It’s another coup for the Substance crew, as they join forces with Pulse once again to welcome Berlin native Boris Dolinski to our stage. He’s been resident at Berghain since Day One, having been involved with the original OstGut club & Panorama bar (from ’98 & ’00) before it opened.
But his heritage runs even deeper than that, as he also lived in New York in the mid-Eighties and was a regular at the legendary Paradise Garage and Loft parties when both were going strong, taking early DJ cues from Larry Levan and David Mancuso. How many DJs still active in the world today can lay claim to an involvement with such towering temples of dance music history?
This audio interview he gave to Resident Advisor, where he talks about his early clubbing experiences in Berlin and at the Garage and then becoming a DJ himself (‘all i want to do is create memorable experiences’), is worth a listen.
DJ Boris is kind of a charismatic, multifunctional weapon in the Berlin club life. His musical roots reach back to the mid 80s, when he lived in New York for four years where he absorbed the unique spirit of the seminal club Paradise Garage weekend after weekend. From the Club’s mentor Larry Levan Boris learned to believe in his musical intuition as well as a broad musical spectrum, which nowadays ranges from Disco, Hi-NRG, Post-Punk and (Kraut-) Rock to House and Neotrance, all of which Boris loves to throw into one set.
‘Music was most important for Levan. He was uncompromising and he knew how to convey it. That’s what I’m trying to achieve, too, when I’m djing.’ Many years later, Boris became a resident at Panorama Bar’s first incarnation in Berlin, where he was able to build a loyal following by playing long sets lasting until noon. ‘The crowd is always a lot more receptive for music at the end than at the beginning. That’s when I rather have the opportunity to present unusual stuff and that’s when I’m able to let my feelings run freely.’
After the old OstGut/Panorama Bar closed, Boris played in almost every club in Berlin, but when the follow up club Berghain opened its doors in 2004, he quickly focused on playing out here again. Since 2005 he has got another musical platform, as he is taking care of the label Careless Records as an A&R. Both as a dj and as an A&R, he is not exactly keen on refining a certain genre, but rather to push music with a certain twist.
Riding high on the success of her remix of Octo Octa’s ‘Adrift’ (one of last year’s best releases for many DJs), a busy international DJ schedule (not least her much discussed B2B set with Copnehagen’s ace DJ Courtesy at the mighty Sonar festival in Barcelona) and a slew of fine releases prior to that, Avalon Emerson makes her Bongo debut for Substance on Friday 16th Feb. To say we’re looking forward to welcoming her to the Bongo is a bit of an understatement… TICKETS
Here’s a transcript of Will Lynch’s great Resident Advisor piece (from November 2016), plus video clips of some of her previous stand-out releases:
Last week, Avalon Emerson released a video for “Natural Impasse,” a track from her new record on Spectral Sound, Narcissus In Retrograde. She made the whole thing herself using emojis and clips from her phone, a process she explained on her YouTube channel.
“I trimmed each video, turned them into gifs, and processed them into various emojisaic gifs using a ruby script created by my friend Lucas Mathis (github: @lilkraftwerk), then edited them all together using Adobe Premiere, a process that took me about two months.”
Those three things—the gnarled club track, the homemade video, the scrappy method behind it—tell you a lot about Emerson as an artist and a person. For as long as she can remember, she’s found a creative outlet in music and technology, and has pursued both with relentless energy and resourcefulness, teaching herself to code, to make tracks and many other things besides. This self-efficacy helped propel her to where she is today—28, an ex-software developer, full-time DJ and producer. But there’s something else, also present in that clip, that makes her so compelling as an artist. For Emerson, this music is a rawer form of self-expression than it is for many of her peers. With all of her output, including her DJ sets and club tracks, she offers a window into herself, however oblique it may be.
Take Narcissus In Retrograde. For a bundle of club tracks, this record has an unusually deep personal dimension. The music is rooted in a period of change in Emerson’s life—the same stretch of time captured in the video. “It’s been a tumultuous year,” she told me. “A good year, but difficult. Quitting my job. Going through some intense relationship events with my family. Falling in love, and finally being in a relationship with a woman. On a micro level, it was fantastic. On a macro level, though, it’s seemed like the world was crumbling, especially with every piece of news from America. Another young black boy gunned down by police, a shooting at a Planned Parenthood, us electing this orange shit-mound for the highest possible office. There’s a strange tension there.”
We were sitting in the living room of her apartment in Neukölln, a bright attic space with wood floors and angled walls. She just moved in a few weeks ago—that’s her at 5:30 in the video, opening a box of sound treatment foam for her studio. When we first spoke, some three weeks earlier, she’d been warm but guarded, at times playfully sardonic (she raised an eyebrow at one of my questions and said, “So in other words, ‘What’s it like to be a woman DJ?'”). Things had changed since then. Trump had been elected president days earlier, an event so ominous it made it hard to talk about her music and her life as an artist.
