I’ve long had issue with how poorly bands from continental Europe are covered when the Anglo/American music journos cover a particular genre. Even when the bands in question sing in English. Bands singing in any other tongue are a particularly hard sell, but every now and again, a notable project breaks through. And Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF from here on) stand out in this very small grouping due to the way they achieved a cult following in the UK a couple of decades before anyone had heard of Rammstein. This achievement was not despite the fact that they sung in German, but in many respects because of it.Continue reading
What do you mean, Fear Factory? Why are you profiling a METAL band, Jonny? Has the Listener’s Guide series jumped the shark already? I’m pre-emptively calling out these potential criticisms, because I’ve got the rest of this guide to prove to you all that this is a band worth writing about.
And they are a band with significant links to my own musical journey. The first “metal” band I developed a taste for, and the first I saw live. “Saw” is actually an understatement – heard, felt, smelt and otherwise lived through in every possible sense. It was thanks to Rhys Fulber’s involvement on some of their most notable albums that I discovered Front Line Assembly, an act who themselves were hugely influential in the development of my tastes in the years to come.Continue reading
Terminates Here DJ activity has obviously had to stop due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Whilst I did consider the idea of DJ sets delivered remotely, it seems every other DJ in London has had the same idea, and without an established club to back me up or even access to a decent camera, I doubt I could sell it well. So instead I went back to writing. In early March, I was challenged to do the “10 Albums – 10 Days” meme on my personal Facebook. I’d done it before back in 2018, and the results became an article on this site, but with little else to do with my evenings, I decided to go for another round. Only not stop at 10, eventually clocking up 40 before deciding to call it quits.
A few points – firstly, as I chose albums around which I could spin a tale, there’s relatively little recent music covered here. If you wish to read about albums dating from the past decade, there’s a countdown of 2010s albums over at A Model Of Control. Also note that these albums are in no order – I simply picked one each day, listened to it a couple of times, then wrote the story. To preserve the writing and allow a wider audience to enjoy the journey, I’ve turned this series into an article here. A few have been modified for accuracy and to reflect changed context, and I’ve added explanations where a couple of selections coincided with certain events. But the text is essentially intact. So let’s begin…..Continue reading
When writing guides such these, it’s often hard to choose the next band to cover. Sure, I can use social media to gauge interest in specific projects, but there’s also got to be a personal motive to invest time and effort in researching and writing a piece this long. It’s a particularly big decision when you deal with exceptionally prolific artists – the timing has to be right, lest one get bogged down in a body of work too large to take in. And it just so happens I’ve been spending recent months investigating the dark and obscure corners of one of the largest back-catalogues my genres of choice have to offer. It’s time to take a look at Wumpscut. (Yes, officially the name is supposed to be bookended with colons, but if I do that here, my grammar checker will throw a wobbly).
Wumpscut was formed by the Bavarian DJ Rudy Ratzinger in 1991, inspired by the likes of Skinny Puppy, Leæther Strip and Dirk Ivens among others. The name means nothing – it was an entirely synthetic creation. His style has been referred to as both ‘dark electro’ or ‘electro-industrial’ – the terms are interchangeable as far as online discussion goes, and since few musicologists acknowledge so much as the existence of the style post-mid 1980s, it’s unlikely we’ll ever get a clear answer. Just accept that if you’re not into dark synthetic textures, hard electronic rhythms and angry vocals, dealing with some of the most unpleasant subject matters both fiction and reality have to offer, you might as well quit reading now.
Whilst this was very much a solo project, Rudy occasionally brought in guest musicians, mainly for female vocals, as well as sampling extensively from movies and bands from a variety of genres – the Alien movies are an obvious influence, inspiring as they did the project’s official logo. He also remixed other artists frequently and featured on many compilations. The one thing Wumpscut never did was play live. Rudy never had any desire to take the project to stage – neither did he feel like he could have done the music justice if he had done so.
With the retirement of the project in 2017, I am at least able to tell the Wumpscut story from start to end. I hope this guide will serve to be comprehensive, though what it won’t be is 100% exhaustive. This is, after all, a Listeners Guide, not a Collectors Guide or Fanatics Guide. Most Wumpscut albums have been released several times, in several formats, and there’s no way I can cover every version of all of them. Physical format collectors will have to check resources like Discogs.com for a full shopping list. Be prepared to shell out for the box set versions. My cupboard isn’t big enough for them.
If you’re happy to stay virtual, I recommend Wumpscut’s Bandcamp page, which has just-about-everything for 5 Euros per album. The Concentrated Camp editions are the best way to get the most complete versions of each album, and there’s also sizeable compilations covering all the loose ends, of which there are many. Devoted fans can also get vinyl masters and ‘Inheritance’ editions (draft/demo versions from the DAT tape archives), but I’m not going to cover these – perhaps someone else will one day. Casual fans can stream most of the studio albums on the regular services, but the remixes and rarities are covered inconsistently, so you might not find every track I mention.
This may be too long for many of you, so you can just Skip To The End and just find out what songs are worth listening to. But if you’re up for the full and complete text – it’s time to get started.
This guide comes after a lengthy break in my long-form writing. In order to get back on track, I realised I had to cover a band where I could really spin a tale, both in terms of the band’s own history and how their music affected me. And when I think back to which band broke the Anglo-American dominated nature of my CD collection back in the late 1990s and dragged me willingly into the ‘scene’ that has dominated my life ever since, Apoptygma Berzerk are the band most responsible.
The name means little to many, indeed it means nothing at all in linguistic terms. However, behind that incomprehensible name is a fascinating, diverse, sometimes frustrating project, one who’s never afraid to state its influences, but always willing to take them in a variety of directions. It is a project of many facets, many influences and many motivations, and hence despite not having the largest backcatalogue of all the bands I’m planning to cover, it’s still my longest Listener’s Guide to date.Continue reading
Djing is not a solo pursuit, and there’s many people I need to thank. There are some people that do need a special mention and they are….
