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20/07/19 TBA, Würzburg
13/09/19 TBA, Manchester





2018


After I return from Christmas in Kiev, I find myself waking up with a blurred vision of my friend’s flat. There is a crack on one of the windows next door from someone hitting it with the fireworks the night before. I feel dizzy from what is yet to come.

This year I have seen more new places and people than I ever have before. This year I also put a lot in my life to test: Despite the advice of my friends,
I decide to quit my paralyzing job while I was still in several thousands of debt, a thing that doesn’t only jeopardize my life but also my friendships and my relationship. The latter seems to have been a big challenge for most of my peers this year.
The outside influences can be exceptionally blissful and draining to our lifestyle and in any interaction it usually takes two or more to tango but if you love someone unconditionally it’s best to let each other go for a while in order to realize that life is happening indeed for you and not to you. Once you change from expectation to appreciation, everything changes. 

A few days after New Years, I am queuing up at LABO in Berlin, the branch of the German government which decides whether people are able to stay in my country or not. A place where about indescribable joy or indefinite displacement is decided in a few moments. A place where I never have to go. A vibe I only felt being at the North Korean border six months before. Cultural intensity.
I am here, queuing up with my girlfriend at 03:00 am for people with no appointment. Sounds intense enough?
It’s pissing down and next to us about hundred people, mostly from the Middle East trying to be the first one in line. Some random strangers give away fake numbers for people to be the first. Of course they just want to stay. 

Suddenly the doors open. Everyone rushes into a small gate, a woman shouts that she is pregnant and after half an hour of claustrophobia, tears and uncertainty, the first people get pushed through the security. We find ourselves in the wrong queue which what we didn’t know was specificially for “Syrian refugees”.

After a few hours in front of a new building and seeing some of the leftover refugees revolt in front of the security, our gates open and we rush to the top to be one of the first ones to be interviewed. I feel like a stranger in my own country. Not only was I watching, running next to people striving for a better life, I also see them wait and almost suffocate. 
Unlike a lot of the foreign people, we leave with the privileged right to easily extend our Visa. I feel disgusted. 

Mark

Rome




My first gig in the new year and the only one that month. Städlin, next to Ultrasuoni.
There are rumours about both of them closing. I hope not indefinitely.
A very calm weekend after getting a Visa extended. The people we meet are very kind and doing their best to introduce the italian menu. I am a bit indecisive about what to play in a bar at a very early time but get used to it by the end. The bartender says people stay longer that night than they usually do. One more drink and off to bed. 





I feel that Rome definitely wasn’t built in a day. Long walks. Segway anyone? When in Rome, they say. I find the city a bit too beautiful for my taste but have befriended one of the most traditional hosts I can ever imagine. Pizza, Pasta or Gelati? No Problem! I buy a few records at the small basement of “I want to believe” and then after listen to classical music and get help to see the Vatican. Unfortunately, I see the beauty shadowed by the poverty with some of the homeless people next to it. Since you generally pay taxes to the churches in Germany, I feel the money isn’t necessarily going to a good cause. I decide to quit.


The Ghost at Hoppetosse.

A now renowned brand for many people in Berlin.
A group of people I wish to have invested in more in 2018.
A group that has made my life in Berlin as a DJ and individual incredibly easy.

I remember in the first months after I moved I got to know all of the people involved learning more about the northern english than I do about my own culture. I feel like an Englishman in Berlin and called my very first release after a northern proverb, Owt for Nowt. I feel nostalgic about the times where I moved some of our stuff with my old flatmate driving around in what wasn’t even a painted record shop with interior at the time. People I will always appreciate.
Hoppetosse for Berliners? The first time playing alone after the amazing back to back I had with my old flatmate at the very first party. For quite a few people that would feel more nerve-wrecking than actually enjoyable. And so it was for me. I get really good feedback although due to the presence of your peers, you never feel satisfied.
Shortly after, at a doctor’s office. I almost fainted in my office after a massive crack-on the same weekend. I had what was supposed to be an asthma attack but also an intense coping mechanism regarding my coworkers. I hate my job and have the anxiety to get out of touch with my hobby longterm. How am I supposed to enjoy partying if I have to stay completely sober? 












