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Kölnifornia Dreamin'

I didn’t intend to pull another disappearing act, but being unable to work on one’s own computer has a detrimental effect on blogging. (When, o when, will Europe go wireless?) Back now from two weeks in London and Cologne with way more news than I can cover here, so just a few notes to get back in blogging mode.

First of all, big up Stelfox for the hospitality and classic English breakfast (my new production alias is going to be called “Blood Pudding” in your honor), Matt Woebot for the “Dibby Dibby Sound” 12” (Soft Pink Truth meets breakstep? Zinc and Soundmurderer meet Japanese avant-folkers Ghost?), Luka for consenting to come down to Plastic People for a Forward-affiliated night featuring Slimzee (it weren’t so bad now, were it?), Steve G and Nick Kilroy for representing at my Tate talk, man like Nick Docherty for the drinks and listage at Fabric, Nick Craddock for being him own sweet self, and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting – and that’s just London.

As for Cologne, what can I say – that’s a trip I’ve been waiting some seven years for, ever since I had my first vague inklings of the city’s strength thanks to records from Profan, Karaoke Kalk, Mouse on Mars, and other forces circa ’97. The city didn’t disappoint, from the droolingly fantastic Kompakt shop* (they really ought to supply logo bibs, to keep us vinyl Pavlovians from dribbling all over the pristine stock, which is ordered not only by genre and label but by catalogue number within each section) to the hospitality of the Kompakt, Sub Static, and Areal crews. I joked that I would arrive with an empty record bag and come home with a full one, and damned if I didn’t outdo my wishful quip – between purchases and promos I came home loaded down with an overflowing record crate plus two triple-bagged parcels of 12”s. (No thanks to German Wings for the 100 euro overweight fee!)

I barely know where to begin with a description of my haul, but highlights include:

-- Turner, “After Work” Carsten Jost Dial-remix (Ladomat 2000), played to masterful effect by Tobias Thomas at Total Konfusion
-- Phoenix, Alphabetical (Source) – a surprise hit in the Kompakt offices
-- Remixes for Lawrence by Carsten Jost, Isolée, et al (Dial) – an oldie but goodie
-- Geili Kylie, “Can’t Get You Out/Sahara” (white) – bizarre, clunky synthpop cover of the hit featuring male vocals – cheeky! creepy!
-- Donnacha Costello, “Grape” (Minimise) – classic minimal techno that’s as functional as it is moody
-- “I Need a Freak/Superfreak” (white) – bootleg electro-house remixes of Sexual Harassment classic from a well-known Cologne producer
-- W.B., three white-label 12”s from Wighnomy Brothers, remixing female vocalists I can’t identify into delicate, blowsy click-house (and schaffel) instaclassics
-- Panache, “Unicorn/Cheval” 10” (Atavisme) – Jackson and Pepe Bradock getting deeper than deep with strings and golden rattling hi-hats
-- Sten, Restless EP (Sender) – Lawrence showing a harder edge, though still well melancholic, under another name; two stun guns for the Sten gen
-- Frivolous, Coquitlam BC EP, 1 of 2 (Karloff) – Background-affiliated artist with a quad of hard-to-place house tunes, bright and sunny but still decidedly off-center; like Herbert remixing Blaze
-- Duplex 100, Shooting Star EP (Onitor) – juicy analog techno/house with echoes of Morgan Geist, Fabrice Lig
-- Dirt Crew, Cleaning Up the Ghetto EP (MBF) – dirty Chicago house on new Traum offshoot; wouldn’t sound out of place on Robsoul
-- Rabimmel Rabummel Rabum Bum Bum EP (Areal) – Basteroid, Konfekt, Metope and Ada getting naaaasty on four tunes dedicated to a children’s St. Martin’s Day carol, of all things; Ada is, as ever, organ-tastic, and when the bass hits, it’s like the sky peeling open
-- Robag Wruhme, Wuzzelbud “KK” (Musik Krause) – double LP of itchy, scratchy, raw-rubbed, salt-scrubbed drum machinations and glitch funk from the genius Wruhme, due out in June (that’s right I’m on some upfront shit!)
-- and last but not least… Westbam and Nena, “Oldschool Baby” (piano mix), featured on Mayer’s Fabric mix. I’m not afraid to ape the master!

And that’s just the shortlist. More updates soon…

* Photo above is from as-yet unbuilt studio spaces in the sub-basement of Kompakt's five-storey command center


welcome back, ese! you lucky (but eminently deserving) s.o.b.!!! i'm goose-bumped with envy. glad to hear it was great!

when are you spinnin this wax?


