LET TER FROM TH E EDIT OR
“A New Dawn. A New Day.”
The 21 st century was when ‘the future’ was supposed to begin. This certainty was instilled in us by countless science fiction films, in which the notion of total dystopia was made acceptable by being set in the year 2000-something. As the future drew closer however, genuine paranoia about how the world really was going to change gathered strength and at the dawn of the new millennium people were frantically stocking cellars with food and water. Gasmasks, if you recall, were selling out. But the dreaded digital fall-out that would send society into a lawless radiation hell never eventuated. And neither did the futuristic aesthetic of the sixties, which is now so ironically retro. A decade on in an era previously only imagined in science fiction means the moment for a realistic assessment of this muchanticipated age has arrived. It’s time to go back to The Future. The ‘post 9/11 era’ may be an uninspired term to describe our times but there is no denying that the twin tower tragedy and the ensuing events had untold inf luence on the decade. Prolific travel writer Anja Mutic goes back to where it all began and turns her nomadic eye on her adopted home of NYC. Her interviews with locals from several corners of this legendary metropolis leave us all in no doubt that this immortal being has risen from its ashes. And we are entering the golden age of urban living, writes ex-New Yorker and present-day Berliner Giulia Pines, but are we also in our quest for the ultimate city unwittingly creating the safe – and boring! – suburban environments which we so desperately want to leave behind. Search For The Ideal City tackles one of the most complex love affairs, the one we have with our city.
The greatest irony of this decade was that once people’s worst fears had been realised (major terrorist strike, Stern’s climate report, world economic collapse) the anxiety, paranoia and general hysteria that characterised the early noughties began to dissipate. There was nothing to do but face the truth and get active dealing with the circumstances. The ‘crisis’ is now oft-cited as having a positive effect on the creative community, with tough times not only breeding ingenuous thinking, but also weeding out those enterprises just in it for the money. The current mood is one of honesty and optimism, and that is what we’re celebrating in this issue. Still need convincing? I recommend our feature with Andy Blake of Dissident Records, a true do-it-yourself dissident on the verge of anything other than a breakdown. The DIY movement of the 00s also made a big splash in the art arena, which experienced a real revival of illustration and handcrafts. The exquisite illustrative art we are featuring in this issue present an entirely different aesthetic for the decade than those sci-fi dreams of yore: Sensual, playful, unexpected and more than a little strange. Ooh, what a promising vision of things to come. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day and I hope, as Ms Simone sang, that you are ‘Feeling Good’! Viktoria Pelles
PEOPLE PUBLISHER PRODUCER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ART DIRECTOR FASHION & STYLE EDITOR LAYOUT & ILLUSTRATION PROGRAM MANAGER EDITORIAL DIRECTOR ONLINE PROJECT DIRECTOR ONLINE ONLINE MUSIC EDITOR PRESS Editorial Intern CONTRIBUTING WRITERS COVER ARTWORK Dörte Lange ARTWORK / PHOTOGRAPHY
Toni Kappesz Commandante Berlin Gmbh, Schröderstr. 11, 10115 Berlin, Germany Viktoria Pelles (email@example.com) Lisa Borges (firstname.lastname@example.org) Sandra Liermann (email@example.com) Dörte Lange (firstname.lastname@example.org) Claudia Jonas (email@example.com) Rachel Doyle (firstname.lastname@example.org) Carlos de Brito (email@example.com) Gareth Owen (firstname.lastname@example.org) Tim Brandt (email@example.com) Paul Schlosser Emer Grant, Jan Joswig, Giulia Pines, Paul Sullivan, Anja Mutić, Neale Lytollis, Ari Stein, Jean-Robert Saintil, Serena Kutchinsky, Johannes Bonke, Sven Schumann Joe Tanis, Leigh Righton, Lars Borges, Alex De Brabant, Sharmila Sandrasegar, Frauke Fischer, Kirsten Hermann, Rachel de Joode, Christian Fritzenwanker www.electronicbeats.net
Working as a fashion and advertising
London-based writer and editor Serena
Living in Berlin, Jan is born in the summer
A native of Croatia and an adopted New
photographer in New York City, Joe’s
Kutchinsky has just started a new job as
of love (even though his parents only heard
Yorker, Anja Mutić has lived, worked and
love for shape and light is earning him
Online Assistant Editor of The Sunday
of it through the radio) and works as a
traveled on all the continents, except Ant-
a reputation as someone to watch out
Times, looking after all things Culture-
journalist since 1998. A regular contributor
arctica. Based in Brooklyn since 1999,
for. The sky is the limit for Joe, he loves
related. When she’s not hatching new
to Zoo Magazine, Sounds-like-me.com, Zitty,
Anja is a professional nomad who grabs
being behind the camera. His concepts
media strategies, she can be found writ-
taz, Intersection and more, Jan specializes
every opportunity to see more of what the
are groundbreaking, yet brand and con-
ing about club culture, reviewing plays
in beards and baggy corduroy trousers,
world hides. Anja’s writing has appeared in
sumer friendly. Joe is an all around Jack
and dancing the night away in Dalston
loves Ossie Clark and Arnold Böcklin and
Lonely Planet, Time Out, ShermansTravel,
of all trades overseeing production, styl-
can watch John Cassavetes’ movies and
Travel + Leisure, Caribbean Travel & Life,
the last fourty minutes of Visconti’s The
Rough Guides, and Zink Magazine.
Leopard all night long.
www . everthenomad . com
ing and casting. A true Powerhouse.
BACK TO THE FUTURE TUNE I N
NEWS.. ................................................... 8 RADICAL NATURE............................... 22
SERCH FOR THE IDEAL CITY.. ............ 32
SNEAK REVIEW................................... 52
GORDEN WAGENER.................................. 10
SOUNDS NOUGHTY............................ 36
ART ECOSYSTEM................................ 26
DRUMS OF DEATH..................................... 12
FROM NU RAVE TO NU GRAVE........... 40
JAMES HOLDEN......................................... 14
THE ILLUSTRATION REVIVAL.. ............ 42
CULOE DE SONG....................................... 16 ASTEROIDS GALAXY TOUR.. .................... 18 YELLO......................................................... 20 10 YEARS EB............................................. 21
I NTERVI EWS
JET SET TI NG
H EAR TH IS
MEMORIES OF GREEN........................ 54
DISSIDENT RECORDS......................... 68
NEW YORK CITY.. ................................ 82
THE COLLECTOR’S GUIDE.. ................ 92
CINEMATIC ORACLES......................... 72
MUSIC REVIEWS.. ................................ 94
JIMMY EDGAR..................................... 76
MY MUSIC MOMENT . ......................... 98
Fuck Buttons.................................. 78 AIR.. ..................................................... 80
TUNE IN At the dawn of a new decade we present two of many rising stars to keep an ear on. Meet the man behind the mask and moniker Drums of Death, who explains the inspiration of his multi-faceted sound; be charmed by the unspoiled enthusiasm of young prodigy Culoe de Song and prepare to be swinging to his afro-tinged sounds at a club near you soon. Representing the established side of talent at Tough At The Top is James Holden, head of Border Community and originator of that very distinctive ethereal electronic sound that gave shape to the musical style of the 00s.
EB TUNE IN
Sultr y Knits PristineSmut consists of the combined talents of Central Saint Martin’s graduates in jewellery and knitwear, the lovely Rosie Kent and Liria Pristine. Using the polished rose gold and twinning it in an awe inspiringly symbiotic manner with knitted pieces, the duo create items which transcend ‘costume jewellery’ and become something both beautifully wearable, sultry and undeniably attention grabbing. With their past collections being found in the likes of Hoxton Boutique, working on their Sea Lady window for the boutique’s relaunch and with fashion faves Nova Dando, Charlie Le Mindu, Paloma Faith, Bishi and Patrick Wolf, they’ve certainly earnt their stripes. Not that they’ve not been cutting a fine space for themselves of late garnering more attention from fashion editors than Paris Fashion Week invites. The year of PristineSmut seems to be upon us. w w w . p r i s t i n e s m u t. c o m TEXT
Skyy Vodka SWAP Parties
Swap Til You Drop Tough times calls for new tricks, and that my friends can only be a good thing. Fulfilling the needs of the tireless shopaholic while simultaneously conserving the bank account AND doing a little something for our environment is no mean feat, but made possible by the latest DIY trend of SWAP parties. As the name would suggest it’s all about trading in your pre-loved – or in some cases very f leetingly fancied – clothes and accessories, and there’s no reason why the odd attractive object couldn’t find a new home too. As might be expected of the 21st century, SWAP parties are certainly more sophisticated affairs than the barter systems of Babylonia. Serving as an excellent example of how to turn thrifty thinking into an entirely glamorous event are the SKYY SWAP Markets where treasures from high-profile guests like Angelika Taschen, Lala Berlin or even Karl Lagerfeld are changed into jetons that are then used as currency at the very swish parties where the swapping-spirit is kept on a high with potent cocktails and seductive sounds from the DJ plates. A few drinks and super tunes are good tips, but especially the jeton system is advisable for any keen swap-party-planners as it ensures an element of at least monetary equality. As we all know, sentimental value knows no price, so make your pre-selection wisely or it is entirely possible that you will trudge home with same darling items you came with. w w w . s k y y. d e TEXT
Vik toria Pelles
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speaking in code: a film by amy grill
Lost in Music Techno music and the silver screen have become cosy bedfellows of late. Hannes Stöhr’s amusing Berlin Calling, and SubBerlin, an account of legendary Berlin techno club Tresor by Tilmann Künzel, have both been recent successes and DJ culture vs. cinema strikes once again, this time in the form of a new documentary by American filmmaker Amy Grill, called Speaking in Code. The film aims to do more than show writhing clubbers illuminated by strobing lights to the dull thump of techno. It’s about a handpicked line-up of musicians and DJs – some at the top of their game, others struggling their way up the ladder – bonded by a shared passion for music. Grill says: “There are real characters; characters that the viewer gets to know and love. It humanises electronic music in a way that has never been done before.” Grill and her cinema vérité camera followed six case studies (think Modeselektor and Philip Sherburne) over a period of several years, charting their ups and downs in the business. In addition to the frank soundbites, expect plenty of gig footage – as well as the obligatory airport/taxi shots – as Grill opens a window onto the unpredictable world of electronic music. “We definitely set out consciously to make a different kind of electronic music documentary; one that would break stereotypes about techno. People who love electronic music and those who know nothing about it can really identify with the film’s main themes – obsession, dedication, passion and fear. Sometimes failure in the face of an insurmountable task.” Premieres for the film will be rolled out across Europe in the coming months. www.speakingincode.com TEXT
n e a l e ly t o l l i s
Making Music is Child’s Play From the makers of Grand Theft Auto comes the Beaterator, the logical next step in the noughties democratisation of music that has, for one, seen the world of musical rarities – previously the reserve of tenacious cratediggers – open up to the common man via the music-blog and filesharing route. Similarly, music-making software has created a legion of laptop producers. For the development of Beaterator, Rockstar, who love their music and have worked with progressive artists on many of their other games, got music production legend Timbaland on board. Beaterator is not a game though in the sense that you are not pretending to make music, you are! While extremely easy for novices and gamers to grasp the music-making concept, Beaterator is deep enough for experienced composers to get a kick out of. With hundreds of loops and sounds from Timbaland’s personal collection along with hundreds of others Rockstar composed for the game, there’s a vast library of music to make tracks with. TEXT
Vik toria Pelles
The Time Machine When Gorden Wagener became chief designer of Mercedes-Benz in 2008 he was one of the youngest persons to achieve that position in one of the oldest car companies in the world. The list of current models he was involved with designing reads like the alphabet including the A-, B-, C-, E-, CLK- und CLS-Klasse as well as the gorgeous SLR and the much bespoke concept car F 700. We met him at the IAA where he presented the crown jewels: the Mercedes SLS AMG Gullwing. TEXT
H ow do es t h e c ar in d u s tr y re con cile t he tr ad ition of b r a nd va lues w it h innovative tre nd s?
We must anticipate the development of the market three to five years ahead but that’s not enough to be visionary. When it comes to our concept cars we look about ten years into the future. The F 700 is a good example of how to visualise eco-trends. Innovative technologies preserve resources and the environment a comfortable ride is still ensured. The aerodynamic carriage is inspired by shapes in nature and feels socially compliant, but doesn’t lose sight of the status aspect. The Mercedes Benz designer will see his vehicles in the urban landscape 30 years from now
and this long term aspect must always be considered. It’s about developing existing shapes and taking those to new exciting dimensions. I s t he re s uch a t hi ng a s g re e n ca r de s i gn?
The green trend is unstoppable and for me it is very exciting to see what form of propulsion system will establish itself within the next ten years. Of course these developments inf luence the design but how strongly that is visualised is another matter. To me it means creating vehicles that demonstrate that ecological driving doesn’t mean abdication. It is to create a symbiosis of an
efficient look paired with aesthetic beauty.
C a n you de s cr i b e t he de s i gn proce s s f rom t he ve r y b e g i n ni ng ? St a r t i ng w i t h your i ni t i a l i ns pi r a t i on.
As a designer I’m a very visual person with a keen sense of aesthetics. I draw inspiration from my all my surroundings, may it be from nature, architecture or successful product design. The design process itself is teamwork. I work with colleagues from research, development, marketing and production and we plan workf lows and proceedings so that new stylistic ideas can be realised in a technical way. Everything starts with a lot of sketches and we choose about 15 from which 1:4 clay models are made. Then three to five 1:1 models are made which leaves one at the end. The designer with the ‘winning’ draft stays close to the production-process the whole way through, he knows his ‘baby’ best and sees it through from the sketch until the start of the series. How di d you get i nt o ca r de s i gn?
I always found cars inspiring and I always liked painting and drawing. At one point three-dimensional creation became the most fascinating to me and this third dimension is found in product design. The most beautiful and the most challenging object in design is of course the automobile. How w i l l Me rce de s ca r s l ook di f f e re nt unde r your re i g n ? C a n you de s cr i b e your s t yl e ?
I personally like full defined surfaces and sensual shapes. Sculpted cars like the E-class with distinctive exteriors and of course the new SLS AMG are probably what I consider the most harmonious and fascinating designs.
Ones to Watch | Drums of Death
Big and Brash and Crippled with Self-Doubt
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n e a l e ly t o l l i s
Ph o t o
With his unkempt shock of hair, ghostly-white face and vicious black slash of a mouth, Drums of Death is one scary musician to behold. He looks like a cross between Jason Voorhees and something from Live and Let Die. Throw in a splash of Haitian witch doctor and the ensemble couldn’t be more unnerving. It’s difficult to believe that beneath the undertaker’s outfit and Halloween greasepaint lurks a softly-spoken Scotsman by the name of Colin Bailey. But Drums of Death’s striking visuals isn’t just a cheap thrill: “My name, my face, my music. It’s all part of the same idea. Without one there wouldn’t be any,” explains Bailey. Bailey grew up in Oban, an idyllic spot in northern Scotland. Rambling through the misty Highlands of this part of the world you’d expect to run across the mythical township of Brigadoon rather than come face to face with this monochrome Jack-o’lantern. Thank metal for transforming shy Colin Bailey into the engaging presence we know him as today: “I urge everyone who has never done so to start a band. You will learn so much about people and maybe one or two things about music,” he says. “I was in bands when I was a timid boy, learning to express myself. I was socially awkward and being in a band was a way to engage with people. The bands I was in were pretty much all terrible. What I try to do now is harness the energy of the music I loved when I was 15 with the intelligence of the music I love now.” Bailey himself describes the Drums of Death sound as “big and brash and crippled with self-doubt” but there’s also a ‘surging megalomania’ present which prevents it all collapsing into a messy heap of self-loathing. A quick trip to his Myspace defines it as tropical/grime/techno. None of these explanations fully does justice to what Bailey is all about. The metal inf luence is clear but there’s also banging synths, ragged electro hooks and aggressive rabble-rousing vocals; part political rally, part hiphop MC. Bailey’s visits to Germany have added a Teutonic splash into this hell-brew of a mix: “Germany has greatly inspired my music. The cities have been backdrops and therefore directly inf luenced some of the music that shaped me. I’m talking about Neu, Kraftwerk, Tresor, DAF, Modeselektor, Rhythm & Sound.” Bailey takes to the stage with an array of technology; pulsating machines right out of a mad scientist’s laboratory, which create the Drums of Death aural vortex. Sometimes though, man can be too dependent on machine; often forgetting the showbiz element of what they do and tending to look like they’re checking Facebook. Not Bailey, who again draws on his band experiences: “It’s important to get people involved. I try to make sure the
show is big and fun and engages everyone in the room. I grew up with hardcore shows. I grew up with everyone sweating as much as the band. I want to deliver something special to the crowd, especially in clubs where it’s easy to fall into routines.” A Drums of Death mixtape fell into the hands of !K7’s Alex Waldron and Joe Goddard from Hot Chip (who together mastermind the Greco Roman label), and an appearance at a typically apocalyptic rave in Manchester followed. One thing led to another and now Bailey is putting out music on the label, starting with debut EP, Step into the Ring. He praises the label – which he describes as being constructed of “man f lesh” – and enjoys a good working relationship with the gaffers, although confesses to be slightly in awe of Waldron: “He’s some kinda of cursed fakir! He’s like some English Fantomas stealing across the rooftops of Berlin at night. A charming thief in white slacks. He’s a charlatan, a silver-tongued, devious mastermind whose language is all smoke and mirrors. I do work well with him, though I never get used to those moments when he comes up with some crazy scheme and f lashes that wild-eyed, black-toothed grin. Even I shiver at that!” As for the future, an LP is in the pipeline with Chilly Gonzales and Peaches due to pop up in guest slots, which is currently priority number one – “It's a big vision and the end is now in sight” – and Bailey is currently putting together a band for a real Drums of Death live experience. With so much still to come in the future how does our Halloween phantom sum up the current decade, which is soon to draw to a close? “The last ten years saw technology loosen the grip the music industry had over artists and music in its physical form. Whilst I think this is a good thing, in the long run we have seen a slump in record sales. If some majors go down, then let them. This itself has shaped music just like the advent of the 12". The way music is transferred, and the use of things like MySpace has altered how music is managed and released. This will be how this time is remembered, I think.”
TOUGH AT THE TOP | James Holden
A Cr ystal Vision TEXT
Ph o t o
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James Holden is the visionary young producer who has created a personalised world of techno and electronic music via his own Border Community record label. Providing a platform for the intelligently twisted music of artists such as Nathan Fake, Luke Abbot and Fairmont, James has also released much of his own genre bending work via the label, such as his much lauded 2006 album The Idiots are Winning. Border Community rightly hold a position as one of the most innovative and interesting music labels, a natural heir to Warp’s experimental crown. Border Community is beacon of hope and innovation in the rather uninspiring sea of average techno of the last decade, making James Holden the ideal candidate for our final Tough at the Top this decade.
What does a typical day involve for you? How mu ch o f i t i s sp ent o n music ?
I don’t really have a ‘typical day’ - with doing so many different jobs at once my life is quite varied. The last couple of months I’ve been a bit busy with the label/life for music, which is a little frustrating. I s c reating music s till you r m ain focus? Or pe r for mi ng i t ?
Creating is still what I’m mostly thinking about. And I read synth blogs every day at least. Performing not so much! I try and keep that in a box. I’m looking for good new music every day, but am thinking to DJ only from Thursday to Sunday.. Why did yo u dec id e t o s t ar t Bord e r Com m u nity ?
