All posts by “Jascha

Guest Mixtape and Interview: Untergrundwelle 678

Since 2011 Nils, Cem and Aaron are responsible for one of Cologne’s finest mixtape series – Untergrundwelle 678, broadcasted directly from the infamous “Eierplätzchen” in south Cologne. UGW stands a for a warm, soulful and laid-back sound, covering a wide field of genres from Hip Hop to Jazz and disco. Their beautiful open-air parties “Stoned Soul Picnic” were always one of the highlights in the past summers and since they are living more or less next door to us, we’re happy to have them as comrades in our mission to musically represent Colognes  deep n’ dirty south! Check out their smooth and relaxing 60-minute mixtape plus a passionate interview – ALAAF and KICKIN’ No° 22!

What was your initial idea or roadmap for the mix?
We just wanted to play some Deep Funk tracks and then hit you off with a selection of some serious 90′s Boom Bap-Hip Hop. For the intro we had to find the right oscillator-frequency of our radio-wave transmissioner constructed by a german engineer in the late 1940′s at just the same spot our Sendestübchen is located nowadays. Luckily we hit it just before Melting Pot Music’s latest release dropped in: Betty Ford Boys’ “Retox”. From that on we dug various Deep Funk-tracks out of a dusty slab of vinyl: some cosmic grooves others more down to erf. But always on the lookout for tracks with an emphasis on the rhythm section: uplifting bass lines plus accurate percussion patterns. Furthermore accompanied by Rhodes-sounds and broken into pieces by funky breaks, these are most likely to be found on late 60′s early 70′s niche-labels. The bass line groove of the ‘Expansions’ joint, off Lonnie Liston Smith’s classic ’75 Flying Dutchman-release, set the tone for everything that followed up.

Could you tell us a little bit more about certain tracks you selected?
The third track Linda Tillery’s ‘Freedom Time’ is an example for the approach of afro-american musicians to, through the means of their music, contribute to the Black uprising of the 60′s after the inequalities Blacks have suffered. Some more some less revolutionary, some cosmic-, Africa- or community-orientated. But always relying on their own unique artistic expressions. Cats like Gil Scott-Heron, whose ‘Angola-Louisiana’ fitted musically as well as regarding the content of Black empowerment. The song is about a wrongly imprisoned Afro-American (Gary Taylor), whose mother wrote a letter to Gil after her son was sent to prison. Today, 35 years after Gil wrote the song Gary Taylor finds himself still imprisoned, mirroring the situation of the afro-american struggle for freedom – just look up last week’s news! That’s why it’s important to keep those records spinning in order to raise awareness about artists who are trying to express their anger musically.

An instrumental off Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s ‘Mecca and the Soul Brother’ introduces the Hip Hop part. You can then peep some of the finest 90′s Hip Hop-records: Phife Dawg sharing his ’8 Million stories’ off the ‘Midnight Marauders’ album, which, just as Common’s ‘Resurrection’ originates from the peak around the years of 93-94. The instrumental version of ‘Maintaining’ (off ‘Resurrection’) fits into this selection just as well, as it definetly counts for one of the greatest works of this era!

Of course we had to bang out a Dilla joint on this!!! This one right here is off ‘Welcome 2 Detroit’. Everybody talking about Dilla being way ahead of his time, which may follow from his ability to sometimes just bang out the drums – like Mobb Deep said: “If the drums ain’t right, the beat ain’t tight!” – and adding unbelievably handled samples to it. Phat Kat is dropping some verses on this one, he will be performing in Cologne next Tuesday alongside Guilty Simpson and Elzhi!

You’ve just uploaded the 64th edition of your internet podcast series. When and why did you start with that?
Originally this was intended as a radio emission with short stories, interviews, local coverages and only little music. Mainly because we were fed up with all the bad music on the radio and Dead Prez had told us to turn it off anyway. The first episode can still be found somewhere in the depths of the ultranet. If you listen to it, roughly half of it is music. But with all the talk-shows coming out left and right (like ‘Britt’ or ‘Menschen bei Maischberger’), flooding the television and intoxicating people’s minds, we decided to shift the emphasis torwards music and spreading progressive, soulful spirits in contrary to the music-industry. Like KRS-One once asked: “Why is commercial success a criterion for musical quality?”, this is what mainly shaped our underground approach. And from the radio-frequency UKW our public relations-office came up with the acronym UGW and 678 because of the infamous postal code!