Her recent set at Panorama Bar was a welcome diversion. She’d gone back-to-back with Courtesy for the final stretch of Leisure System, and was still glowing from the experience. Courtesy’s selections skewed dark and heady—I recognized only Karl Lukas Pettersson’s “Paradise Island” on Acido. Emerson was more flamboyant. “I’m like the colour commentator in the NBA—’Whoa! Boom! There it goes!‘”
By which she meant she played a lot of curveballs: The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” Nine Inch Nails’ “Ringfinger,” Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Rain,” Joe Claussell’s remix of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place,” and my personal favorite, an acapella of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” layered over the opening bars of Gesloten Cirkel’s “Submit X.” In each of these selections, there was an element of autobiography. The Knife was one of Emerson’s early influences, and “Ringfinger” was on Pretty Hate Machine, an album her mother “played the shit out of” when she was growing up. Ryuichi Sakamoto is another old favorite—she’d made the edit of “Rain” minutes before leaving for the club.
“A lot of my favorite edits come to me right before I play Panorama Bar,” she said. “It’s like clockwork. I did ‘Rain’ literally 20 minutes before the cab came, and I exported it wrong somehow so it was only one break. I played the original and then mixed in my break, basically doing a live Cybernedit.” (Cybernedits being her ongoing series of free club edits.) “It’s so easy to understand what is and isn’t tasteful or cool in a certain genre and play it off your USB,” she said. “Surprise and re-contextualization of familiar morsels—that’s what I like most about playing places like Panorama Bar and De School.”
Gigs at leading clubs like those are a regular thing for Emerson these days. Something she hadn’t mentioned about 2016 was that, amidst all that upheaval, she’d had an incredible year as an artist. Her reputation as a DJ boomed, and for the first time she spent most weekends traveling for gigs. This breakthrough had been a long time coming, but there was a needle that broke the camel’s back: her EP on Whities.
“People loved that one,” she said. “That pushed things over the edge, I started getting a shit-ton more gigs and the decision to quit my job was kind of made for me.”
It’s not surprising that particular EP had such an impact. Whities 006 is an ecstatic techno record, at once rowdy and euphoric. The atmosphere is bright and windswept, the rhythms soar as if carried by gusts of wind. DJ-friendly as they are, its tracks—”2000 Species Of Cacti,” “The Frontier” and “The Frontier (High Desert Synthapella)”—brim with a heart-clenching emotion fitting to the topic that inspired them: Arizona, the place where Emerson grew up.
“Try as we might,” she recently told CRACK, “we can’t escape where we came from. You hold a fondness for the place you started out in, even if you wanted nothing more when you were 16 than to leave that fucking place.”
Emerson was born in San Francisco but spent most of her young life in Gilbert, Arizona, where she never felt like she belonged. Her household was an exception. Both parents were into music. Along with Nine Inch Nails, her mother played a lot of synth pop in the house—”Propaganda, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Depeche Mode”—and also got her into astrology, which, as her track titles suggest, still inspires her today (when I asked about the phrase “triple scorpio supernova” on her RA artist page, she replied with this screen-grab). Her dad was into guitar, and the two of them would record themselves playing together using a program called Cakewalk, which sparked her interest in music production software.
From a young age Emerson was creative and resourceful. “That was kind of out of necessity,” she said. “Building my own computers and figuring out how things work. Not being able to afford software and figuring out how to download and crack stuff. Computer-based music creation was always super fascinating for me. I mean, even when I was super young, maybe like 11 or 12, me and my little sister would record songs on Cakewalk.”
Beyond the bubble of her friends and family, though, was a conservative stretch of America that Emerson knew she’d leave one day. She graduated high school with a full scholarship to Arizona State, where she studied journalism, but her time there only made her more determined to get away. At 19, she took an internship in San Francisco. The idea was to come back and finish her degree at ASU, but when the time came, she couldn’t do it. “I was ready to be an adult instead of staying in this stunted state of maturity you get in college,” she said. “So I dropped out.”
Emerson landed on her feet in San Francisco. She found work easily, first interning at tech startups and, later, XLR8R. Having taught herself to write code, she managed a web-store for a family of San Francisco boutiques, then got various jobs developing software for Bay Area tech companies. Armed with a fake ID, she explored the city’s underground scene. “There was this whole world of music I hadn’t had any exposure to,” she said. “Going to my first Honey Soundsystem and other queer parties, I’d never seen anything like that. I was into Pitchfork-y things like Crystal Castles or whatever. Then hearing, like, Argentinian cumbia, it’s like, ‘Whoa, what the fuck is this? This is tight!'”
That last one was presumably at Tormenta Tropical, a party cofounded by Shawn Reynaldo (then known as Disco Shawn) with whom Emerson had worked at XLR8R. “The party was in the Elbo Room, in the middle of The Mission,” she said. “This little upstairs place with low ceilings, kind of dank, with carpet and coloured Christmas lights, and these technicolor kaleidoscope Virgin Mary things, lit from behind. You could get a Tecate for a few dollars with a little lime in it. There were a lot of small little parties like that. It was a lively scene when I was there.”
But as musical influences go, nothing could touch Emerson’s second Bay Area residence: a 12-room warehouse in the SoMa neighborhood she’d found on Craigslist. The place was massive, home to 14 young creative types from around the world. It was also, occasionally, an illegal party spot called Club 380, where Emerson became a de facto resident DJ.
