Here I am!
Berlin DJ Shir Khan will smash this autumn all dancefloors with his the first mix-CD called "Maximize!" Is he a prophet of new rave culture? Is he going to destroy minimal sound hegemony in German clubs? Will he change the face of continental dance music? For answers - check our interview with him.
- You are one of the busiest DJs at the moment. What does keep you alive when you play every weekend in different country?
- Before DJ-ing I always try to get some sleep. Even if it's only one hour in a hotel room that's fine. Then I go into the club and check out the DJ before me. It's interesting to see how the crowd reacts and each crowd is different. So by then I know which tunes I am going to play and which tunes might be harder to play out. I never have a real planned set, so I am quite flexible about selection of the tracks. This kind of challenge of proving myself that I can rock any crowd is some sort of motivation or motor in me that keeps me going with what I do. It's like a drug? I always want to rock the crowd as good as I can. If I don't manage to keep people moving I know I am in the wrong place. Then afterwards, I get really drunk and ask myself why I am doing this. Sometimes DJ-ing as a job is some kind of love-hate relation.
- What is the most exciting in DJ work - music, money, travels or girls?
- It's a mixture of travelling, getting to know interesting people and new places, learning about new music and new cultures? and of course about having fun. For me DJ-ing is a lifestyle. It's a bit like go to someone else home, look at his/her records collection and you know who this person is. Maybe today it`s more of... "Yo check out my i-pod..." However, my record collection also reflects a bit of my life, it's an archive of what I went through and how I developed my style - in music and in life. It started with music from bands such as Ramones, went on to Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys to the golden age of hip hop (the 90s), souls of mischief to rare grooves and disco, to breakdance and 80s electro, to booty bass, mash-ups, bastard pop with 2 Many DJs, electro rock, baile funk, fidget house and so on?
- How does you consider a DJ mission: educating musically the crowd or give people a positive energy?
- Let say - for me - it's a symbiosis of feeling what the people want but at the same time educating them with stuff they don't know. I am not a servant who does everything the crowd wants, but I want to make everyone feel as most comfortable as possible while still playing really advanced. That's my mission and always a struggle for myself DJ-wise.
- Which DJ experiences were the most memorable for you in your whole career?
- The best: go-go dancers, body painted with tiger stripes, dancing naked on the stage in the Ukraine, girls stage diving in high-heels to my DJ sets. The worst: people asking me for black music
- Why did you decide to join two electronic production teams - Studio R and Tolcha?
- Actually this is how I got into producing. Tolcha was more of a classical band that experimented with electronic sounds and lots of analogue synths and delay machines. Since we recorded everything into Logic, I kind of started learning how to work with software. I started recording my own DJ mixes, began with edits and bootlegs and provided mad samples from my record archive for Tolcha. Later we all got into production, synchronized our laptops and made a big session. Tolcha was something completely different to my club life as a DJ. It`s actually not so hectic and quite relaxing, but the music doesn't represent my sound as a DJ. Tolcha is all about dark sound design, dub and experimental hip hop.
Studio R doesn't exist anymore. It was a studio project with a friend of mine. We made two 12-inches on Sonar Kollektiv and Black Label Compost. Let say it was more DJ-friendly hip hop than Tolcha.
- What are your roles in productions of Studio R and Tolcha?
- In Tolcha we are four persons and each person has the same influence. In the end you never know who did what. Doing tracks with Tolcha is a long process. Sometimes one track takes more than one year because we start editing it over and over. It`s always someone else who continues to work on the tracks. At the moment I kind of got a bit away from Tolcha cause I wanted to focus more on myself. Since I am playing so much I can't invest that much time into that anymore.
With Studio R me and Rocky Flanger swapped files. I was working at home and he was in his studio. Then we met and brought it all together.
- What are musical differences between these two projects?
- Tolcha rides the rough edges where hip hop, glitch, dub, electro and pop intersect. Tolcha is not about individual pieces, but about mood. It's about darkness. Tolcha just oozes dystopian premonition from its every pore. Studio R didn't really have a big concept and it just came out of the blue. It's more funk driven and it's more club oriented hip hop than Tolcha.