Stephanie Dunk for giving me the start-up that set this whole story in motion.
Ays Kura and Richard Kaltenhauser for providing me with opportunities that really allowed me to take Terminates Here to places I never thought it would go.
Chris Molyneux for introducing me to the right people at key moments
Scott McMahon for putting up with my company longer than anyone
Mandy Graves for being there through all the part of this story I didn’t write about!
Next a tribute to as many of the other DJs I’ve worked with who’s names I remember…..Andy Ravensable, Robert Cowlin, Martin Oldgoth, DJX, Paul Alan, Miss Jade, James Black, Vade Retro, KG Orphanides, Alan Hicks, Miss Bleep, Wozza, DJ Shadowchaser, Dancefloor Landmine, Jo The Waiter, Demondaz, Kirlian Blue, DJ Paladin, DJ Jester, Captain Howard, DJ traumahound, Ross Liddle, Alcuin Hipwell, Nathan Nothing, DJ Kriegslok, Grimorg, Valeriun, The Baron, Shai Rothfeld, Danny Dup, Caroline Vain, Paul Sticks, The Count, DJ Ban, DJ Zaira, DJ Translight, DJ Ostfrau, Cavey Nik, Ana Necrogoth, Matt The Mo, Gertud Stein, Mike Tzulan, DJ Stromtod and DJ Chelle Helle.
And the bands I’ve offered a support slot for….Ghost In The Static, Futurefrenetic, Digital Deformation, Cease2Exist, Global Citizen, Machine Rox, System:FX, Die Kur, Ventenner, MaxDmyz, Jordan Reyne, Dreams Divide, Decayed Reflection, TerrorNation, Kommand + Kontrol, Method Cell, V2A, Saville Row, BB Blackdog, Calatrilloz, Bleak, Ghostfire, Reskizio, Paresis, Analog Angel, Deviant UK, Null White, Global Noise Attack, London SS, Drilling Spree, Themira, K-Nitrate, Ariel Undine, Ghostfire, Spacebuoy, Project Rotten, Mechanical Cabaret, Urchin Child, Cat Beat Tree, Girl From The Castle…..
(pause for breath)
…..Cold In Berlin (surely this should have been Scott?), MixE1, Amon Zero, The Infinite Three, History Of Guns, Little Death Machine, Faceless Dolls, Swivelman, Cortex Defect, Deadcell, Non-Bio, Deja Vu II (OK, OK, that’s ME!), Death Valley Scars, Splendor, Maleficent, Protafield, The Memepunks (this one was a private booking but it still counts), The Tango Pirates, Andrew King, Institution D.O.L. (Power Electronics – At Last!), Lizard Smile, Invasion of Female Logic, Pantser Fabriek, Peter Von Toy, Hana Piranha, DJ Translight (the live project this time!), Grimbergen, STAB Electronics, Triarii, MDS.51, Schramm, Akalotz, Spankraght, Special Love and Toxic Shock. Also thanks to Black Light Ascension – who (amazingly) I’ve never directly DJ supported but have been part of the story nonetheless!
Thanks also to the venues that hosted Terminates Here-branded events – Aces and Eights, Hope and Anchor, Dirty Dicks (sadly no longer in the music game), Elixir Bar (ditto), The Urban Bar and last but certainly not least Nightclub Kolis!
And finally I need to thank everyone not already listed who were part of the story via turning up, dancing, requesting tunes, working the door and the bar, getting the PA working (too right!), engineering the sound, giving out the fliers or simply promoting the events, the bands, the DJs and the scene as a whole. This is just as much for all of you as everyone I’ve listed so far.
It really is the end now. If you came in part-way through, you might want to go back to the Intro.
Here’s some lists for the TL;DR collective.
Most Played Tracks
Whilst only the original or named version counts, ties have been broken by the number of remixes or covers of the same song I’ve also played.
1. DAF – Der Mussolini
2. Skinny Puppy – Smothered Hope
3. Front 242 – Tragedy >For You<
4. Killing Joke – Requiem
5. Depeche Mode – Photographic (Some Bizarre)
6. Project Pitchfork – Timekiller
7. Nitzer Ebb – Let Your Body Learn
8= Depeche Mode – Ice Machine
8= Die Krupps – Robo Sapien
8= Front Line Assembly – Mindphaser
8= Invincible Spirit – Push!
12= Covenant – Figurehead (Plain)
12= A Split Second – Flesh
14. Absolute Body Control – Figures
15= Front 242 – Welcome To Paradise
15= Motörhead – Ace of Spades (WTF?)
We then get a multi-way tie with AC/DC (Highway to Hell), Cubanate (Oxyacetylene), OMD (Enola Gay and Maid of Orleans), Sisters of Mercy (Vision Thing), Tool (Stinkfist), Underworld (Cowgirl) and VNV Nation (Joy) all featuring.
The top two are obvious hits from bands that either don’t have many songs (DAF) or don’t have many songs suitable for DJ play (Skinny Puppy). The next few are all personal favourites for one reason or another.
Both the Depeche Mode songs to get in were written by Vince Clarke – the highest scoring Gore-written songs were Wrong and Everything Counts (Live 101 version). Timekiller is the highest ranked song from the 21st century, Robo Sapien the newest song on the list, and the only one release AFTER my DJ story began!
Most Played Bands
1. Depeche Mode
2. Front 242
3. Nine Inch Nails
4. Project Pitchfork
6. Killing Joke
7. VNV Nation
8. Diary Of Dreams
10. Skinny Puppy
The ‘Mode tops the list mainly due to two Depeche Mode tribute nights I played early on in my DJ career – Front 242 is the band I’ve played at the most different events. NIN and Rammstein also shoot up the list due to featuring at single-band tribute events that I’ve played.