“There was this guy there named Matt, he was a couple years older than me and a really good DJ technically. His taste was different from what was popular at the time—more of a ravey sound instead of the DFA, nu-disco thing you always heard back then. When we threw parties, Matt and I would DJ all night. That was the first taste of real DJing I had.”
It was because of those parties that Emerson started making edits. At first she’d use Ableton to make small changes—extending intros, cutting out parts she didn’t like. Over time she got more creative, and soon she was making original productions. Thanks to a rigorous, self-imposed work schedule, she quickly honed her skills.
“I liked it, and I wanted to be good at it, so I made up my mind that I would make one track every month. I also decided to be my own PR agency. I made this massive rolodex of blogs and music media outlets, everything from small WordPress blogger sites to things like XLR8R and Mixmag. I would collect the contact information, and every time I created a track, I would write 100 personal emails to all these people. Some people picked it up and put it on their blogs. It was pretty addictive. If you release something and five pretty decently-sized blogs cover it, and it gets 10,000 plays and all these comments of like, ‘This is great!!,’ you get energized to make the next song and develop your skills.”
The once a month thing was key. “I know a lot of producers and writers and people in a lot of creative passions, professions, that will just continually work on something to no end, in private. You see yourself as your only gatekeeper, and maybe you don’t progress as fast as you want. Or at least as fast as I would want.”
Music became a vital mode of self-expression for Emerson, something she had to do “in order to stay sane.” The same is true today. “I would make music if no one heard it. But I’m not sure I’d DJ if there was no one there to dance.”
By 2014, someone showed one of Emerson’s tracks to her old friend Shawn Reynaldo, who was by then running the party and record label ICEE HOT. He decided to put out her first record, Pressure / Quoi, at the beginning of 2014, with remixes from Tuff City Kids.
The next one came a couple months later: Church Of SoMa, an ode to Club 380, was the first 12-inch on Spring Theory, a label run by one of the warehouse’s other residents, Guillaume Galuz. That fall, Spring Theory released her third one, Let Me Love And Steal.
These records chart the rapid evolution of Emerson’s sound. With their sampled vocal hooks, “Pressure” and “Quoi” had more of a straight-up house vibe than what would come later, but the urgency of the rhythms and the weight of the drums already showed a keen sense of club impact.
By Let Me Love And Steal, those house tropes had given way to something bolder and heavier, especially on the lurching “Triple Scorpio Mix.” The singular sound she has today—smooth but raucous, bright but heavy—was beginning to take shape.
Meanwhile, change was afoot at the warehouse. Emerson had moved out after a year or so but kept returning to play the parties. Others began leaving. An era was ending. “It was a very special thing, and everybody was kind of very depressed when it was over. But these things naturally ebb and flow. People move away, the French exchange students have to go home, things just change.”
By then Emerson was getting deeper into the tech world, at one point working at what she called a “stereotypical Y Combinator startup”—referring to the elite seed accelerator. At a glance, she had it pretty good. She’d made it in a city she loved, plying a trade she’d taught herself. She made tracks, she played gigs, she rode around San Francisco on a Vespa (“a 1980 P200E—really nice”).
But it wasn’t going to last. Emerson was working 60 hours a week, and falling into a career path she didn’t like, while San Francisco—”small, delicate, beautiful San Francisco”—was succumbing to a “monoculture of moneymaking,” which she couldn’t see herself in. Meanwhile, the music thing was looking better and better—her records were getting attention and she’d joined a booking agency. Some friends from the warehouse had moved to Berlin. “I’d just gotten a really big tax return, so I said, ‘Fuck it, let’s try this new thing.'”
Emerson hit the ground running in Berlin much as she had in San Francisco. She turned up with no prospects but found freelance work writing code, and eventually landed a job as a software developer. She continued making strides as an artist. In 2015 she released an EP on Shtum, a techno sub-label of Uncanny Valley, and played Panorama Bar for the first time. By the end of that year she was playing a few gigs a month. The prospect of becoming a full-time artist hovered into view. In May of this year, she went for it.
“It was kind of an economically-driven decision,” she said. “The money I made as a musician was approaching what I made as a software engineer, and finally those two things converged. But also, it was getting hard to manage. Playing two, sometimes three shows a weekend then coming in on Monday… I was becoming a little bit of a crazy person at the end. And I knew I couldn’t fully devote my brain to production and DJing until I quit my job. You have to close one door to really propel as an artist, I think.”
Things are different now than when Emerson made Narcissus In Retrograde. How this will affect her music remains to be seen. “There are things that have been so powerful and intense for me lately, and I’ve just barely been able to put them into this abstract musical form,” she said. “I’ve been doing kind of, I don’t want to say ‘experimental pop,’ but more lyrics-driven stuff not really made for the club. I’d really like to make an album.”
You get the sense that what’s come so far is just the beginning for Emerson. From the moment she quit school to stay in San Francisco, she improvised a path toward self-realization that’s just now come to a kind of landing point. “I’m really hitting my return of Saturn,” she said. “Have you heard that term? It takes 27 years for Saturn to go around the sun. When you’re about 27 it comes back to where it was when you were born. I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I’ve ever been.”