- You concentrated on remixing other artists in last months - what is interesting for you in making remixes?
- I love to blend many styles, take the song in and out of genres, combine oldschool elements with newschool. I like the combination of hip hop, electro, techno, rave, disco, fidget house, acid, pop, punk funk, baile funk and more. I try to cover all those elements in my remixes. My remixes sound a bit like two or three tracks in one remix. So sometimes you could also think the DJ just mixed in another track. I really like that cause it confuses people on the dancefloor and then when you come back in with an element of the song they already heard before - people go like "Wow? what's happening here?!".
- Why did you started to run your own label - Exploited?
- It was absolutely necessary for me to have a platform for the sound I DJ. I also have a VJ called Ultramodeem who is making some dope visuals for me. He is part of the gang as well. Surkin from France had the first 12" vinyl release on Exploited, then it's me with the "Maximize!" mix-CD, next up is Adam Sky vs. Mark Stewart, Sirius Mo, then Chris de Luca vs. Phon.o.
- Why did you decide to release your DJ mix - "Maximize!" - on the record?
- It was the right time to say "Here I am!"? I have been putting up so many DJ mixes on the internet for free that I needed to make something official.
- You are connected with new rave movement. Is "Maximize!" a musical manifesto of new rave DJ-ing style?
- First: "Maximize!" means: "Fuck you Gucci house lovers!", second: it's not a diss against minimal, but against German club politics. In the state of Berlin's club scene minimal techno continues to dominate the city's musical landscape. Everyone's telling me "Minimal sucks" - you see T-shirts saying "Kill Minimal". It's quite trendy to say minimal is out but it's still actually a really big. If people ask me what I play I just say I play maximal? so "Maximize!". It's kind of the pamphlet for it, saying "Look I play MAX, not MIN!"
- What does you understand as new rave culture? Do you feel a part of it?
- Everyone talks about neu rave but I don't think we actually have a scene in Berlin. You get more and more parties with glow sticks and the new rave fashion side but people are really just trying to imitate it.
In the intellectual press here new rave gets a lot of disrespect. It's either just starting or maybe it's even already been killed by the media because they're saying the big fuss about neu rave has already gone, particularly in the UK. I know that people consider me as a neu rave DJ. To be honest - The Klaxons, Simian Mobile Disco or Digitalism - all of them don't care about this genre though people think they are neu rave. However - neu rave as a term was important to come up with to tell people: look - there is something new happening in the clubs and this media hype also kind of changed the attitude of visitors. People are really looking forward to freestyle DJ sets and having fun. Maybe it's more of an attitude thing.
- "Maximize!" is very eclectic - you mixed techno, house, disco, electro, breakbeat, baile funk and dance punk. What all these genres have in common for you?
- It's not about genres. Music is universal. It's just separated by different tempos. I take the best bits out of songs I like. I am very selective. To me DJ-ing is a mélange of selection, dynamics, skills with the courage to give something new to the people. The wider the genres, the harder to bring it together and to build a tension to create a certain deepness even if that seems sometimes impossible with all those clashing styles?If you can do so, you are a good DJ.
- There is a lot of great vocals and melodies in tracks mixed on "Maximize!" - is it your way to be in opposition to anti-melodic minimal club music?
- I like vocal tracks, but I understand that in certain clubs this is a no-go. I am not saying this is good and this is bad. If the club is really big I play more instrumental pumping music, if it's for a smaller crowd who know what they came for, they get a fast ride of banging cut-up vocal tracks.
I have nothing against minimal and I like people such as Matt John and Krause Duo or Matthew Johnson. Also a lot of my friends are into playing that music such as Jake The Rapper. It's just that I am a bit sick that everybody keeps telling me how much they hate minimal and then at the end of the day you see all those people dancing in Berlins after-hours spots. I know that this is also kind of a promoters fault since only a few people are booking eclectic nights as in London or Paris.
- Do you see the future of dance music in rather melodic and energetic tunes than in experimental minimal tracks?
