Friday, September 23, 2011

art department.

Their gothic electronic bomb ‘Without You’ was one of 2010’s biggest tunes. With a debut LP full of the same moody genius, Art Department have arrived...
It’s fair to say that Belgium’s Fuse club is pleased to see Art Department. The crowd’s attention is firmly focused on the DJ booth and the duo who’ve just entered it. Jonny White is in the centre, setting up the decks and making room for a bottle of tequila that’s just arrived. The crowd clutch at them like devout believers who’ve finally met their messiah. A blonde girl, slightly the worse for wear, tugs at Kenny Glasgow’s arm from the side of the DJ booth, attempting to get him to dance with her. “I’m sorry, am I bothering you?” she asks. Kenny smiles accommodatingly and shakes his head. She backs off, seemingly satisfied, and declares, “Look, it’s fucking Art Department. Woohooo!” They’ve not even played a tune yet.
The reason for this Belgian crowd’s excitement over a Toronto duo with a handful of releases to their name? Art Department’s debut single ‘Without You’, released late last year on Damian Lazarus’ Crosstown label, was one of the smash tunes of 2010. Combining a dark, electro bassline with Kenny Glasgow’s haunting and emotional vocal, it sounds like a meeting of Depeche Mode, Laurent Garnier and Edgar Allen Poe, and it was just pipped at the post in our top 100 tracks of 2010 by Tensnake’s monster ‘Coma Cat’. It was huge with the likes of Jamie Jones, Soul Clap, Seth Troxler (who contributed vocals to its B-side, ‘Vampire Weekend’) and, naturally, Damian himself. “It’s got that balance of coolness and emotion without the cheese which you can’t learn at school,” he tells us from his base in Los Angeles. And despite (or maybe because of) its underground, atmospheric feel, ‘Without You’ found its way into the sets of everyone from Erol Alkan and Jaymo & Andy George to Laurent Garnier and The Revenge.
A few hours before the gig at Fuse, Art Department sit in their Brussels hotel room drinking a cup of English tea. Both are visibly tired from touring (Kenny missed dinner with the promoter due to fatigue and a stomach upset), but still friendly and accommodating.
Despite their seemingly overnight success, the duo, who have only been together since the beginning of 2010, have both served their time in the Toronto electronic music scene. Kenny, who sits on the side of the bed, is the older of the two, at 41. He’s extremely thin, a fact made more obvious by his tight T-shirt. He’s softly spoken and a touch nervous at first, but he soon perks up as the interview progresses and his flashing grin soon comes to the fore as he explains how he got into dance music. “I didn’t have a father figure growing up, so my mom would send me to stay with my uncle during the summer, to instil good values in me,” he explains. This was during his early teens, and he started hanging out with his cousin a great deal. “He used to buy disco and garage records and so that got me into playing records and DJing.”
Soon Kenny was dodging school and hitting the record shops in Toronto. “I used to just go in there and hang out, I didn’t even buy records,” he says. “Then I met two very cool guys called Jeremy Beckman and Mike Sitchon and they really liked my taste in music, so we got together and started to play and throw parties together. We became a crew, JMK – Jeremy, Mike and Kenny – and we started getting the most bookings in the city.”
In the early 90s, as the rave scene hit Toronto, Kenny’s musical direction changed – with a little help from a certain publication. “I got a copy of this Mixmag CD – a techno CD by Richie Hawtin – and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the best thing I ever heard’, and so my style progressed from there. It changed my life!” he recalls. Kenny went on to become one of the main players in Toronto nightlife, just as his future musical partner was spreading his clubbing wings.
“I used to pay thirty bucks to go and hear Kenny when he was a resident at Industry [one of Toronto biggest and best clubs during the 90s and 00s],” says Jonny White. “I wasn’t so much into the music and the DJs, it was more about the culture and the scene. But I always knew who Kenny was – everybody did. He was pretty much the biggest DJ at the time.”
