Alaaf and Kickin’ No° 30 comes from one of Colognes hottest young guns: Alex Tackenberg aka Alex From Galax. We predict that this kid is going to stir up the local scene big time, starting here and now with a sophisticated, perfectly arranged New Wave and Italo-Disco Mixtape. We are super proud to present one of the most interesting and captivating Mixtapes of our young history: Isolation Disorder. Thank you, Alex!
What was your initial idea or roadmap for the mixtape?
My idea behind the mix is to find new music and create something different from it.
At the same time I recently discovered the sound of New Wave for myself, as well as an interest in fashion. Designers like Raf Simons or Gosha Rubchinsky show the roughness of youth subcultures as well as minimal aesthetics in their fashion and I sense the same with Wave Music. There is a lot of overlapping and this cultural overlapping inspired me to make this mixtape.
Can you tell us a little bit more about certain Tracks you selected?
To start with, I think it is hard to highlight particular tracks because the mixtape has to be seen as a whole but nevertheless, there are some songs that build the frame for it.
A really important track in this mixtape is the opener “Dr. John” from Chris & Cosey. They’re a duo from England which emerged from the band Throbbing Gristle and is in my opinion a big influence on Acid and Techno. Since I discovered the album Exotica some time ago, I listen to it over and over again and always carry it in my bag.
Another important song for me is “M’Pasi Ya M’Pamba” from Zazou, Bikaye and CY1. I don’t know that much about these three, but what I do know is that they are from Belgium and this record is the only one they did in this collaboration. They are moving in a very special kind of ‚Klangkosmos‘, somewhere between Afro Sounds, Tribal and Wave.
Two more tracks I want to highlight are “S.I.B” by Devo which I have only known for a short time but it introduced me to the world of Devo and one of my all time favorites: Spacer Woman by Charlie. It’s the perfect mix of Proto Techno, Italo Sounds and Wave. It always works when I play it.
Your taste of musical genres and moods is pretty diverse. How would you explain the phenomenon that on one hand you like to play rather happy music like Disco and such and on the other have a love for dark and kind of evil stuff like in your mixtape?
Disco was one of the first music genres that never started to bore me and I just had fun playing it, but I always bought discs from other genres as well. There is no border as long as the sound is new and different. I always enjoy finding new sounds and getting in touch with the music and the mating culture. It’s the same now with Wave Sounds and experimental electronic music from the 70s and 80s. It is interesting for me to discover this kind of music and it’s fun to try new things when I play my records.
Youve been Djing and collecting for quite some time, but just started to use discogs a couple of weeks ago. Before that, what was your strategy for finding records you wanted?
I did provide a Discogs account but I have never ordered anything. I do know that there are many opportunities like Discogs to order records but I have a lot more fun going to record shops or flea markets and looking through what they offer.
It’s just more interesting to find something by accident than buying a record with two clicks on the internet and getting it delivered to your home even though it’s a lot less time-consuming. There is so much to discover in record shops!
But I don’t have one single strategy for buying my records. Of course, the internet is really helpful on getting inspired but in record shops or on flea markets I can just forage for something special. If something looks interesting, I listen to it immediately. A cover with spaceships or the universe on it is always a good hint. It can be a lot more difficult with 80s records that just have random covers. But even there! If it has a good track on it… Buy it immediately!
Another affinity of yours is the culture of Italo-Disco! What is it about that music and the lifestyle of the 80s that speaks to you so much?
Italo Disco and I….. that is a big love story! When I was younger I wasn’t interested in italian music at all but some time ago my interest started to grow. I think a big part of it has to do with my family coming from the deepest south of Italy close to Naples. When you get there you can literally feel the vibe. Italo Disco opened up a new world for me.
Within lays not only this kind of Disco, but also the Lifestyle based on fashion and design from the 80s which is a really important part of it.
It just represents ‚La Dolce Vita‘ or as I like to call it ‚”Gelato Per Tutti!”
Thanks a lot!
