At the risk of sounding like Techno’s biggest Fan Boy, and automatically being removed from artist liaison duties next Friday (that basically means picking up the DJ, being their minder for the night, yes it is as fun as its sounds…. until you book Darius! #LongStory) I’m on the verge of being star struck at the thought of meeting our Halloween headliner : Ellen Allien.
She’s actually, cool; personified. She’s not like a ‘Hype’ T-Shirt & backpack combo, she’s not ‘Ugg’ boots, she’s not ‘Yeezy’ season 1’s, she’s not a pair ‘Hurrache’s’, she’s not a ‘Siksilk’ hoody, or a ‘Hera’ T-shirt, she’s OG. She doesn’t come in and out of fashion, she’s timeless. I can only liken her to a ‘Rolex’, if anything – she’s appreciating in value. She’s not just going to play ‘Elrow’ once and have loads of teenage girls who dressed up like a zebra for the day downloading her ‘Soundcloud’ mixes. No no. She’s actually been doing it since before most of us were born. She was around when the Berlin wall came down. She’s the DJ’s DJ. I reckon all female DJ’s want to be Nina Kraviz, well this is the DJ that Nina Kraviz wants to be!
I don’t want to say ‘if you know, you know’, because if you know, well of course you f*cking know. (That saying gets right on my turntables.)
I don’t want to write and article that stinks of ‘I’m too cool for you, I know edgy Berlin Techno DJ’s, i wear all black and “you can’t come to my party because you’re not cool enough”, because that’s just not what our scene is about. Our scene is about inclusion, our scene is about education, escapism, sharing experiences & opinions. So if you haven’t heard of her, you gonna learn today : Ellen is A native & proud Berliner, she started playing in Techno’s second city in the early 90’s & has been credited with shaping the scene and soundscape over there ever since. She’s a pillar, a stalwart, an icon in Techno. She started her label ‘BPitch Control’ in 1999, which can only be described as a powerhouse, with releases from more big dogs than ‘101 dalmations’. Today she holds down residencies at DC10, CircoLoco & is simply a genuine household name all over Berlin, she’s on first name terms with any heads at / Berghain / Watergate, not just because she’s one of the original DJ’s, but because she’s humble as pease pudding. She’s a huge contributor to our music behind the scenes, doing everything she can to keep record shops & intimate parties alive a take a look at her event – ‘We Are Not Alone’ & her AMAZING instore event series – ‘Vinylism’ which is now running all over europe. (beg you look that one up)… But seriously, if you haven’t heard of her you’ve probably been at camp america this summer or on work experience at aldi. here she is kicking 7 shades of Techno out of Kappa Futur Festival
This Booking is like booking Andy C for a DnB Head, like booking D Double E for a grime head, like booking Benga for a Dubstep stepper, Paul Okenfold to a trance raver, I’ve never been more gassed to be part of a gig in my lifetime. There really isn’t much going on like this in the North, let alone Newcastle. I’ve got pre rave tension and there’s still a week till the party, it’s like I’m waiting for the champions league final, and I’m about to watch that Barcelona side with Messi / Ronaldinho & Henry as the front three. This is a haloween pick n mix if I’ve ever seen one, but rather than ‘Refresher’ bars / shite lollys & ‘Fudge’ bars, we’ve got ‘Lindt’, ‘Fererro Roche’ & ‘Hotel Chocolat’.
Just take a moment (& get a pen & paper ready) to watch this little gem. It’s from a series called ‘B Sides’ & Ellen was very appropriately given the chance to display some bits from her collection & kick off the first episode. Below she can be seen playing the ballsiest sounding records you will ever hear, they’re absolute batter your down gassy Techno belters. This is heavy salad, extra mayo. Matter of fact it’s shut the speakers down, this will never be heard in ‘Tup Tup Palace’, master class madman Techno waltzer material.
What I love most she’s talking about buying records when they came out. not like buying records from some trendy shop because they’re old school. She’s buying records at the forefront of the sound creation, at the beginning – when the synthesisers are new, and the producers handle a control panel has actual nobs that you twist with your hands. Not a representation of a kitch value sound on a programme on a ‘Macbook’. This music was made and bought when the producers were experimenting with something new, not re-creating what went before them. Most importantly, these records are VINYL (yes they still exist) and they’re absolute fire, her sets are filled with authenticity, knowledge, and they ask nothing of you but to dance. you remember how to do that, right?
A wiser man than me once said – ‘respect your elders’, i’ll be doing just that come the 27th. She’s gonna be out of this world.
To explain what this gig means to our scene is hard for even the handiest wordsmith, I mean this line up is seriously headzy, the sort of thing you would expect to find in Berlin on a Saturday night, not the Boilershop on Halloween. I managed to get one of our Residents – Jonny Burn to tell us what it means to him :
“To be on the same bill, being able to play under someone as well respected and world renowned in Techno as Ellen is wicked, me and Matty crafted our sound and djing skills around people like her and Matt Tolfrey, followed them coming up in the local djing scene listening to there music and mixes. To be having someone like that who’s played places like Berghain in our own city for our own night is something we’d never expected when we were coming up in Newcastle’s djing scene’
Even the DJ’s are shook.