Your annual Stoned Soul Picnics have always been a highlight of the summer! I heard you are planning your first winter-party this year. Are there any concrete news about that yet?
Thank you! We enjoyed them just as much ourselves. That’s why we’re trying to organise a nice evening sometime in early 2015 in a Südstadt-accomodation, which is yet to be found. We’re planning to bring together all the people out of our crew to provide a vast variety of good music as it resembles the various musical preferences of ours. We hope for all the young people across the Südstad to join us in celebration of music! If this works out we’ll prepare ourselves for further adventures in 2015! Staying true to our business credo: Aspire today, inspire tomorrow!

What kind of impact does the spirit of the Südstadt have on your DJ-style?
The whole Untergrundwelle radio show started out to not only express our resentment torwards music-industry and misusing music for commercial aspirations, but also on behalf of catching this particular spirit of the South!
Since we all grew up around the Chlodwigplatz, at the West-Bonner Str.-neighbourhood to be precise, we all experienced this unique spirit: whether it’s meeting the South-fellows at the grocery store, the race track or the bus stop, hummin’ in the sun in a park all toghether, spending nights on the Eierplätzchen gambling, getting together on Saturday to watch FC while plotting schemes for the night prowl, hanging around on corners sippin’ Tanqueray… There’s just this certain atmosphere that is perceivable especially when you come back from a party or a friend from some other part of town and you pass the Ulrepforte or the Severinsbrücke entering the realm of the South and this certain feeling of home kicks in. Everyone may feel a special relatedness to the area one grew up in. Nonethless it appears to be one of a special strength when it comes to the South, since everybody originating from here tells you about it. Above all else it’s a family affair!
Therefore ‘spirit’ might be the best expression indeed (another expression to be considered might be ‘nunk’ – a noun from a little known local tongue spoken only at special occasions in record stores after curfew. The one-syllable, phonetic character of this tongue is thought to be resulting from the inappropriate sound level at which records are being played at these occasions, so that shouting is required, as well as the limited linguistic capabilities of it’s native speakers detracted from the heavy use of herb and beer).
Music is one way of expressing this feeling. Even if the cultural and social conditions in which the music we’re listening to can hardly be any more different from ours – if you just think about the inadequate conditions out of which Afrobeat (neo-colonialism), Blues (slavery) or Jazz (racial segregation) arose – if the mind behind the music is positive than you’ll be able to stick to it and apply this special feeling or spirit the musician is offering to your own life (listen to Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s ‘Offering’!). Wheter the approach might be revolutionary, maybe even aggressive or – if you think about Fela stating ‘Music is the weapon’ – provocative, his music can hardly be listened to without moving any part of your body. In fact Miles Davis also believed in the requirement of some agressiveness in order to create music.

After all preparing your favorite music for mixes and getting together with friends, there can a certain atmosphere be developed as all these different musican’s aspirations melt together and their spirits pour into the mix. Whether it evolves over the span of a whole evening or even just a 20 minute mix. This is how we are trying to express this Südstadt-spirit. Right now, there are many musically-interested and open-minded young DJ’s in the South who, by transcending musical preferences are letting themselves being moved by this spirit! It is not so much a matter of being a talented DJ, as it is one of allowing the music to uplift your spirits! Enhancing the Third Eye Vision! It all comes down to love in the end…

Tags: Interview, Mixtape

Mixtape and Interview: Jannis Hannover


As a DJ, Jannis Hannover is barely legal. Being only 18 years old he can already look back to gigs in clubs like Studio 672, Roxy Club, Reineke Fuchs, Chalet in Berlin as well as countless open-air and bar-venues in the area of Cologne. His record collection spreads from Bill Evans to Drexciya and his DJ-sets impress through their fascinating mixture of Soul, Funk, Afro-Jazz, Detroit- and Acid-House. Since he graduated from high school this spring, he spends his days either at the piano, in the record-shop or in front of Ableton-Live. We see a bright future ahead (and are secretly hoping that this kid will make us all rich one day). Check out his laid-back 60-minute mix, keeping on the spirit of the last ALAAF and KICKIN´ Sunday Groove.

