I think Russia is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places to play, 3 gigs in the last 3 months, all memorable for different reasons and all the crowds have been so good. They seem way more into the music and not preoccupied with their mobiles, very vocal but in a positive way. Plus we got to play at the Museum of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg with one of the biggest video screens yet.
One guy on Saturday night was stage-diving to the Beasties mix from the off, so much so that he got himself thrown out. Another kept shouting ‘more volume’ and led the crowd in his chant but we were already in the red. Afterwards we were informed that he’s a little bit deaf and always does this at every gig.
As we all know, the life of the international DJ is exciting and glamorous, which is why I was back up at 5am after a 1am bedtime on Friday morning so that I could get to Heathrow for an 8.40am takeoff to Moscow. Add a 3 hour stopover in the airport and another two and half hour plane ride to Yekaterinburg and I arrive at 9.30pm their time (lost 5 hours). I’m met by two mysterious girls in oversize shiny black army-style peaked hats who ask me where my space suit is, what I think about aliens and would I like to do a parachute jump sometime? So far so good.
We’re whisked to the Lynch Club, a warren of cleverly decorated corridors and small rooms at the top of an old cinema complex that smells of sickly sweet popcorn as you ascend the stairs. It’s named after David Lynch as I soon realise when being led into a recreation of the famous dark red curtained room from the final episode of Twin Peaks – the only thing missing is a backwards talking midget. They also have a thing about rabbits taken from Lynch lore, remember the rabbits.
Another room – the library is blindingly white with padded walls and a bookshelf full of design books from around the globe. I’m met by a photographer, Ildar Ziganshin, who has a book open on the table with my face on one page… It turns out that when I was in Yekaterinburg before – six years ago – I had been photographed by him for a project called Photorobot and this was part of the result, a book of faces, split across the middle so that you could flip and combine two different halves to make a third like a children’s book. He had made only 50 copies but saved one for me, still wrapped in its original hessian packaging from six years ago. See here for some examples, it ain’t pretty :). We agreed to repeat the experiment later in his photo studio which is elsewhere in the building and I eat dinner in the white room whilst a beautiful but silent girl sits reading a book opposite and a couple lounge on the nearby sofa.
After a checking into the hotel I return and am led upstairs by the promoter, Stas, to find that the girls from before have transformed into aliens and are silently writhing around in the corridor, whispering in Russian to each other. They want to put me into a large bag, take me down to the dance floor as my guardians and then reveal me to the crowd before I start playing (I’m not making this up).
After initially laughing it off and then getting a little scared after realising they were serious (they had the bag and everything) I settled on a different plan – I would wear a plain face mask with my hood up and they would lead me through the (smoke-filled) room to the decks and do their alien thing in front of the crowd as I set up before revealing my face and letting rip behind the decks. It was surreal but fun and they had gone to so much effort with their costumes that I couldn’t not play ball.
The gig was great, tiny room, decks set up on a table on the floor in one corner, proper underground house party style and really great fun. One drunk guy who wouldn’t stop bumping into the decks with his crazed dancing was pinned to the floor at one point by another punter (thanks :)) and I had to school another who wanted to stand at the front and tell me how to play half the night. After I’d finished, a friendly face appeared out of the crowd, Mr Armtone aka Anton Kibeshev, from St. Petersburg who had come all that way to check it out and was traveling on with me to also play in Samara the next day.
After a quick drink in the library it was up to the photo studio to have some more snaps taken for Ildar’s next project. Finally one of the girls appeared and asked me to come upstairs as there was a final surprise waiting (yeah, I know what you’re thinking, glamorous international DJ life). As we made our way upstairs into the tungsten lit corridor above the dancefloor and rounded the corner I was confronted with a life size rabbit, standing silently against the wall, waving. It’s now 4.30am, I’m coming down from the high of the DJ set, the sleep deprivation is starting to kick in and I’m seeing a Donny Darko-like apparition in front of me. There was only one thing to do, hug the rabbit, grab a quick selfie and head for bed. I made it back to the hotel and checked my watch, 5am, I had to be up at 8.30 to grab some breakfast before leaving at 9 for the airport.
