“Finally in London there is a convergence of ‘queer’ with techno”

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Let’s be honest, there are countless London parties that profess to nurturing the core values of underground partying. Few actually achieve it though.

KAOS has been steadily extending their fanbase since the early days in 2003 at Madame JoJo’s in Soho, and it has garnered quite a reputation during this time. Exploring the subtle bridges between art, debauchary, live techno performance and family vibes, the party has evolved over the years, saying “goodbye” (with love) to the glitz of JoJo’s, and welcoming the squalor and neo-gothicism that other venues around the city embrace.

They recently moved their monthly gathering to Electrowerkz in Angel, and will be throwing a party with R&S favourite, Paula Temple, this Saturday. I caught up with KAOS founder, Lee Adams…

KAOS is obviously an underground party catering to the alternative and queer crowd. How did the first party come about at Madame JoJo’s? It seems unfitting to the kind of parties you host nowadays.

We’ve always enjoyed the challenge of creating events in unusual spaces, from the subterranean catacombs beneath London Bridge Station (now the foundations for The Shard), to a converted slaughterhouse in Copenhagen or a former underground pissoir in Spitalfields (Public Life) to a neo-gothic church in Hackney, but the decision to start our techno adventure in Madame Jojo’s was personal and symbolic. My dear friend Marianne used to own the venue until Stanley Kubrick shot parts of Eyes Wide Shut in there. in the late 90’s Marianne hosted ‘Matinee’, an insane underground techno after-hours on Sunday evenings and it was in homage to that party that we created the first Kaos in JoJo’s.

Techno has enjoyed somewhat of a revival in London recently, particularly amongst younger people who used to love hard dubstep/breakcore – have you got any stories about this younger generation who you’ve met recently that have inspired you in any way?

Yes indeed there has been a huge resurgence in techno in London recently. For a long time Kaos seemed to exist in a void, now there are some really brilliant events starting to happen again and the people I am meeting from this younger generation are hugely inspirational, smart, critically informed and creatively engaged. Adam Csoka Keller and Opashona Gosh from Sixth Finger Magazine for instance are initiating all kinds of multimedia technoshamanic cultural interventions, whilst Alexander Dodge Huber and Agata Kay are collaborating on a novel and a series of short films respectively exploring technomysticsm, divine madness, nihilism and aestheticism through their engagement with techno culture. Pier Filippo Di Sorte just arrived in London from his native Rome to realise his techno dreams through his vinyl imprint Blackwater Label, Mona Mock is using gong baths for vibrational healing whilst artists Naddy Sane and Luke Jordan are creating ‘The Invisible Museum’ featuring sonic art, noise, ritual, performance, installation, visuals and spontaneous acts in a derelict pump house on the Thames. Perhaps the most incredible dance floor encounter though has been with an amazing man studying to become a brain surgeon who said he wold take the energetic frequency, the unique vibrational field he encountered at Kaos and apply it to his medical practice, that is radically profound.

There’s been a few gay-friendly parties moving over to Electrowerkz recently. What makes the space so special?

Yes Blanc have taken up residence on the top floor whilst Ursula Snakes party Legion and Rosa Decidua run by my good friend DJ Inept are now both on the ground floor. The space is fantastic, atmospheric and cinematic with an air of post-apocalyptic dereliction, it has a fascinating history as a former stables for London Transport in the nineteenth century and and more recently as a metalworks and has hosted some incredible music events over the years including regular Warp Records showcases, but it is also the people who run the venue that make it special, everyone from the management through to the technicians and the security crew are incredibly supportive, enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with.

If you could create your own space, what would it look like? What features would it have?

It would be amazing to reimagine an abandoned industrial structure a derelict sea fort, a water-tower, swimming baths or ghost station or a network of tunnels…. old buildings have a particular resonance, a melancholic romanticism. I would love to have the opportunity to work with an architect and a sound engineer to create the perfect acoustic chamber within a space like this.

