Hey Kristoffer, could you please introduce yourself to our listeners?

Moin! I’m a music journalist who usually is never short on words except when he has to say something about and for himself. I’m involved with the ANTIME label based in Berlin and occasionally put on records if someone feels generous enough to ask me to do that for them. I’m also really into cooking soups lately.

What’s the idea behind your mix and how did you approach that concept?

I wouldn’t consider myself a DJ and I don’t even have two turntables at home, which is utterly ridiculous taking into account the size of my record collection.
So what I’m doing is that I basically glue recordings together in Audacity. If you haven’t stopped reading already, I actually do have a few things to say about this mix.

2017 has been a very disappointing year for me when it came to dance music. Hence, I found myself exploring music that I thought was fresh and somewhat different. Ironically though, that only meant that I bought a lot of old music (re-)presented to me by Western people or conceptual music: Jon Hassell reissues, Fourth World Music compilations put together by Jan Schulte or Optimo, Japanese Boogie Funk from the late 70s, etc

Fourth World sounds both old and new have been one of last year’s biggest trends and I’m vehemently critical of the concept itself as well as the gatekeeping function that Western DJs, labels, and producers have in distributing music from other cultures. For if there’s a gatekeeper, that means that there’s a gate, a law that keeps other people out. While it’s great that the reissue industry is unearthing all those beautiful records from far away and we have more possibilities to expose ourselves to music deemed unconventional in the West, an immense structural problem remains: the capital is still in Western hands. Nobody presses their reissues of obscure Malian Funk LPs directly in Bamako, so apart from some royalty fees there’s no money going back into those cultures. It is completely absurd that we fetishise old music from the so called Third World, yet those records are exclusively distributed, sold and listened to in Central Europe, North America, Australia and maybe Japan.

I wrote a lengthy essay trying to problematise both Fourth World phenomena and the ongoing reissue craze.

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This mix was put together while I was writing it and reflects the mixture of fascination and suspicion that I feel towards all of that. As a whole, it moves via field recordings from the simulated tropical to the bittercold. There are a lot of unlikely mirror effects – take the Tibetan throat singing towards the beginning that influenced some people in the BRD during the eighties which you can hear towards the end, for example. Nature, exoticism and the perceived opposition between periphery and centre or primitivism and high culture as well as religion(s) are the key topics. Listening back, I think that the centrepiece might be Michaela Senn’s “déplacement”, which takes its cues from the writings of Jacques Derrida, who, as people tend to forget, made a name for himself with a fierce takedown of eurocentric anthropology in the late sixties.

This mix doesn’t offer any answers, but it might raise some more questions about where benign artistic appropriation ends and exploitation begins, also on the side of the selector – in this case, me. I also tried to make it sound nice, obviously. Shoutout to Audacity.

Is there a record that triggered your interest in collecting music and/or writing about it?

My parents’ record collection offered some solid cornerstones for my early musical education. However, it was Haddaway’s 1993 peak time banger “What Is Love” that I spent my first money on, splitting the cost with my brother, who since has bought about six other CDs; some of which had a huge impact on me. Through him I got into Punk and depressive Indie Rock. I’m not kidding about him buying seven CDs in all his life, but stylistically it ranged from Craig David to Smashing Pumpkins’ Melon Collie. He probably has no idea how influential he was for me.

In my pre-teens, broadband internet entered my life and things got weird. The first vinyl record I’ve ever bought must have been Hot Water Music’s snot-coloured “Moments Pass/ Another Way” single, a record that I still love dearly. Was there any record in particular that got me into writing? I wouldn’t say so, since I more or less accidentally and gradually became a music journalist after mainly writing about literature for a few years. Somewhere I still should have a clipping of my first ever review, published in the local newspaper, on Deftones’ Saturday Night Wrists. I had mixed feelings about it. White Pony forever and ever.

Were there certain spots / spaces / places / clubs that had an early impact on you?

