The original idea was to record mixes for my wife to listen to in the car on her way to work. She loves anything UK and bass & breakbeats related, but I have not made a mix for her before with the styles contained here. It was meant to be one longer mix at first, but then I found too many tracks in the shelves I just had to include. It was the same with a 90s Deep House retrospective I did for Modyfier early last year. I’m afraid I cannot portion myself anymore. And I hope it does not become a habit, it really messed up my weekly schedule.
Can you tell us something about the concept behind every mix?
The concept is really simple. Mix 1 starts with 80 BPM, Mix 3 ends with 150 BPM, halftime though. The pace gradually increases in between, and the mixes are more sequenced then mixed. Predominantly for listening purposes, but feel free to move if you want to move. The music is a diverse mix of Grime, Hip Hop, R&B, Dubstep and affiliated sounds. As mentioned, the reason I chose these sounds were mainly motivated by my wife’s preferences, but recently I was also getting really fed up with the current high level of pretentiousness in club music. Every day I hear House and Techno music and I see designs and read track titles or concepts that are desperately pretending something but there is actually not much going on beneath the surface. There is some longing for intellectual weight and diffuse deeper meanings, but there is a considerable discrepancy between creative intention and creative result, and a disappointing display of conservative ideas in the process. I think a lot of the music you can hear in these mixes is not afraid to use commercial elements and turn them into something that is innovative and more forward-looking than other club music styles that want to be advanced, but in fact just vary traditional formulas. You may argue that lot of the tracks I have chosen sound similar to each other as well, but I would like to think of the listening experience as a whole, and that for me presents a much appreciated alternative. I do not think it is better than other music I am more associated with as a DJ, but for me it helps to look elsewhere as soon as routine creeps in. I usually regain patience with the sounds I am normally occupied with if I do so. But apart from a regular change of perspective, I also cannot listen to 4/4 club music more than I do for all my work commitments. That is more than enough. I like to reserve my little leisure time for music I do not know as well.
You’ve been heavily influenced by Hamburg’s legendary club Front. Do you think that a club nowadays can have such massive impact on local and even nationwide music scenes like back in the days when dance music was born?
I don’t think so. At least not until you can present a sound that is new. In that aspect Front is a good example. It existed from 1983 to 1997. Just think of all the new club music styles that occurred in that period of time, and then compare that to the last few years. Apart from Grime and Dubstep most new music played in clubs now is a variation of the music that came into being in said period. I am very grateful that I belong to the generation that could witness that directly on the floor. Pioneering days are always easier. Of course the combination of extraordinary DJs, a dedicated crowd and a unique location and interior will always work, but I think that in recent years a lot of clubs did not become widely known for paving the way for crucial musical developments. They became widely known for good bookings that make a difference and for being an outstanding attraction as a club itself. Clubs and DJs can still inspire new ideas and even change lives, but I doubt this now happens on more than an individual scale. I welcome the next lasting musical revolution in club culture though, it is overdue.
Macro has always been a very versatile sounding label covering new and almost forgotten releases. Who does what at Macro?
Stefan Goldmann concentrates on the manufacturing, mastering and administrative side of the label, I concentrate on how we communicate what we do to the outside world and the digital and virtual part of our catalogue. But we both decide what we want to release and with what artwork. And we are in constant touch with each other about every aspect running a label requires. There is no other way, at least not for us.
What are the future plans for the label?
We are constantly looking for new talents that we feel can add something other to the canon. Thus we signed the band KUF, whose first single is out while you are reading this. They are also working on their debut album, due later this year. And then we always appreciate new material by artists we already worked with. Elektro Guzzi for example are also working on a new album, others to be confirmed will follow suit. There will be new material from Stefan as well, which will probably draw from recent commissioned works. And there will be another album with compositions by Stefan’s father, the late Friedrich Goldmann. For the rest of the future, we just try to keep going as long as we enjoy to keep going.
You’ve written for the highly acclaimed but now gone German print magazine De:Bug. Do you miss it? What do you think of today’s dance music journalism?
