We have neglected our podcast series for way too long and are more than happy to bring it back with an interview and guestmix from Berlin-based Canadian Mike Davis, a young producer we got to know through his release on the Sector 12/12 label.
Hello Mike Davis. You released your first EP on Sector 12/12 last year and that’s pretty much everything I know about you. Why don’t you start introducing yourself to our readers?
Sure, I’m Mike, an unknown electronic musician, who moved from Toronto to Berlin in 2012 to study in the Humboldt University and also find out what electronic could really means to me. I was DJing in Toronto as part of a crew & party called the Deep North, and decided Berlin was where I’d like to grow musically, rather than wait (or hope) for a big release or something before coming here, like many artists do. The three year anniversary of my arrival was just the other day actually, and I’ve since finished studying, put out a couple records, a tape, and co-founded Carousel and a label of my own, Brenda.
How long have you been making tracks and how did that all come together on Baniza?
For only four or five years, maybe two years or less in a serious way, and even less in a relatively calculated way. Only recently have I developed a technique from which I can, to some degree, truly realize ideas. It terms of that coming together for Baniza, it exists early in that process, the tracks are all around two years old, experiments with limited resources and techniques, simply exploring sound and writing some music along the way. The alternate versions of all the tracks on the EP might better illustrate it, but the project is a mess. I think even my old computer failed at some point and I had to remake some of it, I was just pleased that Sector12/12 wanted to release it. It was completed after a bike journey from Berlin to Sofia. There I became acquainted with the baniza, a traditional Bulgarian pastry. It’s not really nice looking, quite messy, wants nothing but to fall apart, but tastes good… so I believe that EP is a baniza.
Do you remember what sparked your interest to make music?
It originated pretty early, I suppose due to my parents. They put me in piano lessons as a kid, and I remember making terrible music on my dad’s Yamaha CS01 and MR-10 drum machine maybe around 8 or 9 years old. High-school in the late 90s brought all that was 90s and my first guitar, a birthday present from my dad. In college I played drums and bass in some punk projects, but nothing too serious. Eventually I became disillusioned with bands. Between jamming and beer drinking, creating was often challenging, so I was drawn to electronic music. I could produce on my terms, ideas and execution are completely up to me, I like that.
Having moved from one continent to the other, how has that influenced your image about electronic music? Are there still that many differences in culture in this globalized world?
That’s difficult to answer, as the move was still quite early in this budding career, I suppose it played a more developmental role than an influential one. Berlin has shaped me more than Europe, outside of Toronto I’ve only played in Germany and France, so there’s still much I need to experience. The accessibility here in Berlin has continually been a motivator, being a more vibrant and tangible scene has made it easier to reconcile the energy input. It’s not just felt at parties… record shops, rehearsal spaces aren’t 90% rock bands, even the small bars and cafes have decks, [ebay] kleinanzeigen is full of gear, albums and events are advertised in public transit, it’s hard not to feel it being part of the social fabric.
What are you future plans for the record labels and your own music in general, is there anything we can look out for?
Well Owen and I are currently working out details for CRSL002, hopefully will be out in 2015. We’re at the same time growing Carousel into a record shop which will soon be operational as an online shop, with the plan to go physical once it makes sense. It will be carefully curated music, nothing we plan to take over the scene with, of course. The second Brenda record, another 12″ from CNCPT, just came out a few weeks ago and I believe is pretty much sold out everywhere it was available, which is good. The third will also come out before the year is over. Personally, I’ve got a couple of collaborative projects actually. One with Owen on his other label Shades later this year, and another with part of my Deep North family Dan (as Jerry Riggs), I’m in on two tracks on his upcoming Run Out Run release.
Tell us about the mix you made
Yeah, as you know, it was not the first one I sent you, but the delay between recording and releasing had me always tiring of what I recorded. Anyway what I’ve settled on are some recent finds and some older stuff selected spontaneously while recording. Nothing so deeply planned, very Baniza.
