METRO: THE RETURN OF ELECTRO

Electro has been stealthily making a return to the wider consciousness; a broad musical church, it’s influence has been permeating the sets and productions of many DJs and producers in recent times.

With their styles sitting comfortably on that particular curve, DJs Spatial Awareness and Michelle Manetti, with their new party METRO launching this Friday 6th April at iconic Vauxhall venue The Eagle, exploring electro flavours both classic and cutting edge with the tagline “Electronic Music For Night People”.
Below is a minimix from resident Spatial Awareness, a taster of what to expect…

METRO is at Eagle London on the first Friday of every month, launching 6th April 2018.

 

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HE.SHE.THEY – THE AFTERMATH! WITH ADDED WAX WINGS

The first He.She.They saw London’s iconic Ministry of Sound enjoy what was arguably it’s most interesting and varied event in quite some time. For a club that is no stranger to stellar lineups, He.She.They certainly brought their A-game in terms of talent – from the established icons such as Satoshi Tomiie and Maya Jane Coles, to stars-in-ascendance Wax Wings and Zyon.

As previously explored in Back To Culture, He.She.They. is an entity borne of a sense of inclusivity, a safe space where people can be themselves and where ‘experimentation is encouraged’. And it certainly felt that this was the case – no bad vibes, no moodiness, and a friendly, welcoming familial atmosphere that made the Ministry of Sound feel like an oasis, reminiscent of the way people who were there speak of the Paradise Garage, the club that originally inspired the creation of the Ministry. We spoke once again with Steven Braines, the head of the Weird and the Wonderful team that made He.She.They happen…

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Now that the dust has settled from the inaugral He.She.They – how was it from your perspective?

Well, we’re doing more events off the back of it which is always a good sign! You never know what’s going to happen when something finally goes on sale and it was an official London Fashion Week festival event so that was an added pressure – but it was rammed, so around 3am my anxiety subsided and I actually started to properly enjoy everything. I’m such a worrier!

Everyone seemed to be having a great time, and we certainly didn’t encounter any bad vibes – do you think that the inclusive ethos of the night successfully carried over to those present?

The feedback has been so heart warming. From the djs to dancers to staff to our team and of course the crowd, everyone seemed to get what we were wanting to achieve. It was such a nice atmosphere with such a diverse crowd; which evidenced the whole point of the night. Let people be people, let them feel included and they will get along!

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Musically, it was brilliantly diverse – are you planning to switch up the music policy each time?

It all depends on each venue, as the more rooms, the more flexibility with the music policy. Ministry has four rooms so it really allowed us to vary the programming. We’ll always have a strong love of electronic music as organizers, but that said we have quite a catholic taste of genres and we want things to feel fresh so the next London event will have some changes. Maya Jane Coles definitely set the bar as a far as a headliner – Ellen and Satoshi were masterful but even newer acts like Zyon and Emerald showed why we booked them; and I think KDA definitely showed why he’s earning a new “Prince of the Underground” title with his set. Four different djs played his song “Hate Me” on the night – so that’s definitely an anthem for us already.

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What can you tell us about your plans for the next instalment of He.She.They??

I wish I could tell you more but we’re just finalising some things. I think Wax Wings will be coming with us… We’ve got some European dates in some of our favourite clubs in the world and I think they’ll be announced over the course of the month. If we don’t have a line-up we like we won’t do a show. You have to put the art and ethos first.

Finally, where did you get your ornate headdress from? It looked amazing!

Ahahahahahahaha! The headdress was my favourite part of the night! I shop in some very weird places.

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Wax Wings closed the main room at He.She.They with an incendiary set, playing back to back with Warboy. With the past year having seen releases on Skint Records and increasingly high profile dj gigs, it certainly looks like Wax Wings is shaping up to be one of the key artists of 2018…

What’s happening in the world of Wax Wings right now?

Things are busy at the moment. The remix package for my recent EP Gravedance is about to drop featuring cuts from ABSOLUTE., Venice Calypso, D-Code & Psylence and Warboy (who I had the best time B2B with at He.She.They). Gearing up to do shows with Maya Jane Coles in Dublin and Glasgow, gonna be an awesome weekend!!

He.She.They. was an amazing event from where we were on the dancefloor – how was it for you? 

