Inchmix031: Dylan B

Can you tell us a little bit about your new label, Paper-Cuts in relation to its artists, aesthetic and direction?

The idea came to fruition when a close friend brought a bunch of records back from Tokyo including these ‘for promotional use only’ flexi disks that Disk Union had been offering at selected stores, they had these weird Mos Def & Erykah Badu remixes on them but myself and friend, Grant Camov, were really into the idea.
After figuring out where they can still be pressed and the specifics of it all we realised it’s currently best suited for the more abstract/experimental side of an artist – so we looked out for music with the aesthetic to match and shortly settled on our first forthcoming release with friends Rory McPike & Griffin James.

For those that haven’t been to one, explain SRS NRG and what you’ve been working on recently?

SRS NRG V: Ministry of NRG – The 2017 Annual would be the most recent edition with special guest Jezadin (aka Raw Dog) – It has slowly become more of an annual affair since the first in 2012 however there’s already plans in the works for another by the end of the year *hint included*.

What’s the concept behind this mix?

It’s all kinda various bits and pieces that suited without the desire to sync them up as well as a small handful of stuff to follow that were probably better suited going together… A real mix-match for By The Inch.

Artwork by: Yoshihisa Sadamatsu

Inchmix030: Roman Ćinkse

Roman Ćinske rounds out 2016 and our 30th podcast with a collection of Drone, electronica and dark ambient tracks.

Inchmix029: Daze ‘Menassana Mind Medicine’

How are you planning to wrap up 2016 and begin 2017?
2016 will be wrapped up in the comfort of my own home in Australia, silently watching the world destroy itself. Beginning 2017 with another European tour, (hey promoters of europe) and working on some more records and tapes to be released soon after.

What was your initial exploration into ambient music?
Probably like many people i wasn’t as familiar with the idea of ambient music until being struck by Selected Ambient Works – from there it was a slippery slope into understanding the world and the unconscious through the minds of Eno, Vulthys, and Voight

What was the concept behind this mix?
I’ve never been asked to do a mix like this so i took it as an opportunity to present some of the music that i regularly fall back-on to soundtrack the monotony of daily life. Included in this mix are some of my most treasured pieces of music from my favourite artists, many recorded in from cassettes.

What five records haven’t left your bag recently?
Huerco S – For those of you who have never
Don’t DJ – Musique AcephaleM//R – Let that shit breathe
Faster Action – Faster ActionRobert Bergman – B02

Inchmix027: DJ Sergio

Easing it in towards number 30 in the series, we have DJ Sergio, one-third of Sanctuary, laying down an intimate reflection of what records are residing in his bag at the moment.

Inchmix027 explores the deeper, hypnotic side of house from the late 90’s and early 2000’s – sounds of warmth with feeling, soaked in a sublime selection of vocal samples.

Inchmix028: Steve Duncan

The separation from just a solid line-up of artists to an amazing event relies on a few variables which at its core lies the concept. Without a concept the lines between reason, thought, ingenuity and passion blur into nothing more than a minor afterthought. The foundations of a concept allow an event to evolve without question of dissent from guests – as the concept, like its owners are constantly learning, critiquing and progressing themselves. This discourse remains prominent with our next guest Steve Duncan who is involved with Berlin-based curator’s Patterns of Perception. Basing themselves at OHM Gallery, their events have hosted the likes of Peter Van Hoesen, Natural/electronic.system and Marco Shuttle, along with their own collective of accomplished DJ’s. His contribution is a textural exploration into stripped back ambient production that gently evolves into orchestral atmospherics’s and the surrounding areas of drone, experimental and electronica.

Tell us about your involvement with Patterns of Perception, along with the core concept of the night.
Our group – Kim Bergstrand, Hysteria, Andreas Maan, Bianca Shu and myself – started Patterns of Perception as a way to explore and surface sounds which we felt were underrepresented within the Berlin techno scene. Although we love and respect the scene as it stands, it can be hard to escape the prevalent Berlin sound. Our concept is a response to that, and embodies experimental textures and deep atmospheric sounds, while drawing inspiration from the dissonance between the natural and the industrial.
As a team, we are a group of close friends who have known each other for a long time and really enjoy working together. Outside of music (which we all have a hand in), our skills complement each other in a very nice way. Hysteria and I take care of the design and identity, Bianca and Kim work with our featured artists, and Andreas with our community. There is a high level of collaboration though, so the lines between these roles often blurs.

What has changed for you since first experimenting with ambient music?
Experimenting with ambient music has really boosted my understanding and perception of music composition and performance. Melody, emotion, spontaneity and atmosphere all have space to build and develop when a track doesn’t rely on percussive elements to dictate the mood and flow.
I played my first ambient set at an event we put on a couple of years ago, and I can clearly remember the feeling of profound connectedness with the music. Performance-wise, it was a totally new sensation – texture, timing and detail had always been important elements to me as a DJ, but this was on a different scale. The feeling was reminiscent of painting, or how I imagine it feels to conduct an orchestra. It was meditative, heady and totally satisfying.