It’s simply impossible to imagine Cologne’s nightlife without Mitch. As a host of Cologne Sessions, Night of the Jaguar, Discoteca and – occasionally – the Ki Label night, he is not only the mastermind behind some of the best parties in town, but can also call himself one of Colognes most versatile DJs. Being mostly known as a late-night DJ, ranging between Detroit-, Acid-House and Techno, Mitch is happy to share a different side of his musical taste in his Alaaf and Kickin’ Mixtape: Click and listen to meet a more mellow Disco-Michi in 80 minutes of pure goodness. Mitch will be playing at our Sunday Groove wrap-up party in September. What kind of treasures will he take out of his diverse record-box for the Schräge Wiese? Well, don’t be shy! Come down and find out!
What was you initial idea or roadmap for the mix?
Well, I have to go a little off topic here. I wanted to do something different than a usual club oriented techno/house mix that I am normally known for to play out. But my music collection is vast and goes into many different genres. It’s filled with music that I collected over the last 15 years and mostly got to know in the glory days of music blogs. These times unfolded great opportunities to discover new music and I started to collect a lot of obscure, old and rare stuff. It was the times when there were blogs from some random music lover from somewhere around the world who digitalized his whole vinyl collection he carefully selected over years. So much music that I would’ve never heard of was out there ready to be discovered. And most of the music that you could find is still not available anywhere in shops digitally and probably never will be.
I remember one page by a guy called Jörg from a german region called Wendland. That guy just digitalized his whole post punk collection and also a bunch of great Ash Ra Temple and other Krautrock stuff. There were also other blogs that only had early Synthesizer music from the 70s. Pure sex for someone who’s open to discover new music. I was obsessed. One blog that stood out was the now defunct „As restless as we are“ curated by two guys from Texas that mainly wrote about music from 1975 to 1985. Amazing selections and the whole aesthetic was just what I was looking for. It turned into my daily read and the mixtapes these guys made were a big inspiration to me.
Anyway, this is going too far off topic now. A lot of the music I put on this mix was from an Italo obsession I had back then. I felt the urge to slowly start buying all this music that I loved on Vinyl. It’s not an option for me to do a mix digitally since I only play vinyl. Also to do a DJ Mix on the computer with a sequencer is absolutely no option for me. I’m just too lazy for that and also for me it’s not a fucking dj mix if you don’t do it live in one take and from scratch, including mistakes. I selected the tracks for this mix 1hr before and recorded the mix at Jannis place in one take. Never listened to the records in this order before. It was tricky at some point because of the pitch tempo and some tracks change their tempos due to no quantization. I knew it would be challenging, but, fuck it. I had fun and I always do my mixes like that.
Can you tell us something about certain tracks you selected?
I tried to select a few tracks that would fit the Alaaf and Kickin’ spirit I got to experience at your open air party’s. So “Float On” was the perfect opener. Then it just went along. The track by RIS “Love N Music” I once played back in 2011 as an opener on the crowded mainfloor of Kater Holzig in Berlin and everybody went crazy. So I have a special connection to this “cross over hit” that seems to get everyone. Just like at the AAK Open Airs, where there are people from everywhere. Haha. Frank Duvals “Ogon” is just pure Synth Power. Amazing record! The track “Walk The Night” is one of my favorites since a long time as well. I don’t know any other discoish track that combines with any techno/house set better and even has guitars! The last track is an edit that always gives me goosebumps when I just think of it! I love all the tracks on there, but honestly, some of them I only listened to maybe 10 times before. I’m not a big fan of stuffing a DJ Mix with All-Time-Favs. I need to surprise myself even with something that’s made to last, like this DJ Mix.
Your mix has a certain cheesiness, which I think is very refreshing and bold. Is that something you are missing from Club DJs– the guts to be cheesy?
No, not really. Nowadays it’s pretty normal for DJ’s to have the guts and put some variety in their sets. Anybody can do what they want and if they master it, that’s fine. It always depends where you play and what you want to achieve when playing. I like variety, but sometimes I stand in my own way because I don’t draw a clear line. Sometimes I think: If you’re playing a techno set, stick to fucking techno and don’t jump over to disco. If you’re playing a Chicago house set don’t jump over to techno. That’s something I often have to force myself to slowly go there and not just be like “Oh, I still want to play this and that and this” and in the end you’re just not taking people on a journey. You’re forcing them to follow your weird mind. Haha. As a DJ your supposed to please people and to surprise them at the same time! Not only challenge them.
