Hot Coins (Red Rack’em) interview.

Your album Hot Coins ‘The Damage Is Done’ has just been released on Sonar Kollektiv. Can you tell us about how your relationship with the label happened?

Hot Coins1I have always been a big fan of both Sonar Kollektiv and Jazzanova. The label and production collective were a massive influence on me as a DJ and Producer in the early noughties. I briefly met Jazzanova in 2009 when Gilles Peterson invited me to play at the Worldwide Awards in London. I remember meeting Daniel Best (their live agent) and Claas at the awards as I was playing directly after their first ever live performance as Jazzanova. It’s bizarre to think that 3 years later I am living in Berlin, am now really good friends with Daniel Best and releasing my Hot Coins album on Sonar Kollektiv. I remember meeting Alex Barck in Nottingham around 2004 when he played at The Bomb so it was mad to fast forward many years and be driven round Mitte by him in his family car when we were having the preliminary album signing meetings. The way it all hooked up was quite unplanned. I went to a Sonar Kollektiv club night at Gretchen during the Berlin Music Days in 2011 and met Oli from the label there. We spoke of me possibly doing a remix for Micatone. I ended up remixing I Human by Jazzanova instead and during the meeting about that remix I mentioned to Oli that I had the Hot Coins album. After I sent it to them, Alex Barck got in touch saying that he loved it and we had an album signing meeting on Jan 3rd 2012 which seemed like a good idea when I made the arrangement but I underestimated the length of new years eve in Berlin! The rest of 2012 consisted of final touches, mastering, artwork and I am really happy with how the album turned out. It’s exactly as I envisioned which is a really nice feeling.

The album takes its inspiration from the sounds coming out of late seventies/ early eighties post-Punk N.Y.C. Where did you first hear this music and which records have inspired you most as Hot Coins?

Well my parents brought me up with a steady diet of Talking Heads, The Only Ones, Television and Captain Beefheart so I already had the seeds of some kind of counter culture music in me. My older sister was into punk and rockabilly when I was a kid and I have a really halcyon feeling when I hear late 70s/early 80s pop music. The real eureka moment was when my friend Fraser Saunderson (went to school with him and he was my first ever flat-mate in 1995) played me stuff like ESG, James White and The Blacks, Material, Konk, The Units, A Certain Ratio etc. He lent me ‘Rip It Up And Start Again’ by Simon Reynolds and I have to say I don’t think I would have made the Hot Coins album without that book. I was so inspired by the music and vibe from that era. But I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that it’s still quintessentially MY music. It has all the hallmarks of my Hot Coins and Red Rack’em stuff. I think it was a bit of a mistake to pitch it as a ‘homage’ as a lot of people have focused on that rather than taking it as something new. My mistake. Next time I will not mention anything else as having influenced my music.

I did this mix for Pulse Radio using records which have influenced my Hot Coins album.

The album has a very distinct sound. Which were your favourite instruments used in making the album?

I really enjoyed working with Chris Todd and Paul Johnson’s guitars. They both added completely different vibes to the album. Chris played amazing one chord Nile Rogers style ‘chicken scratch’ guitar on several tracks. He’s got a lot of experience of this style from his day job as the guitarist for Crazy P. It was great to have some really well recorded perfect guitar from Chris. He knew exactly what I was looking for. Paul played all the cosmic background stuff in tracks like ‘Leathered’ and I used it in a completely different way. While Chris’s guitar was mixed incredibly loud on the tracks, Paul’s stuff was used as more background textures. Heavily reverbed and panned to the left. I just told him to ‘play some self indulgent cosmic shit’ and he obliged. Personally I am really happy with the tracks all having a different vibe and I think there’s more depth to it than is initially obvious. They aren’t just a collection of loops.

Can you talk us through how you created one of the tracks: Roadtrip?