Can you remember your first ambient LP or EP?
I had always enjoyed ambient and drone moments on key albums throughout the years (for instance on releases by Vangelis, Brian Eno, Sunn O))) and Porter Ricks), but it wasn’t until I discovered Terre Thaemlitz’s early ambient works – “Soil” and “Tranquilizer” – that I really embraced the genre. I always find it inspiring about how she is able to build so much from so little. Emotions and narratives are transmitted so strongly and clearly through her work.

What was the concept behind this mix?
The main goal of this mix was to delve deeper into the idea of dissonance between natural and industrial sounds. Using these elements as a central axis meant working with a broad sonic palette, enabling me to explore the polarities of light and dark, loud and quiet, melody and noise, human and machine.
Additionally, It has been refreshing for me to see ambient music receiving recognition amongst a wider audience in recent times. When conceptualising this mix, I tried to acknowledge artists and labels that I feel have made an impact within the genre, from Brian Eno and Warp Records, to Mika Vainio and Silent Season.

What five records haven’t left your bag recently?
Warmth – Essay
Purl – Stillpoint
Refracted – Through The Spirit Realm
Amandra – Drachme Tolosate
Iori – Cold Radiance

Inchmix026: Svreca

The ability to control emotion, energy, momentum and experience of a festival, not only from set to set but as an overall experience lies in the core formula written by having a single stage. Furthermore, the opportunities presented when organising a camping festival enhances the complexities, challenges and sheer magnitude of curating a concept outside the realms of a concrete institute. Whilst these observations may all appear obvious and simplistic, they are often over-looked as major factors in the execution of an event.

For an artist, it gives them a chance to properly contextualise music that might never have had the chance to be played otherwise. From sunrise sets on the final day of a festival to the dark atmospheric textures added when the weather decides to intervene for better or worse. The opportunities for an artist to toy, manipulate and coerce their music with the environment and the listener is extremely powerful.
As many artists can attest, there is a noticeably different feel during a set whilst playing in an intimate club compared to warehouses or high-capacity clubs, the same can be said for festivals. Whilst the precise number of what reflects the size of a boutique festival is not accurately defined, for the purpose of this piece, a nice reference is between Free Rotation or Inner Varnika right through to Nachtdigital.

As Paral-lel Festival draws to a near for its inaugural showcase, these factors have been taken into consideration. Situated in the remote province of Guardiola de Berguedà, this three-day camping festival is limited to 1000 tickets, a single stage and a forward-thinking line up that goes against the grain in terms of Spanish electronic music festivals. Artists include Abdulla Rashim, Peter van Hoesen and Svreca – who not only took the time to chat with us before his upcoming set at Paral-lel, but he recorded almost 90 minutes worth of dark ambient soundscapes for Inchmix026

What are the differences in the preparation and execution of your sets between club and festivals?
I take into consideration the same factors in both kinds of performances: the venue or space, sound system, timetable, set length, etc.
When I play for a big audience the feedback is less clear for me, so you need to be confident with yourself and to be patient with the idea or direction of the set.

From personal experience, what is the effect on a festival by having a smaller capacity and a single stage for artists?
From my experience, I think this improves the side related to the musical experience and a global perception of the festival. People stay focused to the evolution of the stage, and the order of the performances, timings, etc. Every detail gain a significant importance
Smaller capacity is a very relative description; could be 200 or 2.500 pers. but I know what you mean. It’s key to size properly the space, access, services and facilities.

What is the concept behind this mix?
Dissonance, tension, disorientation and their opposites.

What do you have planned for the label and yourself in the coming months?
We are celebrating our ten year anniversary [for the label] and we will continue releasing Semantica 10.I to 10.X until complete the ten 12”s.
In between will be more releases; in September a double EP by Acronym and a new Exhibition Design by J.C. called Mugako.

What five records haven’t left your bag recently?
Abdulla Rashim – Donostia
Rrose – Purge
Neel – Vandal
AFX – p-String
Blawan – Marga

Inchmix025: Harold

Bringing us to Inchmix025, is Melbourne’s Harold from the Steeplejack collective. Constantly redefining and reinterpreting ambient music’s place in the club environment, as showcased by his growing number of recorded sets from various parties around the city. Steeplejack’s impressive first release towards the end of 2015 is succeeded by the Cutting Room EP, released later this month.

Can you remember what drew you to ambient music – whether it be an album, podcast, festival etc?