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01. Michael Holman – Gauntlet of Wriggly’s
02. Steve Moore – Logotone
03. Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit – 124 0 09 (played at 33rpm)
04. Chra – Landmine
05. Dorisburg – Splade
06. Devianza – I Droni A Torvijanica
07. Vakula – Life Internal Sounds
08. Green Gums – Zozomono
09. Beat Detectives – Somethin’s Rippin
10. Bookworms – Exotic Auto Boutique
11. Broken English Club – Glass
12. Mistake Made – Loaded Memory
13. Charlie – Spacer Woman
14. Hiver – Vorticism
15. Obtane – Tericore
16. Johan Hansson – Vassvik
17. Jatoma – Helix
18. Roll The Dice meets Pole – Echo Hands (played at 33rpm)
19. Lena Platonos – Love in Summer
20. Moon B – Moments in Slank
For more of Mike’s doings, his Discogs profile might be a good starting point. Otherwise, you can find his label Carousel on SoundCloud, Twitter and Facebook, and his other label Brenda on SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Facebook as well.
The impressively versatile beat-builder, Boris Mezga (aka Comfort Fit,) returns with his long-awaited fourth solo album, Worlds Falling Apart, recently released on First Word Records. Bringing the future to the now, Comfort Fit takes us on a genre-spanning and lushly-layered journey, replete with pristine soundscapes, boisterous beats, delectably catchy licks, and some darker, more experimental eartreats, erratically planted throughout the production. Assembled as an enormously dense and hugely satisfying musical sandwich, Mezga opens the album with an epic 11 min-long introductory track, “Space Cake Scenario.” Starting off with some bleaker vibes, the tracks take a minute or two to paint you a somewhat grim & futuristic setting, eventually breaking down into a progressive patchwork of hip-hop and garage-infused beats, effectively exhibiting a wide range of Mezga’s abilities in beat-sculpting and soundcraft.
“Bermuda,” a fun-filled, groove-ridden surf song (Comfort Fit-style) lightens the mood, continuing to expand our familiarity with Mezga’s versatility and unique interpretations of familiar rhythms and genres. “Moonshine Navigator,” one of my personal picks from the release, entrances with an even-paced, bass-heavy beat filled out with a variety of organic percs and spacey synthesized outbursts. It conveys a sense of illicitness, risk, and exhilaration — a soundtrack for space smugglers escaping through an asteroid field. “Hypnic Jerk” is an absolutely outstanding track: heavy syncopated rhythms, bouncing bleeps & bloops, mind-reeling swells, sultry sighs, and a swarm of effects layered beneath to create one of the most complex and hypnotic tracks of the album.
“Nitro” sticks more or less to the hip-hop formula, with a smooth & conventional beat, blasts of brass, and scratchy samples; however, Mezga applies his trademark production tricks to turn this catchy “traditional” number into yet another highly dance-able track from a not-too-distant future. “Guess There’s Nothing More To Say” is another track I couldn’t help but be impressed by; a futuristic acid-jazz-turns-garage track with a very intimate feel (for the first half in particular) thanks to a warm and fuzzy piano sequence and some romantic melodic vocal samples — some of the only vocals employed on the entire album. The progression from the swooning, jazzy theme to a swirling, spaced-out, bass-driven one is remarkable, and downright fun to experience.
My all-time favorite track from this exceptional release is “The Holy Moment.” It is a song to take into the desert with you, as you search for answers to questions you didn’t know you had. By far, the most somber (and possibly the most epic) number on the track list, the song invokes a strong feeling of nostalgia and summons some haunting imagery as it builds from a string-soaked operetta with a Western tinge and a near-classic jazz beat into an all out rhythmic melt-down, inducing a sense of rebirth as the percussive climax eventually unfolds back into a cinematic close. The title-track, “Worlds Falling Apart” is a soothing, down-tempo track; quite easy on the ears, if just a bit disquieting on a near-subliminal level. There is an undeniable level of cynicism in both Mezga’s lyrics and in his chosen chord progressions that make this song intriguing, yet harder and harder to listen to with each play.
The album’s final track, “Adolar Aluminium” is a 10.5 min-long drone experiment with massively saturated atmospheres, meticulously-placed bits of noise, and the swell of a brain-numbing pad here and there — void of rhythm or melody, but still unbelievably stimulating. Being a fan of drone and noise genres, I personally found it rather therapeutic — almost like a palette-cleanser for the ears and mind; giving the listener the opportunity to ponder and archive the experiences they garnished from the rest of the album — until the next listen..
