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.
In discussion with Shanti Celeste about “Set It Out” by Omar-S (2003).
So what was the first time you heard this track?
I wish I could say it was in a club where I had a life changing experience bla bla bla, but it was actually a much more ordinary scenario. I was buying some birthday records on Juno just after it was repressed in 2009. I didn’t know much about Omar-S at that point, had heard the name once or twice, but that was about it. So the answer to that question is – the first time I heard this song was on the mighty Juno player.
What drew you to it? The simplicity of the groove? The addictive synth line? How it erupts into a heartfelt song? Or something else? Or all of it?
All of it! The vocal and the beautiful rolling pad in particular though, then the nice toms and the clap, too! I just think it’s a beautiful track, it can make you feel so happy and grateful. I love singing so I just start belting out along with it as soon as I hear it or even when I play it in a club. It is just so simple but so powerful.
For me this is foremost a prime example of a very fine Vocal House record. Lyrics, singing and sound work perfectly with each other. It seems nothing is missing, and there is nothing to improve. But is it really as simple as it sounds?
Yes and no, there isn’t that many elements which I guess is what makes it simple, but it is cleverly constructed. I always think that spreading a synth line across four bars creates more interest because it gives room for all the other elements to play without sounding too loopy and repetitive, even if it is that way. Also let’s not forget what a great vocal can do to a track, in some cases it can completely transform it.
I think his track „Who Wrote The Rules of Love“ with Colonel Abrams also comes close to what Omar-S achieved with „Set It Out“. Are you a fan of his in general? Are there other tracks you like nearly as much?
I agree, that’s also really good and again a perfect example of a good Vocal House track, if I’m putting it down to just a feeling though, I prefer „Set It Out“ but they are so close! These are probably my two favourites. I do like a lot of his others as well, he has done soooo much! One of my other favourites is him and Kai Alcé’s „Not Phazed“.
I like that Omar-S is absolutely not very fussy about either producing or marketing what he produces. He is not very concerned about other opinions on what he does either. Is this the way out of modern PR obligations, just delivering the tunes?
I think part of it is a way of delivering tunes! Imagine if he did the whole PR thing every time he released a record, especially at the start when he was releasing lots, it would be a PR overload! And now people trust him and will probably buy his records anyway.
There is whole lot of discourse about Detroit in club culture. But does the origin of Omar-S really matter with „Set It Out“?
To be honest, I’m not sure. To me it just sounds like Omar-S!
UK also has a healthy tradition with Garage House, even if it evolved into something different. But to my ears the production of this track is not too dissimilar to UK club styles, or am I wrong?
I actually think there are other more garage-y tracks from Omar-S that sound more similar to UK styles. „Set It Out“ is quite straight and I always think of UK Garage House as a lot more swong. But I guess that“s the beauty of music, eh? Everyone hears it in they’re own way.
What is important if you infuse a dance track with vocals?
Tricky, I will always notice a good vocal track if I like the vocal and the way that it’s been placed on the track. It’s very important that it’s effortless and soulful but not trying to be too gimmicky and „classic house vocal’. Also sometimes it helps if they use the whole accapella, like in „Set It Out“, or if it’s a vocalist that they arrange with more of a song structure. I like the way it sounds when it’s chopped as well but it has to be done right. Basically, it has to to work great and not just for the sake of it.
I must admit that I much prefer this kind of vocals in a dance track to the majority of tracks of recent years that include a singing style usually more associated with indie records. But I would not go as far as to maintain you cannot create a good club song without a Soul aspect. But what does a good club song actually require?
For me it requires a physical and an emotional aspect. So a really good groove that you just can’t help but dance to and a melodic aspect of some kind. I’m not saying it has to be super melodic with noodly bits everywhere, although that’s the route I tend to take because I just can’t help myself. But something to go along with the groove that’s making you dance your ass off.
Is there a way that „Set It Out“ is reflected in your own productions?
Maybe yes, it’s probably influenced me in more ways than I know considering that I have listened to it so many times over the years!
The defunct Face magazine used to have these little messages at the bottom of their last page. I always have this one particular issue in the back of my mind where it read „Vocals matter“. But do they still?
They do to me!
I loved a lot of David Bowie songs throughout my life. His landmark albums from the early 70s were still a staple of the radio shows I recorded to cassettes from the mid 70s on. Glam anthems, way ahead to my ears then what became of it in the charts around that time. Glam outfits that were equally way ahead. David Bowie was already somewhere else, of course, anticipating the Disco phenomenon I would soon so love, with Philly’s finest. Then following that up with the Berlin trilogy that would inspire legions to create something great, and look great while doing it, too. Then, when I ran around in 60s clothes in my early 80s coastal smalltown youth, I discovered that he already had been there in the best way imaginable, and his early Pye singles were exactly the attitude and sound I was looking for. He was the definite face. He made no mistakes. He even descended to the kids he created with „Ashes To Ashes“, and he blessed them, as they worshipped him. He was a terrific actor on screen as well, making good use of his ever magnetic charisma and sexually confusing identities there, too. Whatever he did, you watched him very closely, else you could have missed out on crucial developments.