I actually do miss it, yes. De:Bug offered content that other German music magazines do not offer, or do not want to offer. Every defunct print magazine takes away something that is not necessarily replaced. Not by other magazines, and also not by web media. And there are not enough websites in Germany that reach a wider readership. I can remember a lot of people sneering at the demise of De:Bug, they felt a print magazine was outdated anyway. But every media outlet passing away also diminishes the reach you can have with what you do. And in times when it is quite a struggle to make a living from whatever profession within the music industry, this is a problem. Unfortunately this struggle also changed today’s music journalism. For the worse, in my opinion. There is more clickbait controversy than well researched discourse. Occasional thinkpieces are presented as something exceptional, when they should be the norm. I notice a worrying increase in factual mistakes when I read print or web media these days. There probably is not enough budget for sufficient editing, but even if the small budget only allows freelancers and interns and only a few journalists on a monthly payroll, thorough supervision should be a must. Otherwise you can hardly justify that people should still buy a print magazine for example. And too much online music journalism is just a newsfeed. I get a lot of PR mails on a daily basis, and a lot of them I will find on websites only shortly later, too often without any own words added. Music journalism should offer individual perspectives and opinions, based on individual research. Else there is not enough to learn from it. I think it is a bit sad that a lot of interesting debates about music happen on social media, and they are not even sparked by interesting features in other media. A good music journalist should try to lead the way, and not vice versa. And in any case the traffic obligations should not lead the way either.
Back then journalists were always one step ahead and everyone relied on their reviews. Now you can stream everything via Soundcloud or preview via the shop websites. From your record shop buyer perspective: are record reviews still relevant for you?
Not really. I mostly order releases for Hard Wax weeks in advance before the according reviews are published. Web is usually quicker than print, but still most reviews are connected to actual release dates. The rest of the texts sent my way want to sell their product, they are not reviews per definition. But I always choose to remain as neutral as possible. I listen to the music first, and then I may read the accompanying text about it. In my experience as a buyer it is very advisable to follow your own instincts. I register the opinions of distributors, labels and early adopters, particularly if I think they are reliable. But they do not really influence my decisions what to buy, and in what quantity. That is a different reality.
Lowtec told us that they were calling Hard Wax from their telephone booth back in the 90s and that one of the sellers previewed them the tracks via phone. When and where did you started buying music and how did that change over the time?
I bought my first records in the mid 70s, when I was about six years old. And then I never stopped. You only learnt about new music from friends, record stores, magazines, books and radio. Sometimes it took me quite a while to figure out certain tracks I liked in clubs, sometimes I never succeeded. The internet of course changed all that dramatically. You can learn about anything in a short time, and then you can purchase it a few clicks further. I also called up Hard Wax to buy records in the early 90s, holding up the newsletter leaflet with highlighted picks. That always felt a bit awkward, compared to just browsing through the crates of a well selected record store. But however convenient it is nowadays to gather knowledge about music and then acquire it, it is not necessarily more exciting to do so. The process almost completely neglected the element of surprise and there is a linear way to what you want. Still, whenever I find a record in a store I was not aware of before, it feels much more satisfying than finding music online. Store finds beat web finds, and I like surprises. And I do not want anything to fall into my hands, I do not want to feel lazy. And I will probably never value an audio file in the same way I value a record. I think you lose the respect for the music you are listening to if you do. But all that is a generational thing, even if a lot of people way younger than me are getting into vinyl. It is the privilege and imperative of youth to question the habits of the previous generations. I certainly did the same. But now I gladly act my age.
We’re always wondering how do you manage the flood of new releases as Hard Wax buyer?
You have to organize yourself cleverly and you have to know what you can ignore and when. And you have to develop ways to keep being interested. If you lose your curiosity, you have a problem. Personally, the minority of records that I find interesting outweighs the majority of records I do not find interesting.
Will there ever be a book about those famous one-liners?
We are aware of the cult status our comments have, but for us they are more a means to an end than anything else. But if someone rises to occasion, I hope it is highly recommendable to the point of being killer, and not just writer tool literature.
Finally, what do your children think about what you do?