David Bowie came in 13th and Fad Gadget 21st, proof that the influence of certain artists lives on long after they themselves have passed on. Most played band with female vocals was Kirlian Camera – Human League came higher but some of the tunes I picked pre-date Susan and Joanne’s tenure in the band.
Over 1500 bands have been played at some point, that’s more than ten per set.
All that’s left now is The Credits.
It’s worth saying that I did briefly consider announcing an immediate retirement from Djing on the occasion of my 10th anniversary. It would have been a nice way to complete the circle before moving on to focus on other things. But as the date drew closer, it simply felt wrong to do that. I may have played less in 2018 than during any of the previous half-dozen years, but stopping completely would have been overkill. Besides, there’s still songs as yet unplayed, by me or any other DJ.
There’s still some things I want to play around the more esoteric styles available on labels like Hands and Ant-Zen, though finding suitable locations to play such material remains an unsolved problem. My existing collection has been well-covered but there’s new stuff arriving all the time. And with my first booking for 2019 arranged a few days prior to me writing this, it’s clear that people don’t want me to stop. There’s still a thrill factor in delivering a great set to an appreciative crowd. I don’t want to lose that.
Brexit remains the elephant in the room – London events have a significant following from EU expatriates, and more importantly, quite a few of these people actually run the events! Even if only a small minority of people have actually made UK exit plans of their own, it’s a worrying time with so many people being made to feel so unwelcome in a country who’s essential character is defined by population that’s diverse on so many levels. I for one have no choice but to stick around and see what happens, but there’s no reason to stop playing whilst the whole mess is being sorted out. Or not.
My music writing took off again in 2018, having hit upon a ‘retrospective’ tone that plays to my long-form style. There’s plenty more of that to come in 2019, and it may mean less time to spend putting on events of my own. But I’m not stopping. This story may Terminates Here, but this DJ does not.
My first 2018 set was arranged during some rare downtime during my Antwerp trip in the last chapter. The former organiser of Neo-Noir hadn’t been involved with DJ events for years, having focused more on film. The two interests came together when the Deptford Cinema, a low-budget volunteer-run picturehouse, decided to put on a Spinal Tap special. As well as the film, we’d have an air guitar contest and plenty of music. That was my bit. And so my second consecutive gig in South London (only ever played three!) was arranged.
The venue wasn’t quite prepped when I arrived, so I used the ABBS technique of play-an-incredible-long-track-whilst-I-lent-a-hand (what else but Dylan’s “Desolation Row”?) and soon people began arriving. I had plenty of directions to take the evenings music – my original plan for a US-centric “cock rock” set was tweaked when I found the most requested band was Iron Maiden – obviously the mood was for British bands with a penchant for globetrotting. We’d also lost the last member of the classic Motörhead line up a few days previous (Fast Eddie Clarke), so “Ace of Spades” was brought out one more time. Often wondered why people request other Motörhead songs – as Lemmy once said “it’s all the same to me!”.
I ended up going as contemporary as Sabaton (when did the Scandinavians take the metal crown anyway?) and as old-school as The Who and The Rolling Stones. The improvised set-up was true to the spirit of past Terminates Here sets, as was the idea of having a DJ in a cinema, so I like to think I was the right person to do this. A rather misplaced private set took place a week later – the demand was for contemporary pop and EDM and I just don’t play that. In any case, you’ll have to wait until the papers are released under the 20 year rule for this one, but as I only did the early shift, it doesn’t really matter.
I Never Lied, I Never Joked
And that was it for a while. The Spring ABBS didn’t take place due to a mutual case of non-availability, and nothing much else was forthcoming. The people I’d played for in the past were either offering their sets to others or not putting anything on. And my own events? The drive simply wasn’t there. I took one look at my Facebook calendar, saw the number of small-scale events on, and whilst I went to quite a few of them, it only proved to me that London was ‘fully booked’. The idea of cramming in another event merely to have an excuse to play a set no longer seemed viable.
As it happened, the next set to come along was one that also kept true to my “make it distinctive” policy. DJs Translight and Ostfrau (remember Ich Will?) had decided to give the Sunday Evening market a go – with more Sunday DJ hours on the clock that anyone except possibly Scott, I was the obviously choice as a guest for their debut. The basement of The Albany was brought into use. Some small scale scene events had previously taken there, but I mainly remember it from many years previous, where I once got roped in as a judge for a stand-up comedy competition. Doesn’t matter – I was back in the booth.
With the other two DJs essentially on the rock side of things, I could go synthy. I decided to kick off with a percussion-free song – “Castle of Sand” by Kite (a band and song covered in detail at the end of my live memoir from last year), before my first and only brace of tunes from that most fashionably obscure of genres – Witch House. I can’t take any style of music that sounds like a property magazine seriously, but it has produced some interesting pieces and this was the right moment to get them into a set. I upped the tempos a little later, including OMD’s “Maid Of Orleans”. For some reason, I decided to leave the DJ booth and recreate Andy McCluskey’s “Whilrling Dervish-meets-Dad-at-the-disco” dance to said song. In full view of everyone. It was a comical moment at a time when things were getting serious.
2018 was an era of many bitter, vicious online exchanges, and a particularly bad one kicked off on the way home from this very event. I won’t revive the precise subject matter, but it was enough to alienate me permanently from a number of sub-factions within the scene and was another sign that the Terminates Here mission was one that was closer to it’s end than first thought. But as my London prospects began to cloud over, there was the most glittering of a silver linings. My name was put forward to the Darkflower Club. In Leipzig. For the Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival.
STRAFTANZ – IM FLOWER!
Despite all the stories I’d heard about the complicated processes that go on in the process of organising the festival, this deal was done remarkably quickly. I was after all, playing a established club in the city that simply joined the festival for the weekend and not one of the bespoke venues brought into play for four days a year only. I was on the bill with two Austrian DJs – Mike Tzulan and Stromtod. Not having made it as far as Austria myself since a family holiday in 1989, we had no idea who each other were, but an exchange on Facebook shortly before (in English for my benefit only) established what we all played and we are set.