- Hard to say - at the moment fidget house is the big thing for me. Though its production technique is more minimal, the tunes sound deep to me but are at the same time no minimal tracks. It works for a techno crowd as well as for advanced hip hop people. Fidget house is all about wobbly basslines, uptempo shuffled drum beats, cut-up looped vocals, cheap synths, acid lines. Switch, Jesse Rose, Sinden, Herve, Crookers are the representators of that style. All of these artists are featured on my CD. I like this combination of hip hop, jackin house, acid, cut`n`paste.
- There are some mash-up masterpieces on "Maximize!" - what is your formula for the perfect mash-up combination?
- It doesn't have to be overproduced. Keep mash-ups simple. Some stuff works and some just doesn't. Even though I like doing edits and mash-ups I think you shouldn't exaggerate with this in a DJ-set dropping instant mash-ups. This thing is kind of over, but sometimes it's worth dropping a few of them in a set. Because it's kind of my DJ history I kept a bit of this on the mix-CD. I still wanted to keep the spirit of my past alive.
- Where did you find all these great tracks mixed on "Maximize!"?
- The well known fidget house blog Electric ZOO called the style of my CD as "blog house". It was meant in terms of a quick guide to what blog house is all about, featuring many bloggers favorites with tracks and remixes from SMD, Sirius Mo, Justice, Yuksek, Riot In Belgium, Duke Dumont, Crookers, Herve, Shadowdancer.
So you could say - 50% of the tracks I found in the internet through platforms such as Myspace or blogs like Fluokids, Discobelle, Headphone Sex or Electric Zoo. I just contacted everybody I liked through e-mail and then hooked up with their manager or record company. For some stuff this was quite hard, cause some of these artists were just before getting a record deal and didn't know if they should license a track of theirs or not. But in the end I got nearly everything I wanted. The other 50% were some sort of recent DJ tunes I have been playing for a while. There was a lot of personal relation to many of the artists and record companies featured on this CD.
- Are you going to record your own music as Shir Khan in larger scale in the nearest future?
- At the moment I am busy with remixing as Shir Khan. So far I have remixed Bonde do Role, Princess Superstar, Purple Crush, Holy Hail, The Jai-Alai Savant. In 2008 I might start my solo stuff but can't tell yet? Actually I am having so much fun with remixing?..Furthermore, I will invest a bit of time into my label Exploited. As I said there will be great future vinyl releases from Adam Sky vs. Mark Stewart, Sirius Mo and Chris de Luca vs. Phon.o. In addition, I am also taking care of the online-label Meta Polyp, which kind of reflects my love for hip hop, electronica and dub.
AUTHOR: PAWEL GZYL
PHOTOS: STARS AND HEROES
+ Marek Styczyński - Cyber Totem
+ Uphill Racer - You Will Understand
+ Asmus Tietchens - Notturno
+ Sonar Kollektiv - Ten Years, Who Cares?
+ Slam - Human Response
+ Shriekback - Glory Bumps
+ The Black Seeds - Into The Dojo
+ Plant43 - Grey Sky Cracks EP
+ Troy Pierce - Gone Astray
+ Outlines - Our Lives Are Too Short
+ The Orb - Orbsessions Volume Two: Finest Quality For The Connoisseur
+ Exploited Presents: Shir Khan - Maximize!