There is a huge focus on nurturing a place for creativity at the night. What kind of things have you seen at KAOS that have made you proud?

Yes we’ve hosted some extraordinary performances, installations and interventions over the years but it’s also the spontaneous, ephemeral actions and unexpected juxtapositions that stay in the mind. Kaos has also been a place where different artists, musicians and performers have encountered each other and these meetings have often led to collaborative endeavours that have spilled out from the club and into galleries, stages and screens around the world.

What do you think about events such as Sink The Pink?

I don’t have any opinion as I’ve never been. Their events have tended to clash with ours and so I am usually working, from what I understand, their music policy and aesthetic is the polar opposite of ours which is great, a city the size of London needs diversity and niches.

You’ve hosted incredible live acts over the years. Who would you say has been the stand out?

The recent live performance from seminal Canadian techno duo Orphx was a dream come true for me. Their sound somehow epitomises everything that I love about techno, other highlights have included London Modular Alliance who brought such a forest of machines that we had to extend the stage and Dominic Butler (ex Factory Floor) and Richard Smith’s (L/F/D/M) new project Bronze Teeth who performed their first ever live UK show at the Kaos 10th anniversary party.

Paula Temple is playing your upcoming party on 20th June. How did this come about?

I’ve been completely obsessed with the astonishing, otherworldly sounds that Paula has been coaxing from her machines recently. I’m a regular guest DJ at the Berlin Club Gegen, someone took Paula there last year and she loved the place so much she produced a new track titled Gegen in honour of that party. Everything came full circle at the beginning of May when I finally heard Paula play a brilliant 3 hour set at Gegen. As soon as I returned to London I contacted her with an invitation to play at Kaos.

Paula was a Stattbad regular, arguably one of Berlin’s greatest clubs. Have you noticed any parallels in London vs Berlin clubbing recently?

Yes of course finally in London there is a convergence of ‘queer’ with techno. There have been moments in the past with parties such as Antagony and Behind Bars but for some years Kaos was in the wilderness. It’s great to see techno take centre stage in London once again and I’m sure that much of that is to do with the proximity to Berlin and the exposure to some of the brilliantly deranged techno events happening there.

Send me an image that perfectly sums up the night in your opinion, and we’ll let readers make up their own mind on what that means.
(image by Andrew Millar)
KAOSSSS

KAOS presents Paul Temple @ Electrowerks
Paula Temple (HYBRID live/dj set)
Jose Macabra (live)
DJ RWM
HaLo IS
Choronzon

Visuals: Christina Jendreiko and Adam Csoka Keller for Sixth Finger Magazine

DJ Koze Interview

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Ahead of the release of DJ Koze’s DJ Kicks mixtape next month, the 50th in the series no less, we caught up with him as he gave us an insight into the method behind the madness…

Did you enjoy piecing it together; it’s very different to other mixes in the series? And was that by chance or was it a conscious decision to be different?

Yeah of course it was a conscious decision, I always try to use something that is individual or different. What is the gain of doing something similar to what has gone before? Even if I’m on a festival tour, I don’t need to be the tenth DJ who plays the same records. It’s always nice to be brave and try to offer something a little bit different.

From listening to the mix, you’ve definitely succeeded in offering something different for the listener. Your mixes have always had that element of surprise, almost to the point where you could identify a Koze mix without knowing you were listening to one. What aspect about piecing a mix together do you feel is the most important?

At first I’m thinking ‘what would be a nice mix tape to receive from a friend…?’ what would impress me? I want to be able to make a mix I could give to an old woman in Spain… I’m often in Spain, and I’m connected to people there who don’t necessarily know what I do. I could be talking with the local carpenter or the baker, and they know I make music and DJ, and at some point I’ll be asked “what sort of music do you make?” and then I realise they don’t know what I’m talking about. I just want to give them a mix CD without explaining. These people who aren’t involved in the scene, who aren’t music nerds, who don’t understand all the codes, can be able to play it and still enjoy the music…. but even for the guys who are really into it, the nerds, if you put a lens on it you’ll appreciate how much detail is involved. Especially with all the edits, I’ll try and keep a thread of feeling going, but do it with records from different genres. If you go into a record store you don’t find these records next to each other.

