This Sunday: 5 Years of NFOP at Urban Spree

22 May 2015 — Henning Lahmann

If you follow this humble website, you've probably already seen it all around the web, but if not, here's what you should not miss this weekend: No Fear Of Pop turned five years in February, and now that the sun is out and the Berlin summer is finally near, we want to celebrate our birthday with you. The magic is happening at Urban Spree in Friedrichshain on Sunday, May 24, starting from 4pm. There's really not much else to say other than that it's surely gonna be a wonderful day and night, so head over here for more info and to RSVP, and find the timetable below. If you're reading this it means we love you, so we'd be more than happy to see you on Sunday.


Urban Spree:
5pm Kohwi
6pm Small Wonder
8pm Fiordmoss
9pm UMA
11pm Lucrecia Dalt
12am Godmother

Back garden:
4pm Jason Grier
6:30pm Holly & Wade // This Thing
8pm Michael Aniser // Noisekölln
10pm Perera Elsewhere
1am Heatsick (inside Urban Spree if too cold)

Poster design: Alexander Palmestål

Read more →

Boycrush feat. Madeira “Flirt”

21 May 2015 — Parker Bruce

I have a new musical crush and rather conveniently his name is Boycrush (well Alistair Deverick actually, from New Zealand). And he's gone and done a song with a former member of Yumi Zouma, Kim Pflaum, whose new project is called Madeira. The song in question is "Flirt" and as you would expect, it's riveting. Full of a bounding bounce as well as ballooning, volumnious squats of brass, and Pflaum's now instantly recognizable singing style, "Flirt" is a hop, skip, and a jump into the summer of our discontent. I can't help but agree with Pflaum when she sings "Just a fleeting touch/That's all I want." Truly a bittersweet symphony here.

"Flirt" will be on Boycrush's EP Girls On Top, which comes out May 27. Check out the whole EP when it arrives. It will bowl you over with just how stunning and charming it is.

Read more →

The Sandwitches “Wickerman Mambo” (exclusive)

19 May 2015 — Henning Lahmann

There's this one thing GvB's Chris Cantalini and I could always agree on: San Francisco outfit The Sandwitches are criminally overlooked, and for inexplicable reasons. Joke's on you though, as the band's forthcoming third-full-length Our Toast will be their final offering. While The Sandwitches' distinctive melancholy permeates the LP, however, it's not all sadness and gloom. Take second single "Wickerman Mambo", premiered below: The jangly guitar chords may not be steeped in happiness either, but there's a certain, almost defiant (or sarcastic) optimism coming through, a joyful carelessness that can only be expressed by someone who's experienced pain and sorrow but still refuses to give in. It's a last flicker though, in a way, as the album's penultimate track before "Nothing But Love" shifts the tone again, slowly and sadly waving goodbye in style. I have no clue what's next for the band's members – one may hope that at least Grace Cooper will release more gorgeously haunting material as Grace Sings Sludge – but The Sandwitches and their damaged yet beautiful and always sincere take on classic garage and americana will truly be missed.

Our Toast is out June 9 on Empty Cellar Records.

Read more →

S Olbricht “Trancess” (exclusive)

14 May 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

There is something unsettling about the work of Budapest-based producer S Olbricht. In his musical world, whether it be for Lobster Theremin or Opal Tapes, he seems to always have the option of going toward the light, but, for whatever reason, he stays put, basking in just enough darkness, able to still see the brighter and lighter side which he is resisting. His brand new release for Bratislava-based Proto Sites, an imprint that has thus far done nothing but allow space for blissful augmentation of ambient abilities from acts like Casi Cada Minuto and Imre Kiss, interestingly has a moment of uplifting relief. "Onhom" is a trance-infested, emotive and sloping track, one that speaks to elation over and submission to change and redux. This is the one track on the EP that fills the shoes of what a "trancess" may be, either a trance princess or some kind of ticket for gaining access to trance. As usual for S Olbricht, most of the songs, their titles, and anti-directional soundscapes are otherworldly, sprinkled with a little spookiness; however, when "Onhom" hits, we gain some fresh perspective about not only the artist's faculties, but perhaps also about our own.

Trancess is out soon on Proto Sites. You can hear more of said "blissful augmentation" here, and pre-order the vinyl here.

