12 questions for Andras Fox (Melbourne)

Andras Fox is a talented producer / multi-instrumentalist / dj out hailing from Melbourne, Australia. You might know him from his amazing 'Embassy Café' release that saw a worldwide release through Dopeness Galore, coining it “house music laid bare - rough, ready and romantic. The early 90s house record Australia never had”. Lately he’s been on a roll with new releases, videos (like this one for ‘Pontoon’  or his most recent ‘Looking Back’, a collab with Oscar) and remixes. As we speak, Andras is on a Euro tour that brings him to Istanbul, London, Athens, Stockholm and Zürich among other places. This Saturday, he’ll make his Berlin debut at Autumn Break, enough reason to ask him a few questions.

Hey Andras, how you been? This will be your first time playing in Berlin, have you visited before though?

I’ve been only once before, on holiday 4 years ago. I don’t think i went to any clubs - it was during a heat-wave and all i remember doing was riding a bike around, eating icy-poles and watering myself in the shower. 

A lot of releases came out in the last few months: ‘Overworld’ LP as A.R.T. Wilson, the ‘Vibrate on Silent EP’, ‘Cafe Romantica LP’ with Oscar, as well as more remixes and collabs. Do you have a specific studio workflow to match your profific output?

Not at all - i’m kinda sporadic and work in burst of energy, followed by months of lethargy. But in simple terms, I just play things. Run a drum machine, play keys parts, jam out for an hour, and then work on condensing the ideas into a track. It’s just a simple audio workflow - the same way people have been using tape in traditional studios. 

A lot of Melburnians have moved to Europe in the last few years. Are you planning to stay in Melbourne? What keeps your there?

I love Melbourne - it enables me to do what i need to do. I like the freedom of space, the ability to drive a big ugly 4x4 around in the bush, the deserts and the clean oceans. Melbourne has a great music scene, enabled by great community radio stations like 3RRR and PBS fm. It’s a city where its still affordable to live as a musician. And there’s a good history in this town too, lots of great 80s labels and post-punk, weirdo electronic stuff. It’s my culture - I enjoy feeling home in a place rather than like a tourist / guest. I’d consider moving overseas to europe - but it’ll only be when i find a city that gives me the same feelings. Berlin is perhaps close - or perhaps Greece. Right not i’m writing this from Athens and that’s feeling pretty great. I can imagine having a nice decrepit studio here, and a old beat up yamaha dirt-bike. 

Do you prefer cats or dogs?

Generally Cats. But I like particular dogs - wise, calm ones - kelpies, blue healers - that kind of dog. 

BMW or Mercedes?

Since you’re talking to an Australian, the real question is Holden or Ford. 

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

I don’t like either to be honest. But at least the Beatles weren’t trying to be black. 

You collaborated on Ankle Snapper with IMHOTEP, who performed as Zanzibar Chanel on our last Summer Break party. How did that come along?

Like any collab - we hung out one afternoon, played around with 2 or 3 tracks in the studio, and Ankle Snapper was the result. Imhotep programmed the drums, and later on i re-worked them with a new bass-line and keys parts.

Have you seen their live set? It’s pretty intense.

I’ve seen all the Zanzibar Incarnations - in fact, i was at their first ever show at the gasometer hotel. It was one of the wildest things i’ve ever seen. Zac did a cover version of French Kiss which was almost unbearably uncomfortable. We all got up on stage at the end (there were only about 20 people in the room). 

Who would you like to work with, if you could choose anyone?

In the past I might have said people like Gary Wilson, Larry Heard, etc etc. But I’m equally excited by our generation of musicians - and all the talented people around Australia. 

I already got to work with one of my all-time idols, (The Professor) Gary Davis, who played keys on Driftwood on the Vibrate on Silent EP.

What are some of your main influences? Not necessarily musical.

Chris Marker is probably my strongest visual influence. Taught me a lot about how to look at the world, and how to think about memory and images.

Georges Bataille for being a saucy, extravagant and totally wild idiot. 
My Grandfather for being a stubborn, strong and self-made man - who had good humour about his struggles. 
Henry Miller for being entirely full of shit, but loving every moment of it. 

What do you like to do on a day off?

Swim. It’s all i want to do these days. Get me near a body of water, a pool, a spa, hell… even a bathtub. 

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?

Young Nick Cave lookalike.

Thanks a lot Andras, rendez-vous on the About Blank dancefloor this Saturday!

