Tag Archives: acid

Enigmatic techno player Gesloten Cirkel makes his Edinburgh live debut for Overground x Substance this Friday 29th March

25 March 2019 -

Substance are more than just a wee bit excited to have bagged this week’s guest, finally.  In their own words:

‘After literally years of independently tracking one the most elusive and sought after artists of our world, with apparent dead ends aplenty, we’ve finally got our man and bring Gesloten Cirkel to The Bongo for a debut appearance in the Capital.

The full live show has only graced select dance floors and is the sonic attack we’d always hoped for, fusing those untouchable underground anthems with live hardware experimentation, twisting acid, techno and electro into brave new forms.

Strap yourself in, this is going to be wild.’

MORE INFO / TICKETS

Richard Brophy did a good interview with the elusive producer for Juno on the release of his debut album, Submit X, back in 2014.  It’s well worth a read (see below)…

Richard Brophy interviews Gesloten Cirkel, the mysterious producer behind one of this year’s best albums.

Gesloten Cirkel is an enigma wrapped up in a mystery. Named after a quote from I-F during an interview in the documentary, When I Sold My Soul To The Machine, this artist has only put out a handful of records in the past five years. Despite this, his recently released debut album Submit X was one of the most anticipated – and is also one of the most acclaimed – works of 2014. The reason he is held in such high regard is because while there are references to other styles, artists and communities in his music, what he makes is highly distinctive, with that rare ability to make people sit up and listen.

Gesloten Cirkel’s self-titled debut record appeared on I-F’s Murder Capital in 2009, the first release on that label in seven years. The screeching strings and shriek of a rooster on the driving techno of the title track sounded like a rude wake-up in an age of digital sterility, while “Twisted Balloon” was just as head-turning, consisting of grainy beats, grimy acid and slow-motion sirens. Following this debut, there was a two-year wait until the next Gesloten Cirkel release, Moustache Techno Series 001. That release kick-started David Vunk’s Moustache Techno sub-label and featured the eerie, bassy electro of “Yamagic” and the wonky, offbeat house of “Insummer”.

Like its predecessor, Series 001 became a sought-after release, with copies now on offer for nearly €80 (£65) online. Following the release of Series 001, there was another period of radio silence – with the exception of a short, high-tempo ghetto mix for Juno Plus – until 2013, when Gesloten put out the reduced electro drums and menacing bass of Hole on Berceuse Heroique. Earlier this year, he announced that he was putting out an album, Submit X, also on Murder Capital.

Was he surprised by the reaction to his first few records and why has he only put out such a small amount of music in the past five years? “Yeah, I was surprised, but also I am not sure a lot of copies were pressed,” he says about these records. “Music is mostly a hobby for me and I don’t want to make worthless releases. I do it to enjoy it, but I have to be confident in the package to release it with a price tag. That being said, I pump out recordings pretty often and post them online on Intergalactic FM.”

Although we have not yet reached the halfway mark of this year, Submit X is easily a contender for album of 2014. Like previous releases by this artist, it is rooted in grimy acid, techno and electro. Grainy drums are pushed to the point of distortion, acid spews out like bile and there are even some vocals on “Stakan”, “Feat Liette” and the over the top robo-electro of “Zombiemachine”.

However, Submit X is just as varied as his singles. It rages from the dirgeful Goth intro of “Stakapella” and its follow-up, the long-slung electro bass and wavy vocals of “Stakan”, to “Vader”, a nasty, distorted sewer techno banger. “Stakans” is almost catchy and sounds like it could be a big track – would Gesloten Cirkel be happy if his music became known by a wider audience? “I don’t care! I am happy if one person almost enjoyed it. “Stakan” was a stab at Emo wave,” he explains. “It used to have a few more lines of vocals that were really silly, but I didn’t record them so the track stayed pretty dark.”

He explains that “Stakan” was also the track that provided the idea for Gesloten Cirkel to record an album in the first place. “I played it live in 2010 in The Hague after the first EP was released and got nice feedback at the show. I actually made it in the same week as “Twisted Balloon”, so I think I mixed the two together at the live show. I accidentally deleted those files during some MPC maintenance,” he adds.

“Later, I put that track in a mega mix that was for a contest on IFM. The Murder Capital boss (I-F) liked it and I sent him some versions. I didn’t like them too much so it didn’t drive me to finish a release. Then work took all my time. I sent a demo version of “Feat. Liette” after I returned to working on a release for Murder Capital and that got some airplay. It was pretty rough and the vocals were clashing in some parts, but I think I-F still plays that version. So with two tracks kind of done, I said I am going to do an album. Most of the compilation and polishing was done in December 2013 when I had time and then I procrastinated with artwork for a bit.”