At 31, Jonny is the younger of the pair and the more laid back, sprawling across the bed and sporting thick long hair and an even thicker beard. He grew up on the outskirts of Toronto where his father was an A&R man for Polydor Records, and he always knew he wanted to work in the music industry. “At first I didn’t want to be a DJ, I wanted to work more behind the scenes,” he explains. In his late teens he dropped out of school and started going to the clubs in midtown and downtown Toronto. Almost immediately, he started putting on parties himself. “I started hanging with these older guys when I dropped out of school,” he says. “I was making good money promoting and always did quite well financially, and the DJing and production side of things was a natural progression.”
The guys have known each other properly for seven years, since meeting in Toronto’s ‘Play De Record’ vinyl store where Kenny worked. They were both producing: Jonny had his own label, No 19, and Kenny released under his own name and a number of guises such as Sick Puppy and The Talent. He’s behind the lead vocals on Art Department’s album: “I’m from a gospel background and so was vocally and musically trained from a young age,” he says.
Back in Fuse Club and Art Department are mid-way though their epic three-hour DJ set. They continually drop huge slates of house and techno rife with throbbing basslines that work in tandem with their own musical production. Out on the floor, the crowd are only too happy to declare their adoration for the duo. “I flew all the way to hear them play at Fabric a few months ago. It was amazing and well worth it. The energy both the guys and their music has is unbelievable,” says one perspiring punter. “I can’t believe they’re here in Brussels!” exclaims another. There’s also a palpable excitement and curiosity about the new album ‘The Drawing Board’. Suddenly a behemoth of a bassline sweeps across the room: “This is our new remix of one of Damian Lazarus’ tracks,” Kenny says, grinning.
“I’ve not even heard that yet!” exclaims Lazarus later, on the phone. Renowned for his hats, his brilliantly strange podcasts and his uncanny knack of nurturing and developing new artists, if it wasn’t for Damian there might not even be an Art Department. “I’ve been playing Toronto for many years and it became very clear they have something a little bit special going on there,” he says.
“I kept missing my flight home and partying with these two characters, Jonny and Kenny, who were working separately from one another but were always together. They both kept giving me demos, so it made sense for me to suggest that they team up. They were both on cusp of something so I suggested they did a remix for us.” The track was Riz MC’s ‘Don’t Sleep’ and hit the streets in November 2009 under the name Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow. With other labels sniffing around their music Damian immediately locked them down for an album.
“Art Department was fully born on January 1 2010 when we decided on the name while out mangled together,” explains Jonny. ‘The Drawing Board’ only took about 10 months to nail, the guys bringing together their respective studio skills. “I use Ableton more and Kenny uses Logic, so we were able to use both,” says Jonny. Now complete, it’s a fusion of electronic grooves and Kenny’s soulful vocals. “They’ve delivered an album that’s full of beautiful melodies and catchy tunes that aren’t cheesy,” says Lazarus, “I couldn’t be happier.” There’s also a live show.
The guys are also very proud of their home city and the current electronic scene, and how it’s blossomed over the last few years with artists like Caribou, James Teej, Azari & III, My Favourite Robot (both artist and label) and Nitin. “We have a great little crew there. I think that Nitin will make waves this year as a producer, and it’s My Favourite Robot’s time to shine as a live act,” Jonny says. “People should already know James Teej because of his album [‘Evening Harvest’, on Rekids] but he’s really going to blow some people away this year with his live show at spots like Fabric and Panoramabar.”
Right now, though, it’s Art Department’s time. With ‘The Drawing Board’ one of Mixmag’s Albums of the Month in the last issue and as well received as any dance music release of the last few years, the duo touring endlessly, the live show already debuting in Miami, and great clubs like Fuse and Fabric full of people losing it to Kenny and Jonny’s DJ sets, there’s really only one thing left to say: “it’s fucking Art Department! Woohooo!”
Art Department’s debut LP ‘The Drawing Board’ is out now on Crosstown Rebels
SOURCE: mixmag