I'm drooling too...

yeah, that's a shopping list.

good to meet up sunshine, glad you enjoyed yourself.

see you at Sonar..... did Mayer mention any plans to play there?

i've did a big interview with mayer

Is there something special in Cologne’s life (architecture maybe or infrastructure or Stockhausen, who did first electronic records in Cologne in 50-60-ies), that such tender music as you produce & release at KOMPAKT was borne exactly in this city? Actually, is it urban music?

Maybe there’s something in the water here… I wouldn’t see any parallels between Stockhausen’s work and what we do. It would be like comparing a PC with a toaster. They have nothing in common but the power plug. Cologne is the most beautiful ugly city I know, there’s this certain almost Mediterranean flair, most people on the streets are very friendly and relaxed. It has an intact club scene and a huge artistic potential, especially regarding visual arts.

What is «Sound Of Cologne» as a brand name?

Initially it has been invented by the music press in order to create a slipcase for this city’s actually very diverse electronic output in the middle of the 90s. Apart from our minimal, abstract techno output there were projects like Air Liquide, Mouse on Mars, Whirlpool which all represented completely different genres. But of course it’s true that Cologne is the cradle for a new kind of techno that became minimal or micro.

Tell me about that eagle printed over some KOMPAKT’s vinyl? Is it your emblem or smth?

This eagle actually is the old heraldic animal of the City of Cologne. It has its origin in medieval times. The City of Cologne recently replaced it by a new logo, so we were able to take it over. It’s half romantic, half patriotic…

For you DJing is going alongside making your own music? What did you start doing first?

I started Djing at the very young age of 15. The first time I saw somebody mixing two records (which was in 1984) I knew that I want to become a DJ. Love at first sight, so to say. I started producing much later in 1996 or 97 because I was curious how my results would sound like.

What attached you to minimal-techno?

In the early 90s I used to play a lot of NY deephouse. I always preferred the B2 tracks or dub versions instead of the vocal version. So I was used to a more stripped down sound aesthetic. I used to play these things along with early Warp records like LFO or Tricky Disco which sounded much more experimental, more futuristic. These are the main influences that finally perfectly matched with Mike Ink’s idiosyncratic acid tracks on his Profan label.

Have you been in rave – all that drugs, “Trainspotting” & other 90-ies stuff? Does that push still affects electronic music & in particular that which is done by you?
Of course I was but I was already an adult person, socialized within (0s pop and disco, so I always preferred playing and going to intimate clubs instead of giant raves. It was a kind of hate/love towards this side of techno. On one hand it was fascinating and seductive to see thousands of fists in the air after a snare roll but on the other hand I felt that my music doesn’t belong there. In the meantime I sometimes play big raves like this year’s Mayday. I found my peace with it and I think I got something to contribute to this phenomenon.

What is your usual process for writing a track?

First I switch on my computer and then…just kidding! Actually I would only switch him on when there is an idea. As I don’t have a lot of time to take care of my productions I always have a lot of ideas on hold. My music is mostly based on sampling. I would turn the original sample into something completely different and build a track around it.

When you sit down to write a piece of music, what are you trying to achieve? Are you attempting to express a particular thought?

Sometimes yes, but mostly I try to approach a certain atmosphere or energetic level. I’m always inspired by the weekend, the emotional states I witness within a club night. Sometimes I’m captured by very positive ‘hands in the air’ memories, sometimes it’s the more introspective, melancholic vibe I remember best.

Where do you plan to take your sound on the next record?

Can’t tell you yet. But certainly I will try to combine my tender, emotional side with the beast in me.

What things influence your music? (other music, things outside music such as visual art or movies or literature)

David Lynch had a huge impact on me and still has. I totally absorb every new movie he does. Traveling inspires me as well. I love to see unknown landscapes passing by while I’m alone, maybe with a book on my lap. Regarding literature I adore Thomas Mann & Michel Houellebeq and recently Haruki Murakami and GALA magazine. Yin and yang.

Do you want to be in a show - biz or it’s important for you to be in opposition with a big musical process or some kind of intellectual underground?

My nature is rather shy. I can handle a lot of things like spotlight or overenthusiastic fans but especially when I’m playing I prefer to be not disturbed. I still see myself as a part of the party, like the audience, the bar tender and the doorman, not as a rock star. Concerning the business side of things, I don’t think it is a rotten thing to earn money from selling records. It is not the most important thing in the world but it’s good when it’s there. We at KOMPAKT have a big responsibility for all the artists and labels we’re taking care of. All in all it should be around 500 people that make a living from our work. They rely on us that we sell their records and I guess nobody would complain if he would sell millions.
For me the attitude towards music is the most important thing: Do what your heart tells you to do. I don’t believe in terms like overground or underground. What is commercial music? There’s only music I like and music I don’t like. Music I like - I dance. Music I not like – I not dance (famous slogan on a t-shirt made in Frankfurt).

