? I still face a lot of pressures and problems, but they are not entirely the same as when I started. Radio play is still a problem, but I do understand that my music is not radio-friendly so I’m not complaining about that. Simply trying to reach out to people, to get them to listen to your music is as big a problem as it has always been. Trying to encourage people to buy it rather than download it for free is a relatively new problem, but quite a major one. I now have to admit, sadly, that making money from selling albums is a thing of the past and that brings a lot of problems. Overall though, I still find the challenges of a career in music exciting and rewarding. When you’re not working, what do you like to do to switch off? I have three small children and they fill up every free minute I get. In fact, going on tour feels more like a holiday compared to the schedule when I’m at home. We get up at 5:45 every morning for the school run and then have a very busy day just doing all the mundane
things that need to be done. Trying to slot creative work into the middle of all that day-to-day stuff has proven to be quite difficult and that’s something I’m trying hard to fix now. I need to be far more productive than I have been in the last few years. I have a lot still to do. What would you say has been your career highlight so far? Having a simultaneous number one single and album in the UK was probably the highlight so far. Actually, I did that twice in the same year, with different singles and albums, so I doubt I will ever beat that in terms of chart success. Having said that though, I am stupidly optimistic and still expect great things to happen. I still believe the best is yet to come. Do you still have any unfulfilled ambitions? I would like to write novels. I’ve wanted to do so for years but I am incredibly bad at managing my time and so my albums take longer and longer to make and my ambitions as a story teller remain unfulfilled. It is a major disappointment that I have never been able to get that part of my life together. There’s lots of doom and gloom in the music industry these days because of the impact of digital downloads and falling album sales. Do you see these as dark days for the business or exciting challenges to be faced? I find things very exciting at the moment. Technology is changing a lot of things but is, I think, undeniably putting more control back into the hands of the bands and artists themselves. Providing we are sensible, we can operate quite successfully without signing our lives away to a record company. I like the way things are going, albeit far from perfect. Do you get sick of hearing Cars? Not these days. I went through a period of trying to distance myself from it but I now realise that most people would love to have written something that has endured so long and is so recognisable. So I have learnt to be proud of it. What does 2011 hold for Gary Numan? The new album Splinter will be released, plus a world tour to go with it. Later in the year we will probably release a second album called Dead Son Rising. I have two film soundtracks that I will be working on with Ade Fenton, plus more DJ work. Plus a few more collaboration projects are likely.
P E O P LE FO R M O D E R N S D N U O S IC T E C LE C FA S H IO N A B LY
THE HUMAN LEAGUE
Electronic Beats Anniversary
THE THINGS THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
E L E C T R O N I C B E AT S F E S T I V A L AT R A D I A L S Y S T E M
TEXT GARETH OWEN PHOTOGRAPHY EDUARD MELTZER | JOHANNA RUEBEL
Ten years, can you believe it? We’re not quite sure we can. To celebrate a decade of Electronic Beats, we spent a whole week in hazy swirl of parties and celebrations that began with our very special ‘friends night’ at Berlin’s Tape Club. With the EB resident DJs setting the mood, we went on to have an amazing party with an energetic show from Barbara Panther, surprise guest-DJ Andy Butler of Hercules & Love Affair and the undoubted highlight of the night - a live set from Caribou. We had barely managed to shake off our hangovers by the time the Electronic Beats Festival in Berlin rocked around two days later. With Bon Homme, Delphic, The Human League and Róisín Murphy all taking to the stage, we hosted possibly our most popular concert yet with members of Modeselektor and Yello also joining the party. Special guests and friends arrived to the festival by boat, having been treated to a trip along the Spree with Mark Jones, founder of the legendary label Wall Of Sound providing the warm-up sound for the evening. A week to rest up and then it was time for the Electronic Beats Festival in Vienna - this time with the Human League, Róisín Murphy and Nouvelle Vague all performing truly amazing sets for the crowds. All in all, a rather spectacular end to our ten year celebrations.
The year is 2010 and Electronic Beats is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in very grand style indeed. In addition to the fabulous parties in the last months, a very fat and shiny book with the best pictures, stories and personalities from Electronic Beatsâ€™ very rich and varied 10-year history that spans a Viva TV show, countless live, club and social events, a state of the art online portal, a DVD for music insiders and of course this darling magazine has been produced. In this issue we are pleased to present a glimpse into this limited edition publication with interviews from Electronic Beats luminaries like Modeselektor, Yello, Peaches, Tiefschwarz, Caribou and Sasha Perera from Jahcoozi.
Electronic Beats 10 Year Anniversary
SING IT BACK
Sasha Perera / Jahcoozi 20
TEXT DANIEL WEST
Jahcoozi is an inherently multinational trio. The globetrotting Berlin-based band is composed of German Robot Koch, Israeli Oren Gerlitz and Sri Lankan-British MC Sasha Perera. The latter reflects on her experiences over the last decade and involvement with Electronic Beats. Personally, due to the fact that I’ve been living in Berlin since 2000,what has been apparent during the last decade is the change that has taken place in my immediate vicinity. An example is that legendary squatter house Eimer in Mitte – where we played our first ever Jahcoozi show – is now a shoe shop! It’s been a change from unpolished, decrepit, anarchist East Berlin with the charm of a bygone era, to that of a new city slowly getting a more glamorous and shiny veneer to it. Berlin has become less of a secret and something that normal EasyJet tourists can understand and appreciate. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a state-hating separatist to want to move to Berlin! In some ways this has been really good for the city, in that it has a brighter future on the horizon, but I cant help but get sentimental about the faded and jaded character of the city that I chose to move to 10 years ago. Eimer was just one of many truly alternative institutions from back in the day. In the end it would also be utterly boring if Berlin didn’t change. Cities have to remain dynamic, otherwise they behave like villages full of villagers! I’ve lived in the same flat for the last six years: almost the longest time I have ever lived in the same building since I was born. Electronic Beats Magazine came over to my flat in 2005, just before the release of our first album on Kitty Yo. What also hasn’t changed is that I am a really messy cow. My place often looks like a total junkie hole. It’s really embarrassing and pretty personal, because everybody gets to see what kind of random crap I have lying around. Mark my words, one day you will see me in the Bild Zeitung (the German equivalent of the Sun): 70-yr old Ausländerin drowns in her own mess. Parallel Gesellschaft! Musically, that hideous trend towards eighties retro has now been dumped. Some people replaced it with nineties retro. But who cares? Change is good! With Jahcoozi we have always tried to focus on the future rather than the past in terms of sound aesthetics. With the Internet, obviously your possibilities as a musician have in some ways taken a giant leap forwards. An example would be the collaborations we have done with M Sayyid from Anti Pop Consortium, who have released some of the most futuristic, forward-thinking hip-hop hybrid music to date, and did so on the infamously brilliant label Warp Records. Having met them while playing at Popkomm in WMF in 2004, we hung out in Berlin for a couple of days and we stayed in touch via the Internet. They showed up to the first show we ever played in their hometown, New York, a couple of years later, and Sayyid agreed to be featured on our album. This pan-Atlantic collaboration happened over Internet: sending vocal files, instrumentals, sketches and ideas over the net. So despite having made two tunes with Sayyid – one on Blitz n Ass in 2007 and the other on Barefoot Wanderer in 2010
– and having hung out with him in a couple of cities in the world when our tours have collided, I have in fact never physically been in the same studio as him! In 2002 Robot, Oren (the other members of Jahcoozi) and I all attended an Anti Pop Consortium concert at Bastard in Prenzlauer Berg. We had only just started making music together and were wide-eyed kids going to see our heroes. At the time, none of us had Internet in our house and it was in any case way too slow to send files between us, so we actually had to meet all the time and burn millions of CDs. It was all much more time-consuming, but to be fair we had loads more time back then. If someone had told me back then that you, Sasha Perera, are going to make tunes with one of your heroes and you are going to make them over the Internet, and you are going to release them on your second and third album, I would never have believed them. Having said that, if somebody had told me that I would one day have central heating instead of coal Ofenheizung heating, I probably wouldn’t have believed then either! We played at Innsbruck this April for Electronic Beats. It was the first gig of our Barefoot Wanderer album tour, and the week before we had played in Kenya at a free party in Kibera – Nairobi’s largest ghetto – that had been organised by some Nairobi street artists. We also did an official concert in Nairobi for the Goethe Institut as part of NRBLN-BLNRB, a Nairobi/Berlin music exchange involving Gebrueder Teichmann, Modeselektor and Jahcoozi. In the ghetto we started off by playing mainly to kids – the crowd was hip-height! It felt like a David Lynch film where I got to dance with a load of munchkin midgets! Obviously no one knew our music, or had ever heard of Berlin, or electronic music, or German techno or anything of the sort. The people communication factor of Jahcoozi – having a front-person – means that crowds get into it even if they have no idea about club music, nerds or midi-controllers. Having flown back from Lamu in Kenya to Berlin and then straight to Innsbruck we obviously experienced a bit of a culture shock. It was highly memorable, especially because of this contrasting crowds. I mean from tropical Africa with its kids to mountainous, Germanic Innsbruck and its students! It’d be great if Electronic Beats could take us to the USA – even though they only do events in Europe – because electronic music is really neglected in the US. Some of the sound systems you play on can be so shitty: totally sub-standard in comparison to Europe. It would be great for Electronic Beats to help the Americans on that frontier. And of course if they’d take us to Congo we’d be ecstatic too! In the end its great to have a strong partner putting money into giving niche music more exposure, and allowing people in certain places to experience the kind of music they wouldn’t otherwise get to hear live – or at all for that matter.
Dieter Meier / Yello
THE YELLO LIVE DISASTER
TEXT DIETER MEIER
It is about 30 years ago that Dieter Meier and Boris Blank got to know each other in a Zurich record shop. Shortly after the two met at a car wrecker to record the noises of cars being crushed in order to later incorporate the sounds in their experimental music. What started out as a bit of fun developed into one of the most successful and influential sound creators of modern music history. Songs like ‘Bostich’, ‘Vicious Games’, ‘The Race’ or ‘Oh Yeah’ left an indelible mark on electronic music culture and still today the two extroverted music geniuses are championed as the ‘Godfathers of Techno’. Dieter Meier shares the story behind Yello’s absence from live performances since 1983 and how Electronic Beats succeeded in bringing the duo back on stage.
Thirty years ago Camden Palace was the hottest dance hall of Greater London. Every night, 4000 legs would bring the walls of this old variety theatre into a sweat. The promoter Rusty Egan, a notorious fantasist with a mock plummy accent who didn’t believe half of what he was spreading around the place week after week himself, got Yello to agree to an on-stage video presentation followed by a short chat. At the advice of their English impresario, sound-fetishist Blank and staccato-master Meier accepted the invitation. But a few months later, as the two lucky little devils were driving from the airport to the hotel in London they couldn’t believe their eyes: London was plastered with posters, all with the fat headline – YELLO LIVE AT CAMDEN PALACE. A pink carnation on his lapel, Rusty greeted the confused electropoppers at the Savoy with profuse – and not entirely convincing – apologies for this unexplainable malheur. On his knees to the upset duo, he pleaded: “I don’t know how the word ‘Live’ got on to the posters, I just know that I’m deep in the shit and you can’t back out on me now! Prince is coming, Mick Jagger and about a dozen other A-listers too. We’re sold-out twice over.” After several of Rusty’s emotive pleas a playback performance was agreed to. Meier requested the largest microphone possible in order to cover his mouth during the singing, hiding any weaknesses with the text or synchronicity, and Blank, whose grey matter had long been imprinted with all the verses via the daily mixing and arranging ritual, offered to give his best Sammy Davis Junior impersonation. A thrilled Rusty rubbed his hands together and went on spreading the party vibe. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Camden Palace is proud to present for the first time on stage the godfathers of electronics, please welcome from the continent, the phenomenal Yello.” With ‘Bostich’ blasting through the subwoofers the crowd goes mental, Meier dives on stage reeling through the text as though he’d like to devour the microphone. Then Blank coolly waltzes onto the stage, hogging the limelight like an old pro, snapping his fingers,
when all of a sudden, right in the middle of The Swing, the worse case scenario of every playback performer strikes, knocking the socks off this upstanding Swiss. As unexpected as the left hook of Oscar de la Hoya the YELLO track has switched to a David Bowie dance number. Flailing his arms and throwing despairing glances in all directions Blank tries to signal for help, but is left quaking in his boots until he finally throws the mike on the ground in utter frustration and leaves the stage. A stony silence… closely followed by a massive eruption of cheers as the crowd shrieks in delight, totally convinced that the disastrous mishap is all part of the show; a sophisticated exposure of playbackshows. As a matter of fact the industry press the next day is overrun with euphoric commentary, praising the avant-gardes from Switzerland and their creative critique of the evils of playback performances in this world of electropop. The fiasco in Camden Palace is the last performance. It would be decades later that – owing much to the inspiration of Electronic Beats – Yello steps onto a stage again. Yello approached the virtual concert in the same manner as the music is created, free and improvised like a painter works on a canvas. A digitally constructed theatre provides the basis for Blank and Meier’s performance. Acting out their actions live in front of a studio bluescreen, their figures are later added to the digital stage. In the show gigantism is eventually exposed as child’s play, and the two protagonists are picked out of a box by kids who have discovered the secret and held like two toysoldiers before being placed like two scrambling insects out into the real world. The virtual concert Touch Yello has a thoroughly therapeutic effect and manages to bring the duo one decisive step closer to the stated aim of a Las Vegas performance in October 2025.
THE POLYMATH TEXT DANIEL WEST
Caribou is the musical moniker of Canadian Dan Snaith, who holds a PhD in mathematics. Since his first forays into electronic composition in 2000, Caribou has gone on to receive widespread critical acclaim and popular support. His third and latest album Swim was hailed by the NME as “a triumph”, while Pitchfork gushed that “The man’s compositional capabilities can dazzle.” Caribou is the latest artist to appear in the Electronic Beats Recommends series, provided a special guest appearance at the Electronic Beats 10 Year Anniversary Party and previously recorded an EB Radio Session for Berlin radio station MotorFM. The last ten years have been incredibly satisfying for me. I went from making music in my bedroom to playing shows everywhere. Ten years ago I was dreaming of being in this position. The thing that always seemed impossible back then was getting music distributed – just getting a label to answer the phone. Then it seemed like there were no options apart from having a ‘real’ record label to be interested in your music. Now there are so many options. Many friends have come to music through the Internet and self-distribution. Two or three years ago people used to give me CDs at shows, now they just send me a link. Clearly it’s changed dramatically, although you still need people to champion your music. With the Sun remix competition (run by City Slang and featured on electronicbeats.net) I wanted to find someone like myself ten years ago: someone who was making music but had no way of getting people to hear it. A guy called Altrice from Arizona won the competition. He’s now remixing every song on the album and what I’ve heard sounds amazing. It’s satisfying to fulfil that role Kieran Hebdon (Four Tet) fulfilled for me, to open that door for someone else. I started making music on a computer 15 years ago and never recorded in a studio. I came in at the point when the big change had already happened. Now you can make any music you like on your phone or a Nintendo DS. It’s just a question of extending it to everybody and making it more convenient. The new means of distribution make it easier to mix and match music from different genres and parts of the world. Musicians making dance music now listen to indie and alternative pop, not just 100 Richie Hawtin records. But the mindset of subcultures has also changed. They were formerly more insular in a defensive fashion as they felt under attack from corporate music culture. If you were a Sonic Youth fan, anything that was popular or used a synth was off-limits; dance music, popular music and R&B were unacceptable. Now if you’re releasing music you feel less like you have to belong to a clique. It’s nice to be a musical magpie and follow whatever scene is exciting and interesting. That’s the way I’ve always felt. Attempting to break down music always seems facile. Putting popular songs into a computer programme to figure out why they are popular misses all the little things that are so individual and idiosyncratic. On some level I’m a staunch materialist: there’s a definite explanation why music appeals to us. There’s some biological
reason behind it, but it’s too complicated for us to ever understand. The whole appeal of music to me is that something mysterious and magical happens along the way. You don’t understand why you really like something you just made, let alone how you made it. That makes it constantly interesting and terrifying. After making a few albums that I’m proud of, I’ve no idea if I’ll make anything that I’m happy with ever again. It always just happens, I don’t know how or why. It would take all the fun out of it if someone could make a facsimile using a computer algorithm. The people that have most amazed me during my life are mathematicians. The things they do are genuinely phenomenal but they’re just working in a small corner. Music is exactly the opposite, people immediately connect and respond to it – it’s immediately transparent. Yet the thing that always struck me about mathematicians was how artistic and cultured and eccentric they were. It wasn’t uncommon to find someone who was a prominent mathematician and also a concert pianist, conductor or painter. What I always liked about mathematics was this intuition, fumbling around with ideas, trying to make things fit together. The common perception of a mathematician is someone following steps to arrive at an answer, but you have to rely on intuition and experience just like an artist or novelist. People often have the impression the Caribou live show will just be a bunch of guys behind laptops, but our show has always been live and improvised. It’s a physical and visceral experience with two drum kits, lights and video projections being played live like another instrument. The songs change from night to night as the mood takes us, which is exciting for us but hopefully also for other people. Electronic Beats has allowed us to put together something on a scale that’s ambitious and exciting. I want it to be an overwhelming sensory experience.