Roadtrip is the longest track on the album and is in 3 stages. First I created a slightly rocky country section, which is why I called it Roadtrip as initially as I had visions of some hillbilly guys driving their trucks. So it starts off on a kind of country punk funk vibe. Then I decided to use this cosmic glissando synth and turn it into and epic Norwegian feeling opus with a bit more of a complicated chord sequence and a driving bassline. This inspired me to play some Rhodes and more complicated synth bass stuff. Then I broke it down into a more Balearic housey outro section with some lilting emotional melodies. It’s hard to describe how I made the track it’s easier for me to say what it sounds like. I wanted to show several different Hot Coins moods in one track basically. I don’t think everyone understands my magpie approach to making music but I am heavily influenced by Musique concrète, New Beat, EBM and wave stuff where they have loads of disparate samples. So for me banging a load of different vibes in one tune is totally fine.

The album was mixed on the same desk that P.I.L’s seminal Metal Box was mixed on, the ex-Townhouse studios SSL 4000 B series. Can you tell us about how that came about?

This is another remarkable strange turn of events that I couldn’t have ever imagined. I was at playing at the Garden Festival in 2010 and on one of the last days I was invited to join a group of Austrians on a hidden beach about a mile along the coast from the festival. We all had the most amazing day ever together in a really odd environment. We were trespassing in a multi–million euro hotel development which had had all the money siphoned off from it so it was basically abandoned. It was like a lost chapter from ‘The Beach’ or something like that. We all swam and snorkeled and the Austrians built these beautiful stone towers on rocks on the beach. We even explored the abandoned holiday homes nearby and did a spot of singing in one of the buildings that had a big reception area. One of the Austrians was called Werner Freistaetter and at that point his only significance to me was that he was very friendly and won the lilo race that day. Fast forward a year later and I am high in the Austrian mountains mixing down the Hot Coins album with him. It turns out that Werner is a highly experienced engineer and producer who has worked with Kanye West, The Kills, Depeche Mode and PJ Harvey. He is also an SSL expert and fully restored the original SSL 4000 B series desk from the Townhouse studios that was used to record ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins and PiL’s Metal Box album. It was amazing to get to go and stay with Werner and his girlfriend Tina and spend a week mixing down the album in their cellar studio in a beautiful valley in the mountains of Austria. It felt like destiny.

hot coins garden festivalThe album has a ‘live ‘feel to it in many places and you used musicians such as Crazy P’s Chris Todd. Do you have any plans for live performance?

I have formed a band to perform the album live and our first gig is the album launch party this weekend in Berlin at Renate on 16/02/13. We’re also playing at the Munich album launch on 27/04/13 and at The Garden Festival in Croatia on 06/07/13. I have really enjoyed the experience of putting it all together and I have been so lucky to get to work with some exceptional musicians. We’re a four piece and we have been rehearsing in the historic Funkhaus Studios in East Berlin for the last few months. I have to say a massive thanks to David, Jens and Steffen who have been amazing to work with and I am really excited to get to play with them.

Can you describe the scene on the album cover, and what is the drink you’re holding?

hot coins 2The album artwork is all about presenting the rock n roll cliché but also highlighting the hollow nature of fame and how the ego is often the driving force behind rock star behaviour. Having to surround yourself with fawning women/men and taking lots of drugs and basically pleasing yourself is generally driven by an inferiority complex or at the very least you will end up with one if you chase the frail power of rock stardom. I played at Berlin techno legend Woodys Geburtstag last July with Radioslave and Marc Schneider and it was one of the best parties ever. Off location, amazing Kirsch Audio sound system, covered outdoor terrace, the crowd and music was amazing. I played at about 9am on the Sunday morning and was rather ‘in the zone’ for the rest of the day and the next night I think as well. So when I had to do the photo shoot on the Tuesday evening after that I wasn’t feeling very charismatic put it that way. BUT it turned out really well so I just put it down to method acting. I didn’t want to say ‘hey look at me with all these girls’. I wanted to say ‘look how disconnected and isolated I look with all these girls’. I wanted to paraphrase my life a bit – it’s not saying I am a loser but it’s definitely been inspired by the times that I did feel like a loser. Winning is for insecure people. Losing is actually stronger.