It was always around and I enjoyed listening to it but I always found myself just listening or searching for dance music. It was a project called ‘Dreamweaver’ that I started that really peaked my interest. I wanted to add another element to my DJ sets, I just wasn’t exactly sure what it was. I was traveling with friends in Berlin at the time, there was a record store called Power Park that I was going too a lot, it was close to our apartment and had a wild selection of ambient and experimental records. I realized you could play these records on top of the dance records I already had, so I started buying things that I thought would work in this regard, one in particularly special was – Bernard Xolotl with Daniel Kobialka ‎– Procession – Nada Pulse – 1983.

How has your perception of ambient music changed since then?

I listen to a lot more ambient and experimental music for the pure enjoyment and excitement of it, I’m probably listening to more ambient and experimental music than I am dance music at the moment, and have been for a little while. My perception may not have changed I think I’m just finally giving it the time it deserves, I was in a bit of kick drum black hole for a while!

Tell us a little bit about how the collective and label came into fruition.

I like to refer to it as a cooperative haha! It came about as bid for me to get more DJ sets for myself and friends. Melbourne hero and local DJ, Post Percy asked if I’d like to run a Friday night monthly party at New Guernica and I jumped at the chance! We ran the party there for two years before taking some time off and finally moving the party to The Mercat Basement where we have been ever since. Over this time Steeplejack co-operators had begun to make music so from the money we made at the monthly we put out the first record, first CD and are now about to release our second record. Assumedly a lot more happened over those years.. But you probably had to be there!

What was the concept behind this mix?

Percussion! I don’t play a lot of it in my DJ sets and I needed to unload haha. There are a couple of records that I bought at Power Park in it, the shop that helped inspire my Dreamweaver project as well as some music I got from my mum and a few I picked up in between. The mix pays homage to my percussive tastes and influences past, present and future.

What do you have planned for the label in the coming months?

We have the Cutting Room EP coming out in September/October with a six city tour to celebrate starting in August. The first show is in the hometown of Melbourne at The Mercat on August 5th 10pm so if you are around come and say G’day! Best thing would be to send me or the label a message about any of the interstate shows as the majority of them aren’t at conventional venues and won’t be advertised using the usual avenues.
The next 3 records are also lined up so that means a bunch more parties and maybe some more tours, depending on how the next couple of months go! The next CD is also lined up and ready to go too, it’s been nice working with both mediums, offsetting the cons of one with the pros of the other.

What five records haven’t left your bag recently?

In keeping with the ambient theme here are five records that I have been using as layering pieces recently:

Various ‎– Traces Three – Recollection GRM – 2013
Anthony Child ‎– Electronic Recordings From Maui Jungle Vol 1 – Editions Mego
Imaginary Softwoods ‎– The Path Of Spectrolite – Amethyst Sunset
Robert Ashley ‎– In Sara, Mencken, Christ And Beethoven There Were Men And Women – Cramps Records
Charlemagne Palestine ‎– Voice Studies – Alga Marghen

Artwork: Moebius // Jean Giraud

Atlas w/ Terekke

Delving deep into the fluid rhythmic migrations & hypnotic layering of Detroit & Dub techno exploration.
By the Inch & Science Fiction Recordings invite Terekke to showcase his interpretation and influences of this music in the intimate surrounds of OHM Berlin

Line Up:
Terekke (LIES Records News)
Hinode. (Live) (Science Fiction)
Tom Lally (Beyond the Clouds)
Roman Ćinske (By the Inch)

Saturday August 20 // 23:59

Artwork by Jen VonKlitzing tattoo

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Interview: Chris SSG

(Photo Credit: Cédric Diradourian)

The infiltration of ambient soundscapes into the ever-evolving, and growing, techno scene has added a refreshing dynamic for listeners to enjoy. For those familiar with the various textures of United Kingdom’s industrial techno scene are well aware that this music is drenched in dusty ambience and grainy atmospheric samples. Combining this with Scandinavia’s gurgling acid-soaked techno boom – due largely in part to the juggernaut Northern Electronics label and SHXCXCHCXSH, we’re finding more influences are being drawn from ambient music with every release. Hopefully we will see more than just an ‘ambient set’ on the last day of a festival or hear a DJ open with the latest Aphex Twin free download – but a proper contextualised focus on ambient music, utilising the proper venue, set time, sound engineer and of course the proper ambient artist to play this music. Though this requires more than a mere blurb-length of analysis, it is promising to see the potential in music production and what forgotten pieces of ambient / ambient techno history will be rediscovered and introduced into the modern day techno format.

Before this resurgence however, Chris SSG along with the other MNML SSGS founders were a huge driving force in ambient exploration. Not only an influence on the internet, Chris along with two other partners implemented the loosely-termed chill out parties in Tokyo, curating a semi-regular event called Sound Garden inviting guest such as ASC, Wata Igarashi, Donato Dozzy and Sigha to play alongside a solid local line-up. As much as we could have continued the pendulum of email correspondence we had to cut this interview “short”, however we thoroughly enjoyed this chance to chat with Chris SSG.