It was a really special evening! There were so many amazing things to enjoy visually and musically. I have been to and played at MOS a few times now but the atmosphere was so different this time. The whole ethos of HST had been taken on board and I felt an acceptance and level of respect between everyone attending. Getting to document all of this via a Beatport Instagram takeover was all the more fun too, show the world how to party!

Do you think that HST could be heralding a bit of a change in London clubbing and it’s attitudes?

I hope that HST can set an example that it really isn’t that difficult to be respectful of people no matter their background or presentation, first and foremost. I think having parties with such ideologies specifically in super clubs offers a platform for a wider audience to understand and experience this notion. I was so proud to be a part of this and hope to feel the same at other events, take notes people.

There seemed to be a great effort in terms of sartorial expression at HST, you looked fantastic as always!

The dancers uniformed in the HST fetish outfits were an incredible statement. Fuelling both the party and a reminder to respect those goddamn pronouns! Lewis G Burton in a pink velour tracksuit and satanic lingerie sending the crowd wild, and HST founders Steven Braines and Sophia Kearney had even come leather clad and ready to dance it out. Sometimes you want to make an impact but a subtle one, that catches the crowd off guard in the flash of a strobe light revealing the zombie eye.

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We loved your Gravedance EP here at Back To Culture – what can you tell us about your next release?

Thank you. My next release takes you on a different tangent, it’s very true to my WW style pulling you closer to the sound of my future album. ‘Whisper EP’ (via The Weird And The Wonderful X Skint) features deeper house cuts and bass music dipping into reggae feelings at times. I’m excited after rolling into the new year with such great feedback and support, and ready to keep up the momentum!

What’s coming up in 2018 for you?

There’s more EPs, an album in the pipes, international dates and festivals being discussed. It’s early in the year and knowing how I work sporadically and uncontrollably there’s bound to be some strange avenues along the way. Excited nonetheless.

Wax Wings “Gravedance” EP is out now on Skint Records

 

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NAGNAGNAG: THE RETURN OF AN ICON

This coming weekend sees NagNagNag return once more to Sedition (formerly East Bloc), it’s new home in East London. The ever-excellent Hannah Holland will be sharing deck duties with Jonny Slut and Fil Ok this time around, with brand new electro sounds rubbing shoulderpads with the classics and forgotten gems.
We spoke to Jonny about NagNagNag’s triumphant return…

1. How did the rebirth of NagNagNag come about?

The lovely Kris Chapman got in touch with me out of the blue to ask if I’d be interested in playing at an electro night – ‘Electrogasm’, that he was putting together at East Bloc in the autumn of last year, which Spatial Awareness and John Taylor (Punx Soundcheck) were also involved with. I hadn’t DJed in London for ages so didn’t really know what to expect, but it was a great night and people really seemed to be into the electro stuff that we were playing. Seeing as there seemed to be an appreciative, receptive audience, it got me toying with the idea of doing a NagNagNag night, so I contacted Kris who was totally up for it.

2. What are your thoughts on the stealthy resurgence of electro?

To be honest I wasn’t particularly aware that there was one! I live in Dorset now and am not in the London loop, but I’ve always liked electro stuff, so it’s the stuff that I personally source and enjoy.

3. What differences are you seeing with Nag this time around? What do you think the biggest changes have been in Nag’s absence?

I’m genuinely touched that there is still interest in NagNagNag; I mean, we started it 16 years ago. I was chatting to a bunch of younger punters at the last one and they seemed a bit confused by the music – “is this like 70’s?”!… but were into it. I was confused as to why they were confused! I guess it’s because the club scene has been quite homogenised again for a while?
I like the fact that we can still confuse people actually, NagNagNag was never meant to be easy listening!

4. What’s your favourite record at the moment that you’re definitely going to play next weekend?

I’ve got a few favourites, definitely something from The Red Axes, and I’ve been going through a bit of a cold wave period so definitely a bit of that. Carmine by Joseph Ashworth is my current hot tune.

This month also sees the continuing return of another electro icon, the artist Replicant – with whom Jonny Slut has joined forces for new single “Suck Suck”. Featuring remixes by Punx Soundcheck and Starcluster, “Suck Suck” will be out Friday March 23rd on the Icon Series label.

