Laid's label manager works the wax on this week's RA podcast.
At a time when the phrase "digital exclusive" seems to be an all too common occurrence amongst house and techno imprints, Hamburg's Dial imprint have decided to go against the grain, spawning a new sub-label focusing strictly on vinyl-only releases. The man behind the venture is Berlin-based Israeli, Dor Levi, who first came into contact with the Dial crew while he was living and throwing club nights in Tel Aviv a couple of years ago. Named as such due to their low cover charge, his Cheap Friday parties brought Dial mainstays like Efdemin, Carsten Jost, Lawrence and Pantha Du Prince to his home city, with Dor always expressing a desire to have them stay for a few days rather than flying straight in and out.
It was during these extended stays that their friendship blossomed, and when Dor expressed his desire to take his DJing further, the collective were happy to oblige, offering their help and support if Dor made the move to Berlin. It goes without saying that he jumped at the chance, becoming part of the extended Dial family and regularly getting invited to join them behind the decks at their Panorama Bar residency. Their working relationship was taken one step further with the launch of the Laid imprint this year, which has so far featured deep house rollers from Rick Wade, RNDM and John Roberts, offering a fresh take on the American house sound of yore. This week's RA podcast is only Dor's second recorded mix (his first won him a DJing spot for Tel Aviv's Pacotek club night), and sees him showcase his influences from both sides of the Atlantic. We caught up with Dor via e-mail to ask him about the mix, his home country and Laid's vinyl-only stance.
You've just come back from Israel. What did you get up to?
I'm originally from Israel, and I love Israel and especially Tel Aviv very much. Sadly I don't visit there so much since I moved to Germany, so I just wanted to spend time with my best friends and also in a familiar atmosphere. I actually didn't do so much - I didn't even go to the beach! My best friends live in the same building in Tel Aviv, not so far away from where I was living, so basically I never left that building only to eat and to my favourite bar, the Rif Raf. David (Carsten Jost) also lives in this building and Pete (Lawrence) came to visit, so it was just wonderful being at my best friend's place. I really missed the food in Israel so much - was WONDERFUL to eat a tomato that actually tastes like a tomato. Besides that, we also did a Dial showcase in a club in Tel Aviv called Barzily Club, with Carsten Jost, Pantha du Prince and I. It was a very nice evening.
Where and how was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded in my workroom at home in Berlin. Actually this mix was quite the logistical nightmare, as since I moved to Berlin almost two years ago, I've never had a turntable at home. I always ended up buying loads of records or various bits of analogue equipment, and not a turntable to listen to all my records (not the smartest approach, I know...). Every time before a DJ gig I used to take a pile of records and listen to them on Youtube or Juno just to get the feel again. Luckily my dear friends bought me one Technics for my birthday which was last week. And Marc Schneider, who is one of my favourite DJs and a close friend gave me his spare old pitch-weary Technics, John Roberts lent me his soundcard, and finally I rented a Xone92. So after finally getting all the necessary ingredients, I was about to record the mix, but was stopped every time I started due to some other problem.
At the beginning, I noticed that I actually don't have slipmats. So I ran and got some slipmats, and afterwards I noticed that one needle was not in such tiptop shape. So I ran and got a new one. And then and it went on and on like that until Friday in the early morning. I woke up in my pyjamas and recorded the set, which I used, and three minutes after the last record finished playing, I had to run and return the mixer. So to conclude: the mix was recorded using two Technics with Grado DJ200 needles, a Xone92 mixer and most importantly some records! It was recorded into Logic. The mix is unedited and untouched. I can't say I'm pleased with my mixing, but I wanted to leave it as is.
Can you tell us a little about the idea behind the mix?
Coming to this mix, I had so many ideas. Really, I must have started like a million versions, but in the end I just had a few records that I knew I must play, like the ones from Moodymann, Levon Vincent (I love him!!!) or a DJ Qu track which I've been in love with since I heard it almost a year ago and was shipped to me especially for the podcast, and some records that somehow just popped into my head. I wanted to do something that is very me, and didn't want it to be something that can be easily labelled.
You're a big supporter of vinyl as a DJ and earlier this year launched Laid, a vinyl only label. How has the first year gone? What's coming up on Laid?
