The solution for my stress related illness was ‘nothing’. Doing nothing more challenging over the Christmas period than trying to get a PS2 to work with a modern television was indeed the solution to my problem. With no Djing to think about, New Years Eve was spent at Electric Dreams, hiding from the over-the-top social pressures that would have presented themselves at Slimelight. And the first set of the year was already sorted. Reptile, Protafield and I were all set for another crack at turning the-event-that-never-was into the-event-that-took-place-one-month-late.
Striving for Perfection – Man is Back in Action
It was my fifth go at Djing Reptile, but my first in the Nightclub Kolis venue, and the first time where at least some of my remit was guitar-driven industrial. At the time, the DJ booth was cramped, but somehow I managed not only to play a floorfilling set before Protafield, but managed to get NINE songs into the half-hour allocated to me (talk about quickfire!). The second set was deep in club hours with a more open policy, and I was relived to find that the relatively recent “Robo Sapien” by Die Krupps was well-recognised enough to get everyone dancing also. It became something of a later-day signature tune of mine – certainly I knew few other DJs to pick it up.
This set was a partial return to form for me, but I still needed to get closure on another piece of unfinished business from the previous year. The old-school EBM night. Dirty Dicks, host of two of my earlier events, became available once more, and Nathan was available to DJ, also bringing in a third DJ Kriegslok. We still had to deal with the problem of the venue having no CD players (apparently they’d got rid of them years ago), but Nathan was able to cobble together enough kit and we were set. My love of wordplay and a certain Front 242 song led me to the title ‘Tragedy >For Us<’. My limited graphic design talents came up with a suitable 242-themed flier (the old-school genre meant old-school design to match!), and the event was announced.
This time we starting getting real interest from announcement through to the final countdown, with people even travelling from outside London. And despite the limitations of the venue, it was nicely busy throughout, including an old friend from the pre-Facebook era, who’d turned up with no idea that Terminates Here was me. One notable memory was during my ‘lucky burger’ before the event spotting that Leonard Nimoy had died, and hastily getting SPOCK’s “Never Trust a Klingon” into the set (having previous triggered a near mosh-pit with Erdball’s “Monoton + Minimal, of all things). A side note was that it was the first event of my own creation to actually end up ‘in the black’ financially – but deep down I was happier that the concept had worked. It’s the night I always wanted to run all along.
The weekend wasn’t over DJ wise. There was still the March ABBS and the now-established open-request list afterparty in Aces and Eights. These events remain something of a blur to this day, it was only on the morning after that I woke up feeling like the jinx that had followed Terminates Here since early 2013 was finally lifted. It seemed fitting that this rush of DJ activity was finished with one more set with Die Kur, MaxDmyz and co, my one and only chance to play the legendary Purple Turtle venue before it fell victim to another owner vs management “difference of opinion”. My late night set was another tag-team with Scott, starting with late 90s SOAD and seeing how far back into music history we could get (late 70s Buzzcocks in the end).
You Keep Me Running Round and Round, Well That’s Alright With Me
There was another two-month gap before my next set, but this time I wasn’t worried as I had plenty in the pipeline. One slight problem came with the death of one of my original pieces of equipment. Somewhere in amongst one of these sets, a drink was spilled on my USB DJ console. First the faders lost their smoothness, then the whole thing started cutting out, luckily never during the key phase of the night, and I still had the tablet for backup. Dismantling it to diagnose and possibly clean proved to be a one-way process. No way I could trust it live again, and hence the next run of sets were run with some rather “improvised” equipment. Not that improvisation was a stranger to me, and it was a workaround that would play great dividends later in the year.
A run of half a dozen sets came in quick succession from late May through to July. There was my first (and so far only) go at Djing Electric Dreams, the long-running 80s night. The next ABBS came a week later. Scott had to disappear early from this one due to an all-day event elsewhere, so the original DJ for the event, Andy Ravensable, returned for one day only, joining me not only for this event but also the Aces afterparty. It was the only time I’d tried the formula with any DJ other than Scott, it worked well but I still wouldn’t try it with any DJ I hadn’t worked with a few times.
Next up was a private booking – a ‘Northern Hemisphere’ wedding party for a couple who’d got married a few months previously in Australia, with one of their friend’s 50th birthday parties thrown in! I was the only DJ here, all requests this time, but surprised the happy couple with the number of their favourite tunes I already had to hand. It wasn’t a continuous set, as London’s most original covers act, The Memepunks, did their trademark play-more-than-one-song-at-once thing and gave me a couple of breathers. Only downside were the sulky venue staff, who closed us down an hour earlier than previously agreed.
I managed to get another EBM night going again, again playing games with the English language and names of Belgian bands with the title “Tragedy >For Two<”. My connections to Aces and Eights allowed me to use their basement room on a Friday night. Attendance was as good as last time, and whilst DJ Kriegslok wasn’t available this time, DJ traumahound (remember Byte Back?) was ideally suited as replacement and we had another night to remember.
That looked like it for a while, but I was called upon one more time to play a couple of hours at the Dark Disco night. This one actually goes back a few months….I’d first met the DJ and event founder Shai having handed him one of my otherwise-ineffective DJ Terminates Here business cards when I heard him playing A Split-Second, I decided there and then that we’d work on an event together some day. The event in question was back at Dirty Dicks, my fourth time playing there but the only time I’d visited for an event other than my own.
As it happens, my usual crowd didn’t really show, so I was playing songs based on their popularity on the Facebook event page during the days leading up to the event. As a result, the most popular track of the night was The Eternal Afflict’s “San Diego”, rarely heard in London. I fluffed the end of my second set though, having misread the popularity of old-school EBM amongst the largely unknown crowd, and decided to head for home and have a nice lie down. It didn’t matter in the end – a successful summer of Djing was complete.