What was your initial idea or roadmap for the mix? 
Actually I wanted to make a sort of easy listening mixtape, but after the first tracks it just hit me, so the mix gets kind of rough in the middle.
I had recorded a quite similar mix about 3 weeks ago after spending a weekend in Berlin. Obviously I found a lot of nice records there, so when I was back home I just hit the record button and tried them out. When I recorded it again I just changed 3 or 4 songs and now the mix contains about 6 tracks I got at OYE and The Recordloft.

Can you tell us a little more about some tracks you selected?
“No Disrimination” by Tony Allen (8:58) has quickly become one of my favourite records. I’m a big fan of African Music and when I listen to the recordings of guys like Tony or Fela Kuti at home I often can´t help myself to start dancing and singing.

Another track I want to mention is “Sound Drome” by Gene Hunt (25:32). It has been rereleased last year on a Rush Hour Compilation honoring the infamous Muzic Box. It’s a massive clubbanger and I can’t wait to play it on a heavy system somewhere!

For your age you have a very diverse taste of music – how come?
I guess one of the most essential moments in the development of my musical taste probably was when my brother showed me a lifemix of Theo Parrish and Emlie Omar playing at the Soul Spectrum party at Djoon, Paris. It contains 5 hours of Funk, Jazz and Soul and it hit me right away! Before that I was mainly listening to bad electronic music, so it was something totally new to me. Since then I grew a specific love for Funk and Soul as well as for genre-hopping DJ’s.

You´re only 18 but already live a pretty wild nightlife. Do you get any trouble at home?
Haha no, when I tell my mum the time I got home the last night she always pretends to be shocked, but she is kind of inconsequent and actually never tells me when to be back, so it’s really relaxed at home. I think by now she just got used to it.

You just graduated from high school. What are your plans for the future?
I still don’t know the exact plans, but I’m sure that I definitely want to do something with music, because it’s the only thing that really catches my interest at the moment. I´m a big fan of Jazz music and at the time I try to improve my piano-playing, but I’m still searching for the right thing to study in the future.

Tags: Interview, Mixtape

Guest Mixtape and Interview: Sven Howland

Sven Bild!

This months Guest-Mixtape comes from one of Cologne’s top young-gun’s: Sven Howland. Sven was about 4 years old when Tobias Thomas and Michael Mayer were about to turn Cologne’s nightlife upside down with their legendary TOTAL CONFUSION party at Studio 672. Now, 16 years later, Sven is a resident DJ just at that party and has played alongside great artists such as Motor City Drum Ensemble, Barnt, Thomas Fehlmann and many more. Sven carries on the idea of the Cologne-school that a DJ-set should mainly be about telling a story, taking the audience on a musical and emotional journey. For his ALAAF and KICKIN’ Mixtape he has chosen some beautiful melodious and spherical as well as some deep and percussive tracks for you to dream, dance, love.

What was you initial idea or roadmap for the mix?
I started by getting all of my current favorite records out of the shelve. Then during the process of recording, I spontaneously added some songs which I did not consider in the first place. So it became a mixture between some of my current favorites and some lovely b-sides.

Can you tell us more about some of the tracks you selected?
There are two tracks in the mix that I especially like to listen to. One of them is “Silver Chalice” by Golden Teacher (Optimo Music). The mixture of wild drums and synth sounds creates a real special flavor.
Then there is the Roman Flügel Remix of DJ Kozes “Amygdala”. I think that Koze produced the best album of the last year – and just recently the Roman Flügel Remix was released. The track is building up very slowly and creates an incredible aura in the process.