Which political position is closer to you – Mathew Herbert’s (antiglobalism & anticonsumeris) or Vladislav Delay’s (who is collaborating with George Michael as I heard)?

It depends on if Vladislav’s decision to work with George Michael is an artistic or monetary decision. I would work with George Michael because I admire lots of his songs. An interesting question would be why Herbert gets his records worldwide distributed and why he’s manufacturing records at all. It’s an honorable but very new thing to spread political ideas via music. But I sometimes have the feeling that it could be vice versa. Globalisation is serious problem but a chance as well. It is good talking to a Russian journalist. And it is good releasing Russian producers on our label. I know that this is a very simple point of view. But it’s as true as simple.

Ekkehard Ehlers – the a&r director of Mille Plateux says that minimal-techno music reflects the world of financial market & it’s the best metaphor of stock exchange with its clicking of cash automats & banknotes crackling. Up to you, what could be compared with your style of music (abstract paintings, snowy landscapes, smth else)?

Hm… vegetarian cooking. Just a few ingredients (minimal) needed, no stinky meat (no murder), it’s healthy, very tasty, aesthetic but not very popular, hehe. We cook a lot here…

Considering you work hard, mostly at night, and travel all the time, tell me - what keeps you awake?

My enthusiasm. And some coffee after dinner.

Have you ever worked with TV-projects or cinema or theater or world of fashion? Do you want to do some soundtracks or music for any fashion show?

Not necessarily. I’m busy enough. Though making a movie soundtrack sounds like an attractive job for my life after being retired…

Do you have any achievement you are proud of/ ashamed of?

Ashamed: that I never visited Russia

What atmosphere do you want to provoke with your music in clubs where you’re playing? Name your best DJ-gig?

I want to take people from deep contemplation to total hysteria and back. That sounds like a perfect night. My best gig? Difficult to say… certainly always the long sets, not the 2 hours cumshots. Christopher Street Day in Cologne is always a highlight. I had great nights at Studio 672, at Weetamix in Geneva, Nitsa Club in Barcelona, Fabric/London and I hope the best is yet to come.

How do you react if one would ask you "What is this?" when you are playing?

This is me. Enchanté!

Do you like to dance? Are there clubs or after hours places that you frequent a lot?

I always dance. I love it and I can’t stop it. As soon as the 4/4 kick is on I have to move my hips. I prefer private after hours when I need one. I like to go out in my neighborhood. There are lots of nice bars and small clubs.

Are there any DJs that you particularly like?


What music are you currently listening to? Name your Top-5.

1. Johnny Cash 4 CD Box
2. 21 Grams Soundtrack
3. The new Phoenix album
4. Best of Lee Hazelwood
5. Klimek – Milk and Honey

Who is the best critic for you (I mean, is there any person’s opinion, which is important to you)?

Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt, Juergen Paape

KOMPAKT does booking for SCSI-9. What do you think about Kubikov&Milutenko? Are they sounds Russian?

These guys are extremely talented and I’m sure they will get better and better. I don’t know if they sound typically Russian but they added a particular edge to minimal music, especially with their early Trapez releases. And not forget about Lazyfish and Motor!

Everybody knows that musical industry is in a big crisis (pirates, CD-rs, mp3s etc.) Did the burst of EFA-concern (they distributed worldwide lots of German labels) affect KOMPAKT?

It affected everybody but we were well prepared. It didn’t happen from one day to the other… But it’s tough to see other labels catching for straws.

The reconstruction of show-biz must happen in a few years. How do you think – will crisis raise the quality of pop-music? How the opposition of pop-stars & majors vs indie producers & small labels will change? Can you imagine, for example, Britney Spears in 2006 doing microhouse projects with Ricardo Villalobos?

I heard he’s just doing a remix for Kylie…we already entered the future. In general it’s obvious that, despite certain crashes, the independent market is still healthier than the major market because we’re talking about dedicated people making music for dedicated people. That’s a huge advantage compared to the major’s ‘plastic surgery’ business. I’m quite optimistic regarding

What's your crowd pleaser going to be in Moscow?

Just a smile…

great interview pal.

Can't believe you didn't give us a call!!!!


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