But honestly, I hate monotone DJ-Sets that just stay on one level all the time. It can be any style, let it be Minimal, Tech House, House, Techno, Disco whatever. It’s a matter of your personal taste, so I’m not in the position to decide whats good and whats not, or gutsy. Anyway, yes, I love cheesiness! It’s just pure power of the 80s, fat vocals, synth lines that express pure emotions and sexiness in the air! What can be better than Vocals about love and passion reduced to be an element of the music? It doesn’t matter if the vocals make sense. They just have to sound fucking fresh!
Tell us something about your love for Italo-Disco.
Well, much of it is already said. I first got into Italo Disco back when “Electro Clash” was really big. Around the millennium. Actually it was electro first. The first Dopplereffekt Album “Gesamtkunstwerk” brought me to I-F’s “Fucking Consumer” and then of course the whole Electro Clash thing was big and with it came Italo. In between there was the ongoing Drexciya obsession which is still strong today (But that’s another subject). Haha. Italo is a long love and I immediately fell in love with the whole aesthetic and combination of timeless design and cheesiness: The covers of the records, the instruments used, all of it! Also the historical aspect, when some Italo records were way ahead of their time and sounded like Proto House or early Detroit electro, inspired me a lot. But recently that love lost it’s passion a little bit. I’m not obsessed anymore. We’ve been fucking too much around in the last years and I spent a lot of money on that bitch.
But the Italo Sound is always alive. I’m more into straight Techno lately but there seems to be a new wave of music coming out of Germany that caught my attention in the last years like Lena Willikens, Barnt or Helena Hauff. What they’re doing is a great combination of 80s style sounding industrial stuff with modern aesthetics. It sounds like it’s produced with the same machines as Italo was, so there’s also a connection. Just darker and dirtier. Love it! Haha
There have been a lot of rumors lately about that new Italo Disco DJ in town called Donny Dolce. You’ve heard about him too, or did you guys even meet?
I met Danny a few times. He’s a legend in the Italo Disco scene you know. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. Straight up Playboy!
Alaaf and Kickin’ Mixtape 026 comes from a man with one of the most terrible and fantastic DJ pseudonyms in the universe: Dynamodyse. We’re more then happy about that – not only because Dynamodyse is booked all over Europe and can look back to several fantastic releases on We play house Recordings. Dynamodyses record collection spreads from Jazz over Intercontinental Dance to House and Techno – a wide musical range that fits perfect into the Alaaf and Kickin’ profile! He is also a fabulous photographer and you should definitely check out his series on Detroit called “A Number of Names”! But enough talking – have fun with his Mixtape, ladies!
What was your initial idea or roadmap for the mix?
To be very honest this was the first selection. When I started to look for records I took some and played them in a row, because I like these traxx. I thought that this is it. I wanted to show some variousity without making things to complicated or geekish.
Can you tell us a little bit more about certain tracks you selected?
There´s something to say to almost every track because everyone has it´s specialties, but I think that the tracks speak for themselves! In this selection u have different tempi, different genres and moods wich you cant project on a dancefloor, at least not in this order. I haven´t found a club/crowd yet were this would be possible but I´m still looking for it.
As a DJ you can have different intentions when u play in a club, I have this one sub-aim: Preparing a bag were every track bangs the floor, no matter wich style. I Give a fuck on attitudes or coolness.
You released most of your tracks on the great Belgium label We play house Recordings. How did that connection arise?
Around 2007 I was working on several tracks where I didn´t knew if I was confident with or not. One of them was Gare Du Nord so I send that track to a friend from Belgium, he said he has a friend with a label blah blah, so many people have/had friends with labels, I didn’t expect anything after that. But this friend liked my style and asked for more. He got more and signed WPH 005.
A huge impact to me cauz I never expected to release music on 12” at any time.
This was the beginning of a deep relation musicwise and WPH became my homebase because we share the same intention with music (…).