Whilst only a small proportion of my friends were actually attending Leipzig this year, people had cottoned onto the fact that this was a BIG THING. Sure, Facebook got excited, but colleagues of mine were wishing me all the best despite having no idea what the hell it was meant to be playing. Even my dad rang me up the night before we flew to Germany to wish me good luck – he usually only knows of my Djing activities after they’ve taken place! Emotions were unbelievably high. There have been a slew of UK DJs play the event in recent years, though most of them have had a long-standing association with an established club, band, genre or the event itself. An itinerant guest DJ like me with no real affiliations was a rarity indeed.
Retaining the habit of the past few years, we picked up our wristbands on arrive in Leipzig city centre, only this time, I tore open the programme and sure enough, Freitag, Darkflower, DJ TERMINATES HERE was on the bill. And at least point, the festival from this point to the night itself was something of a blur. A couple of bands at the EBM warm-up, a couple more early on Friday at the awkward new Stadtbad venue, and there was no doubt that I was at sixes and sevens throughout, zagging where I should have zigged and a bundle of nerves. This reached extreme when I returned to my hotel room to get my kit, only for my room key to fail. It was only a 5 minute delay to fix but I just didn’t need that.
Things felt better once I was at the venue. It might have been my first and so far only set in a territory where English is not widely understood, but I could marginally tone down my obsessive verbosity (what do you mean you noticed)? and so was happy to talk to Mike about events we’d previously played (Infest 2016 was essential for my kudos here) and Stromtod about the concept of putting film soundtracks into DJ sets (Hans Zimmer, Vangelis or Angelo Badalamenti?). Then soundcheck, and the first clue that I might have been a little out-of-my depth. Two DJs with massive consoles and me with a six-year old laptop. Nightglory had come this far with me, but sounded rubbish through the PA for some reason.
With no time to tweak, I pulled out my 8” tablet, tried a mix through the PA, discovered it sounded great and used it for the night! My setup might have looked pitiful, but all I had to do was make it SOUND good and surely I’d be OK? It had to be as this was no longer the friendly surroundings of the Infest Escape Bar. This was Germany, where this kind of thing is taken very seriously, Running order was agreed. On the understanding that everybody had to do one of the ‘empty ends’ of the night, I jumped at taking the first set and just for once didn’t mind kicking off with an empty room. I had to ease my way in with some downtempo dark electro, which worked well enough amongst the early arrivals.
Then I heard what the other two were doing. This was getting to banging uptempo territory fast, something I’d not heard since I last ventured on the Slimelight industek floor on NYE 2016. The populist genre-mix style I usually do was going on next door with the ‘celebrity’ DJs (frontmen from Covenant, Xymox and two later-day Sigue Sigue Sputnik members). By the time my midnight set came around, our floor was packed. Anything less than keeping them all there would not be tolerated.
So I went in with “Straftanz (Ost)”. There’s a version of this song for each corner of Germany, and obviously I needed the one that referred to the core audience, and even named the club we were in. Chiptune burst with the 600XL mix of “Pong” and I was still in the game. I upset one person who vocally complained about a couple of mixes I did, even bursting into the DJ booth to protest, but the staff got rid of him. As it happened, I nailed a perfect mix between the schaffel delights of “Electronaut” and Seb Komor’s version of the Game of Thrones theme (seems they love it in Germany too!) and I realised I might get away with this. Dragged myself back into old-school EBM territory as my next hour came to a close, having to tweak the gain heavily to make the old songs with pre-loudness war mastering sound loud enough, but the PA here had plenty in reserve.
By now I was exhausted, and I still had an hour left to play. Switched to soft drinks located in a fridge at the back of the booth, spent some time talking to the manager outdoors about various bits of Ost/West history, and finally the home run. Stromtod had worked up a furious head of noisy beats, and I decided to cut myself a slice of the action. Xotox, Punch Inc. and This Morn’Omina and then Feindflug’s “Glaubenskreig” – my favourite track for a bridge in or out of noisebeat, and through the Darkflower PA, it sounded like a bomb had just exploded. Given their militant image, I think that was original intention of the band.
It was in the bag now – everyone shouted along to the Full Metal Jacket samples of “Soilbleed”, back into old-school territory via “Plasticity” and my last half hour was, at last, the Terminates Here classics – Robo Sapien, Push!, Requiem (Project Pitchfork, not Killing Joke), Smothered Hope and, finally, Figurehead (Plain). Played only to give myself something to dance to at last, my job was done. At 4am CET, I left my new-found Austrian friends to see us through past sunrise, as I could go on no more.
I emerged to the first signs of dawn, delirious (despite having not drunk beer since 1am), the birds tweeting and the city asleep between the club nights still going on. I’d done it. The biggest name-event I was ever likely to play and regardless of whether I was up to the standards of others, in terms of technical ability or reputation, the pure fact is – It Happened. And for the first time, DJ Terminates Here ceased to be a journey. Instead, I felt like I’d reached a destination. The home city of my late grandmother, married to decades to a grandfather who loved his trips to Germany, even if he was always even worse at the language that I was. The circle was closed, the mission complete.
The rest of the festival was enjoyed with a somewhat reduced energy level, though I scored a free beer on the back of my DJ set when heading into Zeromancer on Saturday. By Sunday night, I was swaying to Jesus and Mary Chain and walked back from the tram stop after with legs of lead. The tank was empty. Despite an easier Monday, the weekend had a final sting in the tail with a nightmarish journey home, overbooked flight, delays, missed connection and the labyrinth that is Frankfurt Airport. Was humming The Great Escape theme as our final BA flight to London took off. Home at midnight, but I still immediately unpacked and filled the washing machine in a desperate attempt to get back to normalcy.