 March


I lie at work a lot of times compensating about what I actually like to do. My colleagues don’t know I am a DJ in my free-time and let alone travelling. They are only interested if I make money with it. The countless hours finding new music for fun? Impossible to appreciate. I have to get a Visa to go to Russia in less than 14 days just to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg for less than 48 hours. Unfortunately I see exactly as much of the city as it sounds. I played at a new club at the time that, I recently find out, is more developed now than it was before. That’s great news! The first thing I see is a corner with luggage at the airport that reminds me of an auction house. A sign says “Lost and found”. We go straight to the club from the airport. The food from the club restaurant is great. I find myself playing in a backstage room with fake beach sand really early in the night. It wasn’t packed but we continue to play records in the kitchen of the club until I have to leave. Despite a broken turntable - the people had a blast. I still bump into people from that night in Berlin sometimes. The only thing I remember from Moscow is the train station where the next promoter waited to pick me up. Unfortunately. 


 
Without any guidance by the promoter I would get lost but he persists to keep me good company. I am often surprised how well it turns out when you go to places you have never been to meet people that you have never met. Arriving in St. Petersburg and totally lost in translation I get to my hotel room without any sleep. I get a panic-attack and begin to call my friends. I decided to skip the hotel and go straight for dinner.
It’s a funny moment for me: When I started to DJ I used to be in the position to pick people up from the airport and go for dinner with them before we play. Now I find myself in the exact opposite position. I meet someone who turned out to be a producer of a record that I carry. We keep talking about our lives, kids and his wife, mostly via Google Translate. I am amazed how technology is serving us well for once. In a fast-food age of social media. I have one drink at the bar and fall asleep in the backstage of the club. Puzzled, I got up a little bit later with one of the residents wanting me to sign my own record that he managed to get hold off for a fortune on Discogs a few weeks earlier. I played after an amazing warm-up. My set went off a few times, not even half an hour after I handed over I am already on my way back to the airport. It’s hard letting the random people go but surely that is something that I would have to get used to: Spending less time with people. Unfortunately!


April. I want to do American things.
The land of boundless opportunities.

Unfortunately, some of the footage got lost but the next few months would be the most personal experience about last year and also the most difficult to write about.
Not only was I going to see my girlfriend’s family for the first time but it was also my first time experiencing what a lot of German people think is “living the dream”.
It would be my first time in a country that I have been able to see every day on TV and that I probably own more things originating from than my own. I imagined that not a lot would be different to where I live but it was the opposite.

I get really scared entering the US especially after going to Russia.
Technically I am a tourist but also I am there to DJ. Carrying the horror stories from some of my friends in my mind there was a possibility, but no way, to get deported.
After a “good luck” from the border control officer, I know that I was worrying too much.


We head straight to New Jersey where I discovered an environment that is very similar to the one I grew up in. At first I feel weird from all of the single ingredients one can find in what is supposed to be just eggs but soon after I feel the similarity to a lot of things in the past. During my visit most people were away and would come back for the summer season but it was the right moment to give me space and get used to the novelties of my stay. I spend some time exploring American TV channels, diners and sneak my way onto a motorized shopping cart at Walmart.
A few days later we enjoy axe-throwing, cheese steak and the liberty bell in Philadelphia. Before we leave to New York, I open my record bag for the first time in a month, which my girlfriend was able to take over for me. Unlike for me, shipping records prior to the gig seems to be a necessary tradition for most people without a visa.

Writing this, it warms my heart to know that I couldn’t have had a better introduction to a country that people talk so much about than the one that I received.