Given the level of anticipation surrounding this release, I believe Boris Mezga has more than delivered the “goods” with Worlds Falling Apart. As a production, it is virtually flawless. Conceptually, I find it riveting and extraordinarily inventive. Emotionally? Perhaps a bit harrowing at times, but as with all good music, I appreciate its ability to affect me on an emotional level at all, even negatively. Fortunately, Mezga seems to have given quite a bit of thought to the placement of the tracks and the result is an emotive journey down an easy slope; at no point dull and consistently full of imagination and ingenuity — something I believe we can continue to expect and crave from the marvelously talented Comfort Fit.
Worlds Falling Apart is available now via Bandcamp.
Words by hmCm
Berlin-based producer James Creed provides the third release on the emergent Odd Socks record label. Since the first two releases by Josh T and Glenn Astro & IMYRMIND were so well received, it’s not a surprise that Top Pocket is another good one.
On the forefront of soulful, deep and leftfield house music the EP contains lazy grooves, sweet melancholy and crisp percussion which already led to the support from the likes of Axel Boman, Homework and Casino Times, just to name a few.
You can purchase the limited 10” vinyl via Phonica or get the digital release at Beatport.
I was gonna write about the forthcoming CDR Knowledge event in December, but then I stumbled across an even nicer video: Theo Parrish in conversation with Tony Nwachukwu recorded in early October at CDR Berlin.
There are more talks like this with Henrik Schwarz, Gerd Janson, Basic Soul Unit or SoundCloud founder Eric “Forss” Walforss.
And if you’re in London and interested in production, mobile production in particular, check out the CDR Knowledge website for their upcoming event.
Following stops in Bristol and Detroit, the latest episode of Resident Advisor‘s Real Scenes brings us to the city of Berlin.
Through words by Dixon, Apparat, Tresor founder Dimitri Hegemann and many others, the story of underground clubs and the rise of techno in Germany is told.
There is a new Mount Kimbie EP in sight and it goes by the name of Blind Night Errand. It will be out in late November and features two tracks from their album Crooks and Lovers, an alternate mix of “William” and a live-version of “Maybes” recorded at Berlin’s Berghain.
A1. Blind Night Errand
A2. Before I Move Off
B1. William (Dayglo Mix)
B2. Maybe (Live @ Berghain, Berlin)
Which brings us to the track you can hear above. It was recorded at the same night at Berghain, but it’s available as a free download. To get it, all you need to do is sign up with your email address.
I wouldn’t mind a full release with more live material, it could turn out equally good as Moritz von Oswald’s recent Live in New York album.
Anyway, the Mount Kimbie EP will be out on November 28th, 2010 on Scuba’s Hotflush label.
Following previous features on designers working in music business, such as Machine, Ian Johnson or Mat Design, the guys of Jutojo were on my list for a while already. The trio of Berliner based designers is probably best known for their work with Jazzanova and Sonar Kollektiv, for whom they produced countless record artworks, but also visuals for their clubnights.
Below you browse through a selection of their work, primarily their history of record covers, and read a little interview.
Can you please introduce Jutojo to us?
Jutojo are Julie Gayard, Toby Cornish and Johannes Braun, three cousins – two of them studied graphic design in London and one architecture in Berlin.
They formed the studio Jutojo when they started working for Jazzanova and their label Sonar Kollektiv in 2001, designing their record sleeves and doing the visuals for their weekly clubnight in Berlin.
When it comes to your influences, what are they and was there a common factor that helped you get together?
I think a lot of our first abstract film work for clubs came out of seeing Hans Richter films from the 1920s in which he filmed flat black and white shapes moving back and forth in space, created with simple means that gave the illusion of space and a sense of rhythm. Graphically we also like things produced with simple means: making objects, projecting onto them with light or a 35mm slide image and re-photographing them. Creating things in space and then moving a camera around an object, to find the best view, comes more out of curiosity rather than in reference to any particular graphic designer. Although we do like the work of Julian House/Intro for Stereolab and Broadcast, early Peter Saville Factory stuff and the way Saul Bass worked.
How do you work together? Does everybody have their own projects or do you work as a team?