We’ve seen some crazy videos of you, playing shirtless and banging out some really ruff Techno. Do you still take these kinds of records out sometimes or did you get more mellow over the years?
Ha, that´s a good one: I always was mellow, deeper House has been my roots since ever, it doesnt make sense to drop some names, lets say L1VE Treibhaus with Steffen Irlinger & Ingo Sänger 1995-2001, those guys teached me soul. But there was also BBC with Steve Mason, I was always very interested in music and it´s a subcultural thing, no matter wich style.
Later then, me and some friends organized illegal Off-Location Parties, they made a legal club afterwards were I became resident but my mellow vein became dry cauz the people wanted techno.
The video you talk about was recorded at Juicy Beats 2006, we hosted a floor and got recognized as a tecnoish-club…
Long story short: I always was mellow and I will be, but I like it also when it bangs at any corner.
You are also working as a photographer and I think a very special project of yours is A Number of Names, where you went to Detroit and photographed people like Rick Wade and other house legends. Can you tell us a bit about the project?
This was for my final diploma. I studied Communication Design, sprich Fotodesign. My aim was to finish that class with a work of which I could still be proud of when i´m on the couch in my sixties. Electronic music from Detroit gave me something from the very first moment when I heard it so I wanted to investigate the reason for that specialty in the sound. I tried to capture a certain feeling wich I hear in the music, I wanted to know how the city influences it´s people who are making music there. That´s pretty personal to me, even more as a fashion-shooting where you use 16 Flashlights, well known models, blah blah… So, I am a photographer. With a big love for music.
Any upcoming releases / projects we should be aware of?
If God wants there´ll be two releases on WPH before the summer. I don´t wanna take the magic, lets say there are certain traxx on Discogs wich cost stupidly way too much. The label does a re-release with three of these traxx.
A 4-track EP, the fourth is one of the most played traxx by the labelholder, a remix I made for some french guys last year.
Another one will b a 10”.
I got some nu gear and I´m lookin forward to find some time to plug it all, there are some requests were it´s too early to talk about, lovers gonna cry.
Be aware of the hook!
Our newest guest mix tape is brought to you by one of Cologne´s most sophisticated and knowledgeable DJ´s – Ben*. I guess we all at least once in our live have chilled to Ben*´s tunes on the infamous couch at Stecken – Cologne´s legendary Hip Hop joint. Stecken closed but Ben* is moving on, having residency’s in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and of course Cologne, where he runs the “What´s going on?” and “Love Circels!” parties. For ALAAF and KICKIN’ Ben* picked out someof the finest out of his around 40.000 (!) records. For all that good stuff one mixtape ain´t enough: Therefore Ben*s tape will come in two parts – Enjoy numbero uno.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we´d like to introduce the new year with a mixtape from our power machine Simon Hein. “Islands of Decay in Seas of Renewal” is the name of this little piece of jewelry – a bit more spherical, moody and relaxed then his prior tape, still including some scratchy and raw acid-tunes. Simon can´t help it – and we´re very happy that´s the case!
What a man! Hugo Hoppmann: Graphic designer, DJ, connoisseur of the art of living! It was mainly him who had the initial idea of founding ALAAF and KICKIN’ three years ago. Ever since his career has been a straight success story: Hugo is a resident at the legendary SIXPACK bar and the great COLOGNE SESSIONS party at STUDIO 672, where people enjoy his straight forward house-sound, always spiced up with a healthy dose of soul, pop and disco from all decades. On weekends he is a powerful party-machine – during the week though Hugo transforms into a Zen-monk of , working with ascetic discipline and in deep concentration (if you want to know what we’re talking about, try to reach the man on his phone on a Wednesday!). The outcome made him become an internationally known and appreciated designer with clients from all over the world. Being the busy bee he is, it took quite some time to get him to record another mixtape for us. It was worth waiting though – but check it out yourself: ALAAF and KICKIN’ 023!
What was your initial idea or roadmap for the mix?
