An interview with VENICE CALYPSO

London-based Sebastian Barz aka VENICE CALYPSO is one of the most exciting techno DJ/Producers in the city right now. Read this exclusive interview with him, below…

You just launched your own label Four On Four – tell us a bit about how it all started.

I was contacted by some really talented DJs and producers, sending me their music, and I really wanted to get their music out there. I was also annoyed by the long waiting times with distribution and I really wanted to create a more dynamic platform for music. We are just scheduling the releases for next year and we are working also more on the visual side. See you in 2016!

What producers do you have your eye on at the moment?

First, Jack France, my long time collaborator. We just received his first vinyl release and it will be up very soon. It’s Totally on fire and I premiered his track “Techno Cut 2206” on Rinse France, then: Cindy, Aoud, Rawkorder, TITE, Raw Ambasador, AZF, Marc Laforce

What other labels do you think are doing great things at the moment?

Mord, Neo Violence, RAAR, The Revera Corporation, VENT, Tronic Soundz.

Your video for Malibu was greeted with lots of positive comments. What was the idea behind the video?

I’ve been directing videos for a while and I wanted to create something special for the new beginning of my career. The visual side of techno is always quite conservative which amazes me. I want to change that by aesthetic with my almost clinical visual concepts. We shot the video in Mi7 Studio in west London. I loved the alien look of Gina Harrison and it was amazing to work with her.

You run a night – INFERNO – at Dalston Superstore. How did this start, and what does the future hold for the event?

Inferno is my collaboration project with Lewis G. Burton. I always wanted to create unique club experience that will mix the craziness of the london club culture with great underground and dark music. You don’t need to choose between cool crowd or good music it’s all there. We have amazing DJs in performance artist including Coco Cole, Jim Warboy, AZF, TWANG, Jack France, Alex Wolf, Hotbox resident Raro and some great performance artist like House Of Health, Synth, Victor Ivanov.

If you had friends over for the weekend, what night would you tell them to go to in London and why?

I will definitely try to invite them to my own party INFERNO. HOTBOX by squat the sun, it’s very exclusive and unique experience. Also Blanc, Legion and Jaded at Corsica Studios will be an obvious choice.

You have quite a distinctive haircut and style. Who influences your style?

My style evolved naturally over time. I’m always 50 percent goth no matter if it’s in fashion or not. I also never wanted to hide behind my music.

What track sums up your mood right now?

Vainqueur – Lyot (Maurizio Mix). I got into listening to techno almost everyday. I can’t listen to anything trivial during the day. I always expect to be surrounded by sounds with depth. I always prefer to listen to tribal and religious sounds rather then music that was created to entertain the average consumer without challenging their taste.

Interview by Danny Ingham
Follow VENICE CALYPSO on Instagram

An interview with Polanski

The queer techno scene in London is thriving right now, so it pleases me to complete a trio of interviews from people who make this scene so special. The first was with the much loved Lee Adams from KAOS. The second from LEGION promoter Jeno Balasz. The third comes from Andrzej So, who is hosting B L A N C // N O I R E at the Electrowerkz on 28th November.

Here’s what he had to say…

You run a quite secretive event in London called B L A N C. What’s the party ethos for the night?

B L A N C is a quarterly night, currently at Electrowerkz, which combines urban, minimalistic visual aesthetics with a progressive electronic music sound. The idea behind the night was to create an environment where those qualities unite, the space is transformed with the DJ booth in the middle to allow the performer and audience become one – immersed in the sound. Over the two years since it started, the sound has been constantly evolving and at this stage it’s leaning towards a wider spectrum of techno. The spaces between each of the letters in the name create the blank spaces, which – as you can imagine – doesn’t come up in the web search if typed without them. I hope this creates a natural selection, people who come to the night are friends and their circle, as for the rest it’s the people who search between the blank spaces…

Your upcoming party has Mørbeck headlining – what drew you to him?
When I visited Berlin this summer to attend the Berlin Atonal festival, on the last day of performances I went instead to Berghain and that’s where he was playing a very long, dynamic set on Sunday evening. It was pure joy! In the rush of the moment I scribbled a note on a piece of paper and handed it to him, while he was still playing. Despite his bemused reaction he got in touch the following day and here he is headlining the specially titled B L A N C edition: N O I R E.