Headset tickets have been flying out the door since the event was announced in November and there are only fifty remaining tickets to be had now (4.30pm, 29.12.17), so don’t hang around if you’re keen to come to the Bongo for NYE.
The event features headliner Hodge (from Bristol) plus local star Telfort, with a veritable smorgasbord of local DJ support.
In short, this will be another great Hogmanay party at the Bongo, with everyone welcome!
We’re very excited to be welcoming Move D to the Bongo. Alias David Moufang, he’s one of Germany’s most successful DJ/producers and a man who’s been around the block more times than most in the contemporary scene, having first got involved as a DJ in the late Eighties, releasing his debut productions in the early Nineties.
Making his Bongo debut, Moufang plays this special date for local label Lionoil, as they celebrate three years of throwing parties in the capital, inviting him to go back-to-back with their pal (and something of a local hero just now), Telfort, whose records Moufang has been championing from the start. It’s not often that you can catch a B2B set from Move D, as there are apparently only a few people in the scene with whom he’s happy to do this. When asked ‘do you enjoy [b2b] as much when you get the opportunity?’ Moufang replied, ‘No, I don’t, and it’s only a handful of people I’d enjoy doing that together with. So that would be Gerd Janson, Jus Ed, and Axel Boman, actually. So I have to really like the person as well as their taste in music… It’s quite an intimate, personal thing.’ So, high praise indeed for the man like Telfort!
If talent converted into record sales, David Moufang would be a very rich man. His records with partner Jonas Grossmann as Deep Space Network and his own solo releases as Move D are among the furthest outreaches of techno’s push towards the stars. Moufang grew up in Heidelberg listening to his parents’ collection of early Pink Floyd and Kraftwerk records but the most overwhelming influence on his childhood was outer space, the result of a trip to the cinema with his father to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. “I was space crazy as a child,” Moufang told journalist Tony Marcus in 1995, “when the other kids were riding around in their little cars I’d be building my own spacecraft. I’d put in a small engine, put rubber on the wheels so it made some noise and stand there with a walkie-talkie and my headphones on. It was very techno…”
Moufang’s grandmothers were both classical concert pianists. He can still remember favourite childhood moments, sitting under the piano as they played, surrounded and lost in sound. By the age of 12, he taken up drums (he eventually went on to study classical percussion) and took up the guitar a few years later, this time taking lessons from two separate jazz guitar teachers. He played guitar in a band called Rivers & Trains well into the ’90s. Occasionally he even plied his trade as a DJ, spinning electro, funk and jazz. It wasn’t until 1989 that he discovered techno when a friend of his, D-Man, invited him to a club he was running in the industrial suburb of Mannheim. When Moufang walked into the Milk! Club that night – like so many others before and after him – he discovered a scene that changed his life. Discovering Detroit, 808 State, Nexus 21 and the first stirrings of ambient techno, Moufang became a committed clubber. Through D-Man, he met Redagain P who converted Moufang’s nickname “Mufti” into the more kinetic Move D.
Moufang’s first records were made with Grossmann as Deep Space Network. Their first two albums, EARTH TO INFINITY (1992) and BIG ROOMS (1993) suggested a significant, unpredictable and innovative talent which was confirmed by the release of HOMEWORKS (1993), a Source Records compilation that included solo tracks such as “Pulsar” and “I’ve Been On Drugs” alongside collaborations with D-Man. Ranging from subtle, Detroit-inflected grooves to wired electronic jazz, Moufang’s music seemed to operate on ambience, slow motion and subdued rhythm, a sound that was rooted, as Tony Marcus later pointed out, “in the jazzy, laid-back but still hip-tugging tradition of Larry Heard, Carl Craig’s “Microlovr” or “The Wonders Of Wishing” and New York’s Burrell Brothers… listening to [Moufang’s records] is like a sweet and lazy adventure into sound, a space where time and stress are suspended.”
REAGENZ (1994), a collaboration with SpaceTime Continuum’s Jonah Sharp, was an astonishing fusion of beautiful, experimental electronics that reached out to a point that even Detroit’s most visionary producers hadn’t yet achieved. Recorded between Heidelberg and San Francisco, it sounded like pianist Bill Evans might have if he’d grown up surrounded by Star Trek instead of modal jazz.
Moufang’s debut album, KUNSTSTOFF (1995), was equally remarkable. Tracks such as “Soap Bubbles” and “In/Out” oscillated between soft, dreamlike textures and the spiked electronics that Detroit was beginning to explore. The glittering production surfaces were a legacy of Moufang’s days as a student at the School of Audio Engineering, but the music they encompassed was equally compelling. It was an album full of contrasts – between the jagged drugfloor grooves of, say, “Nimm 2” and the gentle, synthetic lullaby of “Beyond The Machine” or between the pristine sounds Moufang conjured with and the haloes of analogue noise which surrounded others. Amazingly pretty and wildly innovative, KUNSTSTOFF remains one of the most accomplished techno albums to emerge from Europe so far.