I have a wonderful five year old daughter, and she knows exactly what I do. She likes to listen to music, either on her little cassette or CD players, or when I play records to her. She thinks I have too many records, but she also likes them. Especially since she brought some of her Kindergarten friends to my room and none of them had ever seen a record, or a turntable, and jaws dropped. She copes with me being away on weekends or working at night by thinking I am at least a little bit famous, and that what I do makes some people happy. She might even be a bit proud of me when she hears or sees me play on the web, or when she sees photos of me somewhere, or flyers and posters, or articles I wrote. But it is not too important for her and she does not want to do my job later on either, because she likes to sleep at night, and have her weekends off. Her favourite tracks are “Die Roboter” and “I Like To Move It”.
In discussion with Trevor Jackson on “Illmatic” by Nas (1994).
Can you remember the way you were introduced to “Illmatic”? Was it love at first sight?
Hip-hop was the main music I listened to in the early ‘90s. I devoured every new hip-hop release that came out. I’d been aware of Nas since 1991 when he guest-starred on a Main Source track called “Live at the Barbecue”, which was produced by Large Professor, one of my favorite producers. He was incredible on that. It was a great time for hip-hop. So many incredible hip-hop albums came out between ’91 and ’94. In 1992, Nas put out a single on Ruffhouse called “Halftime”, which was a track from the soundtrack of Zebrahead. That single totally blew me away. It still is one of my favorite hip-hop singles of all time. By that time, people in the hip-hop world were really aware of Nas, so when the album dropped in 1994, it wasn’t love at first sight, to be honest. It was a surprise.
You were expecting something big?
Yeah. All the real hip-hop heads were, not only because he was an incredible MC, but also because of the producers on the album, which were the cream of the crop at the time.
How were all the luminaries who played a part in the process apparent on the album? How would you characterize their input?
The thing about hip-hop at that time—which was very different than it is now—everyone strove to have their own sound. Nobody wanted to sound like anybody else. Probably more than any other music, people who were into hip-hop bought a lot of records because of the producer rather than the artist or the MC. It was quite unique.
On Illmatic, Nas worked with DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor and Q-Tip. Even though they were all from New York, they all had their own distinctive sound. Premier usually only took one loop, but he could do something incredible and really simple with one or two bars. Pete Rock was more complex and slightly more soulful. Large Professor had really amazing basslines, and Q-Tip was still deep, dark and street, but slightly more abstract. It was almost like The Avengers: Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man all coming together on one team. I don’t want to take anything away from Nas, who’s an amazing MC in his own right, but he always needed a great beat behind him. And they were the best at the time.
It’s kind of astonishing that there were so many different people involved, yet the album is pretty coherent.
The thing is, all these guys are from New York, and New York rap was all sample-based. It was pretty raw, and so even though these guys all had their own distinctive sound, they all hung out together; they were all friends.
That’s true. As you said, you go a long way back with hip-hop, and you probably heard a lot of classic albums. What makes “Illmatic” so special?
All I know is that I never get tired of it. A week doesn’t go by when I don’t listen to the whole album. It’s a short, too—it’s only got ten tracks on it, which was not typical, as a lot of albums used to hold 20 or 30 tracks. In contrast, Illmatic is really tight and focused. I love every track apart from one. I just think there’s something about Nas’ hunger to succeed on that record—I felt like you can hear that he came off the street into a vocal booth and just rhymed. It really has that immediacy and that hunger; you can hear it in his lyrics and you can hear it in his voice, and for me, it’s 1000 percent believable. I understand every word of it he says. Maybe it sounds silly, but it feels like he’s talking to me directly. His voice is just so direct. There’s something about that album. It was a point in time. So many different things combined to make it a special record.
It was his debut album, and it’s still hailed as one of the most important hip-hop albums of all time. That’s obviously quite a burden as well, but it’s really fascinating that he achieved this as his first album.
When it first came out, it wasn’t a success, though. It had critical success, but it didn’t sell. It took a bit of time to catch on. Looking at it now, for me, it’s always been a thing about Jay-Z or Nas. If you ask me, Nas would wipe the floor with Jay-Z in terms of rap skills. But Jay-Z is the superstar today, not Nas. Nas is still the rapper’s rapper. Also, sadly, he probably hasn’t made a record quite as good as Illmatic—not a whole album, anyway. So, if you want to talk about the greatest record of all time, many people today won’t say Illmatic. People will say it’s Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, or they’ll say Kanye’s it’s 808s & Heartbreak. For me, Illmatic is a benchmark, but I’m the older generation. I don’t know if the new generation really understands. What they perceive as being “good rap music” now is totally different, as is rap music itself.
