Ninja Tune XX in the US, Part 1: NYC

Day 1: Wednesday – NYCWFMU, Coffee Break for Heroes & Villains

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We’re flying to the States for the next leg of Ninja Tune XX anniversary gigs, by we, I mean myself, DK and Tom Bell (Toddla T). We land at New York’s JFK airport and meet Jeff Waye – head of Ninja Tune N. America – and Steve Beatty – tour manager with his assistant Tamara. First stop is the Sohotel in downtown Manhattan where, one by one, Amon Tobin, Brendan Angelides (Eskmo), Eric San (Kid Koala) and DJ Kentaro and his brother Kotaro arrive. The first night is free so some of us go to eat and catch up, well it’s free for the others, but not for me. I’ve agreed to guest on Noah Uman‘s show on WFMU – the great alternative station based over the river in New Jersey – which kicks off at midnight!  So, whilst my body is telling me to go to bed I’m getting picked up and driven to the station with Noah and friends Egor and Greg, wondering how long I’ll last over the course of the three hour show.

I’ve only known Noah for about a year, he contacted me via the web to see if I would be interested in providing a brief quote for a reissue he is working on – Marshall McLuhan‘s ‘The Medium Is The Massage’ – not the book but the record. It’s one of my favourite cut & paste / spoken word pieces and even more amazing in that it actually lives up to the book’s legend. He’d clocked that I would be in town and asked if I would guest on his show which plays predominantly Hip Hop, albeit everything but the major label kind. We hit it off immediately and he took us to the library room where he proceeded to pull a few bits before we hit the studio. I had an inkling of what the station would be like given the material they display and I wasn’t disappointed. Customised record sleeves lined the walls, a huge rack of cassettes was still present, a corridor of strange paintings of public figures like Elvira, Elvis and Sarah Palin (!) all rendered in an odd style by a fan of the station were just some of the decorations. The toilet contained a framed book cover, ‘DJ’ this is THE big one that tells you about THAT man and THOSE people – bizarre sleeves abounded and downstairs was a huge cross made from melted records – ‘the Death of Vinyl’ – again provided by a fan.
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We kicked off and Noah and I were in our element, nerding out and chatting non stop about oddities and obscurities both on and off the air whilst I played a selection of old school favourites of the lesser-known kind, cover versions, cut ups from the UK and Japan and novelty records. I’d pulled out Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s 1981 single ‘Monster Rap’, essentially a rap retread of his ‘Monster Mash’ hit, and lo and behold so had Noah, only he’d found one with a picture sleeve. You know when you meet a kindred spirit, I felt at home straight away and before we knew it it was approaching 3am! Jesus, where did the time go? I got back to the hotel about 4am and bid my goodbyes, Greg was going back to LA the next day but I’d see Egor at the gig the next night. Even though I was flagging badly by now (having been awake for over 24 hours) I could hardly sleep as the room was so hot and the air con like a helicopter when turned on.

You can listen to the show and see the tracklist here

Day 2: Thursday – NYC Double Dee & Steinski, Matt Johnson and a last minute change of venue.

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Rising at 8.30am, DK and I looked for breakfast nearby, it was only on finishing and going to pay that I realised I’d lost my credit card. Great start to the tour! I quickly deduced that I’d had it in the airport and had probably forgotten to take it from a machine in my haste to board, anyway, had to cancel that with a no doubt expensive mobile call to the UK. The rest of the day was ours until a 4pm soundcheck and I’d arranged to hook up with Steinski for lunch who had texted to say that he was up at Double Dee‘s studio in Midtown. The sun was out and with 90 minutes to kill I decided to do the typical foreigner-in-town thing and walk it, checking out people, art, buildings and day to day stuff en route. I arrived at Douglas’ studio as he was finishing off cutting TV promo spots for ‘Meet The Fockers’ and we chatted for a bit before Stein and I jumped on the subway back downtown to the soundcheck.