Anton arrives for breakfast, feeling like death from the night before (too many cocktails) and we grab a ride with his friend whilst checking out his latest toy – a telescopic stick with a camera holder on the end which enables you to take photos from over a meter away. The iSelfie stick was used all weekend in various ways and became the source of much amusement, I predict it won’t be long before they’re everywhere. Anton is feeling really rough and sleeps on the flight with a sick bag at hand and when we arrive in Samara we have to wait an hour in the lounge as the pick up had the wrong time of arrival. The taxi drivers there are like vultures, hovering in packs as you come into the baggage area from the runway, muttering ‘taxi?’, ‘taxi?’ and working the crowd. Eventually Basil and Alex arrive to pick us up, apologising profusely, we are nearly dead from lack of sleep (and alcohol in Anton’s case). Alex is the designer of the excellent poster and flyer for the gig which he tells me has been made into some 2m x 2m posters too. This is one of the best flyers I think I’ve seen for one of my gigs, promoters take note, this is the standard to beat from now on. They offer to take us on a sight-seeing trip of the city but we have to decline as we will surely die of sleep deprivation if we don’t get to the hotel rooms soon.
It’s good to travel and visit new countries and cities but sometimes you don’t see much of them, half of Saturday in Samara was spent asleep in the daytime and we were a little more refreshed by 8pm by which time it was dark. Actually Anton wasn’t feeling refreshed at all, in fact he was really feeling bad, so bad we had to pull over on the side of the road to let him out on the way to the gig a few times. Then he complained that he couldn’t feel his hands and we realised we had to get him to a doctor before anything else. Close to 2 hours driving around to find someone who could help (the first hospital refused, apparently common in Russia) and we finally got him some medication and headed to find food. I had a nagging travel headache which had started in my shoulder, worked it’s way up one side of my neck and was making its way to my left eye but I tried to keep it in check. So, we’re not in great shape but the venue is as they have a huge screen for the AV show and we meet the promoters Vadimir and Alex (DJ Proton) who has bought some records to trade.
Anton was, by now, feeling better and played first, rocking it with a great mix of garage and UK Funky (joke Anton) – definitely taking his cues from classic DK sets and with top quality visuals too. By the time it’s my turn to play it’s 2am and my head feels like it’s about to take off my headache is so bad, but I build up to a thundering drum n bass set which the crowd lap up. By 4.15 I’m fit to die though, the headache so bad that I can hardly think (sometimes it goes but not this time) and I step down so that Alex can take over. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many people asking for photos and autographs after a gig than in Samara, it was relentless for about 10 minutes, a pretty great end to the night even if I did feel like death. Eventually Anton and I are in a taxi by 5.15am speeding towards our out-of-town hotel with some of the worst RnB rave pop I’ve ever heard playing on the radio.
Next morning at 11am we’re met at the hotel by Alex with a bag of records and a Soundburger portable turntable for an hour of listening and music trading. He gave me some excellent 45’s and an LP and I traded a couple of albums for a 45 by a band called Modo which has three killer funk / jazz /psych cuts on it.
At midday it’s the start of the long trek back home – 3.30pm flight to Moscow, change for London and arrive at 7.15pm (bear in mind all the hours the clock went back during this journey). Unfortunately I ended the trip by leaving my laptop on the plane but luckily realised before I was too far back into London on the tube and was reunited with it within the hour thanks to the excellent BA baggage staff.
Finally got home at 10.15pm Sunday night, phew, what a weekend, seems like half of it was a dream which is why I felt I had to write this all down. The final words from Boney M‘s disco classic ‘Rasputin’ echoed in my head more than a few times over the course of the weekend, “oooh, those Russians”. Except in my mind I always had it that he said, “ooh those ‘crazy’ Russians”, which would be very apt for what turned out to be a weird and wonderful weekend.
The deadline is nearly up for the Dust & Grooves ‘guess my mix content’ comp and the full feature & accompanying mix should drop on the site sometime tomorrow. Unfortunately I’ll be traveling virtually all Friday for the gig in Yekaterinburg so I probably won’t get to post the links to it here (in an extensive liner note post) until much later.
A year to the day that we presented our Solid Steel 25th gig in conjunction with The Hydra, a huge line up of Ninja Tune‘s current roster play at Studio Spaces in E1. Tickets on sale here.
A couple of weekends ago DK and I travelled to Madrid and played what might be the perfect template for all DJ sets in the future. Four deck AV set at 8.15-9.45pm to a receptive crowd on the top floor of the amazing Espacio Arts Centre. Pack up by 10pm, drop bags at hotel and go to a bar for beer and tapas, then go to a great seafood restaurant and be in bed by 1am. Get a good nights sleep and make it to breakfast at a normal hour. They don’t often happen like that…
Here’s a post about several gigs I’ve got coming up this Autumn / Winter that are a bit different from the norm. Above are two shots from last weekend in Derry where part of my 360 degree dome show ‘The Search Engine’ was being shown by Fulldome UK. I was actually in Canada at the time but this show can operate without me needing to be there so I can be in two places at once
I was in Canada for two rounds of the 3-Way Mix alongside DJ Cheeba and DJ Moneyshot where we reconstruct the Beastie Boys‘ Paul’s Boutique album across 4 decks from 150 different sources. There are several more 3-Way shows coming up (for all dates see the right hand column) but one is going to be in a very different setting than usual. On Nov 1st we play at Soul Circus at Mullion Holiday Park, Helston in Cornwall at a Day of the Dead-themed masked Halloween ball. For more info check here as this one should be nuts.