On our bus ride into New York City it didn’t take longer than half an hour to bump into the first traffic jam of the day. Watching the skyline it also didn’t take long to feel overwhelmed by the size of things. The Big Apple does its name justice.
Berlin in comparison, and by far the biggest german city, feels more like a village than it does like a capital city.The fast paced environment when we get into the first train station excites me and exhausts me at the same time.
Between crazy crackheads and amazing musicians I grasp a glimpse of the magic that gets people into a love/hate relationship with the city.
Often I am aware that out of self-defense I can feel reserved meeting new people before I open up to them but the people I first encounter on my first night give me an instant sense of relief and do me a really big favour for the rest of my trip.
Still jet-lagged and a few days of sightseeing, burgers and pork-roll bagels later I realize I don’t have enough money and time to probably go record-shopping as much as I want to. Not having money when I should has happened to me often this year.
Halcyon is a well known record shop in the city and is hosting a frequent event that features a livestream. It was the first time of three that I would play.
New to me that a lot of people are currently watching and that I can’t see them especially imagining the time difference that came with it, the turntable jumped a few times but I feel satisfied after not using my record bag in a month. The uplifting mood of my mate Vagara did make me feel very accomplished after all.
The next day, just a few hours before my my friend’s event, we get pulled over by the police for the taxi driver not wearing a seatbelt and start to argue with him. We leave the cab and indulge in a quick meal before we manage to get to the venue on time. A lot of her friends would be there, some of who I had already met. I play with Taylor and Desyn, two amazing selectors. Taylor warms up with some of my friend’s label releases in his bag. I see a lot of my friend’s music in record shops overseas including Detroit and Japan and it’s awesome to see that music can travel all this way. A huge feeling of expectation haunts me spinning between the two. How do I cope with a party from someone that I really appreciate in their own city which happened to be one of the biggest in the world and that offers one of most important musical backgrounds? Luckily my friend Joe came, a long-time friend who before has put me at ease in these situations. Although I am relaxed by the positive attitude of everyone, it’s a different story if you suddenly are surrounded by someone you have known for a long time. Desyn, after me, was playing pretty much everything ranging from Electro, Disco and a few all-time classics like Schatrax. Near the end I play a deep house track and I remember Desyn making a joke about who of us would play the first vocal of the night. The party got extended by an hour. I am happy it was great and made some new friends but what I felt the most happy about was the few people that mentioned they are very proud by the effort my friend was doing by creating this environment for them. Living in Berlin makes you realize quite often that going out the way we can is quite a privilege and a luxury compared to most places. Something that all the travelling this year taught me from a lot of situations where things weren’t ideal. The last gig was a Monday night and fairly empty unfortunately. Rama, who I only just met and me had a lot of fun, especially with seeing the undercover cops trying to dance. The music was decent though the night too short to hangout with each other before I would go and visit Detroit.











Detroit was a place where I hoped to find a lot of good records since I didn’t really have time to go digging in New York. The motor city would be the most life changing part of my year. Sounds pretentious? Of course the self-made Mecca of techno would have some sort of impact on me.

We arrive very early at an almost dead airport. Actually I am very sure that the airport was as empty when we left at a more reasonable hour than it was this early. It took us several times to tell a cab driver where we want him to go and it almost sounded like he didn’t want to understand where we asked him to. In the cab he asked us if we plan to stay long in the chosen area or not and suggests for us to stay somewhere else if we can.
Unsure whether I made the right decision to come here or not I can feel the aftermath of what was once the american dream. Destroyed buildings, empty car parks, abandoned skyscrapers. Later I read that several hundred thousands of homes are unoccupied and an unemployment rate of 50% has been troubling most of the remaining citizens. 





























The uncertainty makes us review the ratings of our house which looked far from bad. The inside was quite beautiful for what I’d call Detroit standard judging by the look of most places.
We are supposed to leave the lights on during the night and the only guy we encounter was sitting in his own room upstairs without either acknowledging us or saying hello to us.
































Around it? A big landscape of nothingness with only a few homes every hundred metres. A car that is about to pass by twice? A conceivable threat.
It only took us a shower’s length to decide that we had to leave. The next driver suggests to avoid public transport all together and confirms the area to be far from ideal.











The season in Berlin officially begins at what is the meeting point for the who’s who of my scene. CDV? The usual suspects.

How do I find Berlin?