Just in terms of the production, hip-hop—especially from the East Coast—was much more sample-based. I think that kind of vanished over the years.
The other thing is, in a weird way, that album marked a beginning, too. Before, you’d have one producer producing the whole thing. From what I remember, Illmatic was the first time so many esteemed producers all produced on the same album. That kind of changed things, because after that, people started getting loads of different producers to do an album. It’s not like they said, “Let’s get Premier or Pete Rock because they’ll sell millions of records.” They got those people because they really worked with Nas and they sounded right. But the hip-hop environment changed after that; people lost their unique sound. Everyone started to sound the same. Read the rest of this entry »
1977 bin ich acht Jahre alt, und ein Virtuose der Pausen-Taste meines BASF-Kassettenrekorders. Ich nehme vornehmlich Disco und Glam Rock-Ausläufer aus dem Radio auf. Werner Veigel ist der Yacht Rock-Don von NDR 2. Dann sagt Wolf-Dieter Stubel in der Internationalen Hitparade beim gleichen Sender angesäuert „God Save The Queen“ von den Sex Pistols an. Ich bin nicht überzeugt, aber das Musikprogramm wird in den folgenden Jahren wesentlich interessanter.
1981 habe ich das Nachtprogramm vom NDR entdeckt. Innerhalb kurzer Zeit nehme ich unfassbare Konzerte von Palais Schaumburg, Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft und The Wirtschaftswunder auf.
1985 hat das Format-Radio Einzug gehalten, und es läuft gefühlt nur noch Phil Collins.
1985 wird Paul Baskerville schon wieder einen Sendeplatz beim NDR los, und spielt zum Abschied ausschließlich fantastische Musik aus seiner Heimatstadt Manchester.
1988 tanze ich seit zwei Jahren zu House in Hamburger und Kieler Clubs. Zum ersten Mal im Radio höre ich die Musik aber in einer mehrstündigen Live-Übertragung aus dem Hannoveraner Club Checkers.
1989 höre ich auf einer langen Autofahrt durch Frankreich eine beeindruckende Sendung namens „Ecstasy Club“. Aus Müsique forevör! Kurze Zeit später in Palma, auch nur noch House in der Playlist. Deutschland? Fehlanzeige.
1991 fahre ich durch Niedersachsen und kann endlich mal wieder John Peel auf BFBS hören. Er spielt dreimal hintereinander „Gypsy Woman“. Beim zweiten Mal summe ich mit.
1993 bin ich in London und mache im Hotelzimmer das Radio an. Noch am gleichen Tag kaufe ich auf dem Portobello Market zahlreiche Kassetten-Mitschnitte von amerikanischen DJs auf Kiss FM und englischen Jungle DJs. Ich will auch Piratensender.
1994 ist meine Freundin als Au Pair in Rom und schickt mir Tape-Mitschnitte von überragenden House-Shows des Senders Radio Centro Suono. Ich bin froh, dass es ihr so gut geht.
1994 startet Boris Dlugosch aus dem Hamburger Clubs Front seine Mixshow auf dem Jugendsender N-Joy. Jahre zu spät für das regelmäßige Club-Erlebnis im Radio, aber trotzdem höchst willkommen.
1995 zu Besuch in Berlin, letzte Love Parade auf dem Kurfürstendamm. Vor ihren Club-Gigs spielen eine Menge DJs im Radio. Ich kriege bis heute nicht raus, von wem der „When Doves Cry“-Bootleg ist, den alle zu haben scheinen.
1997 habe ich auch dieses Internet, arbeite mich systematisch durch die historischen Radioaufnahmen der Mix-Sektion der Deep House Page und rücke Kontexte zurecht. Ich brauche alles von WBLS und WBMX und komme mir aus nationaler Perspektive jetzt erst recht betrogen vor.