The music industry is, for the most part, shit. I wanted to make a place where I could do what I wanted musically, and where my friends could be free of the kind of irritations I’d already encountered. We’ve always approached it with the idea of just doing what’s interesting to us, putting out records we’d like to buy, rather than any sort of concern for sales or journalists. Yo u h ave a numbe r of quit e d e d icat e d fan s, d o you eve r f i nd yo ur self c o mp ar ing t he m u sic you prod u ce wit h pe opl e’s ex p ec t atio ns o f you ?
I think I mentally divide them in two - the ones that just get it and the ones who’ve got the wrong idea. I completely don’t care at all what the second group think, sometimes I meet them which is a bit annoying, but if I was trying to make/play music in whatever way would please them it would be fundamentally condescending and disrespectful. Wh at is t h e g reat e s t d if f iculty and what d o you l ove mos t a bo ut r unning a re cord labe l.
It’s quite a lot of work. But watching people you like do well, and grow and make even more exciting things is the best.
we’ve got so much stuff we’re incredibly excited about. I don’t really know how it happens though - people reach us through different routes, for example Luke Abbott was the most beautiful demo CD we’d ever received, and came with a bonus disc of improvised noise/jazz, so we knew we’d like him. Finding new music to DJ with has been hard the last couple of years, but I feel like the techno scene has got so utterly boring that something new to replace it must be just around the corner. And in the last two to three years the British music scene has got much more exciting – people like Zomby, Lone, Bullion, Four Tet, Paul White making stuff that is totally modern and free – the opposite of the conservatives of a too-old scene. W h a t wo u l d yo u r a dv i c e b e t o s o m e o n e wh o wa n t e d t o b e come more i nvolve d cre a t i ng i n e l e ct roni c mus i c ?
For everybody’s sake, just do your own thing, don’t try and make ‘normal’ music, and don’t listen to other peoples’ advice. H ow d o yo u c o n t i n u e t o f i n d i n s p i r a t i o n ? I s i t s o m et h i n g yo u eve n have t o t hi nk a b out ?
For a couple of years I was finding techno to be the opposite of inspiration, but being defined in opposition is a kind of inspiration, I had to sort of feel around and see where I was heading, but this year that’s crystalised and I’m on my way somewhere. When I actually have time to make music I enjoy it so much that I don’t really think about inspiration. W h a t h ave b e e n yo u r b e s t a n d wo r s t ex p e r i e n c e s i n t h e l a s t t e n ye a r s ?
I think there are too many of both to pick some out! The worst ones were before we started BC, unless you count hauling myself through grotty foreign airports with no sleep.. The best recent things have been our London BC nights – the one last week was lovely, a psychedelic village fair with the nicest crowd ever. Whe re do you s e e your s e l f i n t e n ye a r s t i me ?
Do es it bec o me h a rd e r or e a sie r t o d iscove r excit i ng mus i c? H ow do yo u mo s tly d iscove r s tuf f ?
Finding new artists for the label seems fairly easy - next year
A little house in the country, near the sea, with a dog and even more antique synthesisers.
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Ones to Watch | Culoe de song
By Leaps and Bounds TEXT
courtesy of artist
Born on South Africa’s east coast, Culoe’s musical future seemed ordained from a young age, with his family christening him Culoleth (‘Our Song’). His career began in earnest when aged 16, he started playing out in the clubs of his hometown Durban. Apparently, the owners ‘didn’t notice’ his youthful age.
Mentored by South African scene legend, Black Coffee, he started getting props for his production on the 2007 release ‘Have Another One’. It was clear this was no ordinary wannabe DJ. Then came the moment in 2008 when his application to the inf luential Red Bull Music Academy, which snatches upcoming talents and shapes them into fully formed artists (previous alumni include Warp’s Hudson Mohawke and Flying Lotus), was accepted. “The RBMA had a big effect on my life. Before, I was just doing my thing in South Africa. It took me to a wider audience in Europe and helped me adapt to a different atmosphere. It took me to a world I’d always dreamed of.” That world was Barcelona, the only European city the young South African has ever visited and the HQ for that year’s training camp – think the clubland version of Police Academy. His industry breakthrough came in October 2008, when he mesmerised the crowd at Barca’s Macarena club with his soulful deep house grooves. The closing track, ‘Bright Forest’, a homemade Fruity Loops creation, was picked up by the mighty Innversions imprint and released earlier this year to rave reviews. Showing a maturity that belies his tender age, Culoe seems to take success in his stride. Ego, and the various pitfalls it entails, don’t seem to be an issue for this soon-to-be-superstar.
“I will never forget getting that email from Dixon. I was very grateful they liked my music. The effect of that release was huge. It’s helped my career a lot and was part of the reason I got the gig at Sonar, which was the biggest event I’ve ever played. It took everything up a level for me over here.” For a while it looked as if Culoe de Song might be one of those acts who achieves international acclaim but remains in the shadows of his home scene. While his Osunlade-referencing beats stand out amid the minimal house tracks bleeping out of sound systems across Europe, in South Africa it’s the dominant sound. But his cool confidence and unfaltering belief in his own abilities appear to be carrying him forward: “I’m getting better known at home with the release of my album on Soulistic which is an offshoot of Universal. There’s one track on there that’s more commercial and a wider audience can relate to. The album’s title is A Giant Leap, which signifies how far I feel I’ve come in the last three years, and is a celebration of everything I’ve achieved.” With an EP out now on Japanese label Mule, plans to tour Asia, a host of European dates booked in from now till the end of the year, and his album hitting shelves on October 9, the future looks retina-scaringly bright for this naïve talent. All he wants, he says is: “For people to connect with my music and to see where the journey goes. I will never stop dreaming. If you dream, you have a wider picture of the world and that vision can carry you far.”
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Asteroids Galaxy Tour
A Tour of Galactic Propor tions TEXT
I m ag e
courtesy of artist
Bringing more than a twinkle into the December darkness was the Electronic Beats Recommends rousing crowds across Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne), as well as Prague and Vienna, where the inimitable Modeselektor indulged their leagues of fans. The line-up may have varied from event to event, but Danish duo The Asteroids Galaxy Tour was a celebrated fixture at all dates. Focussing on the simplicity of pop music, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour has been on the super-speed train to success with a ringing endorsement from Apple and a slot on the soundtrack to much talked- about documentary on Vogueâ€™s Anna Wintour, The September Issue. Before their truly galactic tour we caught up with the stunning front-girl Mette Lindberg and her band mate Lars Iversen at the exclusive Electronic Beats SoirĂŠe in Berlin to chat about their sound and success.
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I get a sense f ro m your m u sic an d im age t hat you wa nt t o b e a ligned w it h a f ree and e cle ctic sou nd r at he r t h a n comi ng a c ro ss a s a s tr aight pop ban d .
I can see your point, but we are definitely a pop band, and we definitely play pop music and have always enjoyed pop music. People really want to put us into a certain genre, so they ask us ‘“what kind of music do you play”’, and we can’t really explain that. But at the same time we are ourselves onstage and backstage; we are not manufactured or designed by anyone and we are real people. If what you get out of it is some kind of bohemian, Moroccan eclectic jewellery style, then it’s fine with us, but that’s just who we are and how we look. Lars
Regardless, it’s a s tr ugg le in t he pop indus tr y t o b e wh o yo u wa nt t o be.
Lars and I are the main people in the Asteroids Galaxy, we do the music and Lars is a producer and everything was is done by us. The artwork was a big part of that, we started our own record label, so in that way, we are in control of our music and no one is telling us that I have to show us my tits on the cover, so it will sell music. We are in control.
A nd L a r s , we re you i n a b a nd ca l l e d N U ? l a r s
Y e s .
People never bring it up, I don’t think it’s something we don’t want to be, but it’s so many years ago and we’re doing something else now and it’s strange to be compared to that. m ette
I k now s ome b a nds don’t l i ke t o t a l k a b out t he i r p a s t
There’s always a sense as an artist of moving forward and forgetting your past. We are not trying to hide it and we are proud of what we did, but also the general concept of the Asteroids Galaxy Tour is based on all the things we didn’t like from our previous bands. We had bad feelings being in a big group and deciding stuff and being cramped, so we wanted to keep it very simple with two people and have friends join us live. lars
Yo u o nc e said in an in t e r view : “Many of our ly r ics have s e r io us or sad under t ones, like loneliness and feelin g s l i ke yo u do n’t belo ng t o a ce r t ain g roup of pe ople.”.
We’re definitely not trying to make particularly sad music, but it’s just what comes out when we make it. We get a certain feeling of loneliness, especially when you’re sitting in a onebedroom apartment in Copenhagen, certain thoughts come to mind, and certain songs express that feeling. We actually don’t like the question ‘what are your songs about?’ because it’s too hard to describe it. We don’t see ourselves as poets or writers. We see ourselves as music performers, and lyricists are instruments just like a bass line, and that’s what we do. It’s not like we have a certain agenda or subject we always write about, it’s all pretty random. Lars
I ’ m a fan o f Dan ish band s like Choir of You ng B e l i eve r s , A lphabeat and Slar af fenland. Are you par t of a ny D a n i s h sc ene?
We are not part of that scene at all and that’s what we intentionally distance ourselves from. There is so much of that in the North and in all the bands like you mentioned --– we don’t want to sound introspective, or super clever. I mean that’s cool, and people are good at it, but we don’t want to be like that. m ette
Wha t’s t he mos t s ur re a l t hi ng t ha t’s ha ppe ne d t o yo u t h u s fa r ?
We were on tour and we ended up in Amsterdam, where we played for 50,000 people. The story was, we were told we were playing a festival in Holland and we thought we would be playing the usual tent for a band as small as us. We expected maybe a few thousand people, which is great and always fun. But when we woke up from our sleeper bus and peeped through our tent, we saw this huge mass of people, big screams and we found out we were going on in half hour. It was such great gig! lars
S o m e o f t h e b a n d s t h a t h ave h a d i Po d c o m m e rc i a l s u c c e s s i n t he pa s t have come a nd gone q ui ck ly. I hope t hi s i s n ot a c o nt e nt i ous q ue s t i on, b ut how do you f e e l a b out t he o u t c o m e ?
There are bands like Jet, Franz Ferdinand and The Ting Tings, who are really big now from the iPod commercials. Which bands are you suggesting didn’t get successful? lars
C ha i rl i f t , T he C a e s a r s …
This whole iPod thing was just a chance of getting our music out there. This is our music and this is our tour and album, and the opportunity came along and we subsequently collected more fans along the way. Not being successful has nothing to do with that commercial, a band has to tour and play and make good music. Of course it [the iPod commercial] has been pushing us in the right direction and opening doors for us, but it’s still very hard work with many live-gigs everywhere, but it’s all good fun. lars
I want ed t o go a bit deeper int o your his t or y an d a s k yo u : d o e s A l ex P u d d u A n d T h e B u t t e r f ly C o l l e c t o r s r i n g a ny bells?
m o r e i n f o o n ELECTRONIC BEATS r e c o m m e n d s a n d f u l l
No, you know I used to sing in that band and it’s still so different from us.
w w w . m y s pa c e . c o m / t h e a s t e r o i d s g a l a x y t o u r
i n t e r v i e w a v a i l a b l e at: e l e c t r o n i c b e at s . n e t www.theasteroidsg al axy tour.com
And It Was All Yello TEXT
Vik toria Pelles
The undeniable highlight of the 2009 Electronic Beats season was the second instalment of the Classics series, which saw Swiss musical pioneers Yello bring their unique brand of music and charisma to the Kino International stage in Berlin, followed by equally awesome events in Vienna and Cologne. Touch Yello is their first release in six years and the Electronic Beats Classics event was their first concert in nearly 30. Accordingly, it sold out within a matter of days. The elegance of the Kino International, an architectural landmark in Berlin’s old East, were matched in no small part by the evening’s proceedings charmingly hosted by the voice of Yello, Dieter Meier. Following the virtuoso trumpet performance of Till Brönner and a mesmerising performance by Heidi Happy, the headlining show got underway. With a repertoire of songs that were unmistakably Yello, large sections of the crowd got on their feet to cheer in irrepressible excitement. The marriage of the 3D images and virtual worlds was a fitting welcome-back event for one of history’s most innovative electronic bands. As the concert drew to a close, the crowd showed their appreciation and gratitude in the only way they could: a ten-minute long standing ovation. And this is one of the fascinating aspects of the Yello phenomenon: while there was never any doubt that these two überperfectionists were going to deliver a show that would enthral and inspire, the intensity and dedication of the Yello fan base spanning three decades is really kind of unprecedented and truly remarkable. Die-hard fans travelled extra to the event from across Europe, even contacting the office to get their hands on posters and other Yello merchandise.
Ph o t o s
For the leagues of Yello devotees there are some highly desirable extras available. First up – and if you haven’t already – get on to electronicbeats.net to check out the ‘Best Of ’ video put together by the talented Slices team, where you can get a taste of the spectacular show and the pre- and post-performance party buzz. Also online are exclusive extracts from the Touch Yello movie. Slices collectors will already know that issue 03/09 presented a very insightful feature on Yello. DVDs available at the electronicbeats.net/shop. Due to popular demand the Slices 04/09 contains some additional behind-the-scenes footage of the hilarious duo. For the collectors among you, there is the Touch Yello DVD & CD Special Edition brought out in joint effort by Universal Music and Electronic Beats. And last but not in the very least, Dieter Meier and Boris Blank put together a list of tracks for us, a selection of music and artists that has inspired them, and this list has itself been turned into a timeless mix by Sameheads resident, DSB. The mix, which is exclusive to Electronic Beats, can be listened to at electronicbeats.net/radio.
10 Years electronic beats
Those Stellar Moments TEXT
Vik toria Pelles
Electronic Beats made its modest debut as a TV show on Viva back in 2001. These days, in addition to this lovely magazine, the programme encompasses an award-winning City Guide Series, Slices DVD and Electronic Beats Online. The perpetually sold-out festival series has been drawing crowds across Europe since 2005 and in 2009 Electronic Beats Classics, which brings those still highly influential icons of club-culture back on the stage, was added to the mix. With each Electronic Beats festival featuring up to six acts in one evening some unbelievable moments have racked up over the years. On the legendary stages of the National Gallery in Prague, the Postbahnhof in Berlin, Expo in Bratislava or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, some seriously red-hot acts of the last decade – Gossip, Zoot Woman, Whitest Boy Alive, Roísín Murphy, Phoenix to name a few – tore it up! Naturally the stage happenings are best caught live but there are a few behind-scenes-moments that are worth sharing, starting with a memorable power cut during the Underworld show in Prague (winter 2008). After 19 minutes of complete darkness and no sound, the element returned switch by witch, and the whole debacle seemed like an elaborate stage-show. The night before in Bratislava, Underworld and strong Electronic Beats favourite Modeselektor had a 4000-strong crowd literally dancing on tables. Berliners are notoriously spoilt for choice and picky punters, but despite an icy November night, a cracking line-up in 2008 comprising Peaches, Santigold and Hercules and Love Affair ensured an eager crowd was lined up around the block at a startlingly early hour for Berlin nightowls. Jaw-dropping shows and an up-for-it crowd made this one of the best events in the series. CHECK E V ENTS & FESTI V AL FOOTAGE AT ELECTRONICBEATS . NET
Holger Wick, the man behind Electronic Beats’ DVD magazine, recounts his standout moments after 20 issues of Slices: “Underground Resistance (Slices 03-06) naturally stands out. Mike Bank definitely has something to say and not only on the subject of music. After filming at the UR headquarters during the day, we did the interview at night in a car at an unlit parking lot under the Ambassador Bridge. This was very off the beaten track and spooky to say the least, but gave the feature that special something. Another highlight was Luke Slater (Slices 01-07) in London. I can’t divulge all the facts, but after a – shall we say – very strange start it became one of my favourite features, refreshingly different. It’s great to see there are still true freaks out there (laughs). At our shoot with Mr Velcro Fastener (Slices 01-07) in Turku, Finland, we had serious concerns if our equipment could function at minus 20 degrees, but amazingly there wasn’t a single glitch. Filming outside all day wrapped up in layers of thermal underwear gave the whole shoot a real survival training vibe. And winter in Finland does have a very special atmosphere. There were certainly hair raising shoots by death-defying Slices cameramen. One of these highlights was at the Versatile Records (Slices 02-06) shoot in Paris and the rollercoaster ride with a camera. Rollercoasters are thrilling by nature, so imagine it all travelling backwards with a camera tied to your arm. The craziest shoot was with Otto von Schirach (Slices 02-07). That guy has more than a few screws loose, and we have seldom laughed so hard or been so shocked as we were filming him at the Electron Festival in Geneva. Got to be seen to be believed! Issue 2-07.”
I M AG E S C LO C K W I S E 1 . T omas S a r ace n o , » F ly i n g G a r d e n ( d etail ) « , 2 0 0 6 C o u r tes y t h e a r tist a n d Ta n ya B o n ak d a r G alle r y, New Yo r k 2 . T u e G r ee n fo r t, » Daimle r st r asse 3 8 « , 2 0 0 1 C o u r tes y t h e a r tist a n d J o h a n n K ö n ig , B e r li n 3 . A n t F a r m , » Ho u se of t h e C e n t u r y« , 1 9 7 1 – 7 3 C o u r tes y A n t F a r m , P h oto : A n t F a r m 4 . M ie r le L a d e r ma n Ukeles , » S ocial M i r r o r « , 1 9 8 3 C o u r tes y Ro n al d F el d ma n F i n e A r ts , New Yo r k © M ie r le L a d e r ma n Ukeles
Radical Nature Visitors to London’s Barbican Art Gallery this summer and autumn encountered a dramatic, whimsical and thoroughly green alternate reality. Called Radical Nature, the impassioned and comprehensive exhibition collected 40 years of multimedia works inspired by the natural world, from luminaries like Richard Buckminster Fuller, Joseph Beuys and Simon Starling. We had a heady chat about nature, not to mention philosophical ideas and political underpinnings, with the soft-spoken Italian curator Francesco Manacorda.
»BACK TO TH E F UTURE«
Rac h el b . d o y le
I M AG E S
www . ba r bica n . o r g . u k
Wh at wa s yo ur vis ion for R ad ical Natu re ?
Essentially, the aim was to look at different modes of relating to nature, which went from a more activist approach to a collaboration in which artists or architects worked with natural elements to complete their work. We really tried to work on the relationship between inside and outside and use the gallery space as the artificial inside where nature is forced in and kept alive.
W hi ch i ns t a l l a t i on wa s t he ha rde s t t o s et up?
Fallen Forest by Henrik Håkansson took a long time; both technically and mechanically, it was really complicated. Moving the seven metre and very heavy tree and putting it into position in the middle of the gallery was very complex. S o, wha t i s n’t na t ure ?
Did R adic al Nature have political aim s?
I think nothing. One of the points that I was trying to secretly make in the exhibition is that nothing is outside of nature. Interconnected organisms are dependant on each other and the system’s ability to balance itself. Nothing is outside of it – not the city, nor technological, artificial inventions.
It didn’t have a direct political aim. My position is that the goal of art is not to be directly advocating activism per se, but very often it happens that artistic gestures have a critical political effect. But intentions don’t always go with the effect. I preferred to show a multiplicity of approaches rather than a single one.