NagNagNag is this Saturday night at Sedition, 217 City Road, London. Tickets are available here: https://www.outsavvy.com/event/1093/nag-nag-nag-tickets  

SHADOW EGO – OUT OF REACH

Shadow Ego’s stunning follow up to their debut “One Of These Days” is “Out of Reach” – an epic slice of brooding electronica that inhabits the same dark, glacial spaces as Portishead, Goldfrapp, and Depeche Mode. Back To Culture spoke to Shadow Ego’s Sven Fredrikssen to find out more…

What’s the story behind Shadow Ego? How did Shadow Ego come about?

As a singer/songwriter that has been influenced by both Indie rock music and Electronic music, creating music that harnessed the rawness of my own Indie rock productions and vocals in an electronic format not only made so much sense, but sounded incredible.
I had written and produced an album in London with Primal Scream’s Darrin Mooney and Barrie Cadogan (Little Barrie), and had met up with John Taylor of Punx soundcheck shortly after. I had wanted to re-work some live material that I had into an electronic track and after completing a track with John, knew that we had something. We then went on to produce 3 more tracks.

We’re loving “Out of Reach” here – what were the influences that shaped that track?

I just wanted a track that was reminiscent of 90’s Trip Hop, and since the track is at a slower tempo, it worked perfectly with the whole feel of the track. Its quite an emotional track, and like all the my tracks, it has meaning, so it was also important to be subtle with the percussion. A Trip Hop vibe really worked well here!

And how did you come up with the concept for the video?

The whole meaning of the song is that feeling of being out of reach of love. I have my own personal meaning for the song, but it’s also important to allow the listener to take what they need from the song.

We know that you work with Punx Soundcheck’s John Taylor on Shadow Ego – how did you two get together?

As I mentioned earlier, I met John shortly after finishing my own album. I had always wanted to improve my DJ skills, as I had a set of turntables when I was young (Bedroom DJ), so I had private lessons with John. We both found that we had similar tastes especially with music, so it was pretty easy thereafter to progress with Shadow Ego. John is outstanding at what he does, so it was also important to work with someone of his quality and understanding.

What’s coming up in the pipeline for Shadow Ego?

We’re just pushing the singles out at the moment. We have the second single release of “Out of Reach” set for 9th March, and then “World in Disguise” which will be released on 6th April. I’m pretty excited with the music, so will just see what happens after our releases!

DEPTH PERCEPTION

Recently decamped from Germany to London, Australian born Rick Bull may work under the name Deepchild, but that moniker alluding to juvenalia belies the sonic maturity of his labours. Deepchild’s most recent EP Blush gathered plaudits, whilst Rick’s ambient alter-ego Acharné has been grabbing attention from loftier quarters…

What’s been happening lately in the world of Deepchild?

The last 18 months have been filled with a substantial amount of change, travel and re-invention. After around 7 years based in Berlin, playing some wonderful DJ sets and live-performances at clubs like Berghain and Tresor (in addition to frequent North American tour outings), it felt like time for step back, and a chapter of re-evaluation.

My position in clubland – particularly as a touring artist in the US and Europe, has been an incredibly privileged one…and yet, after over 20 years of performing and production, it felt like change was needed. The techno world which nurtured me has most certainly changed, and I’ve felt like my focus has changed in response, too. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the last couple of years working as a teacher and producer with marginalised students and young artists in Sydney, at a university and community college level – and its been a reminder of why I fundamentally still believe in the deeper value of a practice like music. Only 6 months ago I moved to Hackney, and have been slowly establishing roots here in a rather new city, a long way from sleepy Berlin! I played a few club shows in 2017 at places like Tresor in Berlin, as well as debuting my new experimental / ambient project, “Acharné” at Berlin’s prestigious Funkhaus venue – I’ve seen everyone from Max Richter to Carl Craig and Four Tet have been playing there now, and its wonderful to have another rather incredible space in Berlin turning heads. Currently I’m working on new Deepchild and Acharné releases, and helping develop music education materials here in London…

Are you more at home in the studio, or behind the decks?

It’s curious – despite having played some rather large shows at placed like EXIT Festival or Berghain, I’ve never been particularly drawn to the spotlight. I adore DJing, and adore performing live-sets even more – though often I’m in awe of what a privileged roll it is to play. I still never take this for granted. In the studio is where I feel ‘safest’, but without the interface of club-performance, writing dance music would feel something of an abstraction. I need the studio to ground and centre myself, and clubland throws me back into my body.

The dancefloor feels like one the last fading examples of a sort of ‘cultural commons’ – we need them. Spaces of healing, exorcism, rebirth.

