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:

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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.

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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.

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MASSIVE QUESTIONS with DJ HARVEY


When I gave Megatown the platform to break the name, DJ Harvey, in 2011 everyone thought the Weekly Review of Dance Music was talking out of its fucking arse. I had no end of people getting in touch to say that they'd never heard of DJ Harvey and that I should concentrate on writing about established DJs and producers. I love to say I told you so, so, since WRDM shone its light on DJ Harvey, the dance world hasn't fucking shut up about him. Do I get any credit? No.

Now look at him, he's only got his own national mini-tour in conjunction with the Red Bull Music Academy, Fabric, the Warehouse Project and Simple Things about to start (full details below and throughout the interview)!

It's just a coincidence that he arranged to meet me for a drink and an on-the-record chat during the build-up to his Road Trip Mini-Tour, I thought happily to myself as I walked away from what was a cracking chat with DJ Harvey over eight pints of Carling and six bags of pork scratchings in a properly shit pub in the borough of Ealing. I asked him to meet me down The Crown in Northolt because my Oyster card had run out and I wasn't topping up just to meet someone in central London for an interview.

Here is the transcript of what we said to one another:

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Q. For anyone unfamiliar with the name DJ Harvey, could you tell them who you are, what you do and why you do it?
A. I am Harvey William Bassett, I entertain via the recorded medium and I do it because it makes me feel warm and gooey inside.

Q. Was establishing yourself in the music industry as easy as eating a banana (if you like bananas) or as hard as eating a massive box of butternut squash (if you hate butternut squash)?
A. During the second world war imported fresh fruit was some-what of a rare luxury so my father did not encounter a banana until his mid-teens. When told it was edible he took a bite out of the thing without peeling it. Butternut squash should be baked in the oven at 350 for one hour and 20 minutes.





Q. One bar snare roll or a high-pitched “come on!” after the final beat prior to the start of a new 8 bar phase?
A. The sound of a cat being reversed over by a clutch slipping Ford Fiesta will usually suffice.

Q. Some people think I’m called Tonka because of your old Tonka parties in Brighton but they’re wrong, I’m called Tonka because I’m really good at fighting people. Did you ever see any fights at any of the Tonka parties?
A. I was unaware of any fights, but; once a body washed up when we were having a beach party at Black Rock...





Q. Slow and circular insertions or fast and hard, piston-like thrusts?
A. The fast and hard piston-like thrusts, of course.

Q. Who’s idea was it to play a three-city RBMA mini tour this month? 
Are you treating the three nights as part of a preamble towards a bigger one (tour) next year?
A. I don’t know who’s idea it was but it seems like a good one and if everything pans out just fine then there’s no reason why I won’t do more of the same next year.



Q. Will you be playing a prepared and ordered set each night on your Road Trip or will each gig be a spontaneous and inimitable sonic voyage in and around the outskirts of disco, Balearica, rock ‘n’ roll and electro-funk?
A. You nailed it with the second choice.

Q. What does it feel like to have inadvertently built up a following of punters, DJs and brown-nose journalists who want to metaphorically rim you every day without question and, if you were able to remove the word ‘metaphorically’, would you let them?
A. If the word metaphorically was removed my arsehole would be extremely sore having being rimmed and nosed from multiple directions on various occasions.




Q. You are the most handsome, the most culturally significant and the best DJ in the world. How do you juggle those three heavy trophies around your graceful, swan-like neck every day?
A. If anyone actually considers me any of the above, I would be honoured to accept the prize and carry it as gracefully as possible.

Q. Which DJs/producers are you into at the moment?
A. 1. Dixon 2. Tale Of Us 3. Richie Hawtin 4. Ben Klock 5. Seth Troxler.





Q. What is DJ Garth really like?
A. A gentleman and a thespian.

Q. Stone cold sober or absolutely fucking terminated?
A. Stone Cold Steve Austin.




Q. Do you have any words of advice for any young readers of the Weekly Review of Dance Music who might be interested in pursuing a career in the dance music industry?
A. Wear a black t-shirt, move to Berlin and play minimal.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to plug on the Weekly Review of Dance Music?
A. Check out Wildest Dreams LP on Smalltown Supersound.


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What a lovely young man! Please join me in wishing DJ Harvey all the very best for the future and support all of his future endeavours. You can start by snapping up tickets for Club Fabric on Thursday night, the Manchester Albert Hall on Friday night and the Simple Things festival on the Saturday night.

You know that Manchester Albert Hall date? You wouldn't think it to look at it, but it's actually part of the Warehouse Project! Looks a bit posh for a warehouse party. I've never been to a Warehouse Project night but I'm told that they're all fucking brilliant so this will NOT be an exception.

And another thing, I always thought that Bristol was just a unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 437,492. Is it fuck; it's also the venue for the Simple Things festival that DJ Harvey is playing at on the Saturday night! I've never been to the Simple Things festival before but I'm told that they're always fucking brilliant so this will NOT be an exception.

I'll be back soon with loads more content on the internet.

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