When „Let’s Dance“ was announced as being produced by Nile Rodgers, another inerrable hero of mine, I had the highest expectations, but then could not help feeling let down. There were moments, but not enough of them. And in the period of the mid 80s shortly after, pop’s most successful stars could earn a fortune without even the slightest vision (let alone sound), and David Bowie simply became one of them. As soon as he was dancing in the street with Mick I was just embarrassed. Even his outfits were embarrassing. I was really surprised that this could happen. Enter the years of hit and miss. For every glimpse of his former cool self resurfacing, „Absolute Beginners“ or „Hallo Spaceboy“ for example, he took decisions that were unforgiveably below his par, think Tin Machine, among others. Given, you cannot be visionary forever, however visionary you once were. And David Bowie was more constantly visionary than anybody else, for a long time. But the visions at one point were had by others. Not surprisingly he displayed a clever instinct for picking the right ones to utilize for his purposes, but still they were attached. I did not mind, he was performing the elder statesmanship with grace, and as so many artists were still working ideas he already had before, there was nothing left to prove, only if he wanted to. So screw the stock bonds. I sincerely felt happy for him and his family. He deserved it. Then he kind of disappeared.
When he reappeared in 2013, it felt like out of the blue. „Where Are We Now?“ was the first song of his in years I listened to repeatedly. It was beautiful and it felt good to have him back. I was slightly surprised by its sadness, but I thought it was quite a statement to base its sentiment about the most lauded creative period of your career. It challenges comparisons, and I was sure he was still creatively ambitious enough to try and deal with them, no matter what he achieved before. „The Next Day“ was a good album, too. He did not try to reinvent himself, he looked back on what he invented. I visited the Bowie exhibition that was doing the same in Berlin, just in time before it closed, and I enjoyed it very much. It all came back, rather predictably. His stage outfits on display proved he was a small man, but he surely did not have a small mind.
I did not expect that he would follow that retrospective phase so soon, if at all. And I absolutely did not expect that he would follow it up with an album like „Blackstar“. As before, David Bowie chose to remain silent, relying on producer Tony Visconti to reveal the news of its release. I read his trusted cohort doing that in an interview while travelling. He spoke of references like Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips and Boards Of Canada, and that rock and roll was to be avoided. David Bowie recruited a potent jazz quartet from a New York bar for the recordings. It was all rather promising. When I got asked to write these lines I initially wished I could have listened to the entire album when he was still alive, as I was already overwhelmed to the point of numbness by the reactions to his sudden demise. But when I then listened to it, it became obvious very quickly that he was fully aware that he would have passed away once the public would be fully exposed to it. And that it is pivotal to picture the dying artist for the whole experience. The songs are brilliant. Complex and dense, or just stunning, indeed avoiding rock and roll stereotypes, even if the jazz only adds to the picture instead of dominating it. The mood is intense, but it is not entirely dark. Thinking of the motivation behind this album, David Bowie sounds astonishingly swinging, his beloved voice delivering clever lyrics ranging between the horror of his own decay and the feeling of arriving there content, at ease with himself, with truths simultaneously personal and universal. The video to „Lazarus“ is frightening to watch, but comically absurd as well. The last photographs of him taken show him in a sharp suit, lauging. The way he orchestrated his own requiem is incredible, exactly as he wanted to, and as only he could. Being David Bowie, setting lasting examples yet again. Superior, even in death.
In discussion with truly-madly on “Hats” by The Blue Nile (1989).
How did you come across this album for the first time?
In my early teens I was quite nerdily into hi-fi – it didn’t stop there to be honest – so there would always be a copy of „What Hi-Fi“ knocking about, covered in drooled saliva at the valve amp page. The magazine had a small music review section – I don’t recall usually paying much attention to this but for some reason I read the entry for „Hats“. I don’t remember what it said but something in it must have appealed to my inner angst – nor did that stop there either – at that time. Surely the word ‘melancholy’ was used. So I bought it blindly (the cassette). At that time I was listening to bits of everything, early House, Synth Pop, Indie, and I was buying vinyl but had this odd mental divide that meant I would buy albums on cassette and singles on 12”. And actually I only finally bought „Hats“ on vinyl fairly recently – random find at Rough Trade Portobello in London.
Why did you choose „Hats“ for this interview? What are its special credentials for you?
It would probably be too difficult to choose a House or Techno album, which might be the natural thing to do, and this was the first that came to mind otherwise. I still think it’s quite obscure in a way, despite being part of the mainstream, and seemingly more popular than I realised.
My first encounter with The Blue Nile was probably hearing „Tinseltown In The Rain“ on the radio, from their first album „A Walk Across The Rooftops“, released in 1983. Do you like that as well?
I like all their stuff but don’t remember anything pre-“Hats“. I now know Tinseltown was some kind of hit but don’t directly recall it from the radio, etc. But occasionally I’ll hear it, in a cab or something, and think there is more to it than simply having listened to it from the album, that maybe I did hear it around the time it came out. That first album, and „Hats“, they are the best ones for me.
For me it is a topic worthy of thorough academic research how the electronic music of the Synthpop era and beyond is so often pared with very charismatic lead voices. Is this only for contrast, or is there more to it?
Erm, is it too late to change my album? Read the rest of this entry »