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Fede Lijtmaer – Sounds for Life

October 12, 2017 • By

It is not irritating to be where one is, it is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else

[John Cage]

It’s one of the voices that reaches out to you in Fede Lijtmaer’s live, recorded at Phonotheque for DJ Koolt’s birthday party. Such philosophies and teachings can be heard in Fede’s music – his sets and productions – and transmitted in his energy. And for those of you that have met him, you’d know that he’s a true storyteller.  First interviewing him some three years ago whilst he was still living in Berlin, at that time Fede was experiencing a profound moment in his life: “Who knows what life brings you. The important thing I think, is to be open to what the universe offers to you; it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, it’s just important to understand what is the message and the lesson”.  A statement pertinent to each one of us, no matter where we find ourselves, and a life approach further reiterated by his productions – “Yo es Nosotros” (I is we) referring to the philosophy of “we” as opposed to the “I”.  Shortly after our first meeting, Fede moved back to Uruguay. We take a look at what he’s been doing so far: of course his live, as well as the recent Autotransfromación EP on El Milagro, upcoming releases on Melliflow, Varme and SUR,  alongside the music production school,  and his recent signing to the b-SIDE roster and upcoming trip to Europe. A lengthy list, but not at all surprising for someone who has music simply flowing through their veins.

Fede Lijtmaer – Resina [ELMIL01]

“I came back to Uruguay to do something other than living at night. I love music, profoundly, but I don’t want to be older with children and the only thing I know how to do is play at parties. I’m fulfilled by other stuff too… but it’s funny, now I’m working with music more than ever. For Edu’s birthday, it was the first time that I made it using all the machines. Perhaps ten or more years ago, I did a live set on the computer, but I don’t think you could even call it a live. I had a lot of fun though, even if I was only using virtual synths.

For this live, recorded at Phonotheque, I used the Roland SH101 and JX-3P. Also the 909, DP4, Allen & Heath 16 channel mixer, and what else… oh the Nord! My baby! And then I borrowed an MPC, but I didn’t use it as much as I should have. It’s pretty old and the last time it almost broke! I recorded the sequences and just before I went to play, everything got deleted – it was very stressful. Now I am thinking to buy one and start working on a set-up that will be easier to take around with me.”

So I assume that you’ll be bringing your records to Europe in November?

Yes, I’ll bring my records and also music that I’ve made, and from friends… from Nando and other guys in Uruguay…on a pen drive! Maybe next year I’ll also bring my live set up. But one thing is to get everything in a car, another thing is to get everything in a car and then on to a plane… (I’d still do it though!)

Fede Lijtmaer @ CDV – www.emitemi.blogspot.com

When you were living in Europe you played at some great parties in great venues… CDV and Tresor (Berlin), Undersound (London). Are there any places in particular that you’re looking forward to revisit? 

Well, I’d love to meet with friends and places that I know of course, and I’m open to new places too. It’ll be my first time back since I left almost three years ago.

Valy from b-SIDE is also helping you as an agency – you are in with some good company!

I’m happy that b-SIDE contacted me to help me organise these things. To be honest, it’s a good feeling to be part of a group where there are people that I know and appreciate. I am really happy living in Uruguay, but like I say, I am open to every opportunity.  I love playing in Europe, so to be able to go back every year would be great.

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You know, when I first returned home in 2015, for a year I played only in Phonotheque and the big parties. Then I started noticing a discomfort in one of my ears so last year I made the decision to stop playing for a while, to take care of my health.  I spent 5 months ‘in hiatus” and I didn’t get any calls in that time. Out of the blue my father called, asking why I wasn’t playing anymore. “Dad I told you that six months ago I was with something in my ear; I want to take care of my health… Yes but my fiancée is asking why you’re not playing anymore – she loves what you play!”. My dad, you know! So I told him to not worry, that I’d start getting gigs again. The next day a crazy thing happened, I got a message from some friends in Buenos Aires asking me if I wanted to play!

You just had to wish for it! You’ve mentioned before that the standard of artists in Montevideo is outstanding. The first time I heard Melina was at Intrinsic this year… she rocks up doing this amazing set, mixing all types of genres and styles, inviting us not only into a  library of music to enjoy the sounds but to also think and question certain concepts. I was completely blown away. I hear your live set – I’m not saying it’s the same, but I can hear an underlying theme. Would you agree that there is a concept coming from Uruguay?