You w rot e : “ t he re i s no i ns i de ; t he re i s no cul t ure opp o s e d t o na t ure ; no i s ol a t e d e nvi ronme nt re move d f rom h u m a n c ivi l i s a t i on, a nd e a r t h i s a dy na mi c t ot a l i t y cons t a n t ly p u s h e d o f f b a l a n c e by m a n’s a c t iv i t y.”
H ow were each o f t he approache s e f fe ctive ?
They set a series of different tones as a way of responding to a central, shared issue. In one case, it’s an imitation that points out how nature is commoditised and displaced for corporate, political or economic use, while in another case, with Tue Greenfort’s Daimlerstrasse 38, it shows urban foxes reacting to an artificial habitat and making it theirs. Some people really like the fox work, but others find it too ironic and subtle. With different people, the artworks have different effects. A gnes Denes ’ Wheatf ield – A Conf ront ation ent hr a l l e d m e. I c ouldn’t believe somet hing like t hat only t ook pla c e o n c e, i n 1982. Wh at were t he circu m s t an ce s be hin d it?
It was done in New York in an area just north of Battery Park [several blocks from the New York Stock Exchange] that then got developed. Agnes decided to have this quite striking and dissonant project in which a piece of agricultural life was directly imported into this urban space. Along with schoolchildren, she grew and harvested [two acres of ] wheat, which was distributed around the world. I f o u n d mys e l f p e r p l exe d by Lu ke Fowl e r’s d o c u m e n t a r y B ogman Palmjaguar, about t he schizophrenic Sc ot t i s h m a n who believed he wa s fused wit h an endangered b o g . Wa s t here a slight insinuation t hat such an extreme c o n n e c t i o n w it h nature, such a s his, wa s nor m al?
I think the greatness of that work is that it doesn’t provide you with a final answer. It poses a problem that you have to solve yourself. It pushes forward equality between his mental state and the way we treat the environment, as both are relationships that go through institutions and are dehumanised, in a way. The ways we treat nature and the ways we treat mental illness could be swapped and that produces a greater understanding of the two problems.
We live in a delicately balanced system and it’s not like we would become extinct if we can’t save the rainforest in the Amazon. It’s more like our entire existence is tipping the balance of this interconnected system of organisms. So I think if one understands that, through our activity, we are constantly pushing the equilibrium of the system, then we are really putting our own existence in danger, not just the existence of the panda in the forest, or any other faraway image of nature. The exhibition played upon modern feelings of displacement – why?
Displacement is certainly an element I used in the installation and in the way I selected the work. It’s a good strategy, as Agnes Denes shows. If something that shouldn’t be there makes you think of why not and what should be there, it throws up all these questions. There is a sort of compartmentalisation that creates an artificial notion of nature as being somewhere else, and not inside the city, with the city as a heavily artificial environment that has been purged of nature. That dualism is something that is wrong. There should be continuity rather than a split. D o yo u s e e n a t u re b e c o m i n g t re n dy, s i n c e eve r yo n e f e e l s l i ke t hey a re s t uck on t he I nt e r net a l l t he t i me, a nd fet i s h i s i n g g oi ng t o t he count r ys i de ?
Yes, and also because activism is producing a much better awareness of what the problems are, and that makes people more alert to all sorts of discussions around these themes. I hope that it becomes trendy but minus the superficial way. W h a t d o yo u wa n t v i ewe r s t o t a ke away f r o m R a d i c a l Na t ure ?
A different way of looking at the concepts at hand, and what we frame around the word ‘Nature’. I hope that they go away with questions about that. A nd a revi s e d de f i ni t i on?
I M A G E S f r om left to r ig h t 1 . Ric h a r d B u ckmi n ste r F u lle r , » U S Pa v ilio n fo r E x po 6 7 « , 1 9 6 7 C o u r tes y T h e E state of R . B u ckmi n ste r F u lle r 2 . Ha n s Haacke , » G r ass G r ows « , 1 9 6 9 , © Ha n s Haacke / D A C S 2 0 0 9 C o u r tes y Pa u la C oope r G alle r y, New Yo r k 3 . M a r k Dio n , » M obile W il d e r n ess U n it – W olf « , 2 0 0 6 C o u r tes y G eo r g K a r gl F i n e A r ts , Vie n n a , P h oto : L isa Rastl 4 . He n r ik H å ka n sso n , » F alle n F o r est« , 2 0 0 6 , C o u r tes y t h e a r tist, G alle r ia F r a n co Noe r o , T u r i n a n d T h e M o d e r n
I n stit u te / T ob y W ebste r Lt d , G lasgow , P h oto : Ya n n Re v ol A g n es De n es , W h eatfiel d – A C o n f r o n tatio n , 1 9 8 2 C ommissio n e d b y P u blic A r t F u n d , New Yo r k C it y, P h oto : © A g n es De n es , C o u r tes y t h e a r tist Heat h e r a n d I v a n M o r iso n , I am so so r r y. G oo d b y e , 2 0 0 8 O r igi n ally commissio n e d fo r Tatto n Pa r k B ie n n ial 2 0 0 8 C o u r tes y t h e a r tists , P h oto : W ig W o r la n d
A Decade in Ar t’s Ecosystem EMER GRANT
I M AG E S
www . z ooa r te n te r p r ises . com / RYA N G A ND E R / stella v i n e / G la d sto n e G alle r y New Yo r k
5 . M att h ew ba r n e y » d r awi n g r est r ai n t 1 3 : i n st r u me n t of s u r r e n d e r « , 2 0 0 6
»BACK TO TH E F UTURE«
In the last decade the art world inf lated to a degree that no one anticipated. The market expanded and fairs such as Art Basel and Frieze dictated the art calendar for the year. Biennials became more popular as the queues for the blockbuster exhibitions became longer. The auction houses became more packed, with records for sales being broken time and time again. The YBAs (Young British Artists) and Saatchi generation placed a signature over the nineties, defining, for many, the art of a decade. With 2009 drawing to a close, it’s time to ask what’s happened to the Art World in this decade and who or what is and are the art/artists of today? Electronic Beats speaks to Zoo Art Fair’s Soraya Rodriguez, director of Europe’s most exciting art fair, and to multi award winning conceptual artist Ryan Gander about making and selling art in the last ten years.
Soraya Rodriguez started Zoo Art Fair five years ago as a platform to present emerging galleries in the international art fair circuit. With the recession cutting the number of art fairs happening globally, only the strongest will survive, with Zoo being a forerunner in its field. Wit h regard t o t he g rowt h of ar t fair s and a sugge s t i o n t h a t t h e public is moving in t o t he com m e rcial, how h a s t he ma p o f t h e ar t wo rld be e n tr ansfor m e d ove r t he la s t 10 ye a r s ?
I think there has been a general growth all round. In as much as we’ve seen a growth in commercial galleries, we’ve certainly seen a growth in project spaces, artists’ collectives and alternative publishing houses. Louisa Buck referred to it as an ‘Art Ecosystem’, which I think is very true. I think the art fair has created a much more international scene. People are travelling much more to see things and you’re getting more things in from other places, it’s a lot less regional than it used to be. I think that Frieze Art Fair had a huge impact on the whole ‘eco system’, not just the commercial aspect of it, created a calendar moment where people from all professions – curators, critics and collectors – descend on London at the same time. London has responded by showing them what’s best. This has generated a lot of enthusiasm and really pushed art into a much more public sphere. W hat do you feel ha s been t he mos t successful ar t o r a r t i s t s t h at h ave c o me t hrough in t he la s t d e cad e ?
Blimey! There are too many of them! I guess the artists from the nineties are more crystallised now, and in terms of this decade there are people like Ryan Gander, Cyprien Gaillard, there is a whole load of them and a bunch coming up, people like Kate Owen who is amazing, very much idiosyncratic practices, people like Karla Black, who I think is an astonishing artist. Were t here any ar t movements t hat came t hrough i n t h e l a s t d e c ade?
I think ‘isms’ and movements were easier to define when you had small pockets of people. I think now the world has changed,
not just art, we are much more globalised. We have not just television telling us what’s going on outside, we have something much more interactive, the web, which means that the whole thing has exploded, so within that, if you can find trends, then you’re much more likely to find them as sort of incidents. I think if there has been any trend that I’ve seen come through, it’s been the general sort of breaking down of boundaries, I don’t really talk about painting or sculpture or film so much, I just talk about art now. The biggest shift in this century has been the shift towards conceptualisation, not treating art as a commodity type product, there has been a lot of work there, that’s certainly one of the most interesting changes for me. H ow h a s wh a t h a pp e n e d i n t h e l a s t d e c a d e s h a p e d t h e a r t ma rket , a nd wha t do you t hi nk w i l l ha ppe n next ?
I’ve never lived through a recession before. In terms of the Zoo, in many ways the recession has been good for us in that it has made us contract and think about what we want to do as opposed to what we thought we might have to do. If you set up an art fair, you think you have to stay an art fair, and this year we thought if selling isn’t the point, then let’s set up some curated shows. Let’s just look at art, and that’s what we wanted to do. We didn’t do an art fair because we believe above all that an art fair is the best model of display. I think we will just have to wait and see what happens, what will happen in London and what is happening internationally, we could end up putting more emphasis on curatorial projects, or we could go back to being a tiny fair, we could end up selling burgers! I don’t mind as long as what we are putting out there is good.
E B F F E AT U R E S
Ryan Gander’s conceptual practice draws upon a hybrid of forms to suggest a multitude of possibilities of his Art to the viewer. At 32, he has exhibited at the Tate triennial, been shortlisted for the Beck’s Futures Prize, won the prestigious Baloise Prize 2005, and was recently awarded the 2010 Zurich Art Prize.
Wh ere do yo u t h ink is t he s t ar tin g point t o be gi n t a l k i ng a bo ut c o nt empo r a r y ar t in t he la s t d e cad e ?
F rom t hi s de ca de, i s t he re a ny t hi ng t ha t you re c o g n i s e a s havi ng a di re ct i nf l ue nce on t he work you do t oday?
The place where I guess it all starts is art School, that’s a good place to talk about contemporary art. I went to Manchester in 1996 and did my MA in 2000. When I wanted to leave my hometown and go to Art School, I wanted to go to Goldsmiths and or one of those reputable colleges in London, but I didn’t get in, so I ended up in Manchester.
It’s less other artists and more a way of thinking, walking around with your eyes open, trying to conceive a conceptual art work from being aware. Associative thought methodology has been inf luential, where you think everything is relative so you could take a Mars bar wrapper and a Capoeira dancer and you could link the two together.
Why Goldsmit hs? Around t hat time t he YBA ph e n o m e n o n wa s o c c ur r ing an d a lot of t he m we nt t he re. Did t hi s have so met h ing t o do wit h you r wantin g t o be t he re ?
I s t he re a ny t hi ng i n your work t ha t you t hi nk ma ke s i t e a sy t o i de nt i f y a s b e i ng f rom a pa r t i cul a r t re nd i n t hi s d e c a d e ?
It’s got nothing to do with the YBAs, if you think about the YBAs now, people from my generation are a bit embarrassed about it. I think people who are my age and making art purposefully try to ignore that it ever happened. They don’t speak about it as they are a bit ashamed about how terrible British art was when Italian, French and German artists were getting ahead and pushing art history and British artists were just making bad advertising for themselves. London had the best art colleges as art is primarily in London because it is the capital.
For me the point in being an interesting artist is that you understand what you dislike and you don’t understand what you do like. You know what you can rule out and that puts you in a place where you don’t know what you are going to do, and you respond to it and the trend and encompassing aesthetic is behind you. A good example of that for me comes from French art in the last decade, Pierre Huyghe and that way of working, where the idea is paramount and you let the idea dictate everything. S o work i ng on t he b a s i s of i de a s a s oppos e d t o a m e d i u m , t ha t’s wha t b e i ng a concept ua l a r t i s t i s a b out ?
Why do you t hink, a s a working ar tis t t oday, t he Y BA s we re a n embar r a ssment?
Friends my age, who are artists, or work professionally in the art world, I’d say that they think it’s a load of shit, that it’s conceptually very weak work, and essentially art that can’t really stand up in the context of Art History. It can only stand up in the circles of the media circus that it creates. I think that the artists of today are just glad that it doesn’t exist any more, and that fifteen years have gone and that’s enough time for British art to recover. Now we can get on with making some really good art and contribute to art history.
A n d h ow d o yo u t h i n k c o n c ept u a l a r t h a s ch a n ge d ove r t h e l a s t t e n ye a r s ?
I think it can be more fun and it looks less intellectual, and I like that. I think there is a bad history of conceptual art looking very dry. We have moved away from that and you can have conceptual art that is funny or tongue-in-cheek. It’s still as challenging and interesting but the presentation is more often something that everyone can relate to. W he re do you t hi nk a r t i s goi ng ove r t he next t e n ye a r s ?
S o, fo r ex amp le, D am ie n Hir s t’s Skull – d o you t hi nk t ha t i t’s jus t media sensati on an d not hing e lse ?
Erm... yeah. I think the point of being an artist is to push things forward and to contribute, to understand what has gone before, appreciate it, interpret it, and then contribute to that history of art. To make something that is left for other people to enjoy and work alongside, I don’t think those things contribute at all.
I’m not too sure, maybe it will go off in many different directions all at once, and if you try to interpret what will be in the future, you’re kind of modelling a parallel reality without letting things take their course. I would be happier not knowing about it.
I M AG E S C LO C K W I S E 1 . S tella v i n e » h oly wate r ca n n ot h elp y o u n ow « , 2 0 0 5 2 . C y p r ie n G ailla r d » r eal r em n a n ts of ficti v e wa r s V « , 2 0 0 4 3 . J o y ce C ampbell » C asto r « , 2 0 0 8 4 . RYA N G A ND E R » I d o n ' t blame y o u , o r , w h e n we ma d e lo v e y o u u se d to c r y a n d i lo v e y o u like t h e sta r s abo v e a n d i ' ll lo v e y o u ‘ til i d ie « , 2 0 0 8 5 . M att h ew ba r n e y » d r awi n g r est r ai n t 1 3 : i n st r u me n t of s u r r e n d e r « , 2 0 0 6 6 . C l u n ie Rei d »T h i n gs F ly A bo u t / T h e A est h etics of F u cke d « , 2 0 0 9
FOCUS “Forget about the painters – the illustrators will be the painters of the future,” vows Pascal Johanssen curator of the annual Illustrative festival. Convince yourself with the lush selection of illustrative art works we’ve got featured. Music journalist Paul Sullivan tackles the tall task of defining the music movement of the last decade, while bright young writer Giulia Pines explores our quest for the ideal urban existence and how the love we have for our cities threatens to suffocate the very spirit that first seduced us. Finally, let a discerning mind for style shed light on the complicated matter of defining the last ten years in fashion.
Search for the Ideal City TEXT
i l l ust r atio n
Dรถrte l ange
Cities are like living breathing organisms: unpredictable, inexplicable, ever-changing. And for the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lives in them. More than ever before, we look to cities for reinvention, and we come to them for rejuvenation, but could we also be killing them? The city as we know it is in grave danger, not just from over-development and unbridled gentrification, but also from the forces of sameness that threaten to turn each one into a carbon copy of all the others. Just as urban living enters its golden age, the metrocalypse looms. Is there a way to stop it?
In 1948, after the ravages of war had torn the rest of the world apart, the legendary author and editor E.B. White wrote in his essay “Here Is New York” a seminal treatise on the city as an idea: “New York is particularly constructed to absorb almost anything that comes along … [I]t seldom seems dead and unresourceful; and you always feel that either by shifting your location ten blocks or reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation.” Indeed it is exactly that rejuvenation we crave, which makes us look to cities, either in fear or in longing, as if trying to see into our own personal destinies. But rejuvenation does not f low freely from magical waters: it often comes at a price. In many ways the last half-century – even only the last decade – has been about the struggle to get far too many people to live peacefully and productively together. Cities, like the people living in them, must constantly reinvent themselves or face extinction. Sometimes that reinvention is a conscious choice, but sometimes it comes unexpectedly, as the only way to move forward after disaster strikes. Some called it New York’s worst day on record. Others saw it as a work of art approaching the sublime. Whatever the feelings of city-dwellers on the morning of September 11, 2001 – terror, uncertainty, a sickening but undeniable sense of exhilaration at the thought that one was witnessing history – few people could have predicted that anything positive would ever come of such horror. In the struggle to define the first decade of the twentyfirst century, historians, academics, and politicians have batted around words that seem to mean nothing in the face of what the generation that came of age in the post-9/11 world has experienced. Even calling the decade ‘Post-9/11’ seems somewhat disingenuous. After all, what started as a tragedy became a unique opportunity. In a way, due to 9/11, New York became Berlin, London, Beirut, or any other city that had been touched by war and forced to reimagine and rebuild. “There is a school of thought,” explains Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, “that some of the world’s most durable cities are ones that have confronted profound crises and weathered them, using tragedies as opportunities to create something more positive out of destruction.” Echoing that sentiment is Randall Bourscheidt, President of New York City’s Alliance for the Arts: “Cities are amazingly persistent, and certain forces constantly shape them through
the ages… Calamities such as war, famine, storms or disease also shape cities. Many cities which have been attacked grow back, sometimes stronger.” Indeed, once the rubble had been cleared and the smoke had dissipated, and people began to admit that they never really even liked the Twin Towers, what was left, both literally and figuratively, was a gaping hole in the ground. Much of the last ten years, in terms both psychological and concrete, has been about discovering how best to fill that hole.
In a way, due to 9/11, New York became Berlin, London, Beirut, or any other city that had been touched by war and forced to reimagine and rebuild. Yet the sense of a story still to be written applies not only to New York’s skyline, but also to cities across the world. The last decade has seen an explosive growth in the world’s urban population, predicted in a study commissioned by the United Nation’s Population Division: “…over the next 25 years, the urban population is projected to increase to 4.9 billion people by 2030, roughly 60 percent of the world’s population.” In contrast to the ‘white f light’ migration from cities that took place in America in the twentieth century, which both fuelled and was propelled by the idea that urban living was somehow inferior and dangerous, meant for the lower and working classes, now Richard Florida’s 2008 book Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life can make the case that what defines you more than anything else is specifically the city (not simply the region or town) you choose to live in. A renewed interest in dynamic urban living has taken hold, as more and more young people opt to stay in cities and raise their kids in them as well, giving rise to a new upper middle
class dream of an apartment in an exciting urban environment instead of a house in the suburbs. In the October 9th article There’s No Place Like Home, Newsweek coined the term ‘new localism’ for this trend, explaining; “the longer people stay in their homes and communities, the more they identify with those places, and the greater their commitment to helping local businesses and institutions thrive, even in a downturn.” Coupled with this is the new trend, made urgent by global warming, towards green, sustainable, and environmentally friendly cities. Yet most people ignore the fact that cities are already green. By definition, they are comprised of a great deal of people living on top of each other, so amenities that each person would have to provide for themselves in rural areas are instead shared by all: heat is conserved in apartment buildings, city-dwellers take public transportation instead of driving cars (ideally, at least). Even more that that, the close contact provided by cities is exactly what leads to new ideas about how to live better. To put it bluntly, desperation breeds innovation.