Now available in its final version, “Feat Liette” is an insistent, pulsing affair. Like a dark, slowed down EBM riposte to Alden Tyrell’s “La Voix”, it features an unnamed vocalist wittering away in an unidentifiable tongue. On “Zombiemachine Acid” and “Zombiemachine” the artist delivers more vocals. This time, they are accompanied by murderous basslines, grainy kicks and epic, soaring synth lines. The vocal element comprises a pitched down robotic tones ordering listeners to “follow the leader”. It sounds like Gesloten Cirkel is having a laugh. Does he not take things too seriously and like to inject some humour into his music?

“Funny? You think I’m funny”, comes the all-caps response by email. “I guess it is sort of a formula. I like tracks to have character – be it a sound or melody or solo but yes, life is one big joke.”

But there are things that this producer won’t discuss. “Zombiemachine” sounds similar to the grainy, acid-fuelled electro-techno that Hague labels like Panzerkreuz and Bunker release. Is he inspired by them?

“No comment.”

What about the vocals on the album; who is the vocalist on “Stakan” and what language is the unidentified woman signing in on “Feat Liette”?

“No comment.”

Fair enough, let’s steer it back towards the music. There are exceptions to Gesloten Cirkel’s bombastic electro-techno sound, and the most notable one here is the upbeat, warbling, lo-fi synths on “Chatters”. It sounds more melodic than the rest of Submit X – is this an area Gesloten Cirkel is keen to explore? “That track was a keyboard jam that I’ve set up to sound like some chiptunes – I don’t think it is that deep. I am more psyched that it was all in one take,” he says. “I definitely want to play live melodies more, but it takes a lot of practice.”

Would he ever consider making a soundtrack/home listening album à la DJ Overdose or like one of Danny Wolfers’ side projects? “I do make a bunch of ambient and sometimes a chill track, but I don’t plan on putting those out. I would rather score a film or do some sound design than make a home listening release,” he replies.

There is an argument that he should stick to what he knows best, and the title track sees Gesloten Cirkel channel a similar type of electro funk as “Yamagic” but with looped vocal stutters replacing the ethereal, dreamy textures. “Vader” is a banging, straight down the line techno track, while “Arrested Development” is inspired by Hague electro. However, it veers unexpectedly into a spiralling guitar solo before ending with Gesloten Cirkel spitting acid-soaked nails all over the arrangement. Did he sample a hard rock guitar for “Arrested Development”?

“No comment”.

Thankfully, he is slightly more forthcoming when asked about the influence of industrial music on Submit X. “Yes, I am sure it was inspired by it. I don’t listen to IFM radio often, but I know it influences my taste in sound. Mostly I tune into Murder Capital radio and it plays all sorts of dark and industrial and minimal sounds – especially on Black Mondays.”

So while Gesloten Cirkel’s music operates in its own world, The Hague’s electro and techno sound and the community that centres around I-F’s Intergalactic FM radio station seem like his spiritual home. A sign of how close Gesloten Cirkel is to this community is evidenced by the fact that his debut release relaunched I-F’s Murder Capital label and the follow-up provided the kick-start for David Vunk’s Moustache Techno sub-label. Speaking to this writer, Gesloten Cirkel says that he feels most affinity with artists from this milieu.

“Most of my contact with artists is through online chat on IFM,” he says. “There is an obvious connection since we discuss all sorts of things, including music production and the IFM radio site. I haven’t been participating in production of various media involved with the radio, TV or website code all that much in the past years due to my day job, but still – that is my main contact and reason for contact,” he adds.

The scant amount of information that is available about this producer suggest that he is Russian or based in Russia, which would explain his interest in developing relationships with like-minded artists online. As he is based away from the Dutch west coast nerve centre, he also places importance on face-to-face contact with his peers.

“When it is possible, I try to meet artists I’ve met in chat or forums before their gigs and just shoot the shit. On the rare occasion that I do play, I am with like-minded people who are on the bill or are putting on the show. It is really good to just talk with people who are moving through time alongside you, instead of getting too carried away or attached to things you can’t influence or be influenced by directly,” he believes.

In spite of this back story, not everything adds up. All of the topical questions that this writer sent to Gesloten Cirkel about Russia via email – his views on its incursion into Ukraine; its treatment of homosexuals and even questions about the development of electronic music in his home country – are unanswered. Of course it’s not unusual for some artists to dodge unrelated topics and to instead focus on talking about their new release or recent records. But then there is another strange twist – in the midst of preparing a new set of questions to send him by email, Gesloten Cirkel puts out a tweet stating that all of the proceeds from sales of Submit X will go directly to IFM, which recently announced it had been hit with a large fine for filing its tax reports late in 2010 and 2011.

It seems like such a selfless act for a producer who does not own the station that it immediately raises suspicions that Gesloten Cirkel may not be who he seems. Why has he decided to do this?