Ali & Basti Schwarz/ Tiefschwarz
SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT INTERVIEW TIM BRANDT
Same Same But Different There’s a strong connection between Tiefschwarz and Electronic Beats. That’s why Ali and Basti Schwarz have performed at quite a few EB Festivals. They also gave the very first interview in the first issue of Electronic Beats magazine and released their debut album in the same year that saw EB’s show broadcast on VIVA music TV. This is a collective retrospective of the first decade of the new millennium. Both of you still look just like you did ten years ago. Have music and parties kept you young? Basti: Yes, especially when it’s all about fun and passion, which you need a lot of to keep going and keep living this kind of lifestyle. Ali: We have definitely been blessed with some pretty solid genes. However, we try and take some time out once a year for about two or three months. We’ve been doing that for the past ten years to detox and cleanse ourselves. Detox diets, Ayurvedic cures, no alcohol, no hectic schedules and a lot of sleep. That way you can reactivate your brain and you feel the energy coming back. How have you progressed musically over the years? Basti: We’re still all about pattern-house music, but we keep reinventing ourselves, letting different styles of music influence us. Sometimes we get a little deeper, sometimes we lean towards techno styles. That way we can stay passionate about whatever we do and avoid getting pigeonholed. What’s the status quo in 2010? Basti: The music has taken a new direction with the minimal hype from Berlin, which came out of techno’s rebirth and which has reached right across the globe. This extremely minimalist style has developed even further and now sounds like a soulful techno kind of thing, combining vocals and new musical elements. Ali: It makes for a very interesting mix because it still has this roughness that techno has, yet combines that with very warm, creative and open sounds. This eclectic mix has given techno back a lot of feeling, style and sexiness. A lot more people are enjoying the music and are having fun, even without drugs. The girls are dominating the dancefloor once again - house and electro are as real and powerful as never before! What were some of your best live sets in the past ten years? Basti: I had an amazing experience in Lima three years ago. I had been DJing all night and then the sun started to rise over the desert - there was a big crowd of Peruvians dancing and freaking out. There was so much positive energy, it was incredible. Ali: I had one of those magic moments where you and your music become one with the crowd on the dancefloor. That was at a club called The Edge in Sao Paulo. An unbelievable rush - you can feel the energy flowing through your whole body.
Your worst experience? Basti: It’s happened quite a few times that Italian promoters have been raving about these wonderful new clubs that we were going to be playing at, but then we arrived at some countryside club in the middle of nowhere to play in front of 1500 drunk and howling youths who didn’t give a shit about our music. At that point you ask yourself: what the hell am I doing here? What memories have you got of your Electronic Beats performances? Ali: There are two events in particular that spring to mind: Electronic Beats presented our Misch Masch mix compilation in London in 2004. That was a great thing for us and we really enjoyed it - Mocky was playing at the after party after the event. As far as I know, that was also the first Electronic Beats event outside Germany. The festival at the very first Berlin Popkomm was also amazing because it was at Palast der Republik – a former East German government building that has sadly since been demolished. Playing in that particular location was really special for us. Let’s talk about your rock star image: please tell us a funny and therefore embarrassing anecdote from the past ten years. Basti: It’s in the nature of things that you don’t remember those stories... (laughs). All right then: there is a photo of Sven Väth and myself on a Wednesday afternoon, completely raved out, walking barefoot and holding hands, wearing some funny things on our heads. That was in Ibiza town on our way to the next gin bar at the harbour. Ali: There was an after hours session that was really funny and freaked out, that I remember. The two of us and a couple of friends decided to start wearing women’s clothes and send each other flying into the pool for hours on end with the help of a huge elastic band. Basti: I also remember that Ali went missing in action in Ibiza once. We got a little tip from a friend of a friend that he was to be found at an after hours party somewhere in the hills. One of our friends drove up there and found him rolling in the hay with three almost naked girls. What are you going to be doing in ten years from now - be on the turntables, have a family or both? Basti: It would be great to have both. Being on the road four times a month for the same amount of money and growing vegetables on your family farm the rest of the time.
TEXT DANIEL WEST
If electroclash had a royal family, Peaches would be its queen. Her spectacular showmanship and provocative lyrics have endeared her to a generation of young women (and men) frustrated by narrow gender definitions and dusty sexual mores. Although hailing from Toronto, Peaches moved to Berlin in 2000 and has been a visible catalyst at the heart of the city’s cultural development. Peaches played the first ever Electronic Beats Festival in her adopted hometown in 2008, and attended the Yello and Donna Summer performances part of the EB Classics series. Electronic Beats has been going for 10 years and so have I. Plus pink is our colour, so we have a lot in common. Their festival in 2008 was one of the first shows I played with my new band Sweet Machine. It was pretty exciting for us because we were also playing songs from the new album, I was introducing a more melodic element, and it was the first time I did Billionaire – a proper rap song with Shunda K as a guest rapper. We’d never performed it in person together, so that was really special. I was also excited because the fact that it was in Berlin meant I was able to access special performers. The performance started with Cyndi Wonderful from Scream Club on stage alone hyping me and the show, and then Mignon and Mad Kate – both singers and performers – actually gimped their whole bodies with plaster. They wanted to be plaster freaks. They couldn’t really walk after it dried, and as soon as they stumbled on stage the whole sound system crashed. The crowd went wild because they thought it was planned. I love it when events go wrong and that becomes the thing people remember. It was a really good line-up that night. That was the first time I got to see Santigold, and the first time I met Nomi from Hercules and Love Affair. We all played the large room in Postbahnhof which was kind of warehousey, but the backstage was well set-up and friendly. The English boy band Late of the Pier got too wasted the night before, so their drummer was incapacitated. They had to DJ or something instead – it was pretty scandalous. I had a gold flattop made for that night. Just completely gold, with makeup all over my face. It was done by Tan Binh Nguyen, my makeup artist for a Tina Turner Thunderdome impression I had just finished doing. My outfits had been made by Vaughan Alexander, who stayed in my studio space at Scala and lived off six cases of rosé champagne. I love costumes, but I don’t want it to just be about the costumes. I have huge costumes that get smaller and smaller like a Russian doll, but it’s always just me rockin’ in my underwear at the end. I’m about to do a 10-year anniversary show at the Berlin Festival without any costumes – just music and lasers. I’ve also organised 20 of my songs into an opera that’s going to be performed in Berlin, plus there’s an installation in South Korea of all the things people have thrown at me on stage: sex-toys, T-shirts, underwear scrawled
with phone numbers. I’ve got over 1000 hours of video that will be turned into a documentary, and there’ll also be a book of photos taken by some skateboarder kid turned photographer, Holger Talinski. The first night he took photos of me was that Electronic Beats gig! The Electronic Beats Classics gigs were really exciting. I seriously, seriously love Donna Summer, and wouldn’t have had the chance to see her otherwise. Yello are also pioneers in their way, with some amazing early videos. It was nice to see how Telekom balanced the up-and-coming with history. Electronic Beats Magazine is great too – especially as a Berliner who doesn’t read German. I’ve always been interested in media bridging things.
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND
TEXT GARETH OWEN
Turboweekend are one of the most popular new bands in Denmark, recently nominated Best Danish Act 2010 at the MTV Europe Music Awards by fans. Lifelong friends Martin Øhlers Petersen, Morten Køie and Silas Bjerregård began playing music together in school over 15 years ago. However they have only been playing as Turboweekend for the last four years. After a chance meeting with Claudia Jonas – Program Manager of Electronic Beats at Deutsche Telekom – the band were invited to play a number of Electronic Beats events as part of EB’s programme for supporting new and emerging talent. We played three shows for Electronic Beats this spring – Graz, Prague and Cologne. For us it was a very cool experience. We may be big in Denmark, but we are fairly up-and-coming in Europe, so it was great to be put on a par with major names like Hot Chip and Booka Shade. It helped to raise our profile at home and internationally. That’s essential for bands at our stage. Besides, we also got the chance to see some of the other bands play and particularly enjoyed Hot Chip, Moderat and Little Dragon, who are one of our favourite new bands – they’re amazing. Logistically these big shows can be very challenging for both band and promoter. Luckily we had very few issues at the EB gigs. Gearwise we have to think differently outside of Denmark because everything has to be flown in. Back home we drive around with our own drums, bass amp, and keyboard rig, but when we go by plane we can’t take all that stuff with us. Instead, we or the promoter rent gear in the town where we are playing, and our keyboard player has a special ‘travel setup’ on his computer that works with almost any midi keyboard. But it’s always a bit of a gamble. Good production logistics are really important – they make things a lot less stressful. We also love the Slices DVDs. The interviews are cool, especially the ones with Carl Craig and Tobi Neuman from issue 1-10. The collection of different types of interviews that balance technology (Tech Talk) with more in-depth discussions about music and inspiration work very well. There’s definitely room for both. And of course there’s the magazine. It’s quite serious about music, which we deem very important, but it also has a wide spread of other articles. It’s a fantastic counterpart to Slices. Without kissing ass, we haven’t really seen this kind of integration in other companies. Red Bull does something similar, but they are more focussed on developing new talent. Of course other companies sponsor existing events, but no one else has the same level of integration between creating their own events, magazines and DVDs. That’s quite special we think. Brands that are focusing on music – like Telekom with Electronic Beats – are becoming much more important to bands, because money from consumers has to be directed to the artists somehow in order for the artist to continue working and living. It used to be the record companies that did that, but the money isn’t really coming from record sales anymore, so a media partner can be a good alternative way to build a commercially successful band. To help you get to the right level of exposure and to be able to build an image that will
allow you to play big concerts and make a proper living as a musician and composer. I think that brands like Electronic Beats can play a really important part in that process. We’ve been playing music together for 15 years now, but we have only been working professionally for the last four years. Over that time we have experienced some major changes, like the shocking to drop in record sales. Everybody talks about it, but to see it yourself from inside ‘the business’ is quite something. According to official numbers from IFPI, the overall record sales have dropped 50% in the last 10 years, and this is hitting local and upcoming artists especially hard. We think that touring has always been important but it is now unquestionably clear that touring, along with publishing, is the main ways of making a living as a professional musician. In a financial perspective albums are almost just promotion for touring. However, we don’t think that diminishes the value of the album – we are very pro-album! We really like albums compared to singles. The reason is that when you go to see a band that is famous only for the singles, then you tend to just wait for those singles. Maybe they don’t even have any other good songs. A band that works towards a full album will think in terms of a longer narrative, and therefore have more varied songs. They will think “What different songs do we need to make this album work?”. When they go out to play you have a band that has a really wide palette of colours to paint with, and that is accustomed to building these longer stories. The bands that produce really good albums often play more interesting concerts, and connect with people on more levels. Anyway, that’s how we see it. We are very independent in terms of our recording and production process. We have invested in some studio gear that makes us capable of recording our own albums (thanks to Peter ‘Omoreka’ Lehmann for letting us borrow his microphones!). This means we can go to somebody with a finished product and all we need is help with promotion and sales distribution. And that doesn’t even have to be a traditional record company. As long as they have the experience and reach to promote our album to the right audience, we can work together. It becomes much less about the money and the product and more about the music.
Gernot Bronsert & Sebastian Szary/ Modeselektor
DRINKING THE BAR DRY WITH MODESELEKTOR
INTERVIEW TIM BRANDT
Electro duo Modeselektor have done numerous festival performances, radio sessions and Slices features for EB – really, they are a part of the Electronic Beats furniture. The Berlin residents took time out from recording their third album to answer our questions about embarrassing moments, self-irony and champagne showers. No other group has performed at so many Electronic Beats events as you guys. What do you think about EB’s 10th anniversary? Sebastian: We were a little sceptical at first – after all, let’s face it: Electronic Beats is part of the company with the magenta-coloured logo. But from our own experience, it’s been really cool to be part of it and we’re not ashamed to say that. EB’s money is spent sensibly, which is quite different when you look at other big brands. At Electronic Beats, there’s a lot of honesty involved and people have the guts to experiment, which we really appreciate. You really seem to like experiments. How did you end up doing a sky dive for the one of issue of Slices? Gernot: Holger Wick asked us for an interview. We were really busy at the time and said jokingly that we would only do it in connection with sky diving. We didn’t even expect the Slices crew to take us seriously, but a few days later, they had organised everything – and we had no chance to pull out last minute. It’s no joke to jump out of a plane at more than 13,000 feet up in the air. It really was an incredible experience. And who came up with the idea to wear a pink bunny costume for the occasion? Sebastian: We were doing a tandem jump so it was pretty difficult to look cool while being attached to an instructor. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to wear silly costumes to make the whole thing look really ridiculous. You’ve done several cover shots for EB where you also enjoyed making a spectacle of yourself. Are you not afraid your kids could be embarrassed in years to come? Gernot: They might be at the beginning, but they’ll be proud of us once they realise how cool their daddies are. After all, we’re just having a good time and making fun of ourselves – self-irony is hard to find these days. What about your partners – are they cool with you giving champagne showers to chicks who come to your gigs? Gernot: I think that’s okay, right? Sebastian: Of course – besides, we always try to shower a few guys as well. (laughs) We could call you the limelight hogs of the electro scene. Have you ever considered playing at Playa de Palma in Mallorca? Gernot: Never, we don’t even do gigs in Ibiza. We know our limits, even though we don’t take ourselves as seriously as many of the other ‘serious’ musicians. Either way, never mind limelight hogs – it’s just a lot more fun to throw parties and celebrate.
What’s your favourite performance venue? Gernot: Little sweaty clubs where you can reach out to everybody and not give a shit about tomorrow. The ‘devil-may-care’ gigs are always the best ones. Sebastian: It’s very difficult to compare it to huge festivals where we have totally different options in terms of visualising sound for example, and where you’ll have a huge crowd in front of you, going wild and throwing their hands in the air. That’s also really cool. What’s your favourite festival song? Gernot: I had a really cool experience at an Electronic Beats Festival in Prague, when Underwold were playing ‘Born Slippy’. What was even more fantastic was that there was a power cut right in the middle of the track. (laughs) And which of your songs will people remember forever? Sebastian: If someone recognises us when we’re touring the globe, they tend to say they’re really feeling ‘Kill Bill Volume 4’. If we’re playing as Moderat at festivals, people go crazy for ‘A New Error’. What was one of the most embarrassing songs you did a remix of? Gernot: I’ve never done a remix of a track that I felt embarrassed about. Not even with Scooter’s ‘Hyper, Hyper’, if that’s what you’re referring to. Sebastian: Sometimes it’s exciting and challenging if you have something quite difficult to remix. We did have one song, which I won’t name here, that was absolutely terrible, but we had such a great time working with it and ended up transforming it into a really cool remix. But then there are other songs that we just can’t hack and we will send them back. We’ve turned down remixes for quite big names - that made a lot of our friends just shake their heads in disbelief. What’s the most annoying thing about your job? Gernot: Constant travelling, flying and waiting around for ages really suck! As our final question something to make you feel all warm inside: what was your favourite Electronic Beats experience? Sebastian: Well, to be honest there was one that really wasn’t so cool: after a gig in India our return flight was booked for 3:00 AM. When we got to the airport there was an announcement that the flight was delayed by seven hours. So we went in search of a lounge or another place where we could chill out for a few hours. But of course, they didn’t have one. We were tired, pissed off and really bored. But then, all of a sudden, the Electronic Beats crew arrived from Global Groove Festival - they also wanted to fly back to Germany and their flight had also been delayed. We spent our last few rupees together and drank the bar dry for five hours. That was great fun.