Gentrification is something everyone fears, but no one wants to admit to having caused. Because people now aspire to shape their current city into their ideal instead of abandoning it in search of a new one, suddenly urban planning is hip again. City-dwellers are finding outlets and inspirations for graphic design, art, science, and technology, and their hands-on approach of applying what they already know to their urban space is going into the search for that elusive, ideal city. In the introduction to his newest book Bicycle Diaries, former Talking Heads frontman and long-time urban champion David Byrne ref lects on what our cities tell us about who we are. “Cities … are physical manifestations of our deepest beliefs and our often unconscious thoughts … not so much as individuals but as the social animals we are … you don’t need CAT scans and cultural anthropologists to show you what’s going on inside the human mind; its inner workings are manifested in three dimensions, all around us.” And if our cities are only a physical manifestation of what’s inside our heads, then the people who shape them by profession – the urban planners working in city government and the professors of urban studies in our universities – are somewhere between psychologists and spies. They weed through our subconscious, trying to figure out what is important to us and just what we do all day, in order to bring us that much closer to the ideal city that already exists somewhere within. But even for those who choose urban planning as a career, there are always complications: political hurdles
and unexpected social obstacles. As much as we want to live in a place we can be proud of, we often don’t want to be told what that place should look like. Again, to use 9/11 as an example, development plans for the World Trade Center plot have crept forward slowly and tentatively. The process of “negotiating the practicalities of achieving multiple dreams,” as Ramirez describes it, has been complicated by the sobering reality that you simply cannot please everyone. And when you live in a city, everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to be pleased. But while many may be thrilled to take on the responsibility of shaping the perfect city, few want to admit that they may also be part of its demise. For alongside this renewed fervour for urbanism, the spectre of gentrification looms large: the ultimate fear that one’s own living space will become exactly what one was trying to escape by moving there – boring and safe. Check in with the New York Times’ popular City Room blog on any given day, and the topic at hand will probably be gentrification, the dark side of everything that urban planners and enthusiasts hold dear. The first comment on a recent post about a gay community centre opening up in Brooklyn? The sarcastic “ more gentrification!” In cities where space is rare and being the first to discover the undiscovered is treated as a mark of heroism, ‘development’ is a dirty word, and gentrification is something everyone fears, but no one wants to admit to having caused it. While more and more cities and the neighbourhoods in them begin to look like carbon copies of each other, the greatest fear comes not from dilapidated, abandoned housing stock and street crime, but from homogeneity. Even European cities, which long seemed to stand for a sort of comfortable grandeur that says ‘we’ve been here forever and we’ve always done things exactly in this way’ are suddenly feeling the restless pull of development, perhaps fuelled by the meteoric rise of the American real estate market (before the financial crisis, that is) and the dream of becoming the next golden city. In Europe, there is even something sterile about the familiar blueprint of the gleaming new ‘old town’ in the centre, traversed by tourists and those who want to sell to them, surrounded by outlying urban (and in the case of Eastern Europe, former Soviet) sprawl. If Krakow looks like Warsaw, which in turn is beginning to look exactly like Prague, how is that any different from the facelessness that also dogs America? One remedy that some cities have found, especially former industrial centres like Slovakia’s Kosice or England’s Manchester, is to nurture a vibrant artistic culture that becomes the basis for a sound economy as well as improving the overall happiness and productivity of its citizens by giving them inspiring ways to fill their leisure time. It is nice to know that even when cities begin to look the same, it is the creativity of their inhabitants that saves them in the end. But what of that sameness, and the fight against it? Cities may be able to modernise to keep up with an expanding population and increased technological innovation, but these changes are arrived at incrementally, and just like gentrification, their
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effects are barely noticed until you remember what your neighbourhood used to look like back when you first moved there. Must urban improvement always come along with the sense that something has been lost, or is there an innovative way to fight back against gentrification without leading to a purely stagnant urban environment? “It can’t easily be stopped,” warns Bourscheidt, “because it is a natural process. It can be shaped, however…”
Perhaps it is this we are trying to find: a city that glows welcomingly from across a vast expanse, and housed within its walls, the secret that will bring us back home again. In the past few years, Berlin has become the poster child for the struggle against gentrification and luxurification. Although there is an irony in fighting to save Berlin – itself a haven for those escaping climbing rents and claustrophobic environments elsewhere – the urgency and fervour are real. Movements like Save Teufelsberg!, started by American veterans who listened in on DDR intelligence from Teufelsberg, the man-made hill in West Berlin, and Squat Tempelhof, which staged a break-in protest at Tempelhof airport in June of this year, prove the dedication of current and former Berliners. Both are not simply out to stop development of the areas they care about, but rather to offer up alternative proposals for the land that would benefit the greatest number of people. Yes, each one of these groups would love to believe that Berlin will be the one city to ultimately save itself from gentrification. But perhaps gentrification is a concept that exists differently in everyone’s mind, just like the ideal city. Even if we think we can escape it now, it is always happening for someone, somewhere. Therefore, if there is a dark future to which our best and most vibrant cities are doomed, a metropolitan apocalypse – ‘metrocalypse’, if you will – perhaps it is not, as White eerily predicted, “a single f light of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese”, but rather that overwhelming sameness that has already claimed so many of them. “Remembrance,” says Bourscheidt, “is important to the vitality of cities: paying homage to those who defended the city in war, as well as those who defended the poor and despised and
… the artists who came before, gives hope and a sense of purpose to citizens.” When we lose that ability to remember, when the steps we take down a city street no longer tell us a story, then we no longer live in a city at all, but simply in a cluster of buildings and roads that have no beat and pulse. Over a hundred years ago, American author L. Frank Baum visited Chicago for the 1893 World’s Fair. That vision of a glowing kingdom powered by a new energy called ‘electricity’ so inspired him that he ended up turning it into the Emerald City for his novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, cementing it in our imaginations for the century to come. As we plan and build, make horrible mistakes and achieve glorious triumphs, perhaps it is this we are trying to find: suddenly, a city that glows welcomingly from across a vast expanse, and housed within its walls, the secret that will bring us back home again.
Sounds Noughty TEXT
Pa u l S u l l i v a n
The noughties have been a tempestuous and adventurous decade for music. In the last ten years we’ve seen pop get creative, alt. go mainstream and the entire traditional music industry get roundhoused by the digital realm. Paul Sullivan reports…
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If the eighties were all acid-washed jeans, exuberant hairdos and chintzy synth pop, and the nineties were all hands-in-the-air house, sing-a-long Brit pop and retro chic, the noughties have been all about innovative pop, the ascendancy of the independent and the domination of the digital. It’s been a tumultuous year all round, what with the constant terror alerts, the spurious warmongering, the ever-impending Gaia-geddon and our ongoing global recession. Thinking about it, we can be pretty lucky we got through it alive, unless of course the powers-that-be and the mass media were exaggerating slightly (they wouldn’t, would they?). There have certainly been some major upheavals within the music industry. The noughties were also the 2.0s – an era of, to quote Wikipedia, “web-based communities, hosted services, web applications, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups and folksonomies.” The inexorable advance of the digital revolution, which seemed so quaintly haphazard at the start of the noughties, went on to rock the system to its very core. Ten years and a few false starts after nascent P2P services like Napster and Kazaa allowed us to share our music collections at the click of a mouse – how novel it all seemed! – CDs really have given way to MP3s and the print media has finally begun to bow to the power of the blogosphere. Subsequent (legal) music services like Last.FM, Pandora, Spotify and iTunes, and social media sites like MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have changed the way we listen to, consume and share music (and more) forever. Not bad for a decade’s work when you think about it.
This paved the way for a seemingly never-ending trail of guitar-wielding man-bands that favoured long hair, punk-era skinny jeans and names beginning with “The”. Music itself underwent seismic transformations. The fag-end of the nineties was an odd time, especially in the UK where the pop charts looked like they’d been in an M25 multi-car pile up. The Spice Girls first lost a limb (Geri), then disintegrated completely. Brit pop’s moribund corpse was given a final death blow by The Gallagher brothers’ tumescent Be Here Now (1997); and dance music, with its irksome ‘let’s-’ave-it-large’ mantra felt like some middle-aged, drug-addled uncle trying to look trendy at a party he hadn’t been invited to. By 2000 the tide had turned in favour of young, shiny American pop stars. JLo, Slim Shady, Britney, Beyoncé, Timberlake, Christina and the not-so-young-actually-no-not-even-back-then Jay Z all stepped on the scene like a breath of fresh pop air – or at least a breath of freshly airbrushed pop.
Their bright, glossy “Pro-Tools” sound – characterised by increasing amounts of audio compression to make the sound literally ‘pop’ – gradually set a new sonic standard and simultaneously ushered in another new era: that of the super-producer. Sonic innovators like Timbaland, Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, The Neptunes and Kanye West (the latter two introduced to the world on Jay Z’s 2000 release The Dynasty: Roc La Familia) stepped from behind the boards to reveal themselves as production paragons, broadening steadily out from rap to inject r&b and pop with new and interesting sounds. Noughties pop was thus born. Britain’s response, at least at the beginning, was ashamedly underwhelming. With such dynamite movers and shakers as The Bedingfields, James Blunt, Emma Bunton, Corinne Bailey Rae and – *shudder* – Charlotte Church representing UK “pure” pop, it was obvious that the apogee of Cool Britannia had passed (for many it had never existed). A nation knows it’s in trouble when it starts feeling grateful for Robbie Williams. Thankfully, by mid-decade the digital revolution had taken root and was changing the scene at a rapid pace. The Internet gradually rendered the music industry more transparent. Fans could now get closer to their favourite bands and artists via personal blogs and social media nodes like MySpace (they would soon be able to monitor their every move thanks to popular ‘stalking’ tool Twitter), and artists were able to use the same kinds of tools to intensify communication and build up broader, and at the same time more niche, fan bases. The first examples of the MySpace phenomenon were the Arctic Monkeys (who denied it) and Lily Allen (who accepted it), both of whom bothered the charts severely after building up large fan bases through social media activity and live shows. These bands opened the gates for a slew of independent acts to follow suit. Finally, indie bands could get a look-in. The burgeoning digital realm was certainly paramount in fostering the noughties alt./indie rock explosion, heralded in the UK by Radiohead’s OK Computer (1997) and Kid A (2000), and massively catalysed by ‘garage-rock’ bands like The Strokes and The White Stripes, who dropped their hugely inf luential albums Is This It? and White Blood Cells respectively, in 2001. This paved the way for a seemingly never-ending trail of guitarwielding man-bands that favoured long hair, punk-era skinny jeans and names beginning with “The” (see The Libertines, The Killers, The Horrors, The Vines and krillions of others). Non-“The” bands like Jet, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, PJ Harvey, Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, Bloc Party, Kings of Leon and Interpol also had success channelling inf luences from pop and post-punk to rockabilly and rave, while Sigur Ros, Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, You Will Know Us By Our Trail Of Dead and Sunn O))) – among many others – chased rock off into more esoteric directions. Despite mainstream dance looking as lively as a leftover cheese sandwich at a wake at the start of the decade, acts like Daft
Punk and Basement Jaxx kept things buoyant with life-affirming albums such as Discovery and Rooty (both in 2001), while The Street’s superb 2002 debut, Original Pirate Material, showed there was plenty of life and imagination left in the underground 2step / garage scene. In fact a generation of street-savvy switch-doctors – Dizzee Rascal (2003’s Boy In Da Corner), Wiley (Treddin On Thin Ice, 2004) – were also busy reconfiguring 2step, dancehall and hip hop, emerging with grime, a gnarly take on UK hip hop that was all council estate menace, rudeboy posturing and harsh, angular production. Grime in turn spawned dubstep – yet another UK urban genre with a bass-heavy growl and a reputation for scaring the bejesus out of the ladies – though it has ultimately thrived where grime faltered. The lack of aggressive MCs in the scene allowed the music to bloom in many different directions and even make a mainstream fuss in the latter part of the noughties via acts like Skream, Benga, Burial and Hyperdub’s Kode9. In Berlin, the techno purists went the other way, building on the nineties work of producer/DJs like Basic Channel, Richie Hawtin and Robert Hood to create a ‘second wave’ of minimalism – virulently anti-mainstream of course – that chugged, throbbed and beeped its way through most of the decade. People eventually got tired of it and the inevitable backlash began, as labels like Berlin’s Get Physical added electro and house to create a pan-electronic sound (see Booka Shade’s seminal 2006 album Movements). Things got maximal in the UK too with funky – a mash up of house, broken beat, 2step, dancehall, soca and other colourful inf luences, as well as the so-called electroclash scene, which emerged in NYC’s Williamsburg at the start of the decade (it was named after an ElectroClash Festival in 2001), and incorporated disparate dance-rock acts like Fischerspooner, Peaches, Chicks on Speed and Miss Kittin and The Hacker. Fellow Brooklynites Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy joined the ‘electroclash’ party with their highly inf luential DFA Records, spawning bands like The Rapture and Murphy's own LCD Soundsystem, whose Sound Of Silver (2007) has gone down as one of the records of the decade. The French, naturally, were not going to be left out and two labels in particular - Ed Banger and Kitsuné – entered the fray with a mass of killer bands like Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, DJ Medhi, Crystal Castles, Klaxons, Hadouken! and Bloc Party, along the way helping create the ironic, short-lived, colourful and generally meaningless nu-rave movement, which was in essence simply a continuation of electroclash. By the second half of the decade, the UK charts were starting to shift emphasis again, as the public and musicians alike started to grow bored with the constant onslaught of sweaty, all-male rock bands and their Ramones tees. What began with the rise of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen in 2006/2007, continued with Duffy, Rockferry, MIA and Adele and finally eff loresced
into a style-conscious mass of female individuality as ladies of all stripes – from Little Boots and Lady Gaga to Fever Ray and Florence Welch (of Florence & The Machine fame) – exploded across the market. The sheer amount of Queen Power kicking around was enough to f loor the King of Pop himself, who departed – somewhat abruptly it must be said – for the great Neverland in the sky. MJ’s life, legacy and funeral was just one of many surreal musical moments in 2009. Others included Eminem munching on Bruno’s butt at the 2009 MTV awards (fortunately after he’d recorded ‘Ass Like That’); Paul Oakenfold making a bell-end of himself in Madonna’s ‘Celebration’ video; Dizzee Rascal taking Grime commercial with Tongue N Cheek; Madonna in general; Kanye’s slaying of Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs; and Bob Dylan releasing a festive album featuring ‘Christmas In The Heart’. And so we wave bye-bye to the noughties, the unofficial Decade of Awe. Why awe? Because in just ten years we music lovers in the industrialised West have come to inhabit a wired-up world where we read reviews online, seek recommendations through Last FM or Spotify, download singles and albums through iTunes or Amazon (or share them through P2P networks). Awe because the noughties have been such a bold and inventive decade for music of all stripes. Awe because – well, because it almost rhymes with nought. Of course, some of us miss vinyl and album artwork and hanging out in record shops. But that’s progress for you, innit? You either keep up or get left behind. See y’all on FaceSpace, yeah? 2 0 Awesome Noughties A l bums Radiohead – Kid A - 2000 The Strokes – Is This It? - 2001 White Stripes – White Blood Cells - 2001 Ágætis Byrjun – Sigur Rós - 2001 S i n c e I L e f t Yo u – T h e Av a l a n c h e s - 2 0 0 1 Original Pirate Material – The Streets - 2002 Ya n k e e H o t e l Fo x t r o t – W i l c o - 2 0 0 2 Speakerboxxx/The Love Below – OutKast - 2003 Boy In Da Corner – Dizzee Rascal - 2004 Arcade Fire – Funeral - 2004 Suf jan Stevens – Illinois - 2005 I Am A Bird Now – Antony And The Johnsons - 2005 Donuts – J Dilla aka Jay Dee - 2006 Untrue – Burial - 2007 Kala – M.I.A. - 2007 Sound Of Silver – LCD Soundsystem - 2007 Fo r E m m a , Fo r eve r A g o – B o n I ve r - 2 0 0 8 Hercules And Love Affair – Hercules And Love Affair - 2008 Ye a h Ye a h Ye a h s – I t ’ s B l i t z - 2 0 0 9 Animal Collective – Mer r iweat her Pos t Pavilion - 2009
THE ELECTRONIC BEATS MAGAZINE ISSUE 01/2005
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Why Mylo is the greatest, everything you need to know about Berlin, Sightseeing with the Fashion Animals, why Dance Music will eat itself, inside M.A.N.D.Y’s Studio, wise words from Dixon, how to R-e-l-a-x in Ibiza, getting addicted to Grime DVDs, meet hot new band The Infadels, listen up to the new Sound of Brazil, pay respect to Chicago House plus Richie Hawtin, Mocky, Roisin Murphy, Trevor Jackson, DJ Marky, The Roger Sisters and much more ...
Interviews with Tiefschwarz, Ewan Pearson, Radio Slave and Basement Jaxx!//ColetteTalkCompilations//Why theRevolutionWillBeDigitised// 2005Electronic MusicEventsCalendar//Outon the Townin Budapest
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WE COULD BE
THE SUPER POW
The elecTronic beaTs Magazine Issue 01/2008
“WHEN WO R L D S COLLIDE”
NU RAVE ORDER
The elecTronic beaTs Magazine Issue 04/2008
“WE ARE EUROPE” The European Issue featuring: All things European from music trends to f ilm festivals to fashion to fast food! P l u s S e b a s t i e n T e l l i e r, Samim, Miss Kittin and Jay Haze!
The Collaboration Issue featuring Joy Division in ‘Control’ David Shr ig ley Diplo & Bonde Do Role Era-Def ining Par tnerships Onur Özer
BAC K T O BA S I C S The Elemental Issue, featuring: D e n n i s H o p p e r, Wo o l f y, C r a z y P, G a n g G a n g D a n c e , Ar ielle de Pint o, Kraf twerk, The T irol T ravel Guide and many more
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BACK TO THE FUTURE Featur ing Phoenix | Prefuse 73 | Micachu Zombie Disco Squad F reet hinking Haven Copenhagen Hybr id s, High Soc iety and ot her F r inge Movements
Divas | The Performance Issue St ar r in g liv in g le ge n d s D o n n a Su mme r an d Ye llo Bre akt h ro u gh st arlet s Mar in a an d t h e D iamo n d s an d G e o r ge Pr in g le Plu s J D Sam so n , J am ie Jo n e s an d Lop azz D iscove r why t h e fu t u re o f p op is fe male, o u r favo u r it e m ale d iva s an d t h e ge n d e r- f lu id p e r fo r me r s o f t o d ay
Celebration of a Decade
In the story of the 00s Nature is Radical, Art is an Ecosystem and fashion goes from NuRave to NuGrave. The Search is on for the Ideal City and an Illustration Revival is in full swing. Luminaries James Holden, Air, Terry Gilliam and Peter Jackson join dissident tastemakers Andy Blake, Fuck Buttons, Drums of Death and others ringing in a new era of optimism. New York City is ripe for rediscovery!
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A Decade in Fashion
From NuRave to NuGrave So, what was the defining style of the decade? In our first tentative trip down fashionâ€™s memory lane, pop-specialist and Berlin fashion icon Jan Joswig guides us through the fashion-sceneâ€™s whims and wants in a decade of excess, alternately celebrating the icons but also lamenting an apparent lack of balls. Will consumerism eat itself ?