The collaborative ventures that followed – including EXPLORING THE PSYCHEDELIC LANDSCAPE (1996) and A DAY IN THE LIVE (1997) with Pete Namlook – preceded an experimental single for Sheffield’s Warp label. Moufang had been a big fan of the label’s “bleep techno” output in the early ’90s and “Cymbelin” was, in some ways, a homage to that sound, twisting beats and synths into a bass heavy groove. But the producer’s ability to soften almost any structure with aching prettiness transformed the record into a unique fusion.
Another unique fusion was suggested by the release of CONJOINT (1997). A collaboration between Moufang, jazz veteran Karl Berger, Jamie Hodge (of Born Under A Rhyming Planet) and Gunter “Ruit” Kraus, it was Moufang’s most overtly jazzed outing so far, but provided spectacular evidence of his growing abilities as a producer and composer. Currently working on a number of new projects – including a new Deep Space Network album and a second Conjoint album – Moufang continues to explore the boundaries of electronic music.
We’re immensely excited here at the Bongo to be welcoming a DJ from the Far East to our stage. This doesn’t happen very often (we can’t actually remember when it last happened) and we’re especially pleased for it to be an artist with such a long and rich history in terms of Japanese house and electronic music and since he will be bringing a live set of his own productions to our stage. More info on the event, including tickets, here.
Here’s an old favourite by Soichi Terada and Japanese pop star Nami Shimada, remixed by the late great Larry Levan, no less.
Here’s the transcript of Brian Durr’s incisive recent article on Soichi Terada and his original label colleague and partner Shinichiro Yokoto (first published by the excellent FACT Magazine), for a better idea of Terada’s influence on today’s global house scene.
Shinichiro Yokota and Soichi Terada have been offering a Japanese take on house music since Terada established his Far East Recording label in 1988. In 2015, the Sounds From the Far East compilation introduced the rest of the world to two of Japan’s greatest house producers, and now they’re finally getting the attention they’ve long deserved. Diskotopia boss Brian Durr meets them in Tokyo where they tell their shared story for the first time, shining a light on Tokyo’s under-documented house scene.
Meeting Shinichiro Yokota and Soichi Terada for the first time is like reuniting with long-lost friends you never knew you had. The camaraderie between the two is contagious, and it’s easy to see how these long-standing legends of Japan’s underground house scene have been collaborators for nearly three decades. Yokota has an unassuming yet effusive demeanor; someone who, once opened up, will talk for hours from the heart, reflecting his soulfully melodic compositions. Terada is more forthcoming, with a wide smile and a knack for inciting conversation that has helped him win the hearts of house music fans across continents.
When we meet in a bustling southeastern suburb of Tokyo and head to a relaxed cafe for curry, I learn that this is the first time both of them have sat down together to discuss their musical history. Several anecdotes during the conversation are met with surprise and bemusement by the near life-long friends, which adds to the already genial atmosphere they exude between them.
Terada launched Far East Recording in 1988, where he began developing a strand of Japanese house that up until recently was only championed within select circles. The sounds of the label – an outlet for Terada and Yokota’s own productions, largely – have a glossy sheen; light-hearted and fun but distinctly soulful, expertly produced and absolutely incendiary on the right kind of dancefloor. There’s a nuanced swing to the productions, as heard to full effect on Terada’s burning ‘Saturday Love Sunday’, for example.
Far East Recording evolved into a beacon of essential Japanese house music in the ‘90s, but it wasn’t until Rush Hour DJ and producer Hunee got in touch a few years ago with the idea of putting out a compilation that the world at large was finally exposed to the Far East catalog. The response to 2015’s Sounds from the Far East was a worldwide awakening to the label’s aesthetic, bringing Terada and Yokota droves of new converts from various corners of electronic music. Suddenly they were both being asked to perform the music they’d made some two decades ago.
“WE TRIED HARD TO MAKE MUSIC CLOSE TO THE U.S. OR EUROPEAN HOUSE SOUND, BUT WE COULDN’T DO IT”Soichi Terada
Their music wasn’t exactly intended to sound so singular when they started out. “In those days we tried hard to make music close to the US or European house sound, but we couldn’t do it,” say Terada. “But an accent may [have helped make our music] sound like something fresh – an Asian accent sound.” That accent isn’t as obvious as a koto synthesizer patch or taiko drum sample, however. Instead, tracks like Yokota’s ‘Do It Again’ evoke images of a night drive through neon-lit Shinjuku, with its glistening synth flourishes and neatly-tucked percussion; the tinny clang of Terada’s ‘Hohai Beats’ feels custom-built for the sweaty, smoke-filled basement clubs of Shibuya.
As a student at Chidori Elementary School in south Tokyo during the early ‘80s, Yokota credits hearing Yellow Magic Orchestra as a formative musical moment. “There were many fake Japanese Beatles bands that I was listening to, then YMO came out with cool synthesizers,” he remembers. “They were the first group that really impressed me musically – there wasn’t anything else like it before. They had the strongest influence on my musical taste.”