Read more →

Watch: Asa 808 “Ignorance” (exclusive)

07 May 2015 — Henning Lahmann

As is often the case with words derived from Latin and employed in different European languages, the connotations of ‘ignorance’ in modern English and ‘Ignoranz’ in German are not exactly congruent. The difference is subtle: While ‘ignorance’ denotes the lack of knowledge in a principally neutral manner, ‘Ignoranz’ is decidedly derogatory, a reprehensible quality most commonly understood primarily as a lack of the will to know. When thinking about the accustomed perception of post-reunification Germany especially among my non-German peers, my native tongue’s meaning seems  more appropriate.

In recent years, marked by important publications such as Denk and von Thülen’s brilliant “The Sound of Family – Berlin, Techno and the Reunification”, it has become habitual to take Berlin, that “big playground filled with infinite possibilities”, as the focal point for narratives about the country prior to and following the fall of the wall in 1989. In the deserted wastelands of Mitte, techno culture was able to bloom mainly due to a historically unique lack of authoritative structures, leaving big parts of the city unregulated and free to be occupied by counter-cultural currents. For contemporary witnesses, the anarchic conditions promised an underground paradise, and the appeal of that time still resonates not least as a cliché reference point for every club night in town. It still is one of the main reason why so many young people want to move to Berlin today.

“Ignorance”, the lead track on local producer ASA 808’s new 12” on London/Berlin imprint ManMakeMusic, in a way echoes this legendary era of classic Berlin techno. It is raw, straightforward, and dark, evoking images of unrestrained nights in abandoned warehouses. It’s not a joyful track but one made for ecstatic oblivion, to relive the feeling of freedom the city once embodied some 25 years ago.

The thing is, if you let Germans play anarchy, the most likely outcome is not techno but a pogrom.

Read more →

Just in time for the 70th anniversary of Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8th, 1945, the video for “Ignorance”, premiered above, is a necessary reminder of this. Depicting the events in Rostock Lichtenhagen in the summer of 1992, it shows the other side of the breakdown of public structures. Over the course of three days, a vitriolic mob was able to express the people’s hate and frustration by attacking the shelter of the most vulnerable members of society, refugees and so-called ‘guest workers’ (it would take Germans another 15 years to slowly become comfortable using the word ‘immigrant’). The reaction of the authorities was reluctant and insufficient at first, and catastrophic in the aftermath. The incidents in Rostock represent the shameful counter-narrative of the reunification years. As it happens, it’s also the one that we forget to tell often enough.

When people want to show how admirable the New Germany really is, they like to point out that as opposed to so many other European countries, right-wing populist parties like those haunting France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, and others usually don’t stand a chance in federal elections. Sure enough. The reason for that, however, is not so much that we’re all such reasonable people. There’s simply no real need to vote for upstart populists if their positions are already comfortably covered by the main parties in the parliament, usually by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. But make no mistake, the Social Democrats won’t hesitate a second if morally outrageous standpoints benefit their electoral campaigns, in particular if the victims of ensuing parliamentary decisions are not considered part of the body politic. What happened in 1992 is a case in point: the political reaction to the Rostock pogroms (and other violent xenophobic incidents in the early 90s) was not to strengthen the protection of refugees but to effectively abolish the constitutional right to asylum, all in order to appease the incensed electorate. The two-thirds majority necessary for the change of the constitution was eagerly provided by the oppositional Social Democrats under Oskar Lafontaine (who of course remains highly esteemed among the pseudo-communists at Jacobin), a decision he should be reminded of every morning at breakfast until the end of his days.

30 years ago on May 8th, 1985, the late former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker managed to reinterpret history by postulating that just like Auschwitz or Buchenwald, just like Denmark or Poland, the Germans were ‘liberated’ by the Allied Forces in 1945, as if the Nazis had been something alien, an irresistible force that had somehow overpowered the poor, ignorant German populace in 1933. Similar words will be spoken tomorrow, generic drivel about the hardships of war, and about how we have ‘learned’ our lesson so that we’re now entitled to tell other nations in Europe and beyond when and where they err, and how they should behave in order to become as wise and dignified as we ourselves are today, all because of what ‘happened to us’ during National Socialist rule. Dialectic can be so ironic.