10 questions for Jan Brauer (Brandt Brauer Frick)

Jan Brauer is one third of the ‘acoustic techno’ ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, together with Daniel Brandt and Paul Frick. The three Neukölln based friends like to call their brand of techno, built on a basis of live acoustic instruments and electronic sounds, ‘emotional body music’. Recently the outfit released their very first mix compilation for the seminal DJ-Kicks series. This Saturday, Jan will join the decks on the Get Deep Floor hosted by Berlin’s finest, Nano Nansen and Charlie Smooth.

Photo: Luci Lux

Jan, autumn’s in the air since last week. What do you like most about autumn? What don’t you like?

Colourful leaves and golden light is what I like. Summer being far away is what I don’t like at all.

You’re mostly known as one third of the Brandt Brauer Frick outfit. How long have you been dj’ing for?

Since 7 years but really occasionally in the beginning. Started more out of the need to hear music I like in the city where I was living at that time.

Do you guys dj together as Brandt Brauer Frick as well after the release of the DJ-Kicks compilation? Do you prefer to dj solo or not?

We did that after the DJ Kicks came out and we found that it’s not that easy to combine all of our rather eclectic collections into one set. Well, it kind of worked out most of the times but after playing back-to-back-to-back for several gigs I guess we’re all happy to play solo for a while, keeping in mind that we play together as a band anyway every couple of days.

What do you like to do on a day off?

Eating, sleeping, strolling, reading, sports, seeing people, music all day long and cleaning up. Most of the time the day off is over before I get to the very last point.

What do you recommend people when they visit Berlin? What are some of your favourite local artists / labels / hangouts?

I usually walk with them through my neighborhood and show them OYE Neukölln, then Burrito Baby right next to it, followed by a digesting hangout at the canal. I keep telling them they should go to different areas too, but I stay in Neukölln.

What’s your favourite About Blank memory?

Definitely the Get Deep party last year when they had two shamans playing in a tent outside in the garden. People kept talking about that night for ages. There was a free Shaman Drink too.

Do you know some of Andras Fox’ work?

Unfortunately I don’t. Yet.

Who’s your favourite band in the world? Why?

Can. I can’t explain why, I just like their sound and that they made so much things differently compared to others.

When was the last time you told a lie?

Just right now, when I said Can. Honestly, BBF is my most favorite band.

Would you rather go on a date with Kim Kardashian or Xosar?

I wouldn’t want to mess up with Kanye, he seems like he could go really psycho, you know…

Thanks Jan and catch you at the Get Deep Floor!

13 questions for Monsieur Monod (Sleazybeats Soundsystem)

Sleazybeats Soundsystem consists of Kris Percy (DK) and Monsieur Monod (NL), label bosses of the Sleazy Beats Recordings imprint. Although Kris once played in Berlin before, this Saturday will be the first time you can catch them grace the decks together. Expect an impeccable selection of sleazy house and disco as the duo warm up About Blank’s Lobby Floor for Andras Fox.

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Bonjour Monsieur Monod. This Saturday you’ll play in Berlin for the first time. Do you expect it to be special in any way?

Yes it’ll be the first time we play in Berlin together, so we’re very much looking forward to it. We’ve both been to Berlin several times, it’s hard to think of a more fun city to hang out in. Really looking forward to hearing Andras perform, we’re total fanboys.

Sleazy Beats, your brainchild, is a blog turnt label you’ve been running since 2009. How did it come along? How does it work to be in a different city each? Do you get to have beers sometimes?

Setting up a record label was something we both secretly dreamed of ever since we started buying records back in the 90s. The blog took off quite quickly after launching it in 2009 (this is the pre-Facebook era, mind you, nobody reads blogs anymore) and at some point we got sent so many demos and unreleased bits it got us scratching our heads a little. I had some money saved up I was willing to blow on a record, talked Eddie C into doing us giving us some tunes and then we googled our asses off to figure out how this industry works. At some point I stumbled upon a post hidden deep inside the bowels of the DJHistory messageboard (another relic from the past) about All Ears, a newish distributor that specialized in boutique disco releases, so we got in touch with them and they took us on. I don’t think the label would still exist without them, they’ve been absolutely incredible since day one, offering sound advice and getting our records into some of the best shops around the globe. Distribution might seem the least sexy part of the record industry but they really play a pivotal role.

Kris living in Copenhagen and me living in Amsterdam might seem complicated, but it’s supereasy to ping ideas, demos etc back and forth these days. Plus when we do get to see each other it’s beer ‘o clock non stop!

Do you  or Kris have residencies in your respective cities?

Kris has had a few over the years and is usually up to something in Copenhagen. I’m notoriously bad at chasing gigs. Add to kids and a hectic dayjob to the equation so I don’t get to play out as much as I’d like to. It would be rad to have a spot to play at regularly though (imagine the joys of not having neigbours complaining all the time!)