There are a lot of edits in the mix, is this specifically so you can bridge the gap between genres, or because you enjoy putting your own stamp on a particular track?

I need to produce the edits to jump between trains of thought, as if I didn’t it would be too jarring a clash, so I fine tune the tracks to maintain the flow of the mix. I try to make it as smooth as possible so that a new genre goes unnoticed. Some tracks start only with chords, so I asked some guys if they could send me the stems. I played around a bit with the Session Victim track, and I had an acapella version of the The 2 Bears, and the blend was so good that it began to work like a mash-up, and essentially became a new song. I spent a lot of time working on each song to make sure they sounded right in the mix. I was trying to make music which becomes timeless, so it doesn’t get on my nerves!

There’s clearly been a lot of time and effort put into the mix on your behalf, just how long did it take to compose?

I don’t know… it kills the myth though if I tell you! But it was a long time, as I had to get licence clearance on some of the tracks which took a while. I couldn’t use the second track initially, and it was an important track in terms of the direction I was going. 

Is that how you work? Pick the first track then go from there?

No no no, I need to play around with some tracks, and I try to build some blocks. Like the hip-hop instrumental block, and the 4 to the floor block at the end, and then you try to build blocks… usually 3 or 4 songs together. Really similar to a movie, or a good book, you need to set the mood, and in the best case it always has to increase the tension. So you start to piece the blocks together like chapters, and its difficult sometimes to maintain the mood, so each of the blocks will require editing to work correctly…. but I’m a DJ, I can’t complain, it’s my job!

The idea of producing blocks, is that a similar approach you would give to producing an LP?

Yes, of course. It’s always the same. In a random order this mix could be observed as completely senseless you know. Amygdala was really difficult to bring together into a sense making story. It’s a fragile process trying to bring together different genres into a sense making story. You know it yourself, if you play a really deep song, and then bring in a flat pumping song, all the people wake up… then the song before becomes ugly in this moment and the next song is also ugly… and at this point you effectively lose peoples trust. People thought they were being taken on a trip, and that they could let go, but now they are waking up and it’s horrible. Everybody in the room realises, and the DJ realises, so the order is always the trickiest thing for me.

You mention taking people on a trip, or journey… what would be your ideal environment for a DJ set?

You need an open crowd, and it helps if the music that was played before you was terrible (laughs). Then you get to take people on a journey. Never under estimate a crowd either, you need to take risks to get them along for the ride. If you think they are stupid, and they need to get served stupid formula music, there won’t be a big wild trip. But if you risk something… and you go out on the thin ice, then everybody realises that you are taking a risk, and then they are working together with you. If you risk something, you can feel it in the air. People are always more appreciative if they know you are being challenged, it brings it to their eye level. If you’re just dictating from the booth, ‘this is the music, you know how to dance to, there are occasional breaks in it, you bring back the bass, people scream’… this is the stupid side of house music, where everything is predictable, and there are no surprises in the air.

Who was the last person to take you on a trip?

The Damon Albarn concert in Hamburg in January was super nice. He also took risks that night. He was perfect. He didn’t blow up something bigger for the sake of it. If anything the opposite was the case. He was so humble. He played some wonderful Blur versions on the piano, he didn’t want to make more show than what it was… and it’s the opposite of what you see elsewhere. Everybody wants to be bigger, fatter, harder, better, faster, stronger… but he knows his quality, and that his voice is making the whole room fall in love with him. 

You’ve been in a few bands yourself down the years, most recently with International Pony Club. Any hopes of getting back together in the future?

No no… we really like each other, but we’re far too stressful. It’s really fragile to build bands and let them last a long time. Some of the biggest bands which we love, they just meet on stage, you know? You have to try to make it like a company, you just work and make money.