+ Magnum 38 - Old Europe Strikes Back
+ Magnum 38 - Disko Toni EP
+ Lady Aarp - Soma
+ Oliver Koletzki - Get Wasted
+ Laurent Garnier - Public Outburst
+ Fovea Hex - Allure
+ False - 2007
+ Asmus Tietchens & Richard Chartier - Fabrication
+ Brian Ellis - The Silver Creature
+ Boxer 50 Jubilee
+ DJ 3000 - Blood & Honey
+ Current 93 - The Inmost Light
+ Cepia - Natura Morta
+ F.S. Blumm meets Luca Fadda - F.S. Blumm meets Luca Fadda
+ Eva Be - Moving Without Travelling
+ Alien Entertainment feat. Furious Steez - Tight Beatz EP
+ Nemezis - Inbetween
+ Tarwater - Spider Smile
+ Spoils of War - The Spoils of War
+ V. A. - Simla Beat 70/71
+ Death Ambient - Drunken Forest
+ Attilio Mineo - Man in Space with Sounds
+ International Harvester - Sov Gott Rose-Marie
+ Keiji Haino/K.K. Null - Mamono
+ Evan Parker - A Glancing Blow
+ Sabir Mateen's Shapes, Textures and Small Ensemble - Prophecies Come To Pass
+ David S.Ware Quartet - Renunciation
+ Sten Sandell Trio + John Butcher - Strokes
- - - - - - - - -
+ DECLARED ENEMY - Salute to 100001 Stars - A Tribute to Jean Genet
+ SCOTT TINKLER - Backwards
+ KAMMERFLIMMER KOLLEKTIEF - Jinx
+ FENNESZ / SAKAMOTO - Cendre
+ MIKHAIL - Orphica
+ BETTY DAVIS - Betty Davis - They Say I'm Different
+ FRANCOIS CARRIER QUARTET - Noh
+ PORT-ROYAL - Afraid to Dance / STAFRAENN HAKON - Gummi
+ PIOTR ZABRODZKI / TATSUYA YOSHIDA - Karakany
+ A.M. - Orla
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Rumble in the Jungle
+ FABIAN GISLER - Backyard Poets
+ GENARO - Genaro
+ JEAN-LOUIS HUFTA - Halfway Between The World and Death
+ LOW LOW LOW LA LA LA LOVE LOVE LOVE - Ends of June
+ HILDUR GUDNADOTTIR / BJ NILSEN / STILLUPPSTEYPA - Second Childhood
+ PHIL MINTON / VERYAN WESTON - Ways / PETER BROTZMANN / BILL LASWELL + LAST EXIT - Low Life / Koln / UWE KROPINSKI - Berlin, New York and Back / ALAN SKIDMORE QUARTET - Impressions of John Coltrane / S.O.H. - Live in London
+ THILGES - La Double Absence
+ JIM DENLEY - Through Fire, Crevice + The Hidden Valley
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Sidewalk Songs & City Stories - New Urban Folk
+ GUY KLUCEVSEK / ALAN BERN - Notefalls
+ SCOTT FIELDS ENSEMBLE - We Were The Phliks / SCOTT FIELDS ENSEMBLE - Dénouement
+ VARIOUS ARTISTS - Essential Dub
+ FORMICATION - Icons for a New Religion
+ ANTHONY PATERAS - Chasms
+ STEALPOT - Indian Salon
+ PEOPLE LIKE US & ERGO PHIZMIZ - Perpetuum Mobile
+ ROBERT VINCS - Devic Kingdom
+ MICHAEL ZERANG - Cedarhead
+ CARTA - The Glass Bottom Boat
+ MARCO FERNANDES / MIKE PRIDE - A Mountain is a Mammal / KK NULL - Fertile / SERAFINA STEER - Cheap Demo Bad Science / JANDEK - The Ruins of Adventure / RONDERLIN - The Great Investigation / MICHAL OSOWSKI COLLECTIVE - Live at White Elephant / MATTHIEU SALADIN - Intervalles / VARIOUS ARTISTS - Si, Para Usted: The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba, Volume One / CHARLES STUART - The Man Who Likes Watching / JOELLE LEANDRE / PASCAL CONTET - Freeway / KTL - 2 / SECOND HAND - Reality / HAUSCHKA - Versions of the Prepared Piano / VARIOUS ARTISTS - The Jarring Effects Home Experience # 2 / BRUCE EISENBEIL SEXTET - Inner Constellation Volume One / EVAN BARTHOLOMEW - Borderlands / BIRDY - Birdy / FATALI - Re:Construct / CANARTIC - Bouncing Radar Beams Off The Moon
+ MAX NAGL, STEVEN BERNSTEIN, NOEL AKCHOTE, BRADLEY JONES - Big Four Live
+ AKI TAKASE / SILKE EBERHARD - Ornette Coleman Anthology
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WYWIADY / RELACJE
+ Here I am! - rozmowa z DJ Shirem Khanem
+ The huge amount of energy - rozmowa z Peterem Horrevortsem