Who/what is influencing your sound right now?

I’m caught in a heady vortex betwixt influences as disparate as Drake, Ryiuichi Sakamoto, Prince, Aphex Twin, Basic Channel and Hessle Audio classics… With a liberal dose of Burial, and more experimental work by The Caretaker. I have a huge soft spot for a lot of Trap music too…and an insatiable fascination with contemporary hiphop…and quite an addiction to classic Ballroom / Vogueing music.

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What 3 records are really floating your boat at the moment?

1. The new Nils Frahm “All Melody” album is dope. Its beautiful to hear elements of John Cage and Philip Glass massively influencing the work. Gorgeous. Vital.

2. Hodge / Randomer “No Single Thing” – walking (as with homies like Kowton) the smudged line between techno, footwork and ‘uk bass’, this and so much other gorgeousness from Livity Sound reminds is drenched in the spirit of futurism I grew up on. Genre-blurring, functional goodness. Everything Livity Sounds releases is a little bit special.

3. Phil Gerus “Based on Misunderstandings 05”. There’s something beautifully infuriating, compelling and addictive about what we’ve come to label ‘vaporwave’. Phil Gerus produces what I’d almost call “Vapor Disco”, very much in line with the kinds of sensibility artists like DJ Seinfeld are messing around with. It’s knowing, lo-fi, humorous and haunted at the same time. Phil Gerus certainly leans toward the accessible end of the spectrum, but is difficult not to love. Check out Grafton Tanner’s excellent “Babbling Corpse” or the late great Mark Fisher’s “Capitalist Realism” whilst listening to this ep, and then decide whether you’d to weep sad bitter tears into your K Cider, or whether or not we might still dream of a better tomorrow which no longer sounds just like the past run through an Instagram filter.

What’s next for Deepchild? What does 2018 hold for you?

A few more long winded blog posts, on Derrirda and Hauntology, more work here in music education, grim Instagram posts of toilets and industrial fixtures, gigs wherever I can swindle them, and too many hours in front of Ableton Live. I’ve just had a wonderful mention in The Guardian for my last Acharné album, “Innocence and Suburbia”, and had a huuuuge license request for one of the UK’s most esteemed artist-mix comps (people still buy physical product?) so I’m guessing gigs shall continue coming forth. I’m still recovering from November’s gig at Tresor, to be honest. Techno. Gawd.

The new EP “Blush”by Deepchild is out now on Goldmin Music

 

 

THE REINVENTION OF JOZEF K

Since becoming a resident for Sankeys at the age of 19, the trajectory of Jozef K’s career has seen him become one of the most respected Djs and producers to emerge in the UK in recent years. Back To Culture caught up with him to see what’s happening right now in the world of Jozef K…

2018 seems to have got off to a flying start, with tracks already signed to an impressive array of highly respected labels – Viva Warriors, I Love Acid, W&O Street Tracks, Music For Freaks, and Tensnake’s own True Romance imprint. Jozef attributes this to a newly refreshed work ethic, having made a few changes.

“[I’m] Currently half way through a re-invention process… because of this I am now incredibly busy in the studio, averaging ten plus hour days midweek.”

Becoming a resident for Sankeys propelled Jozef into the limelight primarily as a DJ, with bookings for gigs all over the world. As often happens, production of his own tracks soon followed, often working with Winter Son.
In recent times, however, Jozef has transitioned his focus; more mindful of the need to explore his creative side in the studio.

“I have re-invented myself as a full-time producer instead of club resident who makes some tracks on the side. Laying all of my emotions out into Ableton is something I find mentally cleansing.”

This does not mean that Jozef is showing any signs of slowing down on the DJ side, though (in fact, his increased concentration on making music will serve to expand his horizons as a DJ, if anything). Indeed, Jozef completed a highly successful tour of China over Christmas and New Year:

“Best thing I have ever done. Seven shows in six cities, and I managed to undergo some serious exploration during my days off. This was my first ever international tour, crazy that happened to be in China. Germany, France, sure… but China. Oh well.”

HE.SHE.THEY.