But If The Answer Isn’t Violence, Neither Is Your Silence
It’s time now to look at a more strategic element to my Djing. I’ve mentioned a few times a list of bands that I owned more than 20 tracks by, with the objective being to play at least one by every band in the course of my DJ career. The purpose of this mission was to prove that anything could be viable DJ material, not self-indulgence, and hence other rules followed, namely that I couldn’t hire a venue and play all the bands on a list to an empty room, and all the bands had to be played in a suitable context – I wasn’t allowed to break music policies of events (mine or anyone else’s) to cut the list down.
Fortunately, the ABBS was open enough to allow most things at some point, with the various guest DJs actually obliging me to vary my own sets, though the extremely noisy material was off-limits there. And by the time of the September ABBS, my list of bands that once numbered in the hundreds was down to 15. One hour would nail them all. Or it would have done if no-one else mattered but me, but such a set would have cleared the room and ensured I would never have been invited back. I still had to work up interesting and varied sets and not alienate anyone along the way.
Sure, I used the September ABBS early setup time to shoehorn in a Nurse With Wound track, an interesting project that’s otherwise near-impossible to get into a DJ set, but had to get more accessible later on in the day, even joining Scott in a Madchester revival moment later on. The Aces and Eights afterparty yielded some interesting requests of it’s own (This Morn’Omina? Fine by me!) and actually overran it’s 10pm endpoint when people refused to let us stop. Not only was it a great day, but that list of bands I mentioned? Without going off-topic or receiving death threats, I’d got it down to five. But they were five of the least-accessible industrial bands in existence.
I’ll Give You Something, Even More Interesting Than The Last One
But for the moment, that was a distraction I didn’t need. Renaissance VI was back at Elektrowerkz in October. This time, the second stage was open only when bands were on, so it was more a case of making sure the six DJs all had enough set-time to play, and my own set got brought forward two hours due to the lack of CD players for the one DJ still using them! Myself, I didn’t even bring a laptop along, instead using my second and improved tablet for my own sets. It was a fast-moving day and dragging kit around would have been an unwelcome distraction.
I was also Djing the other multi-band festival at Elektrowerkz that Autumn. The small-scale event Stompa the previous year had grown into Ad:Rem. Nathan and I were called upon for our Tragedy >For Something-or-other< credentials to DJ between and after the bands, along with the Belgian DJ Danny Dupont, coming over from Antwerp with the band Lizard Smile, one of eleven acts on the bill. Unlike Renaissance, which adopted a noon-to-midnight pattern, Ad:Rem opened in the evening and went through to the early hours of the morning. And unlike Renaissance, which offered a plethora of bands that were essentially accessible to the end music fan, Ad:Rem put no limits on the extremities to which it would go.
But before any live action look place, we had a brief birthday celebration for one of the co-organisers, formerly known in elitist corners of the industrial scene as Andi Penguin. He had various neovolkish requests for the occasion. And guess who out of the DJs available had the most of those tracks to hand? Add this to a support DJ slot for Institution D.O.L., where I finally got a legitimate chance to play Whitehouse in a DJ set (“WHY YOU NEVER BECAME A DANCER!”), and I’d scratched one of the longest-running DJ itches of all.
Later sets demanded a more straightforward EBM approach, not a challenge after everything else that year. I’d originally agreed to play a rhythmic noise set as part of the Slimelight afterparty, but the event ran an hour late, and by 5am the crowd had thinned to the point where I just had to dig out more predictable scene favourites. The thing was, once the birthday tunes and band supports were out of the way, only two names were left on my to-play list. Proyecto Mirage and Hypnoskull. If not today, then definitely by the years end.
I Broke The Silence – I Rose The Volume
Only thing was, the only set left open to me that year was the Christmas edition of the ABBS, with extended play at Aces and Eights afterwards. Neither venue suitable for rhythmic noise, but with a this-ends-here mentality, I found a track by each artist that would be melodic and subtle enough to play on a Sunday afternoon. Just for good luck, I sorted an Imminent track (in case it counted as distinct from Imminent Starvation) and some before-he-was-famous Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids (in case it counted as a different band from the one he’s in, or rather is, now) and just to put the nail on the head, some TV themes.
But on arrival, we found the PA system in pieces, the usual mixer replaced with a cheap model, and no-one to help get it turned on. We turned on the PA only to find a severe ground loop, no use when we have a room full of people. It looked like we were defeated. But it was in the mid-afternoon that I had a brainwave. My improvised DJ setup included a Komplete Audio 6 audio interface, which was really intended for studio use. This had the option of a balanced XLR line-out. In a last ditch attempt, I plugged this XLR directly into the PA, bypassing the groundlooping mixer, and finally we were playing.
A couple of Christmassy EBM tracks were immediately played to wake the mood up, and then I got in those two elusive project that crossed those last names off my list. And the Imminent one, it’s glitchy sound a sideswipe at the issues that bugged us. And, later on, the theme from the TV Show “The IT Crowd”. Because we’d tried more than just turning it off and on again. We still had to figure out how Scott could play his set, given this solution was unique to my setup. Luckily, I had some of his favourites stored on my laptop for such an instance, and the rest were transferred on USB stick during a short break for a charity promo.
By the time we got to the Aces afterparty, there was a celebratory air. We came close to being cheated of a moment but we’d pulled it off anyway, symbolic of a year where I felt a cloud hovering over me had been lifted. An interesting set of requests saw the DJ year out nicely, the days leading up to Christmas and New Years Eve spent either catching the last few gigs of the year or playing various Source-engine video games, investing the “Chrimbo Limbo” week living the Half-Life 2 experience 11 years too late.
And as a bonus, the Dome’s management changed soon after – refitting the venue and generally organising things much better. We haven’t had any problems since.