I got no illusions of superstardom from my WGT set, and I didn’t need to. DJ stardom is a sickening thing. There’s only so much kudos one can acquire by being a glorified record player operative, and I’m hoping this story, far from glamorizing the hobby (it’s hardly a profession) has revealed that it really isn’t that star-studded after all. Neither does it earn you much (in my case it’s a net loss). If you ain’t in it for the love of the music, get the fuck out and give your space to someone who wants it more. If you ARE in it for the music, though – please, keep doing it, and go off and have an adventure that may or may not be like this one. And then tell the world about it.
Do You Remember Me? Don’t You Know That I Miss You?
The ABBS was back in June. I’d decided that quitting at this point would have been wrong – as if I’d turned by back on those who’d given me my start the very moment I’d nailed that one big set. Cutting my committent to 1 hour was more dignified, as it gave us a chance to try out potential replacements. We originally thought Zaira was closest to my original style and would suit my spot well – unfortunately she wasn’t staying in the UK much longer, but we put her on in June anyway on a now-or-never basis.
As it happened, the June event went well. My one hour set reprised a few of the dark electro tracks I played during the “empty room phase” at WGT plus a selection of tunes from various compilations, bands I’d hoped to try out in the near future having established they’d already got at least one decent recording. It felt a bit “technical” delivering such a set, like I’d needlessly over-prepared, but once we were over at Aces and Eights, the thrill of the open request list process came back and I was once again amongst my own.
Two low-pressure sets in July. The first was the Die Kur EP launch with Toxic Shock in support – with plenty of time spare, this was shared with two other DJs. In the end, I handled the band supports, knowing my own less-obvious selections would fit in better there, giving the bulk of the afterparty over to DJ Translight. The next was a birthday party with a rented PA. Once again with Translight and Ostfrau (also Fil Noir), the greatest challenge was wiring the PA in and connecting to the wrong-sort-of-mixer (we’d got a studio panel instead of a DJ one). With various live musicians and DJs to hand, we got a workable solution eventually.
Actually playing the sets was pretty easy – with the Ich Will pair logically taking the industrial/dark metal, I’d had a remit of 80s rock and glam. Years of Open Request Lists plus that Spinal Tap party earlier in the year and this one was about as simple as it gets. The usual sing-along moments you usually get with such material didn’t kick in though – we had to wait for the last train home for that. England had beaten Sweden 2-0 earlier in the day with a World Cup semi the prize, and hence the footy crowd were in good spirits for once, actually entertaining the train rather than threatening it.
It was possibly appropriate that my last track of this stint was Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out” as it certainly was in a DJ sense. The Summer Slump was here again. Yesterday’s Shadow had lost their venue earlier in the year, I’d “had my go” at the other events that would take me, and of the other things that were going on, well, they were taking place in a different loop to the one I was in. I’d learned as far back as 2013 that “cold calling” isn’t a viable method of getting sets. Those people who say “It never hurts to ask” – you’re wrong. It makes you seem desperate, even a nuisance. And now I wasn’t desperate any more.
Save Me – Save Me From Myself
By the time we came round to the September ABBS, I’d found another new DJ in my style – Chelle Helle. Both of us with East London accents and a taste for industrial and EBM (hers slightly more in the club-friendly direction but essentially the same). There was also something to be said for giving a chance to female DJs at a time where they still remain a minority in almost every genre. I wanted to make sure the chances went to those that weren’t already established on the scene, the objective being to break the glass ceiling rather than help the few who rose above it anyway, and also that it was given to those showing a real passion for the music they were playing.
As it happened, I put in an hour of my own around the middle of the event, and I admit this was one of the most phoned-in sets I ever played. No complaints from anyone, I just didn’t enjoy it much, even with such joyous tunes as KLF, Utah Saints and recent Infest hits Elegant Machinery (now thankfully minus the Farage-lite presence of Richard Jomsoff). Chelle did a great job with the kind-of-things-I-used-to-play with plenty of projects I never went near.
The afterparty over the road certainly DID get my adrenaline flowing. Of all the events I still play, the Open Request List formula remains the one where I’m most likely to step up and really play to my strengths. This one dealt up a lot of personal favourites, including the rarely-heard “Human Crossing” (Project Pitchfork) and a request for something to mark Mexico’s independence day (Hocico’s “Tiempos De Furia” was the best I could muster at the time). But there was a problem lurking. Me.
My exhaustion during WGT was mistakenly put down to my Friday DJ set, and my lack of ability to recover in the following weeks down to the heatwave that came that summer. At Infest, where I had no special duties, I was clearly struggling to keep up. And it carried on like that through September. Sweating even when it wasn’t hot, dizzy on my feet and various other symptoms. It came to a head in early October when I stood up at a work event and promptly fell immediately to the floor. Something was wrong. Urgent doctors appointment, blood test and the wait for results.
It eventually became clear that whilst I was spared the onset of Type 2 Diabetes (for which I had most of the symptoms), I still had to both lose weight and cut my meat and alcohol consumption. The idea of becoming a teetotal vegan, whilst a choice for some, was neither necessary nor, on a personal level, sustainable for me – after all, I had to focus on health, not ethical purity. My aversion to ‘fake meat’ (itself not likely to help this particular problem) meant learning to love the chick pea, black bean and lentil, but one Facebook post unlocked a plethora of good recipes, some of which I’ve since personalised and have become regulars. Weekday and daytime drinking is also over, even when there’s a gig on.
I Am OK, If AmoK, You See?
This occupied me for a few months and hence I didn’t seek out any DJ action where the old habits may return. But I had to do something to mark an anniversary I’d marked some time ago. 30th November 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of my first set at the Alternative Bring’n’Buy Sale, it fell on a Friday, and was thankfully a day free of major scene events. Unfortunately, Aces and Eights was booked that night and I’d lost contact with all other venues. To the rescue came Ays Kura once more, putting me in touch with the Nightclub Kolis manager Arno, someone I’d managed to miss during their original Archway phase but was very happy to finally make contact with!