Do you ever get the feeling of ‘damn, I just don’t want to go to work today’? or is it always a joy to be playing records?

Yeah, but it’s complaining on a high level. Some of my friends will be like, ‘oh I don’t want to go to Dubai’ or ‘I can’t be bothered going to Ibiza’ and in the end it’s a wonderful job. I’m thankful, and it’s a privileged position I find myself in….

DJ-Kicks 50 by DJ Koze

DJ Koze’s DJ Kicks will be out on the 15th June : Pre-order on iTunes now

Tracklist:

  1. DJ Koze – I Haven’t Been Everywhere But It’s On My List (DJ-Kicks exclusive)
  2. Dimlite – Can’t Get Used To Those? (Kosi Edit)
  3. cLOUDDEAD – Dead Dogs Two (Boards of Canada Remix)
  4. Strong Arm Steady – Best of Times
  5. Homeboy Sandman – Holiday (Kosi & Finks Edit)
  6. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Shame
  7. Mndsgn – Camelblues (Kosi Edit)
  8. Broadcast – Tears In The Typing Pool
  9. Daniel Lanois – Carla
  10. Hi Tek & The 2 Bears – Modern Hi Tek Family Bears (Kosi Mashup)
  11. William Shatner – It Hasn’t Happened Yet
  12. Marker Starling – In Stride
  13. Session Victim- Hyuwee (Kosi Remix)
  14. Frank & Tony – Bring The Sun feat. Gry (Kosi Edit)
  15. Marcel Fengler – Jaz (Kosi Edit)
  16. Portable feat. Lcio – Surrender (Kosi Edit)
  17. The Gentle People – Superstar

Interview with Graeme Clark aka The Revenge

Ahead of The Revenge’s debut LP release our intrepid reporter KMG caught up with Graeme Clark for a chat about what brought it all together…

It’s 16 years since you set up Five20East and began releasing material… can you tell us how it all started?

I was working in a call centre in Dunfermline for Sky TV at the time, and me and a couple of mates at work got talking about starting a label. As a group of naive 19 year olds we just decided that we would go and get a record pressed… as we had a few tracks that we had been working on together. We took it (and a bunch of other white labels) to the Miami winter music conference in 2001, and also down to London in an attempt to get it out there. If was a lot more difficult back then though as the internet was still in it’s infancy, and if you didn’t get a review for example, it became an uphill struggle to get the necessary traction. It was certainly a lot of leg work to be doing based in Dunfermline!

In that short space of time you must have seen a big shift in the way music is produced and released?

Oh yeah… looking back on it though it was good that we’d put our selves out there in that way, we were so young and didn’t necessarily know what we were doing. Not that I know what I’m doing now! But to think that we just got on a plane and went over there seems crazy to me now, and although it’s now easier to get your stuff out there, it’s not easier to get heard to be honest.

You’re also engineering other artists work, such as Harri & Dom’s 20 years of subclub mix. Is this a natural progression from your production work? or born from an early ambition?

I’d applied to get in Art College when I left school, but that didn’t work out. My dad’s a bass player and he suggested that maybe I’d like to do sound engineering, as he knew some guys who were doing a course up in Perth. I’d been making tracks and buying equipment for years but hadn’t really considered engineering up to that point. It was a really good way for me to learn about other aspects of the music industry though, and I met my label partner Paul McGlashan on the course, and he plays live with me now. Without that connection I’m pretty sure things would be different.

Yourself and Paul have also progressed to playing live now too… can you tell us a little bit about how that came about?

Paul and I had just moved to Glasgow where Optimo had been going for a year or two on Sundays at the Subclub…. Paul was a regular attendee, and we had a lot of gear in my flat, so we were experimenting with a set-up. Then out of nowhere Paul managed to get us a gig at a Glasgow techno night in the Soundhaus called Monox, which was a popular club at the time. We’d made a record together under the alias ‘Deportivo Street Team’ which was getting played by the guys at Monox, so that got us the gig, and off the back of it we played a few more, even supporting Calvin Harris(!) in Edinburgh. It was at that time when I met Harri and began to work in the studio more, and the Revenge stuff was beginning to get going, and then Paul got a job too, so the live set-up was tucked away for a while. To make it work you need all the gear together in one place, and both of you need to be able to rehearse at the same time.