It’s been treating me well but as Baby Ford told me: “It’s not for kids!” - Convenient excess in all areas. I have been at home for a few weeks trying in every way to find a new job. I get invited by HHV, Native Instruments and a few others. Between the hope of getting a new opportunity I also lose faith in my integrity. I get three warnings from my current job for DJing in my freetime and I also need to show up at my health insurance office because they suspect that I am not ill. I have only been taking the piss for four weeks from my work as an accountant but if I look deeper into it, I’ve actually been feeling sick from it the entire time. After I passed the test I got the ultimatum to either stop DJing or to quit my job forever. If I don’t find something by the end of the next month I will not only have no income but I will also not be able to pay my rent.
My first gig in Berlin that month is one I get invited to by Anthea who I had met through one of my releases. Due to the always positive attitude I get from her, I feel extremely excited although because of my financial situation I also fail to buy a lot of records and so keep on rotating the same ones. I am not sure if at first I can get particularly into it on that day. It’s quite common during the week that most people only arrive after work resulting in coming after my set. At the back of my mind is the existential struggle that completely strangles my creativity. I get probably the best feedback of the year yet though also a hint from some of my closest friends that I need to put more energy into my craft. I wasn’t doing enough and I felt it. A criticism for me that wasn’t easy to deal with. Despite the huge amount of interest from friends and labels that want me to send them music and the motivational support, it gets increasingly harder for me to finish tracks or record a mix, something that I would have my problems with until after I get back from Robert Johnson at the end of this year. For all of my close friends music has become their lifestyle instead of just an activity and I believe we all work hard and are appreciative of the opportunities that present themselves to us but sometimes things go a little bit too fast to catch up with them.

The amount of finished tracks in 2018 ? 1
The amount of unfinished tracks? More than 50+
The tracks that have made it into an actual arrangement? Less than a handful.


My very close friends know that it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bookmark every link about how to finish tracks faster or tried every program that’s out there to help me meet my goals. Stuck with the cognitive bias of which information is useful, I learn about more and more things without following them through.I start reading every book from the artist’s way to the inner game of music and end with feeling overwhelmed when processing the information into an actual plan of action.
I get a hint from The Artist’s Way, that I will be as old doing music as I will when I don’t. A hint that comes in handy in a lot of situations and struggles I would have to go through in 2018 and a book I would recommend a lot of my friends in the following months.

The overall problem? Comparing myself with the music of others and feeling it won’t be good enough. Comparing myself with the music of others and feeling like a copycat. The naked truth you might be a fraud exposing your undeniable taste to the public. A few times I feel inspired at CDV and go straight to the studio during the night to transform every little feeling of imagined relief that would come with believing to be able to finish a track. A feeling that would be destroyed a few hours later. I tried everything from staying up late, getting up early and making music with other people. Do I need hardware? Do I need software? Countless times I have my friends tell me to shut the fuck up and eventually I start to believe that what I choose to do might be not what I want to do. It should feel easy and not difficult to me right?

Mark

I studied audio engineering before and taught Syrian refugees about sampling before but after all I can say that it’s true that it should feel easy but there is also a time where things shouldn’t be pushed, especially if some other major concerns are in the back of your mind. We are the things that have made up our lives and to figure that out as artists we do indeed need time to sit around and do nothing sometimes.
As much as you compare your work with other people and as much as you look for advice in others as a DJ or Producer, it will always be projected by what they feel which will never be what you. Seeing the desperation to find a unique sound for myself and seeing this problem occur in any professional level imagined so far, I advise myself to regard the frequencies I create as the mashup of my own life and be proud of it. It’s a scary thing to stay who you are because suddenly you don’t have anything to blame.
It’s the lack of being in tune with your own ideas that makes you downsize the individuality of others and evaluate their progress rather than increasing yours. If people are more honest to each other about their art it will not only give them but also the work of their peers a lot more desired originality and on the other hand give everyone involved an insight about how much help is right at their disposal if they see through the often unproductive, competitive nature of their own selves.
At the end of the year I start to make more music and finish one or two tracks and get really excited about the process again. I thank my friends for putting up with it. In May I become unemployed and am about to go to London and Japan. I would have to use the money I earn in London to enjoy and finance my trip to Japan with the idea to come back and not be able to survive. It’s the time to finally face my fear and not lose any faith.