I started recording the mix in the last week of this year and it turned out to be a cross section through my current musical mind and mood, as well as a personal best-of selection of favorites from 2014. Though I know of the difficulty wanting to please everyone I tried to make a mixtape that could work universally and be enjoyed in various situations – be it while working (or working out), lying on the beach, or just hanging out and getting ready for the party.
From the streets to the beach, down into the jungle, up into space and back again to the club. A journey fueled with lots of love, funk and acid. This was my roadmap …
Can you tell us a little more about some tracks you selected?
Starting point is a beautiful track by Jazz Liberatorz, a group from France I listened to a lot in my youth and rediscovered lately. This smooth opening is followed by the classic “Missing You” of the great Larry Heard. From the waterfront we then dive into the jungle with Julien Jabre, and then go deeper with Glenn Underground’s C.V.O. Trance. I’m a huge GU fan but curiously I discovered this classic track just recently through Jannis when we were jamming at his place.
We then take off from earth with the perfect ‘spacyness’ of Dopplereffekt’s legendary Infophysix jam. From there we go higher and higher with the help of Harvey Sutherland’s banger “Bamboo”. I listened to this one so often in the last weeks and simply don’t get tired of it. Brilliant stuff.
Now we head back to the disco with full speed and a refreshing house production by Phlash & Friends from Italy featuring the lovely Shea Soul on their track “Runnin”. This one is for my crew I went with to Dimensions Festival in Croatia in the summer. San Soda playing it in the morning hours is one of my favorite souvenirs. So many great memories!
We continue with Masters At Work’s “Can’t Get No Sleep”, a timeless house classic from the masterminds of Louie Vega und Kenny “Dope” Gonzales from New York. We stay in Big Apple’s house universe with the mesmerizing “Rave Tip Mix” of “March” by The Look aka Danny Tenaglia & Peter Daou from 1993: This sounds like someone on Ecstasy screaming out all the positive feelings when dancing in a packed club: “It’s dark in here, it’s wet in here, it’s hot in here, I like it here; Get ready for the final journey, you’ll love it, you will live forever.”
Back to the present with the young and talented Miami-based Greg Beato and “Dreamin’” a powerful piece of music with a healthy portion of acid from his great “Who’s The Licho In Charge Ovaa Here” LP on Apron Records. Next stop: Australia and the “Funky Joy” from duo Zanzibar Chanel. Such a crazy good baseline!
After this ride we come down with the relaxing yet funky sounds of the “Rain Forrest”, an all time favorite by Paul Hardcastle from 1985, followed by Central Line’s uplifting “Walking Into Sunshine” in a mix by Larry Levan. To finally please our disco heart I turned to Voyage and their fabulous “I Love You Dancer”, before letting it all fade out into the massive and timeless sound of War and their special instrumental mix of the classic “The World Is A Ghetto”.
You’ve been a resident at COLOGNE SESSIONS for two years now. Tell us about the party.
Cologne Sessions is a regular party we founded in 2011 together with Magnus von Welck (Aroma Pitch) and Michael (Mitch) Kastens. The original concept was to present more live techno acts to Cologne, taking place at Stadtgarten, a venue which has a big jazz (“sessions”) tradition. After a while we decided to do it more frequently and turned the whole thing into a regular techno/house club night, moving down to Studio 672, the legendary club just below the Stadtgarten concert hall.
From the beginning I was responsible for the creative direction and all design matters. Our overall visual direction is based on a radical purity in contrast to the often totally cluttered presentations of other parties. Printed matter are always limited to the most crucial information only: title, name of the artists, date, location. We like it clean and rough.
It seems like being a DJ and a graphic designer is a combination not so uncommon. Do you see any parallels between these art forms?
Yeah, I do think there are parallels and particularly many similarities in the process of creation. The first thing that comes to mind is that both the job of being a designer and DJing is a form of curation. And to create something interesting and unique you have to put your personality into it, find your own style and take risks. It’s all about choosing the right elements at the right time. Be it when painting a picture, building a website or recording a mixtape.
How would you define beauty?
Beauty is what keeps me going yet I have trouble defining it!
2015 is here: What are your plans?
My aim is to push me and my business further and to meet and experience lots new people and places … and I’m looking forward to finally go to New York next month!