Soon after his synthesizer revelation, Yokota quit playing baseball and started taking classical piano lessons across the street from his house. He studied for two years before using his otoshidama, money that Japanese children receive as a New Year’s gift, to buy his first synthesizer in Akihabara, the Tokyo district famous for its electronics stores. “The first keyboard I bought was a Casio MT-40, which was polyphonic but I just couldn’t make it sound like a synthesizer,” Yokota recalls. “A lot of reggae producers were using it and it had a wide vintage feel to it. It was the only keyboard I could afford with the money I had at the time. After a year or two I was able to get a Korg Poly-800 and later a cassette recorder.”
Although originally from Tokyo, Terada grew up in the adjacent suburbs of Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures. As a child he enjoyed activities like football and swimming, but he also harnessed his creativity through his father’s electric organ, a fixture of his childhood home. He echoes Yokota’s claim about the importance of Yellow Magic Orchestra, but his own impressions of the ‘80s electronic revolution were especially furthered by his love of Tomita Isao’s Planets, a synthesized reimagining of composer Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite which made heavy use of Moog equipment and a Roland System 700 modular system.
“A LOT OF THE MUSIC WE MADE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE [WITHOUT] WHAT HAPPENED WITH JAPAN’S BUBBLE ECONOMY”Shinichiro Yokota
As the decade progressed, hip-hop started seeping into their music collections and eventually helped bring the pair together. “After YMO broke up in 1984, hip-hop from America took over,” says Yokota. “I saw [classic 1983 hip-hop movie] Wild Style and stopped doing synthesizer music to focus more on turntablism. Japanese radio was really pushing hip-hop and my friends were into all of it – rapping, breaking, DJing, all aspects of the culture.” Both Yokota and Terada took part in the DJ battles that swept Tokyo as hip-hop entered its golden age; Yokota scratched over raw TR-606 drum tracks as MCs rapped over the beat, while Terada did live performances with an Akai S-900 sampler and computer. “I preferred using a sampler and computer than focusing on DJing with records,” adds Terada. “I was going to DJ competitions to perform and a mutual friend introduced me to Yokota and we got to know each other.”
Terada’s subsequent exposure to house music came through his friend and local promoter Connie E, who was running a weekly house party above a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo in 1988. After hearing the latest records from the US, Terada would try to distil what he was hearing into his own early productions. “I had no idea who was making these songs, but in those days I [was paying back a loan] to buy my sampler and computer so I couldn’t buy many records. I’d listen to what the DJs were playing and when I got an idea to make a song I would suddenly leave the party and go back to my house to start programming. And later on I’d play what I made to Yokota and other friends.”
Up and running in their respective home studios, Terada and Yokota began navigating the world of music production together. “We’d exchange floppy disks with sound files and sessions that we made,” says Terada. “In those days there was no internet so I remember making phone calls to listen to each others’ music or meeting up to share what we made.” While Terada paints a picture of an even exchange, Yokota adds playfully: “I was watching what Terada was doing and went home by motorbike to try it out before I forgot. I stole his techniques!”
“I WAS ADDICTED TO DRUM AND BASS”Soichi Terada
From 1986 to 1991, Japan was in a “bubble era” thanks to the inflation of the stock market and real estate prices. Much of the country enjoyed the lifestyle spoils of a prosperous economy, and the entertainment industry in particular was booming. Yokota thinks its eventual collapse in 1992 was a blessing in disguise. “After the bubble era, the price of equipment went down and we were able to get expensive gear that we couldn’t before,” he says. “Even the unusable equipment that came out was available in large quantities. These days we search for vintage equipment, but back then we never thought about buying old stuff. A lot of the music we made wouldn’t have been possible [without] what happened with the bubble economy and inexpensive digital technology.”
Though there were were other Tokyo producers in Yokota and Terada’s circle, such as Hiroshi Matsui, Manabu Nagayama and Takashi Sekiguchi, Far East Recording operated much as it does now, as a distinct and singular entity. During the ‘90s, even with a busy release schedule, live performances and DJ gigs were rare, with Terada preferring to hone his craft in the studio rather than go record-digging for DJ sets. “We just had one party that we did ourselves when released the first Far East Recording album,” he remembers. “Yokota did a DJ set as well as a live performance, and I also performed live. I sometimes played in clubs with my sampler and computer – but it was hard to get the same sound as in the studio, so there were very few opportunities.”
In the mid-90s, a massive influx of drum and bass caused house music to fall by the wayside in Tokyo. Terada was enamoured by the excitement and sub-bass pressure of jungle. “I was addicted to drum and bass [from] 1995,” he says. “It was so fun to experience the sub-bass sound in a club. I loved to go the drum and bass parties much more than the house events – in the late ‘90s I had a drum and bass disease, personally.” He went on to produce what he calls “sumo jungle”; sampling sumo fights from TV and utilizing the huffs, smacks, gongs and chants into his own strain of drum and bass, as heard on 1996’s Sumo Jungle LP.
“IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP A HOMEGROWN ELEMENT IN HOUSE MUSIC TO KEEP IT AUTHENTIC”Shinichiro Yokota
While Terada has been producing and releasing music since 1988 without pause, the cusp of the millennium found Yokota in a less invigorated state. He puts his subsequent absence from music down to the technological advances in home recording; paradoxically, the more options he had, the less creativity he could muster. “In the past, sampling time was limited so you had to be really creative when you had an idea. But with hard disk recording the possibilities were endless, and around 2000 I lost my motivation to make music.” During his musical downtime, he focused his energy into another of his passions, Night-Pager – a custom car parts company he had launched 1992.
Terada kept busy through to the mid-00s by taking on soundtrack work, composing music for video games such as the Ape Escape series, commercial jingles for the Japanese convenience store Circle K Sunkus, and TV themes for projects including Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack. When he got the email from Hunee in the summer of 2014, the two-decade-old Far East Recording was ready to be introduced to a new generation. As Terada recalls, their exchange was simple: Hunee proposed to reissue the Far East Recording back catalog via Rush Hour’s international distribution, with Hunee selecting tracks for the Sounds from the Far East compilation. The rest is history.
Thinking about the strangely future-proofed sound of “ancient” Far East Recording tracks, as they refer to them, Terada and Yokota are intrigued by their newfound global recognition. “I found it curious in a good way,” Yokota says. “Terada and I spoke about it before and we don’t really know why [the reissued material] struck such a nerve. I was surprised and overwhelmed at all the support from around the world after the reissue release.”
“HOUSE IS A SIMPLE LANGUAGE: DRUM, BASS, CHORDS AND SOME EFFECTS COULD BE OK FOR A TRACK”Shinichiro Yokota
“At first I was just surprised,” adds Terada. “And then I felt so happy to play those songs that I couldn’t play much 25 years ago. [It] makes me a joyful old man.” Yokota concurs that the reissue has been a blessing. “I am very glad that [our] music has spread and it is an honour to be played in clubs and radio all over the world,” he says. “There have been many requests [to perform again], so my lifestyle has changed drastically.”
Both believe in the age-old mantra that less can be so much more. Yokota’s personal hopes for the future of house music come down to a simple sophistication in songwriting and production. “Technology made it possible for anyone to make music. House is a simple language: drum, bass, chords and some effects could be OK for a track. Adding too much can weigh it down. New software and equipment with unlimited tracks can be too complicated, but I think even with four tracks you can make sophisticated music. Simple but well-produced music I think will become more commonplace. I’m excited for music that sounds simple but make me wonder, ‘How did they do that?’ like Lil’ Louis’ music. House will be sophisticated like a three-piece jazz trio, not like big band music.”
Yokota’s latest release, Do It Again and Again, comprises unreleased tracks from the ‘90s as well as newly recorded material, with the liner notes declaring that the music is inspired by his “synthesizers, cars and ways to survive in South Tokyo.” Meanwhile, Terada is currently working on new solo material to be released by Rush Hour and he also has a separate house project to be unveiled later this year. He’s optimistic about future innovation in house music as producers become more mindful of their own surroundings and influences when contributing to the global dialogue of such a deep-rooted culture. “Making music with the least amount of elements is really interesting. To express something with a limited vocabulary is interesting. [Going forward] it would be nice to hear those different cultures’ domestic elements in the music,” he confirms. “It’s important to keep a homegrown element in house music to keep it authentic and push things forward.”
After two smashing resident parties at everyone’s favourite red bar, Dunt Club is back for its third instalment at a new stomping ground – The Bongo Club – to reel in the end of term. For the hallowed event we’ve teamed up with our older brother – body – to present the one and only Courtesy for her Scottish Debut.
For those who aren’t familiar, Najaaraq Vestbirk (Courtesy) is a DJ, journalist and the co-label owner of Copenhagen’s Ectotherm imprint. Hailing from Greenland and residing in Copenhagen, Najaaraq was previously one half of Ung Flugt (translation: Young Escape), a youthful, party-oriented duo whose rapid rise was paralleled only by the project’s quick dissolution. A few years later, Vestbirk re-emerged as Courtesy, taking a more refined approach and also serving as part of the all-female Apeiron Crew.
Since breaking away from Apeiron Crew, Courtesy has established herself as a formidable solo artist and launched Ectotherm with her former Apeiron cohort Mama Snake, which holds a monthly residency on London’s NTS Radio. Her lauded Crack Magazine and FACT mixes in 2016 attest to her penchant for blending styles that push the boundaries of dance music: fuzzier textures meet polished productions, silky electro and rave-influenced breaks. 2017 has brought more acclaim to her deft mixing abilities with her recent boiler-room debut and mix on Rinse’s Hessle Audio show which featured in Pitchfork’s top mixes for April.
When Courtesy’s not working on mixes, writing or digging for overlooked break-beats she’s taking major slots at clubs all across the world at the likes of Concrete, De School and Berghain. She’s also just completed a tour across Asia with Avalon Emerson – who’s set at Sneaky Pete’s for Juice will go down as one of the best we’ve seen in the capital.