I’m not sure if it’s a concept, maybe something about tastes… and heritage? From families and friends. In my case, from family and from friends. We show each other a lot of music often. There is a form of access here. I was talking with Edu and he said that when he was 5 years old he was listening to Kraftwerk from his older brothers. Why in Uruguay the people were bringing this music at the same time that it was being released in Europe and America – I don’t know… Me, I was listening to what my parents were listening to. The first time I heard electronic music was in 1995 when my mum would play her Goa trance CDs, as well as US3. All the Brazilian music and Argentinian rock that I know today is also thanks to her. My dad, he also loves music very much and he’s always sharing records with me. When he was younger he used to play the Kraftwerk records on his radio show. He also showed me the likes of Yes, Jon Anderson, Vangelis, amongst other stuff.  You know, he used to call me up when I was 20… “Hey Fede where are you? Dad, I’m at an afterhour. When can we see each other? We’re here, if you want to come.” And he came!  He’s been there for every step – my very first party, all the way up to the last live I performed.

But to go back to your question, I am happy about all the things that are happening here. I am happy that all the friends here and all the talent is being watched, and being given a space for their music.

I am happy about all the things that are happening here. I am happy that all the friends here and all the talent is being watched, and being given a space for their music.

So you played at the first Phonotheque party when the club opened, only 5 years ago. How was it before Phonotheque opened? And how about your mum’s club in Punta del Este?

My mum’s club wasn’t really a part of the scene here.  Well it was, but it was open for just over a year. Everybody who was there, if they’re still alive, they can recall it being something very special. The place was amazing. In those days, at the beginning of the 90s, Punta del Este was happening. There was Space from Ibiza, and other things too. Nowadays in the Summer you can’t even call it Uruguay as it’s filled with tourists. But there’s still a scene there. Some guys they are doing interesting things, they’re really nice and their productions are super!

But of course we’ve had clubs in Uruguay since the 80s. Edu has been going to clubs since 1988… Milenio was the temple of Montevideo from the mid-90s, to maybe 2006/7.  In 2004 you could really feel something bubbling.  Maybe not as many good quality DJs as there are now though…

 

“Brotherly love”- Fede Lijt & DJ Koolt

Each time you meet a guy they tell you “I’m making music”. And Edu is playing a lot of music from these guys. It really is amazing. I don’t know what happens here – maybe there is something in the water!

But just before Phonotheque opened the scene was going through a bit of a crisis. There were no real decent clubs and the parties were not amazing either. The opening of Phonotheque pushed the scene forward and today it still has a very important role to play. Now we have more than just one club offering good music, and the youngest DJs have something really special. Each time you meet a guy here they tell you “I’m making music”.  And Edu is playing a lot of music from these guys. It really is amazing. I don’t know what happens here – maybe there is something in the water!

Besides the electronic music scene, there is some pretty nice music here from the 70s – a strong jazz scene fused with ‘candombe’. The people here are very cultured so I think that has something to do with it too. Well, the masses are the masses and what you hear on the radio – fuck it – but maybe until the 90s or so there were several idiosyncrasies present. For example, the Uruguayans they like the cinema. So there are independent cinemas here that play super strange films (and don’t sell popcorn of course!). But I have a fear – I am very aware that when something develops and grows to its peak, it doesn’t get better, it gets worse. For example, for now we can keep the club open for as long as we like, but what if someday somebody decides that the party has to stop at a certain time… not forgetting also that we now have the Creamfields here from Buenos Aires. I am not sure how beneficial this big festival will be for our local scene. 

In the end you don’t need to have all the gear in the world. If you like to make music you can make music with whatever you have, even in your head!

But you’re certainly contributing in the right way by opening a production school… 

Well, it’s more like a course than a school. The atmosphere is super familiar. We finish class and we hang out, you know? It’s not so rigid. It’s my house too, or you can say that I live in the school – you can see it both ways [laughs]…

We have a studio – with some nice machines – and a classroom for the theory. I teach the students from scratch and there are other musician friends that come in to give some classes and talks too. I learn a lot about my students, and I learn a lot about production too, because I know how to produce but to explain it – that’s a different thing. It’s like a shortcut that I’m giving them. They could learn it by themselves but perhaps that’ll take one, two, three, four years… I taught myself, and it took me a long time.  I have some nice toys here from since I was sixteen – a Boss SP505 – it’s like a small sampler. Everything else – the microKORG, Electribe, turntables, some records and the car – I sold before I moved. And when I arrived in Berlin, I didn’t buy turntables but machines instead – a few synths from the 80s (SH101, JX-3P) and a Nord. In the end you don’t need to have all the gear in the world. If you like to make music you can make music with whatever you have, even in your head!

It seems you’ve been quite busy making music, with upcoming releases on Melliflow, SUR and Varme. Do you produce any differently if you have to make music for other labels?

When I do music I don’t do it for one label or the other, I just produce and then I see what happens next. Usually,  I play new tracks in the club or I send them to friends. With Melliflow and SUR I shared with them some new tracks and they liked it enough to release them. I feel flattered (and a genuine happiness) that friends with such good taste want my music, so yes I’m super thankful!