Fourfa, The Mars Volta message board and Last.fm had probably the biggest influence on my development as a music listener when I was a teen. There’s a few concert venues from my youth – Rote Flora in Hamburg, Subversiv in Berlin – where I spent my Hardcore halcyon days, and some clubs – Golden Pudel and ://about:blank namely – where I felt and feel like I could identify with the general concept and attitude. I spent a lot of time in Berghain, mostly on the Panorama Bar floor, too. But overall, I just like to drift from one place to another.

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As a music journalist, you recently published an essay for Groove magazine in which you portray the current state of music journalism. Less content for more social media coverage and less independent, honest journalism due to corporate publishing are some of the problems it is facing. Do you think these problems are increasing through these new corporate platforms? Or is it a more general problem that’s just shifting platforms?

My Groove piece was roughly 3.500 characters long due to the limitations of print media, but I can assure you there’s at least 3.500 paragraphs to be written about the subject.If you’re unlucky, I will do exactly that some other time. But let me try to be comprehensive for now.

Groove Artikel

The problems that music journalism is facing today are metonymic for what’s happening in the media industry in general. Some ten years ago, social media platforms like Facebook started luring publishers in. The promise of a free-of-charge distribution system for their content seemed just too good to be true. As it turned out, it was exactly that. Gradually, people started to realise that you could make actual money with viral content on the back of ad-revenue, with social networks serving as catalysts that drew users to their homepages. At this point, Facebook and others launched paid-for services to boost visibility of content to cash in on this as well.

At the beginning of 2018, we can see clearly how devastating the outcome of this process really is, for it has fundamentally changed our experience of the political discourse and how a public opinion is being constructed. So called “Fake News” – itself a propagandistic euphemism for propaganda – have taken over our newsfeeds and even established publishers have adapted to the fight for visibility by prioritising content that the general public reacts to emotionally – with rage, laughter, shock. We get served what moves us most, not with what we should know. A brief and sloppily dismissal of the #MeToo movement will generate more clicks than any lengthy in-depth discussion on contemporary feminism any time. Whatever racist things some vlogger said in a Let’s Play video is considered more important than what is happening in Syria, because it triggers more discussions and thus generates more clicks. If it’s polarising enough, quality does not matter. The shift towards soft journalism and clickbait – or, more accurately, ragebait – is not a result of a decrease in journalistic quality, but an expression of very real economic problems the industry has been facing ever since digitalisation came into full throttle. Ironically though, our focus has been shifted away from systemic problems to the anecdotal and meaningless. Or do you even remember which news story made you angry two weeks ago?

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At the end of 2016, I used the then-ubiquitous Berghain clickbait in a similar essay for Groove as an example of how this affects music journalism as well and how actually, it ironically makes it possible to finance quality journalism. Which brings us back to the platforms. Early this year, Facebook has announced that it will change its algorithms, prioritising your friends’ posts over those by publishers including musicians, bands, DJs, labels – everybody who publishes and distributes their content on there. At least that’s what Zuckerberg is saying. There’s a lot of people considering this paradigm change a victory for the press, but I’m not as optimistic. Like, not at all. We shouldn’t forget that on the one hand, propaganda is being spread by very real people who sometimes form networks. We shouldn’t be naive and assume that a company like Facebook would happily dig its own grave without knowing what they’re getting themselves into.

If publishers don’t cave in and pay them for visibility, the news will soon be delivered by your crush from seventh grade, your ex-colleague or a new type of influencer specialised in posting Breitbart news. Some Facebook test trials of a news segregated newsfeed system has already had similar effects in almost no time.

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I know how batshit crazy that sounds, but these are all processes very much underway and which are potentially even more dangerous than targeted political ads. It simply is batshit crazy. So yes, my prediction is that the problem will be becoming more severe, also because Facebook itself has no interest in providing their audience with quality journalism. It’s simply not economically viable. I’d love to see an exodus of publishers away from Facebook, however that is unlikely to happen as long as there’s still money to be made and power to be carried out through it. It is also up to the consumers, the readers, the people from the scene to organise around the platforms, not on them. Bookmark pages you’re interested in. Install Pocket, Blendle, whatever. Get a subscription for a print magazine. Start a fanzine, or a blog. Connect with others. Revive your fucking RSS feed reader. Send a damn e-mail to your friends. Use an actual calendar instead of Facebook for your events. Send a carrier pigeon to the ones you love. And most of all, pay for the services you’ve enjoyed for free all these past years when you get the chance, because their work comes with a hefty price tag – now more than ever.