B A R B A R A PA N T H E R
E L E C T R O N I C B E AT S F E S T I V A L AT R A D I A L S Y S T E M
“Dance is the closest I have come to feelings of transcendence”. From the Hyperactivist to the Temptress the motivations to dance are manifold. The subjects of Paul Sullivan’s ‘What Makes You Dance?’ portrait series speak of everything from aesthetics to calibration. In the case of the Tshe Tsha crew and the hyperspeed sound of Shangaan electro, you might ask if the inimitable moves inspire the music or the electrifying music the moves? But who’s got time to care when it’s so fast and looks so good. A retrospective look at one of the reformative forces of ballet shows that what propelled the magically gifted Vaslav Nijinsky may sadly have been the same thing that destroyed him.
Tshe Tsha Boys
GET UR FREAK ON PHOTOS CHRIS SAUNDERS TEXT VIKTORIA PELLES
Earlier this year an irresistible video was doing the rounds, spreading a fast sound so electrifying and uplifting that the track ‘Nwa Gezani My Love’ became the unlikely but undisputed summer anthem to everyone fortunate enough to hear it. Apart from the radiant charm of main man, Shangaan electro producer Nozinja (more on him later), who’s featured singing and dancing in the video wearing neatly pressed button-downs, a tie and sporting the kind of generous gap between his two front teeth that brought Lara Stone supermodel status, the video showcases some intense dance moves. The chicks impress with a kind of minimalist wiggle style, accentuated by awesome skirts ingeniously designed to show the hip swing to maximum effect, while dudes contort and move their bodies at such speed you can’t believe it’s not an editing trick. Taking the dance and performance elements of Shangaan music to the next level are the Tshe Tsha boys, the dance crew in colourful clown costume challenging our ideas on agility and endurance. Photographer Chris Saunders visited with Nozinja at his place in the heart of Soweto Township and shot these vibrant portraits of the group. Experience the live action and riveting sound from the shoot on electronicbeats.net
Producer Richard Hlungwani, also known as Nozinja, also known as Dog, is the pioneer of the ultra-fast Shangaan Electro sound. This summer (2010), the London record label Honest Jon’s put out the album Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music from South Africa, a compilation of various artists produced by Hlungwani. In December, Honest Jon’s will also release another batch of music from Dog’s label – Shangaan Electro Gospel by Foster. With international representation through Wills Glasspiegel, a Brooklyn-based public radio producer specialised in African music, there are plans for a tour with Shangaan artists for next summer. Advice: Get fit to keep up!
VASLAV NIJINSKY AS ALBRECHT FROM GISELLE (ACT II) | PHOTOGRAPH BY BERT 1910 | © V&A IMAGES | TAKEN FROM THE EXHIBITION “DIAGHILEV AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE BALLETS RUSSES 1909-1929”
LET ME BE YOUR FANTASY TEXT TULLY RECTOR PHOTOS COURTESY OF V&A LONDON AND DANSMUSEET
For Vaslav Nijinsky, there was a mystic rightness in the role of Petrushka: the puppet is brought to life in order to dance and suffer and be locked away. The ballet premiered in 1911. It was a triumph – Paris was spellbound. Eight years later, in the aftershock of the Great War, the world’s most miraculously gifted dancer would finally be trapped by a madness that had probably been there from the beginning, waiting in his mind while his vivid body played the Faun or Petrushka or the Golden Slave in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, performances that with his own choreography changed the very nature of ballet, shattered its old laws and made it modern. He had an unforgettable face. High, bold cheekbones and Oriental eyes. But in the drawings by Sargent and Cocteau there’s a strange absence of psychological knowledge, as if the exoticism of his looks and his supple, strong, cat-like figure concealed a vacant personality. Nijinsky was certainly shy. At parties he often said nothing at all, to anyone. He wanted to move beyond personality. Although he danced in a fluid dream, with unprecedented absorption and smoothness, his acting had an almost 17th-century classical quality. This blend of formalism and earthy, primitive energy was typical of all the great modernists. Think of Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon: African masks in Einsteinian space. Or Joyce and Eliot, who invented radically new structures for ancient elemental myths. These were Nijinsky’s true contemporaries. He was born in 1889, in Kiev, his parents were wandering Polish dancers. He had a brother, Stassik, who went mad as a young man, and a grandmother who starved herself out of grief for her dead husband. After his father left the family, Nijinsky and his mother settled in St. Petersburg, a glittering, dying, beautiful city, watched over with uneasy eyes by the last of the Romanov Czars, Nicholas II. After racing through an elite theatrical academy, Nijinsky entered into the
upper ranks of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet at the age of 18. He was hypnotically sensual and marked for greatness, a favourite in the art world. Dancers were at that time prized and traded as sexual possessions, and he became the consort of a wealthy patron, Prince Pavel Lvov, who after a year moved on to another lover and passed Nijinsky along to the famous impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Nijinsky met Diaghilev at a hotel. They made love, and the older man invited him to join the Ballets Russes and move to Paris. Nijinsky was 20. Years later, after the Ballets Russes had become the most famous and innovative dance company in the world, he would write in his diary: “Diaghilev is a terrible man. I do not like terrible men, but I will not harm them. They are eagles. They prevent small birds from living, and therefore one must be on one’s guard against them.” It is not clear that Diaghilev was a terrible man, but his relationship with Nijinsky was complex and difficult, and it wounded them both. Diaghilev shouldn’t have been surprised. His new protégé, after all, had recently halted his own performance in Swan Lake, in the middle of Act I, to take his bows before a confused audience. The orchestra kept on playing.
Proust claimed to have seen nothing more beautiful than Nijinsky’s dancing. Cocteau described him as “like some melancholy, imperious scent, that evaporates through the window in a jump so poignant, so contrary to all the laws of flight and balance.” He combined extremes of refinement and savagery, sexual charm and anguished solitude. He was a shape-shifter, intimate with everything: child, animal, doll, woman, man. He was a dashing Prince Albrecht in Giselle and a sinuous spirit in Spectre de la Rose, master of all roles, confined by nothing. The audiences of Paris, astonished by such abundant virtuosity, named him “le dieu de la danse”. When he jumped he seemed to stop and hover in midair for a moment longer than you could quite believe. It was late May 1913, and the British Parliament had recently decided that women should not vote. There was revolution in Mexico. War divided the Balkans. In Paris, where the streets dazzled under a fierce unseasonal heat, most people were talking about Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. Something new was premiering at their spring gala, a work by the 29-year old Igor Stravinsky. Diaghilev had vowed to stimulate “heated discussion”. It was to be choreographed by Nijinsky, who had scandalized the conservatives with his rendition of Debussy’s The Afternoon of a Faun: they didn’t like him miming masturbation on stage and they couldn’t grasp the geometries of his choreographic approach, which looked like nothing in the history of ballet. Rodin and Proust rushed to his defence. So there was an air of tense expectancy, of warning almost, as people filed into the Theatre de Champs-Elysees to hear this new experiment. It began quietly, with a probing, enigmatic bassoon solo, but when the early half-melodies failed to resolve and the crashing dissonances were loosed upon the crowd and the dancers began to pound their feet with a rabid, tribal intensity, shaking and leaping in jagged thrusts, cries of outrage and delight began to well up from all quarters of the theatre. The audience turned on itself, hurling insults at one another. Gertrude Stein reported that you could literally not hear the music above the din. Fights broke out and the police were called and someone saw Nijinsky in the wings, flushed and drenched in sweat, shouting out the beats for his dancers to follow. The Rite of Spring had finally arrived.
modern ballet, to dance the classical repertoire. Nor could he lead a company of his own. He was too withdrawn and introverted, too adrift in the waters of theory and dream, to keep a touring company organized. After several failed ventures he suffered a nervous breakdown and went to live in Switzerland with his wife and daughter. All around him the young men of Europe murdered one another in filthy trenches, and the peace that followed was bitter to all. Nijinsky began a diary. He wrote with revulsion about Diaghilev, about his vanity, how his pillows were stained dark from hair dye. He locked himself in his room and drew thousands of eyes on thousands of pages. They were the eyes of Europe’s dead. He wore a gold cross and wept over God, over the war, over Diaghilev. He pushed Romola down a flight of stairs. When a local hotel asked him to put on a concert, he showed up at the correct time, placed a chair onstage, and began to silently watch the assembled crowd. Nobody knew what to do. After an awkward half hour he made a cross on the stage with two rolls of velvet and said: “Now I will dance you the war... the war which you did not prevent.” It was January 19, 1919. Nijinsky wrote in his diary: “The earth is the head of God. God is fire in the head. I am alive as long as I have fire in my head. My pulse is an earthquake. I am an earthquake.” His diary is the only frame-by-frame, personal account of a great creator going mad.
They didn’t like him miming masturbation on stage and they couldn’t grasp the geometries of his choreographic approach, which looked like nothing in the history of ballet.
It couldn’t last. After the riot of May 29, Nijinsky and Diaghilev began to argue. On a tour of South America, Nijinsky married a young Hungarian girl, Romola de Pulszky, and after further struggles over the direction of the Ballets Russes, Diaghilev fired him. They tried to reconcile but fought again over money. Although he could have secured a position in any of the world’s companies, Nijinsky was now unwilling, after his forays into what would ultimately become
But his downfall could have come straight out of Dostoevsky. Romola, unable to cope with her husband’s behaviour, enlisted the help of two Swiss psychiatrists, who diagnosed Nijinsky as a schizophrenic and had him committed to a local asylum. Under the stress of confinement his madness worsened. Worn down by stress and loneliness, Romola had an affair with one of the doctors who’d committed her husband. She refused, however, to divorce him, and when she ended the affair, the doctor became a morphine addict and tried on several occasions to kill himself. Nijinsky remained insane for the rest of his life, although he was able in his later years to live with Romola in an isolated cottage in the English countryside. He grew fatter, emptier, and died in 1950. We are left with very little of his work: eleven minutes of the Faun and the testimony of those who saw him. Some fragmentary film footage survives. The diary is a howl of obsession, monotony, and visionary pain, although it’s too formless to be a real work of art. It is a symptom. And the man who wrote it was very different from the man whose severe, razor-edged intellect choreographed the birth of modernism in Stravinsky’s Rite. Who knows what he could have done if that part of him had prevailed?
LEFT: VASLAV NIJINSKY, L ÁPRÈS-MIDI D ÚN FAUNE, © DANSMUSEET TOP CENTER: TAMARA KARSAVINA AND VASLAV NIJINSKY IN LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE, © DANSMUSEET CENTER: ILLUSTRATION OF VASLAV NIJINSKY BY LÉON BAKST, © V&A IMAGES RIGHT: SERGE DIAGHILEV, © V&A IMAGES BOTTOM RIGHT: VASLAV NIJINSKY AND LYDIA NELIDOVA IN L´APRES-MIDI D´UN FAUNE, © DANSMUSEET BOTTOM LEFT: VASLAV NIJINSKY, LES ORIENTALES, © DANSMUSEET
RETROSPECTIVES BALLETS RUSSES IN THE LAST YEAR THERE HAVE BEEN TWO COMPREHENSIVE RETROSPECTIVES ON THE BALLETS RUSSES. THE ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION AT STOCKHOLM’S DANCE MUSEUM ENDED THIS SPRING. WWW.DANSMUSEET.NU ‘DIAGHILEV AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE BALLETS RUSSES’ WILL RUN UNTIL JANUARY 9, 2011 AT V&A. WWW.VAM.AC.UK
LET’S GET PHYSICAL TEXT JEAN-ROBERT SAINTIL PHOTO THOMAS AURIN
Dance is a remarkably multifaceted language. As such, we speak to two very different, though incredibly brilliant, choreographers, both based in Berlin. Starting with Argentinian born Constanza Macras, whose iconoclastic and genre-defying company Constanza Macras/Dorky Park blends oft tragic humour with videos, large installations, actors, and kids in a way that makes one rethink what a ‘performance’ is. Indeed, she and her company have been lauded for their smile-inducing massive pieces ‘Big In Bombay’, ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘I’m Not The Only One’. Then we have the existential-based work of Greek born Toula Limnaios and composer Ralf R. Ollertz, whose often literary inspired works such as 2009’s ‘les possédés’ informed by the likes of Dostoyevsky, works its way under one’s skin and resonates long after viewing, garnering them several awards. Working together for 14 years, and opening their own space HALLE in Berlin, cie. Toula Limnaios is indeed something to be seen. And don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a thing only for those with stables and art history degrees. With clubs such as Berghain working with Berlin Staatsballet on ‘Shut Up and Dance!’ in recent years, and dance from across the world – be it contemporary movement from Congo being incorporated in Viennese dance studios or capoeira being blended into street dance – the visceral form of expression is making an uncanny mark on the contemporary psyche. And with choreographers such as Macras and Limnaios traversing traditional boundaries, it seems soon we’ll all be aficionados. Please meet Constanza Macras and Toula Limnaios.
THE MASTER OF DORKY PARK “Dance is just one language that I use” Why the name Dorky Park? When we added Dorky Park to the name, I was working with a lot of American dancers and they were using the word dorky all the time. And at some point we were working on a production called ‘MIR- A Real Love Story’ which involved working with a lot of former East imagery and associations (MIR was a Russian space station). So I thought Dorky Park is kind of like Gorky Park and the fact that the dancers were always acting so dorky (laughs). Now I think it’s a bit of an Americanism, but in some way I think it’s a part of the company now.
every show has original music. We also have some covers and some classical music to some pop things. Is this a new element of your work – to include pop and classical? Not really. I started to create productions like this in 2002 and they just became bigger and bigger with more and more people (laughs). It became this massive show, but now I find we’re a little smaller. I suspect my strength could lie in making these large, long works, but at the moment if you say you’re going to create a piece with three acts, people get really scared.
There’s a lot of playfulness in your work. Is that something that comes from you, or is it something specific from your practice? Well, I tend to take things with a sense of humour, and I also love tragic humour. Which is really sad sometimes, but it’s something about being an Argentine in some way because we’re permanently in crisis. But it’s not only me, it’s also the performers and what they bring to the work. For example, we have a Korean dancer HyoungMin Kim, whose own work is very serious. But in my pieces she’s hilarious. The context of the work activates something that people have because I work with their characters. It also has to do with the group as well. We improvise a lot. So I have ideas, propose improvisation and bring information – but it’s their ideas, too. There’s an ebb and flow of ideas. They’re involved in everything, from references onwards. In fact, it takes over part of your life. But don’t think it could be different. To get to what we do, it has to be like this, because if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be what it is.
You were in Holland before, how and why did you find yourself in Berlin? Well, first I left Argentina because it was very difficult to live as a dancer there. But as for Berlin, I ended up here pretty much by accident. My boyfriend at the time was an artist and he had a project in 1994 that had something to do with an old East German monument. We were driving around Berlin and the former East Berlin all the time and I loved it and thought I would really love to live here. Things were open late, and you could eat late, which was amazing as at the time it was difficult in Europe to eat after 11pm! It was totally horrifying coming from Buenos Aires where the city is 24 hours. Berlin had that vibe that other cities didn’t – that anything could happen and change. I wanted to live in a place like this. So from that point on, I started to work and this is where I am. I think once you choose the place that you want to live, then things work out. Or you make them work out.