Now we are waiting for Autotransfromación, one of your productions and the third release on your label El Milagro. When we talked before you gave a description of each track on your Resina EP – the first ever release. Can you explain what Autotransfromación means to you?

Some of the tracks in Autotransfromación were made during the time when we first spoke. More or less in those months. And one of them I made last year. What did I say last time?! … Oh yes, the Resina EP – that it was named after the resin that my mum used to make her sculptures.

Polaridades” – it means polarities, which we all have no? This feeling of happiness or sadness. We have it all the time. We go from one side to the other, and I think this track represents that, there are some parts of the record that are mysterious and other parts that are more illuminated and happy, representing this coming and going that we experience in our lives. But also in the same track you have moments where these two ‘polarities’ talk to each other…

The second track I didn’t want to release, but it was more of a dancefloor record so it worked in the end. It has some vocals of Terence McKenna talking about DMT, so that’s why I named it “T.M On D.M.T”.

True Self” – I was seeking the wisdom within us, the true higher self that we all have (I would recommend the book by Eva Pierrakos – The Pathwork).

And “Todos Nos Merecemos El Sol” is translated to read everybody deserves the sun. It was in the Berlin winter that I made this track, I saw a single sun ray and felt it light up my face, and these words came into my mind.

 

 

Edited by Kaajal Shah

Cover Image – photograph by Maria Eugenia Diaz

Interviews

Juli Jah: Just a smalltown girl…

October 7, 2017 • By

Having hitchhiked from Lithuania to Berlin on a whim, Juli Jah – stemming from a background in architecture – has found a home in the capital city. It was by both circumstance and coincidence that her art met her passion for music, but now as one of the go-to designers for record labels in and out of Berlin, one could deduce that the two are inextricably linked. With a number of labels forming part of her repertoire, interior and exterior design too, the opportunities for creativity set against the backdrop of the city seem to be determining a career path for the girl from Vilnius.

There are many components to the business of music, this business somewhat synonymous to Berlin itself, each feeding into its energy and raw output. Here’s one of them, Juli Jah: ‘the illustrator’, ‘the artist’, or just ‘the girl who likes to draw’ – you decide.

 

So for those that don’t know – you’re an ink and watercolour artist. You use isograph pens to create something that’s really quite special, though it’s not a well-known fact that your roots in fact lie in architecture, which in turn feed into your direction today… so does being an architect not appeal to you?

I’ve been drawing since a very young age; that was the reason my parents sent me to art school, I was only 9! Gymnasium in the morning – art in the evening. Then a year before finishing secondary school I started preparing for exams and luckily I got accepted to the Academy of Fine Arts in my hometown Vilnius, back in Lithuania. But I was only 18 and somehow it seemed to me that studying to become an architect would be a ‘safer route’ than trying to make a living outright as a sculptor or painter, for example. During those four years of studies I wasn’t very happy though – I was looking for that something else…  illustration worked the best, it always had, and it became the language that I wanted to speak – the perfect way for me to really express myself. So I came back to the fine arts.

But I have no regrets that I did my bachelor in interior architecture, it’s impacted on the way I draw, it’s taught me patience, and as a result I’m more organized too – never a bad thing!

Would you ever change medium?

Watercolour and ink pens help me to reach the best results in what I am doing, but I’m also experimenting a bit with different techniques like pencils, oil paint, markers or spray paint. Creativity is a journey and I’d say that my journey is just starting…

So how would you define your current direction? Let’s start with the base notion of artist…

Who is an artist and who decides the attributes that determine an artist? I really don´t care how people title me, whether it’s ‘the illustrator’, ‘an artist’ or just ‘a girl who likes to draw’. I love what I do, it’s what I do best, and in the end what I’m doing is what I am.

Is this something that you’ve known – you’ve identified with from the very beginning?

Obviously it’s not some kind of dancing in the dark. I know what I want and I know that only hard work will bring me the results that I am seeking for.  It’s not all about talent as many people say, of course that matters but that’s not all that helps artists to create mind-blowingly insane stuff. 

My friends tell me that I am way too self-critical. But on the contrary, I think that there can never be enough self criticism, because that’s the only way I can progress and force myself to evolve, to then go on to be happy with myself and with what I create. Hard work (and soft drinks haha!) is the key if you ask me.

A lot of people would associate you with label artwork. Tell me about the very first piece…

Old love never dies… I’ve always had a deep love for electronic music: when you’re passionate for the concept that you’re working for, you reach good results. It was always one of my goals to work in the music industry (definitely not as a DJ or producer), and here I have a lot of freedom and the possibility to show my work, which is a reflection of my self, to thousands of people – whether it’s through the form of vinyl artwork, posters or flyers. It’s an amazing opportunity for an artist.