“Because IFM is the place – doesn’t everyone support what they like? Nothing is for granted. Everything is taxed and everyone needs a break sometime. The amount of work that goes into IFM, I know first hand – so I know where my earnings end up,” he answers obtusely.

It sounds like a very altruistic move, but Gesloten Cirkel would probably argue that it is money well spent and arguably, the producer’s debut album is shaped and influenced by I-F’s multi-channel digital broadcasting empire. “They are all very talented, self-driven, creative and reachable,” he says of the IFM community, justifying his donation.

“There is such a huge amount of material that I hear from these people and the IFM radio that I can hardly keep up with my influences anymore. Obviously there are tracks I don’t even remember that influence my melody or synth patches. That’s another thing, if I hear some old Paul Johnson or Armani record, these artists feel really far away and from another planet, so I can’t just go, ‘hey do you have more tracks like that or, hey how is that bass even made?’ So I kind of get inspired by them to make my own versions. But if I hear some Legowelt or Mark Du Mosch or I-F, I almost don’t want to know how they made that because I can just ask. And also, what’s the point of me jacking their production values or patterns? I guess it happens anyway whether I want to or not.”

This kind of interaction was impossible before the internet and it is one of the main reasons why an artist like Gesloten Cirkel is able to source and soak up all of these sounds on IFM, communicate with some of the artists who made the music and then deliver a unique interpretation of what he has absorbed.

It’s a different situation to the ’90s, as he recalls. “I was really blown away by Live at the Liquid Rooms by Jeff Mills in the late ’90s. He was already a superstar by then and obviously I couldn’t just talk to him or other acts like Ciccone Youth or Nirvana about what was on my mind. I probably liked it (Live at the Liquid Rooms) because it was marketed to me and my friends also liked it.”

“Richard D James’ album also blew me away and lots of Future Sound Of London stuff. I couldn’t talk to them or people that were involved with them. I could talk to other fans and hope that some synth magazine somewhere would reveal just a few bits or techniques that they used. So, after a while I really got tired of that and just did my thing and talked to other like-minded people. So now I am happy to be around the exact people you see me on the bill with,” he adds.

Possibly the other reason why the artist is comfortable giving the money to IFM is because he works full-time and has the financial wherewithal not to be reliant on touring or releasing records. On the subject of whether he will play live to promote Submit X, he says that he has “no tour and no gigs planned due to work”.

At the same time, he believes it is “very hard” to mix full-time work with music-making. “You have to be very mindful of funds, promotions, investments of time. It is basically running your own business that is powered by your creativity. You can sit at a desk and use 1/10th of that creativity per month. That is, until you get promoted. Then you are fucked,” he believes. Nonetheless, he can always slip back into his Gesloten Cirkel alter ego. Apart from his own releases, he has also remixed Mark Du Mosch and Conforce. Is it something he enjoys and does he approach it differently to making his own music?

“Not really. I just make my own track and put their name on it usually. Sometimes it turns out really bad because I can’t make it my own enough. I should probably approach it differently, and then I would enjoy it more,” he explains.

As a parting shot, I ask him if he has any other releases planned apart from his debut album.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it,” he replies curtly, before signing off for good. With a debut album like Submit Xto his credit, it’s no wonder that he’s reluctant to set the studio wheels in motion for some time.

Interview by Richard Brophy

Categories: Blog, News
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nightwave’s recent Resident Advisor mix isn’t taking any prisoners!

19 October 2018 -

Nightwave headlines the Hobbes Music 5th Birthday Party on Friday 9th November.  This feature/interview is republished courtesy of Resident Advisor.

Maya Medvešek has spent a lot of her life in Glasgow, which you might guess from hearing her DJ. Something about the city seems to breed DJs who know how to rock a party by spanning genres and eras, unafraid to drop anthems while they do it. Medvešek is no different. Her sets encompass everything from classic acid house and electro to new-school grime and footwork. She has an enterprising spirit that keeps her selections adventurous and forward-looking, with a mixing style that hearkens back to the rough-and-ready days of classic Chicago house. This might be explained by her formative years spent in Ljubljana, a city she says took great influence from Chicago and Detroit.

It’s that push and pull between retro and futuristic that defines most of Medvešek’s work. Take her two recent EPs for Fool’s Gold. Wavejumper is a thrilling EP that combines Drexciyan electro with ghettotech and rap, while Sanctuary takes old rave music and polishes it. Her RA podcast is full of new and unreleased tracks that fold in techno, breakbeat, electro, footwork and acid. There are classic flavours from newer producers like Arttu and Bodyjack, early ’90s hardcore from Public Energy and an appearance from the king of rave throwbacks, Special Request. It’s mixed live from the decks at one of her favourite nightclubs, K4 in Ljubljana.