Did you always want to work across mediums and include actors, video and sound in your work? I come from pure dance choreography such as ballet and that kind of movement, although my choreography changed quite fast in my first few pieces. As soon as I started to work with people, I began to develop characters and move away from needing all the cast members to be fantastic dancers. Of course, some were great at movement but I was more interested in their individual character and how they look on stage. So, gradually, I started to work with actors. Then it managed to just mutate into what it is now which is just a mix of everything. Dance is just one more language I use. There is always a lot of text in the pieces and a lot of music as well. The music is developed within the rehearsals;
Is there communication with other dance companies and choreographers in Berlin, or are you pretty insular working with Dorky Park? Well, with dance I pretty much focus on my own work. I’m actually more connected with theatre. There are a lot of amazing theatres, directors and productions here. I find this scene really inspiring. As for dance, I’m not specifically focused on it due to the nature of my work. But once in a while I like to see something from the dance world and I do enjoy it. CONSTANZA MACRAS/DORKY PARK’S NEW SHOW ‘OFFSIDE RULES’ WILL BE SHOWING JANUARY 15TH – JANUARY 19TH 2011 AT HEBBEL AM UFER IN BERLIN. THEY WILL ALSO BE SHOWING ‘MEGALOPOLIS’ AT CANKARJEV DOM IN LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA JAN 21ST 2011. WWW.DORKYPARK.ORG
PORTRAIT © SCHAUBÜHNE AM LEHNINER PLATZ PHOTO © THOMAS AURIN
PHOTOS © CYAN
Toula Limnaios & Ralf R. Ollertz
EXISTENTIAL DREAMS “The awards are not so important” Is much of your work reciprocal work with the dancers in the company? Is there much of an exchange? T: Of course, through improvisation and they each have their own way of thinking. They all have their own background, their own life and their own point of departure. There is a kind of dialogue with the dancers so it’s also important what they give to the pieces. Regarding your earlier works ‘wound’ and ‘les possédés’, it seems you’re not afraid to deal with the darker side of humanity. T: You know, the two pieces you reference are different in our minds. les possédés is based on ‘The Demons’ by Dostoyevsky. When you read it, there is the obvious violence, but there is also violence in the way that the characters treat each other. They are all very hard. And this was the starting point. And it was also as we were working with a lot of Brazilian dancers who are confronted with violence more, whereas in New York or elsewhere violence tends to be more hidden. Violence can be little things. It doesn’t always have to be things like suicide, but can also be the small, granular, daily things. So, for example, in les possédés all of the characters are really cold, they are on fire inside, and this was my purpose. Whereas in ‘wound’ there was a different point of departure – about what it’s like to be haunted by a scar. It’s about an emotion or event you may have had as a child that you feel you have dealt with, but this scar re-emerges over the years in different ways. R: But to make something clear, violence is not one of our main themes and we never illustrate violence on stage. So you will never see a violent scene like there is on the streets, for example. It’s always reflected, it’s always different. We play more with the association or the imagination of the viewers – what they think, or could be violent for them. About HALLE TANZBÜHNE BERLIN: have you both always wanted to create your own studio? T: Well yes. Ever since we met there were moments where I was thinking about doing my own choreography my own way. It was lucky that we met at an opportune moment where we both wanted to create something new for ourselves. For me, dance and music are really important as individual arts. So we make sure that they both have an equal placing in the work.
R: When you want to work seriously with people, continuity is very important. You need to work with people who you’ll be with for a long time. And that’s exactly what Toula is forming with this company. We are in the lucky situation that we are working with people who’ve stayed with us, and worked exclusively with us, for several years and that’s really special. Plus having one’s own space where one can work and perform is great, because no-one is telling us what to do or how to do it. You have some support from the Berlin Senate as well as recently having won awards. How important are the support and awards to you? T: The awards are not so important. I do my work as best as I can and have validation in my ability to do that. Although it’s always nice to be appreciated. As for the support, it took a long time for us to get to that point. In the beginning we were working a lot and we were investing quite a lot into the work – all of our money as well. But with the Berlin Senate support it’s all just a little bit easier. It affords a structure so we know for certain that we can work with five dancers or performers as opposed to being in flux. It allows us to plan. Before, it was a bit of a mess. R: It’s true, it’s allowed us to work more professionally. The support is 40 per cent of our income so we have to make the remainder ourselves. That’s the reason we do a lot of performances and go on a lot of tours. And we feel responsible for the people we engage in the company. Like most other creative spheres, it’s impossible for everyone to survive doing what we’re doing. You mentioned Dostoyevsky before, are there any other authors that you like to work with? T: I like a lot of authors, such as Camus, Beckett, Auster. I mainly like to work with the existential works. I’m open and read a lot of different things, but our theatre tends to be inspired by these kinds of sources. CIE. TOULA LIMNAIOS’ SHOW ‘SECRETS PERDUS’ WILL BE RUNNING FROM NOVEMBER 21ST – DECEMBER 5TH AT HALLE TANZBÜHNE BERLIN AS WELL AS TOURING THROUGHOUT GERMANY. WWW.TOULA.DE
Justin F Kennedy
THE HYPERACTIVIST TEXT & PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL SULLIVAN
What makes you dance?
“Aside from being my passion and career, dance has played many roles throughout my life. Most importantly, it’s an active meditative practice. I’m too hyperactive for sitting mediation and it’s only through movement that I can achieve a sense of tranquillity. Furthermore, dancing and performing allow me to tap into multiple dimensions of expression, ultimately enriching the way I experience life. It also helps me sort out my own multiple personalities and schizophrenic tendencies. Through dance, I am able to access a variety of states of being, including wonder, ecstatic pleasure and joy without drugs. Dance has also allowed me to connect with myself and others in extremely thoughtful and intimate ways. I’m also naturally drawn to extremes, and dancing and creating dance give me a platform to explore the boundaries of physical, mental and spiritual engagement. The type of movement research I’m currently exploring through my own choreographic practice and studies at UDK/ Ernst Busch/HZT Berlin, involves a balanced platter of somatic practice and theory while I continue to craft and define my own methods of choreography. As I approach making more of my own work, I crave to create full sensory experiences. Pardon me for sounding like David Lynch, but honestly, dance is the closest I have come to feelings of transcendence.”
What makes you dance?
“I’ve been dancing for 18 years and I never had the intention to become a professional dancer. I love dancing because I like the combination of physical activity and arts. Dance is athletic and elegant. It is a high physical action, and at the same time, for me, there’s no possibility to do it only to train my body without the artistic and aesthetic aspect of it. I think of how it looks like and how an audience would see it even if I’m only training and look into the mirror. I also like the sensual side of dance, the emotional and musical aspect. I try to get the special rhythm, feeling and idea of the music that I interpret through physical movements. By doing so, every dancer has his own view of it and can feel it different. My motivation to dance and my general intention is to bring across something that comes out of me listening to a particular piece of music.”
What makes you dance?
“For me dancing, especially in combination with dressing up, is a means of self-expression. I put on make-up, slip into sexy, fun and glittery costumes and perform a ‘character’ to basically become my true self. Using my body to move, pose, shake and shimmy to rhythm and beats makes me feel alive and gives me a stage for expressing myself in the most natural way. Burlesque and striptease in particular is an (art)form which allows me best to express my personality, sensuality and creativity. It is the ideal and most empowering way of celebrating being a woman and having a healthy lust for life. To me there is no separation between my mind, my senses and my body, and dancing – again, burlesque or striptease in particular - is the ultimate fusion. Cleverly, teasingly performing on stage, while ‘taking off your clothes’ in a creative and entertaining way is the perfect tool to share the confidence and joy of sexuality and femininity. Physically and visually sharing a philosophy with an audience in an unpolitical but fun and entertaining way.”
Davey Dee Clarke
What makes you dance?
“Dancing allows me to synchronise with the present tense. Nothing else matters when I’m able to let go and permit a good groove or vibe to dictate my every move. In such moments I become a passenger in my own body marveling at the moves I feel while they are being executed. Every thought is banished as I give my own personal visual interpretation of sound. People nowadays don’t realize how important dancing is for calibration. It’s a nice tool to find your own personal way as a dancer or even as a DJ. I don’t care about Charts or the Top 10. I only care about what moves me in order to radiate love and joy. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?”
THE DIGITALIST What makes you dance?
“My mum took me to dance classes at the age of three, as I was painfully shy as a kid - and I’ve never really stopped. I grew up in a town called Swindon in the UK, which doesn’t have the best reputation in the world, yet thanks to a woman called Marie McCluskey, Swindon houses one of the best dance organizations (Swindon Dance). By aged 11 I knew I wanted to be a contemporary dancer, I loved how expressive the dance style can be and that contemporary dance has the power to make bold political and social statements about the world we live in. As soon as I could I went off to London (aged 17) to train at London Contemporary Dance School. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to train at the conservatoire for three years and left with a BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance degree in 2002. After any kind of intense training your passion for a subject starts to dwindle slightly. I kept it alive by discovering dance and digital technology and began collaborating with filmmakers and musicians. My dance company Neon Production came from a desire to create work for the stage and screen. I established the company to realize my ambition of creating diverse and exciting contemporary dance that incorporates original music, digital technology and film. Dancing as your day job isn’t the easiest career choice yet I’ve tried out a few ‘office jobs’ and every time the lure of the dance studio has lead me astray.”
Let’s dance! TEXT MICHAEL MCCANNE
If you’ve ever been to a silent dance party perhaps you will know what I am talking about. A DJ spins records, the music is broadcast via radio to headphones worn by everyone in the crowd and they dance in silence. Not total silence of course– the room itself is filled with the shuffle of feet, badly sung lyrics and the occasional cry of delight. Without headphones, you feel as if you have entered a darkly-lit yet fashionable lunatic asylum. Dancing is a somewhat inexplicable activity but there is nothing like watching people dance without music to make you question this strange, wonderful thing we do with our bodies and hesitate before wading into the crowd and joining the madness. Yet dancing feels so natural it often defies notice. People do it without thought, sometimes unconsciously shifting in their seats to music or swaying as they talk to someone in a loud party. Small children dance, as if by innate desire. They bob and gesticulate as they try to move with the music, laughing with delight even if they are unable to match the beat or rhythm. Adults who dance–or try to dance–often have a similar expression on their face, a serene amusement perhaps born of a brief connection with childhood or with something deeper, more corporeal. It is a practice that has been with us since time immemorial, as a performance, ritual and activity of pure pleasure. It is at the same time social and personal. We do it for many reasons– it is fun, it is sexual and bonds you with others. It awakens the body: raises blood circulation, stretches the muscles and produces the organic pleasure chemical serotonin. These things contribute to the overall sense of well being we attach to dancing, what might simply be called the fun or enjoyment of it. When all of its aspects are extended into long periods of time dancing can create a sort of trance-like state–an oblivious synchronicity between body and music that is, perhaps, more akin to the spiritual than the social. It is something that spans time and geography. In ancient Greece, the cult of Dionysus would spend weeks, drumming, drinking wine and dancing until they reached an animal-like frenzy. In the Caribbean–especially in Trinidad–carnival produces the same kind of endless movement and dancing, combining the liberation of European masquerading with the percussive influences of African slave music. The original music forms have been augmented by Soca and Dancehall, to which dancers–often covered in paint or chocolate –carry on the tradition of frenzied dancing. In the United States, jazz inspired the same kind of dancing. Sweaty, orgiastic concerts, known as ‘rent parties’, went until dawn in New York’s Harlem
neighborhood during the twenties and thirties and were followed by similar gatherings for rock and roll in the fifties and sixties. The rise of the DJ had a significant impact on dance music, which had previously been limited by the stamina of musicians. When Jimmy Savile placed two turntables together in 1947 England, it was the beginning of continuous dance music. Later DJ Kool Herc expanded from this innovation to cut and blend from one song to the next, pioneering a technique that allowed for a seamless dance beat as long as the DJ could mix it together–in other words indefinitely. From the warehouses of London to the playas of Black Rock, Nevada, DJs push crowds to dance beyond exhaustion, until their clothes are drenched in sweat and their muscles hum from exertion. In recent years percussion driven noise bands such as Excepter, Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance have tried to place the band back in the center of rhythmic, trance inducing music meant for dancing, a Dionysian rite for the electronic age. Whether to primitive drums or an extended mix of Thriller, I would argue that there is something transcendental in dancing, something that reaches to the limits of our physical understanding. It is a synergy that bypasses language and thought. Something the artistturned-anthropologist Maya Deren called “dance as the meditation of the body.” It is as much about letting go as it is about anything else, a natural obliteration of thoughts and inhibitions. When you enter a room full of people wildly dancing, with or without music, a moment of hesitation always arises. This is the moment that you need to stop thinking about dance and simply give over to the music. In a silent dance party someone will hand you headphones and suddenly you recognize a song or at least a beat to move to. You start shifting slightly, slowly relaxing and swaying until you are one of the crowd, moving with abandon to only the sound of moving clothes, shuffling shoes and your own vocal chords laughing in delight. All of your hesitations, thoughts and worries slip away and all that remains is your body, music and movement. The muscle memory of an ancient, organic ritual: dancing.
No, thank you. TEXT WYNDHAM WALLACE
I stand on the makeshift dancefloor in the cellar where the party is taking place and take a deep breath. I’m fifteen years old and, in the shadows nearby, the only person I know, beautiful Nancy, is continuing to ignore me as she sips on her glass of punch. In front of me, the man serving drinks smiles encouragingly. I feel the music in my limbs, and I follow the instructions he gave me when I asked him how to dance: I put my left foot out and bring my left foot in, I put my right foot out and bring my right foot in. I shake my arms to the rhythm and nod my head to the beat. All the time I feel proud: my mother told me that there was no need to be scared of dancing when no one else is. So here I am: dancing when no one else is. It’s not what she meant, though: she was merely suggesting that if others weren’t afraid, then neither should I be. But I understood this as a duty to get the party started. So I throw the best shapes I can – I’ve seen Saturday Night Fever, after all – and make the floor my own.“Excuse me,” says a voice a minute or two later. It’s coming from a face looming above me that belongs to the boy whose party it is. He’s a year older and only invited me because our parents are friends. “Are you OK?” he asks. “Or do you need a doctor?” This is the first time I danced. The second time I dance is at a school party a few months later. Thirty well-bred girls trucked in to perform Scottish dances at my boarding school size up their prey in the exam hall. I again know none of them, but am finally invited to join in by a blushing and nervous individual. It’s time for the Gay Gordons, whose moves I’ve been briefed on an hour or two before. She stands beside me and I take her left hand in mine, then reach round her back with my right to take the other. Instead I grasp cold air. I look at her, confused, then shift my gaze down. Her right hand is missing. “I’m sorry,” she whispers, a deep shade of crimson. What do you say to a woman who’s just apologised for not having a hand? This is why I hate to dance. I’m haunted by such memories. I’ve grown to be the kind of guy who might jig at a Radiohead show, but I’m not a fan of sustained aerobics to a minimalist house beat, and I’m unlikely to cast shapes at a wedding just because they’re playing ABBA. Dancing for me should be an expression of joy, an almost involuntary need to celebrate that can’t be conjured up like a false smile. I’ve got to feel it, and it’s not going to be summoned on command just because I’m in a warehouse with a big PA. It’s not that I can’t dance: friends have assured me I shake my booty with reasonable panache. I’m not even saying I haven’t had fun while
clubbing: one of the reasons I settled on moving to Berlin was the realisation one Sunday evening that I’d spent the previous 48 hours partying there and had loved almost every minute. If a city could loosen me up that much then clearly it was the right one for me. But I can’t plan a night out dancing the way you order a delivery from Amazon. It’s way too big a deal for that. So when someone invites me to go clubbing, I shudder and break out in cold sweats. This might seem odd, but until you’ve been questioned about epilepsy whilst freaking out to Prince, or have reached for a non-existent hand when attempting an archaic prance, you cannot understand my fear. I associate dancing with humiliation and trauma. I am, by nature, a self-conscious man, and as an Englishman I’m obviously uptight. I envy those who strut their stuff with elegant confidence without fear of ridicule, but the mere thought of clubbing fills me with dread. The pressure to join friends whose sole intention is to cut a rug terrifies me. The alternative, however, is frankly even worse: to step out into this minefield of unfamiliar moves and try to appear natural is almost entirely alien to my personality and, more importantly, my body. I need to keep an eye on my feet to make sure I don’t trip. I have to watch out I don’t stumble into others more graceful than I. After a few drinks, furthermore, there’s always the danger I’ll lose my balance. These problems require concentration, so while others are grinning around me I’m grimacing and gritting my teeth. I’d like to dance, of course. I’d love to be agile and athletic, to wow an audience with my moves. But, like a man who’s fallen off a horse and rolled in cow manure on live TV, I find it hard to get back on. Friends reassure me that they know the kinds of place where there’s no need to feel ill at ease, where “everyone can be anyone” without fear of embarrassment, but that simply raises their expectations, which in turn provoke my even greater fear of failure. I know I’m not alone. A friend told me recently that the best thing about being married is he’ll never have to dance again. But I don’t have that excuse. And yet I still need one. So here it is: whatever the venue, whoever I’m with, I remain petrified of looking like I’m throwing a fit, and even more concerned I might joke about having two left feet to a woman with only one leg. As long as those possibilities exist, you’d do best to leave me standing…
â€œIt was very hard. The ballet world gives a shit about anything outside their circle.â€? Director Aronofsky is familiar with the trials of working with the dance world and shares his experiences from the making of Black Swan. Jan Joswig discovers a forgotten document from the days of disco and finds that many of the guidelines would be wise to reinstate. Swan Like fashion is in motion and tailoring never looked more swish. The city for all seasons? Starts with B...
Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan
HARDER BETTER FASTER STRONGER TEXT JOHANNES BONKE PHOTO © 2010 TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky knows how to torture his audience: his masterpiece Requiem for a Dream (2000) embodied the demons of drug addiction, The Fountain told the eternal quest of a man desperately fighting his wife’s cancer, and his multi-awarded movie The Wrestler showed an inside look into a world of fighters who had completely lost themselves. His latest film Black Swan, however, might be his most prolific piece of work: set in the world of New York City ballet, it tells the terrifying story of a young dancer who loses touch with reality after taking on the prestigious leading role in Swan Lake. We talked to the 41-year old visionary in London about a film which – once you have seen it – will conquer your mind.
Mr. Aronofsky, you’ve complained in the past that critics don’t understand your movies when they premiere. Hollywood’s leading trade press magazine Variety, for example, stated after the release of Requiem for A Dream that you should visit a mental health clinic instead of making movies. Now all that seems to have changed. The Wrestler and your new movie Black Swan were embraced by journalists around the globe right after the first screenings. What happened? Well, maybe that means that the critics are just going to get worse and worse from now (laughs). I don’t know; it’s a good question. The Wrestler I think was completely unexpected for people. Everyone said ‘Why are you doing a movie about wrestling with Mickey Rourke? What are you doing? Do you really want to destroy your career?’ And now this one has gone pretty well. I think tastes have changed. You know when we made Requiem for a Dream it made 3 million dollars theatrically, and I think in today’s world they probably would have figured out another way to sell it. You know, it was before Boys Don’t Cry and these other movies suddenly became Oscar films. So maybe the taste of what people expect in the theatres has changed a bit. Soon I’ll be too old to make anything hip, so I’m catching up last second. You worked on Black Swan for ten years. Why were you so interested in making a film centred around the ballet world? My sister was a dancer, she got pretty serious about it, she was doing it ’till she was a late teenager. I knew nothing about it. I just walked by her room, I saw the poster and the ballet shoes. One day I imagined it could be an interesting world in the same way I got interested in the wrestling world. As soon as I started to look into it, I found out that there is a whole universe here. So the more I looked into it, the more interesting it became, the details were just really complicated and I think that’s also part of the reason why people go to the movies: they want to see something that they haven’t seen before. It’s the same for me with filmmaking. Your movies are masterpieces, but they torture the audience in a way that makes watching your art almost impossible sometimes. Why do you take such pleasure in upsetting your fans? Well, people have different levels of what torture means. Some people actually really enjoy it, so it’s a fine line. I just try to go as far as I can. I think it is probably that I am still trying to annoy my sister to get attention from her. I don’t know what it is, but I think it is just that in today’s world it is very hard to create images and ideas that people remember for more than just a moment, so you want to create an experience that lasts. That usually has to be a pretty intense journey. Black Swan tells us that it can be dangerous for an artist to dive into the dark side for artistic reasons. But isn’t that exactly what you are doing from film to film? I am not so sure I believe that. I think that is just what the film is about, to be honest. It is kind of what Swan Lake is about. The film
for us is really our take on Swan Lake, we really went back to the ballet. I had been thinking a long time ago about doing something about ballet and I went to see Swan Lake, which I knew nothing about, just that there were girls and tutus. And I was kind of stunned that one dancer was dancing both: the black swan and the white swan. Because these are two very distinct characters: one very innocent and pure, the other passionate and dark. I thought that was wild. Then we kind of built a story about the dark and the light side of a personality battling for sanity. That is kind of how the film and the basic story evolved. And there are, in fact, some similarities with this story of The Wrestler: both movies are tied together by themes of bodily extremes and souls in turmoil. As we were cutting The Wrestler, my director of development said that he wanted to write something. I said why don’t we work on the ballet project which back then was sort of sitting around and had come to a dead end. He said yeah, we should give it a try. It took 20, 30 drafts to get there, it was a lot of work. Early on he asked me whether I realized that there are a lot of connections between The Wrestler and Black Swan. I considered it very exciting because the characters could not be more different, and the fact that they have similar arcs could be really interesting. It is another way of shining a light on a similar story of performance. I just had this intuition that it could be right. How important is intuition for you in a process of filmmaking, and also when you are choosing your material? Intuition comes into play in a lot of different ways. When you are on set and actually working, intuition is there all the time, it’s got to be. There is some type of myth about filmmakers who know exactly what they want. That may exist for some people, but that is not how I work. I try to get as many good people and as much good material on set as possible and sort of create an environment that allows the actors to try things, and mistakes can happen and I can follow my intuition and get to the right place. I think if you try to force something, you can squeeze the life out of it. That – no matter what you do – isn’t real. Intuition also pulls me back to a project. It is quite often that there is something about a story that I connect to and that makes me want to continue that heavy lifting. You know, each of my projects is kind of a marathon race. A lot of them won’t make it to the finishing line and the only reason they make it is because I go back and nurture them and try to figure everything out. Was it very difficult to turn Natalie Portman into the black swan? We have never seen her in such a mature, dark role. Not at all. My little secret was that I knew that there was a lot more complexity in Natalie Portman than people thought. I think because of her beauty and her youthfulness she gets cast as an innocent a lot, and not that many people have given her the opportunity to show her womanhood. So I was hoping nobody would break that open until I got a chance to make Black Swan.
Some directors reach a level where literally every actor is dying to work with them. By looking at your cast – Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel – it seems that you can call up literally anyone you want. I don’t get that. I wish I could be more manipulative, but I am not. I am very honest with actors, I tell them: this is what it is going to take to do, it is this type of pain, this type of work, you really have to do it. Most of them say afterwards: ‘ah, I think I am not going to do it.’ I lost a lot of A-list actors over the years because of that. People’s lives get very complicated and they have many opportunities. I mean, look at the actors I have worked with: how many of them are in super high demand? If I get them, then it is a chance for them to do something else. But usually I don’t get them. Natalie, for example, is in high demand – but not as a lead.
wrestlers. You know, a lot of wrestlers don’t have cell phones, some people were homeless, and we still got them in the right place at the right time. But dancers are just so deep in their own world and their whole world is ballet, they barely know about the movies. It took a long time, but slowly, slowly we got help. Were there any clichés from other dance movies that you wanted to avoid? You can’t avoid them. There are certain stock characters in that world. We just tried to put better actors in there and, hopefully, characters that were a little bit richer. The ballet world is a very specific world with very specific characters. It was recently announced that you might take on Wolverine 2 as your next directing project. What interests you in the comic genre? I am very interested in doing a big movie, I’ve never done one. Independent film right now is really, really difficult. Black Swan was more difficult to make than The Wrestler. After all these awards I thought things would become a lot easier, especially with some qualified movie stars on my side, but it turned out differently. So it is really hard. I’ve always been interested in doing a big film, so let’s see what happens.
“Getting dancers was
more complicated than getting wrestlers.”
Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis are not professional ballet dancers: How hard did you push them to get to the level of perfection that we see in the movie? I didn’t need to push either of them that much with the training, they both knew the challenge ahead of them. They were both intimidated by it and they didn’t want to look bad, so they worked hard to try and take on that skill set. So it wasn’t that hard, I just surrounded them with as many resources as we could afford and as many people as we could afford. Ballet is extremely damaging on the body, so we had to be careful how we approached all the training. Mila got some scars on her back and one of Natalie’s ribs went out at a certain point. There was a lot of physical stuff in it, but no-one took anything home. We lost a few toenails on dancers, but that is going to happen with dancers anyway.
Was it difficult working with a ballet company to get this movie done? It was very hard. The ballet world gives a shit about anything outside their circle. They do not care. Normally when you make a movie, every door in the world opens up; the ballet world was, like, ‘no’. Everywhere. Getting dancers was more complicated than getting
Why is it so hard to produce a movie that you direct and that has all those great names attached? Almost everyone said no to Black Swan when I looked for investors. They didn’t know what genre it was, they didn’t know how to market it properly and I really couldn’t answer that either. I am not good at that. So we were looking and finally this one guy promised to give us the money we needed. Two weeks before we started shooting we realized that the money was a pyramid scheme and it didn’t exist. So I had to go to Fox Searchlight, beg for money and had to give them everything to get the film made. It was really tough. It has become a terrible time for independent film in America.
A Fashion Perspective
DRESS TO DANCE WITH KITTY HANSON TEXT JAN JOSWIG ILLUSTRATION DÖRTE LANGE
At the end of the seventies, dance culture became a mass movement. But it kept the spirit of the horse racing circuit in the UK: everyone loves it, but the codes of the elite are still crucial. It wasn’t like today’s techno scene, where the idea of opening it up to everybody results in making it special for no one. It wasn’t so boringly indifferent. Kitty Hanson, journalist for New York Daily News, wrote an introduction to the disco world at its height, 1978. In Disco Fever she not only presents the famous discotheques of that time, like Studio 54, Regines, Xenon, or New York New York, teaches the basic dance-steps and even analyses the changes in gender behaviour, but also recommends the five most suitable outfits for a night out at the discotheque. What to wear to go dancing? It’s a question Kitty Hanson tackles with considerable strictness – aesthetical, rigid and practice-oriented all at the same time. It’s written in the manner of a woman’s magazine writer, a best friend in front of the wardrobe and a sociologist who is too embedded in the phenomenon she is talking about to not be naïve at some point. Kitchen philosophy, but with a lot of surprising discoveries that are still fundamental in today’s journalism about techno dance culture. You learn and laugh at the same time. It’s great reading! Let’s take a step back from our own daily (or at least weekend) practice and experience the inseparable twin pair of fashion and dance through the eyes of Kitty Hanson. The timing is perfectly right for such an examination. Fashion in 2010 harks back to the seventies’ style, to the style of ‘disco fever’. Safari feeling, layers of flower prints and platform shoes everywhere, from Dolce & Gabbana to Marc Jacobs to Bernhard Willhelm. During the nineties, at the height of the techno boom that is now called electro, dancing was like sports. You dressed functional with hoodie, t-shirt and sneakers. But that missed the most important and the most fun part of the night as a stage: you’re part of a theatrical performance, therefore, wear a costume! And it’s absolutely a brilliant decision to design your own outfits, or at least pimp it up with some creative homework. Kitty Hanson devotes two extra chapters on how to do this. The idea of being active and doing things yourself as opposed to just consuming, that’s normally linked to the oppositional punk movement, plays a fundamental part in Hanson’s disco book: “The majority of people got used to just watching others having all the fun. We watch football, baseball, movies and sit in front of the TV for hours. We get restless. A nation of do-it-yourself-machinists wants to entertain itself. Visitors of concerts and cabarets pay to lean back and be entertained. Visitors of discotheques pay to make their own show. And they don’t come to criticise, they come to play. ” That has become a common idea in the age of the ‘prosumer’, the producer/ consumer of the Web 2.0. That Kitty Hanson manages to capture this abstract spirit of the 2000s more than 20 years ago is remarkable enough, but even more helpful are her concrete commands to the art of dressing up. The most simple one: “Never, never, never wear a shirt with a logo!” That is still so true – with one exception that didn’t exist in 1978: the UR-hoodie by infamous Detroit techno pioneers Underground Resistance. It is to dance culture what the stuck out tongue of the
Rolling Stones is to rock culture or the “I heart NY”-logo is to metropolitan culture: a classic. Considering the latest baby boom among the creative inner city inhabitants, this recommendations should prove easy enough: “Steal some nappy pins from a baby and pin them to your shawl.” And she agrees with street-fashion blogger Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, who recently complained about the refusal of Berlin women to wear high-heels: “High-heels are always fashionable in a discotheque.” But let us now take a good look at the five substantial disco outfits according to Kitty Hanson and her colleague Rita Hamilton. Let the directives from this essentially historical document act as your mantra while deciding what to wear on your next night out. 1. Coffeehouse High Society Come in pyjamas, but make sure the price tag is visible. Exaggeration is a must. 2. Studio Set That’s the look of the in-crowd. Always take two handbags with you, one’s not enough. Pimp your trousers with clothes-pegs, this always looks absolutely right. 3. Macho Man and Pretty Baby Show your muscles. The man rolls up the sleeves of his jacket, the woman drags her mink coat behind her on the floor. 4. Annie and Andy Hall In 1978 the movie Annie Hall by Woody Allen had just been released and was in everybody’s mind. Diane Keaton as character Annie Hall wore oversized woollen jackets and long swinging skirts. Exactly what is now offered with biker boots – but this look cannot compete with the ravishing adventure of the three former ones. 5. Beautiful Bodies Pretend you’re arriving directly from a day at the beach. Wear trousers without a belt but with an elastic band. Never ever close your jacket. The handbag should be really tiny. Alright folks, now we’re perfectly prepared to do the bump, the hustle, the bus stop or just some minimal techno freestyle dancing, but Kitty Hanson has another ace up her sleeve. Looking fabulous is one thing, but it doesn’t guarantee fabulous moves. To bring excitement back to the all-day minimal business of the bigger techno clubs, we mustn’t forget the outfit accoutrement that changes it all: roller skates. “Roller-skating people are mindful and it’s good clean fun.” Forget the ketamine after-hours. But make sure to accessorize with cotton socks and a crazy cap, as Kitty Hanson emphasizes.
Styling Assistance Photography Assistance
Falko Saalfeld Dancers
Katharina Meves Marcela Donato Angela Munoz Anne Retzlaff
Shirt 75 GroĂ&#x;er Pants Boots Pura
Lopez seen at Zalando
Michael Sontag Tights
Lusqui単os seen at Zalando
Lola Ramona seen at Zalando
Don’t Shoot the Messenger Shirt
Skirt + Tights
Großer Heinrich Necklace
Samsøe & Samsøe seen at Zalando
Pura Lopez seen at Zalando
Feud London seen at Zalando
Donâ€™t Shoot the Messenger
Dress Skirt Cedric
Jacuemyn for Weekday Tights Necklace Boots
Boessert/Schorn GroĂ&#x;er Heinrich
LusquiĂąos seen at Zalando
BAR CE L ONA
Were cities like lovers, Barcelona would drive you mad. With extravagant architecture bathed in luscious golden light it’s an undeniable beauty (among the most striking in Europe), the celebrated Catalan cuisine takes the well-known path through the stomach and heads straight for your heart, while first-class museums and cultural programme attest to a rich and varied background with just the right amount of appreciation for art and culture. Doesn’t it sound like the love of your life? But Barcelona is also a slippery beast, so very difficult to grasp. Just when you think you couldn’t be closer, you realise there is so much more and you never really understood at all. The 1992 Olympics set an urban rebirth in motion strengthening both the appeal and confidence of the city. The last decade has seen an incredible influx of tourists, which probably goes some way to explain the dualistic nature of this Mediterranean beauty. Speak to locals and you soon realise many places exist solely for tourists. Not that you can’t enjoy yourself sitting in a atmospheric square surrounded by the exuberant buildings of the modernists, sipping a
cool wine and enjoying some over-priced tapas, but step away from the hordes and there’s even more rewarding style and substance to be discovered. The capital of Catalonia is surely at the forefront of Spain’s creativity. Illustrious citizens like Salvador Dalí, Antoni Gaudí and Pablo Picasso (for whom Barcelona was the spiritual home) have all had profound effect on art and design globally. So, take in these autumn impressions of the city along with some top-tips for an easy stay. Barcelona could well be the city for all seasons.
TEXT SANDRA LIERMANN & VIKTORIA PELLES PHOTOGRAPHY LISA BORGES & SANDRA LIERMANN MAP SHARMILA SANDRASEGAR
I AG DA D U G N AVI
CENTRA LA RIBERA EIXAMPLE LEFT
EL BORN BARI GOTIC
Shopping The times when low-crotch pants and saffron and rope-sole shoes dominated the sartorial scene in Barcelona are finally passé. The city is now armed for some serious retail therapy, whether it comes to streetstyle or avant-garde fashion, design and antiques or fine delicatessen.