You´re only 20 years old but have already been a resident at one of Colognes most prestigious partys TOTAL CONFUSION for two years. How did it get to this early knightly accolade?
It all happened really fast. I had just recorded and uploaded my second mix “Howland”. Shortly after it Tobias Thomas commented on the mix and said he really liked it, which of course made me very happy. Right after that I received a mail from Tobias in which he asked me if I would like to play at the annual Karneval-Open-air party at Aachener Weiher. I had never played in front of a big crowd before that day, but then I was just like: What the hell! Well, seems like it has been the right decision.

How did Cologne and the KOMPAKT label influence your musical taste?
Already at the age of 16 I used to sneak in at the TOTAL CONFUSION party at Bogen 2 which was always really special to me back then. I discovered something totally new and fresh there and these experiences definitely had a huge impact on my musical taste. Another important influence where the guys from Aroma Pitch with their openair parties (the infamous Sun Wanted) and then, later on, at Cologne Sessions.

You´ve already played a lot of warm-up sets and therefore had the chance to hang out with some great artist. Is there anybody who impressed you not only as an artist but also personally?
Danilo (Motor City Drum Ensemble) and Thomas Fehlmann really impressed me. I had a very interesting conversation with MCDE when we had dinner before the party – he is a very open and friendly person.
In case of Thomas Fehlmann I was just stunned by the energy and the passion of the man. Being 57 years old he still puts on a live-show which blasts you away!


Tags: Interview, Mixtape

Mixtape and Interview: Simon Hein


Simon Hein actually wanted to become an engineer but then his parents asked him to get a save job so he started DJing four years ago. We’re very happy he did, since Simon brings in a well needed portion of roughness into our gang. Being the most friendly guy you can imagine, Simon lives out his evil side behind the turntables, dropping raw and powerful underground tracks from labels like L.I.E.S., Wild Oats, Don’t be afraid and so on. His affinity for mathematics shows up in his precise mixing-technique and his very original mode of sorting records (via BPM!). Simon will make you sweat this Friday at Etepetete Beatgekitzel in Cologne. As a lil’ amuse-gueule check out his fantastic 60-minute mix: ALAAF and KICKIN’ No. 16!

What was your initial idea or roadmap for the mix?
I wanted to create a mix that sounds grounded, motivating and really electronic. So I selected about 30 new and relevant records of which I thought they would meet these requirements. During the recording I decided spontaneously which ones to use and in which order to put them. In the end the mix got somewhat rougher than intended, so I think you can enjoy it most while working out or driving on the Autobahn.

Can you tell us more about some of the tracks you selected?
The first track I want to mention is called ‘The Life Beyond This World’ produced by G Strings (25:00 – 28:30). It’s a really strong piece of hypnotic Ghetto Tech. The bass is constantly punching you and makes it very hard not to move. ‘Warning! This Music Is Very Motivating! Beware!’ is printed on the cover. Yep, I’ll sign that! MGun’s ‘The Race’ is an evil beast (46:30 – 50:30). You need the right attitude for this one. Otherwise it will probably scare the hell out of you if you listen to it on a big sound system. After all that rough stuff I wanted to end the mix with something nice. Urban Textures ‘Voltaic’ is 5 minutes of pure bliss (57:00 – 1:02:16).

Your first mixtapes (back then as DJ Schwimmbutz) sounded much different from the sound you’re playing today. How would you evaluate your development as a DJ?
I would say that DJ Schwimmbutz was just beginning to recognize how big the diversity of electronic music or house music is. I used Virtual DJ to put these mixtapes together. It was just fun. Then my roommate Tim brought along an old record player and I started to collect some vinyls. Meanwhile we headed to the Cologne Sessions once a month, which definitely influenced my taste in electronic music a lot. So I got to know more and more about house music. Throughout this process I accumulated several records of which I’d say retrospectively: This is quality.

You’re studying engineering at RWHT Aachen. Most people would probably say that maths and constructing are a complete antithesis to House music. Would you agree?
I think one of the basic ideas behind house music is that it’s made for everyone. I wouldn’t say that you can’t be into house music and engineering at the same time. Kerri Chandler once said that he probably would have become an engineer if he wasn’t a DJ. And he is not the worst one, is he?