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ra review - damian lazarus get lost 4

Although he mans one of the most successful dance music labels of the last few years, bangs out a bi-monthly-or-so podcast and has released both a Fabric mix and an artist album in the last three years, it doesn't feel like Damian Lazarus is overexposed or overstretched. On the contrary; the birth of a new Lazarus project is invariably welcome. You're never quite sure what you're going to get, but you can be safe in the knowledge that it's probably worth paying attention.

While the selections on Get Lost 04 aren't as eclectic as those on his fabric mix, calling this mix linear would be a massive disservice. It's only more straightlaced than we've come to expect from someone who prides themselves in snatching the rug from under his listeners at regular intervals. Lazarus uses Get Lost 04 as a showcase for some of the emerging talent we're doubtlessly going to be hearing a lot more about in the months ahead. Iranian newcomer Amirani kicks things off with "My Way." Full of pitched down vocals, warming synths and wobbly reverb, it's comforting in its familiarity and a perfect opener.

From there, things get steadily darker, culminating in the haunted house weirdness of Left's "Don't Come Alone," a track that seems intent on carelessly tripping over its own beat until joined by softly persuasive hi-hats, giving it a relative sense of purpose. It makes you feel downright miserable, but it's also an unquestionable highlight. Confused? Excellent, he's obviously doing his job properly. 

Things start to gather pace again with the jerky broken beat of Kowton's "She Don't Jack," after which barely a breath is taken as Lazarus steams through 30 flawless minutes. You'll find yourself helplessly grinning as each new track finds its mark, especially during the synth funk of Nico Purman's "Fade Away" and the incessant throb of Acid Pauli's "Japan." It's all topped off with Avey Tare's weird and compelling "Oliver Twist." 

There's a little blip at the penultimate hurdle in the form of Art Department's "All Mine" (it's totally a personal thing, but I just can't take any more of that voice), but any notion that the mix would end on a semi-low note is blown away by Mario & Vidis' epic "Kashyyyk." It's a fitting finale for a compilation that further establishes Lazarus' already obvious credentials as both tastemaker and mixer.

source: RA

Friday, September 16, 2011


so i now have a tumblr.

it is a collection of photos and random stuff that is pretty much unrelated.

feel free to stop by and check it out from time to time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


tonight this happens. one hell of a party you do not want to miss.

head down early for beers and pizza. the ZOO hit the decks from 7-9.

Monday, September 5, 2011

berghain gatekeeper.