What have you been up to recently?

A great year so far. I released the Sanctuary EP on Fool’s Gold, Acid Mouse on Metro Jaxx, worked on remixes and music for a feature film, had the amazing opportunity to travel to India and teach production for women thanks to the British Council and Wild City, held Producergirls workshops, played some great gigs, celebrated five years of my club night, Nightrave, and my label, Heka Trax. It’s been a very personally transformative year as well as I’ve done a lot of inner work, shamanic retreats and practice, and feel I’m starting a new exciting chapter in my life and my music.

How and where was the mix recorded?

The mix was recorded at club K4 back home in Ljubljana, Slovenia while visiting. K4 is one of the oldest leading electronic music institutions in Slovenia (it’s been going since the late ’80s) and the first club I ever went to, so it has a special place in my heart. Recorded in one take on CDJs and a Pioneer mixer.

Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?

Nice jackin’ house and techno party time, some classics, quite a lot of recent and unreleased stuff in there and a couple of my new tunes as well.

A lot of your productions and DJ sets incorporate old-school dance music sounds. What draws to you those classic styles?

I guess I’m partial to some rave nostalgia from when I started out, as it got me into DJing and producing, but mainly because it still holds so much energy and life. It’s no-nonsense music made for people to have a good time. I also love how club music has evolved into so many new forms and hybrids now, I often play quite a variety in my sets.

Is there a healthy scene in Ljubljana, and any producers or DJs to watch out for?

Ljubljana has always been a bit of a techno haven, I’m very grateful to have had such a good scene to look up to when I was a teenager—a fantastic Detroit and Chicago influence, loads of great electro, local producers like Umek and Random Logic. I moved to the UK in 2002, so I’m a bit out of touch but the scene is very vibrant. Try K4, Metelkova, Bozidar for clubs and look out for nights by Bojler, Stiropor, Rx:tx. If you like beautiful, shimmery jazzy vibes I recommend Your Gay Thoughts, they have a new album out soon.

What are you up to next?

Should have a couple more releases out this year and I’m starting a new label with a more focused direction. Apart from that, doing what I love most: DJing and travelling about. I also want to build on my therapist qualifications to hopefully help musicians with their mental health and wellbeing in the future. It’s all about creating a balance.

Tracklist /
Nightwave – Rainbow Body (unreleased)
Lauren Flax – It’s Ours (unreleased)
Arttu – WD40 (Jack For Daze)
Arma – Girl (unreleased)
Bodyjack – Nataraja (unreleased)
Mak & Pasteman – Reakt (Boom Ting)
Oli Furness – Trigger (Jack For Daze)
Benny Rodrigues – Cocaine Speaking (UTTU)
Special Request – Make It Real (Gerd Janson & Shan Prance Mania Mix) (Houndstooth)
Raito – Gunman (BNR)
Lone – Oedo 808 (unreleased)
Defekt – Acid Bounce (Tripalium)
Solid Blake – Masha (Modeselektion)
Martyn Bootyspoon – Spread That Kat (Steve Poindexer Remix) (Fractal Fantasy)
Public Energy – Three O’Three (Stealth)
Mella Dee – Expansion (Warehouse Music)
Nightwave – Bang The Rocks (unreleased)
Bleaker – Hype (Funk) (UTTU)
Ritzi Lee – Reverse Processed (Theory)
Panteros666 – Euronature (Meteociel)
Clark – Honey Badger (Warp)
Kenny Larkin – Without Sound (Rush Hour)
Categories: Blog, News
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

London techno legend Jerome Hill returns to Substance and the Bongo, Fri 12th May ’17

11 May 2017 -

jerome_hill_700

We’re proper excited to be welcoming Jerome Hill to the Bongo this weekend, not least given his links to Edinburgh’s own ‘wonky techno’ crew back in ze day (see below). Is Edinburgh actually a home from home for Jerome?!  Perhaps… 😉

In the promoter’s own words, ‘We’ve had him at Henry’s and then at the Bongo in June 2012 as part of a free summer rave… think it went Jeff Mills, Rephlex then Jerome.*  He’s so good if you’ve never caught him.’ [*What a sequence! ]

There was a cracking piece (published early 2015) by the Electronic Explorations blog on why Jerome Hill is still such an essential DJ, which is copied below for your convenience.  It also includes a BANGING mix which he describes as follows:

“Just a load of tunes that I love and regularly play out… Old and new… No theme except that the tracks are hopefully memorable in varying ways.. Techno, Acid and Electro, all embracing their individuality and not creeping around trying to ‘fit in’.  Oh, and mixed on vinyl, a couple of CDs when necessary and no tractors or sinks”