Now I want to take you From the master to the apprentice : but this lass isn’t just any whipper snapper – Lauren Lo Sung – the scouse powerhouse, is one of the realest up and coming pocket rockets in the whole scene. She’s a self made hustler, who started her own night at the age of 18 – ‘LOlife’ – after professing to play records from the age of 11 on a pair of beginner decks her parents bought her. Actions speak louder than words, while I was kicking a ball against a wall and playing S.P.O.T – she’s knocking out mixes and buying records. Now she produces absolute “Bangors” and can be found playing every decent party around europe – gigs coming up a Circus, Warehouse Project & London Tobacco Docks for NYE after she graces us with her presence says it all. There’s a cheeky interview with her below, & a couple of my favourite joints from her. Simply sensational production, stripped back, groovy, classy, just whack them on and be proud to call her one of your own. Berlin might be an inspiration but it isn’t the be all and end all. take 2 and call me in the morning. “Mad ting!”
On a personal note, this is whole gig is like a coming of age for me in the house & techno industry. A right of passage, if you will. 10 Years ago, Matt Tolfrey was actually the DJ that lit my fire, and ignited my passion for House & Techno. He won’t know this, but he’s the reason I pursued a career in music. Fair enough, people will say – ‘anyone would have done the trick, on your first gary you could have gone to see Tom Zanetti and still thought “I FUCKING LOVE THIS MUSIC, HOUSE & TECHNO 4 LIFE, I AM A DANCEFLOOR WARRIOR” … But I don’t think thats true, I think there was a degree of fate, a degree of righteousness to my first time stomping it out. Mr.Tolfrey was at the helm to guide me through my first experience, and take my baseline virginty, & he was a gentle, considerate, experienced lover.
Credit to the boy ‘Junes’ now head honcho at the well respected Berlin label ‘Galdoors’ (https://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/junes) Junes is a north east native, & was my college buddy back in the day. He convinced me there would be nothing grander to do for my 18th birthday, than attend his brothers night in Leeds – The Migthy TwAdDle – (https://www.residentadvisor.net/promoter.aspx?id=219) – to see a DJ i’d never heard of before, play music from a scene I wasn’t into. But i trusted his judgement, Junes was a zonal certified gent. so Like any respectable geordie sessioner, we booked an apart hotel and got our arses on the GNER, and i’ve never looked back.
‘Twaddle’, at the time, was held in the intimate attic room on the top floor of the now extinct ‘StinkysPeepHouse’ .. Despite the name, Stinkys was probably the most respectable establishment any man or woman could wish to indulge themselves in on a weekend. It’s original home of the UK’s longest running night – BacktoBasics. At the time ‘Twaddle’ was in its infancy, but it well and truly was no sideshow to basics as it grew into a northern monster, bringing DJ’s like Chris Duckenfield / DJ Sneak / D.O.P as time went on. The decor was wacky and colourful, it was a proper ‘party’ long before Elrow made it tacky & mainstream as fuck, I can remember looking round the room at people wearing chicken hats & various disguises with the music at full pelt, thinking ‘aye, this is a bit of me’. So I applied for university in Leeds after that night, worked for Twaddle / Mono-cult / BacktoBasics & the Infamous Mint Brand.. here we are a Decade later and I can only wish that I could do it all again, derive been lucky, four leaf clover style, I did what I wanted to do, some people have to work in Sainsbury’s you know.
Ive done a lot, but ‘Twaddle’ was a family affair, and that always breeds genuine vibes. The Tolfrey show was the sort of night that was simply magic, that intangible atmosphere you get when everyone is on form, the walls are covered in sweat, but most importantly – the DJ Is on fire. Banger after banger from Tolfrey, and His last tune was – Mike Dunn ; ‘Phreaky MF’ …
Just imagine hearing that at your first rave, see this was no coincidence at all, Tolfrey is a master and i was supposed to be welcomed into this weird and wonderful industry the by one of the most charismatic techno stalwarts the scene had to offer. I don’t want to seem like I’m demoting this mans career to a single night, just because I have an emotional connection to it, because He is a straight up Jewel in the English DJ collective crown.. fun fact for the day – he is the youngest DJ to ever play fabric on a Saturday night. How bow dat. After putting out his initial releases on Crosstown Rebels (yeah, I know, #bigtme). He then went on to start his own label – Leftoom, which recently celebrated a 10 year anniversary & now has 2 sub labels. His party series,’Don’t Be Left Out’ is an absolute gremlin, & this Halloween Concept 10 is proudly now part of it. He’s actually been engraved in the hall of fame with a Fabric mixtape, if that doesn’t tell you about the level of selector we’re dealing with, then maybe Seth Troxlers Comments will : “Matt Tolfrey is the Last Great British DJ”
Big Tolfers … sir, i salute you. See you on the 27th.
P.S. – Somehow tickets are only £10, Don’t be Left Out. 27.10.17 Boiler Shop / Ellen Allien, Lauren Lo Sung, Matt Tolfrey, Matty Robson b2b Jonny Burn / Tickets www.concept10.com
Written by Simon M Mooney (20th Oct 2017)
P.P.S – here’s a live moodymann version of that Mike Dunn Tune, filmed in Japan, couldn’t be edgier if it was filmed in an octagon. This is a VVIP hook up. (I won’t tell anyone You got it from me, don’t worry)