Tell us about your initial exploration into ambient music?

I started listening to electronic music around 1997 and one of my main entry points was actually trip hop, which was pretty downtempo. It took me a few years to begin to discover ambient and experimental music, and the manner in which I did so was rather accidental. This was pre-internet, so the way you found music was a much more random, uneven way. Some of the raves and techno parties we’d go to had chill out rooms, and this was one place I was exposed to this type of music, without really understanding it. And then there were obvious reference points, especially Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works volumes 1 and 2. It was around 1999 / 2000 that I started more consciously exploring ambient and experimental music. Here a big influence was one of my best friends (Dave the Silent SSG), who was always more adventurous. One of the labels he introduced me to was Mille Plateaux. This and its sister label Force Inc. were a massive influence on me. Around this time, one of the artists that had the biggest impact on me was Vladislav Delay. First hearing Entain really opened my mind up to a whole new world and way of engaging with music, and by the time Anima was released I was eagerly awaiting its arrival. These albums continue to be two of my favourites. The other artist I found around this time that left an equally strong imprint was Pan Sonic. When Aaltopiiri came out, I struggled to get my head around the contrasts of the album, which was a mixture of forceful noise and incredibly restrained beauty. One aspect that joined Vladislav Delay and Pan Sonic is that both were difficult for me to easily grasp, but still I could find a way into their music. Another important part of these early years was not understanding some of the music I encountered. This was the case with a lot of what Mego was doing, as well as Hawtin’s Concept series and what I heard from Raster Noton and Autechre at that time. But being pushed beyond my comfort zone was a useful process, whether I then realized it or not. Besides that, some other ambient albums that were very significant in these early years were From Within by Richie Hawtin and Pete Namlook, Donnacha Costello’s Together is the New Alone, Sutekh’s Periods Make Sense, Fennesz’s Endless Summer and William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops.

Would you like to weigh-in on what can loosely be defined as ‘Internet Diggers’. As pre-internet digging for some has either has never occurred or the ratio in years spent finding music before the internet boom is getting significantly out-weighed. However, I’m not referring to the tangible aspect of digging for records, as I feel that that discussion has had its well-deserved moment in the sun. 

When I first got into electronic music it was basically just my friend Dave and me. We didn’t have a big group of friends into it, and the internet was just coming in, so this meant the way we discovered music was simply through what we had access to. We’d listen to the dance shows on the local radio and record them onto cassette, and also go to the record store and find stuff there. I think what was perhaps different is that I could not see how different artists and genres stuck together. It was kind of like the blind men and the elephant. Looking back, I can now see where I was first introduced to electro or italo, but at the time I didn’t understand what these genres were or how they related. Today, the internet allows you to find out as much (or as little) as you want about something, and if you want, you can become very knowledgeable very quickly. While a lot of people want to idealise how things were pre-internet with finding music etc., I am more cautious. I like how democratized and open knowledge about music has become – you don’t need to become friends with the guy behind the counter at the record store or buddies with the DJs, you just need to have the motivation to look.

In Brian Eno’s Imaginary Landscapes, he compares the limited sounds effects provided on an electric guitar compared to a synth.
“Each of those options [on the guitar] actually mean something – they really have a different sound for each effect… this thing [points to the synth] which i do love, has infinite option but you just don’t need so many. It would be just as good playing this with 6 or 12 really fantastic, meaningful and useful sounds”
Do you think that’s in someway the allure of creating ambient music – having the ability to create a sound so specially delicate and purposeful that the listener can reach some level of empathy or transcendence?

Incidentally I think I might be one of the only serious ambient heads who does not like Brian Eno much. I have always struggled to connect with him. Anyway, as for the question… I’d be wary of using these kinds of terms. On one level, I think the appeal is pretty simple. If you like techno, then chances are you also like Robert Hood. That doesn’t mean when you come home exhausted after a long day of work you want to put on a Robert Hood record. So there are clearly moments where ambient music is more appropriate, and it provides a necessary counterbalance to 4/4 stuff. On another level, I think the appeal of ambient can also come from its ability to convey more precise or complex emotions and thoughts. But for this to happen, ambient has to be more than just background music or comforting blando sounds. I think a risk with ambient music is that it can end up becoming overly ‘nice’ or polite. It might be rather pretty, but it is not very substantial and actually becomes pretty interchangeable. I can understand why producers themselves might enjoy making this, but listening to it I find it very unsatisfying. Unfortunately this is really the case with some techno and house producers recently trying their hand at ambient tracks or releases. It is not bad – it is just so bland and mild. A perfect example of this would be about 95% of dub techno that comes out these days. It ends up sounding like poor quality vanilla ice cream. And that is really pretty lame. It is possible for music to be quiet or simple – very tonal for instance – but being rich in the emotions and ideas it conveys. The best ambient music can grab hold of you as powerfully as the strongest techno. And as an ambient DJ and also as a listener, this kind of more intense experience is really what I am looking for.