Jerome Hill runs a weekly radio show  on Kool 94.6FM (London) – koollondon.com – every Wednesday 11.00-13.00.. “The Roots Of Rave”

koolradiobanner

If there’s one man who embodies rave spirit in modern dance music it’s Jerome Hill – FACT Mag (via Joe Muggs)

DJ since 1990, beginning with Hip Hop, Acid House, UK Bleep, Breakbeat and Techno, a residency throughout the mid to late 90′s on infamous London sound system “JIBA”among others, manager and music buyer for 2 record shops Trackheads & Dragon Discs in Camden, London, (1997-2004) during which time an international DJ schedule opened out, Jerome has been a permanent fixture on the London scene and pretty much lives and breathes the music, his sets being educational and hedonistic in equal measures..

Founder of Don’t Recordings (which celebrates it’s 15th birthday this year) & Fat Hop records (for fans of Old Skool Hip Hop/B-Boy Breaks) , and more recently two new labels; the booming acid house of “Super Rhythm Trax” and the 1992 rave themed “Hornsey Hardcore” His bi-monthly ‘Don’t’ club night in Dalston is entering it’s 3rd year and has built a strong following amongst true Techno lovers, with Jerome as its resident and amazing and well respected guests passing through every time.

‘Jerome is best known for his involvement in the “wonky techno” scene (indeed he coined the term for a section in the Dragon Discs record shop where he worked in the mid-90s) – the punky but secretly rather sophisticated warehouse sound of people like Neil Landstrumm, Dave Tarrida, Cristian Vogel and co’ – FACT

Between putting out records on the labels and the release of his and Mark Archer’s (Altern8/Nexus 21) double mix CD, 2014 saw a hectic DJ schedule, playing slots at Bestival, Glastonbury (alongside Aphex Twin), XOYO (London), House Of God (Birmingham) and up and down the UK plus Australia, Japan, Finland, Belgium, Germany, Prague, Poland, Spain, France and Ireland all featuring in the international calendar. 2015 is set to be busy too, with releases about to drop on I Love Acid, Power Vacuum, Super Rhythm Trax, Don’t and Mindcut and the calendar beginning to fill out.   You can also catch Jerome on London’s Kool FM / www.Koollondon.com, The Roots of Rave show every wednesday 11.00-13.00 GMT   Be it a Techno dancefloor, an Old Skool Rave or a Hip Hop jam, Jerome is at home and relishes bringing something new to the party with surprises around every corner.

Hill has always flown the flag for other rough and rugged UK underground sounds, notably UK hip hop, breakbeat rave and old school Yorkshire-style bleep’n’bass – and he continues to represent all of these in his sets, promotions, releases on his labels and the ‘Roots of Rave’ show on Kool FM – FACT

Tracklist

Warehouse Sessions – 011 – Jerome Hill

  1. 01. Bintus “Cylinder Bop” (Power Vacuum)
  2. 02. Wevie De Crepon “Ton Wah” (Sonig)
  3. 03. Herbert “My DJ” (Accidental)
  4. 04. Jerome Hill “Work That Shit” (Don’t)
  5. 05. Teknocracy “Shrapnel Valley” (Pie Factory)
  6. 06. Vernon “Awakening In Antwerp” (Dixon Avenue Basement Jams)
  7. 07. Green Velvet & Gary Beck “Stronger” (Relief)
  8. 08. UVB “Anxiety” (Mord)
  9. 09. Pump Panel “To The Sky” (Missile)
  10. 10. Gutts “Gabos” (Horror Boogie)
  11. 11. Rei Elbaz & Anna Haleta “Don’t Stop” (Pacotec)
  12. 12. Fear of Music !
  13. 13. LFO “Mummy I’ve Had An Accident” (Warp)
  14. 14. DJ Rafael “Meltdown” (On The Prowl)
  15. 15. Patric Sjeren “Heart Condition” (Virgo Rising)
  16. 16. Neil Landstrumm “Diamond Taxation” (Sativae)
  17. 17. Tessela “Nancy’s Pantry” (R&S)
  18. 18. Frankie “Scarp” (Faste)
  19. 19. JoeFarr “Gabba Problems” (Don’t)
  20. 20. Jerome Hill “Frogmarch” (Mindcut)
  21. 21. Lenk “Untitled” (Blank Ltd)
  22. 22. CEO “Screeching” (WNCL)
  23. 23. Jerome Hill “Paper Bag Acid” (Super Rhythm Trax)
  24. 24. G-23 “Kidding Kids” (Super Rhythm Trax)
  25. 25. Jamie Lidell “Sonelysome(o)ney” (Sativae)
  26. 26. Shit n Shine “Shower Curtain” (Diogonal)
  27. Lupine Outro

FACEBOOK

Catch the man himself at Substance this Friday, 12th May!

