Al-“most natural” – berlin, cd vs vinyl, mad decent props for homophobic crap

“The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.” Italo Calvino
The train journey to Berlin sucked. I like travelling by train but sometimes you get all the negative sides at once: crowded waggon, subtropical climate, a kid shouting and bumping against your seat from the back, the couple sitting opposite to you unwrapping super-smelly salami-rolls, the female getting sick so the rest of the journey is spent with her holding a plastic bag chin-high in front of her and me trying mantra power repeating innerly ‘please don’t puke please don’t puke please don’t puke’. She didn’t. Phew.

I got off the train all exhausted from ignoring the sausage stench and heat and drove to the Hackesche Markt where my exhaustion was blown away quickly by meeting Frauke for a couple of pre-show beers, and René joining us later. It was warm enough to sit outside and that was really wonderful. Do you know that feeling when something – as simple and small as it might be – is so perfect that you seem to soak it up like a sponge? I forgot time and it was already midnight when I turned up at the Bang Bang Club which turned out to be one of those brit-o-phile nme-indie-mod clubs. It was nice to meet Christian of Headquarter so I finally got a face to all the mail exchanges, and to meet Ralf of 2FTR again, but I missed the bands and when I started djing it was the typical feared after-show scenario: The room emptied pretty quickly when the band stopped and for a while about 20 people stood around at the bar and the merch table, then they slowly faded out too. Some asked for the name of songs I played but no one danced. Tsk. Berlin indie crowds. Tsk. I was glad when the guy from the venue ended it after an hour and Ralf drove me ‘home’ as it’s not that much fun spinning in an empty venue.

It would have been tough to mix a whole night there anyway: The cd players were under the table in the dark, just above knee high. Console and mixer on the table. It was a very basic numark cdn thingy, working a lot slower than ours at the K4 and even rejecting some cds. I don’t complain, I use whatever is there but of course it has an effect on dj sets. I’d never thought I’d find tech talk blogworthy and I’ll try to keep it short but I’m in love. I’m in love with CDJ 1000MKs. I swear, it’s like we’re made for each other. I had the pleasure of using them in Linz and it was so much fun and so smooooth… wonderful.

The other thing is the cd vs vinyl talk. From time to time I stumble upon persons who claim that vinyl is the ‘real’ thing to dj with. I usually don’t let myself get taken into such discussions but secretly I have to admit that vinyl purists get on my tits. I love vinyl and still buy vinyl over cd anytime if it’s not much more expensive. My favourite medium is the 45. For djing though I prefer my map of cd-rs. It’s what I can work with most intuitionally. When I started djing I always had both with me, vinyl and cd-rs and I needed cd-rs for all the mash ups, remixes and edits that aren’t available on vinyl. I found out pretty soon that I always play out the cd version, even if I have the vinyl with me.  Is it about spending money for music? Do the vinyl purists think their dj sets are better cause they are more expensive? That’d be rubbish. I can’t see why to spend 12 Euros on a remix I play out 4 or 5 times. I rather spend it on the mp3, and preferrably on some system like snocap that makes the money go directly to the artist. I prefer to spend vinyl money for music that sticks with me and this often isn’t the kind of music that is made for party djing. Different music, different use, different media. I really can’t see what’s the problem. I have really seen too many djs who can beatmatch their house/minimal/electro/acid/etc. vinyl perfectly but are totally uninspired and uninspiring so please spare me that as a criterion for a ‘good dj’.

And now for something completely different: I’ve used to like the blog of the Mad Decent crew very much. Lots of unique mixes from baile over bass music to hiphop and ragga, lots of half-finished mixes that make the music feel alive and breathing and always in change. I also always have liked Diplo and the likes for tunes that were free of hatespeech and stale sexisms. Scrolling through some of their older postings I stumbled upon one in which they give props to Elephant Man ripping off a Culture Club tune. WTF?! It’s sad enough that by now Mad Decent publishes music by TOK (another seriously homophobic artist, with lyrics like “chi chi man fi dead”) through their South Rakkas mix release. I would have thought people like the Mad Decent crew (which includes for example the M.I.A. co-producer Diplo) wouldn’t be the ones to ‘tolerate’ homophobia like so many other ragga artists and producers do. Please – if someone like Elephant Man, who had quite some songs in which he incited killing gay people, rips off a song by a band like Culture Club with an outspokenly gay singer, couldn’t you at least drop a little comment in which you distance yourself from his message?
This is not some p.c. rant. I find it really sad. I hate losing respect for artists and labels that had seemed to make a difference. Musically I really like ragga beats a lot but I wish there would be more conscious choices of tunes and more outspokenness against homophobia amongst the djs and producers of that scene. Content DOES matter.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and tunes. I’ll make up for it soon.