For Tempelhof Mixtape

I’ve been putting this mixtape together in my mind for years. Some tracks I’ve known for 12 years, some for 10, some for 2. But they all evoke me Tempelhof – one of my favourite places in the world, with its vastness and endlessness, skyboards and surfskates, chocolate smell from the cookie factory, sunshine, joy, melancholy, loneliness and freedom.

Tracklist:
Cults – Oh My God
Wiz Khalifa – Hopes and Dreams intro
The Depreciation Guild – Sky Ghosts
The Knife – Heartbeats
Kid Cudi – Pursuit of Happiness
nobody here (actually Oneohtrix Point Never)
Major Lazer feat. Amber Coffman – Get Free
Pinback – Non-Photo Blue
Jon Brion – Phonecall (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind OST)
Granddaddy – So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky
Saturnia – Kite
Popnoname – The Movement
Animal Collective – On a Highway

Blog Post: 5 Songs You Should Never Play in U-Bahn Again

Photo: Jonas Tölle

Something I wrote in my desperate madness of unemployment…

If there’s something I’ve learned in Berlin, it’s being less judgemental, more tolerant, opened and relaxed towards anybody who crosses my way. I got tired of haters and try not to be one anymore, even though it takes a lot of energy sometimes. But once in a while, you can’t fight it; especially when it haunts you and there’s no escape.

Kudos to those who play their own music like Infidelix, to the guy who played violoncello in the U-Bahn station, to the old pianist sipping red wine, to any hang drum player or to that guitarist whose drones sounded like Jim Jarmusch’s next movie soundtrack. The guy who played Mad World on a mini harp on Friedrichstrasse – not sure about him. But there ARE good street musicians and I’m always happy to contribute when somebody is trying to make their living. But then there are those who choose to perform “hits that everybody likes“ to move your heart and get your purse out of the pocket. I’ve heard these songs countless times in different parts of town, different times of the day and in various versions which usually suck, and even if they wouldn’t, hearing them so often just disgusted me these ones forever (if I already didn’t hate them beforehands (see number 1, 2, 5)). So please, if you have a need to make some extra Euros by playing music in the streets of Berlin, avoid these ones or I will avoid you.

1. The Beatles – Let It Be
There are many, many songs by The Fab Four which are great. But Let It Be, a partly typical 4 chord song, a title track from their last album and a touching, sticky slow dance motivational ballad speaking the words of wisdom… is not the best representative. C’mon, even McCartney himself allegedly hates this song. So learn the lesson and… let it be.

2. Wonderwall
A must in every juke box machine from 1995 on, which lyrics probably appear even in English school songbooks together with chords which many guitar-playing beginners fail to master, this song for some reason appeals even to those who aren’t Oasis‘ fans. Which (as obviously not a fan) I can’t understand. And even those who liked it at the beginning as clueless teenagers have to get tired of it since it has been covered by almost everybody who’s lost their decensy. There is one plus though – the street performers of this song, which is supposed to describe ‚an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself‘ (sic!), at least don’t bleat like Liam Gallagher.

3. Consuelo Velázquez – Besame Mucho
I’ve known this famous bolero song in many versions since I had to sing it in a music school. There are countless versions of it – no wonder, it belongs to Latin Grammy’s Hall of Fame. There are also countless versions of this love song happening right now out there, in U-Bahns, S-Bahns, in the streets, in front of supermarkets. And it’s not easy to sing – that’s my empirical experience, not only from the singer’s point of view, but also from the listener’s one. You need to smoke about 10 cigars and have few shots of rum to have the right shade of voice and still be able to make a great vocal performance and put all the fiery desire to your expression. Which never happens, not in U-Bahn. Just give it up guys, there’s no way we would ever kiss you after you’d sing this song (especially after all those cigars!).

4. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack
During the years in Berlin, I’ve heard many versions of this song in trains. With a speaker on performer’s backs, acoustic, with a clarinet, with a guitar, instrumental, with vocals. All of them sucked. Please, stop abusing this classic since only the original is cool. Face it, you’ll never gonna be Ray Charles. No, not even with those sunglasses on!

5. Leonard Cohen – Halleluyah
Do I really have to explain this?

Title photo: Jonas Tölle

Interview with Oscar Mulero

Last month, Oscar Mulero released a beautiful conceptual LP and EP and I interviewed him about it for DJBroadcast.