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“Whatever happened to those days, when not acting your age was the craze?” Mod band The Times complains that the pleasure of mature behaviour and good manners is lacking. That was back in the post-punk days of the early eighties. With fashion in the first decade of this new century it’s the other way around: Could the youth please start acting their age again and sport some bad manners? The noughties are the fashion decade of good behaviour in slim trousers. Mister Wilbert Das, head designer at Diesel for 21 years and one of the most charming and non-arrogant key figures in the fashion industry, defined our idea of streetwear and casual fashion in the nineties. He knows it all from an inside point of view. On the subject of the first decade of the noughties he is at pains having to admit: “It’s a horror to say – but I was happy with the crisis. It gives a lot of energy to people, forces them to rethink and restart. The best creativity comes in moments of crisis. In moments of excess luxury, excess consumption, excess everything, there is no reason to come out with a real idea, to push.” The decade of excess started with NuRave and is ending with NuGrave. From the fair to the dungeon. In between there was the dominant impact of Scandinavian rock’n’roll. But what sounds like a ride through wild life turned out to be a most boring tea party. The Scandinavian über-cool very quickly became the new square. Clean and sharp, the ideal of the French beatnik, transformed into clean and neat, the ideal of the US-American housewife. There is an obvious similarity to the seventies. The psychedelic movement bloomed in the early years only to make way for Claude Montana’s bondage black leather at the dawn of the eighties. But in those years in between there was the discovery of second hand culture, a revival of the gender bending of the Roaring Twenties, the invention of dirty sex in cubicles. In short: do-it-yourself adventure. In contrast to the last decade where these cool kids from the North – the first generation who prefers marriage to promiscuity and wine to cocaine – are more into good and clean fun. Although NuRave made it fashionable to rip and tear your own t-shirts too, at the end of the decade we face the biggest consumption craze in fashion so far. People taking pictures of themselves in the cubicle wearing clothes with the prize tag on. H&M, Mango, Zara and now Uniqlo make any style in fashion so easily available you just have to surrender and consume instead of create. Consumerism will eat itself. Nobody could dress like Lady Di back in the eighties. Exclusiveness was a dream. But everybody can dress like Lady Gaga nowadays. Exclusiveness is reality to everybody. That’s a worthless paradox. The fake Gucci bag from the Istanbul market, the fake Dior suit from H&M. “There is such an abundance of fashion, millions of products,” Mister Das states, “you can literally buy everything you want. There’s an overload of products, an overload of information. Some scepticism might be good for a while.” Swedish brand Acne is most certainly the icon of Scandinavian cool. But the hidden star of the century is Martin Margiela. Not his stunning deconstructive experiments, but his basic sweaters
with the four stitches in the back as the only remark that it’s not just a lame supermarket product. Acne still gives the idea of good behaviour a smart edge, but these Margiela sweaters are the pinnacle of square this decade; it’s a veritable icon of that which will make you yawn your way straight into the next decade. “The last four years have been very Scandinavian. But this year it will be over. I’m hoping for a movement to be born. A movement with more balls. We’ve had so little balls lately,” Mister Das thinks out loud. “I’m hoping for something anti.” For now it’s still the anti-anti of a Margiela basic sweater and a pair of Acne jeans, the sheer terror of understated boredom without balls.
The Scandinavian übercool very quickly became the new square. Clean and sharp, the ideal of the French beatnik, transformed into clean and neat, the ideal of the US-American housewife. There are non-conformists like Bernhard Wilhelm or Henrik Vibskov, but they still deal with the cartoon style of the silly NuRave movement. If there is one designer with balls who is new and unexpected in this fashions decade, it’s the long-haired prince of darkness from the city of surfers and body builders: Rick Owens. Arriving as an outsider from LA, the thousands of women in shiny black leggings from the last seasons are a pure celebration of his avant-garde vision. Like Montana, he mixes aggressive aesthetic with highest quality comfort. Mister Das confesses: “Rick Owens has been very important. That was a real definition of luxury. Absolutely on quality, but the way of dressing is very now and not so much linked to formal. It’s überrock’n’roll deluxe.” Anybody who has ever touched a leather piece by Owens knows that incomparable feeling of being let in on a carefully hidden secret, initiated into a hidden society. Perhaps behind the teenage Japanese hype around all things Gothic and Rick Owens’ version of luxury, there lies a hint on how to escape the prison of ivy league rock’n’roll. At the end of this decade the gothic Bedouin might step into Rick Owens’ dark dungeon to find a bright fashion future for the next decade. At least if you cast your mind back to the twentieth century nobody speaks of the Roaring Teens, but of the Roaring Twenties.
J EANNE D ETALLANTE
The Illustration Revival
D ANIEL ST O LLE
For some time photography seemed to dominate our visual culture. That is until the start of the millennium when illustration began to pop up here, there and everywhere to the point where talk is now of a bona fide renaissance. To illustrate (boom-chink!) our point, we treat you to ten lush pages of illustrative art and also present some insights from our exchange with two prominent figures in the world of illustration: Pascal Johanssen (PJ), owner of the Gallery Johanssen in Berlin and curator of the Illustrative, an annual international festival for illustration, and JĂśrn Schwarz (JS), va n i a z o u r av l i ov
one half of 2 Agenten, a Berlin based agency for illustration with many of the todayâ€™s biggest talents on its books.
We wanted to know why the time was ripe for an illustration comeback, if
and how it can be regarded as an independent art form, where it fits in commercially, what sort of styles are there to speak of, who are the standout stars and, of course, what does the future hold for illustrative art? I N T ERV I EW
LISA B O RGES & VI K T O RIA PELLES
I M AG E S
ILLUSTRATIVE / 2 AGENTEN
“The illustration revival is related to the revival of applied arts in general. This art form has developed from the current culture of living after the millennium; it is about new visual routines and aesthetic phenomena, which are neither design nor fine art in the conventional sense.” PJ
D i e g o Lo r e n z i n i
“When the digital era started to inf luence photography, this was the start for the renaissance of illustration. Photography was seduced by the possibilities of retouching and postproductions; it was not showing a reality anymore. So in my opinion photography educated the consumer in a new way of seeing. And this smoothed the way for the renaissance
Or let’s say the reanimation of illustration was the logical continuation of the digital inf luence in classic photography. ”
“Illustration is the perfect medium to go beyond the obvious. The text already produces images while reading. And an illustration should offer the reader more than what can be read in the text. So the illustrator can open the text, interpret it, or give it a personal point of view. And I would consider that an art form.” JS
Ta n j a S z e k e s s y
K LAUS H AAPANIE M I
D ANIEL EGN É US
“Illustration is applicable in almost all contexts where photography was normally used. But it is in advertising that illustration is now getting the most attention in comparison to the past. Clients dare to use illustration for their campaigns, and, or better because, the consumer learned to ‘see’ illustration. At least where German visual culture is concerned. In a lot of other countries, like France, the United Kingdom or the United States, illustration always was a serious and independent way to show, express and interpret content. In those countries, illustration and photography are neighbours, not competitors. In German culture things were seen differently, most certainly an inf luence of the history. The Bauhaus modernism with its photo collages or Swiss typography purged all manner of ‘decoration’ aside from geometrical shapes. ” JS
H ANS VAN BENTE M
J ULIEN VALL Ă‰ E
At Illustrative you can discover a range of different approaches â€“ from purely analogue drawing to digital art. In addition to that there are many artists using an intelligent form of mixed media-techniques, bringing together the best of both worlds.
In terms of different styles, I can say 3D-Graphics are very trendy, but illustration, following the idea of abstract illustration, is an interesting upcoming field too. PJ
ANTTI U O TILA
H ANS VAN BENTE M
“When I look at important publications as a parameter for being a good representative of the new generation of illustrators,
Olaf Hajek is one of them for sure. His work is seen on book covers, advertising campaigns, and editorials all over the world. And in 2010 Gestalten publishing will launch a monograph of Olaf Hajek’s work. Very rare for the work of an illustrator. Just to name a few, Tina Berning, Klaus Haapaniemi, also very much inf luencing contemporary illustrative art.” JS
M ARTIN H AA K E
Martin Haake and Daniel Egnéus are
O LAF H A J E K
Y O K O LAN D
SI D NEY PIN K
VILLE SAVI M AA
â€œSensuality is being rediscovered in illustration; the mutual enrichment across disciplines is a characteristic of illustrative art.â€? PJ
»BACK TO TH E F UTURE«
“Illustrative art will capture more and more space and inevitably more attention in the future. You can call it a trend when you look at it as a new thing.
But what happened in the last 10 years is by far much more than just a trend. I would call it the rebirth of illustration. And I am sure that it will remain an autonomous way of expression and interpretation. Always inf luenced by the current spirit of a time. Fast and immediate. And once it has fully redeemed itself, it shall never wither again.” JS C H RISTIAN M O NTENEGR O
“Illustration will become more sophisticated and intelligent – regarding styles, techniques, narrative strategies and its general aspirations.
Forget about the painters – the illustrators will be the painters of the future.” PJ
www . i l l u s t r at i v e . d e www . 2 a g e n t e n . com
E D W IN US H IR O
P h o t o g r a ph e r Production
R A C H EL DE J OODE
Sa n d ra L i e r m a n n
Hikmet Sugoer was already into sneakers when the other boys were playing with their transformers. So it was only natural that in 2003 he opened Solebox a shoe Mecca where sneakerheads can find those hard-to-come-by, very exclusive limited editions. For us he selected some of his favourites. www.solebox.de
T H I S PAGE , C L OC K W I S E
R E e b o k E R S 2 0 0 0 S o l e b o x " Ora n g e " P u m a Y o ! MTV R a p s C ly d e VIP E d i t i o n Adidas Consortium Berlin by Solebox N i k e A i r Ma x 1 Sa b r i n a D e h o f f S n e a k e r J e w e l l e r y A s i c s G e l Ly t e III S o l e b o x " Th e S u n " N e w Ba l a n c e 1 5 0 0 " P u r p l e D e v i l" S o l e b o x
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Photogr apher Production
Styling hair & make-up
Sandra Liermann, Kirsten Hermann AMD B e r l i n w o r k s h o p
christian Fritzenwanker / PerfectProps Model
T e s s / Pl a c e
P h o t o g r a p h e r s a ss i s ta n t sp e c i a l t h a n k s t o
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Leggins B OOT S
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World of Sex
' D a n c i n g B e r o l i n a' 2 0 0 4
by Axel Ankl am
INTERVIEWS Music editor Gareth Owen talks to Andy Blake and Milo Smee from low-profile but high-impact label Dissident Records, whose subtle yet concentrated approach has received much critical acclaim with Blakeâ€™s defiantly fresh attitude hopefully a sign of the times. Then we move from established luminaries like electronic duo Air or film director Peter Jackson to progressive talent like the boldly named Fuck Buttons. Relish the rants of Terry Gilliam on the dire state of modern cinema, and reacquaint yourself with the sights and sound of the winsome Jimmy Edgar.
Dissident Label Feature | Andy Blake & Milo Smee
Rip It Up And Start Again TEXT
P H O T O o f M il o S mee
Courtesy of the Artist
» BA C K T O T H E F U T U R E «
Punk is something that many people pay lip service to, but rarely put into practice. It’s hard to take someone’s ‘punk’ credentials seriously when you are reading about them on a promo sheet sent by a company employed to tell you just how punk an artist is. However, if one record label sums up a punk spirit in the truest sense of the word, then that label is Dissident. Where many other record labels employ a scattergun approach to marketing their music, Dissident, which is run by long-time disco overlord Andy Blake, has become the name on everyone’s lips doing the exact opposite – concentrating on vinyl-only releases and letting the music do the talking. Small, but perfectly formed, Dissident could well be pointing to the way of the future for small record labels. As we arrive at the end of the first decade of the 21st century and ref lect on the last ten years, the recorded music industry looms large like a fatally wounded beast. Traditional revenue streams such as album and single sales have dried up to almost nothing and the future for the majors is bleak at best. However, f lux and change create opportunities. To paraphrase Edward Collins, it’s a chance to rip it up and start all over again. Hiding within this writhing vortex of confusion, there are a small number of people trying to offer a third way. Ignoring what is happening in the wider world, and concentrating on what matters most if you are running a record label: the music. To this end, I spent some time with Dissident label owner Andy Blake, and long-time musical collaborator Milo Smee, to find out more about the inner workings of this London based label, and delve a bit deeper into their shared musical world. Milo, who has had several releases on Dissident under various monikers including Kruton and Binary Chaffinch, is the musical genius behind progressive disco-metal-glam army Chrome Hoof – a band held in such high esteem that they were recently invited to play at London’s Barbican alongside disco legend Jean Pierre Massara and progressive innovators Magma. Milo’s musical trajectory was set in motion after latching onto an older neighbour with generous parents and stacks of music equipment. This interest in electronic music waned slightly as he got older – unsurprisingly not being able to afford the £25,000 asking price of the Fairlight synthesiser he so badly wanted. Instead, he satisfied himself with drumming – being particularly taken with the skills of Stewart Copeland. It wasn’t until the last couple of years at school that his interest in electronic music was reawakened: “Acid, Chicago house and Detroit techno were doing the rounds, as were cassettes full of bleeps from Phantasy FM and Sheffield. Then a couple of mates bought some decks. Spending hours mixing, with our slowly growing record stack, was a good way to spend time as a skint teenager. Any money we did have, was consumed by a shady Essex rave scene, but strangely, I was also interested in the mathematics involved with off-kilter time signatures that progressive rock drumming required. I was also into what was called ‘indie’ at that time; The Fall, Souixsie and the Banshees, Loop, Talk Talk, Phillip Boa.
Things like Captain Beef heart and Faust too, and some mainstream synth-pop like Depeche Mode and Human League. I probably looked like a non-committal goth, with a rave exo-skeleton of a puffer jacket and Fila hi-tops!” Andy, who started DJing at the tender age of 17, has been involved in running labels produced with a variety of people, but the main thing for him has always been “the DJing and a feverish appetite for acquiring records.” Andy first met Milo after hearing about a song he had recorded called ‘False Energy’ as Binary Chaffinch – a song many people were talking about, but precious few had actually heard. In order to feed his insatiable appetite for new music, Andy contacted Milo and asked to hear the mysterious ten-minute disco odyssey. Soon after they met in person when Andy and Ben Williams (of Gatto Fritto) found themselves sneaking into a Chrome Hoof gig, as Andy explains: “Arriving later than planned due to a big curry, we rather fortuitously found the back door open, so we just wandered in. There, backstage, was this tall bloke in a silver cape congratulating us on our ingenuity in avoiding the door tax. That was Milo.” The two soon bonded over a love of analogue synths, drum machines and improvisational acid jams. “We respect and really enjoy using the original machines, and we’re both big into the acid house sound,” explains Milo. “It’s about rawness, and utilising whatever instinct we might have cultivated over the years.” Working together to remix ‘False Energy’, they named themselves Invincible Scum and released the record on Andy’s burgeoning label, Dissident. Arguably, it was the success of ‘False Energy’ that really opened up people’s eyes to this mysterious new label with its simple artwork and heavy electronic sound. However, when Andy started the label, he had no grandiose plans. In fact, his aims were fairly modest. “I thought Dissident had a reasonable chance of doing OK in the current climate, because I could see that if I just concentrated on the important stuff, like the music and the mastering, and left all the promo and hype nonsense out of the equation, I’d have a very lean and versatile operation.” Andy figured there were at least a few hundred people out there who would be into the idea of a label that didn’t resort to empty hype to push its music at them, and that’s
“Hopefully there’s a generation of kids out there who are sick of all this MySpace/Facebook/spend all night at the club taking pictures of yourself crap, and are going to smash things to bits and start again.” Andy Bl a k e
exactly what he found. “It’s nice that it’s come this far without changing the basic approach of more music, less business. It’s been great seeing the various artists build on the exposure from their releases on Dissident.” The label seems to have done very well in attracting people with just the music, and the fact that Andy finds himself now being booked as far away as Australia +is further proof of Dissident’s popularity. However, having no promotional or marketing arm means that Andy is pretty much in the dark as to who is actually buying his records “I still have no idea of who the label’s fan base is, and I think that’s quite healthy. It means I won’t get caught up in trying to release stuff to appeal to the label’s audience because I have literally no idea who that audience is. I’d like to think that it changes from release to release. All of that buying every release on a label just because it’s on that label is hardly very imaginative. I want the records to go to people who think for themselves.” In fact, it is this sheep-like mentality that Andy believes is in part responsible for the dire state of the music industry. “In all honesty, I think the record business is in terrible shape on every level. The whole notion of the DJ / producer is responsible for this, at least in part. Too many people and too many labels are knocking out characterless, functional nonsense that someone has cobbled together in Ableton, just so they can hype their names up and get more DJ gigs. Then when they get those gigs, their DJing is at least as uninspiring as their productions, and round it goes. It’s a very sorry state of affairs and I can’t wait for it to grind to a halt.” This seems to be a recurrent theme: access to technology, which should foster creativity, seems sometimes to be stif ling it. People are no longer satisfied with their fifteen minutes of fame – people want fifteen minutes of fame every day, and at what expense this comes, no one seems to care. “One of my main reasons behind doing the label was to demystify the process, show people how easy it is to do this and inspire some new labels to start. So far, it’s actually quite disappointing for me to see how few people have followed Dissident’s lead and started genuinely independent operations working outside the standard music industry systems. There seems to be at least a couple of generations now who have had their rebelliousness knocked out of them, and been turned into a bunch of sell-outsin-waiting by the hyper-commercialised and over-exposed world we live in. I’m sure the man is very pleased that he has got them exactly where he wants them, right under his thumb. Hopefully,
there’s a generation of kids out there who are sick of all this MySpace/Facebook/spend all night at the club taking pictures of yourself crap, and are going to smash things to bits and start again.” As a DJ, Andy is nothing short of inspirational, as a recent set at Panorama Bar demonstrated. A top-rate experience in Berlin’s sometimes hallowed hall of techno. The main reason for its greatness was not quite knowing what was coming next. His DJ sets take in every kind of music that you could imagine hearing in a club – new beat, house, techno, acid, disco, and those weird records that don’t fit into any box. This aesthetic also bleeds into what Milo and Andy do with Invincible Scum when they play live: “We approach it in a fairly loose and spontaneous way, much like we do with the studio sessions, totally improvised and brand new music that will probably only be performed once. I can’t stand the idea of doing a set and having to play specific tracks to keep people happy because they have expectations of us replicating our previous studio recordings. I just want to get interesting and engaging grooves going that are appropriate to each gig, and then improvise on a theme. I’m sure that comes from the fact that I’m essentially a DJ and I get to play from a huge range of music every night rather than having to stick to a set list. I think the dynamic of myself and Milo, and the different things we bring to the table should make for interesting gigs.” Interesting, exciting and dynamic are words that easily spring to mind when talking about Dissident, and it will be interesting to see how the label progresses musically. With such a f luid approach to making and releasing music, I ask Andy if the musical template will change any time soon. “If someone gives me some great funk rock tracks then they are coming out ASAP. I’d love to be releasing a far wider range of music, but so far it’s been mainly analogue electronics that I have been offered. It’s a common conversation with various friends of mine that we all find it very strange that there don’t seem to be many good bands around that are along the lines of Talking Heads, Konk, ESG, Liquid Liquid or Material – to name but five! If anyone out there knows of current bands with that kind of live experimental loose funk aesthetic, please let me know. I’m sure there must be some out there. Somewhere!” EDITOR’S NOTE: SINCE DOING THIS INTERVIEW ANDY HAS PUT HIS MONEY WHERE HIS MOUTH IS AND CLOSED DOWN DISSIDENT RECORDS, STATING THAT THE LABEL’S FREE SPIRITED APPROACH WAS BECOMING “A DOGMATIC STRAITJACKET”. RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN INDEED.
Cinematic Oracles TEXT
J OHANNES B ON K E & S V EN S C HU M ANN
A L E X D E B RA B ANT / G ETTY I M A G ES
J OHNNY TO
P ETER J A C K SON
TERRY G I L L IA M
J EAN - P IERRE J EUNET
Johannes Bonke meets with four legendary filmmakers to get their thoughts on the current state of cinema and their unique work approach within an overbearing studio system.