It’s lovely, this benign new Germany, isn’t it. Most of my expat friends in our Kreuzberg/Neukölln bubble sure think so. Why should we, they ask, not have the ‘right’ to mourn those civilians who died in Dresden and all the other bombed-out cities, why shouldn’t we have the ‘right’ to point out the ‘injustices’ of the post-war expulsions of Germans from Eastern and Central Europe?

Yes, why shouldn’t we. Perhaps because it was us who started it. Or perhaps because there is an uninterrupted, coherent narrative line running from November 9th, 1938, to the events in Rostock in the summer of 1992 and all the way to Tröglitz in April of 2015. That’s why. For those who don’t want to see, ignorance becomes an excuse.

After all, 70 years is a fucking short amount of time.

Those who agree that Germany’s unconditional surrender on May 8th, 1945, is an unconditional reason to be cheerful should celebrate at SchwuZ tomorrow night together with our friends at Jungle World. More info on the event over here.

The Ignorance 12" is out on ManMakeMusic.

Watch: Sayth “Rare Candy”

07 May 2015 — Johanne Swanson

Full disclosure, Eric Wells is my friend. Better known as Sayth, Eric is the only queer rapper in my hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Things you should know about him: He is, more or less, a living beam of light. Passing through town, chances are you’ll run into him hanging up flyers for a house show or helping a local band screenprint t-shirts. His mom is his biggest fan.

Sayth released a video for “Rare Candy” this week. To date, the track is his magnum opus, a call to action for community and statement of rejecting the commodification of art, “Raised in a culture that values art as an audience/A corpse and a bunch of vultures seeking dominance.” The video is all things summertime in Eau Claire, a sleepy place with a constantly rotating group of kids reappropriating space and making cool shit. The current cast of young local movers in those quiet Midwestern places is shown-- hang down by the river with the boys of Glassworks improv or girl-gang around the mall with Hemma and Adelyn Rose. Watch “Rare Candy” below.

Read more →

Stellar OM Source “Nite-Glo”

06 May 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

I'm uncertain as to whether I possess the language for describing what it is about Christelle Gualdi's music that induces so much nostalgia. Some tiny, indiscernible aspect of it hits a neuropath in my head, which sends me back to an acute memory from my childhood, sans direct and obvious associations. It's a memory of an atmosphere - something about thunderstorms - not an event, and I've said it before and see the need to continue to explore this evocation. Since Gualdi integrated 303 beats, announced in a most celebratory fashion with 2013's Joy One Mile, those burnished sensations and otherwordly keys have been thoughtfully restrained out of will to renovate and, paradoxically, truly set the sounds free. Stellar OM Source, like always, offers an ethereally well-dressed package that holds within itself mathematically palpable infinity. Her discography is likewise a narrative, one that imparts the trials and tribulations of laboring in the lab of life.

Forthcoming Nite-Glo is a spot-on perpetuation of structuring her wild, melted-metal synthscape. This already soldered sound beams out through the creases of a geometic puzzle, one that rotates stoically and meditatively through space. Starting off with a demanding tone, "Sudden" communicates the onerousness of finding a solution to a gaping question: how does one house infinity? Unsure where to begin addressing the issue, we begin the task anyway. "Never" likewise commences with its nose turned down in concentration; yet, halfway through the track, more colorful keys join in attempt to ease the severe attitude of the song. A modular language of effervescence persuades the track's direction, leaving us in a mood for dancing. "Live" is where Gualdi achieves some lightheartedness through a somewhat comical rhythm operating from a lower octave, serving as the spinal column of the track. "Sure" delivers us to a warm spot on a hill, where we reflect that the EP has so. much. acid, apprehensive about so much hard work being demanded of us again in the future.

Nite-Glo is out on RVNG Intl. June 9th. Enjoy the video for "Sudden" in the meantime, and don't work too hard.


Read more →

Interview: Erika

06 May 2015 — Taylor Bratches

You could say Erika is an explorer, if not a Renaissance woman. Techno producer and DJ, founder of the long-running Internet radio station, member of the Detroit-based electro group Ectomorph, and “co-conspirator” of the Detroit-based label Interdimensional Transmissions, she’s been steadily working – and her music, pulsating like a strange and beautiful nebula – in the Detroit electro/techno scene for over a decade.  Her debut release, Hexagon Cloud – a futurist landscape showcasing her range as an analog producer  – was well-received in the electronic community at home and abroad. After a transportive set at Communikey, the boutique techno festival in Boulder, Colorado, I caught up with Erika about her past and her present, and her experience as a female producer in an endlessly shifting scene.