Oscar-Mulero

From his heady beginnings in the 80s from DJing the experimental clubs of Madrid, Oscar Mulero still manages to keep it underground. Mulero is one of the more prominent techno personas who helped establish DJing as a career. Apart from being a DJ, Mulero is also a well-known producer of experimental techno, owner of two record labels and a keen collaborator with his techno comrades and visual artists. Mulero will release his fourth LP Muscle and Mind later next month. For DJBroadcast, Mulero elaborates on the ideas behind his new record, his various collaborations and his opinions on the changes in the club scene over the last 25 years.

Do you believe that a thought or a mental state can influence the physical body?
Yes, of course. You can even create diseases coming from a certain state of mind. And that was my idea for the album – dealing with duality in music in a way that the more ambient and harmonic became the ‘mind’ part of the album, and tracks which are more orientated for the dance floor – the more physical ones- are about the muscles.

Recently, I have observed a growing trend towards the physical and biological effects of sound and the way frequencies can be perceived by our body and brain. Have you noticed this as well and how much is it included in the concept of your new LP?
Not really, my idea wasn’t focused on the direct response on the physical presence of sound, but on the sense of hearing. So how your body and mind process the music after it gets through your ears.

I read that each track was created with only a few necessary elements. How did you decide when the track was ready and were there special elements (field recordings, instruments) you used in the album’s creation?
In my case, if I could keep working on a track, it would never be ready. Even when I listen to tracks on the new album now, I still think that this or that could have been done differently.

While recording Muscle and Mind, I was very concerned about the technical way of mixing, because one of the most important things about this album was working in a more technical way. I was looking for wider and deeper sound. I wrote all the tracks in my studio, and then I took the material to Madrid and mixed it on a proper mixer in a studio. I was also testing out several tracks in clubs before sending them to be pressed. I’ve been playing them for about a half of a year now. So for me, it’s always difficult to decide when the tracks are done.

That’s interesting, because you release so many tracks, records and remixes! Last autumn, you released an EP with Christian Wünsch as Spherical Coordinates, now you are just releasing an LP, an EP, and a Subjected remix. What else can we expect from you or your record labels in the near future?
I’m going to release some new music on several labels like Warm Up, for example the second volume of the Pattern Series. Last year was full of collaborations and as I knew I was going to make a new album, I decided that this year, I want to collaborate less and focus on my own stuff: release an album, an EP and do a few remixes. But there are still some collaborative projects I will keep on doing, including the Light & Dark audio-visual set. I need to do different kinds of things; that’s how I keep myself motivated.

Together with the Muscle and Mind LP, you also released the Dualistic Concept EP, which includes remixes of the tracks from Muscle and Mind. Do you see the remix as a concept of dualism – same, but different? And how does the EP relate to the LP?
The concept of the EP was having two original tracks taken from the album, but with different edits. One I made myself, and two other producers would collaborate on the rest. When I was thinking about whom to collaborate with, I also had in mind the album’s concept: I wanted somebody, who is more conceptual or experimental, that’s why I chose SHXCXCHCXSH. I think they’re perfect for the Mind part. For the other part, I chose Stanislav Tolkachev; I’m a big fan of his music, it’s more physical. So his presence on the record creates a nice contrast with SHXCXCHCXSH.

The imagery used for Muscle and Mind seems to be like that from an old medicine book. How did you find the illustrations for the album?
I worked with a very talented young girl from Spain who goes under the artistic name of Acid Hazel. When I told her my idea and asked her what does she have in mind, she came up with the image of old fashioned drawings that would look like they’re from the middle ages or so. At the beginning, the first ideas were quite strong – muscles, a brain or a fist. But eventually we agreed on making it a bit softer. And I’d say they match with the music of the album very well. I’ve had some quite positive feedback on them.

So those are original drawings?
The fragments are taken from anatomy book illustrations and photographs. Also from antique prints. The images have been processed so that the colour is similar across all of them, to make them look like they come from old anatomy books.

The Muscle is symbolized by the square images, which are bigger and stronger. The Mind are the circles, the softer shapes.

The images or textures that are below each of the pictures are voice waves. Those in Muscle are normal male voice notes, whereas the ones on Mind are waves from opera segments and children crying. This element was intended to provide a final link between the artwork and the sound, and reference both parts.

Even though the work is meant as a whole, there is a strong emphasis in the differences between the parts of the muscle and the mind.