Tummy Touch Records

Gramme’s long overdue but most welcome debut album sounds more than exciting in 2013 than it could have done at any time in the past. Because just like everything else takes its cues from historical influences which in this case range from the genius of ESG to Liquid Liquid etc – i.e. Gramme live in inspired company! But moving beyond easy comparisons, and from their initial EP released way back in 1999, this collection of spiky Punk-Funk and interesting soundscapes is also an edgy blend of razor sharp vocals and hot danceable grooves. Try the heavy percussion of Rough News or indeed the punchy Acid of Laugh Out Loud for potential starters. However the Factory referencing rhythms exist far outside of Manchester’s winter grey and are broadcast via the colourful imagination of Tim “Love” Lee’s NYC record label Tummy Touch. Check the videos for the very excellent ‘Girls Talk’ & ‘Too High’ below and get animated.

release: February 18



BPMs Vol.1

Initially only released in 2011 through his website GFI Music this collection of smoky grooves now gets a full vinyl outing. Nail aka Neil “Nail” Tolliday is perhaps best known as one half of Bent, however this evocative blend of all and sundry feels just as delightfully imaginative as much as it does tough and raw-edged. Kicking off is the superb Bad Drainage with its stunning chords and liquid bassline proving that this is music to get lost in and/ or move too if you so desire. Never falling easily into any one category, which is certainly part of the enviable charm, this hints at funk on the closing Blueberry Pill while journeying through the gritty Dub of Fucked Off along the way. Beats Per Minute….

release: February 11


SDR025Junior Gee
Don’t Do That EP
Something Different Records

Keeping up the pressure from Something Different is Junior Gee’s latest title. Put simply Don’t Do That is devastating heavy-duty House music that again sees the label move in a more exciting direction. Powered by a hypnotic drum loop and insistent hi-hats this comprises of a peculiar amalgamation of sounds that sit somewhere between clocks and piano, but which result in this notably original production. Stop and Spin delivers yet more of those pounding grooves, leaving the more topical This Society to play out with jazzy snares, dark messages and strange notation. Excellent.

release: March 11


GD30E.pdfTom Budden & Forrest
Lady Is Trouble EP

It’s always refreshing to hear melody adding colour to music and with the first release of the new year from Audiojack’s Gruuv imprint that’s exactly what happens. Emotive, breathy vocals adorn the original version of this in style as bass punctuated rhythms succeed in giving it all a frisky edge. Remixes come from Chris James aka Coat Of Arms who treats the voice to a sizzling variety of pulsating electro beats and deep keys. Plus from X-Press 2 whose version applies tribal flavour to the drums backed up by weird and wonderful synths creating a defining edge. Next, is Tom Budden’s own production Falling which sees chiming basslines offset by funky handclaps that you just know are going to sound absolutely huge on the right sound system. OOFT! supply the remix with classic Chicago/ Detroit influences sounding every bit as big as that suggests.

release: March 4


Tony Barbato

Italian producer / DJ Tony Barbato sets the clock back to 1961 to relay his message about war and cash, which is no doubt a timely one from then to now. Although, perhaps the breezy combination of melody and music, albeit with a taught funky backing, lend themselves better to sunshine listening rather than such serious subject matter. Jazzanova/ Sonar Kollekitv stalwart Alex Barck then rearranges the sentiments to give the vocal more depth of feeling while adding a contemporary twist to the production via tense percussion and moody synths . Last but certainly not least is Patrick Podage’s excellent remix with its deliciously in-vogue bassline coupled with undulating electronics that award the edgy selection of treated words a heavy impact.

release: March 12



Alex Barck (Jazzanova) interview

Alex-Barck-REUNION1-Artwork-525x525You are releasing a series of four 12” Vinyl singles before the release of your album ‘Reunion’ later in the year. The first is ‘Re-Set’ can you tell us about the process of writing the song and music, and how the tracks guest vocalist Pete Josef came to your attention?

I live with my family  for a year on La Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. It’s a total new experience for me who always lived in Berlin. My idea was to make the best out of it and capture this moment in my life. So I decided to produced music which is inspired by the island and it’s people. I’ve noticed that the songwriting is also much easier down there. I have a lot of ideas and no one disturbs my work.
I know Pete from his White Lamp project. My label Sonar Kollektiv was releasing the 12″. When I heard the ” Make it good” song I knew immediately he is the one to work with. I sent him the layout and the song came back like this. I told him the story of being on the island and having some time off and he made the lyrics out of this. Perfect.

Re-Set is remixed by Hannes Fischer. How did you become aware of him and what are your feelings about his reworking?

