MASSIVE QUESTIONS with PAUL BIRKEN


Paul Birken is great at DJing AND making dance records. I should know because I've Googled him and had a listen to loads of his stuff on YouTube - it's great. He also happens to be playing at this Friday's House of God, and I've been a fan of House of God since I accidentally went there a few years ago.

So, when I heard that a bloke called Paul Birken was headlining House of God my initial reaction was, "who the fucking hell is THAT?" Draper replied, "he's only the best fucking techno and acid DJ, producer and machine manipulator around at the moment. Ok, you won't get as many page views and social media traction with him as you would if you did a MASSIVE QUESTIONS with DJ Harvey - not by a long stretch - but I bet he's as good value, if not better, when faced in an interview situation with you."

I said, "Draper, I'll hold you to that. I'll do DJ Harvey one week and Paul Birken the next for hardly any reason whatsoever and we'll see what happens."

The very next day, I bought a return business class ticket to Minneapolis and sent Paul a Facebook message to see if he'd meet me in the lobby of Le Meridien Chambers on Hennepin Avenue for a sit down and a chat about his achievements to date. He said he'd meet me on the proviso we speak about his career ONLY as a side thought and place the emphasis on things like pancakes and moon landings. Paul Birken is MY kind of MAN.

THIS is the transcript of every word we whispered:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Q. For anyone unfamiliar with the name Paul Birken, could you tell them who you are, what you do and why you do it?
A. Just a regular guy with average hair manipulating machines at night with no one else there, sometimes recording tracks to put out as a release. When it stops being fun is when productions will cease.

Q. Has it been really hard or really easy to become a famous DJ?
A. *Looks around for someone famous in area* Nobody famous here.




Q) How did you come up with the moniker, Paul Birken? Did you ever toy with the idea of prefixing it with DJ, like a proper DJ (DJ Paul Birken) or suffixing DJ with something more exciting like ‘Tone Wrecker’ (DJ Tone Wrecker) or ‘Vinyl Banga’ (DJ Vinyl Banga)?
A. Police told me I had to keep using my real name after budget cuts removed most of their detectives who would scour rave flyers and try to decipher the multi-layered meanings of DJs monikers. I like to help the authorities whenever possible and was happy to comply.

Q. What’s it like to live in America?
A. To see limitless amounts of wasted potential while staying aware of very promising innovation in small pockets of people. Sad to see the film Idiocracy becoming a documentary rather than a decent comedy.


Q. On your Facebook profile you’re on stage wearing a turquoise hat. Do you always wear a turquoise hat or do you change the colour depending on the location and mood?
A. It is occasionally red if I'm hit in the head with bottles.

Q. Have you ever played a gig without wearing a hat?
A. It is in my rider that the venue provide a hat (lined with tin foil) and has been pre-soaked a few weeks either in a dill pickle jar, or buried with some kimchi to be properly seasoned. Actually I usually have a baseball cap on because I can clip a small light on the bill and be able to see when the stage is really dark. It's more comfortable then those Orbital glasses with the lights on them.




Q. Do you like high-pitched vocals in techno songs?
A. The higher the better. Then when you rewind you get nails-on-chalkboard frequencies. Not enough techno acapellas around these days either. It's great to scrub the audio...scrub, scrub the audio.

Q. In your opinion, was the moon landing in 1966 real or was it used to distract America and to lift the mood following JFK Kennedy’s death the previous day?
A. The moon is actually just a big billboard providing a nice visual in the night sky. It's hiding the real work going on in that section of the sky. I'll report back when I get updates on what it is specifically. There's a few Twitter feeds that promise updates in the coming years.



Q. Have you ever met Ricardo Villalobos?
A. Oh man...funny you ask about that. I had a layover at JFK and there was six or seven hours until the next flight. I decided to go exploring in the city and had a cab drop me off in the neighbourhood where Sonic Groove used to be. On the corner were some kids who were crying around one of those battery operated turntables. It looked like it had been setup on a small card table, but that was on its side and the record player was in pieces strewn across the sidewalk and street. When I asked the kids what happened, they said some guy with a record bag had walked up to them and said it was his time slot now and tried to start taking their record off while opening his bag. They pushed back a bit and told him they were just practicing some scratch techniques to entertain people and earn a few bucks on the street and he should leave them alone. He got irate and pulled out his passport which he waved in all their faces hollering about how far he'd traveled on the plane to come play for the people that wanted to see him. When the kids told him to get lost he dumped the table over and crossed the street.
The youngest kid pointed to someone pacing back and forth a block away, but between the traffic I got a pretty good view and I think it was him. He disappeared without a trace when a cab pulled up and I didn't pursue.

Q. You are famous for eating pancakes on the morning before each gig. What is your favourite pancake recipe and do you think the current state of pancake recipes are healthy?
A. I'm always lookin' for a pannekoeken! They are only healthy because you have to keep searching for hours to find a place that serves ones of decent quality.




Q. Do you like it when people with a proper rough West Midlands accent get on the microphone and scream things like, “FUCKING COME ON, ME BABBIES! ON YOUR KNEES, SINNERS! GET DOWN AND GET WITH IT, YA SAFT FUCKIN BASTARDS” whilst you're performing?
A. If I had a budget, that type of MC would travel to all of my shows for some emotional outbursts and revelations! Maybe I could load up a sampler with some shout outs to drop in. Thanks for the idea!

Q. How are you preparing for you performance at House of God in Birmingham at the end of October?
A. Trying to replicate the Rocky Balboa physical training regiment from Rocky 4 in the audio realm.




Q. Will you be visiting the nearby town of Walsall/Camp Spooky during your stay?
A. If the paranormal pointers lead in that direction then I'll be sure to follow.

Q. Stone cold sober or absolutely fucking terminated?
A. Aren't they the same when your brain is wired properly?




Q. Do you have any words of advice for any young readers of the Weekly Review of Dance Music who want to forge a career in dance music?
A. There is a reason Superman didn't sit by himself at the fortress of solitude all the time. Batman didn't just chill out in costume in his cave waiting for emergencies either. Daredevil was an attorney working on behalf of poor residents in Hell's Kitchen, etc. I would recommend walking and moving between the worlds of performing misfits and average Joe's to keep an appreciation for both. I've always had a regular job and it keeps you hungry to create when time arises without the need to ever have to compromise your art in exchange for a pay-check. I realize I am in the minority in that view, but it has worked for me so I continue give it as advice.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What a lovely young man! If I was any sort of human being, I'd be purchasing tickets for Paul Birken's headline slot at House of God's Halloween party on Friday night. Tickets are only about a tenner and you're GUARANTEED a good night (if you like stomping around to a soundtrack of hard, industrial techno and acid with a load of Brummies from a VERY diverse age-range and a warm aroma of poppers).

I'll be back next week with more love for Birmingham. I'm getting sick of clubbing and clubbers in London so I'm writing about how great clubbing in the Midlands is before Atomic Jam do their birthday party on the 14 November. I'm even doing an interview with He/aT in a desperate attempt to get VIP AAA access to the night, free drinks and a hand shake off of Dave Clarke.

Follow me: @tonkawrdm
Email me: tonkawrdm@gmail.com
Offer me paid work (LOLoutLOUD): linkedin/tonka