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…