The first commission I got from a friend of a friend, some 5 years ago if my maths is correct. To put it quite simply, I was broke and my friend let me know that there was someone looking for an artist to produce the artwork for his label: ‘Why don’t you draw something for him?’.  I put together a first draft but the idea was killed so I had to start again. The finished design worked well – the vinyl was released with my artwork on the label. It’s crazy, just a few months back I had pretty much nothing, and then I started being commissioned for album artworks for different record labels, across Europe.

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Do you say yes to every label that approaches you?

Basically I always give a priority to commissions for full cover artwork. Of course there are exceptions, but full cover design gives you a better opportunity to speak to the audience, size really does matter here. And of course I prefer to work for people who don’t just see me as a tool for projects lacking any real excitement – what I’m saying is that I don’t like to be told how to do my work. Some clients, they just don’t want to leave you any freedom at all, in that case I just offer them to draw their things by themselves. It’s also always easier to work for people who are willing to put their trust in me, open to suggestions, able to compromise…

When you’re drawing for a living, art and design becomes a process that is subject to and reactive to client needs. Naturally you must have had to deal with both positive and negative feedback… do you find there often to be a contradiction between your output and the client brief?

Let´s say there are some ´yes sir, no sir´ zones. Especially when it comes to the more serious projects that are run by companies etc. It used to drive me nuts when I would have to make changes, but in the end this is how you learn how and what to do to make your working process as smooth as it can be, and the most important aspect for me – making it joyful, because without joy my works are crap. So sketching, talking, interacting with the client, asking questions and developing a relationship is very important. Of course, I have had ‘interesting’ clients with very ‘unique’ views or those with no clue at all as to what they want. These clients can literally drive you crazy, but that’s the price you pay working on commissioned work – you’re not as ‘free’ as you’d expect an artist to be… It can get pretty challenging. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. But as I’ve mentioned, different people – different requirements – different expectations. There are those who trust you, they don’t tell how to do your job, and then there are monsters, haha! But in the end it’s cool – we work together to create a vision, how can I not love that.

So what motivates you – as in how do you get from the white piece of paper that you start with to the end product?

The biggest motivation is to be interested in the project that you are working on, but I’d be lying if I said that I’m bringing a huge fat piece of motivation each time that I sit in front of my working desk. Sometimes I am lazy to start working, damn it sometimes I am lazy to be alive, pathetic isn’t it! It’s a challenge. I can’t really say what exactly the rich sources are here: music or a few kilos (!!!) of chocolate. Whatever, both.

In the end: the stricter you are the more you do.

You’ve said to me that you don’t see your work as conceptual. But surely any manifestation of creativity involves putting a concept to paper, whether or not that’s your intention…

I am almost allergic to this mega conceptual art – that’s so genius and conceptual that often it’s not even understood by its audience. I just love to draw and I won’t create poems about that or the message that I want to transmit to my audience.  I am the creator of something that hopefully evokes some kind of thought or emotion in a person who decides to take a look into my work. That’s the main concept of the concept of my concept. In the end, to display what you have created is like getting naked in front of someone, even more. It’s being honest, at least to your self.

So when you first arrived in Berlin, you applied to study at Universiteat der Kunst, for which your application was actually rejected, on the basis that neither were you talented enough, nor would you be a right fit for the school. Knowing your work – and loving your work, I still find this hard to believe. Since then you’ve lived this city – night and day – for sure you’ve lived out a chapter of your life experience in Berlin. Perhaps you’ve been moulded into UDK ways, without even knowing it. Would you consider making an application again?

I should admit that at the time I struggled to see that as good news. Applying to the universities like UDK is like swimming in a pool full of sharks: you can only imagine how talented the people are that apply and how cutthroat the professors teaching there must be. But I guess that I wasn’t enough for their big appetites. Actually, what I’d also say is that these universities, they search for people with the potential to be shaped, moulded in some form or other, maybe younger and with less experience. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll apply again. Not because I got rejected, but more so that I have to decide if I really want and need to study again. Of course there are lots of people who think that art doesn’t need a diploma, but I’m sure that studying can always develop something new within yourself.

You’re also working at Hoppetosse and Club Der Visionaire, venues undoubtedly at the core of Berlin’s music scene. I imagine that it adds a different aspect to the everyday… something fun – something light?

Basically I am doing one, maximum two shifts on a weekly basis, but I was spending the same amount of time there before I started working behind the bar. Goofing around on the dance floor or hanging in front of the DJ booth with my head and ears almost glued to the speaker – ‘last person standing’ as my friends say. I’ve joined an amazing CDV crew, and as long as working there is fun, I’ll do that with a big pleasure and smile on my face. With CDV no matter how busy and crowded the club gets, you always have enough space to dance and not have to wait ages for a drink (99% of the time). But the most important is that I am always surrounded by a great crowd, a ton of friends hanging out and brilliant music in the background. Jackpot if you ask me.

So for sure it brings you further stimulation? 