Recognised by the authoritative Resident Advisor to be “one of Edinburgh’s most important outposts for house, techno and bass”, Substance brings a wide ranging collage of classic and cutting edge underground electronic music to the Bongo.

Categories: Blog, News
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stellar international techno DJ Helena Hauff returns to the Bongo for Easter, Friday 14th Apr

04 April 2017 -

HelenaHauff

German taste-maker Helena Hauff, one of the DJs who perhaps singularly sums up a Substance party most, returns to the Bongo, riding high on the wave of multiple standout shows and a BBC Radio 1 residency.  Having received a tremendous reception when she played last year (and recently the cover star of DJ Magazine), the Hamburg spinner is guaranteed to deliver the goods.

Here’s an interview with the woman herself, copy/pasted wholesale from Newcastle’s excellent Crack Magazine.  It’s  a great read and well worth your 10 mins, not least as Ms Hauff comes out with some hilarious comments about her penchant for more doomy, gothic styles….

2293

WORDS

APPROX READING TIME: 11 MIN

Helena Hauff has a thunderstorm inside her.

Sometimes it comes out in tangible ways: a cloud of cigarette smoke, her throaty, thunderous laugh, or the flash of a genuine smile. But mostly, it’s projected in her music; in the hammering techno of her DJ sets; the white hot intensity of her acid and electro; the nocturnal mood of her more sombre productions. There’s a turbulence to her style that would fall apart in the wrong hands, but Helena Hauff knows how to walk the line between disorder and control.

When we meet in her ground-floor apartment on a rainy evening in Hamburg, the city where she was born, Hauff is surrounded by records. The place is flooded with them. There are overflowing stacks all around the living room and in her studio there are crates teetering on top of crates. Hauff looks upon the mess fondly. She seems content with chaos.

“I’ve always loved it when music – especially techno – sounds a bit nasty and a bit raw and unpolished,” Hauff tells me, lighting a cigarette. Visible amongst all the vinyl is her set of analog machines, which she started collecting five or six years ago and with which she produces exclusively — just a Juno-60, a Roland-303, an MPC, and a couple of other classics. “The aesthetic of machines is so appealing to me,” Hauff explains. “People tend to think it’s more like robotics, they think it’s soulless because it doesn’t sound like it’s made by a human being. But I like that concept. It’s almost like the machine comes to life and becomes something with its own soul. I’ve learned to let go of the more analytical part of my brain and just let the machines do their own thing. They have a mind of their own, and I love that.”

There’s also a thrilling spontaneity to Helena Hauff’s DJ sets; something journalists tend to describe as ‘eclecticism’ or ‘unpredictability.’ Her selections range from jarring acid to banging techno with infusions of old school industrial, Dutch electronica, post-punk and EBM. And while she’s maintained an experimental, punk attitude, the past few years have seen Hauff rise to become one of leftfield dance music’s most in-demand artists.

January of this year marked the first show in Hauff’s BBC Radio One residency – a landmark achievement that’s testament to her rapid growth. “It’s more work than I thought it would be,” she admits, “because I want it to be really diverse. I wanted each episode to showcase a different style of music: a bit of house, a bit of techno, sometimes more wavey, or one episode will be all punk.” Her anything-goes approach is carried through in her self-made label Return to Disorder, which she launched in 2015 with an EP from Leicester psych-rock band Children of Leir. “I don’t want to just put out one type of music. Whenever I get something sent to me, if it’s good, I want to release it,” she insists. “I want to return to disorder in the sense that releases don’t necessarily have to make sense together.” It’s with this attitude that Hauff has established a career that so many artists dream of, without having to compromise her integrity.

The story of Helena Hauff’s DJ career begins at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel, a small but legendary portside club renowned for its rough and ready vibe. Hauff discovered the club as a teen and her name is closely associated with the club’s tight-knit family. “When I was younger, I only ever went out to the Pudel. There just wasn’t any other club where I felt at home,” she explains. “Eventually I just got bored with clubbing at some point, around when I started touring. The Pudel was the only place that I never really got bored with.”

The Pudel’s spirit was a perfect match for Hauff’s own; the club famously cherishes its sense of freedom – DJs play whatever and however they want. Hauff affectionately dubs it a “playground”. I read her a quote from fellow Pudel regular Call Super, who claimed that the club is a place where you feel that everyone really listens. “I actually disagree!” she exclaims. “When you play on a Friday, there are loads of young people, lots of tourists, and to be honest, sometimes it feels like they really didn’t care at all. They just want to get drunk and have a good time! But I personally don’t have a problem with that at all. The good thing about Pudel was that half of the people were really into the music, and the other half just didn’t give a shit. It’s not just this elite club where you can only enter if you know everything about electronic music.”