It sounds like a familiar phenomenon: the fight for “true” quality, be it in art, literature or music, often seems to be the path of more resistance, less financial security and at least on medium term also less “success”. As a writer, how do you deal with this ambivalence (if you think it exists)?

This is the single most important problem in journalism today because it’s a precarious industry. I know very few editors these days that even have a contract. As much as I love to live in a welfare state where fiscal responsibility is shared between citizens, its concept has not yet adapted to what, a few years ago, has been called “atypical employment” and has since become the norm in the media industry or that which is commonly referred to as “platform capitalism”.

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Let me give you an example: I personally spent at least the first three to four years of my career mostly working for free or for a pittance compared to the hours I’ve spent working. As mentioned before, I started out writing about literature. Now imagine reading a 300 page long book very carefully and then writing about 5.000 characters, so about two to three pages on it. How much time do you think does that take even someone who is a fast reader and quick writer? And would you say that a fee of 30€ for that kind of work is in any way fair, especially if you have to pay taxes on top of that, put money aside for health care, etc.? There’s not much left for the avocado toast jar at the end of the day. I think it was Franco “Bifo” Berardi who coined the term “cognetariat,” or at least that’s where I read it first, and it seems to me like a perfect summary of what is happening.

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Not that I would dare to romanticise the media’s instability as some sort of 21st century class struggle, but the system is rapidly spiraling out of control and the ones at the bottom suffer from it the most. People are shamelessly being exploited – not even by publishers themselves so much, but those behind them – and even worse, are exploiting themselves; thus undercutting others. As an editor, I wince every time when someone is offering me to do their work for free because it will contribute to the systemic problem because it makes this type of work even cheaper on a greater scale and again proves how disillusioned people in this industry have become. That’s capitalist realism in its purest form, since adequate pay is virtually non-existent in music journalism but apart from a few jokes exchanged over a beer during a concert, there is almost no discussion around that.

Which brings me back to your question, because being consistently underpaid will make people look into other sources of income, which then creates conflicts of interest.

Do you really want to tear apart a label’s new release if there’s a chance that the same label will ask you to write a press release for the one after that – and pay you considerably more for that than you get out of a review? Do you even care enough to ask a DJ uncomfortable questions if you only get a few Euros for the end result at best? Just imagine sitting in front of someone who for two hours of DJing earns more than you do in a quarter or even half a year alone! What you get is thus a constant flow of niceties, a lot of virtue signalling and at best people participating in the quote unquote call-out culture because they – consciously or not – are aware that they might profit from it in one way or another. None of this has to do with a critical discussion about our culture

I am of course just as guilty of this and I also think that at some level, a tight-knit scene like ours is inherently built upon a sort of manus manum lavat principle. I’ve always detested it for that, but I accept that as part of my job. I however have other sources of income so even if I completely tore apart my safety net in this microcosm today, I’d be able to pay my rent next month, which effectively gives me more freedom and confidence to raise my voice – but I’m very privileged to have arrived at this point. I think I generally have a different understanding of success as well, a sort of perhaps romanticised notion of my work being meaningful whenever it contributes to the discussion around our culture. That is a sort of idealism, and most definitely naive because I know well enough that very few people will be reading my essays – or even this interview.

What do you think are platforms where good music journalism is alive and well? And do you yourself have any ideas of how music journalism can be sustainably financed while regaining independence?

That’s a good question and like all good questions, it is hard to find an easy answer to it.

First of all, it would be really great if the audience would start investing in the media again. Not only financially speaking. What we also need is trust. Trust that, if you give us a bit more money for what you consume mostly for free online, we will be able to provide more quality reporting and start asking the right questions again, even providing the answers you’ve been seeking.

