Robert-Johnson resident Gerd Janson offers up some computer incarnations for world peace on this week's RA podcast.
We're not quite sure what to tell you about Gerd Janson to be honest. In his lengthy and witty answers to our questions below, he tells you just about everything you need to know about his philosophy on DJing, life, and the music business. The bottom line for the Frankfurt-based DJ, though, is that if you're taking things too seriously, you're seriously missing the point.
Whether it be via his Running Back label, which has boasted releases by Mark E, Prosumer, and Todd Osborn; his DJ sets at the vaunted Robert-Johnson club in Frankfurt; as a music journalist; or as a team member of the Red Bull Music Academy, Janson's love of music is obvious. And, on his RA podcast, you'll hear how that love manifests itself in the house he grew up listening to at Mannheim's Milk Club, the cosmic disco he's been compiling on Sonar Kollektiv's Computer Incarnations for World Peace series, and even a cover of Ricardo Villalobos. (Or is that Gerd just joking around again?) It's an hour-and-a-half journey that you'll most likely want to take over and over again.
What have you been working on recently?
Quite a few things. A few weeks ago I just finished a remix with melody man Phillip Lauer from Brontosaurus/Arto Mwambe-fame at the studio helm for Roland Appel's "New Love" under a new moniker called Tuff City Kids. Sounding quite old-schoolish (if that is a word) in a New York kind of house way. Then there is still a remix from the Pink Alert studios that has to be finished for Permanent Vacation, but I am not really happy with it yet, so it might never see the light of day.
Of course, Running Back needs work too. Next up will be the Cube EP by wrong funk hero Move D. It's a dedication to one of Heidelberg's nicest and longest running club institution of the same title. Then we have hopefully something by the mighty Radio Slave, Frankfurt's Robert Dietz, Dplay, and a rocking new kid on the block by the name of Jacob Korn with remix treatment by his holiness Prins Thomas. So I try to juggle all these things around and make them happen somehow, which can be a bit overwhelming, if you are a slothful one-man-band.
Where and how was the mix recorded?
To be honest, it felt a bit like rolling Sisyphus' rock up the hill. Countless sleepless nights were the effect of me stumbling through the comments section and watching people getting slaughtered by the listeners. But I decided to meet my fate calmly and with my studio not being finished, I recorded a version at a friend's place. Not being satisfied with it, another one at a closed Robert-Johnson club on a silent and rainy afternoon followed, which I found to be dislikable as well. After all, I did it in my parent's basement with a borrowed CD player, a Reloop sampler, an old Vestax PMC-26 rotary mixer, and two dusty belt-driven turntables that run on low batteries.
Can you tell us a little about the idea behind the mix?
It's the hardest thing for me to record mixes. Usually, I end up doing easy listening tapes with all kinds of stuff. For this Resident Advisor podcast, my initial plan was to record a maximal peak time set full of minimal club bangers, but you can hear that this isn't quite the result of my endeavors. So, as it's impossible to pack the dynamics, highs and lows of a whole night into ninety minutes, I tried to glue some things together that might make sense in that time-span and are listenable. Or not, depending on your point of view.
Included are some old faves like a remix for Svek by the grandiose Erot who left us all too soon, the new record by Soundstream who never ceases to amaze me with his simple, yet effective disco gems, as well as the latest offerings of Roman Flügel who gets his house Alter Ego Roman IV out of the closet and aforementioned Prins (somehow a lot of Norwegians ended up on this mix) who has done a brilliant cover version of Ricardo Villalobos' "Fitzpatrick." And of course, I had to put something on by Aril Brikha as a comment on the Shlomi-Brikha catfight as I like to call it. "Groove La Chord" or "Efrat"? Forget it. "Akire" is where it's at!
What are you up to next?
Conceiving a mix CD for the heart-warming club that is Robert-Johnson (few more sleepless nights), probably some top secret remix work again and establishing a low-fashion t-shirt line called "Gin & Guice." Almost forgot: playing at nice parties like the Rekids night at Panorama Bar or, thanks to RA, the delicious Eastern Electrics Sunday in London, followed by another almost religious experience with those huge speaker stacks at Notting Hill Carnival, due to Aba Shanti and his disciples.
What's the worst thing about running a label?
The so-called business side of things. If there is something left that can be called business. It can be quite boring, dull, and uncreative to deal with the paperwork et al. Getting unasked download links that are not even personalised or have nothing to do with the music a label releases. Godspeed you, Sir MySpace. What are these people thinking? But what a lament this is, it's not like 19th century coal mining.
OK, really the worst thing is not having enough money to put out all the picture discs, collector's boxes, special editions, and gimmicks that you always wanted to do. Including stockings and football helmets with label prints.
You also do some music journalism on the side. Ever change your mind about a record review after turning it in?
Every time. Either I decide that I actually hate the record or that I should have hated it. Oh, and there is this story about me making fun of well-known producer/singer and calling his album something like an acid-jazz-noodle-soup. He got a bit upset by it, wrote a letter to the editor which got forwarded to me, we got into a heated discussion and decided that we like each other after all. I know I am rambling, but later we even met by accident in a small Croatian coastal town and went sailing together on his dad's boat. Oh, life can be a fairy tale.