It brings some extra colours into my life. Of course it’s my side job, but it’s a family place where I feel safe, happy and I am surrounded by many extraordinary minds. Another thing is that I am working for a person with a true and pure love for the music – those kind of people inspire and keep me moving forward.

It’s hard to find someone in Berlin who doesn’t love music. And you, like others, are contributing to the vitality of the scene.

Music is my crush, without it I wouldn’t be the person that I am, and ultimately my works wouldn’t be, look and exist as they do.

For the moment, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, Berlin is home. Having a base that stimulates you, where you feel truly good inevitably impacts on your daily attitudes and projections. Would you say that since moving here your art has become more positive, dare I say more complete?

No, but art became my full time job here. Not because I became famous or something, there were no red carpets and stuff, but Berlin is the place I call home now and there’s nothing better for me than being at ‘home’.

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Do you see the city as a vehicle for your art? More so than Lithuania?

I love my country, Vilnius is my hometown – I grew up there, I studied and lived there for more than half of my life and I am always happy to go back, visit my family and friends, walk on my streets. I wouldn’t say that Berlin is a vehicle for my art, I think I could create anywhere. The question is would I enjoy living in another city as much as I enjoy living here…

Most memorable exhibition that you’ve seen, and why?

Hoffmann Samlung: a private collection of Erika und Rolf Hoffmann. You can see many interesting pieces, and the exhibition is changed yearly. The works are exhibited not in a museum but in the house where Eva Hoffmann is still living. The piece that I liked the most, a short video showing two girls looking up at the birds flying around in circles in the sky. Huge rocks and a very dark and stormy sky as a backdrop. I felt fear – an unexplainable anxiety watching that, something like fight-or-flight response, but it was exciting! – enjoyable! – I couldn’t leave. 

If someone were to ask me where I see myself in 5 years’ time, I’d struggle to answer – I don’t think that my present moment defines my future, nor do I want it to. Can I put the question to you?

I am pretty happy here at the moment, cannot imagine moving somewhere else. But I could also not say that Berlin, or even Germany is the last city that I will live. I’ve lived in a few different cities, and these experiences, they only make you emotionally richer. It shapes your view on life. So back to your question, 5 years it’s a very long time, hard to say where exactly we’ll be then. But what I am sure about is that we will see each other from time to time, dancing, smiling and listening to Zip playing that’s for sure.

My hero [smiles]. So finally, tell me about your best moment – whether it be at sunrise, sunset, twilight; morning, afternoon, or night in Berlin! I think I have a story for each ha!

You know this moment when you are on your own, walking down the street for example… and simply start smiling? This is it. Smiling with no reason, with a pure, honest, happiness in your heart, just enjoying the short moment of your life. Right here. Right now.

You just gave me goosebumps girl.

 

 

 

 

Snippets

Atonal: Dissolving boundaries between space, art and sound

October 3, 2017 • By

It’s so loud that you can’t hear your thoughts. So big that you don’t see the confines of the empty powerplant. The flashlights bounce off the fractured walls. In front, some are dancing – moving as though it were dependent on life and death, whilst others are sitting, standing, listening and nodding. Besides the fact that the vast majority are in black, almost a brutal heavy goth fashion reminiscent of the punk and pop movements of the 80s and 90s, there exists a complex variety amongst the Atonal crowd.

Emilie Engbirk looks back at this year’s Atonal in a conversation with founder Dimitri Hegemann:

Atonal – both an experimental music festival, and a five-day techno marathon. This categorization may not necessarily be wrong, nevertheless it’s hard to label an event of such scale that has constantly reinvented and evolved perceptions of sound, visual art, history and the notions of space, elements that fuse together to extend the established boundaries of performance.

Fis and Renick Bell – Berlin Atonal 2017 © Camille Blake

It was some 35 years ago (1982) that Atonal first took place at SO36 in Kreuzberg, Berlin. Already in the first year the standard was set high with Einstürzenden Neubauten, Jeff Mills, Psychic TV and 808 State on the bill.

Dimitri Hegemann, its founder and a pioneer of Berlin’s techno scene – having brought Tresor to the forefront of the electronic forum in the 90s and early 00s – attended the festival each of the 5 days. You may have caught a glimpse of him in the middle of the night in Tresor’s ‘techno dungeon’. His primary objective to change the listening habits of participants – something that seems to have worked when observing the different behavioural patterns of the crowd. “Atonal takes place in an incredible space; even entering the power station is an experience in itself, you don’t expect the luxury of space before you, and the voyage of discovery that you are about to embark upon. The music program is designed to fit and work with the space. And the artists are forced to work with this space (shadows included) – it’s a work of art. All further enhanced by the opportunity for a serious dance at Ohm and Tresor.”