In regards to your own projects, how did the Sound Garden parties begin and what’s the driving concept behind these events?

Ambient was a central feature of the MNML SSGS blog, all of us doing it shared a passion for this form of music. One of the main things we sought to emphasize was the relationship between ambient and techno. We were motivated by a certain nostalgia for the chill out room found at raves and techno parties, which disappeared in the late 1990s / early 2000s. Indeed, on one level MNML SSGS at times was almost like a virtual chill out room – a place where visitors would accidentally discover ambient and experimental music, some of which they might hopefully connect with. In time, Sound Garden would become a physical manifestation of this aspect of the blog.
After moving to Tokyo in 2010, I became friends with David and Jerome, my two Sound Garden partners. We are all of a similar age and musical background, so there was a shared understanding of what this chill out space was, and why it might nice to have it back. So we decided to try to put on some ambient / chill out parties. And actually that was 5 years ago, we recently worked out we have been going that long. During that time we’ve had a series of irregular events at a number of different venues, but mainly at a place called Bar Orbit. We were very fortunate to have ASC as our first guest and that really gave us an idea of what could be possible. Since then we’ve had a mixture of international and local guests, with David, Jerome and myself as the residents. This is where I learned how to DJ ambient music properly, both through my own experiences playing and also listening to others. In particular, I have been able to better appreciate DJing ambient as a specific and distinct craft.

In relation to nostalgia of early raves and parties of the 90’s, I find the biggest factor that has changed – neither positive nor negative – is the value of time. A person’s time has become an underlining factor in many aspects of the club industry. Everything from waiting in line, the length of sets, right through to the operational hours of a venue.
What elements have changed for you in curating events?

With the rise of Berghain and Berlin-style clubbing, there is a lot of pressure and expectation for longer parties and longer sets. I am pretty skeptical about this. For most DJs, I think 3 hours is normally about right, with some 4 hours might be better. But most of the time people don’t need to play any longer than that. All-night sets might be cool now and again for a special occasion, but they should not be the norm. Longer sets do not necessarily mean better sets… Likewise, parties should have a trajectory: a start, a middle, and most definitely an end. I don’t see the need for them to keep on going and going. In most cases, for a club night I think running it from 10 or 11pm until 6 or 7am is sufficient… But then, I still wonder why we are so stuck to doing clubbing as an all-night affair. This is one aspect I greatly appreciate about a place like Berghain – the opportunity to go and dance at a more normal hour. I would like more opportunities like this. But it seems hard to get people to accept. We used to do Sound Garden on Sunday evening, with the logic being that it could be somewhere to chill at the end of the weekend and before the start of the new week. But it was always a challenge pulling getting people there. Still, it seems there are some promoters – like Technoon in Belgium – that are successfully doing stuff during the day, hopefully there can be more of this.

How was your experience playing in Berghain’s Silvester celebration?

Through my experiences DJing ambient music in Tokyo at Sound Garden and other events, I have really discovered how important the space is. There are some kinds of environments in which ambient music simply will not work. This is partly about having a place where people can sit down and relax, but it is also about there being a crowd open to something not meant for the dancefloor. So heading over to Berlin, the big question was whether I’d be able to find this. Given that it is the Ostgut crew, I was pretty confident that the environment would be right and it was. The most important thing about the Halle was that it was comfortable – there were plenty of spaces for people to be able to sit down, relax, rest, have fun with their friends. And it worked. People were definitely open to what the other DJs and myself did. I don’t think I even played a track with a bassline until my 4th and final hour, and that was just fine. I was very happy to see people connecting with what I was doing. It was a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. Earlier this year I had a mix for Smoke Machine’s UN series, which was a recording of a set I played at Sound Garden in September 2015. This gives a good idea of what my Berghain set was like, except the Silvester set was 4 hours.

Was their concept of a chill out room / space successful and how did you find people’s reactions to this idea?

As I mentioned, they really created an inviting, comfortable space. It also offered a much-needed escape from the craziness in the other rooms. Obviously being Silvester, the whole place was very full and the intensity level was very high. So having a room where people could escape the madness and just chill out a bit worked very well. It is also really significant that it was Berghain who were doing this. Ostgut are the industry standard setters, other clubs and organisers look to them. Choosing to include a chill out room for an important event like Silvester sends a clear message that there is room for ambient and downtempo music in parties today. Hopefully this is something that other promoters will see and think about exploring themselves. We can’t go back to the chill out rooms of the 1990s, but there is plenty of potential for further developing an updated version of this basic idea that matches with the parties and crowds of today.