Backtracking, on Oct 23rd I’ll be playing before a screening of the Sun Ra film, ‘Space Is The Place’ at Watershed as part of the AfroFuturism themed Sci-Fi season the BFI are putting on. For this I’ll be doing one of my new sets that I’ve christened ‘Future Shock’ after the recent mix I did for Altar Ego Radio and the gig at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London. This is not a club set by any means, much more a chill out, back room, social event type of set where a soundtrack along a space / sci-fi / future theme is needed. I also plan to have AV content to go with it and to expand my set up so I can play around more with the sounds.
The day after this I’ll be back in London for the big Soundcrash show at The Forum with Nightmares On Wax, Peanut Butter Wolf, Teebs and more. This will be an AV set but I’ll be bringing the heavy drums and electronics out for this one.
Two weeks later will see me the other side of the world for my first trip to Noumea, New Caledonia where I’ll be playing two nights alongside DK at the MV Lounge – 30 hours door to door I’m told. Then a weekend in Russia and another different gig in Bristol to finish the month off. I’ll be doing an all 45’s night back to back with Boca 45 at the Big Chill House on Nov 29th.
Off to Canada this weekend to play two 3-Way Mix shows with Cheeba and Moneyshot in Montreal and Ottawa. Friday will see a return to the SAT in Montreal where I did my dome shows in 2012 and on Saturday we’re at Ritual in Ottawa with promoter Shawn Scallen who was the first person to put Ninja Tune on in that city back in 1996!.
Here’s a photo he took of PC and I from that night and also a short interview I did last week for Apt 613. We’re beginning to upgrade the video side of the mix now and I’ve been editing suitable footage all week for my section which should debut this weekend if I can get it all to synch properly.
*UPDATE* – here’s a 3-Way interview with Darcy MacDonald that went live whilst I was away about the mix
On Friday I was lucky enough to be invited by Ben Eshmade of Arctic Circle to play at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park near Stratford. This Anish Kapoor-designed structure was erected next to the Olympic Stadium a few years back and is now hosting it’s first forays into music-themed ‘lates’ for the public, looking to expand its use beyond an over-designed viewing platform. I have to confess that I wasn’t a fan of Kapoor’s design when I first saw it but, like so many things, once you go to and experience them you gain a new appreciation for them.
The structure is much bigger than I expected, the red metal wire frame that spirals up around it is beautiful and one of Kapoor’s giant funnels nestles underneath it, largely hidden in photos I’d seen. The viewing floors are what you’d expect and the view is breathtaking although we were unlucky in that it rained during much of the gig so the balconies were less inviting than usual. Due to meshed overhead shelter which let rain in you had to wonder if the architects had truly thought through such a structure built in the UK with its less than tropical weather habits. The rain however did create a great Blade Runner-esque effect on the windows with the blue interior spot lights, the illuminated red girders of the Orbit outside and the city lights in the background and we could see the Secret Cinema set for their Back To The Future feature close by.
Ben had curated a broad selection of players for the night, Manchester’s Paddy Steer, ex-of Homelife, bought his DIY one man band set up to the outside area below the funnel and proceeded to amaze with his ability to play more sounds than he had limbs. Using foot pedals, percussion, keys, strings as well as vocal FX he played all manner of sounds from his homemade set up with shakers strapped onto wrists, percussion sticks and legs, all the while dressed like a cross between Roy Wood, Sun Ra and Moondog. He seemed beamed in from another planet, the kind of performer that the crowd didn’t want to sit too close to lest he might suddenly jump up and try to implicate them into his act like a magician. Sadly I missed most of his set due to sound checking duties upstairs but he was holding court by the time I got back down to earth before the rush for the lifts took his audience up to their destinations for the evening.
The lifts housed two players to accompany people on their short ride: a pedal steel player and a voicebox & keyboardist who had 20 seconds or so to entertain you as you rode. This was a nice touch and put you into close proximity with the artists as you can imagine, I heard one girl exclaim that one of the players must have been blind as he was wearing dark sunglasses indoors. On to the first floor, Ninja label-mates Grasscut did their quintessentially British electronic folk thing to a queue for the bar that snaked around half the room, something that evidently hadn’t been quite foreseen as staff hastily assembled another bar elsewhere. I’m not quite sure what some of the audience expected musically but it wasn’t a rave by any description and there was quite a mix of people wandering around. Upstairs on the second floor Transept and Astronauts played electronic and acoustic sets respectively before it was my turn to spin at 10pm.