The 24th of February sees Ministry of Sound host the first He.She.They party; a resurrection of the notion of the dance music club as a sanctuary for people to be themselves – a return to the ideological roots of individual expression and inclusivity.
Back To Culture caught up with The Weird And The Wonderful’s Steven Braines to find out more…

1. How did the idea for He.She.They come about? How would you describe the ethos behind it?

We basically just wanted to create a party that we wanted to go and bring all our mates too – and it’s a very varied friendship group. I’m bi and someone told me off for kissing a girl in an LGBT club before I reminded him what the “B” stood for. It really got under my skin. To feel unwelcome like that really affected me at the time as I was quite newly out and I don’t find aggression towards heterosexual peeps any more acceptable than homophobia. So our ethos is to create “a place without prejudice for people to be people”. We were a bit worried that it sounds a bit preachy but essentially that is what we want to do so we kept it. It doesn’t matter what your race, sexuality, sex, gender, age, etc, is, just be a nice person who likes good music and is respectful of others. It’s really simple. It’s how we think the world should be, not just our club night.

2. In the current climate of the intolerant right wing rearing it’s ugly head once again, do you believe that culture – specifically dance music culture – is reacting to that, in much the same way as it did in the late 1980s with the rise of acid house?

I think there is definitely a feeling of how important it is to resist powers and ideologies that deliberately aim to divide and create hatred. Dance music has also been a place for people to break down barriers because of the vibe.  Everyone has to pay their bills but there is a balance to be struck because ethos, art and money always but too often the latter is seen as the most important. Also some of the racist, homophobic shit coming out of some producers and DJs over the last couple of years on social media is frightening. I’m glad people like Ten Walls got called out for it. I think electronic music handled that with a lot of pro activity. What I think is really exciting is how clubs like Panorama Bar/Berghain work where that level of freedom and good music combine. I would love that same thing to exist in the UK one day. I guess it does to a degree when nights like Torture Garden take over a space but UK law is still a bit more limiting.

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3. I was at Printworks for Maya Jone Coles And Friends last year, and that was an amazing day – like an indoor festival in that huge venue! Are you looking forward to having a similar kind of vibe in the slightly more initimate surroundings of the Ministry?

The Maya Jane Coles & Friends party was amazing; from Wax Wings b2b Alinka, to Dan Avery, everything was on point. For our night; we felt that it’s nice to be able to listen to different types of music on a night out and not just be locked in one room. There is everything from techno to house to experimental electronica to a bit of hip hop and garage depending on which room you’re in. The DJs from straight and gay scenes too, because that was always a weird barrier we felt didn’t need to be there. A good DJ is a good DJ full stop.

“Treating a bill of excellent DJs who happen to also be female as some kind of novelty or departure from the norm is not putting women and men or non-binary peeps on an equal footing.”

4. The DJ lineup is a fairly astonishing collection of talent, but interesting in that it’s not just a bunch of usual suspects pulled together to shift tickets – there’s obviously been a lot of thought put into it. How did you go about curating that bill?

Well really, we largely picked our favourites of people we like to go see, and also hang out with. We will never book a DJ if they aren’t a nice person, because life is too short and it brings a bad energy to the night. Maya is the supreme being of all electronic music in our minds so we had to get her to play the debut party, otherwise it would have been sacrilege. Most of the lineup are producers too and we felt that was an important part of the decision. “Hate Me” by KDA is a belter of a tune but message wise it so important to us, so we wanted to have him play. Also wanting a mixed crowd of people we wanted to take people from different scenes but who we felt would mesh well and the musical flow could progress nicely throughout the night.

5. There is a very refreshingly strong representation of female DJ talent at this event – do you think that in the post-Weinstein world this will finally start to become more the norm?

Well for Ellen and Maya they’ve been headliners in their own right for years. I think there is an odd belief that men sell more tickets than women, and promoters seldom take that risk as most promoters don’t have big margins themselves. It’s woeful how many Ibiza clubs don’t take those risks. In more recent years, Maya has headlined out there before, Nina has, and I know Nervo have had a residency and erm, Paris Hilton… in the super clubs. Maya, Annie Mac and Hannah Wants have programmed big festival stages in the UK so hopefully promoters are being proven wrong by that outdated bias. Most of my favourite producers and DJs are women so I’ve always found it a bit baffling. There’s all this unintentional misogyny things like billing things as “all female line-ups” – you would never do that as an “all male line-up”. Treating a bill of excellent DJs who happen to also be female as some kind of novelty or departure from the norm is not putting women and men or non-binary peeps on an equal footing.

Tickets for He.She.They. are available here: http://club.ministryofsound.com/listings/events/2018/february/heshethey/

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