I follow Hannes for a while now on Soundcloud. For me he is the next generation of producers promoting themselves with all the new possibilities as Soundcloud and YouTube. Without many releases he made his name just with networking and video releases. I wanted to learn of him and besides that I really like his music. So again a perfect combination. I also signed 2 new tracks of him for my sub label Based on Misunderstandings. His first proper release coming in April.

Can you tell us about the album’s title: Reunion and what it signifies to you?

The Island I’m living on. I like the word in general. And I’m a child of the Reunion of Germany. I was from the eastern side. So the reunion of Germany was the beginning of my active live with music.

How would you describe the album itself, is the use of vocal and instrumentation similar to the first single?

I’m a vocal lover. Of course it is difficult sometimes with new ideas. But so far I’m really happy with all the results. Pete was a very good start. I worked on another song with him for the album. I recorded 3 songs with Jonatan BÅ ckelie aka Ernesto. He is my favorite singer for a while know and he came up with very fresh vocal contributions. He liked the especially the instrumentals with a little Dubstep feel. This was the direction I wanted to go cause this movement is inspiring me a lot.

alexAre there any special musical influences that have helped inspire you in the creating of Reunion?

The music on La Reunion is definitely a big inspiration for me. Maloya is very complex rhythm wise and you can almost integrate everything into it. For the album I worked with Christine Salem together, one of the more known acts from the island. I met her when she was coming to one of my nights at Potiron’s in Saint Denis. I play there every Wednesday.
And like on every island in this region or the southern hemisphere it’s all about the bass. And this is just down my road.

Do you have any predictions for 2013?

I think 2013 will be a continuation of the hybrids of everything. Cause the kids combine everything and have fun with new technologies. If it’s not working they go back to House music the common sense of all. To create something really new becomes more and more difficult. I’m happy that from the Acid Jazz times we always looked for the good tune in every possible format. And nothing changed since then. Only that it’s more often a House tune now.

Re-Set is released January 28 (12″ vinyl only)



Alex-Barck-REUNION1-Artwork-525x525Alex Barck

There is something delightfully melodic about the way Re-Set develops its loosely structured chords alongside vocalist Pete Josef’s emotive delivery which hints at melancholy and joy all at the same time. An intriguing recipe for sure and the more you listen to this the more impressive and involving it reveals itself to be. It is also the first in a run-up to the release of an album later in 2013 so hopefully there is much more like this in store. The drums sit neatly along classic Electro lines as evocative keyboards add a juicy funk to the rhythm which feels inspired and tastefully accessible, yet clearly forward reaching in scope. The remix comes care of Berliner Hannes Fischer who transforms the song along technological lines with reverberating vocal treatments adding extra, soulful warmth to the haunting synthesizer lines which colour the spaces in-between sublimely on this stunning reworking.

release:  January 28 (12″ vinyl only)



mobiusMobius Strum
A Midnight Tale (Part 1)
Smiley Fingers

Like kick-ass basslines? Then Costa Ricas’ Mobius Strum has just the ticket in White Disorder. Beginning with unsuspecting beats this then all too quickly announces itself via a succession irresistibly hard-hitting deeper tones.  Not a lot else goes on apart from some vocal snippets and the odd sprinkle of atmospheric synth, but then when the rhythm section sizzles with such intensity little else is required.  Next, Ocean View proceeds with funkier percussion played out over throbbing bass and occasional chords, again capturing the mood perfectly alongside your attention span. The direct thinking of Kick N’ Snare applies further hypnotic swirls of keyboard to cinematic voices that for some inexplicable reason sound particularly resonate throughout its eight minute timeframe. An excellent release that you would be doing a disservice too by filing anywhere near the reference: minimal.

release: January 21


Ser Mi Dama EP
Deep Edition Recordings

Yet another distinctive release this week, and quite possibly one the Deep Editions finest moments to date, sees the trio of Keiran Clare, Lloyd Lindo and Francis Seaver deliver a richly, deep production in Ser Mi Dama. It’s all about capturing the mood here which this does so effortlessly by combining atmospheric keys and vocal hints alongside cutting percussion to propel it all. Remixes come from Michelle Owen and Martijn with the former injecting extra energy into the rhythm with heavier bass and punchier chords, the later exploring a moodier Techno feel while also highlighting the expressive vocal aspects again.  Second track, Arcapelago is tougher relying on pulsating chords and an invigorating b line to round off this notable release.