So it’s important to you that the visuals on the sleeve match your music. Furthermore, when playing live, you perform the Light & Dark audio-visual set, working with visual the artists Fium. Are visuals an important part of your work?
They are important, because there are no lyrics in my music. I think that my music can take you wherever you want to; but when I add some resources to that, it may take you in a completely new direction. Maybe through visuals, I can give somebody a new path. That’s why visuals are important to me. It’s a pity that there aren’t more clubs and festivals that support more audio-visual acts.

After 25 years of DJ-ing, producing, performing, running labels, promoting, travelling and distributing, what is your driving force? And where do you get the energy to refine your style and keep creating?
About DJ-ing – that’s just something I love to do. And I’ve been doing it for 24 years now. But it’s true that to keep myself in the business globally, it’s really important to keep myself involved in different projects, like the audio-visual project or Spherical Coordinates for example. I also release different styles of music on different labels. I need this like breathing. So the driving force comes through being involved in many different projects and touring every weekend.

You have been active in techno and dance music for the last two decades. How has the perception of and attitude towards techno changed within this time?
I think techno is as big as it used to be between 1995 and 1999. In my opinion, everything has already been done in club music in the past, so for me, it’s a cyclical thing. For example, there was a big boom of minimal music a few years ago. Many people thought it was new, but it had already been done in 1995 and 1996 by record labels such as Chain Reaction and Basic Channel and guys like Mike Ink. Sure there was evolution in the industry, clubs and studios equipment, but for people who have been in the techno scene for 20 years, it hasn’t really changed that much. Maybe there are new clubs and new places to play, but apart from that, techno has been there for us for ages.

And what about the crowd? Do you see changes in the crowd energy or the way people perceive music between when you used to play clubs in 1997 and when you play now?
Yes, since it probably depends on the event or the club you play in. But the reactions of the crowd to the music are still the same. It’s the same message; you just use different tools. Obviously, everything is more professional and we’ve got better sound conditions and such. But it’s still the same game.

Review: alice – how to be a human being

this review was wriotten for DJBroadcast in February but didn’t make it to their new website, which is a shame in my opinion, so here you go

alice - how to be a  human being

On his first long-player, alice spews out bunch of mercurial, febrile tracks which are unable to be predicted. Paradoxically, how to be a human being is coherent in its inconstancy and provides an apt impression of what’s going on inside minds of contemporary human beings.

Thomas McConville is an Irish composer and visual artist making both acoustic and electro-acoustic music. At the beginning of 2015, he released his first solo album, which got a direct significant appreciation when included in Warp Records 25th anniversary BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. Even though alice has been working on the songs for the last couple of years, the album sounds considerably actual and focuses on the contemporary trends in experimental electronic music as well as personal experience within the digital era.

The album cover includes just one colour – rich, warm yellow. According to psychology of the colours, yellow is the color of new ideas and new ways of doing things, which corresponds with the musical content of the album. But so do other charachteristics connected with the chosen colour, like anxiety, impatience and impulsivness. In addition, yellow is also a colour of emoticons, which links the album even more directly with the present of distructed communications and switching realities between the creen of your computer, smartphone, your own mind and the actual physical one.

how to be a human being (written in small letters, because who does use capitals nowadays anyway?) gives us an accurate angle on the question which alice raises with the album’s name. According to alice, being a human being is chaotic, peculiar and unstable. His musical guide shows that as a contemporary human being, you can often feel feverish, sick and insecure and that fragments of old memories will mix with new impressions into eclectic blend over which you have minimal control.

From the very first track, swishy 8-bit squeaks and blasts of digital noise disgorge without warning. alice often uses neurotic changeovers similar to Arca (‘puds – ad break’, ‘Moustache’, ) and jazzy saxophone and drum samples with occasional microsamples of vocals. Additionally, alice mixes artificial grainy and crunchy sounds with organic ones like clapping, finger snapping or straw slurping (‘Lugs’), which appear and dwindle in a stream of something which resembles a sonified stream of bytes. On the top, he stacks broken beats shrouded in misty electric hum. Tracks like ‘Cecilia’or ‘Daddy says it’s like a teddy on LSD ’ remind me a bit of one of alice’s favourites, Aphex Twin – ‘Cecilia’ slowly transforms in a downtempo mystery, the second track mentioned is based on a rattling beat, created around unsettling high pitch synthy melody.