In February 2016, the Pudel closed after a fire destroyed the venue completely. Hauff found out while heading back to her hotel after a gig in France: “People were calling and texting me, ‘The Pudel’s burning, the Pudel’s burning,’” she remembers. “It was at a time when we had fought with the owners of the café upstairs from the club, so a lot of conspiracy theories just popped up immediately. It was a really stressful time.” Hamburg’s music community banded together to raise money for the club’s repairs — Hauff herself played a few benefit events, and added her own homemade cut to the selection of “Save the Pudel” videos on YouTube. The club is set to re-open this year, if all goes well.

© Vitali Gelwich
Jacket: MISBHV

“I was going for bleak Hamburg winter vibes actually,” Hauff laughs. She rolls another cigarette. “I wouldn’t call it ‘dark’ necessarily, because this type of music makes me happy. Even when I do feel sad, for example, I want to listen to the saddest most depressing music in the world. Maybe I feel a bit sadder for a while but then it gets me out of it. It’s like celebrating the sadness… And then it’s over.” She takes a long haul and blows the smoke out, thinking. “Some people think dark music makes you feel horrible and depressed. But you don’t have to be happy. You can be sad, it’s okay. You’ll be happy again tomorrow, it’s just one day.” She laughs — a kind of half-shrug, half-laugh — and leans forward to ash her cigarette.

I wonder if Hauff is into the type of melancholy art or dark poetry or noir films that her productions would suggest. In fact, I am banking on it — I’ve based half my interview questions around it. “I’m not into poetry. I’m not even really into album art, I end up throwing out record sleeves and covers because they take up so much space in my bag!” She does the shrug-laugh again. “They’re heavy to carry around as well. A beautiful cover is nice, but in general I’m not an artwork person.” The cover art for Discreet Desires might suggest otherwise; a grainy, tightly cropped photo of Hauff leaning in, mouth-open, towards a mirror version of herself. It’s alien and slightly erotic, the perfect moment to illustrate the album’s title. Hauff took the photo herself a few years ago when she used to study Fine Arts in university, but it’s a world she’s since grown out of.

“I WOULDN’T CALL IT ‘DARK’ NECESSARILY, BECAUSE THIS TYPE OF MUSIC MAKES ME HAPPY.”

“I’m just not interested in Fine Arts anymore.” She moves a hand as if to wave the idea away. “My professor, Nikola Torke, I really admired her. She told us, ‘Art can be a fucking horrible world. You have no money, no work… I don’t know why you would do this if you didn’t have that need for it.’ And that’s when I realised, I don’t have the need for art. But I have the need for music.”

Hauff’s Fine Arts degree was undertaken alongside a major in Systematic Music Science. When she eventually dropped out of school to pursue music full time, that sensibility transferred over. Where music is concerned, Hauff’s method is logic over poetry, realism over romance. Even her music videos, which at first glance appear to be deeply artful and symbolic, come from a left-brain way of thinking. The video for Discreet Desires track Sworn to Secrecy Part II, for example, is a roughly edited piece that features sinister scientific clips in quick succession: chemical containers, a gloved hand, sallow limbs, and a particularly alarming close-up shot of an eye being rinsed out with water. I’m sure that it’s Hauff’s take on a David Lynch-style short film, but Hauff is all logic in her explanation. “It reminds me a bit of a Luis Buñuel film, but I actually just nicked that video from the CIA,” she confesses. “It’s some kind of educational footage from the fifties that the government put together in case of a gas attack. So I just found it on YouTube and I really liked it so I took it for myself.” She pauses. “Don’t put me in jail for this!”

Outside, the rain comes down in sheets and Hauff gets up to close the window. I wonder if there’s a romantic aspect to working with machines rather than software, like writing a letter with pen and paper. But for Hauff the beauty is all in the technical process. She references The Fall’s frontman Mark E. Smith, a deranged genius to his fans, who once described how writing lyrics on a computer completely altered his way of working. “I feel exactly the same,” Hauff says. “It’s not a romantic idea, but I choose not to use them because it interferes with my creative process.” She shakes her head. “I don’t think about music in an emotional way, music is not therapy, you know? I don’t want to romanticise it like that.”

Hauff’s aversion to modern technology extends beyond music production too. She’s not on any social media. She uses few online resources other than email and SoundCloud (when I ask how she promotes things, she answers simply, “I don’t!”) and she still uses a beat-up old mobile phone. She talks affectionately about the archaic methods of gathering music in her youth, by collecting tracks from CDs she’d borrowed from the library and recording them to cassette tapes. “I think that experience probably made me a DJ, I loved how certain tracks would blend together on the recording,” she says.