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The venue – Santos Party House, owned by Andrew WK – had the most speakers I have ever seen in a club of its size, the stage was mounted on subs, rows lined the ceiling either side of the bar, tiny tweeters hung down in clusters above our heads and there was a huge cabinet at one side of the stage that you could have slept in quite easily. Set up was pretty painless even though we had five different performing configurations: DK and I have 4 decks and 3 mixers, Kentaro: 3 decks and 2 mixers, Koala: 3 decks, 1 mixer, Amon: 2 decks, 1 mixer and Eskmo: his own specific set up.

It was then that I realised my headphones were missing and that I’d probably left them in the radio station the night before in my jet-lagged state, second thing I’d lost in the space of a day! By this time Ghislain Poirier had joined us as well as several of the office staff from the UK, having all been given a lump sum each to go to an international gig of their choice. A huge dinner was planned shortly nearby for the staff and the distributors in NY but first I had another date.

I’d arranged to meet Matt Johnson, of The The, who was incidentally in town with his son on business, for a quick drink and chat which he would record and use on a later monthly podcast. Our cover version of his song ‘Giant’ is ongoing and we both agreed that it should be finished by the end of the year, me reworking my instrumental and him providing vocals in a new style. He was staying 2 blocks up from the party and after meeting we happened to walk by the club with soundcheck still booming out across the street. He took us to a bar he knew from his days living in the city, lamenting the closure of many of his favourite old haunts. Throughout the drinks I was getting ever increasing texts from Steinski: “were being invaded!”, “there are business people everywhere!”, “help!” so after a couple of beers I scooted off the the restaurant to find him and Double Dee literally surrounded by Ninja artists, staff and distributors, very few of whom they knew. The dinner descended into ordering mayhem with dishes arriving no one had ordered, people nicking other’s meals and a bill that seemed way over the odds.

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We crept back to the hotel to get some rest before the night began and I called Noah to see if my headphones were at the station. Whilst waiting for him to call back I got a text message from Nigel Peake (also in town on business): “I’ve just seen a squad of New York’s finest heading into the club, what have you been up to?” Thinking he was joking I texted back, “No idea but it’s going to be pretty loud in there tonight” – famous last words. Next thing my phone rang and I answer thinking it’s Noah calling back with news of my headphones, instead it’s Steve, “Come to the club right now, the police have shut down the party, we have to get the gear out, grab DK too”. Shit! Great start to the tour, credit card and headphones lost and now the first gig shut down before it’s even started. We raced down to the club, luckily there wasn’t too big a crowd yet and we managed to easily get inside without trouble and proceeded to rip down the gear as fast as we could.

Jeff, Steve and the promoter wanted a show of hands to see who was up for trying to do something elsewhere if we could find it and all were in agreement. By the time everything was packed a venue had been found on Bowery and we all jumped in cars and cabs (Egor came to my aid out of the blue) and made our way over to the new venue, Crash Mansion / BLVD to be greeted by a severely grumpy sound man. “These are my monitors, you don’t touch them unless I tell you to”, he stated, like some sort of whiny drill sergeant, fine, we were just glad of somewhere to play, we didn’t want to start messing with his speakers. He produced the most rickety tables I’ve ever seen, one of which he had to screw back together just so it could stand up and we soon realised that we would have to have a rotating pair of set ups, one act playing whilst the next one built their set-up. Just before midnight we were ready and a large crowd had got word and trekked over (the power of Twitter), forming a huge line round the block.

We’d managed to uproot the whole party in less than three hours and restart with only the loss of the video and a seriously compromised soundsystem. Downstairs was opened so that Poirier, Toddla T, Priest and M Sayeed from Anti-Pop could play but it didn’t quite work as either people didn’t realise it was on or were too captivated upstairs. I was flagging badly by this point and fell asleep backstage during Amon’s set (photo evidence by Melissa Phillips), DK and I were on last due to us having the largest set up and the gig finished at 4am. I really didn’t get very many good pictures due to low light and tiredness but the Hi-Fi Cartel site has some 150+ excellent ones. Everyone was relieved but exhausted and we hauled everything back to the hotel with only an hour until lobby call for the flight to San Francisco at 6am.