The Main Stage occupies the entire first level of the powerplant – by far the most impressive, overwhelming space, cultivating an all-round sensual experience. This year saw the installation of the ‘Control Center’ where hardware, in the form of analogue sound, was set up amidst the machines that once served the purpose of the plant, while interspersed with an array of night flowers and duvets!

Berlin Atonal 2017 © Camille Blake

“Thinking back to 1982, Berlin was the city of the Genius Dilettantes. Bands like Einstürzende Neubauten were developing sounds that encapsulated the spirit of West Berlin. Test Dept and Psychic TV followed. All analog. Me and my team of curators (Laurens von Oswald, Harry Glass, Paulo Reach) struggled to realize ATONAL 82, despite this direction being able to develop the Berlin underground in a most authentic fashion. It was a question of assembling the protagonists of a then independent scene. What particularly fascinated me was the idea of ​​bringing together almost all of the important formations of Berlin, on one stage. It was a counterbalance to the then-mainstream new wave pop influences. The beginning of a new condensed scene, partly the spirit of the punk movement, all the while industrial. And West Berlin provided the unusual setting. These artists developed their own style, their own music and expressions, in turn developed by other like-minded artists from all over the world (Hackney, Sheffield, New York to name but a few locations). So whilst in the first year, we presented mostly Berlin-rooted artists, Atonal soon grew beyond the borders of the city. Locations got bigger as the attendees grew in number. Atonal established itself – becoming an influencer in the musical landscape of that time and the resulting techno movements.” (Dimitri Hegemann)

This year Atonal presented the likes of Moritz von Oswald, Demdike Stare, Regis/Main, Stingray, Apeiron Crew, Belief Defect, Puce Mary, Shed/ Pinch, Anastasia, Trevor Jackson and others.

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It’s a historic event in Berlin, across the 5-day programme you’ll find something that you like, and you’ll discover something new across the showcase of performances from established and up and coming artists.  The image of Atonal is one that is raw – with a focus to develop and enhance the listening experience, all the while pushing the limits for performance and thus perception.

“Atonal will always serve as a refreshment between the mainstream of daily life, bringing us together as a community (like all music). I see those images of men and women marching in North Korea, who would actually prefer to just dance no.” 

(Dimitri Hegemann)

Sunday – Berlin Atonal 2017 © Camille Blake

Interviews

Ajtim : Buffalo Nuances

July 19, 2017 • By

Yesterday we sadly said goodbye to Ajtim aka Mitja Del Bono, who recently left London to pursue opportunities abroad. He closes this chapter with a musical send-off.

On first impressions a seeming introvert, Mitja has values in all the right places combined with a positivity that underlies his playfully intricate sets. This recording represents the last stages of his journey through London, the city where he sculpted his own sound and cultivated what can only be described as one stylish “buffalo” collection (derived from a made up Italian slang imbufalito = ‘one who is mad for digging records’). Exhibiting his unique selection, Mitja takes you on a perfect trip; he plays on emotions, moods, grooves, vocals and sounds all the while keeping the bass rolling and the aliens in check.

If you were to visit London’s Vinyl Pimp, he’d typically be one of the first people you see. Sorting through boxes of records, recommending releases behind the counter, opening and closing shop…

Vinyl Pimp © Lawrence Carlos

How long were you at Vinyl Pimp? Tell us about the typical day…

I’ve been working at Vinyl Pimp for the past four years. A typical day – I’d arrive in the morning, check what our customers have ordered, pick and prepare the records the orders, pack it up and ship it out (occasionally feeling like Santa Claus :p). Then there’s dealing with the customer service, but also mainly grading and logging new collections. For me, Vinyl Pimp has been central to my personal development, it’s helped me to integrate into the London community and develop a handful of valuable friendships.

Did you deal with all “categories” of electronic music or focus in on particular styles? You must have found so many records for your own collection!

Musically it really depends on what comes through the door. Sometimes you’re stuck grading 5k of terrible 90s’ pop, although they have the best “trash” sleeves that I love to take pictures of. Other times, 24k of electronic music comes in and you feel like you’re in heaven. All I had to put in was the time for listening but I really enjoyed it so boredom was never an issue, especially when I’d find those unexpected obscure gems. The shop gave me the chance to discover music but more importantly, it refined my taste in music and opened me up to other genres that I now appreciate and listen to.

90s’ Pop Covers – Vinyl Pimp

For those that don’t know, Vinyl Pimp is situated in Hackney Wick, home to London’s warehouse community, and a place for art, music, theatre and nightlife. Mitja – what are some of your favourite stores/spots/hangouts?

A great deal of Hackney Wick has changed lately and people are struggling because they’ve been kicked out of their warehouses. But recently I see people giving a lot to it, they’re now organising talks, walks and events with the aim of maintaining the vibrancy of Hackney Wick. What makes it special is also the diversity of arts, cultures and people that you find there, so I couldn’t say that I have a single favourite spot but… finding myself dancing in a forest on a Sunday afternoon, playing some records at Crate or Grow (two of the best local places), climbing a tree too early in the morning or attending a Japanese audio/visual performance all form part of a day in Hackney Wick and it’s these things that I’ll miss about London.