1999 verbrenne ich eine Menge Geld, um mit meinem AOL-Einwähltarif in Echtzeit ohne Buffer-Aussetzer das Set von Derrick Carter bei der Beta Lounge auf Kassette aufzunehmen und hasse den Real Player mehr als die CDU.
2001 habe ich auch dieses Breitband-Internet. Jetzt brauche ich alle historischen Radioshows, die ich kriegen kann. Kurze später finde ich heraus was ein monatliches Datenvolumen ist. Fies.
2002 habe ich auch diese Breitband-Flatrate und höre regelmäßig das Cybernetic Broadcast System. Dass Italo Disco, die heimlich verehrte Prollmusik meiner frühen Jugend, einmal derart hip sein würde, hätte ich niemals gedacht. Die anderen Bestandteile des Programms freuen mich aber auch.
2004 rotiert auf dem CBS der Acid House-Mix „Smileyville“, den ich mit einem Freund angefertigt habe. Result.
2005 sammle ich immer noch ausgiebig historische Radioshows und Club-Mitschnitte über gängige Suchmaschinen, aber jetzt kommen auch noch Podcasts hinzu. Ich verweigere mich iTunes und lade umständlich einzeln herunter.
2007 frage ich mich, was Steinski wohl so treibt und entdecke seine Themen-Sendungen auf WMFU. Ich höre begeistert Radio, als wären es wieder die 80er. Ein Moderator, ein Thema, Musik zum Thema. Vielleicht geht doch alles etwas zu schnell.
2007 erzählt mir Eric Wahlforss von seinem Start Up zum Austausch unter Musikern und gibt mir einen Voucher. Auf Soundcloud entdecke ich allerdings auch bereits reichlich Fremdeigentum. Mir schwant juristisches Konfliktpotential.
2007 gründe ich mit Freunden das Webzine D*ruffalo und dessen DJ-Exekutive, die D*ruffalo Hit Squad. Wir initiieren die Druffmix-Serie und peitschen nacheinander alles durch, was uns jemals musikalisch begeistert hat.
2010 schaue ich mir Theo Parrish im Boiler Room an, vom Schreibtisch aus. Ich frage mich wie viel bequemer alles noch werden wird, bevor es alle langweilt.
2011 Entnervt von den allwöchentlichen Gig-File-Tauschbörsen entscheiden Stefan Goldmann und ich den DJ-Mailout unseres Labels Macro einzustellen und stattdessen nur noch Radioshows zu bemustern. Wir recherchieren bis in die entlegensten Winkel und sind erstaunt, was es alles gibt.
2013 beginne ich nach diversen Gastauftritten bei terrestrischen und virtuellen Radiosendern über die Jahre bei dem neu gegründeten Berlin Community Radio meine monatliche Sendung „Hot Wax“. Eigentlich will ich nur präsentieren, was ich mir an neuer Musik von Hard Wax mitnehme, aber dann peitsche ich nacheinander alles durch, was mich jemals musikalisch begeistert hat.
2014 sitze ich auf einem Podium zum Thema Radio und Clubkultur. Monika Dietl hat eine Tüte mit Kassetten dabei, und spielt umwerfende Highlights ihrer Sendungen aus den 90ern vor. Nur Musik zu spielen, wie man es zur Zeit meistens macht, ist eben doch oft nicht alles.
2015 beugt sich Soundcloud dem Druck der Majors bezüglich Copyright-Verletzungen und löscht im Zuge auch die Accounts der Internet-Radiosender NTS, Red Light und Berlin Community Radio. Es folgt ein Exodus zu Mixcloud und anderen Plattformen, mit erheblichem Verlust an Reichweite.
2015 stelle ich aus Zeitmangel schweren Herzens „Hot Wax“ ein, nach 35 Sendungen.
2016 stelle ich zufällig fest, dass ich hundert Mitschnitte von Froggy & The Soul Mafia archiviert habe, obwohl mir die von ihnen gespielte Musik oft zu jazzfunkig und raregroovig ist, um mir das öfter anzuhören. Es ist mir aber egal. Ich weiß noch, wie es 1977 war.