You’re known for supporting up and coming London-based talent. Who are you expecting big things from in the future?

That is true, both my nights B L A N C and tanzBar feature lots of local talent, also up and coming DJ’s and producers. Some of the guests took quite a bit of convincing, purely as I was very keen to hear their excellent music choices played in a club. In the techno scene at the moment some of my friends are working on a new material; Tcherneyan is expecting a release next year but he’s not new to the world of production. VVEEAA has done an awesome remix of Lazarus Man, I hope he gets more recognition here in the UK for his work. Also Sebastian aka Venice Calypso is launching his record label for which he self-produced a stunning video for the debut release. As for the more melodic stuff, lets call it disco-tek, I’m very much looking forward to Justine’s new project. Her debut release had some big names featuring Egyptian Lover and Scott Fraser.

There’s been a lot of stuff about the London party scene dying. What do you think about this?

I very much doubt that this happening at the moment: in the 15 years I’ve been living in London I have certainly seen much worse. I think most of the problem is coming from the licensing and how local councils respond to the ‘needs’ of residents. Plus the property developers and estate owners forcing venues out of their current homes, as seen recently in so many queer spaces. London venues often serve as a generic platform for different promoters to put on their nights. Personally I find that this often leads to a lack of atmosphere. Every weekend those places host a different crowd, randomly brought together to see a specific artist, which is fine for diversity but it misses something… The story differs with nights like KAOS, or similar with a strong following, where promoters and their friends create a sort of a weekend, temporary family. It’s where people meet not only to dance but also to socialise. I also think the whole divide between the straight and gay world had an impact on the London scenes being fragmented. There is much more quality music at queer parties nowadays.

What 3 tracks would you say sum up your party?

Good question! For the first one I’d like to go back in time to when B L A N C was held in Stoke Newington, when our sound was very different. Lots of Cold Wave, like the one below: Greg Punkov “Don’t Challenge My Dark” When the party moved to the current venue, I used to split my time between the opening and closing set. As all my guests played much more intense music at this point, I had to reinvent my choices as well. The track below would have been played within the first hour of opening: EOMAC “Spectre” As for the late night sound I chose the below as it has the two very important elements that I go for. Stomping rhythm and a beautiful, ethereal synth-lead melody. Definitely will be playing this on the 28th… Inigo Kennedy “Aleph”

You produce music yourself under the name Polanski. Do you have anything coming up for this?

I have just received a master of my track; I hope it’ll see daylight in the form of an official release. Also my other work goes towards sound design, I have just completed a piece for a video trailer for the LGBTQ FRINGE! Film Festival. I want to invest more time in this sort of thing in the future.



Armand Van Helden Interview at Ceremony Festival

We had a little day out at Ceremony Festival last weekend to soak up the last of the London festival season before we head off into colder gloomier times and we managed to snag an all time great producer for an interview. We’re talking of course about Armand Van Helden who took to the main stage of Ceremony for an all out 90s set that got every last person in that tent singing along and provided our highlight of the day.

Armand Van Helden

SB: You’ve just come off the main stage at Ceremony having played a great set, how was it for you?

It was great. Really good time… I mean I envisioned it being a good time, as nobody usually specifically asks me to play a 90’s set. That’s how the whole thing started, it came through my management and they said “There’s a festival in London that want you to play an old school set”…. And I was like ‘What?… absolutely!… it’s about time somebody asked me to play that kind of set!’ I really liked the idea of theming a whole decade, and having fun going through my record collection trying to figure out what to include. However, then there was a problem…. There’s too many good records! So I needed like a 6 hour set to really do it justice.

SB: So you know what to ask for next year then…?

Exactly, a 6 hour set. To be fair to the other great artists of the 90’s I couldn’t get everybody into the set tonight.

SB: Having just witnessed your set and feeling the energy in the crowd… that type of tracklist isn’t something you would ordinarily play?

As of maybe 3 or 4 years ago I started having the concept of an Armand Van Helden concert, so my sets these days are usually around 8/9 new records and then an hour of my back catalogue.

SB: So essentially you and all your aliases?