Oh, this will be a long one. I think it is extremely important to stand up for things you believe in. I as a DJ and a person who really loves music, really like to have this object; the record. I'm not talking about the sound aspect or anything now, which is all open for debate and preference. I'm just talking about the fact that this round thing you hold in your hand has the sound on it, you can see the grooves, it has a cover, it has a sticker, it has a smell. You have to treat it with care and respect. I'm really connected to most of my records; I remember where and how I got them, almost every scratch or imperfection on them I can relate to some experience I had gone through: "Ohh, here you played in XXX and you scratched it" "Ahh, this cover and record looks and sounds funny because one night a vodka and Red Bull spilled in your record case" "Ahh, I have a love note from a fan on this sleeve."
Anyone who knows me, knows the look on my face when I get a new record in the post. It’s like Christmas. I'm so happy to get this piece of music. I just don't get this experience buying an MP3. For me its too instant, there is no high and no rush. Leave the fact that I think this whole vinyl culture is so important socially and we want to help preserve it. I want people to go to the record shop and check out the releases - I want actual conversations to be formed and this whole social exchange to take place.
With all this said, from the other POV as a clubber, I really like to see DJs playing vinyl. I like to see these objects. I like to know these DJs had to carry them around I like to know they had to WORK for it, and that they respect it also. And I like to see a Laid record spinning. More than I would like to hear a Laid track playing from the CD player.
Back to Laid, the label is doing well - I mean considering what's going on with record sales. It is very nice to have Dial and Kompakt as support; that is the only thing actually allowing us to press records, and I am very proud with the upcoming releases on laid. The next one is from the Smallville Collective, and will be called "Smallpeople." Afterwards we have a split EP from John Roberts, Christopher Rau and Fred P. Also coming up is an AMAZING EP from the Workshop guys Kassem Mosse and Lowtec, and a very special EP from Marcello Napoletano. I hope we get them out as soon as possible.
Another thing I want to say, is I am actually quite sad that due to this vinyl only restriction a lot of people are denied access to laid's music. When we have time we will create a platform that allows users to listen to all laid content online. This whole vinyl-only concept is not some sort of snobbism or something. We want our music to be available to everyone, but we think supporting the format we believe in is just more important. Eventually we will make sure we do both.
You've asked to hold off publishing the tracklist, at least for a few days, for this mix. Do you think trainspotting is a dying art in electronic music? I know when Omar-S last played in Berlin, despite disguising most of his records - you had no trouble identifying them.
Yes, I do want people to try to ID something if they like it to communicate to search for it, just because I do enjoy these things! It is part of the experience for me. So I thought delaying the track list by a day or two might give that a push, even though it's not like I played such "secret" tracks. I think people won't have problems IDing almost everything before the tracklist is be published. That Omar-S party at Tape was funny. I must say that I might be one of the biggest Omar-S fans - I love Alex’s records I really like how he is playing them, and I actually like this competitive approach of disguising his records. Me being a smartass of course had to try to ID them all on the spot, and I had a great time that night. I personally do not disguise my records. I don't believe in that so much. It would be silly since most of my records I discovered from other people, sets, endless searching of Juno's out of stock items or my constant use/abuse searching for music and records I love (I must give a shout out to all the people who work on putting these great pieces of music up on Youtube). And I would never have found them if everyone was hiding their records. But as I said, I really like that he does it.
What are you up to next?
This Friday I will play at Panorama Bar, which I'm always excited about. Apart from that and my other gigs, I'm continuing work on the label, starting to experiment with sound on real machines, and generally keeping my head straight and doing my thing.
Photo credit: Amit Israeli
Big Strick - A Walk Down Linwood - FXHE Records
Big Strick - Black Talk - FXHE Records
Moodymann - J.A.N - KDJ
Kenny Larkin - Butterflies - R & S Records
Virgo Four - Take Me Higher - Trax Records
Kassem Mosse - Untitled - Laid
Levon Vincent - A Melody For Everyone - Novel Sound
Soundstream - Dance With Me - Soundstream
Basic Channel - Phylps Trak II - Basic Channel
Omar S - Day - FXHE Records
Eddie Flashin' Fowlkes - Deep Pit (Kenny Larkin Remix)
Mike Grant - The Struggle Of My People (Mr. G's There's Hope Mix) - Moods & Grooves
Azymuth - Jazz Carnival (Global Communication Mix) - Far Out Recordings
Metro - Brownstone Express - Nu Groove Records
Claro Intelecto - Signifier - Ai Records