Since our field of work is comprising print as well as film/projections, we tend to divide the areas between ourselves: Julie is responsible for the printed matters and Toby and Johannes for the projections and films, and making animations for video installations.
What makes Jutojo tick, the things you have in common or the differences?
We share an interest in creating visual products printed or filmed that use techniques where visual effects are often created through a physical process in a real space and where the computer is just a tool to finish the product off and make it reproducible. Be it photographing objects distorted by water, a typeface as a sculptural object or confetti on a scanner.
Before I came across your new website, I knew you primarily through your work for Sonar Kollektiv. Do you remember how that happened?
It was the starting point for us. Julie had just come back from studying in London and Alex Barck from Jazzanova, whom she knew, asked her to design the sleeves for their new label Sonar Kollektiv. It quickly went on to take it into the clubnights, since Berlin’s clubscene at that time was experimenting with club visuals a lot. It gave us the opportunity to try out various things and find a common language between print and projection.
Designing countless covers for the label, how did that usually work? How much were the musicians involved?
In general, the label heads Jazzanova had trust in our style and were quite open to anything. Most of the time the music was club orientated and concentrated on a singer, so it could be quite abstract. Sometimes the artist/musician would have an idea or photograph that we should work with. They only got really involved when the album was for a singer: then the marketing and distribution departments took over and argued that the singer “has to be on the cover” in a certain style to be clearly marketed. But we only did 3 or 4 of those.
I think the Jazzanova logo deserves special mentioning. Can you recreate the process of how that came about?
Jazzanova wanted a flexible logo, that could be used in any medium and that could change but still be recognizable as such. Inspired by tubular furniture, we created an alphabet made out of bent wire, so that it becomes 3-dimensional and can be photographed, filmed, hung… We first used them for the Jazzanova album cover, and also filmed and animated them for their clubgigs. A Japanese designer made a version of it in japanese letters for their Japan Tour and for t-shirts.
Is there something like an all-time favourite among your work for Sonar Kollektiv?
Jazzanova’s 12″ series that came out just before the In Between album, but that was actually for JCR Records, where Jazzanova released their own music at the time.
The first two Secret Love compilations we conceived and worked together with illustrator Maria Tackmann on.
The Off Limits 2 series of 12 inches with confetti
You also did visuals for some of the Jazzanova parties at WMF. What do you (dis)like about the medium?
The initial buzz with club visuals came by making moving images with quite primitive means in a low-tech way in our bedrooms and then showing them in a space full of people and seeing how the visuals fitted to the music and could effect the atmosphere of a room. Our first loops were things like a growing and shrinking red dot or a pulsating, slightly out of focus white line made by zooming in and out of a neon light in a subway with a super 8 camera on “auto-b”. After a few years we realised that although we got some positive feedback and invitations to big music festivals around Europe and even Japan and USA, the club was not really the place where an audience really follows the visuals – also, the club music often didn’t have a lot to do with the content of our images. We were always trying to follow and react to the music but not the other way round. Just now we have performed a new piece called “Staub” with Phillip Sollmann aka Efdemin where sound and image are generated at the same time and interact more with each other.
You can find a lot more of Jutojo’s work on their website and of course the Sonar Kollektiv release page. I also want to point out the possibility to buy the font resulting from the Jazzanova logo design and their Vimeo page.
Just a video announcing Débruit‘s tour through Germany this October. If you’re around make sure to check one of his live-shows, otherwise just enjoy the video.
Oh, the tour stops in Jena on 14th, Dresden on 15th, then Berlin on the 16th and finally Tübingen on October 17th. Check the Débruit MySpace for more touring dates!
Dutchmen Martijn Deykers is a DJ and producer better known as Martyn. Originally a drum & bass producer, he put out several dubstep 12-inches in 2008 on his own 3024 label. Even more people might know him from his Flying Lotus remix of Roberta Flack, or his mixtape for Mary Anne Hobb‘s radioshow, recently re-aired in her best-of-2008 show.
Martyn is definitely someone to watch out for, playing a very unique type of dubstep-meets-techno. His debut album Great Lengths is due this spring, and to celebrate its release, there will be launch parties taking place in London and Berlin.
In the meantime, you can download his 120 minutes DJ-set recorded last year at London’s Fabric.