What do you like to do on a day off?

Eat, drink, read, listen to music, sleep? Mostly eating and sleeping these days. I also love having a dig at Distortion records, it’s a messy joint with stacks and piles or records all over the place but I love it, always pull out fun stuff there.

What do you recommend people when they visit Amsterdam?

The Zoo, it’s my favourite place in the city, especcially on weekdays when there’s very few people around. It’s like having an amazing park all to youself. I can also heartily recommend the fleamarket at NDSM wharf (Northern part of town) that’s on every three weeks, it’s huge and filled with crazy stuff and seriously deranged people.

The city has a very buzzing nightlife and amazing record stores such as Red Light Records and Rush Hour. Do you feel part of a scene there?

Not really if I’m brutally honest. I get most of my records from a mysterious international vinyl pimp who can get his hands on anything, I’m not involved with promoting parties and most of my friends hate house music with a passion, so when I go out it’s usually to local bars or to see a band play.

What are some of your favourite local artists / labels / hangouts?

I really like hearing Olivier Boogie play, he’s a great DJ. Other than that I’m a big Ben La Desh fan and Junktion and Daniel Leseman (Fouk) make really exciting music. SHMLSS are also a great outfit. My favourite party in town is Midnight City, it’s run by a bunch of really sound guys with a great taste in music.

Do you wear pyjamas?

Of course, real men wear PJs, everybody knows that. Never matching tops and bottoms though, that would be a major faux pas. PJ politics are quite intricate but I think I have that down to a tee.

What’s the last expensive record you bought? Why should we love it too?

Well it’s not stupidly expensive but I got Lexx’s new one on Phantom Island in a few weeks ago, very limited and very very good. Why should you love it too? Because Lexx is a bad, bad man. Lexx - Young Corner (Phantom Island)

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?

Someone recently told me I’m world class at delivering an PFO (Polite Fuck off). A great skill to have when you run a label I guess.

Do you prefer Belgians or the Dutch? Why?

Ah now this is tricky. I much prefer the way Belgians speak Dutch. Belgian satire is also in a league of its own. I’m quite partial to a Belgian beer. And my mother-in-law lives in Knokke! So yeah Belgians are my go-to people.

When was the last time you told a lie?

Two seconds ago. I really don’t like Belgians at all. Plus you lot talk funny.

If you were forced to get a huge tattoo on your back, what would it be?

A toss-up between an ejaculating merman or Kris’ face. Maybe one could combine the two, that would make for an interesting impression.

Cheers and bis Samstag sir!

10 questions for Johannes Albert (Frank Music)

Frank Music’s Johannes “Hans” Albert is no stranger to About Blank. We’re very excited to have him back on board for his only Berlin show this October, Autumn Break 2014. We asked Hans 10 questions about life, music, Berlin and much more to introduce him to you.

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Hi Hans. You’re originally from the beautiful area of lower franconia in Southern Germany, how did you end up in Berlin?

Well, I used to study down in the south in the city of Würzburg where I grew up nearby. After I finished my studies in “business information systems” in the spring of 2010, I was looking for a job. Besides I felt like I needed a change from the rather small city. My first 12” record just came out on a Berlin based label and a lot of my friends already moved to Berlin around that time where I also went frequently before. So it was an easy decision to come here. 

How long have you lived here? Do you feel like the city has changed much since you first arrived?

As said I moved here around 4 and a half years ago. I don’t know if there was a really big change during that time. There was defintely a change in my neighbourhood around Rathaus Neukölln. I mean it seems to be like THE record-paradise now. I think within a year there were 3 or 4 new record shops opening… All of them so close to my apartment that I can walk there. They all sell quality dance music. Plus one thing that’s really showing how the area is developing: an arabic shop selling carpets turning into an organic supermarket. Also new restaurants and bars popping up every month. So I kinda like it, yeah. If there is a change, it’s for the better. I’m still amazed (and shocked at the same time!) when I travel and hear all these “wanna move to Berlin” stories. I mean you hear these ‘rent-going-up’ stories all the time and I ask myself “this hype’s gotta be over at some point”… But it seems that Berlin is still a place you can live a decent life without spending too much money for housing and food. This is a thing I love in this town. Making shitloads of money or making a splendid career is just not something that many people are interested in. It’s probably much more about having a good time and doing exciting (and sometimes also not-so-exciting) projects etc. Maybe a negative aspect is that smaller towns lose their creative minds since everyone is coming here. So I get the impression at some point that we have way too much going on here and the other cities in the country suffer a bit when it comes to good creative stuff. I mean look at Hamburg, Munich or Frankfurt… Leipzig… whatever, there are so many amazing cities that also have their own kind of scene. So you see, no need for everyone to do the Berlin thing. I love this place for a reason but I’m also a bit sick of all that Berlin talk since there is more… trust me.