“I want to mentor and godfather a new generation” By directing The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Peter Jackson not only turned around his image as a former slapstick horror comedy filmmaker, but also used his money to raise his inf luence as a producer of various A-list projects of other visionary directors who defined or will define the future of filmmaking. His latest movies District 9, The Hobbit and The Lovely Bones or his digital effect company WETA are just a few of the projects is proof enough that this is the man to ask about the future of digital filmmaking. A lot of people are talking about technology at the moment and it is terrific that filmmaking is becoming a lot less elitist now. I have real hope for the future although I feel a little bit depressed about the film industry at the moment. I think everyone’s playing a defensive game, I think a lot of green lighting and a lot of creative stuff is being made from a defensive position and so everyone’s playing safe. I think that the quality of movies is maybe suffering a bit and what I’m hoping is that there will be a wave of young kids, who have been brought up with pop culture with access to the technology it brings with it. If you want to make a movie you can get cameras pretty cheaply now. The quality is amazing and you have access to post production equipment on your laptop, so there’s really no reason why people can’t get involved in movie making if they want to. This new generation will be the future of entertainment. That’s why I am supporting talented young people like Neill Bloomkamp and his directorial debut, District 9. The movie was independently financed; it wasn’t developed by the studio. We developed it ourselves and then Sony picked up a lot of territo-
ries around the world. I really wanted to mentor and godfather him because I believe a lot in his talent and he’s a guy born to make films basically. You do recognise those people sometimes. He’s got to make films because that’s what he was put on earth to do, but it’s difficult nonetheless to get your first film made and I wanted to be the guy who assisted him with that. With The Hobbit and Guillermo del Toro I obviously don’t need to play that role. He proved in the last years that he is a visionary. He is a terrific filmmaker and on The Hobbit I’m involved as a creative producer and more associated with the screenplay really. Being on the screenwriting team is a process I really love. I like it more than directing. So I am having a lot of fun because I am working on the script but don’t have to imagine myself up on a mountain in New Zealand in the middle of winter actually shooting the stuff. I am also very passionate about my digital effect company Weta that I founded a few years ago. We have about 800 people working for it at the moment. Just about everybody on Avatar, James Cameron’s piece, which will define the future of filmmaking. They’ve recently written and developed an entirely new software code for animating faces. They’ve built a new muscular system in the way that skin and fat and tissue slides over the muscles and then they’ve also developed a new way that the motion capture with all the dots translates to that facial system. We didn’t use it on LOTR or Kong but this incredible code now which is just owned by WETA will be used for Tin Tin next, a movie I am doing with Steven Spielberg. I’ve seen the Avatar close up and stuff and it’s really terrific. It’s unbelievable the amount of emotion they can now get into these faces just the little twitchy movements around the eyes for example, or the way the face moves and the mouth too in particular is fantastic. You see, I’m working with a lot of high profile people at the moment: But in the end I’m just a geek having a geek-out experience. One thing I’ve come to realise is that once you get over your initial ‚’oh-my-god’ kind of thing when you meet these guys, you realise that everybody’s very similar. We’re all just film fans and we’ve grown up loving movies and some people are lucky enough to make them.
“The studio people are the real zombies”
Terry Gilliam aka ‘Captain Chaos’ is notorious not only for creating mind-blowing masterpieces of imagination (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and most recently Dr. Parnassus) but also for his rebellious attitude against the dull mainstream studio system of today. This man is a true oneof-a-kind, unapologetically outspoken and fiercely independent in his work approach. And he certainly had a thing or two to say on the topic put to him by EB. “You want me to talk about the Hollywood system of the last ten years and the future? The studio people are the real zombies. Dressed in beautiful suits, great ties with great haircuts – but they are the walking undead, destroying everything in their wake. They don’t eat your brain; they suck it out. I speak from experience. They are responsible for the common belief of what reality is. Which these days is based on fakeness. And they are everywhere. Look at Hollywood! There are no entrepreneurs in the studio system anymore, there are middle-men holding on to their jobs and knowing nothing about films. It’s all going down. I wish and hope that new talents will follow, but I don’t see them, that’s the problem. They’ve been trained at film schools and taken media studies. I think nobody should go to film school, just study philosophy or history or economics, something useful – and then try to make films. Now Hollywood is calling 3D the future! You know what: The hope of saving cinema with 3D is ridiculous. I’m one of the few who are not convinced. I have methods to make things look even weirder, so why would I need 3D? This is a desperate measure to try to get the audience back. It’s like in the fifties when television took over, now the internet and everything else is taking over. How do we get people back into the cinema? 3D! But do we really want that every film costs at least a 100 million dollars? Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to depend on these bloody studio people? There is no room for anything other than very inexpensive romantic comedies or not so romantic and big spectacular movies. I don’t think that’s good at all. And who’s to blame? The zombies! How can we change it? No idea. I just keep doing what I do and just stay under the radar. I am lucky. I’ve made enough money that people are interested in me. If you are a young filmmaker starting out I think it’s really difficult. You can get your stuff on the web and others can look at it on their iPhone, but this is not what I call movies. What do we get to see in the cinema with quality? Haneke and Almodovar! That’s it for the year. The choice is so small since movies have to make money to be successful. My definition of success is a bit different. I think what is most satisfying is when you make a film and it sticks with the people, not only for the two hours they are watching it. I remember after releasing “Fisher King” there was a girl in New York who saw it and she walked 20 blocks on the way home, arrived at the door and realized that it’s not her house. It was 20 blocks in the other direction! She was so lost in thought. That is success. Another success: There was a lawyer in New York who saw Brazil, walked
back into his office and locked himself there for three days. Wouldn’t take phonecalls or anything. Some of my movies might fail, but others leave impact. You can compare it to the quality Monthy Python, which was up and down, but the good bits were so good that they compensated the weakness. And I’d rather have that than a nice, smooth ride of mediocrity. I am in situations where it is very difficult to get the projects going, so to me momentum is the most important thing. Create it, keep it going, even with all the disasters waiting for you. Hopefully you get through it. The studio system is capable of killing a lot of creativity and energy of young filmmakers.
“They have not been visual in a long time” After establishing himself as a true arthouse-director in the 90s (“Delicatessen, “City of Lost Children”), French visionary Jean-Pierre Jeunet gained worldwide recognition at the beginning of the new century with his human fairytale “Amelie”. The imaginative and heartwarming piece instantly became France’s most succesful movie of all time and paved the way for creative freedom. His latest movies (A Very Long Engagement and currently, Mimics) stand for an ingenious visuality and intimate storylines but are – according to himself – an exception in French cinema today. “It is difficult for me to talk about the past and the future of French cinema because I am not very inspired by it. There is too much talking; whole films about people fighting in a kitchen don’t interest anybody. Most subjects of these films simply bore me. French cinema hasn’t been visual in a long time, nobody seems to care about the quality of the picture. This must change in the future! I am very French if you look at the mood of my pictures but I don’t feel French. There are actually far too many films made in France. There are 200 movies produced a year and only three or four are actually any good. That’s not really a good percentage. Every year I receive a box of DVDs in order to vote for the French César awards, and when I go through it I only find crap. They just don’t care about ‘cinema’, lighting and set design is unknown to them. Good directors and actors became pretty rare in the past ten years. The few talented young directors there are only want
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to shoot World War II movies and get to Hollywood very quickly. Alien Resurrection was my first and only Hollywood movie. I returned to France after this experience because life is too short. I don’t want to say that I was a slave but it was not the same thing, because in France I at least have complete freedom. That is the positive aspect of our film industry, at least for me. I get to take care of everything, from the cut to the poster and the casting, nobody can tell me anything about anything. I don’t want the producer’s input. Fuck you, it’s my film, I want to control everything. Every director would like to have the freedom I have in France, but they don’t. I made the “Alien”-shoot a great experience, but personal movies are another league. People need to make more personal films again, that is my main advice. They don’t even necessarily have to develop their own style. If you look at Roman Polanski and Clint Eastwood they don’t have their specific style, they make completely different movies all the time and I love them. Or look at Emir Kusturica and Federico Fellini. They are repetitive but unique. Those are the heroes of the old times. This sense of individualism should be present in the future. All you need are good ideas.”
“Copycats exhausted a lot of genres” In the past 35 years, director Johnny To became the multifaceted and chameleonic spokesperson of Hong Kong cinema. He gained international reputation for his eclectic genre choices (Election, Exiled and currently Vengeance) that transcended cultural borders and sparked interest in the cinematic style of his native country. But the future looks dark, the 60-year old filmmaker states. The reason: the past. The biggest challenge the Hong Kong movie industry faced in the last 10 years is the generation gap among creative people and performers: the directors today or especially the actors that are still active today are people that you saw in the eighties and nineties. So we don’t have new people to make new films. The second problem are copycats: They became very popular in the booming days of Hong Kong cinema and exhausted a lot of genres and or created these trends. When I opened my production company Milkyway Image in 1996 we sort of gave ourselves a mission: the mission is that we always
want to do new things, we don’t want to repeat ourselves - that is very important. For me, when I finish a movie I sort of just throw it behind me and when I do the next one I feel like I am starting over again. If you ask me how I get new ideas and get inspired I can ask people but I always take my experiences in life, new things that I experience and these are the things that become the ideas in my movies. The personal aspects are important. But those ideas became rare in Hong Kong cinema. There is a lack of quality. In the nineties when Hong Kong movies were very popular across Asia the salary of the actors really increased. The very high fee they were charging resulted in a very small budget for the production. That lowered the quality of the films. Secondly a lot of these actors became popular and so decided to play in movies outside of Hong Kong, like Hollywood for example. So the Hong Kong industry itself lost these talents. We are still suffering from it today. I hope for the future that there will still be a small amount of creative movies that truly belong to Hong Kong. It would be possible since the financing for making movies in Hong Kong and especially in China is not affected by the current crisis. China is a booming market and many investors are eager to put money into this market as they actually can get their returns from this market alone. Now, as we have enough money, the question becomes a tricky one: do we have enough people or fresh talents to make movies of a different kind? Finding a positive answer is the biggest challenge we currently face.
Motor City Houdini TEXT
courtesy of artist
Jimmy Edgar is a bit of a musical Houdini. Prone to doing the odd disappearing act, the one-time wunderkidâ€™s career is littered with tantalising glimpses of greatness. Snapped up by Warp Records in 2003 at the tender age of 18, this pale-faced prodigy was hailed as proof of a new dawn for the Detroit scene. But a serious drug addiction, a feverish temperament and a creative calling outside music have all held him back. After all, when youâ€™ve started your career off playing at warehouse raves with legends on the scale of Derrick May, where is there to go but down?
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And down this creative maelstrom eventually went. After the release of his critically acclaimed Warp debut, 2006’s Color Strip, whose R&B-tinged electro was a hit with critics and fans alike, Edgar went silent. Swept away on a tidal wave of heroinefuelled destruction, for a while the Motor City son’s future looked as bleak as his hometown. Rewind back to 1999, a 16-year old Edgar has releases out on Germany’s mighty Poker Flat label, hip NYC imprint Isophlux and Miami’s renowned Merck Records, with the latter winning the right to put out his debut LP My Mines I (2002). With his star burning brightly, the mysterious prodigy, who claims to have been laying down beats from the age of ten, caused a stir at the 2003 Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Making his first live appearance as a Warp artist, his now legendary performance ended with burly security boys getting down with the local b-boys. It was the stuff that musical myths are made of. Now, this enigmatic maestro who calls himself a ‘dancef loor designer’ is back with a new, clubbier sound, a breathtaking live show, an almost-ready album, and a slew of releases on upcoming labels. Ten years on from his first success, he’s managed to escape the tortured artist cliché, kick the drug habit and find himself included on Warp’s 20th anniversary album with his classic track ‘I Wanna Be Your STD’. In the f lesh, he’s full of feverish energy and promises it will be my “wildest ever interview”. He seems sober, but who knows, and in ref lective mood: “It’s an honour to be included on Warp20 and be considered one of the defining artists in electronic music. Getting an email from Steve [Beckett, Warp head honcho] when I was just 18 was really cool. I cried, jumped up and down and hugged my art school roommates a lot. Warp set my career up and I have a lot of respect for the guys there.” But despite Jimmy’s positive chat about Warp, it’s still not clear if he will release his long-awaited new album on the iconic label. He says “maybe”, they say “definitely not in the next six months”. Undeterred, Edgar claims he has got all ten tracks fully polished and is carefully weighing up his options. “The industry has changed so much, you have to do more than sell albums. You have to think. I’m deciding whether or not to give the tracks away for free via my website. Unfortunately, much as I love my art, I do need to make a living. My creative master plan is to create a multimedia package of art, music and design which will give my releases more of a multi-sensory impact and earn them the recognition they deserve.” According to the Detroit troubadour, this isn’t really a comeback because he’s never been away from his art, be it photography, design or music. In true Houdini style, he’s just made himself a bit hard to find for his fans, adopting elusive aliases, honing his fashion photography skills, moving to New York, and working on various mysterious side projects.
First, there was the acclaimed ‘secret duo project’ Plus Device in 2007, whose electro pop-funk styles had Edgar written all over it. Released on Chicago’s innovative Hefty Records, it generated a big online buzz. Then there was the sexual synths and live instrumentation of Her Bad Habit, which evolved the Edgar sound in a new direction. And these are just the tip of the iceberg – there’ve been numerous other rumoured collaborations. But doesn’t having all these different personalities leave him feeling a bit, well, confused? “Isn’t being fucked-up the norm nowadays?” he retorts. “I like to think of myself as more quadripolar. I’ve come to terms with it. Everyone knows I’m part of Plus Device, Noir Friction, Her Bad Habit and Creepy Autograph. You can expect more from all of those soon.” “Recently, there’s been my project with the Beta Band’s Steve Mason. It’s called Black Affair. He had a big budget so I ended up doing all the production, mixing the whole album and designing all the artwork. I was busy but I just found ways of getting things done, without sleeping ever.” Chronic insomnia has plagued Edgar throughout his life regardless of his drug use. “I’m happy to be clean. I still sleep very little but I find it easier to focus and create new art and music. I thought drugs opened up gates, I used them to be inspired, but now I’m off them my creativity is really f lowing.” This does indeed seem to be the case. The musical magician looks set to pop up in several places over the next few months. He’s got releases coming out all over the place. Snap up a copy of his ‘fave ever’ track Funktion of Love which is out on techno goddess Magda’s Item & Things imprint. And keep ears peeled for sexy electro-soul number ‘Hush’, which is due out midNovember on Dalston newbie Glass Table, complete with a video by hot directing duo Hope Audikana. Aside from producing his own work, (he’s also got three paintings hanging in Detroit’s 555 Gallery), he has of course been remixing others. There’s talk of some seriously hot pop collaborations. Which he absolutely, definitely can’t talk about. Ok? “I can’t talk about Justin Timberlake. When I did, I got in trouble – it ended up on over 100,000 blogs. Not good. I’m trying to get at Cassie, and Missy Elliot heard some tracks and loved them, but this is all unconfirmed, ok?” Whatever you say, Jimmy. His detractors might say Jimmy Edgar is full of hype, and at times I’d be inclined to agree (apparently there are ‘8,000’ unreleased tracks on his hard drive). But even with the ups, the downs and the embellishments, this 26-year-old has achieved a remarkable amount in a career which has spanned one of electronic music’s most innovative decades.
Thunderous Squalls TEXT
Pa u l s u ll i v a n
Fuck Buttons is not the kind of name you forget in a hurry. Neither, for that matter, is their music. Comprised of art school graduates Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power, the band have garnered something of a cult following since releasing their “sounds-like-the-end-of-the-world” debut Street Horrrsing, on the All Tomorrow’s Parties affiliated label ATP Recordings. The overwhelming potency of their music – described by one magazine as “an adrenaline-pumping, ear-purging slab of towering pristine noise” – has been underlined by their scintillating live shows (they toured with Mogwai in 2008), and confirmed by their recent sophomore effort Tarot Sport. Produced by veteran auteur Andy Weatherall at his Rotters Golf Club Studio in London, Tarot Sport blends the duo’s trademark melodic electronics and searing ‘toys and noise’ shtick, creating something that’s as unhinged and ecstatic as it is thrilling and unique.
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H ow did yo u c o me up wit h such a char m ing an d evoca t ive n a me?
We both used to work in this chocolate truff le factory and the boss, who was a real arsehole, used to call all of the workers “Fuck Buttons” to demoralise them or whatever. That’s where the name came from. ah
Wh at are t h e bes t ‘ce n sore d ’ ve r sions of you r na me you’ve h eard? b jp
They call us F Buttons on the radio. It’s fine.
Wh ich elements of t hat fe e d int o your m usic, d i re ct ly a nd i ndirec tly?
I studied Fine Art specialising in Video, and Ben studied Illustration. I guess not having formal musical training and instead having broad creative outlets, we’re not constrained by what we think constitutes something as “music”. That word is so open to interpretation as it is anyway. If you’re talking about the institutions that we both started the music in, then none of it, although it could be argued that our environment facilitated us to do so. If you’re talking about our practices, then it all feeds into each other for sure. b jp We still create all our own artwork and videos. We like to be in charge of our visual side. ah
W ha t s pe ci f i c i nput di d he provi de for t he new a l b u m ?
Well, he was a filter and facilitator. He understood space and distance in order to work and judge. Like us, he was interested in his sensibilities being achieved prominently. So we were constantly communicating and articulating each other’s ideas, so that the ideas generated were an amalgamation of all of our conversations. ah
Yo u r s o u n d h a s b e e n p o s i t e d a s a n a p o c a ly pt i c c l a s h o f e l e c t ro n i c s a n d ex t re m e ro ck o r n o i s e. D o yo u s e e l i n k s b et we e n your s e lve s a nd ot he r a r t i s t s work i ng i n t h i s c ro s s o ve r f i e l d?
We’d never draw any comparisons been our music and the music of other artists. If the connections are there, we’re oblivious to them. We’d certainly never categorise ourselves. bp
I s i t i n t e n t i o n a l t o c h a l l e n ge p e o p l e’s p e r c ept i o n s o f wha t mus i c or pop mus i c ca n b e ?
Not consciously, but I guess we are interested in challenging our own perceptions of what music is. That’s where our sensibilities kick in and the fun starts. ah
Wa s i t a s i n t e n s e t o m a ke a s i t s o u n d s ? Wo u l d yo u d e s c r i b e your s e lve s a s i nt e ns e pe opl e ?
It was intense in the sense that we spent four intense weeks down in the studio with ideas being thrown around constantly. We really learned the importance of distancing oneself from the project at hand, even momentarily sometimes, to allow for a clearer perspective. ??
Yo ur live sh ows have be e n a s r ave d about a s you r re corde d o u t p u t . Wa s t h a t s o m et h i n g yo u’ve t r i e d c o n s c i o u s ly t o m a s t er?
It was never intentional for this to become our jobs. Our only impetus to make music ever has been the desire to write music and experiment with sound together. The rest kind of fell into place around us, but having the opportunity to do what we do on a day-to-day basis is a blessing which we are both humbled by. BJp
Wh at h ave been your be s t gigs so far ? Any highl i ght s f rom t he c ur rent t o ur?
