The fifth mix in this series comes from Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf, ram-jam full of his remarkable original material. Again we take a step back from grime’s purer strains, instead honing in on the international peripheries of a style that continues to force us to consider the limits of sound, music and dance. The mix provides a fitting counterpoint to Miss Modular and Sudanim’s lusher installation, JGB works with many of the same styles as the Her gang – Jersey and grime most prominently – yet smothers them in industrial gloom and concrète austerity. It’s obvious that this is a producer who has learnt the lessons of 4’33”, Russolo, Stockhausen, Black Dice, Wiley, DJ King Tiger-Z. In Actress’ plain words, people who “[develop] a sense of space and a sense of ambience through noise.” Not only is the mix shrouded in ambient sounds – fire crackles, running water, someone weeping, birds chirping – but his own trax are imbued with a distinct spatial awareness and a strong emphasis on sound design. This makes for a vivid experience in the mix, it’s cinematic, both in structure and visual lucidity. JGB’s trax are sparse and dank, recalling in particular the weightlessness of Wiley’s ever-influential devil mixes. This quality is aided by the extensive use of voice, which appears to be a central theme of his work. ‘Grey’, for example, seemingly floats about on its own accord in drumless suspension, yet is equally as modular as any of the banging drum trax floating around at the moment.
Simultaneously running through the veins of this mix is the paradoxical relationship between ‘dance/club music’ and ‘art music’ (and I, in these circumstances, approach both of these terms as flexibly as possible). This dialectic is almost tangible in JGB’s mix, which flows between more danceable and more cerebral spaces. Yet, as I found out in our discussion, for Biberkopf the dance and the club environment is ultimately irrelevant. We might contrast this with the position of OG ‘nuum general Simon Reynolds, who believes true ‘artistry’ for dance music lies in its steadfast functionalism, its ability to mutate and innovate on the floor. A good example is footwork, where the relationship between producers and dancers birthed something shockingly new. Then again, perhaps we need not draw lines in the sand, as JGB notes, “in the end, I don’t know if I hear that much of a difference at all.” Either way, its not often you’ll hear Divoli S’vere and Roly Porter blended with such ease.
Got a few recs this time as well: a must is Inkke’s 8-bar pack, the perfect extension to your party package collection. Twwth’s new one on Signal Life is basically pure rewind material, full of badbwoi vocal snips and funny-big drops, while SD Laika’s Idiot Thug mix is just very, very exciting. Looks like there will be some amazing sounds on his forthcoming release for Tri Angle. If you’re left thirsty for more, try out some new heat: Finn, Kid Antoine, Taskforce, Famas ’93, Banshee, all with sporadic but excellent soundcloud activity, are some to keep an eye on. But really that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s been an astounding amount of good activity recently, it’s overwhelming.
JGB also took some time out to DnM over e-mail, with poetic, touching, deleuzoguattarian results and a dissection of Berlin that recalls Dean Blunt at his finest.
Hey Jacques! Tell us a bit about yourself, what have you been up to lately?
Lately it’s trying to be flexible.
Trying to take control.
Trying being free and responsible.
Been really interested in spaces.
Traveling a lot.
You live in Berlin, right? What has your experience of the city been like?
Don’t know if I could say that I live in Berlin.
Moved here not that long ago and been traveling a lot, not spending too much time here.
My work is here and I pay the rent here. But I go back to my hometown a lot, since there’s too much left. The space I feel most confident creating is still there.
Love about Berlin that it is so classless and that it doesn’t care about money that much yet.
Love how it constantly interrupts your reality in unexpected ways.
Love the freedom of it.
Love the fact you can stand hungover stoned in front of Reni’s Saint Sebastian on Sunday.
Love the technology nerds here.
It’s too lazy.
It’s a city that’s being built for consuming, not for creating.
Considering the whole myth, the music scene here is actually pretty boring right now.
Not that productive anymore.
Most things feed off of other cities.
There are no strong communities, no bonds between artists.
Too many interns.
Best things musically right now – Berlin Community Radio and Rashad Becker’s album.
The mix you put together is really eclectic, blending modern club sounds and stuff like Roly Porter and Chris and Cosey. What unites these artists for you? How do you approach mixing in trax that are perhaps less dancefloor friendly, or is that irrelevant for you?
I DJ a lot, but I don’t know if I ever had the distinction between club and non-club music. For most, and most of the time, club music is experienced at home. The myth of the Club is mostly constructed out of it. The Club doesn’t matter for me – it’s a space with a group of people, their energy and certain kinds of interiors, lighting and architecture and etc. You either dance or you don’t.
DJ culture is mostly disgusting and revolting, so the only way I can justify still being a DJ is if I try to risk and explore as much as possible. Trying to create unexpected scenarios, unexpected energy flows, discovering new connections while still being intelligible, sensitive and in control. People seem to enjoy it. I wouldn’t want to call my sets eclectic, since no there is no trying to be eclectic. In the end, I don’t know if I hear that much of a difference at all.
In my eyes, what unites all these characters, from Jersey producers to Stephen Vitiello to your own productions, is an emphasis on sound and sound design – people who are concerned with sound, eg timbre and texture, rather than music, eg harmony and melody. Would you say that’s an accurate description?
Yes, quite true. Probably following the traditions of Russolo’s “Art Of Noises”, musique concrete or industrial. Grime did it also. Constructing these urban monuments and relics. Appropriating sound detritus of digital and media. I don’t know if I can it call it a conscious decision, but in recent years, was never too concerned with musicality. Much more interested in sounds and symbols and trying to create this sort of audio theatre.