Definitely agree. I have thoroughly enjoyed when a festival has effectively incorporated ambient music into their programming – Inner Varnika, Free Rotation and Labyrinth festivals are fantastic examples of this. For those that have not been exposed to this music before will have the chance to listen and experience ambient music in a proper context. Poor sound, awkward set-times, the surrounding environment and a club’s architecture are all major factors that affect this context. Do you think there is enough discussion about these elements?

It seems like over the last few years there is growing interest in ambient music, and more willingness to try to present it in a context connected to techno. But I think people are still trying to work out how to translate it into the context of today’s scene. With Sound Garden, it has been a process of trial and error, learning where ambient works and how we can best present it. And I am sure this is something other promoters will just have to experience and work through. The challenge with ambient is that if the space is wrong (noise bleed from another room, uncomfortable environment) it has basically no chance of working. Also if you are doing it overnight, as people get drunk or tired, their capacity / willingness to listen to ambient music shifts, so this is also something you have to account for. You need to accept that at some times people will just not be open to being pushed or experiencing something different. So the key observation is an obvious one: it is not as simple as just getting someone to play ambient. A further point is that I am a bit concerned that as promoters dip their feet into ambient waters, so to speak, they will book more established techno DJs who happen to like ambient. Certainly this can work very well with some artists who have an experimental side to them. For example, Dasha Rush’s ambient work is sublime. But it can also result in a situation where you have people who might be playing nice enough music without doing anything deeper / more interesting. And this ends up being a bit of a wasted opportunity. There are quite a few DJs and producers out there who specialize in ambient and don’t have many opportunities to play out, and they tend to understand much better what presenting ambient in a powerful and effective manner entails. So I hope organizers will be willing to find out and book these people who are first and foremost ambient artists. Make sure the focus is on “PROFESSIONAL AMBIENT”, as Legowelt puts it.

Finally, I’m interested to hear your opinion on the state of music journalism. All of a sudden a Facebook post or tweet from an artist is now considered news-worthy on music websites – sometimes even warranting an opinion piece from a journalist. Is this just an extension or reflection of the state of news-media in general or what factors do you think are contributing to this ‘problem’ – for lack of a better word.

The content monster is permanently hungry, it always needs to be fed… The way online music media is setup there is a constant need and desire for fresh content. New stories, new things to read, new podcasts to listen to and so on. The model requires people returning regularly to the sites, this means there always needs to be a steady stream of content. But to be clear, this is not simply driven the outlets, there is a strong demand for it too. Actually this was one of the reasons that we ended MNML SSGS. It was just 2 of us, doing it in our free time, for no financial compensation, but still there were people always pressuring us to have new posts on the blog. Certainly there were many readers that were very appreciative and supportive of what we were doing, but there were enough constantly pushing for more, more, more, that after a while it started impacting our motivation. The internet can kind of create a weird dynamic where people feel they have a right to stuff, that they can make all these demands… Really if you think about it, it is kind of amazing / ridiculous how much free content is available – whether DJ mixes, streaming releases, articles, reviews and so on. But the constant refrain is always more, more, more… Of course websites don’t greatly help this situation by constantly churning out content, and with it, plenty of dross that adds little besides noise and bullshit. Still, I think it might be worthwhile thinking further about the role we play, as consumers of this content. There are easy things we can do that would likely lead to a richer form of engagement: slowing down, reading a bit more carefully, listening a bit more purposefully, and thinking a bit deeper.

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Interview: Arthur Kimskii

In the Summer of 2014 we were sitting out in Record Loft’s courtyard enjoying the sun and chatting with Arthur Kimskii. What followed was a two hour-long conversation that not only was informative about Arthur’s upbringing and influences, but also an intimate look at the evolution of New York and it’s surrounding cities music scene from the late nineties until now. Born in Washington DC, Kimskii flirted between Seoul, Korea in the early 80’s and again between ’93-’96 before settling in New York by 2002. Eleven years later, on almost the exact date, he moved to Berlin and has resided there ever since. With his own L.A.G imprint putting out five quality releases to date, including the most recent being his first solo EP, Kimskii continues to grow, adapt and channel his depth of experience in music via his releases and label.

What were some of your earlier influences in electronic music?
It was around ’89/’90 and there was this club in DC called Tracks and that was the discovery of house and industrial music for myself. Then of course New York was a huge influence on the dance scene in DC & Baltimore. Both cities have a rich music history in their own right; Crystal Waters came from DC, Basement Boys, DJ Spen and the rest of Jasper Street Company came from Baltimore, however they usually get lumped into New York artists.

Would that be due its geographical location that artists would generally just move to New York instead of staying in DC or Baltimore?
It certainly had something to do with that. As all the East Coast cities are in close proximity to each other they all ended up influencing each other. I guess there was a little bit of difference between the club scene and the rave scene, but there was a lot of cross-overs in the early ’90s. DC kids would go to Philly & Baltimore, then Philly kids would come down and everyone would go to New York – even the NY kids would come to DC & Baltimore events. However by the time it was the mid ’90s people stop travelling as much. When US dance is spoken about it’s always NY, Detroit, Chicago and for obvious reasons, but there has been a lot of bad ass djs & influential people that came from smaller cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Another place that I should mention which has a really long history of west coast trance/tribal house, along with house and desert raves, is San Francisco.