AILANTO | Barcelona’s fashion set darlings twin brothers Iñaki and Aitor Muñoz showcase their colourful collection in this fine outpost. WWW.AILANTO.COM
THE ANTIQUE BOUTIQUE | Carefully curated time-capsule with antique gems for all who are tired of Scandinavian retro. WWW.ANTIQUEBOUTIQUE.ES
THE OUTPOST | On-trend designer clothing and accessoires for gents stocked with brands like Margiela, Church’s, Balenciaga and Comme des Garcons. WWW.THEOUTPOSTBCN.COM
NOBODINOZ | Concept store for tiny humans featuring kids clothing, toys, furniture and quirky objects d’art. WWW.NOBODINOZ.COM
KOWASA | Famed book-store for photography lovers from all over the world. WWW.KOWASA.COM
Mireia Fashion Adviser A true Barcelonan of the second generation, Mireia has lived in the city her whole life (with a year’s stint in London) and could not imagine living anywhere else. A personal fashion adviser, Mireia runs her own brand for kids, and for three years now shares her eye for style via her blog My Daily Style, an inspirational mixture of personal style, influences and fashion for the little ones. WWW.MYDAILYSTYLE.ES
Is there a defining characteristic of Barcelona and the people? It is said that it’s hard to make friends here, but when you have one, the friendship will last forever. I think it’s really true! We, the Catalans, have a strong feeling about our country and our city, it’s hard to explain if you’re not from here, but it’s something you’re proud of.
One thing on everyone’s mind when they think of Spain is tapas. Do you have a personal favourite in the city? I have many favourite places for tapas! El Vaso de Oro in Balboa in Barceloneta, Tapas 24 in Eixample (www.tapas24.com), and La Taverna del Clinic on Rossello (www.latavernadelclinic.com) are some of them.
What is your favourite street/place/space in the city? El Born: I love walking through the streets of this district, full of interesting shops from new designers and lovely cafés where you can meet people from all around the world. I also love to spend as much time as possible on the weekend in the Montjuic park playing with my young son. The beaches are, of course, also a special part of the city, though I prefer the beaches outside the city.
Finally, as an authority on style, we’d love your top picks for shopping in Barcelona: I have to admit my favourite boutique is Zara. This is where I buy 50 per cent of the clothes I have. La Comercial in Born (www. lacomercial.info) is a concept store where you can find so many interesting brands. Poor me, I can only go there during the sales! Piamonte on Carrer del Rosselló (www.piamonteshop.com) also has interesting clothes at a reasonable price and Santa Eulalia on Passeig de Gràcia (www.santaeulalia.com) is where to head for pure luxury. Le Shoe on Carrer Tenor Viñas is where I get my fancy footwear. Le Swing on Rec in Born is THE destination for Vintage.
Can you describe a scene/setting/moment that you feel best captures the spirit of the city? Talking about the spirit of the city, I think it’s impossible not to mention Barcelona ’92. The Olympic Games really represent a ‘before and after’ in the history of this city. People from all around the world learned where Barcelona was (believe me when I tell you that some people still think Spain is near Mexico); they understood we spoke another language, and so on. I was pretty young but it still touches me when I remember those weeks.
LE SWING | Great selection of exclusive vintage finds. Chanel, Hermes, Loewe to name a few.. WWW.LESWINGVINTAGE.COM
CERVECERÍA VASO DE ORO | Great, narrow Catalan tapas bar that fuels a mostly local crowd with their own home-brewed beer. C/ BALBOA 7 | BARCELONETA | TEL: +34933193098 COQUETTE | This cool, warehouse-style store stocks up favourite brands like Vanessa Bruno.. WWW.COQUETTEBCN.COM
Restaurants Since world-famed chef Ferran Adria reinvented Catalan Food served at his ElBulli, many young and creative cooks have followed in his wake to produce some of Europe's finest Mediterranean cuisine. Apart from local cuisine, the variety of eateries in Barcelona's restaurant scene is like a bottomless pit. From delicious over the counter Tapas to refined vegetarian meals and great Asian, the city has become a destination for gustatory thrill-seekers.
LA XINA | Trendy hot-spot by the Ramblas serving Asian fusion in a sleek atmosphere.. WWW.GRUPOTRAGALUZ.COM
TANTARANTANA | Light Mediterranean dishes in a warm and inviting atmosphere make this an easy option for dinner and drinks out in the Born district. TANTARANTANA 24 | BORN | TEL: +34 93 268 2410
RESTAURANTOC | Traditional Catalan brought up to date in the most elegant way. Harmonious dishes meet with a great selection of wines to make this a dining experience of some sophistication. The stylish interior provides a worthy ally. WWW.TOCBCN.COM
NOU CELLER | A busy and very homely Catalan gem in the Born. PRINCESA 16 | BORN | TEL:+34 93 310 4773
SALERO | Longtime favourite, Salero offers a fresh, multicultural menu to a boho crowd. WWW.RESTAURANTESALERO.COM
EL BORN | Charming little cafe right bang in the middle of the Born.
PASSEIG DEL BORN 26 | TEL.: +34 93 3195333
KAIKU | Trust in the expertise of chef Hug Pla and you are set for an unforgettable culinary delight. Best lunch in town close to the beach. PLAZA DEL MAR 1| BARCELONETA | TEL.: +34 93 221 90 82
BAR MUT | Great little Tapas taverna for a lunch with only the freshest of ingredients. C/ PAU CLARIS, 192 | EIXAMPLE TEL.: +34 93 2174 338
Cafés A great way to start the day in Barcelona is going up to the quirky Tibidabo amusement Park. Have a coffee halfway down the mountain at Mirablau at Plaça Dr Andreu and enjoy truly magnificent views over the city. A great place to start the night, or end for that matter, is at emblematic cocktail bar Gimlet at Calle Rec, 24 with expertly mixed cocktails in smoky elegance
KOMOMOTO || A modern sociable eatery featering Japanese-Peruvian cuisine: sushi and cèviche are the main themes in Komomoto. WWW.GRUPOTRAGALUZ.COM
Hotels No other city in Europe makes resting your head easier than Barcelona. The city caters to every gusto and budget for the streaming flock of visitors from elegant grand dames and sleek design to charming boutique hotels and trendy hostels.
BANYS ORIENTAL | Perfectly located in the Born area, this classy little boutique hotel is definitely one of our favourites in the city. Book well in advance. WWW.HOTELBANYSORIENTALS.COM
EL PALAUET LIVING | The most decorative of the old and the new meet in this design hotel in a stunning Modernist building on Passeig de Gracia. WWW.EPLIVINGBARCELONA.ES
PRAKTIK RAMBLA | A beautifully restored building from the Modernist Age houses the Praktik Rambla. A cross between modern hostel and cool boutique hotel this is your bet for an economical yet stylish stay in the city. WWW.HOTELPRAKTIKRAMBLA.COM
W HOTEL | This new city landmark boasts modern rooms with a million dollar view over the Mediterranean sea. The Eclipse bar on the 26th floor has quickly become a nightlife hotspot. WWW.W-BARCELONA.COM
“Dancing is the main thing, great musicians do the best music, but we, the dancers, enjoy it more.” That’s the spirit! And Cómeme is the label living up to the claim. “Music as a tool to unlock the psyche via the body.” Does that really exist? Oh yes, it does. Meet Portable, the music man using “the rhythm between the beats” to hypnotise dancefloors across the globe. Milo Smee recounts the moment that nearly led him to abandon his musical ambitions and will make the rest of you green with envy.
HIT ME WITH YOUR RHYTHM STICK When it comes to dancing like there’s no tomorrow, Alan Abrahams (the man behind Portable and Bodycode) is top of our list. Abrahams’ live performances and music have that rare ability to engage our bodies into dance resembling a state of trance; this is a dancing experience primal and cerebral at once. During his sets you often find yourself pulling unexpected moves, moves you didn’t even know you had. Eager to unveil the key behind such powerful ascendancy on our senses, we met with Alan Abrahams to talk about dancing, rhythm and the relationship of artist and audience. TEXT FEDERIKA LINKE PHOTO YEV KAZANNIK
In motion his whole life, his music seems to have evolved accordingly. Abrahams grew up in Cape Town, in a post-apartheid Africa, subsequently relocated to London, then decamped to sunny Lisbon and is currently settling in Berlin. One of the few African faces on the electronic scene it may seem he’s just hitting his stride, but truth is he has been producing and releasing amazing stuff for almost ten years. Today he can enjoy the near global acclaim his releases have garnered all these years and has growing demands for live gigs and remixes. His second album for Spectral as Bodycode, Immune, was another big success and his new EP as Portable, released recently on Perlon, This Life of Illusions, is already on top of every techno chart. Süd Electronic, the label he runs together with Lakuti (a dear friend of South-African origins like himself ), is a long-time fixture on the party circuit of London’s underground techno scene. Perlon is just the last addition in an impressive list of top-quality labels that have wooed Abrahams into releasing music for them: Context, Background, Karat, ˜scape, Musik Krause, Spectral, Yore, Circus Company are others. His sound is so remarkable and personal that
not few artists have craved for a Portable/Bodycode treatment of their tracks. Ellen Allien, Damian Lazarus and The Knife are next in the pipeline. For too long it seems his talent slipped under the radar of many music lovers, another case of great things being ahead of their time, perhaps. But after a long and slow seduction, he’s got a horde of admirers, well, by the balls one might say. Back in 2002, when we were fascinated with Sutekh or Akufen’s micro-sampling, Abrahams, under his first pseudonym Portable, was using that same technique, daring to venture the micro-house genre into the territories of an enchanting fusion between the syncopated rhythm and traditional sounds of his Africa and the 4/4 pulsations of a warm Chicagoan house. Andy Vaz, boss of the German label Background, was one of the first to believe in this splendid and utterly original hybrid of African rhythms, techno/house beats and rich electronic textures: “With all this click-house and laptop music, we tend to forget that this music started in Detroit and was made by African-Americans first – people who know about rhythm!”. With
intentions to push sound with his label that could be a modern synthesis between Detroit classicism and futurism, tradition and avantgarde, Vaz couldn’t have hoped for better than having Portable’s futuristic Afroism up his sleeve. In Abrahams’ musical world the mathematical, clinical precision of digital media and technology goes together with the polyrhythm and improvisational nature of African traditional music. In Abrahams’ words: “I feel that house music, especially in the beginning, and traditional African music are really one and the same, the starting point is the same. Music traditionally is made to get to your soul via rhythm. When I use a sample I always kind of recreate it so that it still sounds African but nobody could really be playing that way. My goal is to reinterpret those sounds for the here-and-now, not just sample and reuse them in a cheap way. My ideal is that my music might be regarded as a document of contemporary Afro-European music and culture ”. Cycling and Futuristic Experiments #5, his first two albums for Background as Portable, presented richly layered and compositionally detailed music able to transcend the stereotypes that delimiting terms like ‘microhouse’ might suggest. “Within micro-house structures you just have enough space to allow contamination with other sounds or tempos,” Abrahams observes. “The music you find in clubs is sometimes onedimensional, it’s like the space is not used. Of course it’s different tracks, but when the tempo is 4/4 all the time, the variety gets lost, doesn’t go up and down, which I think is what people react to. I think a good DJ or a live act has to include that. Back in Cape Town, when I was a young kid and went to clubs, I was very much inspired by the DJs there, and what I loved was that they could split the dancefloor into different levels. And that’s what I do with my music, I am using the rhythms in between the beats. All African music does that!”
evocative. The four-on-the-floor tempo was not that straightforward in the beginning, resolving in a softer and more introspective, atmospheric techno. Portable’s sound clearly originated in a much more experimental than dancefloor-driven approach, which might account, along with the strong personality of his sound, for his being sort of an outsider back then. But the seed for a more danceable dimension was there. It was just a matter of time before Abrahams started to move his sound toward a more sensual and up-tempo synthesis, a bliss of the senses which every dancer must try once on the dancefloor. When the A&R of Spectral (Ghostly’s dance department) asked him to create another alias for a project to release on their label, Abrahams was already working on more danceable versions of Portable’s material (Version, ˜scape, already hinted a change of pace and attitude) and that’s how Bodycode came into play. “With my music it doesn’t have to be any particular kind of dance,” explains Abrahams. “It’s more a body moving aesthetic, a warmer nurturing approach which we all desperately need now. Music as a tool to unlock the psyche via the body.” A natural evolution in Abrahams’ aesthetic brought on by his observation and experience of the club environment. “
“With my music it doesn’t have to be any particular kind of dance. It’s more a body moving aesthetic, a warmer nurturing approach which we all desperately need now. Music as a tool to unlock the psyche via the body.”
In other words, the African element is integrated in the music, not only in the form of percussive arrangements and deeply syncopated rhythms, but also in the reprocessing and digitalization of samples. The sounds are often organic, coming from traditional instruments like different types of drums, harps, flutes, or even animals or objects like rattling anklets or tinderbox containers (traditionally used for music), and, last but not least, the stuttering voice snippets, mainly samples of voices which seem to be taken from ritual or religious chants, that in the early stage of his sound were endlessly dissected and chopped. Enhancing the hypnotic quality of his groove – if we might wax poetic – there are the subtle gorgeous melodies, sometimes dark and spooky in a suspenseful, sci-fi way, sometimes menacing or melancholic, though never desperate, just so powerfully
A club is a much more engaging space because there you have to relate to an audience. When I play live I can play stuff I am still working on and see what kind of reaction I get from the people, that helps me decide which elements to keep and what not and which new direction to give to my music. A lot about dancing is sexual, so I started to feel the need to include more sexual elements because getting closer to your audience is also a process of seduction.” In that vein Abrahams has also increasingly been using his own voice or that of Lerato, a more than welcome novelty in his music and live sets; “…’cause a microphone makes it easier to make contact with people. For me it’s important that it’s not a man-and-machine situation with my music”. Could it be, then, that a pop album is the next metamorphosis of Abrahams’ music? The teasing is met with laughter, but vocals and singing are definitely something we’ll hear more of on his album for Perlon, due out in 2011: “It’s still too early to say much, but the new album for Perlon is the most ‘pop’ I would want to go. I think it’s nice to have pop elements in the music because a lot of people in this scene, they’re so serious, sometimes impersonal and therefore forgettable. So my next album is going to be even more personal without being too poppy. It’s mostly vocal tracks and will feature collaborations with Efdemin, Lerato, and Jus Ed”.
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GONNA MAKE YOU SWEAT TEXT FEDERIKA LINKE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
This autumn, European dancefloors have been graced and refreshed with the rhythm and sound of a mad south-American posse. Cómeme is the music label founded by Matias Aguayo and his Argentinian friend Gary Pimiento and it’s pretty much been blowing people’s minds all over the world ever since it evolved a couple of years ago. “Dancing is the main thing,” – they sound passionately serious when they underline this concept – “great musicians do the best music but we, the dancers, enjoy it more.” Dancing as an invaluable privilege is their motto. Undoubtedly, few performers behind the DJ booth can make you dance and sweat to such an extent (and for so long), so for those dancers and clubbers wanting to challenge their hips and feet to an intoxicating mix of house music, swing, italo disco, kwaito, techno, electro, cumbia and Colombian champeta, this is the opportunity not to be missed.