Because that then is our responsibility: We have to build new (infra-)structures to become truly independent again. Not an easy task for sure, but all our efforts must go into this or otherwise we can just as well apply for a nine-to-five at the next-best PR agency because it would make virtually no difference anymore.

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Now, where is quality music journalism alive and kicking? If the death of De:Bug as a print magazine in 2014 has made something abundantly clear, it’s that independent magazines with an adventurous and sometimes experimental agenda cannot sustain their business anymore, at least not on a bigger scale. There’s a few indie magazines and fanzines that seem to do well but to my knowledge those are mostly passion projects that could not serve as leading examples of how to make a print magazine economically feasible in 2018. What we have witnessed instead in recent years is that several corporations were buying up or even specifically launching new magazines. There’s an Austrian company in particular that has had an immeasurable influence on the scene, allegedly reinvesting a third or more of what they make in a year in its marketing strategies, with music being one of the main foci.

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First off, traditional magazines and publishers will not be able to compare with at all.

Secondly, corporations like this one invest in far more than music journalism – they also organise events, host workshops and provide equipment, thus actively building new careers

They thus have an influence on the production of music and the infrastructures around it, as well as on how that music is being received via the media. They have inserted themselves successfully on virtually every level of the supposedly independent music industry and now have the power to shift the artistic discourse wherever they want. Frankly, that’s dystopian.

So what else? Next to the declining traditional media, there seems to be another concept that – for now – is apparently doing okay, and that’s in-store journalism – the online magazines connected to record store chains, mailorders, etc. The problem here is the obvious lack of negative criticism. While a quirky Boomkat review is almost always meant to sell you a product, there can be exceptions to the rule – remember that one takedown of Jamie XX’s debut album? Well, that was of course only possible because they knew that

a) their target audience doesn’t give a shit about Jamie XX and that

b) it would actually would be well received by them because on top of not giving a shit about Jamie XX, hating Jamie XX is a fun pastime.

Boomkat sold all their copies anyhow, it was a complete win-win situation. In-store magazines are of course inherently compromised, but still they can work independently somehow, since they can finance themselves and are relatively free in their reporting as long as the sales are doing okay. The best functioning form of independent journalism nowadays I see on Bandcamp.

I think that Bandcamp is the single most amazing thing that’s happened to indie and underground music in the past decade. Not only because as an artist, you can get paid fairly well compared to other platforms and cut out (most of) the metaphorical middlemen, but because it has progressively become an infrastructure that does not follow the traditional music industry logic. The reporting on what’s happening on Bandcamp may be limited to what’s on Bandcamp, but that alone is a fuckload of unconventional and exciting music. I’ve read that only last year, 50 tape releases were published on there per day. And since it makes little difference for Bandcamp itself – at least I assume so – whether they get a fee from selling 50 copies of a mouth-painted drone tape that can only be played backwards or 50 downloads of an Indie Rock record, that gives their journalists a lot of freedom in what to write about.

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Surely though, just like with Boomkat, the reporting has to be more recommending than it can be condemning. But who knows, perhaps they will soon come to a point where also negative criticism will become part of their blend of music journalism, hopefully expanding beyond the Bandcamp universe. I’m seriously rooting for them.

Through all the social media platforms and more and more of the dance music scene happening there: do you think that one day, the “mainstream avantgarde” will be fed up and move back to more local and independent scenes? Would that even be desirable?

That’s a tricky question insofar as I believe that every move towards the underground can generate a sort of social media Streisand Effect. Take Radio Slave’s recent Facebook rant: How ironic is it to go viral with a long post implying that producers these days care more about self-marketing than music when in the end, more people have actually seen his post than listened to his album? It would be very easy now to dismiss the effort and say that he should have just kept his mouth shut and go back to the studio, play some basement gigs or screenprint some record sleeves by hand. But his example perfectly shows how impossible it actually is to be true to the underground and promote its values nowadays, especially if you belong to the circle of well-known independent artists – if that’s what you mean with “mainstream avantgarde”.