In a way Chicago, Detroit & New York almost overshadowed the history of other cities where scenes existed at same the time.
Yeah of course I think part of the reasons why that happened is when an artist became bigger they would end up moving to one of those cities.

And they would end up establishing themselves there in the big three, rather than making a name for themselves in their hometown.
Right. In the early 2000’s a lot of the mid-western artists actually moved to NY before moving here [Berlin], like Richie Hawtin and Magda. I think people that are really into in the US scene might already realise it, but on the global scale it’s alway Chicago, Detroit and New York. Of course it’s for good reason though, as you know, that’s where those sounds were created.

A perfect example of a common misconception about the history of house music is that Frankie was from New York and not Chicago.
Exactly. I mean if it wasn’t for the Loft and the whole disco scene out of New York there probably wouldn’t have been house music. I think as the story goes – the guys that opened up the warehouse wanted Larry Levan but he decided to stay in New York. Frankie was only around 22 at the time and went out to Chcicago where he quickly established himself. So those three cities always had a profound effect on each other. Detroit has a strong musical history with motown and rock n roll, the same for New York. Being from the DC/Baltimore area, we took influence from all of them started to develop its own scene which developed its own international recognition for a while.

So when you were based in New York around 2002 that era was a pretty crucial time for New York, not just their underground scene, but nightlife in general.
Absolutely, it was the tail end of things.

Were you fully immersed in the club scene by the time you moved to New York to grasp what was happening & the impact that Mayor Giuliani was having?
By the time I moved to New York I was kind of not paying attention to the scene. Previously to that I was throwing parties in West Virginia of all places, where i was going to university. Personally, it just got to me and I got caught up in what the culture is known for, so my reaction was just to walk away from it.
Everyone likes to talk about Giuliani, however he planted the seeds whilst doing a lot of work towards shutting down fun shit, but Mayor Bloomberg happily carried the torch and made it to a place where I didn’t want to live anymore.

There was a big list of record stores that shut down during that period.
I primarily went to Satellite and Dance Trax, Eight Ball – which i never got the chance to go to – all closed. During university, I owned a record store for a hot second and bought from Watts and a little bit from Groove Records – they also shut down. All the great shops in Manhattan shut down and apart of that was because the culture was getting shut down as well as the emergence of mp3’s.
There also wasn’t anything going on so much for techno, it was just bars and clubs, the whole warehouse “party until 10am” had dissipated. It wasn’t until the middle of the 00’s when crews like the Bunker, Black Market and Resolute that the whole warehouse thing started coming back – between ’06 -’09 the Brooklyn warehouse scene re-emerged and has become as strong as what it is today.

There is a the second-wave of NY house & techno labels & artists emerging after the likes of UQ, Bunker, Fred P, DJ Qu – labels like The Corner, LIES, Voodoo Down Records and White Material. Do you think that the five – six year lull in New York’s electronic music scene during the early 2000’s was an knock-on effect from the gentrification of Manhattan, coupled with the time it took for artists to re-establish themselves in Brooklyn?
That’s a really good question and there’s definitely some correlation with that. I think it’s a number of things coming together, capped off with this twenty year cultural swing or shift in influences and trends.
I’ve talked to Anthony [Parasole] many times about this and when Deconstruct came out along with UQ, Soul People Music and Strength. That all came out when this minimal stuff was out and those guys all collectively made was we would consider ‘House’ and ‘Techno’. It’s real expression and emotion with warm analog sounds – i know a lot of it is not made on gear – but it still has that feel to it that reminds me of what the New York sound is.

It’s amazing how a cities influence weighs on our subconscious whilst record shopping, I feel a buyer am more likely to pick up and listen to a record from an unknown artist who’s from New York, rather than say Kansas or Maine.
Any time any new label came from New York – I mean the music had to be good still – it definitely benefited from having that New York tag on it. If some of these labels had of come out of different cities they might not have gotten a look-in. For myself even, I can definitely say that I have benefited from listening to their music, getting to know them and being able to pick their brains.