Read Part 2…

splashOff to the US Wednesday for a 4 day jaunt that will take in NYC, SF and LA and hopefully a lot of friends along the way… First major stop should be Noah Uman’s  Coffee Break For Heroes & Villains show on famed radio station WFMU. His show is on at midnight until 3am 27th/28th of October so lord knows what physical state I’ll be in at that hour.

It’s mainly Hip Hop with a bias towards old school and golden periods seemingly although he does play more contemporary stuff too. I’ve dug out some oldies and oddities to play and it’s pretty relaxed on air so I expect we’ll be talking Hip Hop shop too at some points. Oh yeah and it’s not a mix show so don’t expect any great blends.

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More info: wfmu.org/playlists/NU •   WFMU 91.1 fm & 90.1 fm •   www.coffeebreakradio.com

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3rd Demdike Stare EP coming, mix CD and new podcast

demdike
artworks-000002581467-iqocss-originalEasily one of the most interesting acts out there at the moment, Demdike Stare have the third in their trilogy of EPs ready to drop soon. Apparently called ‘Voices of Dust’, containing 9 tracks and over 50 minutes long (!), it will be with us at the end of November inside another lovely Andy Votel sleeve. Not only that but there are plans to collect all three EPs onto CD, a new mix CD – Industrial Desert – was out last week (still waiting for mine) and a new-ish podcast is up on Unsound’s soundcloud page.

UP#13 Demdike Stare’s Unsounded Podcast by unsound

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6 Mix Ninja special this Sunday

6 musicColdcut host a 2 hour show celebrating the 20th anniversary of the label this Sunday on 6 Music’s 6 Mix show . Special mixes have been compiled by myself, Mr Scruff, Daedelus and Toddla T (doing a Roots Manuva special) showcasing tracks from the new XX compilations and Ninja classics. It starts at 8pm and will be available on the BBC’s Listen Again feature for a week afterwards.

Remember The Future? mix

REMEMBER THE FUTURE3 years back I recorded a robot-themed mix for Solid Steel to coincide with the imminent release of the first Transformers film. I’d been meaning to do this for some time but this gave me the impetus and I crafted a little Transformers intro from various samples or tracks that sampled the robots in disguise. After that it’s mainly material from the 60’s and 70’s with that novelty look at robotics pre-Star Wars, what some would call ‘the golden age’.

I love this stuff, real oddity bin stuff, plenty of madcap psyche, dance craze records, vocoders and even a country ode to an electronic brain. A friend recently asked me to dig it out so here it is again.

Remember The Future by DJ Food

Moon Wiring Club

I first heard of Moon Wiring Club through Jim Jupp’s Belbury Parish blog associated with the Ghost Box label and then later they cropped up on Jonny Trunk’s Original Soundtrack radio show with a very entertaining hour long interview. Their website is a joy to behold and contains all manner of info and pictorial lushness associated with the project. I snapped up the three CDs already released and entered into a correspondence with ‘the Club’ with a view to securing an exclusive Solid Steel mix.

And here it is, entitled ‘Confectioners Radiogram for Home Entertainment’, coupled this week with my own ‘Time For Tea’ mix (For Tea – 40 – geddit?) which also features copious lashings of their tracks as well as a trio from the Simonsound who will be guests on next weeks show. But more of that next week.

Solid Steel Radio Show 7/5/2010 Part 1 + 2 – Strictly Kev by Ninja Tune

Solid Steel Radio Show 7/5/2010 Part 3 + 4 – Moon Wiring Club by Ninja Tune

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Solid Steel, Soundcloud and the Funky Eno

Solid Soundcloud
More Volts: The Funky Eno by DJ Food

Eno-Roxy

We’ve finally knocked the streaming problems that have plagued the Solid Steel site on the head and embedded file playable from Soundcloud directly into the page.