Cómeme is not just a music label with random artists and “is not just about releasing vinyls,” as Aguayo himself states “it is more about everything around releasing a vinyl.” A rich and well-structured experience that has defied the ordinary way we think about the making and distribution of music and has reinvented (or rediscovered) a different approach to clubbing and dancing. In the prevailing music industry crisis, Cómeme’s adventure shows that there are also great opportunities to search for new choices and ways. Most of today’s club music, I think we can agree, is pretty far from exciting, and in a scene where it seems most musicians release records in order to get booked for gigs, unconventional and unpredictable artists like Matias Aguayo are a precious resource. When you meet, talk or – better yet – see him perform one of his DJ/ live sets, his musical motivation feels clearly to be about pure enjoyment, maybe even predestination, but never the money. Ten years have passed since his first emergence into the world of electronic music and the widely successful project, Closer Musik. He could have rested on these laurels and the international acclaim of the first album on Kompakt, After Love. Instead, he chose the path of reinvention, resisting getting trapped by some certain ‘profile’, and restlessly made his way from Europe to South America looking and longing for new inspiration and unfamiliar contexts that could move him and his music forward. From the magic of ‘One Two Three (No Gravity)’ up to the catchy pop melody of ‘Rollerskate’ (one of the highlights from his last album on Kompakt Ay Ay Ay), Aguayo’s voice and productions have become a trademark for pure electronic sexiness. No wonder then that his thirst for new adventures in music and new dancing experiences made him disappointed and unsatisfied with today’s feeble music business or the hype on soulless ‘minimal techno’. A point he made quite clear, in his characteristic half-humorous half serious approach, with the giggly track ‘Minimal’, another winner on dancefloors across the world about two years ago. In it, Aguayo calls for
a music with more groove and balls, “...con un ritmo mas nocturno mas profundo mas sensual…”. It’s almost a sort of anti-establishment manifesto, which has served as a blueprint for all the projects and plans leading to the creation of Cómeme. Probably South America, a place to which Aguayo has regularly returned due to his Chilean origins and many friends there, like other cultural peripheries was the most appropriate place to realize his new dance and music dream and be free from preconceived schemes. “Especially,” Aguayo explains “because in South America dancing has a bigger tradition and is related to everyday life, not confined to just clubs or closed spaces.” Around three years ago, one night in Buenos Aires it all began by accident: Aguayo and a bunch of friends went out to dance in a club in the city, the music wasn’t really working for them and since they were for some reason carrying a ghetto blaster, they decided to leave the club and go out in the street to play some mixes and dance to the music they really liked. To their amazement loads of bystanders crowded the place, joined the dancing and the party carried on ’till morning. Aguayo still retains a strong memory of that first time: “Once you are at a street party, dancing on the street under a starry sky, it feels so natural and essential that when you do it you immediately ask yourself why you never did it before.” When something happens so spontaneously and is so much fun, it’s natural to repeat it, and that’s how the notorious BumBumBox parties came to life. Since that very first time, Aguayo and Pimiento have organized many other free street parties all around South America. They powered up the sound system by adding another two or three ghetto blasters connected to an mp3 player, but always promoted the events with simple DIY actions like word of mouth, self-made videos or little homemade funny printed cards. “And most importantly,” reminds Aguayo “people listen to mixes, none of us are playing. We always carry and play some mixes, that we or other DJs have prepared at home, so that we can enjoy dancing as well, therefore knocking down any distance between performers and audience.” Maintaining the laidback and spontaneous atmosphere
was key, because the true inspirational elements were the surprise guests, the unpredictability of the audience and the choice of open public places. As opposed to clubs who tend to draw a certain crowd leading to a pretty standardized audience and a more passive consumer mentality (people paying an entrance fee have more clear expectations, expecting fulfillment for the money they paid), the street, with its diverse mix of people, allows for much more freedom with music. People who take part spontaneously in a ‘fiesta’ don’t know what they want to hear. Aguayo and his mates noticed that warmer and funkier vibes or playing a mix by Larry Levan worked better than a mix of modern reduced techno, but as much of the music wasn’t ‘just right’, Aguayo seized the thrilling opportunity to produce fresh new tracks especially designed for these parties. New material where old house and techno influences are accentuated with strong traditional Latin rhythms and the electronic sound meet that of maracas, marimbas, congas and so on. This way the audience was brought back to be the soul of the party, because the musicians involved in the project were driven to improvise music and performances based on their spontaneous responses. “We have also understood,” states Aguayo “the importance of having some special ‘figures’ in the party, like these original people you always catch around in clubs and who are a sort of driving force ’cause they take the initiative, draw people’s attention and kind of drag you into a party mood. ’Cause we’re conscious that, for a good party, not just the DJ but also the audience has to be good”.
spurred to make music that, despite the different sensibilities and tastes of each artist, could be played at the Bumbumbox parties. In order to enhance a common aesthetic, and exchange and improve the communication between artists living so far apart, a Soundcloud presence was set up, enabling each one to upload work while accessing other people’s ideas. Being able to listen to what people were doing in other Latin cities, working on another artist’s material and using this music in their DJ sets, worked out to be a fantastic strategy in deciding on where to go with the music and what rhythms to do. In less than a year there was already so much interesting material that it didn’t make sense to confine it to street parties or a small circle of friends, so Aguayo’s collective opened the material up to the wider internet audience orbiting around applications like MySpace and YouTube. The hugely positive response ultimately let the slowly sprouting idea of releasing the music on vinyl take hold. The Kompakt label in Cologne had always respected Aguayo’s independency and always been keen to support his efforts and ideas – providing an excellent basis for taking the risk to invest money on an independent label. With Kompakt in Germany providing a sophisticated infrastructure and administration, the moment for Aguayo to help musicians with a big potential by giving them the opportunity to access the European market and audience had well and truly arrived.
“Once you are at a street party, dancing on the street under a starry sky, it feels so natural and essential that when you do it you immediately ask yourself why you never did it before.”
The itinerancy of these parties showed Aguayo and Pimiento how public space works differently depending on the city or country, how much freedom there is to use certain spaces. “With time,” says Aguayo “we’ve developed a knowledge about free street parties and about which public space fits more. Pablo Castoldi, the friend who designs Cómeme covers and graphics, is also an architect and he’s very important for us regarding the choice of spaces. He made me see, for example, that not every space turns out to be good: a flat surface road or a space that is not too flooded with light are better, and generally it’s better to choose an open space that can somehow be reinterpreted (with natural decorations, something hanging like balloons or paper streamers or mirrors to define the borders) into a club dancefloor”. Even more importantly, Bumbumbox parties became a way to connect with other local DJs and musicians (Rebolledo in México, Diego Morales in Santiago de Chile, Ana Helder and DJs Pareja in Buenos Aires, Daniel Maloso, to name a few), who were similarly motivated by the idea of sharing and enjoying music on a street level and who, thanks to Aguayo’s encouragement and expertise, were
This is how Aguayo and Pimiento brought Cómeme to also release vinyls. Home to some of the freakiest and hottest producers of the last two years, since its first release with the legendary track ‘Pitaya Frenesie’, a joint effort between Aguayo and Mexican wonder-kid Rebolledo, the music has distinguished itself with breathless personality. And thank God, it really is a kind of music you can’t easily define. Warehouse house music combines with funky, deep-dark tripping disco rhythms and sexy-nocturnal groove-driven techno is injected with heavy doses of raw psychedelia. Sometimes influences are obvious (Rebolledo makes no mystery of his love for Giorgio Moroder, for example) but there’s always much more than that, and whenever Cómeme artists play it is always done with a lot of fun and humour and in a completely unique fashion. And that’s the whole story. What’s coming next from planet Cómeme? For certain is an album by Rebolledo (there’s hardly any new producer hotter than him in 2010) due in 2011, and besides the appearance of Cologne DJ Christian S (his track ‘Jagos’ on the sixth release is just brilliant!) and the collaboration with London-based producer Capracara, new exciting contributions to the label from other European artists are without a doubt to be expected. After the first two successful BumBumBox parties in Europe this autumn (one in Norway in Tromsø, the other in Portugal in Porto) we certainly hope Cómeme’s collective will do more.
GET DOWN ON IT TEXT GARTEH OWEN PHOTO MEGAN CULLEN
Paul Rose, aka Scuba, is one of the leading lights of contemporary electronic music. His album Triangulations, and its recent ‘interpreted’ version show why, along with his label Hotflush (home to Mount Kimbie), he is one of the most important figures in modern dance music. Did you have any goals when you started Hotflush? There was a game plan in terms of the music and wanting to make stuff that did well and people liked, but not in terms of becoming this successful. We started the label in 2003, and really for a while we struggled. I had absolutely no idea about anything. It was just a learning curve. When dub-step was gaining popularity, it was a long process. It was a good four years of sitting around waiting for something to happen. I think in 2004/5 if you asked anyone making dub-step if they thought they could have made a living from it, they would have laughed at you. That says it all, really. We were all working our arses off trying to make it happen. But it’s a big jump taking something from a hundred people to a thousand. Was starting the label a way to release music on your own terms? The idea of doing a label was something I have always been in to. I’ve always liked the idea of having an outlet for not just my own stuff, but interesting music generally. It was certainly a big part of what I wanted to do musically. But it was a pretty steep learning curve at the start, when it was that very early dub-step thing, 20 to 30 guys going to a club and maybe 70 people coming to enjoy the music. But there was just a wealth of material there waiting to come out. So much music didn’t come out – music that would still sound fresh today. I guess we were very lucky. How do you balance running a label, DJ’ing and producing, and keep it enjoyable? With difficulty! It’s pretty tough in terms of keeping on top of the label and also in terms of making music. But you can’t really complain too much about going round the world playing music. Does it affect or influence how you are making music? Well this year, I’ve been making less music. I have three weeks off now, so I’m at the start of a hiatus! I don’t think it affects the way you make music at all, but for me, I do have to be at home in the studio. I need
some time to get into it. A lot of stuff falls by the wayside with me, and I guess that’s why making my album took so long. It’s a tortuous process. Are you harder on yourself because you also run the label that releases your music? When you put an album out it’s usually with a third party helping out, or giving direction in some way. Obviously I didn’t have that. I think you have to really try and push yourself and make sure that everything you are doing will stand up to everything else [on the label]. Obviously, as an artist you try as hard as you can, but being the label manager also makes you put yourself under a bit more pressure. But maybe I would still be the same if it was the other way around… Do you have a plan for the future? Well, Hotflush was only a dubstep label at first by accident. It was never about just one genre; it was just about putting out the music we were doing at the time. I don’t want to get stuck in a particular genre or style, and to be honest, the last couple of years have been great as there have been lots of opportunities to realise that. A big part of the label has always been trying to find new acts. Now we are trying to develop by doing EPs and then hopefully albums, I guess like with Mount Kimbie. We’re definitely moving into these kind of longer term projects, which is the opposite to the industry as a whole, but it’s like the difference between a novel and an essay. It’s much more of a statement and I think that you’ve got to try and preserve that. What are your proudest achievements? Probably at Transmedial, when Mount Kimbie played in January. It was a relatively small room and whoever played before had a crowd, but it wasn’t packed. In the five minutes before they played, the place filled up so you couldn’t move. I was standing at the side watching and, well, at that moment I was very proud.
RASHAD BATTLING AT »DA WAR ZONE«
CAN’T TOUCH THIS 25 years after the birth of house music, Chicago is starting musical fires again. Paul Sullivan learns the difference between Juke and Footwork… TEXT PAUL SULLIVAN PHOTOGRAPHY DAVE QUAM
Once upon a time in the Chicago projects there lived a music style called ghetto house. A twisted splinter drawn from the classic house hoof, ghetto house stripped the sound down to a quivering skeleton and pumped it full of filthy words and party lyrics to create something more sonically akin to life in the ’hood. Pioneered by labels like Dance Mania and DJs like Jammi Gerald, Houz’Mon, DJ Deeon and DJ Funk, ghetto house originally maintained (more or less) house music’s steady 130bpm. But by the midlate nineties, tracks were starting to hit 150-160bpm. The rhythms were growing more intricate and the music began to explore some altogether darker and weirder places. One of the key catalysts was a 1997 tune ‘Baby Come On’ by DJ/ Producer RP Boo, which wrapped a simple vocal loop from Old Dirty Bastard’s hip hop anthem over some seriously off-kilter beats, letting it spiral into a claustrophobic and infectious anti-anthem.
known as juke, after a slang term for a bangin’ party – bifurcated into four-to-the-floor party bangers and more sonically adventurous fare. Then came footwork, the associated dance form that has developed alongside the music, expressed as a hyperactive series of steps, hops and jumps that manage to keep time with the frantic rhythms while simultaneously inspiring producers to produce specific dancing tracks. Like the music, footwork dancing has its roots in classic Chicago house. Back in 1985, dance troupes like House-O-Matics were battling other crews at the Factory, Warehouse and other legendary clubs, and nowadays the city allegedly has around forty different established crews and associated DJs and producers.
“‘Baby Come On’ came just by hearing a DJ mixing on the radio, just playing the ODB record from one turntable to another so that it sounded like a loop,” remembers RP Boo. “He was doing it live and I was like ‘that’s hot’. Years later I got my hands on some equipment and I had the record and gave it a try. The track was a hit at the parties I did and I was like ‘what did I just do?’ I had no idea that it would change anything, I just wanted people to hear my thoughts.”
In contrast to breakdancing, footworking is less about full body acrobatics and more about fluidity. There are no windmills or headstands - just a machine-gun blast of motion, specifically via the legs / lower half of the body, to the point where the upper half sometimes seems surreally still while the legs whirl away beneath. But footwork is similar to breakdancing in that it thrives on one-upsmanship. Battles take place wherever crews can find space, everywhere from empty warehouses to basketball courts and usually begin with a dancer stepping out into the middle of a circle and letting loose a flurry of movements, now and again deliberately provoking an opponent. The speedy BPM of the music demands and inspires movements that the best dancers manage to incorporate the music’s nuances and rhythmic changes.
Other producers like PJ, Clent, Spinn, Roc, Rashad and Nate began throwing down their own leftfield experiments and the scene – now
“Footwork tracks have been made since the Dance Mania era, but they became more distinguished in the late nineties,” says Dave
Quam, a local writer and photographer who’s been documenting the scene. “There were different patterns to follow due to innovations being made at that time, and the word juke popped up, which sort of updated ghetto house. There is a lot of gray era between the spectrum – at one end you have feet, and one end you have ass. The thing is, it’s hard to move your ass without moving your feet and vice versa. Footwork tracks are made for footwork battles, juke tracks are made for the club. They are the same BPM though, so they are obviously interchangeable.” Perhaps one of the most unique aspects to the juke/footworking scene is how, in a digital era that supposedly gives us access to every musical nook and cranny in the world, the scene has stayed resolutely hyperlocal for the last decade or more. It has received very little airplay on local radio and has virtually no presence to speak of in the city’s mainstream clubs. The closest it came to national recognition was in 2007, when Dude ’N Nem’s 2007 “Watch My Feet” got a blip on MTV. That was over in a flash, but curiously the music is now finding a global audience. As far as Europe – or at least the UK – is concerned, a major catalyst has been British label Planet Mu, run by Mike Paradinas (μ-Ziq), which has signed up albums from Rashad, Nate and DJ Roc and recently released Bangs & Works Volume 1, a profile of the scene including pioneers like Traxman and RP Boo and newcomers alike.
connections there are to UK styles like nascent jungle, funky and dubstep, a fact underlined by Addison Groove’s (aka DJ Headhunter’s) dubstep-style footwork track ‘Footcrab’ and DJ Roc’s startling Planet Mu debut, The Crack Capone, which bristles with ragga samples, hyperactive shuffling riddims and oodles of hip hop swagger. “I love dubstep,” he enthuses over the phone from Chicago. “It feels comfortable to me. Our style isn’t too far from dubstep, it’s more gutter style and has that creative cold shit. I’m already planning on doing some collaborations, maybe trading styles with someone from the UK doing Juke and me doing dubstep…” Roc, whose reputation was solidified via his Juke City mixes, is also the founder of the now 17-producer strong Bosses of The Circle collective, who he says are all making albums and have big plans for world domination. “You got to go out and get your own reputation,” he says, “it ain’t gonna come to you. I’m not taking any bullshit with the music either, these guys all know it’s go hard or go home. We’re recruiting kids, like 12 and up ’cause we want this shit to be about in the future too.” Another crew on fire at the moment are Ghettophiles, a-record-label-cum-artistcollective, whose biography claims that “some of us don’t know how to produce tracks, some of us don’t know how to DJ, some of us don’t know how to type, and some of us don’t know how to do anything besides blog. We’re all about local scenes and making sure that whether or not they get international attention, the leaders, innovators, creators, and legends of each community are able to have sustained love and support from their own community.”
In contrast to breakdancing, footworking is less about full body acrobatics and more about fluidity. There are no windmills or headstands - just a machinegun blast of motion...