Illustrations by Mitja

I am sure Vinyl Pimp and their customers are sad to see you go! Tell us, what’s next for you?

A few months ago I started working for a music distribution company based in Bern, Switzerland. In September I’ll start a course specialising in cultural economics at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. I’ve been told really good things about the Netherlands – hoping also to find a good music scene and secret spots for digging too!

Speaking of travels, you were recently in Asia… if you could share a track that best describes your mood whilst there?

Japan – I found some crazy obscure Japanese stuff but there aren’t any videos online, so here’s a classic good find:

Philippines –  A karaoke contest (but that’s a another story :p):

Edited by Kaajal Shah.

[Cover Image Photograph © Lawrence Carlos]

Snippets

May Day: Politics won’t divide us

April 28, 2017 • By

In 1910, Herr von Jaegow, the Berlin police president, attempted to prohibit demonstrations on workers’ May Day, and threatened to proceed against the demonstrants with arms if necessary. He was answered when hundreds of thousands of workers poured into the streets. Von Jaegow did not dare go through with his threat. But that which even the minions of the Kaiser did not dare to do, was left to be accomplished by the German social democracy. Shortly before May 1st of this year [1929], Von Jaegow’s successor Zoergiebel issued an order prohibiting public demonstrations or meetings of any group in Berlin on May Day. The order was aimed directly at the Communists, and the answer of the Communist Party was a call to the workers of Berlin to fill the streets on May Day.

Translated from The MilitantVol. II No. 11, 1 July 1929, p. 7.

May 1, 2012 Berlin. By Sean Gallup

Berlin May Day 2014 on RT

Presently, the origins of Berlin’s Revolutionary May Day are associated to some 30 years ago – the year of 1987 – when police apprehended a street festival in Kreuzberg, using batons and tear gas in response to an overturned vehicle and several construction cars being pushed out onto the street. Inhabitants and activists quickly mobilised to resist the police attacks. Barricades were set up, police cars set alight, an urban uprising that forced the police stealth out from the confines of the district. Whilst the Revolutionary May Day demonstrations between The Left, the “Autonomen” (autonomists) and the police have become somewhat of an annual tradition, in true Berlin fashion there’s also a party to be had…

1st of May 2013, Berlin. By Katja Avant-Har

“With the rhythmical formula you can convince anyone in the whole world of dancing, just dancing. It’s a universal language of music, an anti-Babylon, it doesn’t matter from which culture you come, which political background or opinion you have… We all belong together – this is what music is able to show – that there is a culture uniting us, that we can communicate with one another, love one another, dance together without having any problem.  All these people are dancing to the same songs.

(Ricardo Villalobos)

“Our movement is a bubble, a still accepted bubble that has no political meaning… that means that they leave us in our bubble. We should protect our bubble, be happy that we are able to make our parties and have that time where we are able to do what we want to do: dance and be together, this is something that we have to be very happy for. You have to work very hard to create that bubble, maintain that bubble and defend that bubble, to not let it become an instrument of political meaning.”

(Ricardo Villalobos)

In the name of peace, international understanding and socialism, let’s dance!
Club der Visionaere 2017

The Perlon heroes, billed each year as “Die Üblichen Verdächtigen” (The Usual Suspects) will grace the decks of the infamous Club der Visionaiere, bringing the sounds of minimal, electro, dub, techno and house for family, friends and dancers united by a passion that arguably makes up the heartbeat of Berlin. This year expect no less.

Whilst two causes – one of protest the other of rhythmical formulas – will and do characterise the capital, common themes of conviction, solidarity and revolution essentially underpin both, propelling the heartbeat of the city even further and deeper for the Summer months to come.

“The revolution is cool, everything else is Quark (cottage cheese).”

(Rosa Luxemburg)

Interviews

Ettore : Contemporary Motions

March 14, 2017 • By

Listen to Ettore play and it’s obvious that he has a style of his own. Like a true music aficionado, however, he never forgets to acknowledge musical movements from past to present. With a record collection specialising in dancefloor material but spanning way beyond, it’s evident that he’s explored – studied – absorbed to profound depths to arrive at where he is now.

Snippets

Binaural : Beyond Expectations

March 7, 2017 • By

Following the release of a number of EPs by the young talents of today – Harry McCanna, Etienne, Nicola Kazimir – respected by the electronic music sphere as we know it today, Undersound starts the year with something a little different. In January came the announcement of their fourth release, a Prisms LP by little known Binaural aka Jasper De Jong. A double EP split between techno and electro, the eight tracks exhibited are quite something, and something more considering that he had only officially released three EPs since 1998. But as electronic music has proven time and time again, it is not so much the quantity of labels a producer has under their belt that really counts.