///Bring your space goggles; we’re going into outer orbit///
-Dunt and Body Residents: 11-1
LIMITED EARLY BIRD TICKETS: £5
ADVANCE TICKETS: £7
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”
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 Hoprecords (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
Warehouse Sessions – 011 – Jerome Hill
01. Bintus “Cylinder Bop” (Power Vacuum)
02. Wevie De Crepon “Ton Wah” (Sonig)
03. Herbert “My DJ” (Accidental)
04. Jerome Hill “Work That Shit” (Don’t)
05. Teknocracy “Shrapnel Valley” (Pie Factory)
06. Vernon “Awakening In Antwerp” (Dixon Avenue Basement Jams)
07. Green Velvet & Gary Beck “Stronger” (Relief)
08. UVB “Anxiety” (Mord)
09. Pump Panel “To The Sky” (Missile)
10. Gutts “Gabos” (Horror Boogie)
11. Rei Elbaz & Anna Haleta “Don’t Stop” (Pacotec)
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.
After a sell out Hogmanay party at the Bongo last year, Mumbo Jumbo is BACK for Mumbo Jumbo NYE 2016. Welcome in 2017 with resident DJs Trendy Wendy & Steve Austin for the very best Mumbo Jumbo classics on the main floor: expect disco, house, electro, mashups, remixes and more – the perfect ingredients for the best party soundtrack, all accompanied by Bongo Dave on live congas and percussion.
Mumbo Jumbo is the brainchild of Trendy Wendy, originally behind the much-loved Tackno nights, more recently behind the Playgirl Mansions parties and also the owner of The Street bar at the top of Broughton Street, and Steve Austin, who ran the hugely successful Headspin parties for over a decade at the Bongo. With some forty years of DJing experience between, you could say they know what they’re doing behind a set of decks.
Meanwhile, upstairs will feature the very best in deep funk, jazzy breaks, afro-latin and dub reggae from Four Corners DJs Simon Hodge and Johnny Cashback, similarly seasoned veterans of the Edinburgh scene. Simon ran the acclaimed Big Beat nights for a decade, originally at the much-missed Cafe Graffiti and then at Cabaret Voltaire, before launching Four Corners at the Bongo. Having celebrated its eleventh birthday at the start of the year, Four Corners is still going well and the two DJs are equally well-versed in heating up a dancefloor.
We’re massively looking forward to Substance‘s party this Friday, as they welcome Berlin house/techno player, Head High! Here’s what they have to say about it:
63 parties in and, at last, our man as Rene Pawlowitz – better known to most as Shed – travels in from Berlin for (unbelievably) his Edinburgh debut with a rare performance as Head High, one of his most loved aliases. Expect the visceral, honest, emotive Power House classics alongside choice Pawlowitz cuts as the likes of Shed, The Traveller, Craft, Wax, EQD and Evil Fred, the forthcoming Head High material and loads more. See you down the front.
Recognised by the authoritative Resident Advisor to be “one of Edinburgh’s most important outposts for house, techno and bass”,Substance opens its doors to all for a wide ranging night of classic and cutting edge music.
One year on from re-opening in the underground and The Bongo Club is well and truly settled in our new home at 66 Cowgate. After the success of the inaugural Bongo Lives! Festival in 2013, we’re back for another celebration of the arts and music we all love.
As this year also marks the 20th birthday of our sister organisation Out of the Blue, it seemed like a great reason to have an even bigger celebration.
Without you, we’re nothing.
Community is at the heart of everything we do and the aim of Bongo Lives! 2014 is to celebrate the community that is the backbone of any vibrant arts and music scene. Without the love and hard work of our supporters, The Bongo Club and Out of the Blue wouldn’t be the stalwarts of the Edinburgh music and arts scene that we are today.
If Edinburgh is a village, as the local saying goes, our village is made up of people who support the arts through thick and thin. We’ve had our ups and downs at both Out of the Blue and The Bongo Club but we’re still here and we’re not planning on going away anywhere soon!
With the vital support of many people, we intend to flourish as an integral part of Edinburgh’s cultural landscape for thousands of local people and visitors alike for many more years to come.
Check out the special guest acts playing at Four Corners (Diesler of Tru Thoughts / Ninja Tune fame) on Fri 2nd May, Big n Bashy on Sat 3rd May (Base Defence League, featuring grime artists Big Narstie (pictured above), Big H and Logan Sama), plus the one-off, May Bank Holiday special with house/techno player Saytek on Sun 4th.
Bongo Lives! is all about The Black Diamond Express(pictured above), Thurs 1st May, which is sure to be hopping as they prepare for their big Canadian tour in June plus an evening curated by the excellent Braw Gigs, Sat 3rd, featuring Muscletusk headlining.
There’s the launch of Brian Kellock and Dick Lee‘s inspiring Spirit Of Jazz workshops and a brand new Bongo commission for Kirsty Whiten (see picture above) – much-loved former Bongo/OOTB regular and rising star of the international art world.
With all our regular midweek club nights, I Love Hip Hop (Tuesdays), Champion Sound (Wednesdays), Hullabaloo (Thursdays), also running as usual, if you’ve not made it down to the ‘new’ Bongo Club in the last fifteen months, what better opportunity to do just that? See you at the bar!