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Interviews

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

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]

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

Interviews

Zuflucht: For Your Body, Mind & Soul

January 25, 2017 • By

In our first interview with Jus-Ed back in 2015 where we first sat down to talk about music and things, he told us that he and his family would be making the transatlantic move from the States over to mainland Europe, from the state of Connecticut over to the city of Berlin. That was also the year that saw him officially tie the knot with his now wife Jenifa Mayanja, after “12 years of togetherness”. Let’s fast-forward to today – Ed’s chatting to us from his Berlin home, together with Jen and it so happens that they’ve just celebrated their second wedding anniversary.

Snippets

Merry Christmas: Re-issue of ‘The Other People’s Place “Lifestyles of The Laptop Caf锑

December 22, 2016 • By
It’s no secret that Warp fans have been wanting to get their hands on the vinyl issue of The Other People Place‘s infamous LP Lifestyles of The Laptop Café. A petition to re-issue the 2001 Warp Records classic was launched in 2015 following incredibly high prices on Discogs – at the time (June 2015) the highest price in the marketplace was a whopping €25,000. 
  

For the 1,167 supporters, the campaign was short of just 333 signatures to make a difference. But perhaps Warp did listen to “the people”… over a year later, the label has today announced that a re-issue of the double vinyl edition is available for pre-order on Bleep.com, hitting the stores as of February 10, 2017 (unfortunate news for the handful of secondhand sellers on Discogs…). 

Merry Christmas!
   
For old time’s sake, here’s a video of Nicolas Lutz playing “Let Me Be Me” back in 2 0 1 4 :
   

 
*Cover Image from Warp
Edited by Kaajal Shah
Reviews

Raview : Our Culture Is Not Dead

November 8, 2016 • By

To reconsider clubs as last social spaces, youth shelters and creative playgrounds.
To defend London music culture.
To celebrate the diversity and raw energy of the scene.
To create an artists’ platform and network.
Nightlife does matter.

These are just some of the aims set out in Raview’s manifesto, a London-based concept and movement that aims to transcend the notion of hedonism traditionally associated with the culture of clubbing. What it shows (and what we know) is that London’s ‘clubbing scene’ is in fact a community and platform for music, art and fashion.

Interviews

Cape Verde : “The Early Days of Ibiza” + Interview with Romy Romualdo and Jus-Ed

October 20, 2016 • By

To the west of Africa lie the Cape Verdean Islands, a country known for its Creole-Portugese-African culture, coladera music, morna folk (the Islands’  traditional melancholic genre) and Carnaval, not forgetting the hospitality of its people. The São Vicente island merits a particular mention. The party island and culture capital has been compared to the early days of Ibiza, all the while an electronic music scene has been growing…

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This year, a festival UNDERGROUND Mindelo Fest (organised by Rotterdam based Liber Artista) will be welcoming international artists one of whom is Jus-Ed, alongside its own DJs. Our friend Ed so happens to be from Cape Verde. Having never had the chance to visit, this is a first for him. And the very fact that music is bringing him back to his origins is something we’re already smiling about.

We catch up with him before he heads out there. But first, Romy (organiser and resident DJ) gives us a sweet introduction to the festival and an insight into what makes São Vicente such a special place to party…

Interviews

DJ F aka Ideograma: His Universe

September 29, 2016 • By

Some would say that it would be quite difficult to understand the true value of Ideograma aka DJ F–  online clips of his productions are scarce and his releases are hard to find but dig a little and it is obvious that he is a true electronic artist. A producer, a DJ, a musician who plays live and alongside these elements of music, he has his record store Recycled Music Centre and label Prayers For The Long Life – music is the only job he has known.