Uwe Schmidt is probably the name that comes up more in conversations in our flat than actually our own. I get invited by my best friend and studio partner Gwenan to share the decks with our all-time favourite at her Pickle Factory residency. Uwe is someone we had both already played together with at Magda’s and Hamid’s party, Perm, the year before and share the utmost musical respect for.

The night means a lot to me since I always remember how much I went to London to escape my boring hometown and how much our friends have developed themselves as DJs from a time six years ago when none of us had hardly ever played out. I wonder how the always mature appearing Senor Coconut would react to my goofy persona and what he would play on that night especially with a stunning discography of his own. We sit in an asian restaurant realizing we would be in Tokyo the same night the same month.
Juggling between the funny comments about what to expect in those countries and my friend Toby’s northern English humour we share several serious conversations about why he moved to South America, travelling and how he distances himself from his own music. Uwe, who said he has been remastering his back catalogue for the last few years talked about the obstacles that appear while working with other collaborators. Slowly heading back to the club I get the hint that he might be influenced by Synesthesia as much as I am although afterwards I can’t confirm if he is.

We had to do the sound check and where I have to warm-up for him. After his sound check I wonder if I might have packed the wrong music to warm-up. Following the last few weeks I did not have enough resources to properly prepare myself for the gig and I imagined my selection to be too low-key for the acidic live set that was to be played. Tributing Uwe’s early days with a few tracks on Ongaku that I had and a packed dance floor later I feel really satisfied with the party although I knew what I played might have not sounded interesting to someone that had probably been part of half of the production of the music I played. During Atom Heart’s liveset I see a few weird people skype their friends at home and got almost got kicked out by the bouncer as he confused my ear plugs with ecstasy. I was happy to see a crowded dance floor the whole way through with Gwenan and me sharing our first ever back to back that turned out to be a great finish to a successful night which makes it a good addition to her series.

Japan

It’s five years to the month since I had my first gig outside of Germany. The Toi Toi after party in London with Nico, Steve, Daniel Bell as well as Masda and Kabuto would be the very first of what I didn’t think to be many opportunities to follow.
Out of all the countries I would visit, Japan would be the one that most people get the most hyped asking about. I was puzzled in my current position why such opportunities had opened up to me but the questionable feeling subsides quickly. I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect when I was waiting for the plane to go to Seoul last year until I actually got to the gate to find out I am going to be the only European looking person on the whole flight.

I was sad that due to the difficult clubbing situation I wasn’t going to go to Seoul this time. I felt extremely sadened to believe that I might not see the friends that I made there last year. The travel and the short-lived encounters with people had made me believe I must show everyone the best version of myself possible at the time. The inconvenience of those travels in particular amplifies the idea that I might not even see people ever again, something that I had to deal with growing up multiple times.


Berlin, Helsinki to Osaka. I didn’t plan anything, unlike my girlfriend. I had heard a lot of unique and amazing things from Masda about his country, someone who I really trust and has become a friend and mentor to me over the years. Since Korea, I decided to just go with a rough idea and catch the vibe of the environment rather mapping everything out.. This way so I can look into what makes sense to do at the time.

Upon Arrival at Kansai Airport it takes a bit of time to find the right line to get through pass the immigration but everything is so automated and friendly that you feel straightright at home compareddespite to  the distance just travelled you had just passed. We meet our hosts and take the bus to our flat that was booked for us for a few days.