What was your greatest experience as a DJ?
My greatest experience was probably last summer, when Hugo and me performed at a beautiful open-air party at ‘Schräge Wiese’. I wasn’t expecting much but then the party turned into quite a nice rave. I played about 10 hours and from a certain point it felt like I could play whatever I like. Everyone had a good time.

Who was the last DJ that really impressed you with his performance?
I think that was in fact DJ Yogo from Tel Aviv at Cologne Sessions. He blew the crowd away with some really powerful house music.

Tags: Interview, Mixtape

Bad 25 – A Spike Lee Joint

bad II

Obviously you find many posts, videos and music honoring the great Michael Jackson these days. I got particularly interested when I saw that non other then Spike Lee directed a documentary on MJ called “Bad 25”. As the title suggests, it’s a film about the making of the album “Bad” – the stories behind the songs, the videos, the tour. Most of the time “Bad 25” is what I would call a classic fan-movie. You got interviews with people like Questlove, Cee-Lo Green, Kanye West or producers and video-directors who have worked with the King Of Pop and they all remind us about how great MJ was. Which is perfectly all right, since he was one of the greatest after all. But doing a fan-movie is not the most sophisticated kind of filmmaking I guess.

“Bad 25” got some very interesting parts though. Especially when it comes to the shooting of music-videos, Spike Lee seems to be very interested in his colleagues work and the film unravels some exiting details about the creative stories behind the “short-films” (as MJ called them) of “Bad”, “Dirty Diana” or “Liberian Girl”. It becomes clear that MJ was a fanatic worker, supervising every detail of props, costume design and choreography. This obsession for details also came down the studio-sessions with Quincy Jones and other musicians, as his former sound-technicians tell us in the film.

You can see “Bad 25” for three more days in the Arte-Mediathek. If you’re a fan of MJ (and I mean, who isn’t?) it’s definitely worth checking out!

Tags: Documentary

ALAAF and KICKIN’ Sunday Groove I

We had the most wonderful time at our first ALAAF and KICKIN’ Sunday Groove! With the great help of Mathis and Till from the Etepetete crew we built ourselves a small paradise at Friedenspark right in our neighborhood in Cologne. Our friends from Aroma Pitch played a wonderful three-hour set in the late afternoon, dropping some deep and smooth house-tunes while people where chillin’ in the sun. Later in the evening, with the sinking sun in the back and tasty Kölsch down the throats, more and more people found their way to the dance floor; Simon, Jannis, Hugo and Magnus jumped at the chance and drove people crazy deep into the warm summer night. Seems a little more exciting than spending your Sunday night watching “Tatort”, right? We want to thank the wonderful crowd for coming down and supporting us with donations and tons of love! The next Sunday Groove will go down on 27th of July. Hope to see y’all there! Peace!

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Tags: Sunday Groove

Kvadrat Documentary

andrey pushkarev 2

During research for a film project I came across the documentary “Kvadrat” by Anatoly K. Ivanov. The film follows Russian DJ Andrey Pushkarev to gigs in Russia, Romania, Switzerland, France and Hungary. The tagline of the film is: “A documentary about the realities of techno-DJing”, which seem to be rather sad. We often see Pushkarev travelling by himself or spending time alone in his hotel room. But even when he is DJing in clubs, Pushkarev seems to be an outsider. Anatoly Ivanov – who also photographed the film – finds powerful images to illustrate Pushkarev isolation at the parties, showing the DJ completely focused and lost in his work while the crowd around him is getting completely crazy. I liked the aesthetic approach of the film: very few dialogue, no talking heads, but a vigorous soundtrack selected and mixed by Pushkarev himself.

The visual style and especially the editing of the film very much distinguishes from the tons of Resident Advisor and Slices features that are flooding the internet nowadays, which basically all look the same and most of the time show serious lacks in storytelling. In contrast to this, “Kvadrat” is a character-driven film, which successfully captures the ambiguity of the techno- and club-world, the magic of the music as well as the disillusioning moments once the party is over.

Anatoly Ivanov uploaded the film on Vimeo where you can watch it for free:

Tags: Documentary