Highlights from this tour include the discovery of the word ‘daggy’, courtesy of our touring buddies HTRK. a h Haha… this is a great word. It’s an Australian word, and a dag is literally a piece of shit that hangs off a lamb’s arse. What it means is something that is embarrassing but equally endearing. Most dads are daggy for instance. b jp
Na me f ive a l b ums you coul dn’t l ive w i t hout ?
We’re inf luenced by the equipment we jam with, rather than other artists b jp
O K – s o na me f ive b i t s of k i t you coul dn’t l ive w i t h o u t ?
You could destroy all my equipment right now and I wouldn’t care. I’d think “Great! I have to use new stuff!” We don’t concern ourselves with instrumentation; they are just a vessel for our sensibilities. ah
What’s the biggest legacy of the noughties from an FB perspective?
Well, as it is across the whole board of culture, the digital age has had a hugely significant impact on the way music is created, presented and consumed. And it’s still going on and no one really knows what’s going to happen. I think that it’s pretty exciting to be a tiny part of that. ah
H ow d i d yo u c o m e t o l i n k w i t h We a t h e r a l l f o r t h e n ew re c o rd. Why did you choose him ?
Andrew made a fantastic remix of [remixing] Sweet Love for us and upon hearing the great job he did we realised that he had a strong grasp of our music and displayed a special sensitivity to the sounds we use. It was a great month we spent down at Rotters Golf Club. b jp
A re younge r a udi e nce s b e comi ng more ope n- mi nd e d t h a n k s t o t he I nt e r net ? O r ha s eve r yone b e e n dumb e d down ?
I definitely think that musicians/artists who use ‘unconventional’ instrumentation can reach a much wider audience thanks b jp
pa u l s u ll i v a n
Courtesy of the artist
Love is in the
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Air are touting their new album as a ‘rebirth’. Paul Sullivan chats to Nicolas Godin about their brand new studio, growing wise and how – despite their best efforts – they can’t stop sounding like Air.
It was ten years ago that Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel drifted on the scene with their coruscating, cockle-warming debut Moon Safari. As inaugural albums go, it was quite the sonic statement. The prevailing downtempo sound at the end of the nineties was still defined by introspective, sampladelic trip hop acts like Massive Attack, DJ Shadow and UNKLE. Then suddenly, here was this pair of elegant, f loppy-haired Frenchmen with a sound every bit as life-affirming and breezy as their name suggested. After a decade of urban music that ref lected anomie and angst, Air’s music-for-reveries came as an enlightening experience, allowing us to indulge in a little romance and some gentle escapism for a while. Ten years and several albums – The Virgin Suicides soundtrack, 10 000 Hz Legend, Talkie Walkie, 2007’s Pocket Symphony – on, the duo are back with a fifth album that sees them move (or at least try to) away from the trademark ethereality that has made them such a household name. The new record, intriguingly, is called Love 2. “It was time to start a new love story,” explains Godin. “We felt Pocket Symphony was the end of a cycle. When Moon Safari exploded 10 years ago, we travelled a lot and met musicians and producers, singers and songwriters, collaborated and had lots of side projects. We wanted to get back to the feeling of being in our bedroom, back to that intimacy. I have a lot of nostalgia for those early times and it felt right to start something new. So we built our own studio and took all the kit we’d assembled over the last 20 years and went crazy.” Some of the key differences with creating Love 2 include the use of a spanking new Paris studio (they’d previously recorded in rented places) and the avoidance of big name guests (Beck and Jarvis Cocker have been collaborators in the past); the only other person on the album aside from themselves is drummer Joey Waronker, who does a stellar job of supplying extra swing and groove. The other notable difference is the absence of their regular producer, Radiohead / Zero7 don Nigel Godrich, which must have been quite a leap for the band. Was Godrich’s presence and input sorely missed? “I miss him as a human being and a friend, and for sure many things could have been better,” laughs Godin. “But that was not the point. This was about rediscovering the essence of the band. It was important to make a record for ourselves, and ask ourselves along the way: “Why do I want to do this? Why would I want to make a record right now?” These kinds of ques-
tions don’t depend on a producer or anyone else, they depend on your heart and mind.” The net result is that Love 2 does sound a bit like a break from the old routine, especially after the mega-mellow Pocket Symphony – but not that much. True, opener (and single) ‘Do The Joy’ sounds fresh and invigorating with its loping, Krautrock rhythm and heavy Moog action. And there’s extra weight and funk in tracks like ‘Be a Bee’, ‘Eat My Beat’, and the DJ Shadowesque ‘Night Hunter’. “It’s the most upbeat album we’ve done,” asserts Godin, “which is a direct result of the new freedom we found. We just don’t feel like making slow music any more, maybe because we’ve made too much of it. The last album was inf luenced by Eastern styles, more Japanese or Oriental music. This one is more located in the equator, in South America or Africa. It’s a return to the roots, but on the other hand it’s of course very different from Moon Safari.” That’s as may be, but tracks like ‘Heaven’s Light’, ‘So Light Is Her Footfall’ – which is way too easily read as ‘So Light Is Her Football’ if you’re not paying attention – and ‘Sing Sang Sung’ are typical weightless Air confections, the kind of insouciant souff lés that the band have long been serving up. In fact, for all its nuanced differences, Love 2 remains unmistakably an Air album. Godin replies with a defeated chuckle. “We try very hard sometimes to make a different-sounding album but it always ends up sounding like us. We don’t really know what to do about that.” Incredibly for a band so popular, the Air sound hasn’t managed to yield many copycats, something Nicholas puts down to the band’s unique way of approaching music. “In France we don’t have pop music in our culture so much, so when we throw ourselves into music we don’t think about writing songs like normal bands do. We don’t care if something comes out as a song or not, which I think is very French. We like pop and pop songs, but we don’t have that tradition. This gives us a lot of freedom. We can have classical music on our albums, for example, and it creates a very thin line that is hard to emulate.” It seems so long ago that Moon Safari’s gentle fireworks exploded inside our eardrums. Yet for the band it has “all gone so fast – it’s felt like being inside a tornado. That’s why we want to do things for fun again. We don’t want to suffer from having a career. It’s now time for some wisdom.”
NEW YORK Empire state of mind text
s a n d r a l i e r m a n n , j o e ta n i s
The last decade has brought a dizzying number of radical shifts and detrimental changes to the city of all cities yet the storied melting pot stands as strong and tall as its ever-changing skyline. People from all parts of the world and all walks of life are still f locking to this resilient place known for never backing down.
The noughties have been marked by 9/11, followed by gentrification and recession as the decade’s buzzwords. While the economic downturn brought struggle for New Yorkers, the weak dollar has been a boon for foreign visitors. With money being the major driving force in the city’s development, the more creatively inclined and off beat New Yorkers have moved to the outer boroughs in search of lower rent and a more underground spirit. The siren call of Brooklyn across the East River has been the strongest – some say the borough has superseded Manhattan as the locus of cool.
1 SOUEN 1 SOUEN 2 GITANE 2 GITANE 3 CAFE 3 CAFE SELECT SELECT 4 MOGADOR 4 MOGADOR 5 CASIMIR 5 CASIMIR 6 NUBLU 6 NUBLU 7 HOTEL 7 HOTEL DELMANO DELMANO 8 LE8PETIT LE PETIT CAFE CAFE 9 BUFF 9 BUFF PATTY PATTY 10 SARAGHINA 10 SARAGHINA 11 ROBERTA’S 11 ROBERTA’S 12 MARLOW 12 MARLOW & SONS & SONS 13 PS1 13 14 PS1TAVERNA 14 TAVERNA KYCLADES KYCLADES
In ‘Madhattan’, where money still talks the most, the bright lights of the big city are as grand and glamorous as ever. Despite the current freeze on many building projects, developers are reinventing its grid and the world’s most famous architects – think Calatrava and Nouvel – are leaving their imprint on the city’s skyline. Meanwhile, Harlem is in the midst of another renaissance, the Lower East Side and East Village are ever-buzzing with hipsters, and the West Village draws foodies and barf lies in droves. Still, the turndown, which has shaken up the areas of finance, media and real estate, has caused a fair share of shutdowns of revered restaurants and venues (RIP CBGB). Luckily, in true spirit of the city that never sleeps, new spots are mushrooming to keep the lifeblood going.
THETHE BRONX BRONX ER ER RIV RIV T
EA S EA S
ASTORIA, ASTORIA, LONG LONG ISLAND ISLAND CITYCITY 13
ill u s t rat i o n
Locals may tell you that Gotham has lost some of its edge and allure but spend just a few days in this cosmopolitan hodgepodge and you’ll see why every bite out of the Big Apple is still as sweet as it ever was. You may hate the fast-paced schizo vibe or you may find it thrilling. One thing is certain – bored you won’t be, as reinvention is the only thing constant in New York.
Some say that, as a side benefit of recession, ‘the old New York’ has come back. Restaurants are offering incentives such as prix fixe lunches, theater tickets are heavily discounted, museums feature free nights and hotels have dropped their rates. A hightime visit can now be had without the hefty price tag.
K EE P AN E Y E OUT F OR T H E C OM P LETE ELE C TRONI C B EATS G UIDE TO NE W Y OR K C IT Y C OMIN G SOON
WEST WEST VILLAGE, VILLAGE,
EAST EAST VILLAGE VILLAGE
GREENWICH GREENWICH VILLAGE VILLAGE 2
NOLITA NOLITA 3
LOWER LOWER EAST EAST SIDESIDE 7
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT BEDFORD-STUYVESANT 9
NEW JERSEY NEW JERSEY
FORT GREEN FORT GREEN
BROOKLYN BROOKLYN PARK SLOPE PARK SLOPE 8
CARROLL GARDENS CARROLL GARDENS
8 E 4 B J ET SETT I N G
BELINDA BECKER DJ, Dancer, actress & Mother
Jamaican-born Belinda Becker left Florida and moved to New York over 25 years ago. What she found, more than in any other city in the world, was: energy, energy, energy! As a DJ, Belinda was inducted into the New York Nightlife Hall of Fame in 2005. As a dancer, she toured the world for four years and is currently working on Sanble, a piece which explores her Afro-Caribbean roots through a distinct world view. She acted in eight independent films and is a mother to wonderful daughter, Willow.
MY NEW YORK When I first moved here in 1984, I lived in the East Village. The neighborhood was filled with artists, musicians, dancers, writers and strange characters. Today, I live on the south side of the Williamsburg, where it’s still a little rough around the edges, with a healthy mix of ethnicities and a nice sense of community. I love having dinners at my place, with kindred spirits from Trinidad, Angola, Croatia, New York and Sweden. We all share that energy that made us move to New York. CAFÉ AND RESTO FAVES I love the coffee and great outdoor seating at Marlow & Sons (81 Broadway) around the corner from my place in Williamsburg. There’s another lovely little cafe in Williamsburg called Supercore (305 Bedford Avenue) with a chill easy vibe. Le Petit Cafe (502 Court St) in Carroll Gardens has the BEST music – I get inspired listening to their musical selections. For a great mix of West African and American food, I head to Abistro (154 Carlton Avenue) in Fort Greene, one of the city’s few remaining mom and pop restaurants, owned by two of the nicest people in the world, Abdoul and Cassandra Gueye. My guilty pleasure for whenever I get homesick is Buff Patty (376 Myrtle Avenue) in Fort Greene, a Jamaican takeout spot with great patties, jerk chicken wings and oxtail. In Manhattan, I love Indochine (430 Lafayette St) – it has the best-looking staff ever, great French-Vietnamese food and killer lychee saketinis.
BARS AND BOOGIE I deejay at La Esquina (114 Kenmare Street), a restaurant/bar/lounge in SoHo, on Tuesdays and really like the vibe, the people and the tequila. I love the fact you have to enter through a taco stand, down through the kitchen to what looks like an underground grotto during the Spanish Inquisition. QT, the penthouse bar at The Standard (848 Washington Street), is the finest of the finest, an opulent treat for the eyes on the 18th floor with a panoramic city view, a very strict door policy and steep prices. The Box (189 Chrystie Street) on the Lower East Side is great for decadent fun. For a low-key glass of wine in my neighborhood, I dig Hotel Delmano (82 Berry Street), an antique-looking bar ideal for a cozy date. I don’t really go clubbing anymore but I do frequent performance venues like Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street) and Drom (85 Avenue A) in Manhattan and Zebulon (258 Wythe Avenue) in Williamsburg. They all have one thing in common... great shows! WHERE GOES GOTHAM New York has become more of a corporate city. The high rents have made it difficult for struggling artists to move or live here. I hope the recession, although bad for a lot of reasons, will slow gentrification down and allow for new artistic expression. I would like to see fewer Wall Street bankers and women dressed like extras from Sex and the City, less chain stores, lower rents, better public schools with vigorous arts programs to produce the next generation of talent, more dancing in clubs instead of “networking” and more spiritual healing. Money is not what makes a city, culture is. Without culture, New York would not be New York.
M a r low & s o n s
B U F F Pat t y
8 E 6 B J ET SETT I N G
ILHAN ERSAHIN Saxophone player, record producer, composer, club & record label owner www.nublu.net
Ilhan Ersahin, born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and Turkish father, moved to New York in 1990 attracted by its music. As a saxophone player, record producer and composer, Ilhan has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Norah Jones, Bebel Gilberto, the legendary dub vocalist U-Roy, jazz legends like Juini Booth and Butch Morris, Sabina Sciubba of Brazilian Girls, and Saul Williams, to name a few. Ilhan is the owner of Nublu, the epicentre of New York’s downtown music scene, and the man behind Nublu Records.
EAST VILLAGE I’ve always lived in the East Village. When I first walked around here, I just knew it was my neighbourhood. Its beauty is that you feel like you live in a little town or even a village while in fact you’re in the middle of a huge metropolis. Somehow I feel that this is the last creative corner of the US. The art and music from the East Village have inf luenced the whole world and set the standard for Western culture, always on the highest level. From Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Velvet Underground, Basquiat, Warhol, Scorsese, Ginsberg, Jackson Pollock, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix... the list is endless. Without the East Village, none of these artists would have become what they became. NYC VS USA & THE WORLD I’ll be honest – sometimes I can’t stand this island of concrete and competition. But I love those special days when you walk around the city and feel this large energy, when everything feels just like a great movie. Wherever I travel around the globe, I always miss New York and its sense of magic and freedom. It’s the source of so many things.
When Matt Dillon, Kevin Spacey, Caetano Veloso or Lou Reed walk into Nublu, no one raises an eyebrow. Everyone here is the same. You’re not judged on where you are from or how you look. It’s about what you do and how you do it. NYC is somehow a country within itself. I really wish there was a NYC passport... maybe one day. PERSONAL HIDEOUTS Besides the East Village, I love Williamsburg, Lower East Side/Upper Chinatown and East SoHo. My favourite cafes are Mogador (101 St. Marks Place) and Gitane (242 Mott Street). For food, I mainly go to neighbourhood classics such as Casimir (103 Avenue B) and Tonda (235 East 4 th Street). For music, I must say Nublu (62 Avenue C) is my favourite. Not because I want to promote it but because it’s a place where you can hear great music and DJs seven nights per week. Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Avenue South) is always my spot of choice to hear good jazz. For indie rock bands, the best spots are Webster Hall (125 East 11 th Street), Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancey Street) and the Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6 th Street). Plus there are the underground loft-style parties...
KARINA CORREA visual artist, filmmaker 6 designer www.elkarina.com, www.trainoffreedom.com
Karina Correa moved from Colombia to New York in 1993 to seek better education and a life away from violence and constant harassment. She has since worked in broadcast, video, animation, live visuals, fashion, design and documentary. As a VJ, Karina has played with Moby, Kudu, Nublu Orchestra, Little Louie Vega, Brazilian Girls and Turntables on The Hudson. One of her videos features David Byrne for Forro in the Dark’s debut album. Her first feature documentary Train of Freedom, about post-war reconciliation in Kosovo, won the best doc award in Hamburg in 2008.
NEW YORK NOMAD I’ve lived all over New York, mainly because of the rent. Park Slope in Brooklyn. Astoria in Queens, rough Williamsburg, a brownstone in surprisingly safe Harlem, the Lower East Side, and finally a crappy building on Mulberry Street which turned out to be the ‘schicki-mickiest’ neighborhood of all: NoLita. These days I spend my time between NoLita and Long Island City/Astoria. LOVE-HATE NY MOMENTS There are those moments when you hate the city and you curse and damn it – like trying to catch a cab in the rain and someone else grabs it without blinking. But then there are the magical moments when you meet someone extraordinary whom you’ve admired all your life, or you end up on some rooftop with your favorite artists or simply stumble upon a place you’ve never noticed before. There is always a reward waiting for you somewhere so you can’t help but stay on and on. Once she’s grabbed you, she won’t let go. COFFEE & CHOW DOWN FAVES The best thing about New York is that you can find anything you want at any time of day or night. My favorite cafe continues to be Gitane (242 Mott Street) where you can be sipping good espresso next to Leonardo DiCaprio or Iggy Pop.
ta v e r n a kyc l a d e s
souen g i ta n e
For vegetarians, there are plenty of nutritious and delicious choices such as Souen (28 E 13th St) near Union Square. If you fancy fish, Astoria in Queens is the place to go; I love Taverna Kyclades (33-07 Ditmars Boulevard) and the area’s Mediterranean vibe. There’s also excellent Brazilian food in Astoria – the cozy Malagueta (25-35 36th Ave) has yummy authentic dishes. LONG ISLAND CITY LIFE During the summer, Long Island City is my favorite area to hang out. The day starts at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (29-19 24th Ave) in Astoria, an old-time bar with Central European f lair and a huge outdoor beer garden. Then it’s off to PS1 Contemp orary Art Center (22-25 Jackson Ave), a former school now turned into a museum. They run a fun Saturday music series (from 3 till 9pm) featuring a great roster of DJs and bands plus edgy contemporary art in the corridors and classrooms. The perfect finale to my Saturday is just a few blocks away – the Water Taxi Beach (closest street address: 2 Borden Avenue), a cool outdoor space with a skyline view of Manhattan across the river, hosted by DJ Probus and Justin Carter. They’ve had some amazing guests such as Carl Craig, Prince Thomas, Denis Ferrer, Metro Area... the list goes on and on.
8 E 8 B J ET SETT I N G
CHRISTIAN CALABRÓ art director & Designer www.growingstudio.com
Christian moved to New York from Switzerland in 1994, looking for a change. After leaving the jazz label Verve Records, he founded Growing_Studio in 1999. He has since been responsible for art direction and design in a variety of visual industries. Over the past 10 years, Christian has run The Feather Factory, a 5000sq foot artist and living space in the heart of Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy. Some of the on-site events included live concerts by Jojo Mayer’s Nerve, The Grassy Knoll, Greg Garing and The French Kicks.
NEW YORK PEOPLE It’s the cultural multicolour of New York that makes it unique and totally different than any other big city in the world. Here, people from all walks of life and ethnicities manage to live side by side, for better or for worse. It’s a densely populated representation of our planet and its many cultures. And it feels the least American of all of America’s cities. New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude yet it’s surprising how much heart you find in many people where you don’t expect it. Some of my best moments in the city have been intellectually stimulating conversation with cab drivers – always intense, always unexpected, but mostly, always real. FAVORITE CITY SPOTS I love to walk around the city, aiming for places I don’t know. This way I get to experience the city almost like a tourist. Never walk down the same street twice! As for personal favourites... my spot at the moment is Café Select (212 Lafayette Street) in Manhattan – they have the best espresso in town! For food, it’s about pizza pizza pizza – the real deal can be found at two Brooklyn spots: Roberta’s (261 Moore St) in Bushwick and Saraghina (435 Halsey Street) in Bed-Stuy. As for bars, there are more than I can handle.