This is not meant as a critique of Matt Edwards, on the contrary. Every word that today is being said about the underground and thus local and independent scenes instantly sounds to us like hollow PR dreck even if it’s idealistic satire, because hollow PR dreck tries to emulate idealism whenever it can. Yes, I think it is absolutely desirable to (re-)build local scenes and, more importantly, new infrastructures. And there’s no doubt that there has to be a conversation about that before.

But even before that we have to scheme, plot and develop strategies in order to make those words and the values they are meant to promote immune or at least resilient towards

a) the fast turnover of the scene’s attention economy – especially in social media-based communication – and

b) any attempts of co-optation, whether by global corporations or Ibiza-based Tech House dudes.

Global solidarity is possible, it is imperative, and it should go beyond an arbitrary notion of the two-layer social system of mainstream and underground. I firmly believe that if we manage to establish new ways of thinking, new means of communication and, most importantly, a new infrastructure financial and otherwise starting within, but not restricted to the underground, we will have a real chance of changing the system from the bottom up.

What are your projects for the next time?

I have a bigger writing project to finish until mid February and then am looking forward to get more out in the field – more interviews with interesting people, more commentary, more everything. I’ve also taken a bit of a break from ANTIME for the past months and I’m looking forward to hanging out and plotting with them again soon. Label founder Martin Steer will be releasing his debut album as Bad Stream soon and having seen him working on it meticulously throughout the whole time that I’ve known him, it will be amazing to hold the finished result in my hands and know that I’ve been somehow a part of it. There’s more stuff coming after that, too. But most of all, I personally will just try to keep writing my way out of this delicious crisis we’ve all been plunged into. Do join me!

Finally, what’s the last record before the lights are switched on?

For me, it’s either the extended version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” or, even better, The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”. I have yet to try and drop Elton John’s “Rocket Man” at the end of the night, though. And yes, those are the big guns. And no, I really know no shame. Good night, and good luck.

apploiting annoiting

inside outsent, ex and im not right here or then. the stimulacri of our time, our being, our coulture. from one cap to an other, so to speak (sing – if you will), one world mounting all others. a transport to transcendance, beg to differ, different dances, differ ances. flow from one well to any other and cash in while you’re out (to come back haunted). we all and like animals: prime, evil, usable likes and likenings. shouldn’t we just crawl up and dye? send my régards to the other coasts, warm greetings from cape cold.

Tracklist

01. Spencer Clark – The Simulated Australia (Edições Cn, 2016)
02. Annea Lockwood – Immersion (Black Truffle, 2017)
03. Puja im Kloster Svayambunath (Fono, 1969)
04. Širom – Boats, Biding, Beware! (tak:til/Glitterbeat, 2017)
06. Kilchhofer – Lefu (Marionette, 2016)
07. Sugibayashi Yasuo – Untitled (Lullabies For Insomniacs, 2017)
08. Michaela Senn – déplacement (Heart Of Noise, 2017)
09. Takemitsu Tōru – Ai (RCA Victrola, 1969)
10. Crème de Hassan – Touki Bouki / Krik Krak (Inversions, 2017)
11. Christian Bollmann mit Oberton-Chor Düsseldorf – Anrufung (Network Medien-Cooperative, 1988)
12. Maria Rita – Lamento Africano/Rictus (Selva Discos, 2017)
13. Eli Keszler – Sudden Laughter, Laughter Without Reason (Empty Editions, 2016)
14. Akira Rabelais – 1382 Wyclif Gen. II. 7 And Spiride In To The Face Of Hym An Entre Of Breth Of Lijf (Boomkat, 2017)
15. Jóhann Jóhannsson – They Being Dead Yet Speaketh (130701, 2011)
16. Thomas Köner – Novaya Zemlya 1 & 2 (Touch, 2012)
17. Chris Watson – Lechten (Touch, 2013)

iTunes / direct mp3 download

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