I’ve also got a mix up in the second hour this week called More Volts: The Funky Eno’ – an hour long trip through the funked-up side of Brian’s output since the 70’s. Expect David Bryne, nonsense verse, Talking Heads, The Grid and a whole lot of slap bass.

A Shape Of Things Reader – a 70 minute EP mix

Shapes track images A Shape Of Things Reader by DJ Food
I’ve just uploaded last weeks’ Solid Steel mix to Soundcloud – it’s a trip, it’s got a funky beat, and I can… oh, wait, that’s not right, (although it does include an old Beastie Boys track). As with the last ‘reader’ that accompanied the first EP, it showcases the tracks from the new record alongside, influences I was listening to at the time, the odd sample I used in it’s original form and also some of my favourite tracks from the tail end of 2009.

• Tracklistng:
The Simonsound – Tour De Mars (Project Blue Book)
John Murtaugh – Slinky (Unknown)
Anti Pop Consortium – The Solution (Big Dada)
DJ Food & DK – Sentinel (Shadow Guard) (Ninja Tune)
2econd Class Citizen – A World Without (Equinox)
The Slew – Robbing Banks, Doing Time (Ninja Tune)
Dudley Moore Trio – GPO Tower (Decca)
DJ Food – Brother John (Ninja Tune)
Alan Parker – The Free Life (a) (Whr)
The The – Tender Mercy (Lazarus)
DJ Food – Extract From Stolen Moments Too (Ninja Tune)
Beastie Boys – Do It (Grand Royal)
Anti Pop Consortium – Capricorn One (Big Dada)
King Cannibal – A Shining Force (Ninja Tune)
DJ Food – All Covered In Darkness (Mr P Beats/Vocal Remix) (Ninja Tune)
Deckard – Dignity Of Men (Equinox)
DJ Food – Giant (instrumental) (Ninja Tune)
Juice Aleem – Higher Higher (Big Dada)
The Slew – Battle Of Heaven & Hell (Ninja Tune)
DJ Food – Sentinel (Lunar Defence) (Ninja Tune)
Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics – Anglo Ethio Suite (Strut)
DJ Food – All Covered In Darkness (Mr P In 3 Remix) (Ninja Tune)
Imogen Heap – Just For Now (Deep Design Just For Later remix) (Mp3)
Skylab – ? Pt.3 (Eye Q)

Music Top 10s for 2009

2009 music picks

I don’t usually do this kind of thing because it’s largely meaningless but a friend asked me to round up some favourites for the year so here they are. I have to say I’ve been very uninspired by a lot of new music in general this year hence the fact that a lot of this is retro sounding or backward looking and this list is by no means definitive, I’ll probably think of a load more tomorrow.

10 favourite new records for the year 2009 (in no particular order)
Oasis – Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Remix) 12″ (Big Brother)
The Slew – 100% LP (Ninja Tune)
Mr Chop – Lightworlds EP (Now Again)
The Simonsound – Reversed Engineering LP (CDR)
Antipop Consortium – Flourescent Black LP (Big Dada)
2econd Class Citizen – A World Without LP (Equinox)
Proof of Concept – X As In Box (reprise)
King Cannibal – Let The Night Roar LP (Ninja Tune)
Juice Aleem – Jerusalaam Come LP (Big Dada)

6 reissues / compilations of the year 2009:
Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Vol.2 CD (Platipus)
The Beastie Boys – Audio commentaries for Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty mp3 (Grand Royal)
Studio G – G Spots LP (Trunk)
John Hill – 6 Moons of Jupiter LP (Finders Keepers)
Foetus – Limb CD/DVD (Ectopic Ent.)

