Rhythmic maestro and Cómeme cohort Christian S serves up a masterful percussive mix full of intriguing samples and hypnotic grooves.
Honing his craft since his arrival in Cologne in the 90’s, a city with a vibrant club landscape, Christian S’ multi-storied house and techno heritage has evolved into a signature sound which is universally admired. As a result the seasoned tastemaker has cemented himself as DJ’s favourite with his unique selections and intricate way of mixing music from the past, present & future. A blend of idiosyncratic rhythms that make a lasting impression on crowds from all corners. Alongside long-time collaborator Matias Aguayo, acclaimed label Cómeme has become a symbol of forward thinking music. This in part due to his own productions including classic EP’s such as ‘Jagos’ and ‘Pitch Rider’ amongst others.
These days, there seems to be less frequent output, with his ‘Tannin’ EP landing on Permanent Vacation almost a year ago. So we wanted to catch up with an eagerness to find out what’s been going on behind the scenes and what lies ahead.
Christian, congrats on the birth of your 2nd child! How’s life been in Cologne during this strange period? Have you had much creative inspiration or has it been a time to take a break and spend as much quality time with the newest member of the family?
Thank you! The lockdown started one week after the birth of our baby and slowed everything down which is good for the little one. We made long hikes through the city and the surrounding countryside. The strange atmosphere, empty streets and abandoned public places were definitely kind of inspiring. Now in the middle of may it seems everything is getting back to normal. Still no chance to go out and listen and dance to music on a good sound system.
It seems you have periods in which you have frequent releases and then periods of inactivity. Can you tell us a bit about your methods? For instance, do you feel the need to purposely take some time away from the studio now and then, what is needed to get the creative juices flowing, etc.? And where do you find the inspiration for your unique blend of percussive rhythms, which have become your signature?
Well, right now I am having some time away from the studio because with the birth of baby Wim I had to make room and now my equipment is disconnected and everywhere in the apartment. The good thing is now I just grab a single drum computer or something else, plug in headphones and play until I have something nice. This is almost like in the days when I started to make music and had only one drum computer and a weird software. It’s good for my creativity and I don’t have to bother about cables, latency, midi and sync at the moment. So that feels refreshing. Of course sooner or later I will need a space for my studio again to put together the pieces which I am producing now. Looking forward to doing that too!
Regarding my „sound“ – this simply comes from all the music I listened – and more importantly – danced to. The countless Warehouse Parties, House Clubs, Drum N Bass Parties and Dancehall Reggae Nights I went to when I started going out in the early 90s will always have a huge impact. Later a big and refreshing influence was when I started to discover „global“ dance music, I mean music styles like Kwaito, Cumbia or Kuduro, and also getting to know DJs and producers from Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Columbia through our label Cómeme.
Last but not least I think that the inspiration or sound also comes from the obstructions of playing around with very limited equipment in the early days.
Your latest EP release was the 5-track ‘Tannin’ package for Permanent Vacation (which we really enjoyed btw). Is there anything else in the pipeline? And what is happening by way of Cómeme? Do we remember correctly that you have been heavily involved in the visual, design and presentation of the label? Is this still the case?
I am glad that you like Tannin! I am happy about that release. Now I am working on different projects and ideas and lets see where it will end. Although I will always love and buy vinyl I am wondering (like probably a lot of other people) if vinyl is the right format nowadays and how to publish music in general these days and even more now during or after Covid-19?
Anyway one of the ideas mentioned above is kind of game for two people, like a „Cadavre Exquis“ with music, rhythms and patterns. Here’s my little instruction: You need a computer with DAW (anything like Ableton, Cubase, Fruity Loops etc) and headphones. First you agree on a tempo. Then you have ten minutes to make a track, and each time you are ready you mute it and pass the computer on. After each one has made two tracks you unmute all four and listen to them together for the first time. The random factor and time pressure is fun. Despite that it is surprising how coherent the outcome can feel! Try it … I have bunch of interesting little music pieces now which are waiting to be worked out more.