The club had recently moved to Camden, with two dancefloors and we quickly came to an agreement for me to use one of them for my event after the bands that night. I decided to DJ solo. I knew I had enough music, and with my renewed health (8kg lighter and no longer falling over), I knew I could last the night physically, too. Only downside was my now-ageing DJ laptop Nightglory and associated controller. Whilst not in daily use, she was definitely showing her age at this point. But two more sets wouldn’t be too much to ask? Yes, two (more on the second in a moment). All that remained was to do as much promotion as I could in the three weeks available. No time for a flier run, but plenty of online activity would follow.
I hit upon the idea of posting one track from every set, in order, with a story about each, like a TL;DR version of this thing. My main concern was about the viability of a night based purely on my own reputation. No 2nd DJ and no overall theme meant my two usual method of upping the selling points weren’t an option – it was all down to what kind of promotion I and the Kolis management could muster online.
On the night, we had quite a good attendance, with a particularly strong Eastern European contingent. I did everything I could to fit in as much of my remit into the evening as possible, focusing on the danceable tracks where possible. A short speech in the middle part of the night, a request friendly second half and by 3am the job was done. I ended the evening with the same band with which Terminates Here began, concluding the night with Laibach’s “WAT”. The small profit I made was split amongst the door and venue staff and the rare luxury of a taxi home.
I was back on the Djing two days later. The December ABBS was on, and this time Scott and I returned to the two-DJ format. There were reasons for this – there was a gig on in the Aces basement, including Terminal Gods and Cold In Berlin (the latter a Scott must-see). Meanwhile, I was wanting to see Leæther Strip in Islington. There was no way our usual DJ gig would have worked anyway – my laptop began to fail on more terminal basis towards the end of my set and I had to play the last few songs from tablet.
And that was the end. With talk of some early 2019 events already underway, hopes are high that I can continue Terminates Here into it’s second decade. Maybe not with the activity level of times past – most of my objectives are now completed (though another crack at rhythmic noise would be welcome) and I’m going to be focusing more on music writing, having revived the art earlier this year. But for now, I’m happy enough to go into Christmas without a clear idea of what will come next.
Time for The Last Word.
The past couple of years had seen Terminates Here achieve many of it’s long-standing objectives, and the general rate of activity was encouraging. But there were still new things to try. Live bands for instance. I’d been DJ support to countless live acts in recent years, but could it be that hard to put on a few of my own? The calendar had determined that the critical date of 24th February (24/2!) fell on a Friday this year, but a new event Exit The Grey already had that slot. I’ve got nothing against them, they’re just two DJs I’d never personally worked with. If I wanted to run my own event on the same night, I had to play a different hand.
Finding willing live acts wasn’t hard as I’d built up plenty of contacts in recent years. Black Light Ascension were up for the headline slot, DJ Translight agreed to open and the middle spot was taken by Personal Propaganda Machine, bringing me back in touch with Ross Liddle, who’d played (Un)Common People back in 2014. I’d arranged the Urban Bar in Whitechapel as a venue, not exactly in scene heartland but essentially workable. And despite the fact than none of the bands were strictly speaking ‘EBM’, I jumped on the 24/2 dateline and dubbed the event “Tragedy >Four<”, with original event DJs Nathan Nothing and Kreigslok back in the fold.
Not willing to go into another new venture blind, I’d consulted live music expert Ays Kura about the various complications we may encounter. He put my mind at rest – by booking three acts that didn’t use a live drumkit, I’d removed the biggest complication without even thinking about it. And that’s how it worked out – soundcheck was a simple case of tuning guitars and balancing levels through DIs. The sound engineer seems impressed with my organisation levels (he didn’t know that I’d never tried something like this before). We were open on time, I took it upon myself to act as compère, introducing the first act at 20:29 tonight (why not squeeze in another reference?) and we were go.
Everything went as smoothly as I could have hoped. I even got in a short speech at the end about supporting live music in London, and almost as an afterthought, had to play my own DJ set at the afterparty, there and then! Extra 242 to mark the date, plus a few oddball requests (Sunglasses at Night?), otherwise we were back to the established sound of previous >Tragedy< events. And the incredible thing? Even once we’d paid everyone who had a fixed fee, we still emerged in profit financially. What had gone right?
Swimming in the Ocean – Respected by the Sharks
We were back at the Tufnell Park a few weeks later, the re-jigged venue putting the DJs on the stage! Amazingly, despite all the years of playing this event, I was still able to find new and interesting things to play here, though I did briefly revive the mittelalter rock late in the event, a style that simply never caught on over here. Back across the road at Aces and Eights, I got the idea once more that this concept still had legs as a standalone event if only we could pick the right date. We agreed that Easter Sunday was the perfect moment and set it up without too much difficulty.
But once again I’d fallen into the trap of unknowingly clashing with a big event that was simply outside my field of vision – Invocation was checking out of The Minories for the last time that night, another event to whom I bore no grudge, but involved DJs that I’d simply “missed out” on working with over the years. The person who actually revealed the clash to me, however, did so with a glint of satisfaction that I’d unknowingly set myself up to fail. Tried to convince people to come to our event first, but just for once, the big event of the scene wasn’t in North London. Luckily the pub had plenty of regular punters that night, so we played their requests instead, but the joy of the open-request list process simply wasn’t there.
