XLR8R Podcast 676: Power House (Finn Johannsen & DJ Pete)

Posted: December 29th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Features, Mixes | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »
Photo by Laura Marchand

What have you both been up to recently?

Finn: Mostly spending as much time as possible with my wife and daughter, family and friends. I have been constantly DJing and working on a lot of other things for years and years and I used this unexpected time off to take a break, but I am also catching up with all the books and films I gathered for some occasion, and other interests I had to neglect due to too little time or too many distractions. Else I have not played a club gig since March. As I am a seasoned DJ I sometimes wondered how it would feel to retire at some point, and I guess I know now, and I realized that I am not yet ready for it. I still buy as much music as I can still afford, and I do radio shows and podcasts with it, and I try to be up to date with what is still happening. Generally I try to act as responsible as I can in this situation and make the best of it.

Pete: My girlfriend moved in and we used the unexpected time off to settle down. I am also still working at Hard Wax once a week, and I practice my daily Yoga routines. As far as DJing is concerned, I played a few open air gigs that met the necessary regulations. But only until the beginning of November.

How has lockdown been for you both?

Pete: I could never really develop some kind of lockdown routine. It just felt just too absurd to spend most of your life indoors, in your own space. Like not being able to meet friends where and when you want, to visit a restaurant, cultural activities, and so on. But we try to adapt to it, and make the best of what we can still do.

Finn: A lot of what I have been doing for decades fell apart within a very short time, and that was quite frightening. But Macro, the label I run with Stefan Goldmann, did not stop, and most importantly I did not have much time to brood over the situation as Paloma, the club I have been doing the booking for in the past few years, shut down in March and pretty much instantly went into crisis management mode. We organized a successful crowdfunding campaign, a series of exhibitions, a quarantine podcast, fashion items and set up a label, and we are constantly thinking about other ideas to keep the club going and support our network. So thankfully I was quite busy, and I still am. Hopefully this will keep up until things swing back into action, and I kind of ignore the possibility that they might not.

Which artist and/or labels have caught your eye recently?

Finn: I was quite happy with the way UK Garage came back, there is a lot of interesting fresh new stuff on labels like Instinct, Dr. Banana, Vitamin D, and many others. On a disco tip I think Javi Frias, Snips, Very Polish-Cut Outs and the Sound Metaphors camp are doing mighty fine edits, and in terms of house music I think labels like Must Be On Wax, Blaq Numbers, Random Mind State, or Distant Horizons are well worth checking out. As a quite loyal soul I still cling to artists like Jeff Mills, Nature Boy, Kai Alcé, Dave Lee, Hanna, Boo Williams, Pépé Bradock and friends like Dynamo Dreesen, SVN, SW., Fett Burger, Lowtec and the whole Workshop posse, they all keep on delivering. But, as many others, I spend more time with music at home now, and there I am mostly listening to old soul music and new hip hop, and according mentions would definitely blow up this frame.

Pete: I still dig what old friends are doing, like Sleeparchive, Shed, or Surgeon. I also enjoyed current releases by Ploy, the Zenker Brothers or Leibniz. The recent albums by Autechre and Actress also really blew me away.

With clubs closed, this period has been difficult for DJs. What do you make of the government’s response?

Finn: Well, this period has been difficult for almost anybody. In hindsight a lot of decisions how to handle the pandemic were obviously too late and probably too hesitant. The virus hit hard because practically only few goverments were at least a bit ready and well equipped to handle such a situation, and more often than not they were simply overwhelmed with the quick rise of infections and how it affected the whole system. Some countries were run by incompetent politicians that had no real clue how to answer it, and still have not. The fact that there were so many populists in charge sure did not help either, and that hey had so many supporters that believed them. Rather expectedly the cultural sector was the first to go down, and will probably be the last to come up again. But we are also aware that Germany was not affected as badly as so many other countries. There were fundings and help programs early on, where in a lot of other countries people in creative professions were just left in the cold. But we understand if people in said professions get frustrated with how financial help is distributed, or when they get official advice to work in other fields or to apply for unemployment benefits, because what they have been doing for all their lives is just way down on the priority list. And on top of it there is the threat that many institutions and locations will just vanish, and nobody knows how they ever will be replaced, if at all. It is important to keep all this alive, but it is also important that the ones demanding support step out of their bubble and ask themselves if what they want to keep doing is a potential threat to many others right now. The virus is just very contagious, there is no cure as of yet, and reason and patience are key.

Where and when did you record this mix?

Finn: The mix was recorded live at Paloma on the evening of October 16th this year, using our usual setup of two turntables, a TR-909 drum machine, and a delay unit.

Can you talk about some of the artists that you’ve included?

Pete: A Power House night is a perfect opportunity to play music by artists I have really internalized over the years. With the selection for this set I wanted too express my love for Detroit music, as I often do. But in the process of preparing a Power House set I also often discover certain artists all over again. This time that was the case with Eddie Flashin’ Fowlkes.

Finn: In the past we often dedicated Power House nights to certain topics, but this time I just wanted to play some records that I had not used yet. In my case it turned out to be mostly pumping US 90s house, just because I was in the mood for it. The sound of these records is quite representative for what I play when I opt for that direction, and the overall sound was also more vital than the individual artists. But of course you can hear some people that often pop up in the Power House canon, like Masters at Work, Tony Rodriguez, Eddie Perez, the Melillo brothers, Jason Nevins, Scott Kinchen or Eddie Maduro. Shout out to the La Mona family in France for providing a rather obviously fitting intro track, and Hans Nieswandt, who gave the fledgling Paloma imprint a glorious unreleased track from the 90s that is just working hard. As for the outro, you have to keep in mind that Power House nights at Paloma usually go on for eight hours, and the last bit is often reserved for early morning bliss and odd ones out, and here we condensed it a bit. The Blaze acapella is blowing a kiss to our beloved crowd, we indeed were wishing you were there, and the last record is a kind of relief ending, and I cannot tell more about it than that it is a Japanese record I found in a cheapo bin and I loved it ever since.

What made this mix so memorable?

Finn: Playing music together again, and doing it where it all began, and like we always do. Of course we missed our dancers, but it felt good to realize that our dynamics can be activated in any context.

Pete: I wallowed in the memories quite a bit. Our nights together offered so many, and it all came back. Finn is a friend, and a selector capable contantly coming up with musical surprises. We swing each other up. And it felt great being able to use our setup of the delay unit, and mixing my live 909 beats with Finn’s acapellas. That combined makes it even more fun, and I think you can hear that.

Full feature

Leave a Reply