Read the interview after the break.

Read more →

You grew up in a household influenced by science and technology. Was the intersection of science and music a natural avenue of exploration for you?

Yeah, it was – though [the synthesis of the two] was something that happened for me later in life. I fell in love with music by listening to radio broadcasts in elementary and middle school. I was also heavily into computer games around that age, too. Those were two of my primary interests: listening to music and using the computer. And that’s pretty much what I do now., which has been in operation since 1999, defines itself as a freeform internet radio station. How did that start?

I knew one day I wanted to be a radio DJ, and I got my start doing college radio when I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for school. That was when I started to get my true music education, because that station has an archive for all kinds of music. I used to go down there for hours and hours – and listen to records and do weird overnight radio shows. I was program director there too. But at some point I wasn’t a student anymore, yet I still wanted that platform, and to listen to music everywhere. And I thought, well, that internet thing exists, I’ll just try that and see what happens.

Hexagon Cloud, your debut album on Interdimensional Transmissions, is impressive in the way it makes the analog sound pliable and ethereal.  What was your process of creation like?  Did you have a clear concept in mind when you set out to make the album?

The process of writing came from the perspective of putting together a live PA. And then I started becoming conceptual – thinking about the Hexagon Cloud: that cloud part of Saturn. I needed some ambient tracks to make it feel like a complete thought, but I started with some individual tunes that began with the idea of a live set, and then used the concept to help fill out the rest.

You’ve been a part of the Michigan and Detroit scene for over a decade. Much of techno’s beginnings were influenced by science fiction. With your science-influenced upbringing, do you feel a part of this tradition? How do you relate to that aesthetic?

I’m a huge lover of science fiction. When I was a kid I basically read the entire adult sci-fi library. That’s what I was into and that’s what I cared about. That sci-fi mentality and ideas of the future are definitely part of who I am and what influences me. When I moved to the Detroit area and heard artists like Rob Hood and Dan Bell – that was mind-blowing; that music really affected me. Those early Detroit underground vibes and artists had a major influence on me musically. I was learning about that stuff around the same time that I was learning about jazz. You could say I was getting a multifaceted, futurist music education on all fronts.

You perform with both analog hardware and with vinyl. Do you have a preference? Can the two inform each other?

Oh yeah, it’s not the medium that makes you a DJ, it’s what you are presenting sonically that really matters. I spend my entire day sitting in front of the computer doing tasks for my job. At the end of the day I don’t want a computer screen blaring in my face when I’m doing creative things. And I DJ with records, mostly. It’s just a personal preference, not a statement or judgment – I’ve seen really amazing laptop DJs and I have respect for all of that.

Do you relate to the music as a dancer?

Oh yeah. I’m a dancer first – at a good party the dance floor is where you’ll find me. If there’s amazing music on a soundsystem, you’ll find me in front of the speaker. 

Does that visceral, physical experience of dance have something to do with your interest in the tactile aspect of DJing?

Yes. That’s what I enjoy about analog – there’s a specific thing that I can reach out and touch and do small or big adjustments on. I really enjoy synthesis and the process of shaping sounds on a synthesizer, but I have a hard time when it’s something that’s trapped in a computer. When I have to use my mouse to get into it, it’s not as interesting, creative, or fun to me.

You are often referred to as an electro artist. How do you relate to that term now? Are you interested in blurring the lines between techno and electro?

I think it’s a super blurred line. When I DJ people say I’m playing all these different genres or types of electro but, in a way, it’s all still techno. And a Detroit DJ is going to play a mixture of what he/she think is awesome – whether it’s techno, house, electro. The term electro has gone through so many changes. I understand why people say I’m an electro artist, because I’m not just using 4/4 beats and because I came into existence as part of Ectomorph, which is a classic Detroit electro project. But it’s just part of who I am;  it’s not where I live. I care about a lot more than just one kind of kick drum pattern. I think it’s also a Midwest thing. I have a background of going to raves in various cities and hearing a lot of different kinds of music. The American aesthetic is very broad-minded. 

How have your collaborative efforts with BMG and Ectomorph shaped you as an artist?