Under a Pale Gray Sky – We Shall Arise
Still, Renaissance was back later in the month, now moved to Nightclub Kolis. Another twelve-hour epic, my role as DJ co-ordinator got extra hard due to two late line-up changes and a total of seven DJs to co-ordinate, with an outdoor second stage! It was fortunate that it didn’t rain, as bringing the outdoor bands indoors would have eaten up what little DJ time went around. As it happened, Scott and myself were around from opening, as was DJ Ban (good to have my Infest co-DJ back for another adventure) and also the Italian DJ Zaira. So for us at least, there were plenty of gaps to fill in the reworked running order.
This also meant another Djing first – support DJ on the outdoor stage! OK, the sun shone on my tablet screen but somehow I navigated CrossDJ just about well enough to create something of an atmosphere in what was really the smoking area with an improvised PA. Later in the day I had to work the complexity of making sure extreme metal specialist DJ 69 got to support the heaviest part of the event and finding time for Jo The Waiter and Vade Retro to fit into the stacked later portion of the bill – in the end, as they are both club-hours veterans, I just left them to play the afterparty. My work was done by then.
I was back at the same venue and many of the same people a few months later for “Ich Will”, a tribute night to Rammstein. I hadn’t played a ‘single band special’ since Y34R Z3R0 back in 2012 and wasn’t originally billed for this one, but when I asked if any of the other Neue Deutsche Härte bands would be played (Eisbrecher, Ost+Front, Oomph!, etc), I quickly got brought into the fold. It’s always got me that whilst Rammstein have a huge following here, none of the other German bands playing the style are even known here. I’m one of only a few DJs here who’ve ever really acknowledge their existence. When Ost+Front barely half-filled the Underworld that same year, I filed this mystery under the category of “unsolvable problems”. Sure, I get occasional request for Eisbrecher, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same few people asking for them each time.
Still, with everything setup, we hit a crisis on the night when DJ Translight’s laptop died at the last moment. With Ays Kura off searching London for the means of repair (alas, this was one fix too far for our live tech wizard) and Ostfrau only set up for the intro set, I was left to fill the gap. A two-hour set. I pulled the Aces and Eights trick of polling the floor for requests, and launched into 120 minutes of Rammstein combined with whatever other metal bands that fitted in. We were never going to fill the whole night up with R+ alone as they don’t actually have that many albums.
In the end, I got in one from each album plus their “Stripped” single and the Laibach version of “Ohne Dich”, half a dozen of the Neue Deutsche Härte collective and enough other metal to keep the audience in motion. I emerged from the booth exhausted but happy, the event was back on track and Ays and Vade Retro would take it from here, though I did get in a further half-hour off tablet later. I then did something I’ve hardly ever done. Emerged into sunlight after a DJ set. It seems all my previous later-nighters have been in winter….
Where Is The Youth?
In many respects, it was just as well this event worked out, as my busy flurry of Djing was about to take a hit. The summer heat was kicking in, and at summer ABBS a few weeks later, it was revealed to me that I’d arranged my next Tragedy >For Us< event clashing with the mega-scale fetish-theme alternative Club Antichrist! It’s worth explaining at this point why this matters….our scene isn’t that big, there’s only a small pool of disposable income to draw from. A big multi-floor event eats up a massive chunk of that income – you can pretty much forget about trying to run an event on the same weekend, never mind same night.
There’s also this thing I call ‘social gravity’ – once a certain number of people declare they’re going to ‘Event X’, others will follow. You can’t tempt them with event ‘Event Y’, even with the offer of free entry, cheaper drinks, a better-defined music policy or the absence of any association to a massive non-event three years previously. Add the presence of a warm spell where people either want to be outdoors or wearing as few clothes as possible and you can see where this one was headed.
In the end, neither our ABBS afterparty nor Tragedy >For Us< itself were well attended at all. Indeed, by the time I played the final few songs at Tragedy, there were no customers left in the room and I’d finally committed the act I had been avoiding for years – playing to an empty room. It was no surprise that for the first time I lost my deposit on a venue. It was time to retreat for a few months.
Now It’s Just a Memory, Eroded by the Years
But there was a small compensation. As part of my promotion for the event, I’d agreed a double-side flier-share with Cavey Nik, who was promoting his next Dead and Buried event. In amongst the discussion, I agreed to play Nik’s other night, No Tears, with a more minimal-synth friendly theme. This was right up my street (and, near enough, right down our road) – I’d found a promoter and audience who understood that there was more to ‘Neue Deutsche Welle’ than 99 Luftballoons. And in case I’m confusing you with all these Neue Deutsche genres (and I haven’t even got to Neue Deutsche Todeskunst yet), tough.
The venue was in Hornsey, some way north of the scene’s epicentre and not particularly near a tube station. However, we still got a dozen or so in time for my early set, which wasn’t that danceable anyway. For the second set, we had a got crowd and I hit the old-school drum machine rhythms, and by the last set we were packed and I broke out the hits. Never beyond throwing a curveball, I chucked in “Magic Fly” by Space on the back of an isolated mention in conversation earlier in the day. I think that got the best response of the night, and the failure of a few months previous was alleviated.
Things were on a roll once more. We were back at the ABBS in September, with Zaira (first met at Renaissance) now as guest DJ. I originally had ideas that she would be my long-term replacement, but alas she’s no longer in the UK. Replacement? Well, it became clear to me that there’s only so long a DJ can go in this scene without repeating themselves. Some don’t mind, in some case it’s even their trademark. But with a still-huge array of music to choose from, I’ve never walked that path. When I realised that part of my first set was just a chunk from Tragedy >For Two< in 2015, and that I was really scraping the barrel later in the day to find something fresh to play, I realised it may be time to let another in.
The Aces afterparty still had a thrill factor. Turning up not knowing what you’re going to play, not even the essential style of the night, still gets the creative energies flowing. After the summer slump, we had a good crowd once more, and some of the most interesting requests ever (who in the UK actually asks for Lacrimosa?). There was still some space for what we refer to as ‘Dealers Choice’ tunes – usually played to warm up the soundsystem or to genre hop. After all the Bowie and Prince tributes of 2016, it fell to me to mark the loss of Felix Flaucher of Silke Bischoff, later 18 Summers. If you don’t know who I’m referring to, well, it’s all part of the lessons learned from reading this thing.