Harmonies anesthetize too much, and most melodies are marketing tools by now. What you call sound is more powerful and interesting at constructing something that provokes or resonates for me.
Could you tell us about some of the MCs you’ve worked with and the impetus behind those projects?
Did a few non-memorable collaborations in the past, a few with dancehall MCs and a few with rappers. Few years back, started working with MC gone (slam)poet gone copywriter, Messiah. He was the MC I grew up listening to, and who inspired me a lot and who I looked up to. I love his ambition and courage, built on similar ideals to the sixties-seventies American avantgarde. Easy to talk to him because we have a similar upbringing and ideas. He’s the only MC I’ve worked with in recent years. Sad that everybody doesn’t speak Lithuanian.
Our project mostly deals with urban living, language in the urban environments and urban scenarios. Hope we’ll finish the album.
I also played in a multidisciplinary band/project that tried to find its way around experimental music and poetry, video art, theatre and dance.
The human voice is something you seem to work with a lot, often in a dismembered state. What is it that intrigues you about vocals?
I love how incredibly expressive human voice can be. And how it’s universal, immediate and accessible. And how wide the spectrum of its expressible emotions are. It’s very potent. It’s fundamental to our identities. It’s, like, the most important communication tool. I feel that the voice, the body and the nature are at really interesting moment right now, since there are a lot of transformations going on. Curious to see something so personal, so essential to our being, changing its definition. Like does Auto-tune do a similar thing in our relationship with our voice, like Photoshop does to our relationship with our bodies? Most of the voices you hear in music right now are auto-tuned, pitch-perfected. Like does your Twitter make you shut-up and etc.
I love Jersey and how it works with voices. It’s like a machine of desire. Sound of being truly horny in the 21st century. Fragmented, multi-linear, multi-faced, discordant. The rhythm is very sexual. BPM of masturbating. Face of a generation.
And, like, on the other side, voices and bodies are infinite data and in the right conditions they are capable of expressing of what got left out, flattened or forgotten. They still can express something real and sincere.
Tell us about the mix – where, when and how was it recorded?
Well, a lot of the tracks are mine.
Wanted to share them, since most of them are just getting old on my pc.
What are your plans for the future? Have you any releases slated?
Really curious about the future right now. Want to not lose what I have and to get more. Worked in a musical last year, was one of the more fulfilling experiences. Love the theatre space and the way theatre connects and speaks to people. Hope to study theatre. Hope to get better at my job.
I have an album that was finished last September. It’s influenced by one particular ecological theoretical experiment. Worked on it for quite some time. Some cool guys wanted to release it, but we couldn’t agree on some of the things, so it got delayed and delayed. Probably will just spit it out for free and pretend that it won’t get lost in the Web. I don’t put that much importance on releasing.
Bonus question: I noticed a reference to Deleuze in the title body without organs. I was wondering what effect, if any, he’s had on your stuff?
Yes, it is from Deleuze. Tho the name of the track came after making it. Was looking through my notes and the image resonated a lot with the track (original is different to the one in the mix), the decision was quite intuitive.
I read a bit of Deleuze, I’m amazed by his insights. He probably did impact my worldview a bit, but I don’t know if any of this dripped down on my creations.
It’s interesting that you dismissed the club space before, because I still have a very special connection with it which I feel is really primal. Actually if you think of the club as a body without organs – “a body populated by multiplicities” but ultimately held down by underlying reality and unity (in the right circumstances), directed by all sorts of ‘surface’ noise, which is what all electronic music is – then things get interesting. I reckon Deleuze would have found the body he was searching for in the club, dancing is ‘how we relate to the body’, after all. But maybe I’m too optimistic.
It’s special indeed. It’s place and importance in western society and culture is peculiar and strange now. I think this primal connection gets exploited tho. You activate and establish your style in the Club. The way you move, the way you “Relate To The Body” is/becomes fashion. You freeing yourself, your desire to find yourself in the collective becoming mostly an experience in brands and commodity fetishism. Not breaking away, but passively identifying with the spectacle. Cost of joining. I don’t know.
1. Klinik – The Plague
2. Divoli S’vere – The Kitty Kat ReVamp
3. Roly Porter – Cloud
4. Stephen Vitiello – San Salvador
5. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Construct (Georgia Girls Chopped w/ Kelela Go All Night Acapella) v2
6. Holly Herndon – Control And
7. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Waters
8. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf + MC Messiah – Gabalais
9. Clams Casino – Crystals
10. Chris & Cosey – Raining Tears Of Blood
11. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Body Without Organs
12. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Sea Deity
13. Total Freedom – Dark Hearts With Sasha’s Song Told
14. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Cargo To Miami
15. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – For The Women
16. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Japan
17. MC Guime – Na Pista Eu Arraso
18. Wiley – Frostbite (JGB Edit)
19. Rabit – Climax of the Wolf Spider (Moleskin edit)
20. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Force Of Nature
21. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Voice
22. DJ Mike Gip “The Handsome DJ” – Mike Gip’s Elevator
23. Ra’s Al & Neana Fatale – 42 Dunjunz
24. Moselm Priest – Da Werks
25. MssingNo – Baiders
26. Soft Riot – You’re Not From Around Here
27. Miss Modular – SoIn2U
28. Ian Isiah – Private Party
29. Lucrecia Dalt – Vitti
30. Dimsumjam – Jam
31. Polysick – Haze
32. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Grey
33. Dj K-Duecez x Dj Tricks x Dj Problem – Lil Freak (Remix)
34. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Real
Artwork by Joseph Jackson