They’ve hugely shaped me. It was through my participation with Ectomorph that I learned how to do live music. I learned how to collaborate with another person, which comes first for me. I got started as someone who was a keyboard tech for Ectomorph live shows, and I learned so much about how a live show feels and works. I just got a lot experience, that I’m really thankful for that. I made every mistake that I could possibly make. I’m so glad I got to do that 15 years ago!

I just saw you perform at Communikey. You were part of a primarily female lineup with Paula Temple from Berlin, Orphx from Canada, and Chicago DJ Christina Chatfield. You also were part of Chicago’s female-centered Daphne series. Can you speak to your experience as a female in the techno community?

To me it’s really similar to my experience as a programmer, or a heavily tech-minded person. It’s the same issue that engineering and math have in the world at large, which is that women get spoken down to, or they’re not believed in – all of the big picture sexist stuff that is a part of our culture, even though it shouldn’t be. In my utopian techno universe this problem doesn’t exist because techno is raceless and sexless and faceless but here we are in a world where there are so few women that hold prominent positions of power, in part simply because there are fewer women participating in things like math, for example. But there is also the issue of women not speaking up and not taking credit, and going with the flow. We get all of this training to be nice and quiet – it’s all over every piece of pop culture in the western world. It’s our job, in a lot of ways, to make sure the next generation of women has better opportunities.

There has been a lot of mention lately surrounding the lack of females in the techno industry, or of subtle and/or overt discrimination against them. Have you yourself faced challenges in relation to this gender disparity?

I’ve never been pushed out; in fact I’ve received a lot of support. Being good at what I do speaks volumes. What you are good at should always take precedence over gender. Back to Ectomorph, when I was traveling with Brendan [BMG] in the 90’s, people would talk to him and not to me, perhaps because of the perception that “she’s just a girl.” I wasn’t upset at the time, but regardless that kind of thing gets really frustrating – when people don’t take you seriously. People will pass judgment about all kinds of things. To a certain degree it’s human nature.

Do you think techno is by nature a masculine sound or is there a feminine power in it as well?

It’s definitely both. When you strip back to techno to what it really is, it’s the heart beat, the life-force. Letting go and dancing is a fundamental human thing that we’ve been doing for thousands of years – seeking a trance state through which to let go. It’s not about being a man or woman, it’s about being an animal trying to have a transcendental experience. Techno seems male heavy because it’s technical – because our society is technical. Frustrating but true. When there’s gender balance, it’s a way better party. When you get that balance and the female perspective, that’s when it’s more whole and more true.

You tour actively in the states, which I think is laudable. Despite techno’s roots in Detroit, more and more American techno artists are moving to Europe. What do you envision for the future of techno in America?

I hope it continues to grow. In the past few years, I’ve seen more and more regional parties, and promoters starting their own small scenes and working with American artists. Yes, there was a Midwest rave scene in the 90’s. But recently – in Columbus, Ohio for example – there are small crews doing really awesome monthly parties. I think we will see more of that in America. Scenes have to be built from the ground up. It takes people willing to be vocal and work in their communities. I hope we see more of it, and we have been seeing more of it.

Certain cities have the benefit of abandoned warehouses, and DIY culture can thrive in those places.  As America’s electronic culture evolves, do you see more people playing in warehouses or in clubs?

The hardest part to deal with, as a promoter, is that you want to have a legit legal venue with an occupancy license because you don’t want to put your artists and sound crew and partygoers at risk. Because ultimately you are throwing a party in an illegal space, which I’ve done myself. But the worst part [of having a party busted] besides losing money, is knowing that everyone has to have this negative experience. In Detroit, now, we are using a place called Tangent gallery and promoters have a 24-hour permit, which keeps it legal and keeps people are dancing until the party is done. The bar laws in America are what make it the toughest, and finding the spaces that exist in that in-between zone – whether it be galleries or art spaces – those are becoming the real places to have a proper underground party.

What’s on your own personal horizon?

I have a few more weekends of traveling and doing gigs – I'll be at No Way Back at Movement, in Detroit.. Then I’m going to stop playing for a couple of months. Because I work a job too, I can’t travel and record at the same time. After doing these next few gigs, I’ll be finishing a new album and a couple EP’s as well. I have so much music I’m sitting on now, but I plan on hopefully getting the album done by the end of the summer so that I can release by early next year.