We Live In Fear and Drunken Lies
I had a couple of goes at Yesterday’s Shadow in the Autumn. The September event fell at the end of a busy day for us. We’d won us a trip to Williams F1’s heritage collection by virtue of guessing Lance Stroll’s fastest lap at the British GP (don’t ask why that matters). Having made it to Grove and back via engineering works on trains slower than the teams 2018 F1 challenger, and then out to the Pack and Elixir-whatever-it’s-called, I sleepwalked through an early set that just didn’t capture the mood at the time. Luckily I got a second go later, now completely in tune with the audience, kicking off with my trademark “Tragedy >For You<” and ending with Oxygene IV, which I’d decided by now was well-known enough to play in club sets, even if it’s not exceptionally rhythmic.
The November one was a classic, though. Having kicked off with punky stuff like The Skids and The Ruts, I got a request for Dernière Volonté. French neofolk isn’t really in the music policy but their minimal synth take on the style was (I’d played things like Opera Multi Steel there before), and I worked there via an excursion through post-punk and EBM and then out again through darkwave. Later in the night, I shoehorned “Highway To Hell” into proceedings – we’d lost Malcolm Young that very day, his brother George a few weeks previous. Was anyone brave enough to interrupt the 80s retro mood for a tribute song? Never underestimate where a DJ Terminates Here set may take you…..
But where would DJ Terminates Here take me? The answer – Antwerp.
Lost Somewhere In Paradise, A Lonesome King Feels Cold At Night
OK, we were already going there to see Depeche Mode anyway, but I remembered some conversations with Danny Dupont and Lizard Smile during Ad:Rem 2016. It had long been an ambition of mine to DJ overseas, to try a new audience and stretch my wings, although my aversion to the process of travelling meant my range wouldn’t be that far. Belgium isn’t much of a challenge to get to though – one Eurostar ticket and the whole country is at your disposal, and in Flemish territory at least, speaking English isn’t a problem. Also, we already knew the city after a trip to BIMFest in 2013. (Side note: my first attempt at getting an overseas set was in the one place even closer – Lille, but despite best efforts, that didn’t happen).
A deal to DJ a live event of Lizard Smile and Spankraght a couple of nights before the Mode show was soon arranged. Eurostar was refreshingly uncomplicated, and we arrived in a rainy Antwerp on a cold November afternoon. Actually getting to the venue was a challenge – JH Wommel being in one of the forts on the outskirts of the city and not easy to find. Still, we found it, the vaulted brick ceiling a reminder of the original Reptile venue, now long since disused by the scene back home.
I got wired in and began playing some music. What was originally a warm-up set was actually the start of a full-blown evening of Djing, interrupted only by the two bands, and going on until 2am. I’d travelled this far to play some tunes, and I was ready to rise to the challenge. All the more accessible areas of my remit got in, though even here a few lesser-played tunes made it too – a request for Borghesia was unexpected, as was my only ever DJ play of Valor-era Christian Death, inspired by a T-shirt in the crowd. My job was complete, safe in the knowledge that my London friends were having a blast at the second Ich Will on the same night.
The rest of the weekend went well, ending with a return-to-glory set from Depeche Mode. On my return home, it was time to think about the December ABBS. Thinking back to some of the less-than-inspired sets at the last couple, I decided that this would be my last time playing the event as a regular DJ (though that didn’t happen in the end). As a final act, I suggested to Scott we should play one hour each in each others styles. So whilst he was revising Front 242, Ministry and Skinny Puppy, I looked up the shoegaze and 90s alt-rock. We still did an hour in our ‘own’ styles, with the two Yesterday’s Shadow DJs filling in the rest of the gaps.
Und der Schneemann sieht sie an
On the morning of the event, snow began to fall. And settle. Snow on Sunday mornings has little traffic to clear it, and promptly brought transport in London to near-standstill. I had to get from Bounds Green to Tufnell Park, which eventually amounted to walking, sorry, sliding to Wood Green, getting one of the few Piccadilly Line trains to Holloway Road and walking from there. In non-waterproof footwear. I resembled the bloke from that Covenant album on arrival – luckily Scott lived closer and was on earlies anyway so somehow we managed to do what needed to be done.
Attendance was about half what it normally was, but we still did the role-reversal sets, and thankfully the other two DJs made it in the end, allowing us to get a head-start over the road for Open Request List. With the snow cleared by then, it was one of our busiest ever, a real morale-booster after such a difficult start to the day. As far as the ABBS went, I’d decided on the day that it couldn’t end at an event limited by force majeure, so decided to carry on, at least until a replacement for me could be found.
Strangely, I had two further sets to play in 2017 after this. The Yesterday’s Shadow Christmas Special had eight DJs, but I was still given two sets, and inspired by recent events, got three Belgian bands into my first set (242, Siglo xx and Arbeid Adelt!), but had to leave immediately after my second due to a family commitment the next day. The final set was the closest I could get to New Years Eve – a 30 December event entitled ‘Daancing and Larfing’ – a one-off London revival of Nathan’s former Manchester club night in London, taking his Special Love project to the stage.
Black Light Ascension were also on the bill, so it felt like a full circle going back to Tragedy >Four<. With DJ Matt The Mo having to leave early and Gertrud Stein doing double-duty as sound engineer, I actually ended up doing the bulk of the Djing here. A run of obscurities between the live shows and a lengthy set of hits straight after, again choosing to end on Oxygene IV. With no chance of a New Years Eve set anywhere, that would be my lot for 2017. The third straight year of success for Terminates Here, most of my objectives now complete. Would that result in a period of complacency in 2018?
Well, Yes. And No. Read about it here….