“It felt like I was the only one interested in music in my school,” she remembers. “I wasn’t even that deep into it but they all just followed MTV. I listened to that too, don’t get me wrong, but I was really looking for something else. I liked Wu-Tang Clan, Radiohead… I loved Joy Division, Nirvana, The Cure… I remember this television channel where they’d stream the Love Parade and stuff like that. [But] when you feel miserable and you’re a teenager, there’s nothing better to listen to than Nirvana.”

It’s easy to imagine her as an outsider during her teenage years, and I ask if young Hauff was anti-mainstream. She laughs: “Maybe I thought I was at some point! I did feel like an alien at my school sometimes, but not because of the music, that was mostly just because I was a very weird person. The worst part about it was that I wasn’t an alien, I just thought I was. People actually liked me, I think, I just thought they didn’t so I turned my back on them. And there was no need for that, really. At the end of the day, it’s not even important. Just do what the fuck you want!”

It seems as if Helena Hauff will always live by that mentality. For her forthcoming EP, she tells me, she’s moving away from Discreet Desires’ melancholy tendencies back to making that rougher, more acidic music. Outside, the rain has finally stopped but it’s nighttime now, and the sky appears to be endlessly black. I wonder if this new release will take a step away from the darkness of her album. In her usual way, Hauff strips her answer back down to reality: “Proper darkness is a bad place,” she explains, rolling one last cigarette. “The rest is just life.”

Photography: Vitali Gelwich
Styling: Fabiana Vardaro
Hair & Makeup: Gabrielle Theurer

Helena Hauff appears at Sunfall Festival, Brockwell Park, London, 12 August / Helena Hauff appears at Dimensions Festival, Croatia, 30 August – 3 September

—————————————————

Substance Easter Weekend Special

Helena Hauff (3hr set) (Return To Disorder, Hamburg)
Substance djs

Good Friday, 14 April 2017
The Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh
11pm to 4am* (*late license tbc)

Tickets on sale from RA

substance-audio.com

Recognised by the authoritative Resident Advisor to be “one of Edinburgh’s most important outposts for house, techno and bass”, Substance brings a wide ranging collage of classic and cutting edge underground electronic music to the Bongo.

FACEBOOK EVENT

Categories: Blog, News
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hamburg DJ Helena Hauff shows Substance why she’s one of the most talked-about DJs on the circuit, Fri 12th Feb

10 February 2016 -

HelenaHauff

Helena Hauff has been resident at Hamburg’s renowned Golden Pudel club for some years now, an esteemed selector of raw Chicago, Acid, EBM, Electro and Wave music and a producer of growing acclaim via analogue recordings on Werkdiscs, PAN, Panzerkreuz and Lux (as a solo artist and in collaboration as Black Sites and Hypnobeat), all while retaining a staunchly low profile on the social networks.

So, as well as quite clearly demonstrating that she’s got what it takes to raise the roof when she plays, in today’s climate of in-your-face artists and relentless social media updates to fans about every second of their existences, Hauff is an all the more enticing proposition.

Find out why on Friday 12th Feb, when she brings a unique selection to The Bongo Club for Substance.

Tickets & Info

More on Helena below, courtesy of a short interview and podcast she did in September for XLR8R

Helena Hauff doesn’t really fit the mold of the modern-day electronic musician. She continues to reside in Hamburg and actively avoids the limelight; she doesn’t self-promote or even attempt to communicate with her ever-expanding fan-base; you can’t even find her on Facebook, never mind Twitter. Outside of a limited number of interviews—where, seemingly reluctantly, she elaborates on her analog-heavy production techniques and penchant for dark and twisted industrial acid techno—her only vehicle of public expression is through her music. In her own words, “I just do the stuff that I wanna do and I don’t do the stuff that I don’t wanna do.” It’s really that simple.

But for Hauff, this would seem to be enough. The release of her highly anticipated and widely acclaimed debut LP on Werkdiscs/Ninja Tune, Discreet Desires, along with a busy summer touring schedule that included a stunning performance at Dekmantel Festival—one of the best sets of the summer, in our books—has seen the Golden Pudel resident’s reputation rise considerably. Ahead of her performance at Robot Festival early next month, XLR8R contacted Hauff to see if she’d be interested in showcasing her talents with a podcast.

Fortunately for all of us, this is one of the things she did want to do.

How and where was the mix recorded?

At home! All records..…

Describe how you selected the tracks you wanted to include? Did you make a fairly concise list before you actually began mixing?

I knew how I wanted the tracks to come together before I started mixing. Sometimes a mix comes together in my head really quickly other times it can take quite a while to gel—this one was easy!

What else have you got coming up this year?

More gigs and then start playing around with my new synthesizers, can’t wait. And a couple more releases on my label!

For more information or to download the podcast, please visit XLR8R.

Categories: Blog, News
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,