About Cómeme: Yes, I am doing artwork and there will be a new release on the 26th of June. It’s a split EP called „Bizarro World“ with Katerina from Helsinki and Rizu X from the bordertown Laredo in Texas. Two outstanding and very productive artists! Since half a year I am also keeping Radio Cómeme running which means organizing the schedule, uploading the mixes, preparing the artwork, communicating with the artists and inviting new ones. You know what I ‘m talking about, Joe. ; ) In the last months we uploaded more than fourty podcasts with all kinds of music – one of my favorites is the show my Russian friend Denis Riabov did about his hometown Izhevsk.
As a mainstay of the scene and having been involved in the Cologne scene since the 90’s, how do you feel about the future of the industry? It’s clear there were many issues before the current crisis and interested to hear if you feel this is an opportunity to reevaluate what is important to us all? Any practical ideas or thoughts from your experiences you would like to share?
Yes, it’s that kind of opportunity but I rather answer the first part of your question next year and perhaps just mention two new things I enjoyed recently:
There is a live stream format I like by the music festival Monheim Triennale. That festival should have taken place for the first time in July in a small town between Cologne and Düsseldorf with an ambitious genre crossing lineup. It is postponed to next year and quite quickly they have set up a simple live stream concept which is a mix between interview and live jam. The host Achim Tang („Can you hear me?“) is a good interviewer and he plays along with the different guests on his double bass. Accepting the technical obstructions and problems (such as weird echos, latency, sound quality etc) they are having a good time and its interesting to listen to the conversations. So far I watched the shows with Greg Fox, Ingrid Laubrock, Sam Amidon, Julia Uhlela, Lakecia Benjamin and Marcus Schmickler, who incorporated the issue of latency into the music. All of these are not about club music but about Jazz, Folk or experimental music. The format is not revolutionary but at the same time feels (to me) so light-hearted, fresh, contemporary and relevant compared to the countless (often depressing) live streams right now of DJs playing music on their own somewhere.
The other thing is the Buy Music Club. A website set up by Avalon Emerson, Jason Fellows and Shawn Reynaldo, and of course the section on your Oddysee website, where DJs share lists of independent music with the corresponding Bandcamp links. I think this is something new and positive. DJs are often (and perhaps naturally?) very self centered and busy with self promotion on all available channels. This feels a bit different and since this is all Bandcamp based it’s really about sharing music and supporting artists. Love that!
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for us. Any specific vibe channeled, special bits in there you’d like to mention, etc.?
I really was in the mood for some clubby energy but at the same time tried to keep it relaxed and deep. So it starts downtempo but towards the end there are some tracks which are suitable for short and intense work out breaks – perhaps a round of rope skipping. Listeners probably notice some extra sounds and words throughout the mix. While DJ-ing I used my new Elektron Digitakt to add additional sound layers and samples. I used sound effects as well as bits and pieces from recent news, speeches and lifestreams and I hope they glue the selection together even more. It definitely was fun.
The mix contains very new music as well as a Kraftwerk tribute, a great unreleased track by Katerina and some all-time favorites. I hope you enjoy it! <3
01. NTFL – Te Vas
02. Dazion – Yu Go Bah
03. Franz Kirmann – Masques (Edit)
04. Henzo – Kix (Hanz Picks Up The Phone Dub)
05. Lack – Multiplier
06. Tribal House – Dim Dae
07. Kenny Dixon Jr – January
08. Katerina – Sexual Harassement
09. Techfunkers – Moonlight
10. Flaty – Clearances
11. Nomad – Sang-Froid
12. Møzaika – Sui Zhen Drive (Dub)
13. DHS – House of God (TSVI edit)
14. LB Dub Corp – Nearly Africa Dub
15. DJ Wey – Emily
16. Master C – Face It (ft. Liz Torres, Dub)
17. Anunaku – Nights
18. Ikonika – Achievement Unlocked