It’s an eerily engrossing document, showcasing an immense range of styles and sounds from the nightmarish feel of tracks like RP Boo’s ‘Eraser’ (made to reflect the ‘meanness’ inherent in some of the dance battles) and DJ Yung Tellem’s ‘Freddy vs Jason’ (which make ‘Mr. Kirk’s Nightmare’ sound like Gareth Gates) to the raw electro of Traxman and the almost avant-garde ‘collage’ feel of tracks by Roc and Rashad. “Over the last few years, the attention from outside of Chicago that the music has been getting is definitely helping DJs get gigs outside of their hometown, which is great,” says Quam, who wrote the sleeve notes and provided the photos for Bangs & Works Vol 1. “I think it’s definitely giving everyone more motivation to pursue their craft now that other people are watching and listening. A lot of familiar motifs are still very apparent in the music, but sonically producers will continue to keep switching things up. Just putting syncopated toms and claps over a looped vocal sample doesn’t cut it anymore. Stronger synth-work and brand new structures are what’s brewing in 2010.” Aside from the sonic breadth apparent on the compilation, one of the striking things about the music is how many potential musical
Ghettophiles have just released their own footwork compilation. Called Overkill, it features a slew of classics from Arpebu, DJ Manny, Traxman and Spinn - and what Quam reckons to be the best footwork track of 2010, DJ Rashad’s “Ghost”. With more albums from Rashad and Nate anticipated via Planet Mu, even RP Boo is coming out of his prolonged hiatus to start making music again. “I love that it is getting around the globe. It’s all about the body and how it moves and the key is the music. It becomes music when the producer has soul. I would love to travel the globe to put on a show for the fans at least one time before I decide to just produce music only. It’s only dangerous to an individual with a closed mind, and at this point in time it is due. This style of music has yet to see its goal.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: MANNY FROM TERRA SQUAD LITE BULB FROM TERRA SQUAD AND LEGENDS CLIQUE BATTLING AT DA WAR ZONE LITE BULB AND MANNY FROM TERRA SQUAD PRACTICING ROUTINES LITE BULB AND QUE FROM LEGENDS CLIQUE IN NYC AT MOMA PS1 LITE BULB FROM TERRA SQUAD/LEGENDS CLIQUE
SONGS ABOUT DANCING TEXT GARETH OWEN ILLUSTRATION LEONA LIST
Jack, swing, bump and grind. Although you can have music without dancing, you certainly can’t have any dancing without music. If there is one subject I should be able to wax lyrical on without reverting to school boy humour, innuendo and irony then it should be songs about, for and to be enjoyed with dancing. So, without further ado... SING SING SING
DIRTBOX (DJ HELL REMIX)
DANCE DANCE DANCE
Probably the funkiest techno tune I own. Still has the whiff of electroclash about it but when it comes to a soundtrack for bouncing off the walls, banging into people and generally acting like a pilled-up twat, this would be my pick any day. Well, today at any rate.
Benny Goodman & his Orchestra Benny Goodman was arguably one of the greatest ‘big band’ leaders of all time, and this song will be familiar to many people. However, have you ever heard it played in a nightclub? Rest assured, this is a serious dancing record. Voodoo drums and a frantic energy make this a winner every time.
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK Bill Haley & his Comets
Youth culture ground zero. Fact. It doesn’t matter that Bill Haley looks, well, like a chip shop owner who’s the wrong side of 50. A paean to taking drugs and dancing all night. Except it’s from 1954.
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas ‘Dancing in the Streets’ was just a bit too obvious – sure it’s about dancing, but when it comes to the actual dancing part, ‘Heatwave’ is the one that makes me jump up and pretend I’m at the Wigan Casino.
Sleazy as you like. Claudja Barry was a bonafide disco superstar, though this particular cut leans closer to r&b and funk. The b-side to ‘Make You Feel the Fire’, this is one for the heads and serious dancers only.
FOGO FOGO Fela Kuti
Fela Kuti is THE MAN. Afrobeat by its very definition is music for dancing so I could happily have picked any Fela song, as he was the pioneer of the genre. However this one really cuts the proverbial mustard.
Paperclip People Dry and funky. Straight but wonky. A bag of contradictions that still sounds fresh almost ten years after its release. In fact, this song is playing as I type and I keep getting... erm, keep getting distract… dum de dum dum de dum …
WHIP IT Devo
If Fela Kuti is the man, then Devo are THE SHIT! The older I get, the more I delve deeper in to Devo’s back catalogue and the more I realise that they basically invented dance music… OK, I jest , but the amount of ideas that they came up with that later materialised into ‘dance songs’ is pretty staggering. Want to make everyone at your party dance? Whip this one out.. ..
Addison Groove The dancing song of the moment, inspired by a whole dance scene (that you can read about elsewhere in this issue) called footwurking. One of the freshest things to happen to dance music since someone synthesised MDMA.
MUSIC REVIEWS TEXTS GARETH OWEN | PAUL SULLIVAN | REMO BITZI| NEALE LYTOLLIS | MATHIAS KILIAN HANF
The Mexican Hotbox
Something of a teaser for Nicolas Jaar’s debut album, which is due in January, a selection of tracks from his Clown & Sunset label. Ines brings together Jaar’s own work with those of some new faces, namely Nikita Quasim and Soul Kei. Opening up the platform for the first time to other producers, on collaborations – the stunning Her String, and on individual productions such Soul Keita ‘s Dusties N 808’s, Ines is a clear a statement about the musical world that Jaar’ lives in. I suggest that you get it while you can - Jaar is soon going to outgrown the restrictions of music even vaguely connected to clubs. Stunning. GO
Danuel Tate’s time spent as Cobblestone Jazz’s principal keyboard boffin has provided more than ample training for his debut LP. The Mexican Hotbox is brimming with ideas both new and old; nods are made to genres like swing and jazz, but are peppered with clicky electronics and lashings of tasty vocoders & synths. It’s a humid, sweaty collection of lo-fi sundowner numbers and not quite the jalapeñoesque spice explosion you might expect. Needless to say, should steamy, seedy border town film noir ever see a revival in, say, 100 years or so, then tracks like this salsa sci-fi offering will most certainly be the soundtrack. NL
(Clown & Sunset)
New project from Matt Edwards of Radio Slave where he focuses on the music and some bright spark – in this case Misha Holenbach of Australian designers Perks & Mini - creates some nice artwork for each track on the album. An interesting concept made more so by the fuzzy music that Edwards has created, only hinted at when he released the first Machine single on Innervisions last summer. Occasionally beat-less and hypnotically repetitive, Redhead works best when furthest from any kind of techno association such as on sound-scapes like Continental Drift, and the annoying (but amazing) Leopard Skin.. GO
Partners in Crime
The two Belgian’s known as Spirit Catcher have committed a crime. Which one you ask? Well releasing some serious grooves in form of their latest album; Partners in Crime. Maybe not reinventing themselves since the epic Voodoo Knight it matters little when the formula works so well. Club bangers, progressing beats and only one vocal track (No Way Out) nestle up to driving deep house on the single Sedona, and an Isley Brothers sample on Special Dimension. Add a few slower tracks (Under Elvis) and you gace enough for a synth extravaganza of massive proportions. Guilty but grooving. MK
STAR OF LOVE
How Do You Do
Polish-born, Berlin-based avanttechno producer Dygas has only released a handful of art-house style techno records, but her choice of labels (Contexterrior, Non Standard Productions, Perlon) has been knowing and her globetrotting DJ stints have garnered her a decent rep. How Do You Do, her debut full-length, is her biggest artistic statement yet. Inspired by British zoologist Desmond Morris’ ‘Peoplewatching’ book, the record pulls together found sounds, spoken word, evanescent melodies and distant, gluey techno beats. There are some genuinely hypnotic moments (see Maybe May Be, the jazzy Pg21 or the delectably dark Barrier), but more often than not, the record descends into nondescript background noise or over-indulgence. A disappointing reminder that substance should never be sacrificed at the altar of concept. PS
These days there is cunning new trick to ensure musical success which can be expressed by the formula: Crystal + plural noun of choice = great records. This has already been proven thanks to Castles, Stilts and Antlers and now Crystal Fighters are the next in line for musical supremacy thanks to the inclusion of a precious jewel in their name. They cut their teeth on a handful of Kitsune singles and while their too-cool-for-school electronics might lead you to believe that they’re French they’re actually from Spain. Star of Love is a killer selection of punk fuelled disco tracks with a cosmic tinge that work well both on the dancefloor or on the stereo in your kitchen. It’s a lively and impressive debut; so much so that these relative newcomers make the other Crystal bandwaggoners look like pale imitations. NL
SHIGETO Full Circle
Pop music from a parallel future where Joe Meek and Michael Jackson formed an instrumental synth duo with Felicity Kendal programming the drum machines. Softpriest’s debut album Enjoying Moths is going to be one of those cult albums that people who own it will cherish and love, and tell lies to others to stop them finding ou t what it is. Like a crazed aunt who gives you space cakes and condoms this is unhinged in the best possible way. GO
Full Circle is an apt title for Shigeto’s debut album, with it’s waves of percussion and melody arriving cycles, falling apart and returning to form as the circle completes. One of the nicest things about Shigeto’s music is the little details that reveal themselves on good speakers or headphones, but catching these in the swirling sea of competing sounds can occasionally be frustrating. However this happens less often than it takes to really take any shine of what is a warm and comforting debut. GO
Bangs & Works Vol 1
The underground Chicago scene that picked up where ghetto house left off a decade or so ago is finally bubbling over onto the international scene. Planet Mu honcho Mike Paradinas (μ-Zig) has been busy signing up some of the scene’s major protagonists (DJ Roc, DJ Rashad) for albums, and in the meantime has pulled together this scene profile or primer of sorts. The range is jaw-dropping, from the chilling darkness of tracks like RPBoo’s Eraser and DJ Yung Tellem’s nightmarish Freddy vs Jason to the early Afrika Bam-style electro of Traxman. The production values are usually high and the scene is currently experiencing a push towards innovative and diversity of styles; but the overriding vibe remains raw, uncompromising and authentically exciting. PS
TERROR DANJAH Undeniable (Hyperdub)
The savage swagger of Undeniable’s ‘grime opera’ opener tells you everything you need to know about Terror Danjah’s Hyperdub debut. No stranger to making sonic statements, the East London grime don has surpassed himself here, making Nietzsche-like leaps across the shimmering mountain tops of grime, neo-rave, dubstep and filth-house. Rhythmically rich, technically taut and with enough spiralling synth stabs to keep old skool ravers happy, Undeniable is the kind of dynamic document most producers can only dream of. PS
Nasty voices would say this is the kind of music to listen to whilst sipping on your expensive cocktail. But we don’t and instead call it a great record with vast influences from seventies disco to dub. From harmonic deep house to psychedelic electronic rock – Richard Norris’ Time and Space Machine sparing with The Chemical Brothers ala their classic Dig Your Own Hole. The ever-dependable Tirk bring us, a killer vocal-led groove by Sam Annad aka Architeq, a slow disco rework of Sugar by The Love Supreme (still not better than the original), and dubby electronic rhythms introduced by the London-based Skintologists. And that’s just for starters. Nice. MK
Newcomer Anika splits her time between Berlin and Bristol and her first LP is an interesting mix of influences. Sure, the obsession with electro is present and correct with some scratchy spaceship SFX providing the aural tinsel on an appealing collection of tracks that owe more to the echoey, ever-so-slightly off key singing of bands like Vivian Girls than it does to the cold calculator sounds of Kraftwerk. Goodness knows where this record was transmitted to Earth from but so long as Anika remains influenced by the acidspace-trip she’s clearly on, then she’s going to remain an eerie driving light for many years to come. NL
THE GO TEAM
(Hot Flush Recordings)
Triangulation (Interpretations) Dubstep and is proving to be especially popular in Berlin as a warmer, funkier alternative to the annoyingly dull variations of techno that have taken over the city. It’s easier to go with the flow than it is to break away and explore side streets but Scuba is at hand to guide Berlin into new territory. A key figure in the scene since the off, his time spent running SUB:STANCE at Berghain has seen a zombietechno element creep into his second LP – a series of ‘reinterpritations‘ of his debut Triangulations. The amalgamation of styles is pleasing and proves that far from flogging a dead horse, this may well be the creative injection techno needs. NL
The Go Team, remember them? Well, they’re back with a third album, and the format of sampling, rapping, Motown melodies and manic energy is present and correct. I kind of lost interest when Chuck D joined the party for their second album, feeling bored with an outdated format. However it is this feeling that conversely makes Rolling Blackouts so charming. Music buying habits have developed to the point where music is consumed on the basis of whether the person buying it likes it. Or not. On those terms I can see plenty of people picking the feel good charms of the Go Team in spite of, or perhaps because of, how dated it sounds. GO
Follow up to 2007’s Ubiquity from the Danish beat conductor Peder. Dirt & Gold feels like the soundtrack to a particularly good art-house film that you may enjoy with your sophisticated European parents. Which is perhaps no surprise as Peder is not only a producer who has remixed the Beastie Boys, he’s also a radio host, actor of some repute and a photographer who has shot for BMG, Welt and EMI. Did I mention he scores films? As you may expect, Dirt and Gold sounds like the aforementioned character crafting a beats album. Soulful and smart in his choice and use of samples, cinematic with his flourishes, there’s plenty to enjoy on Dirt& Gold. Touches of Gallic swagger, delicate piano refrains, measured beats and the occasional perfectly placed grainy texture all sit together with ease. However, for all it’s charms perhaps in the end Dirt & Gold is just a bit too polished for my taste. GO
Sam Shackleton’s percussion orgies sit somewhere between techno, industrial and dubstep. With releases on Perlon, Hyperdub and Skull Disco he coproduced with Appleblim until 2008. Now in charge of the latest instalment of Fabric’s eclectic CD series, the Ex-Skull Disco maverick complies some of his most thrilling sounds to create a polyrhythmic monster. Number 55 in the series could be the soundtrack of someone getting lost under the full moon’s milky light in an exotic jungle and stumbling upon a secret tribal ritual. Shakleton conjures feelings that are mystical and meditative, fascinating and dark. An epic addition to the series. RB
Dirt & Gold
White Rainbow Turbo Recordings
Sei A’s White Rainbow takes us on a colourless, journey across distorted mechanical aesthetics. Flicker, Little One Song or Out of Reason are gloomy musical fantasies, but nevertheless evoke a distinct groove that will work well on dusty dance-floors, whilst the latter half develops with softer edges and more melancholy. White Rainbow does take a bit of getting used to, but after a while develops into a decent album of sorts. MK
VARIOUS ARTISTS Ostgut Ton Fünf (Ostgut Ton)
To celebrate the five year anniversary of Ostgut Ton, the record label of the (in)famous Berghain, instead of knocking up the standard DJ mix / compilation package label boss Nick Hoppner commissioned Emika to compile library of sounds from the club space when it was not open to the public. The results were then used by the clubs regular cast of DJs and prodcuers as the basis of tracks for the compilations). In short if you like the ‘Berghain Sound’ you’ll like this. If you don’t know what it is, Osgut Ton Fünf is the perfect place to start. And if you don’t like the Berghain then probably don’t buy this, but tip your hat to a refreshing approach to celebrating a record label’s birthday. GO
MILO SMEE Milo Smee has been producing electronic music of various flavours for nearly 15 years. Releasing warped electronic dance music as Kruton, Binary Chaffinch on Dissident, D.C and I’m a Cliché, his sound for the dancefloor is influenced by two parts classic electro and one party psychedelic madness. He is also a member of The Fear and 5 Mic Cluster and, along with his brother Leo, is the driving force behind the utterly unique doom disco ensemble Chrome Hoof. TEXT GARETH OWEN
Around 1995 I was getting into producing Kruton stuff. Obviously it’s hard to break into writing music, particularly as in the early days I felt it my absolute right to not compromise or take advice. Some questions in my head then – and still now, I’m afraid to say, were – ‘how do people make a career writing weird techno?’ Well, one thing that sprang to mind was Warp Records. Of course! – They were my favourite label at the time. I thought I was on my way after supporting Plaid on tour, and having Autechre remixing one of my tracks – but that’s a different story. Another route to get into the business was by the people you know – you meet enough people doing it, and maybe you’ll eventually find your way in. I had met Lady Miss Kier through a mutual friend, we got on well and I played her what I later realized were some awful demos. So we had hung out a bit, and she invited me to this party. It turned out to be a pretty intimate do in Hammersmith, hosted by A Guy Called Gerald – in his studio. My radar was exploding and as the ten or so of us were let in, it was obvious I was the unknown face here. I remember almost having to insist I was coming inside... thank god for English politeness.
As the night progressed I found a cosy bean bag under some shelves to recline on. I thought I’d just power-drink my vodka, sit back and give it a couple of hours. There was a huge bank of speakers like a dub sound system on the back wall in the control room, Gerald was dialling all sorts of wickedness from his studio. I was kind of hidden and had got distracted by something. The next thing I saw as I looked up, right in front of me free-styling away on each of their microphones, was Lady Miss Kier and Bjork – and those girls can sing! To witness them busting it out – and performing just for fun at a party over the top of whatever Gerald was doing was so humbling – watching the pros at work, kind of thing. IT SOUNDED SO GOOD. At that moment, any personal musical ambitions I had dissipated, I thought I would never bother making music again, and felt the pure joy of the consumer. SOUNDCLOUD.COM/MILO-SMEE