It’s quite obvious that alice is a fan of Sophie and Aphex and I also had to think of other related artists as Sharp Veins, TCF , Tlaotlon or ornine while listening to the album. Music by alice and other artists‘ mentioned above somehow reflects how new media and interactive technologies have changed human thinking and behaviour: it’s harder to hold a though or concentrate for a long time, because our minds roam from one thing to another, sometimes whithin millisecond. This neverending, incoherent and often random stream of thoughts and actions is well embodied in alice’s debut album. Listening to it is an entertaining and unpredictable experience, but on the other hand, it’s quite easy to get lost in that binary mess and lose your concentration. Which is eventually perfectly fine, since we are all just human beings.

Interview with Frits Wentink

Frits Wentink is my kind of dude,’cos he loves oldschool hip hop tunes and he implements this passion into his rusty house beats. This interview was conducted for the one and only DJBroadcast.

Skywire Frits Wentink

 

Dutch house star Frits Wentink goes under many aliases including Steve Mensink, Felix Lenferink, Urkelle, Kuhlmannmensink and more famously, as the full half of Will & Ink. Having recently moved to Berlin Wentink appeared in Traxsource’s top 20 Deep House Artists of 2014 chart. Unlike other DJs, he doesn’t confuse hard work with steadfast seriousness and makes his groove-loving, sample-packed music with ease. Wentink’s true passion emanates throughout his music, with the occasional moments of humour.

In the last few years, Frits Wentink released many EPs that focussed on the less polished and sweatier side of deep house music. In the beginning of March 2015, Wentink releases his first long-player called Rarely Pure, Never Simple on WOLF Music. Despite the album’s name, the tracks are actually quite pure and not overcomplicated, merging Wentink’s love for house, 90s hip-hop and jazz in surprising, soulful combinations. Premiering three tracks exclusively on DJBroadcast, we spoke to Wentink via email about his artistic intentions, collaborations with vocalist Loes Jongerling and why he prefers tape saturation to sound perfection.

The title of your album comes from an Oscar Wilde quote about truth. Do you look for truth in music and if so, in what sense?
The less said about truth the better. So I left that word out. I feel that what I wished to express is covered in just ‘Rarely Pure, Never Simple’. That part to me contains a rather uncomfortable feeling, which I think is present in my music. The quote also touches on a feeling of being unclear and not conforming to rules. I guess I don’t always produce the obvious tunes, and I’m quite happy that way.

You’ve released five EPs in less than three years. Do you prefer the shorter format of an EP and what made you decide to release an album? Would you describe this debut as taking on a new musical direction?
An album is a big thing, and I didn’t want to release a set of tunes combined with skits. It took my quite some time to come up with a direction for an album; not only house music, but tunes from different genres that are connected. I’ve wanted to release an album for quite some time now, but it was only until the guys at Wolf gave asked me that the idea did it real being to take shape.

As producer I have always been active in many different genres other than house, so it was not a completely new musical direction. However I think I’m showing a side of me here that people haven’t heard in the previous Frits Wentink releases.

Do you sample from vinyl? What kind of music do you like to sample apart of jazz?
I would say the main thing is jazz. Apart from that I have a collection of folk music; records from Folkways Records and such. One of the last tracks features just the basic loop of Gavin Bryars minimal composition.

Apart from vocal samples, you use the Loes Jongerling’s vocal talents. How long have you worked together and how did that start?
We have been working together for roughly four years now. Loes was a friend of a friend. I heard her sing a few times before we met personally. At some point I just started sending her loops and she would do her thing on that. The first release we did was on Triphouse, a track called ‘Barry Two.’ We also collaborated on Felix Lenferink tracks. It’s fair to say that we always had some discussion on how to use her voice and for what genre. Loes was more into the soul funk spectrum, like downtempo stuff, and at the time it was more difficult for me to get downtempo tunes released. But on an album it fits perfectly. I’m very happy the way this turned out.


Apart from house, several tracks on the album sound like 90s old school hip-hop. Why did you include them on the album?
Because I absolutely adore that sound. House has always been my main thing as an artist. But when I’m at home all I do is listen to 90s hip-hop. And that’s not just all the old tracks. There is a large community of producers making new lo-fi hip-hop, quite original actually. So that sound is still very alive. I feel that a lot of the sample based house music has a firm base in that genre. And I took this as an angle to produce the album.

In your own music, as well as in your selection in mixes, you prefer grubby and dirty samples over crystal clear and spatially designed sound. What are the important things in music production in your point of view?
I do prefer things like tape saturation. However just distorting the master channel is a bit too easy. The remix I did recently for Nachtbraker on Heist has a noise background -again tape saturation- but I kept the mix pretty clear. That’s how I like it. I feel that tape sounds and saturated samples give most of the character to a track. I maybe a bit nostalgic here.