Finn Johannsen on House, Berlin and Balance

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Finn Johannsen is the kind of DJ we didn’t think existed anymore. He has an encylopediac knowledge of music and it’s apparent when watching him play that his understanding of music moves him while he’s moving the crowd. The Berlin based DJ has been a fixture in house music since he began spinning in clubs in the ’80s. His command of music has led him to branch out from DJ’ing, as a buyer for legendary Hard Wax in Berlin, where he curates a selection of sometimes very hard to find vinyl in different genres, like dub or acid techno. He’s a co-owner of Macro Records, a label which reps artists like KiNK and Morgan Geist. He’s also a writer, contributing to electronic bible Resident Advisor.

Our favorite thing about Finn, is his dedication to vinyl. He only plays vinyl during his sets, which is quite a feat, considering he tends to play marathon sets (we caught him during a three-hour feat). It’s easy to keep the crowd moving when you’ve preselected a surefire mix with whatever is trendy at the moment, but Finn chooses to keep an eye on the crowd and let that determine which record he ducks down to grab from the thick stack he’s brought with him (did we mention he doesn’t play the same set twice?).

We asked him to tell us a little bit about how he got started, the state of the music scene in Berlin and his advice for aspiring DJ’s. Catch the Q+A below.

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What attracted you to house music?

When I first heard house records in clubs, internet was not an option. I learned where it came from from magazine articles, but later on. I liked that it condensed a lot of music I liked before into something new, which sounded primitive, fresh, and effective. For me it was just another step in the chronology of club music though, albeit one that surpassed early fad status very quickly.

How has house evolved since you first started spinning?

It absorbed a lot of music styles and got bigger and bigger. But it also fragmented into countless sub-genres. Nowadays the style is as detached from its origins as it is close to it. And that is not even a contradiction. It seems anything is house, and nothing.

How do you think social media has changed the way music is shared?

Social media has changed everything in terms of accessibility. You can be up to date with anything you are interested in, no matter where you are. The problem is that you are also up to date with anything you are not interested in, and there is not much you can do about it.

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New Forms Festival 14 celebrates a new wave of music & art

New Forms 14 brought together an eclectic mix of contemporary artists and musicians from around the world for a four day festival, turning a giant dome into an all night playground for lovers of art and experimental music.

Dj’s from around the world spun tracks in a plethora of genres, ranging from grime, house, electronic, and whatever you would call Inga Copeland. The crowd was as diverse as the music, everybody an individual, dressing and moving to the music differently.

Art was just as important as the music and New York based sculptor and performance artist Kevin Beasley whose work is largely based on sound experimentation drew large crowds with his performance, a cerebral piece which shook the walls. His demeanour during his set could only be described as intense, and at times overwhelming, the dedication to his craft immediately apparent.

A musical/visual collaboration between frequent collaborators Arca and Jessie Kanda,(most recently on the album of FKA twigs) was one of the most hyped events during NFF as their piece showed in Omnimax, to an audience of 400. It turned out to be the most controversial piece of the festival, with some viewers objecting to the highly sexualized imagery, but it was a risk they took and it made for some polarizing conversation afterwards. Perhaps the biggest hit at NFF were the ever changing projections on the wall, curated by a selection of artists such as Rick SilvaLaura Brother, Krist WoodLorna Mills, each projection lasting just long enough to snap a selfie.

The festival marked a change in Vancouver, a city whose “no fun” policy and strict alcohol consumption laws have been a longstanding point of dissension among residents. The festival proved that a group of adults can gather well into the morning, past usual closing hours, without disastrous consequences. It’s not clear whether or not NFF has paved the way for the city in that regard, but it’s changed how the city receives good art and music and we cannot wait for next year.

 

Music by Finn Johannsen, check out the mix here