“Just a little snippet of me taking my Perfourmer out on a walk on a rainy november 16th”

Jasper De Jong has been producing music since the 80s. It started when he saw his cousin playing Roland synths back in the 90s in the Netherlands: “pure magic” as recalled by him. Already a pianist, it wasn’t until “that magic Sunday” that a raw inspiration was cultivated inside of him. So he bought a synth and an Atari and continued to feed his passion through solo productions without affiliating himself to any one particular scene until he felt those all-important musical connections, surprisingly “through pre-internet bulletin boards”. One of which was with Random XS’s Sander Friedman, who introduced him to a scene that he barely knew about. “Legowelt Danny was there too, it was a special time. Everybody seemed to just do their stuff, in isolation more or less”.

Sander took Jasper under his wing after listening to a tape that he had made, not strictly in terms of production but music discovery too. “He showed me the real stuff – Detroit techno, Drexciya, Basic Channel”. Jasper collaborated with Random XS (Frank De Groodt – Sander Friedeman), notably on ‘Errant’, released many years later in 2015 as the Return EP on Dutch label Shipwrec. Sander also introduced Jasper to DJAX-UP-BEATS. Shortly after, in 1995, he released his first EP, Unison, on the legendary imprint. In the following years he went on to explore D&B and electro. His experimentations are very present in his productions, say his Switch EP released on UK electro/IDM label SCSI-AV in 2002.

Jasper has since remained under the radar. With a day job and a family, he retreats to the studio after putting his children to sleep – his passion for music clearly standing the test of time. Interestingly, he admits:

As much as I love listening to other people’s music, the tracks that are most dear to me are the ones where I can switch off influences and my own expectations. Like in the old days where a crappy D-10 and a sequencer were enough to let you wander off and follow intuition, pretty much goalless. I was very surprised and honoured that Undersound picked out some of those tracks that are very close to me.

Cover image by Keewah

Edited by Kaajal Shah

Snippets

The Rise of The Vinyl Market

March 1, 2017 • By

London. A city with a thriving electronic music scene.

England. The birthplace of music styles, record labels and thousands of obscure records spanning the spectrum of electronic music.

Yet, despite this history and substance, second-hand record stores in London that are as equipped as let’s say Berlin and even Paris, Brussels and Rome, are but a few. Do we owe this to the high rents, the “laissez-faire” approach or even the lack of interest in our small bubble of a scene.

A reaction to this apparent lack has manifested itself in the vinyl markets that have been popping up in our scene and over London as of late. For example, last September, Koncept Music hosted a second hand record fair headed by Niff, involving local DJs coming together to sell their second copies and/or records too valuable to give away but simply not suitable to play during a set. Some DJs wanted to sell to buy more, but perhaps they didn’t foresee spending most of their earnings almost immediately on other records at the market. What ensued was a reciprocal exchange, part of the magic in getting a group together to collaborate.

Second Hand Record Fair @ Koncept Music 25/09/16

Vinyl Market Place, Rome 2016

Libertine & Slow Life Open Air Vinyl Market 13/09/16

Coming up this Sunday it’s Cartulis’ turn, at The Brewhouse. As well as selling their own records and merchandise, they’ve involved other collectives from around Europe: the likes of HardWorkSoftDrink, Seekers, Sleepers, distributor EFD Tokyo and Doctor Vinyl who will be making it over here from Brussels. And of course, a market wouldn’t be a proper market without second-hand goodies. This is where the “Discogs” sellers come in, such as Cartulis residents Unai Trotti and Raphael Carrau, Junki Inoue, Isherwood, Voigtmann, Jacopo, Galvin, Lorenzo Stucchi and others. They won’t stop at records though, as there will be plenty of clothes with independent sellers and a stall by NDN, a clothing brand launched and dedicated to dancefloor moments.

So, as for the soundtrack, it’ll be provided by Miro Sundaymusiq, Isherwood and Davy, each playing non-dancefloor sets that will be broadcast and streamed live via KMAH Radio. And once the sun goes down, Cartulis resume their Sunday VA dance in the main arch of The Brewhouse. For this VA edition, there comes the invitation to a DJ born and bred in the UK, with an extensive yet rare record collection, most would say a masterpiece in itself. The perfect guest for this event, guess who?

 

Edited by Kaajal Shah

Snippets

Being Conxi Sane

February 9, 2017 • By

Albert Einstein once said “Creativity is intelligence having fun” – a life theme wonderfully underpinned in this comic drawn for us by the talented Conxi Sane [Ivvoki Studio].

We look forward to more of her art, characterised by an acute perception of the darkness that strays amidst the rhythm of our daily lives.