Which has resulted in your label L.A.G and former project Point Break coming into fruition. How did that begin?
Well I’ve always wanted to start a label and it took me until I got into my thirties where I could really give myself permission to pursue this path. I come from a government family which meant education & “real careers” were important. I allowed it to affect me for a long time, so it wasn’t until my thirties that I actually started to feel like that I could actually do it. I met Cory while I was doing parties, had him play and then we started playing together. We got a place together, began messing around with production and it was about two years before we felt like we’ve done anything worth putting out.
The first person to give us the “stamp of approval” (laughs) was Anthony [Parasole]. I’m laughing because I’ve mentioned this in any interview or conversation I’ve had, but I have to give Anthony Parasole a lot of credit, the two things he said to me – “something you guys are doing is good enough that I’m gonna consider putting it out” and secondly “if you don’t want to wait, then start a label” – was all the encouragement I needed.
I thought about it and talked to Cory about it for maybe three days, then I woke up and I just knew – that’s it i’m going to start a label. I was going to call it Ladies & Gentlemen, i didn’t even bother to look up to see if there were any other labels that were already called that, and there was (laughs) – so at the last second we just changed it to L.A.G.

It’s interesting to hear about the timing and schedule of releases for labels. It seems artists have to be quiet wary of these verbal contracts as there appears to be a big grey area on when things will be released. I’m guessing that was also a big factor in deciding to go with your own label.
Absolutely. Cos I know tracks that were made five years before then that were only just being released at that time – it’s also a great testament to tracks that are made back then are still releasable five years later.

Did you have any more knowledge given to you from Anthony or anyone else before you started LAG about starting up a label?
A lot of it was trial and error. There’s a Japanese gentlemen in Brooklyn who owns a gift shop in Williamsburg that sells modular gear along with a small amount of records. He was telling me about this guy who did plating and went on to explain the whole process – taught me a lot about plating with the acetate and test pressings process, as well as artwork. So it was with help and advice from Anthony and Mori from the Japanese gift-shop in Williamsburg (laughs). Then once I got it pressed, the guy I started talking to about how to handle the next steps was Joey Anderson. So I consider those three as almost my mentors and letting me hassle them as far as starting a label is concerned.

Was it easier the second time round with LAG002?
Oh you’d think so (laughs). Nothing has been easy because people want to know “what’s next”. We pressed 300 copies and Cory & I were prepared to sell maybe 100 then have the rest on our hands, but we were surprised to find that they all went relatively quickly. Halcyon handled our American distribution & between them and Rub-a-Dub it did really well.

Halcyon survived, albeit a location move, the big crash of the early 2000’s in New York. What makes it such a stand out store?
I think the fact that Levon, Anthony, Francis Harris and a bunch of other guys came out of there really helped their reputation. They were the first shop to carry Omar S before he got distribution – Underground Quality and all those labels came through the store. The long time buyer who the torch was passed onto was Taimur Agha, and when you have someone like that working at the shop you are going to take it the the next era. Plus it hasn’t hurt that the interest in vinyl has grown.

Moving closer to the present day, what made you decide to come to Berlin?
Funnily enough, I actually visited Germany about ten times before heading to Berlin. The first time was because my brother got married in a small town called Dresden and even walking around in that town I thought to myself – one day i’m going to live in Germany. When the wall came down I was living in Korea and I told friends that that’s going to be the place – things are going to pop off artistically and culturally. I feel that a lot of people that lived in New York 25 to 30 years ago are the same type of creative souls that have been moving here since then. But what motivated me to move here was that I wanted to leave New York and to live in some place that techno, house & electronica music is thriving. I had friends telling me that it’s so competitive so why would you want to go there. I guess the competitive side of me wants to go somewhere where the cream rises to the top and that’s where i want to aim. Same thing happened in New York – there’s a lot of competition out there and I had the same mentality. I want to be where the best is so I can learn from them and if I make it, then for myself, I know I did it in the best environment.

*The closing part of this interview was completed January 2016 *
Moving forward to present day you have just released your first solo EP and the fifth release from LAG. Tell us a bit more about this release?

My EP ‘Simple Enough to Come True’ came about after a friend said to me at dinner that I need to stop fucking around and put out some music on my on. I was going through a break-up of a four-year relationship and felt that a lot of those emotions shone through this record. ‘She survived’ was started a few years ago when my mom was in the hospital and then finished the track after I wrote the other 2 tracks. It’s my debut solo EP and I wanted to release it on my own label in order to keep all the cuts together and push myself – which I felt I have. I’m overwhelmed with how it has been received by a lot if artists I respect and count as my peers either playing in sets, podcasts and in clubs.

Can you let us know about any upcoming releases for L.A.G?

Definitely. L.A.G 006 lands in late April / early May, distributed through DNP Music is by an incredibly talented producer, Jamaica Suk. Then 007 will be my follow up solo EP, released mid-2016. I’m extremely proud to keep the momentum going this year and release three records on L.A.G this year. So we’ll see what the remainder of the year brings.

And finally, what records haven’t left your bag recently?
Marco Zenker’s MorphoJ.C. – Portrait Of A Flying Sky
“Detroit” on Pomelo by Tin Man
Attempt No Landing By Phil Moffa
Jeff Derringer – Ballorama EP