release:  February 4 Beatport Exclusive / All stores 18th February


He Not In 1500 x 1500Chicken Lips
He Not In
Defected Records

Fair to say that this seminal record from Chicken Lips has stood the test of time since its original release some ten years ago. Listen to it and the answer as to why is pretty much self-explanatory.  The original version takes pride of place; although the excellent remixes all infuse that bassline with a fresh lease of life by each adding their own distinctive trademark to their reworking. It’s all good as they say, however it’s down to both Groove Armada and Eats Everything to really qualify the track for 2013 with contemporary perspectives. However, having said all that Noir’s Personal Edit of the original is just as hard to beat (with no pun intended).

release:  January 28


release: January 28




‘Upside Down’
Elektrish / Sonar Kollektiv

Time to get excited. Upside Down is a selection of favourite remixes for Jazzanova from the last eight years and at the very, very least highlights all the elements which make the collective such a vital piece of our musical jigsaw: good song-writing and forward-thinking musicianship that encompasses both real and virtual instruments. In ways you only have to look at the list of remixers to see the picture so I’ll mention just a few: Alex Barck, Henrik Schwarz and Ame and so the list travels on… The collection never feels like it’s merely replaying the past but building upon it with fresh technology and invigorating vocals – and of course Paul Randolph and Ben Westbeech sing here too. Needless to say that there isn’t one filler on here, indeed all tracks are standout moments! 9

& the original version of Jazzanova ‘I Can See’ feat. Ben Westbeech 


Leo Zero
‘Acid Life’
Leo Trax

The album begins with a voice: Let’s Go! Well then, lets! What’s so exciting about this album is that it replays all its Chicago/ Detroit influences all in one go and never feels less than party time. But back to that opening track which bangs out sexy Hi-Nrg syncopation like it never went out of fashion and needs to be heard LOUD. More Jackin’ rhythms follow swiftly with Body Music and fly through a selection of classic drum and bass sounds booming straight out of the late eighties, although sometimes seen from today’s perspective such as on Electricity with its cinematic stabs and crescendo of big drums or on the finishing intricate funk of Warehouse Style. Marcel’s vocals feature virtually throughout and add warmth to acid attitude. Don’t say revival – it never went away in the first place. 8


Luca C and Brigante
‘Invisible Cities’
Southern Fried

Hats off to Southern Fried for releasing this perfect summer (mini) album smack bang in the middle of winter – I makes the end of January feel a whole lot warmer. This really is a refreshing listen and for those of a Balearic disposition plays out gentle electronic atmospheres along with cool, soulful feeling vocals. For those not of that persuasion you may well hate it but ho-hum. The Beach typifies it all. At times Invisible Cities is slightly dreamy and California, at others stylishly European and Vangelis. Can that ever be a bad thing? 8



Knee Deep
‘All Nite’ (Remixes)
The Brothers

Next as part of a series of single releases, which eventually cumulate as an entire album collection, this nugget from Knee Deep is the latest to be remixed. Aaron Ross turns it on big time with one of his strongest mixes to date, and as a fan of drums and most definitely bass this sees sizzling beats and percussion combine perfectly with a delicious bassline and synths on the Main Mix. There’s also a Deep Mix which is deeper and a Brothers version that feels polite in comparison. 8


Kraak and Smaak
‘Hold Back Love (feat Lex Empress)’
Jalapeno Records

If you’re a sucker for that early eighties Boogie sound then this is for you plain and simple. Although that’s not to say Lex Empress doesn’t deliver with tastefully sassy vocals or also that the D-train etc vibes aren’t irresistible either – they are. Remixes come from the excellent Lovebirds who twist the groove into deeper territory  to let the chorus feel that bit more powerful when it hits, Analog People in a Digital World give it a more provocative edge, while Neighbour and Elan B play around with jazzy touches on their playful dub-wise take. 8


And for inspiration D-Train ‘You’re The One For Me’ (1981)