… so what’s brought about the return to the live set-up?

Well, it was two years ago and I had finished my old label, Instruments of Rapture, which was beginning to morph into a label in its own right, when it had originally been a platform for edits. So instead of letting it evolve and drift I decided it was better to end it on a high and start something new.

I was doing so much remix work at the time, and having not put any original Revenge material out, I was beginning to get boxed into a corner, so I felt is was important to step back and get a new start. That way I could get reinvigorated in the studio, and just start jammin’ with some of my old gear again.
To celebrate the end of Instruments Of Rapture we did a live set at the Subclub on the Queens Jubilee bank holiday… so that weekend we just took out loads of equipment to the club, and had an improvised jam for an hour. It was a real baptism of fire! We had hoped to go on a tour with the idea of improvised sets but quickly realised that it would be very difficult to sell without having any material. So that’s when I decided to start the new label, as a vehicle for the new work.

therevenge

So the new label was created as an outlet for your new album ‘Love that will not die’ ?

Doing my own music, on my own label, with a live performance element around it, and to be doing it with my mates Paul and Julia is great.
For me its symbiotic, and it was a realisation I had a couple of years ago. Beforehand I used to separate the idea of DJing, the live performance, the label and the studio… as individual entities. I now understand that they are all part of the same thing for me. If they all lead into each other it allows me to express myself more fully, whether its live performance, the artwork, the music… and means I get to invest a part of myself into all aspects of the job. This has enabled me to be more passionate about my output, so that it doesn’t become… just another track… just another record.

Has this new found approach to your work had an influence on the title of your album?

Yeah possibly. The title actually came from the name of a Johnny Guitar Watson track, a great funk soul record, and the title had stuck with me for years. But I think also because it’s got love and death in the title, those are the things that define us all in some way. Without trying to get too deep!

You collaborate with Sister Sledge on the album track ‘Stay A While’ – how did that collaboration come to pass? And how were they to work with in the studio?

They were great, and it came about quite bizarrely over twitter. They posted something about being into an edit I made years ago, and it was at a time when I was dreaming up ideas for the album. So I decided to respond with thanks and asked if they’d be up for collaborating and it just snowballed from there, before you know it we’re in the studio for a few hours jamming in London. They have some new material soon as well, so hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to return the favour on their album. It’s refreshing to know that someone like myself who’s working an indy label can make connections like this, and that there’s still hope for other people who do the same.

Do you think this will be the first of multiple LPs, or is Love That Will Not Die a labour of love that you just needed to release?

The LP format is one thing that I’m not sure about at the moment. I certainly did take time to make this into a cohesive piece of work, with the intention that it’s read as a whole. I’d like to make more, and in some ways it’s made me more interested in expanding upon it, with an ambient cassette version to be released in the summer to coincide with the summer solstice. The thing that sometimes irritates me about my own work is when a track’s finished it becomes set in stone, and I often find when you come to the end of producing there’ll be another element come to the fore and you think, ‘well if I did something with this there’d be potential for another great track’ and you never really get the opportunity to explore it, it finishes there. So by doing another version, and also playing it live where it can evolve, I’m finding greater opportunity to give the album material a further lease of life.

With a new album, and refreshed live set, does this mean we can expect a summer show?

Yeah, we’ve got a live show in Fabric on Saturday 4th July, and that’s the main London gig in the diary just now, with more stuff in the summer currently TBC.

THE REVENGE’S NEW ALBUM ‘LOVE THAT WILL NOT DIE’ IS AVAILABLE TO BUY ON 12” NOW AT BELOW LINKS

The Revenge
Roar Groove