Yeah, and to be honest…. I’m getting old and it’s hard to keep up with all the new music which is available these days. It’s easier if I play like a couple of new records that I like and an Armand Van Helden concert… or an entire Armand Van Helden concert, although I’ve yet to do that.


SB: Do you think you’ll get a brand behind it? For example, in the same way that Disclosure have developed Wildlife?

Yeah, one thing I failed to mention at the start is, I’m not trying to DJ too much… *laughs* I’m not trying to tour or anything like that. I keep my gigs down to a minimum, perhaps 10 or 12 a year at the moment.

SB: That makes us feel all the more privileged to have just witnessed your set. Would you say you’re in London about once a year then?

Depends, it’s weird…I’ve noticed you swing in and out of countries’ popularity. So for example, the UK will get on you and stay on you, then you do a few bad records and nobody asks you back for a while *laughs*…

SB: How many number 1’s have you had here?

Haha… it’s 3.

SB: Not too shabby… Speaking of numbers… how many times do you think it says The Funk Phenomena in the 12inch mix of the Funk Phenomena?

Never counted, never counted. The orginal mix is quite long so I’d say it’s like 70 times! The original mix is in the 8 minute range… and he says The Funk Phenomena a lot! *laughs*

SB: So how do you prefer to work… do you prefer working with edits and bootlegs or do you like to build from the ground up?

Usually if I’m making music, which is rare these days, it’s either remixing or making an attempt at an original… but really… I don’t think I’ve released an original since Bonkers in 2008.

SB: Anything in the pipeline?

Not really. *laughs* I’m pretty old… you have to understand I have the energy of a 45 year old!

SB: You grew up in 90’s New York and of course the way music is consumed now is vastly different to how it was back then. How do you see it moving forward?

I’m a record collector, and one thing that I miss with digital is looking at the record cover, you know… it’s just this big huge piece of art, with two sides, which occasionally opens up… I do miss that.

SB: Do you still get the opportunity to bring your records with you to gigs?

Nah…. I never want to bring records. I carried records for around 15 years, so I don’t need to carry them anymore. I love records, but I really don’t want to carry them all over the world. Back in the day the sets used to be a lot longer too. 3 hours minimum. So you’d have to bring like 4 record boxes which is just crazy.

SB: Sets these days, particularly at festivals, are around an hour long… has that changed the way you DJ?

A little bit, yeah. 90 min sets tend to be the average for me, and that does work. It’s long enough for me to get it out. But if you’re really wanting to take someone on a journey you need double that, so you can do a lot of peaks and valleys, and begin to introduce people to other stuff you’re really feeling. But the current climate doesn’t really allow for this, and it’s across all media. There’s no longer the time available to pause for reflection.

SB: So where do you see us all going from here?

I don’t know… I don’t know… I’m not complaining though, I think it’s still cool. There may come a time where it’s gonna be too much, and maybe people are just gonna start unplugging.

SB: So what’s next for you Armand?

Just chillin’… same plan. Couple more gigs for the rest of the year. Maybe a few remixes… that’s about it.

SB: What do you do in your downtime?

I love reading. A real book of course, not like an amazon thing. So I just sit in the park and read.

SB: We read somewhere you really like cycling too?

My wife and I we have a tandem bike, which is pretty hilarious. She’s not the most confident cyclist, so I had to figure out a way we could both go out on the bike. She had her own bike but was really nervous on it. So I was like fuck it… let’s get a tandem. So now we just bike down the beach (Miami).


SB: So what do you ride?

Dude, I buy my bikes in toys ‘r’ us… because in New York everybody steals your shit. I’ll lock it up and people don’t even want to steal the seat off it… it’s great.

SB: Thanks Armand, great to talk with you.

Not a problem guys. Thanks.

Take a trip down memory lane with this handy Armand Van Helden YouTube playlist!


In case you didn’t know FOUND are the team behind Ceremony and a load of other big London Dance festivals.  Their next big one that launched today is their big Halloween 2015 Horror Series.

With Maya Jane Coles and Damien Lazarus at the helm it already promises to be a big one you don’t want to miss!

Tickets on RA

Found Horror Series

Main photo credit : Marc Sethi