The start of 2011 was a very busy period that left little time or capacity left for Djing. I did get a chance to assist tech writer KG Orphanidies with a trial run of some entry level Digital DJ kit (a sign of things to come) at a relatively sedate Sunday afternoon event, but that was merely a warm-up to what should have been my breakthrough set. Club Reptile were calling. Established in 2008, they had succeeded where many had failed in establishing a formula for a cross-genre alternative night. I’d been attending for a couple of years, and finally my DJ activity had caught their attention.
Meine Freunde, Tanz mit mir
The event fell around my birthday weekend, which should have made things even more special, but I’ve never had much luck (and more recently, enthusiasm) dragging out large groups of people to mark the passing of another year. More of a concern was that one of the club’s CD players was malfunctioning. I was still playing the things in 2011 and not-being-able-to-mix would be a significant issue.
In the end, we wired an iPod Classic into the left side of the PA and this Heath Robinson solution saw me through. And this remains the only use of an Apple-branded device in any Terminates Here DJ set, ever. Whilst the Classic was the only high-capacity MP3 player available at the time, I’ve never cared much for the ‘Apple way of doing things’.
My setlist selections that night were, in the circumstances, a “play it safe” affair. Darkwave and EBM standards made up the bulk of my set – I eventually played Project Pitchfork’s “Timekiller” as a birthday present to myself (I’d never heard said band played in there), enjoyed my birthday cake straight after, but there was no real feeling of having taken a “big step forward” in a DJ sense. The post-club mood was debates about whether to ‘go onto Slimelight’ – I wasn’t interested and hence the night just fizzled out.
One more set remained before an enforced break. The Dark 7 festival took place at the Camden Underworld – my friends in System:FX were headlining, the band Machine Rox were organising, and I’d also got to know the band Global Citizen quite well by then, so it wasn’t like my first attempt as ‘Band support DJ’ (at least under the Terminates Here name) was to be among strangers. Luckily, preparing for such things is pretty easy these days – listen to a stream of each band you don’t know and pick out four potential songs to play before each (you’ll usually only get two or three in).
I did get one of the strangest requests ever – System:FX wanted the old Inkpots track ‘I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire’ played before they came on. We were both fans of the game ‘Fallout 3’ and if you’ve played it too, that one will make sense to you. Perhaps more prophetically, I also played a track by Cubanate offshoot ‘Be My Enemy’ before they came on. Steve and Deb from FX would join the live line-up of this band a year later. The two projects aren’t that dissimilar so it all makes sense.
Now You’re One Of Us
However, these two relatively high-profile sets didn’t trigger anything. I soon got occupied with the process of buying a flat in the midst of the credit crunch and then filling it up with all the things that turn it into a home, so hunting down DJ sets proactively was a low priority for a while. I got back into the swing of things at the August ABBS, having had a pre-move sale at the spring event in lieu of actually Djing. Highlights here was opening with a 13-minute track (Fly and Collision of Comas Sola by TanDream, if you must know), and my first real old-school EBM set later in the day. Two more habits formed.
But things were finally moving again. A few days later, a few messages were exchanged, and I was support DJ at a four-band line-up at the Boston Music Rooms (underneath The Dome) headlined by New Zealander Jordan Reyne. Among the support bands were MaxDmyz (back as their support DJ after a full decade!) and Die Kur, Ays Kura’s band, who have a significant role to play in this story from here. Add Ventenner, and it was a varied billing that played to the strengths of my increasingly diverse style.
A couple more live support slots came in October. The first was a return to the Camden Underworld for Cybersonik, the follow-up to Dark 7 earlier in the year, calling upon various brands of EBM and electro-industrial throughout the day. A style that needs relatively precise mixing, yet with the event running late and no time to soundcheck the DJ booth, I didn’t discover until we’d opened and everyone was pouring in to catch Dreams Divide that the faders in the booth were broken. Ended up spending the whole day mixing by tweaking the AUX knobs. Not elegant, but by now I was used to substandard kit. It’s par for the course in our scene.
But Now You’re Worried That I Just Might Win
And then came Renaissance….The set I played for the Jordan Reyne gig a few month back clearly triggered something. A number of the bands returned the same venue play this eight-hour festival on the eve of Halloween, and the promoter NMTCG (Ays Kura – pulling double-duty as promoter and frontman of the headline act!) invited me back to DJ. I accepted without really considering what I was going to play, and researching the line-up gave me few clues about what direction to take. Every band seemed to have it’s own style. It was at this point that I decided that nothing in my collection was off-limits, and hence I came well-equipped for whatever the day may have thrown at me.
The early bands and link-ups went well, but things got interesting when I got talking to Anton, lead singer of Bleak. He requested “something relevant before we come on, like some blues”. Now, whilst all contemporary rock music is essentially blues-derived, my collection didn’t quite extend to the style in it’s purest form. So some lateral thinking was needed. What is blues, really? Miserable old men, right? Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. What can I say but “it worked”! I’ve been friends with Anton ever since.
Each band called upon a different aspect of my collection. Somehow I had them all covered. There was one moment when someone came up to me and begged me to play The Clash. Even though I’d played them earlier on and was now in the midst of my ‘metal set’ leading into old friends MaxDmyz. I’d then sussed out that the person doing the begging was actual from the band setting up at the time, and they’d come all the way from Spain. A compromise was reached and we went for The Sex Pistols instead.
A couple of the days after this set, I reflected on the extent of what’s I’d played. I looked at my ripped-to-MP3 collection in Winamp (remember that?) and wrote down the name of every artist I hadn’t yet played in a set, but had at least 20 songs by (thus excluding any artist where I’d bought one album and wished for no more). It covered 6 pages of an A5 notebook. The mission was on – could I play all of these bands in a set at some point? Because I didn’t see any point in repeating myself every time.
2011’s Djing ended at the ABBS once again. Opened up with the longest track I ever managed to play (Synphära by Klaus Schulze) but otherwise the day was only notable for me DJ wise for me playing more trad-goth than ever before, with Miss Jade back covering industrial this time. But arrangements had already been made for a set that would finally kick me up to the next level. Reptile wanted me back. In 2012….