AS a young punk rocker living in communist East Berlin, Sven Marquardt was forbidden by the police to show his face around Alexanderplatz or any other part of the central Mitte district intended as a showcase of socialism.
That same face, now heavily tattooed with winding vines, thorns and barbed wire, is one of the city’s most famous — and one of its unlikeliest symbols.
Mr. Marquardt is the doorman at Berghain, an abandoned thermal power station that is home to what many consider the greatest techno club in the world. Berghain is to electronic music fans in Germanywhat Bayreuth is to opera lovers, and Mr. Marquardt, 49, is the gatekeeper for the party that begins here Saturday nights and ends Monday mornings.
He was once among the most promising young photographers in East Berlin, and his life as East German artist, post-wall lost soul and present-day club celebrity traces the city’s arc over three decades. “In this time of upheaval, the mid-’90s, one somehow had to find oneself again,” Mr. Marquardt said.
No longer part of the counterculture, the city’s clubs have become a mainstream attraction in Berlin, drawing easyJet planeloads of young people from around Europe and beyond. Berghain, and Mr. Marquardt himself, are a major part of the draw.
Even the city’s tourism agency has trumpeted how at Berghain “people of all sexual orientations indulge in debauchery in the basement dark room,” but warned that “the face-tattooed bouncer, a bona fide local celebrity, commands what is reputed to be the hardest door in Berlin.”
Before his career as the Cerberus of Berlin nightlife, Mr. Marquardt exhibited his photographs in East German galleries and in fashion-magazine photo spreads. But not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he put down his camera for more than a decade, selling shoes during the day and dancing in the city’s semilegal underground clubs at night.
Now he is opening a second chapter in his photography career, having published two books in the past two years, in a return to the public eye that began with an exhibition of photos at the nightclub itself. “I think it was a good opening shot that the exhibition took place in the club that really embodies my life over many years,” Mr. Marquardt said.
His road to renown might have taken years to travel, but he never went far. Berghain is a short streetcar ride from the apprenticeship workshop on Rigaer Strasse here in the Friedrichshain neighborhood where he learned photography in the early 1980s. His style has not changed much either, with an exclusive focus on portraits and a visual language that he described as “very classic, analog, usually black and white and only with daylight.”
Mr. Marquardt was clearly exhausted after traveling to the former East German city of Halle last Friday to present his latest book and exhibit a selection of his photographs. He returned Saturday for his all-night shift at Berghain and was back in the club Monday as cleaners went through and workers took down an exhibition that included his large photograph of a couple costumed as satyrs, shot with prosthetics rather than digitally altered.
White streaks his beard and long hair now, but the grizzled quality adds to, rather than diminishes, the menacing edge to his appearance. In conversation, he is gentle and extremely thoughtful, protesting when told that his appearance had given a woman recurring nightmares.
Yet it could hardly come as such a surprise that he frightens some of the thousands of people who submit to his inspection at the club entrance each weekend. He wears a large metal skull ring on one hand, and one made of a mountain of tiny skulls on the other. His lower lip is pierced twice, and a pointed metal bar runs through his septum. His hands and throat are covered with tattoos, like his face, where if you look closely, a moth flutters among the thorns.
BORN in East Berlin the year after the Berlin Wall was built, Mr. Marquardt spent much of his childhood with his grandparents, who ran a bakery in Prenzlauer Berg. After his apprenticeship, he was mentored by a prominent but socially critical East German photographer, Helga Paris. With her son Robert, his best friend and also a photographer, he joined the punk scene, shaved the sides of his head and began wearing heavy black eye makeup.
This was more of a rebellion in East Germany than it might sound. To be labeled “asocial” was dangerous, and punks disappeared into the prisons of the Stasi, the East German secret police. “When I look back today at pictures from then, we looked so innocent in spite of our spiked-up hair,” Mr. Marquardt said.
He said he was picked up and taken to the police station numerous times, then let go because at least he had a job. But the prohibition from entering Mitte was a significant hurdle, with the artists’ association at Alexanderplatz and the fashion magazine Sibylle on Friedrichstrasse both downtown. He had to find back-alley paths or race from idling taxis to make it to his appointments.
But he was happy in the small underground scene, and chose not to stay in West Berlin when he received a coveted travel visa or leave after the wall fell, as most of his friends did. But his art fell victim to the overflow of change.
“At first I thought, ‘wow, I’ll have the freedom as a photographer to finally do everything that I couldn’t do before,’ ” Mr. Marquardt said. But he was not ready to work as an artist again.
“Friends said, ‘Oh God, poor Sven, he’s standing in a shoe store on Saturdays,’ but I didn’t see it that way,” Mr. Marquardt said. “I didn’t want to look backwards and mourn the time that was gone.”
Mr. Marquardt began in the ’90s to literally transform himself with tattoos. The first was a cross of thorns on his calf. He steeped himself in the techno culture of now-legendary clubs like E-Werk and Tresor.
His first job working the door at a club was for his brother Oliver, a D.J. He proved to have talent for picking partygoers who meshed well and didn’t start trouble, and he began working regularly, eventually ending up at the celebrated club Ostgut. That club was the forerunner of what became Berghain. After Ostgut closed, Mr. Marquardt thought he was done working as a doorman, but he felt the pull to return for this new enterprise in a remarkable space.
“It reminded me of a film set, something that unreal,” he said of the power station, and the soaring concrete ceilings of the former turbine hall in the postwar Stalinist building. With lights flashing, music blaring and dancers posing in their leather fetish gear, Berghain indeed has an otherworldly quality.
He does not like the term bouncer; curator would be more appropriate. He chooses an often surprising — those who are rejected say capricious — selection of people, old as well as young, eccentric as often as beautiful, helping to give the club its staying power.
IT was in 2007 that his exhibition at Berghain, with images based on the Rainer Werner Fassbinder film “In a Year With 13 Moons,” brought him back into the public eye as a photographer. His first book, published last year, was a retrospective of his works dating to 1984. The second volume, released in March, is called “Savior” and started as a project for the Levi’s jeans company. The growing public attention even landed him on a public television talk show this year, where several panelists indignantly grilled him over whether he would let them into Berghain.
Mr. Marquardt knows he cannot work the door forever, but he has no plans to stop, nor to take another break from photography. He is in the process of organizing an exhibition for next year in a space overlooking Alexanderplatz. He hopes to either hang or project giant photographs on the side of the building. If he pulls it off, the space once banned to him by the state would be watched over by his art.

source: RA

lucid dreaming. september edition.