Upon Arrival at Kansai Airport it takes a bit of time to find the right line to get through immigration but everything is so automated and friendly that you feel right at home despite the distance just travelled. We meet our hosts and take the bus to our flat that was booked for us for a few days.
Osaka would be a very small city compared to everything that I had seen in Asia which made me get used to it quickly. We have Sushi on the first night with the promoter and all their friends. A very good opportunity to get to know to the unique customs and experience the extremely friendly hospitality that comes along with the change in culture. I had never sat at a dinner before wondering why everyone else wasn’t eating apart from us, though as unlikely as that might sound it was definitely the best Sushi I have had at the time.
After dinner we pray at a local shrine and with a lot of help win a plush toy at a game store. We get some food and fade out the day at some of the residents' studio: I indulge in Calpico and some of the weird sweets I discovered, pass out and feel satisfied.
I was waiting for the job confirmation of what would be my current job at HHV which I applied to only a few days before the trip. Something that would put my mind into an enjoyable state comparing to the weeks of hustle before. I can’t recall exactly in which order we did some of the things but one of the most memorable experiences next to Ichiran, an owl cafe and a record and vintage shop, would be to go to a traditional Onsen with one of the residents we just met.
The thing that I really wanted to go to no matter what because the japanese hot spring was one of the most frequently heard suggestions before my trip. Coping with the behavioural difficulty I had and to have to go naked with everyone else, I am happy that my friend was able to explain everything to me in great detail.
After a few rounds of hot/cold I accidentally put my hand into an electrified pool of water, a thing I didn’t really enjoy but something that wasn’t a necessity to feel relaxed.
The next day we visit an owl cafe which allows you to caress owls and have a drink. Something that has made me feel so uncomfortable that I intend to leave in the first ten minutes of our visit. In a local record shop next door I get a record map of the whole city but as you can imagine there isn’t enough time to actually go and check out even a handful of the shops listed.












Kyoto is really close to Osaka and with just an hour train journey a very convenient goal if you want to see a variety of cities in Japan. It took a bit of time to find the right local train and a few exchanges to figure out that we went wrong but I haven’t actually felt lost at all, if it were to happen. I have never seen cities and trains as clean as in Japan and it did actually have a big impact of how cared for I felt all around the country. There would be two main objectives upon arrival of our day trip in Kyoto: Arashiyama and Fushimi Inari.
After a bit of confusion, the bamboo forest would be a very common goal for tourists and was something that made us get up really early. As we arrive in the area a lot of the tourists were already there. They would hitchhike into the infamous forest that was close to one of the cleanest rivers I had ever seen next to it.There are a lot of people that engraved their name on some of the trees, something I am sure you are not supposed to do. The mystical energy of the bamboo trees projected a soothing, meditative state that I sometimes miss until today. A lot of temples and opportunities to see traditional Japanese village areas would be there. After hiking to a monkey park on the top of the mountain we see an astonishing view of the city, something I was lucky to see in almost every asian city that I have yet been.
Fushimi Inari, Oinari-San would be the last spot in Kyoto, a famous temple with around a thousand “Torii” gates and with a lot of pilgrims that would walk towards the top of the mountain to pray. Unlike us not many people would actually reach the top, a stressful looking one-hour walk that would mean there will be a high chance to bump into wild, Jjapanese animals. Proud to have reached the again beautiful top, we had seen warning signs of wild boars and seen monkeys get almost mad at some tourists on the way down, something that made you forget the exhaustion on the way back in the dark. Before we leave the city back to Osaka, we start binge eating traditional foods in front of the temple: Daifuku being my favourite by far.

One downside of Japan for me was that there would be just too many things on the list to see, like the Kaiyukan Aquarium in Osaka that we didn’t see. The constant pressure to not waste time initiates a really ambitious plan you wouldn’t create otherwise but it would not just happen once that I fall asleep in the middle of the day on the train. The party would be at the local bar Cauliflower which had visuals similar to the screens at Robert Johnson. After I asked the warm-up DJ Ono about a few tracks I start to play for a few hours. There were probably fewer people than anywhere else this year but actually Cauliflower couldn’t fit more people if it wanted to. The size created a special bond between us and the people we had met for the last couple of days.

Following the mental exhaustion and jetlag of our activities and the night of the party I decided to leave the venue straight after I played to be able to have enough energy for when we arrive in Tokyo. Surprisingly the promoter had taken a cab after us to the train station. They were still up from the party and didn’t want us to go. Sad that we have to go our separate ways, we go to the train together where we would take the Shinkansen, one of the fastest trains in the world to go to Tokyo. After we got out of the hot spring a few days before, there was news that the train hit someone without noticing. It did surprise me how fast the train actually went. I had never been in or seen something that has travelled this fast on the ground. As fast as 300 km/h.