What do you recommend people when they visit Berlin?

My favourite spot is the Tempelhof airport. It’s such a nice green spot in the heart of the city where you will always meet happy faces. In summer you smell BBQs all over. You can easily escape the neverending speed of the city, go for a run or just stroll around.

What do you like to do on a day off?

I grab a cup of good coffee on Sonnenallee and walk around the canal in Kreuzberg. Afterwards I make some music in my bedroom.

What’s the most amazing record you’ve discovered recently?

During my trip to Japan I had the chance to visit quite some record spots in Tokyo. Found this little disco gem from 1986 that gets me everytime now.
It’s a proper song. Be prepared since this one is about true emotion. You better sing along: “If you should ever be lonely - thing of the time, think of the moments we shared…” Val Young ‎– If You Should Ever Be Lonely

Everyone’s scared of something. Do you have any phobias?

Actually I was always scared of thunder & lightning when I was a kid. Still not a big fan of it. 

You’ve been running your label Frank Music with the ‘Hamburg EP’ recently released. What else is coming in the future?

Maybe some of you guys remember “The H.A.N.S. EP” which was released in 2012. My little tribute to Henry Street label from NYC. Serving some of the finest disco house moments in history. “These sounds fall into my miiiind…. ” Now there’s a follow up in the making. “The H.A.N.S. EP Volume 2” will hit the road in december. Including 4 sample-heavy trax plus some fun tools for the soft working dj and the fast moving dancer. You better remember that “H.ouse A.int N.othing S.erious” but fun. Next year will see new faces and old boys in newly mixed teams. Expect some sweet piano as well as heavy kick drums. Always 12 inches ahead!

Who’s your favourite dj in the world? Why?

I haven’t heard him in a while but Gerd “der Gerd” Janson always did the trick for me. Especially his warmup selections (w/ Thomas H-Män!) at Robert Johnson were an eye opener for me. I like his loopy disco-ish vibe that makes people dance all the time. It’s no secret that he delivers in big rooms as well. It’s a shame he does not play the About Blank anymore these days … bring him back, please! 

What’s the best memory of About Blank you have?

Ahhh there was quite some nice moments. Playing for Kim Brown’s album release, playing bangin’ techno with mate Ronny Curtis or maybe the best moment - when dropping some classic Chez Damier stuff in the small room, Mr. San Soda did heavy rain dances on the dancefloor in front of me. At some point he just took my little pocket synth and began to play over my set. Fun time. 

Would you rather go on a date with Nina Kraviz or Emma Watson?

Haha thats a good one. I bet Nina has more interesting stories to tell. I mean which girl goes to the city of Chicago just to dig for dusty dance mania records?

Thanks and see you at About Blank next Saturday Hans!

Paperecordings / repap newletters from back in the day

Digging through old record crates one weekend in November, I stumbled upon a couple of awesome Paperecordings releases. I remembered their funny newsletters from back in the day. Unfortunately they were all sent to a now long defunct Hotmail account of mine. I figured someone might still have them and investigated. From the Paperecordings Twitter account I learnt that they were written by a certain comedy talent named Anna Greenwood. When I contacted her by email, she wrote me back saying unfortunately she didn’t have any of them:

Thanks for getting in touch and for enjoying the mails! That was a long time ago. Sadly I don’t have any of them, just used to write them and send them out when I was working for paper. Wish I still had them, although I’d probably cringe at them now. They’re probably out there on an internet page far, far away in the galaxy, probably taking up valuable bandwidth. Sorry not to be able to help. If you do ever find them though please let me know. Would love to revisit my juvenile scrawlings.

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It seems Anna was right. After a bit more researching I was finally able to track a couple of the newspapers down. They’re still as funny as I remembered. I asked her if she’d mind if I shared them with the world, she said go. So here they are below. If you’d have any other ones, do send them in (gratts.dj at gmail dot com).

Gratts

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ensemble 001 - Xosar - Retreat 2 Rapture EP (incl Xan Xoda remix) now for sale via our distributor Rush Hour.

ensemble 001 - Xosar - Retreat 2 Rapture EP (incl Xan Xoda remix) now for sale via our distributor Rush Hour.

Kong for Stroom.tv

Kong played at Stroom.tv, a newborn platform run by Nosedrip. Be sure to check it out while they are live broadcasting, usually in the evening between 20-23h. Or tune in to the recording of Kong’s show last Thursday.