I’d spent several days pulling all manner of sci-fi, space and lunar tunes from my collection for this and was almost overwhelmed for choice when coupling the vinyl with existing material I had digitized into Serato. I could have played for 3 hours rather than 90 minutes I think and wasn’t expecting such an attentive audience who sat and expected a show. I’d bought an extra portable turntable to add in textures and spoken word and used the main decks to switch between Serato and vinyl to weave a space scape together against a dark, rainy city backdrop.
Further visuals were provided by two huge highly polished stainless steel ‘mirrors’ that reflected you back on yourself, distorted like a fairground sideshow and provided all sorts of weird juxtapositions as can be seen in some of Steve Cook‘s excellent photos of the evening on his Secret Oranges blog. My set began with the intro to the Clangers TV show and ended with ‘The Music of the Spheres’ from the same before pre-recorded selections of the organ playing at the Union Chapel ushered everyone down to the ground and out into the rainy night. All in all an excellent, unique experience which I’m forever grateful to Ben for organising and which may hopefully lead to more lates of a similar nature, the next one at the Orbit being a silent disco.
Really looking forward to this gig on Friday, apart from the fact that it’s in my second home from home, Switzerland, apparently the train ride down to Sierre from Geneva is incredible. Also looking forward to catching up with my homies Cheeba and Moneyshot, the former of who has had a new addition to the family since our last gig. Should be fun
I did a couple of interviews for the upcoming Farmfest in Someret on August 1st/2nd: one for their first podcast (above) and another Q&A for the Bass Explorer website where I added my then current top 3 favourite tunes. Farmfest is one of a growing breed of smaller festivals, very cheap tickets starting at £53 and with a pro-organic slant to the food and drink onsite. If you repost their podcast you will be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets.
I’ve put one of the mixes I did for this weekend’s live streaming Altar Ego Radio on my Soundcloud so that it can kill two birds with one stone (pun intended) and promote my set at the Lunar Festival in Tanworth, Warwickshire on June 6th. The mix was done with that in mind being that it’s a psychedelic set for a gig of the same, check the line up below, tickets and other info available here.
A second hour of Magpie Music by 2econd Class Citizen is available here.
This Friday I’ll be doing an early (6pm) all vinyl set at the Dust & Grooves book launch at the Proud Archivist in Hackney and then racing down to join Cheeba and Moneyshot in Southampton for another round of our Paul’s Boutique deconstruction. The gig was to be in the Orange Rooms but has been moved next door to the Roxx apparently.
‘Children of the Sun’ is a mix about the sun and summer in general, made especially for Farmfest 2014. 50 minutes designed to relax to outside, lying on the grass in the warmth of the sun. Taking in jazz, beats, ambient, soul, funk, rock and electronica each track comments on the sun, summer or the great outdoors in some way.
This is just being premiered over on ClashMusic.com and won’t be appearing on Solid Steel, being exclusively for Farmfest where I’ll be playing on August 1st.
Wolfgang Dauner – Take Off Your Shoes To Feel The Setting Sun (MPS)
The KLF – Brownsville Turnaround On The Tex-Mex Border (KLF Communications)
Koushik – Lying In the Sun (Stones Throw)
DJ Food – Sunspot (Unreleased)
Boards of Canada – A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (Warp)
Three Dog Night – Out In The Country (Dunhill)
Dr Rubberfunk – Sunset Breakdown (GPS Recordings)
The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds (Ambient Mix MkI) (Big Life)
Ammoncontact – Children Of The Sun (Ninja Tune)
Belbury Poly – Summer Round (Ghost Box)
Sesame Street – Bees & Honey (Children’s Television Workshop)
July – Dandelion Seeds (Bam-Caruso)
Diplo – Summer’s Gonna Hurt You (Big Dada)
Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze (Epic)
Roberta Flack – I Can See The Sun In Late December (Atlantic)
Delia Derbyshire & Barry Bermange – Dreams / Land (BBC)
The Dells – Wichita Lineman (Cadet)
The KLF – Pulling Out of Ricardo And The Dusk Is Falling Fast (KLF Communications)
The not-quite-finished hotel in France the next morning – note the 2 stars – it was actually OK inside. Next, a fantastic view on the road back to Geneva.
Saturday night back in London – Adam & The (original) Antz do ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Beastie fans get ready for the 3-Way Mix at the Moon Club in Cardiff on Sunday night and we premiere our new picture disc controller records from 12InchSkinz during the set.
I’ll be breaking out the vinyl for this one! Fumetto is the most important comic festival in Switzerland and I’ll be playing the final party this Saturday.