10 favourite DJ Mixes for the year 2009:
DJ Moneyshot – Beastie beats – Check Your Head sources
DJ Moneyshot – Rotten to the Core ’77 – John Lydon’s Capital Radio show recreated
DJ Cheeba – Solid Steel radio part 3
The Simonsound – Have You Heard?
Skywave Systems – A Boards of Canada mix
Grohs – Plundering Zizek
Lazy – Mind The Gap (KLF soundscape)
Zoon van Snook – Solid Steel mix April 09
The Broken Keys – Engine Oil & Elbow Grease mix
Passing Time with Lazy Pt.2 (Orb megamix)

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Kraftwerk Kover Kollection vol.6

KKK6 cover

Another Kraftwerk post (I’ll have to give them their own category) and time for the sixth installment of my Kraftwerk Kover Kollection to coincide with the final release of the remastered Catalogue boxset on Monday.
katalog17-10-09_Karl Bartos

It’s up for a week, streaming via the Solid Steel site and I’ll be making it available via Soundcloud when the next show replaces it.

For those unfamiliar, I do these hour long mixes every year or so featuring cover versions, sample-heavy tracks or songs that obviously owe a debt to the Dusseldorf quartet. I had the idea to string these sources together several years ago and the more I dug, the more I found, the amount of material out there is mind boggling. Not so strange for such an influential band who rarely release new material, I suppose fans have to fill the gap somehow. For anyone wanting to play catch-up, the first 4 are available here with full artwork and tracklistings and I’ll be putting 5 up with 6 next week too.

At a festival in Warsaw the other week, DK and I had the pleasure of seeing ex-Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos play. I was surprised at how much of the set was old material mixed with his solo stuff. His stage show pales compared to his former bands’ but he had full visuals and 5.1 sound all mixed live and hearing a new take on classic tracks was well worth the time we took to check him out.

Internet Piracy

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recently ran a documentary on copyright law in their Background Briefing slot on Sunday nights. They used some clips from my Raiding The 20th Century mix as well as Steinski, Lawrence Lessig,  Dangermouse’s Grey Album, Girl Talk, Good Copy, Bad Copy etc.

You can listen or download it here for a limited time

internets

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DJ Food – A Weird World Reader – 1 hour mix

A Weird World Reader by strictly
A trip through the new DJ Food EP ‘One Man’s Weird Is Another Man’s World’ featuring tracks, samples and influences that make it what it is.

DJ Food - A Weird World Reader preview

  1. Tracklist:
    DJ Food feat Natural Self – The Illectrik Hoax (Ninja Tune)
    Rare Bird – Hammerhead (ABC / Dunhill)
    The Black Keys – Have Love Will Travel (Alive)
    The Broken Keys – Razorblade (Tru Thoughts)
    Mr Chop – The Infinity Machine (Now Again)
    Oasis – Falling Down (Amorphous Androgynous Exploding Bubble remix) (Big Brother)
    DJ Food – extract from Stolen Moments (Ninja Tune)
    The Dragons – Soul Teacher (Rural Records)
    Ken Nordine – Manned Satellite (Dot)
    DJ Food – All Covered In Darkness (Ninja Tune)
    The The – Giant (Some Bizarre)
    Keno-1 and the Hermit – Heavy Heavy (Breakin Bread)
    Grace Jones – Corporate Cannibal (Wall of Sound)
    DJ Food – Tricky Little Ears (The Cheech Wizard Pays Respect To All Living Creatures Who Inhabit Dark Places remix by Bundy K Brown) (Ninja Tune)
    DJ Food – A Trick of The Ear (Ninja Tune)
    Grace Jones – Hurricane (Wall of Sound)
    Bundy K Brown – Soldier of Fortune (Thrill Jockey)
    Dr Rubberfunk – Sunset Breakdown (GPR)
    Paul Weller – Sunflower (Lynch Mob dub) (Go Discs)
    DJ Food – All Covered In Darkness Pt 2 (Ninja Tune)
    DJ Food – Colours Beyond Colours (Ninja Tune)