For clubs, even though most have become too sterile and controlled and not all that much fun, I go to Santos Party House (96 Lafayette Street), Nublu (62 Avenue C) and The Box (189 Chrystie Street), but never on weekends. I like to shop at Alife (158 Rivington Street), aNYthing (51 Hester Street) and my little nameless secondhand shop on Classon and Dekalb in Bed-Stuy. OCEAN ESCAPE The lovely town of Montauk at the tip of Long Island is always nice, summer or winter. It’s a very mellow place that feels like another world, yet it’s fairly close to the city. Sunrise Guest House (www.sunrisebnb.com) on the Old Montauk Highway feels like grandma’s place somewhere in the Midwest. It’s got fireplaces in each room, which can be turned on by remote control! Welcome to America. THE PAST & THE FUTURE I think what changed since 9/11 is that New York has become much more American in perception. Before, the city felt distinctly worldly but then all the patriotism and flag-bearing came – it was quite disturbing to me. I’d like to see a future in which we’ll strip away the glossiness and bring back some of the dirt. Not all that glitters is gold, even if it tries hard to look that way. New York City has been overdeveloped by greed. But thanks to the economic crisis, people seem to start questioning some of that and appear to look inward rather than defining themselves by status.
r o b e r ta' s
s a r a gh i n a
HEAR THIS For a bit of noughties nostalgia treat your ears to the fastidiously selected playlist of our Collectorâ€™s Guide. New musical treats can be discovered in the reviews as always, meanwhile My Music Moment presents a compelling insight into the inspiration behind discomaestro Daniel Wangâ€™s magnificent musical path.
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OR’ ECT L L CO DE GUI TO
NOUGHTIES TOP TRACKS TEXTS
G a r e t h o w e n & Carlos de Brito
Dörte L ange
An exceedingly tall task, for such a short column. Therefore take this as a personal selection from Electronic Beats of the cream of the songs that made our decade. From the blindingly obvious to the painfully overlooked we try to trace a thread through the blizzard of opinion, bluff and buster, cast aside the critical reappraisals and concentrate on the pinnacle of the songs that we thought were great when they came out and are still great now. Choosing just ten songs was probably one of the most painful experiences of our lives – we just wished the column was 50 times bigger.
Matthew Dear (2007) This song (and its accompanying album Asa Breed) is a serious contender as one of my desert island discs. Probably one of the most creative, affirming, frankly, brilliant pieces of pop music ever made, never mind the last ten years. However much hyperbole you chuck at this record, it always delivers. G O
Metro Area (2001) Metro Area are key amongst those responsible for the massive return of disco, in terms of productions and what you hear on the dancef loor. This is probably their best moment; a perfectly textured and instantly recognisable pearl of emotive future disco. A song that even your grandpa would dance to. C D B
»House Of Jealous Lovers«
Rapture (2003) Like a Brooklyn loft party has invaded your house, smashed all of your belongings and left a trail of dead hipsters in its wake, House Of Jealous Lovers can almost certainly lay claim as being one of the most played records of the decade. Existing on every type of dancef loor you can think of, the raw energy and shambolic groove just work every time. It makes me want to dance just thinking about it. G O
Âme (2005) Hard to imagine at the end of the decade, but this record was a key moment that helped to bridge the worlds of house and ‘minimal’. A huge club hit across the world, with rich strings and pounding beats, sampled, covered and licensed like probably no other track in the last ten years. Still sounding fresh, this is a true classic of the decade. C D B
Burial (2005) Brilliant first track from Burial, who gave dubstep its very own sound signature: Spooky, misty and always slightly out of key. He managed to win over people with disparate electronic music tastes and helped dubstep to overcome the creative impasse that drum ’n’ bass found itself in earlier on in the decade. C D B
Battles (2006) Weird beyond belief, throwing polyrhythms around like handclaps, and delivering one of the oddest grooves you can dance to, Atlas counts as one of the most inventive records I have ever heard. Math rock doesn’t even come close, this is an algebra freak out. G O
»Crystalised« The XX (2009) Breathtakingly simple, I was at pains whether to include a band that are currently in receipt of so much hype. However, Crystalised is without doubt one the most impressive debut singles of the last ten years. When you add a bit of context such as the fact that this was written by two 16 year olds in their bedrooms, you realise just what a truly magical record this is. Stunning. G O
»Rocker« Alter Ego (2004) A brutal 12 inches of future funk, Rocker marked the point where electroclash burned out and something slicker, harder and with bigger teeth took over. There were plenty of poor imitations, and the template it laid down was soon cast aside, but this record will stand the test of time. One of the most terrifying, amazing grooves you can ever wish to hear on a dancef loor. G O
»South London Boroughs«
»Fizheuer Zieheuer« Ricardo Villalobos (2006) Ricardo Villalobos produced more complex, thus catchier, tracks than this one (i.e. Easy Lee, Dexter, 808 The Bassqueen), but nothing could describe better the never-ending Berlin party extravaganzas than this simple and minimal 37-minute long track, built around a Balkan horn sample. File under: How to evaporate time with joy. C D B
»The Official« Jaylib (2003) An anthem made by two of the most versatile, experimental and therefore best producers hip hop has to offer, Madlib and Jaydee. The death of the latter in 2006 was a big loss for the genre. Without him and Madlib, who’s still kicking out tunes like his life depends on it, there would be no Flying Lotuses, no Hudson Mohawkes, only bling bling. C D B
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MUSIC REVIEWS F
OUR TE URI AV O
re v ie w s
g a r e t h o w e n / N e a l e Ly t o l l i s / A r i s t e i n
See Mystery Lights
Catch a Bird
Syntaks duo Jakob Skøtt and Anna Cecilia hail from Denmark, and Ylajali is their first LP. If there are too many unpronounceable words here, then best thing is to forget trying to master Danish and dive into the music itself. There are some big concepts at work; intimate clicks and scratchy electronic samples are paired with f loaty vocals and some sweeping orchestrations to create a brooding, melancholic album which rumbles like huge, swollen thunder clouds before breaking into fresh, after-therain spring sunshine. NL
A DFA release does tend to veer towards an ego massage for James Murphy, because more often than not it does sound exactly like every LCD Soundsystem album. This, however, is different. They may have fallen into the MSTRKRFT trap of losing the ability to type a vowel, but the shiny beats and sing-a-long-a-chorus approach to songwriting is eminently appealing and could easily win over the toughest of crowds at a pre-school birthday party. NL
OK, I have to get straight to the point. I would have enjoyed this album much much more if it was just instrumentals. If you like Jazzanova, and the kind of female vocalists they work with, then I can highly recommend this – you WILL like it. However, that’s the reason I don’t. Faux breathless Jazz-lite vocals mixed with some quirky electronics leads, instantly leads to 30-something dinner party music. I know that is a sweeping generalisation, but it is also completely true. Not for me, but still good in its own rather sophisticated way. G O
From the moment the woozy ghetto bump of album opener ‘Country Song’ poured out of my headphones and had me shifting around in my seat like a child with worms, I knew I was going to enjoy Solomun’s debut album. You can imagine US house purists would hate this, and that just makes me love it even more. Polished production with a wonky, shifting underbelly of bass and groove, Dance Baby aims straight for the hips. A solid debut full of feel-good melodies to lighten up the winter’s gloom. G O
John Morales The M & M Mixes (BBE)
The reissue scrum shows no sign of abating. This is one of about eight similar releases I received recently, and it is easily the pick of the crop. A double CD of unreleased M&M club mixes by legendary retweaker John Morales. From the extended bump and funk of Class Actions Weekend to (relatively) lesser known cuts like Instant Funk’s ‘No Stoppin' That Rockin'’, this is a classy selection from the days when a remix meant sitting for days in spools of ¼” tape. G O
Choir of Young Believers
Sisters of transistor
dj arok and dj scientist
At The Ferranti Institute
(This is Music)
(Godly Grooves Records)
There can be few stranger sights than Graham Massey of 808 State fame, leading a gaggle of beautiful ladies playing a quartet of organs like their lives depend on it. Mix in a bit of Latin chanting to the mix and you have a frankly bizarre, but oh-so-good debut album that fuses the best bits of dance music like rhythm and beats into something dark, spooky and ethereal. And very sexy. Like Enya on a crack binge. G O
The names behind this utterly intriguing compilation may be unknown to many, but if there’s any justice in the world they’ll both gain some widespread recognition for having come up with one of 2009’s most unusual and attractive records. Forget the latest Kitsune compilation or the new remix 12” from Ed Banger; Godly Grooves is a curious DJ mix featuring ueber-rare German Christian funk cuts patched together with some smooth background beats. Perhaps not the sound of the future, but right now it’s a gem of an oddity and limited to only 100 pressings. You’ll be praying to God Almighty you can get your hands on a copy. Amen. NL
White rainbow New Clouds (Kranky)
This Is For The White In Your Eyes (Tigerspring)
Any band who describe themselves on their Myspace site as indie/folk/pop are usually to be avoided like the plague. Indie and pop in themselves aren’t necessarily all that offensive; it’s folk that tends to make me think of a bunch of smelly druids chanting their way through some dreary dirge while waving mistletoe at each other. These dudes from Copenhagen, however, get it just right; sensitive vocals, plenty of strings and a light, airy feel. Relatively harmless, in fact. NL
Cathartic, challenging, thoughtful and deeply ref lective. The epicentre of this release revolves around the 13-minute sonic adventure ‘Major Spillage’, a world in which you totally get lost in. Bolts of guitar that shimmer like rays of sunshine twirling amongst his blissful rhythms which Forkner builds and builds upon. ‘Monday Boogies Forward Forever’ and ‘All the Boogies in The World’, blend psychedelia and ambient drone effortlessly, similar to Terry Riley’s ‘Gang Gang Dance’ or even my postrock idol, Sam Prekop. It’s nice to see that someone in these emotionally barren times can lift you up and make you feel like you’re astral travelling. AS
Boys Noize Power (Boysnoize Records)
Sascha Ridha is back with another toe-tapping compilation of shiny, teutonic electro music. It doesn’t exactly deviate from the formula he established on his previous LP (and a slew of remixes, for that matter), but what he does, he does so well anyway, it’s hard not to bounce along to his cheerful blend. Drum loops as solid as Stonehenge punctuated by scifi SFX and garbled vocals. NL
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Birdy nam Nam Manual For Successful Rioting (Has Been)
I kinda guessed I wouldn’t like this. And I was kinda wrong. Most ‘bass’ music is formulaic, boring and enjoyed by kids from Croydon who think they live in the ghetto. It’s jungle for the new generation, with all of the shock and none of the awe. Birdy Nam Nam are a different prospect entirely, though on the surface they are just another bunch of rude boys with big subs and lots of swagger. Manual For Successful Rioting, apart from being gorgeously produced by folks who clearly know their way around a music studio, is infected buckets of charm, inventiveness, and a f low that means when the bass does drop – and whoa, does it drop – things go seriously wonky. G O
Blank and Jones/ Mark Reeder Reordered (Soundcolours)
Blank & Jones are hardly an unknown commodity here in Germany, given their background producing electronic music for more than a decade. Mark Reeder has also been a long-time fixture in the German music scene, having toured with New Order, managed Malaria, produced the last ever LP in Communist East Germany, and discovered superstar DJ Paul van Dyk. Reeder takes a batch of tracks B+J produced with guest vocalists (think Bernard Sumner, Anne Clark, Robert Smith) and has re-worked, rewritten and re-mixed them into a concept album. And jolly good it is, too. NL
Shitkatapult are one of a handful of Berlin-based labels that aren’t absolutely awful, and in the last decade or so they’ve produced some pretty smart wonky electronics. Step forward Daniel Meteo, who kicks off his Working Class LP with an easy club beat, the foundation for him to build in some piano loops, melodies and abstract harmonics. NL
Flashes of inspiration, tempered with a lot of average-sounding electronic music. There is absolutely no doubting the skills that Jay Haze possesses, and if you read interviews with the man he seems like an interesting, thoughtful person that cares a lot about the world we live in. So it does pain me slightly that someone who is deserving of such respect seems to churn out so much average-sounding music. Under his Fuckpony moniker, Jay has put out some fantastic songs, and I have no doubt that this will make lots of people happy. However, I simply can’t escape the hollow feeling of music-bynumbers and a number of tired clichés. G O
J Dilla Dillanthology 3
Daniel Meteo (Shitkatapult)
Maps Turning the Mind
Fuck pony Let The Love Flow
Northampton’s James Chapman – aka Maps – might not exactly be a blockbuster selling musician, but his work is very highly regarded among critics and his solid, steadily-rising fanbase. As a Mute signing he has a nice line in ever so slightly retro-sounding synth pop, reminiscent of the tasty pop licks of early Yazoo interspersed with the slightly more abstract fuzziness of Fad Gadget. Mute founder Daniel Miller (remember Warm Leatherette?) even pops up to perform additional programming duties. Well worth further investigation. NL
Dare I admit: though I knew much of J Dilla’s inf luence, I wasn’t overly familiar with his productions? I guess I just have, and for someone with an apathetic interest in hip hop, at best, I was completely mesmerised by the third instalment of his posthumously released beats. ‘Glamour Sho75’ is my favourite (according to my iTunes, at least) but there is very little here that I didn’t enjoy immensely. G O
Dig and Edit
Edits, reworks, remixes, new songs. Drawing on his huge record collection, Force of Nature’s KZA crafts a diverse selection of songs that had their DNA forged on other people’s records. The relentless bass-line of Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English is extended over and over, and the progressive house of Morgan King’s ‘I’m free’ is turned into the gorgeous ‘Open Up’. OK, there is a little bit of chin stroking here and there, but it is more than offset by a surprisingly high number of ‘heavy’ cuts that work just as well on the Autobahn as the dancef loor. G O
Does a technical name exist for these kind of cut up albums? Probably. Like DJ Yoda with a more mature sense of humour , Pablo’s Turntable Technology opens up like many of its contemporaries – an instructional audio recording cut up over a beat – pretty standard stuff that turns immediately left, then right, then back on itself as Pablo cuts in soul that you have never heard before with jazz, classical instruments and samples and anything else he thinks of, without ever falling into the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ method. Slick, inventive and pretty cool in a geeky fashion. G O
A sunny day in glasgow
Greg Wilson and the Idjut Boys, amongst others, reworking the ZE Records back catalogue seemed like a match made in heaven but is actually like getting a freshly pressed and ironed linen suit. A group of producers, DJs and editors who I all admire have managed to collectively mangle and ruin great disco songs, by taking out all of the bits that made them good in the first place. Pilooski’s edit of ‘I’m An Indian Too’ teases you with the killer piano from the original, but never lets it go, and the HMD disco guys f latten out the erratic tempo of ‘Spooks in Space’ and in the process clean away all of the nervous energy from the original – so what’s the point? If this is what is needed nowadays to make a dancef loor move, then take me back to ’81 in the time machine ASAP. Please. G O
Death Star Droid (Project: Mooncircle)
Robot Koch’s spiky blonde hair is usually to be seen behind an array of technical equipment providing the solid beats and sonic accoutrements for Jahcoozi. But he’s more than just a glorified backing musician; he’s also a producer in his own right with a string of singles and EPs under his belt. Death Star Droid is his first full-length release. Koch is clearly a Star Wars junkie, and the album is brimming with spacey, sci-fi SFX; neat f lourishes to the off-kilter time registers and shambolic drum loops. NL
Ashes Grammar (Mis Ojos Discos)
Someone has obviously listened to a shitload of Kate Bush, Magnetic Fields and the Cocteau Twins. And that is a pretty good starting point if you want to dip your toes into ethereal waters. A Sunny Day in Glasgow blend short pop vignettes with ethereal dreamy and abstract sounds that work like an all encompassing blanket of happiness. It never gets too uptempo to shake you out of a ref lective doze, and it never gets so out there that you lose interest over the course of some 22 songs. Why have I never heard of this band before? G O
MY SIC MU T MEN MO
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Daniel Wang I nter v ie w
G ARETH OWEN
C O U RTESY O F ARTIST
Daniel Wang is the head of the label Balihu Records. He is also one of the most in-demand disco DJs in the world, playing in a style that recalls the greats of the genre and showing a deep respect for how disco music should be presented. Daniel was born in Oakland, California, “which was basically where all the blacks and Chinese lived”, but moved with his parents to Taiwan when he was seven years old. A mere six years later at the tender age of 13 Daniel was inducted into the secret world of illegal Taipei clubbing. Here he recounts the early experiences that shaped his future.
“I was always known as the ‘American boy’ at school in Taiwan, and was exposed first hand to the indoctrination practised by allies of the United States in the seventies, against the perceived evils of communism. We were taught that the Chinese communists were terrible, horrible people, and had to write essays about the evils of communism. It was pure indoctrination. Our teachers told us really cruel and horrible stories about the Cultural Revolution, which of course were true, but it’s kind of heavy stuff for nine-year old kids.
These older girls took me under their wing, and took me out partying in illegal clubs and secret back room discos, that technically existed as ‘tea rooms’. One of these clubs was called The Diana and another one was called Billie Jeans. These were super cool discotheques, all black-and-white chequered f loor, neoncoloured lights, everything super professional. Technically, dancing was illegal in Taipei, so the police could come and raid these places; just dancing was seen as an offence against public morality.
Taiwan was supported by the peacekeeper of the region, America, but also had strong economic and social ties with Japan. What I got, without really realising it, was a huge dose of really cool Japanese pop culture. There were always crazes sweeping through in the early eighties, like everyone dressing as sailors with little hats and insignia, or dressing head to toe in black or something.
I was still only 13, but had the benefit of being slightly taller than most kids my age. By now, I was getting down to slightly more cutting edge sounds like Freez’s ‘I.O.U.’, Hazel Dean and early Madonna – amazing songs that I still play in my DJ sets today. The crazy thing was that somehow as American kids, we had a kind of immunity, which enabled me to be brought in by friends who were that little bit older. One time, I was at a club when it was raided – it was crazy; they turned on all of the lights, rolled carpet on the f loor and brought out tables with tea, melon and cookies. When the police came in they just said it was a café!
At this point, musically, I was drawn towards the disco grooves of commercial pop acts like Leo Sayer, Bee Gees and even The Carpenters. We were getting stuff from the radio mainly. I remember at the time that ‘Upside Down’ by Diana Ross was always playing. That record, the groove! I was so crazy about that record. I must have listened to it 40 times in a row. When I was 13, I moved to an American school in Taipei. Through some older classmates, I was introduced to a small group of Vidal Sassoon hair stylists, who opened my eyes to a much more underground culture. They were all super stylish, wearing headto-toe black Comme des Garçons – I mean: Comme des Garçons in Taipei in the early eighties!
It was funny, because I never drank at these clubs. People would give me cigarettes and I would pretend to inhale, but just blew the smoke out. There were also no drugs, or not that I knew about anyway. It sounds silly at such a young age, but it really was just about the music. I must have only gone to these clubs four or five times in six months, but that experience totally changed my life.”
KIT KEMP QUEEN OF THE ECLECTIC & HOTELIER
Behind every original property are original people. Design Hotelsâ„˘ presents its most illustrious personalities: At Firmdale Hotels in New York and London design daredevil Kit Kemp intrepidly mixes colours, patterns and styles to create unconventionally elegant spaces.