DJs – The Art of Spinning Records

Focusing on four outstanding DJs, this segment explores the current development and diversity of the disc jockey scene in Germany. The DJs work with music ranging from jazz, techno, house, and hip-hop, to unique mixtures of traditional Turkish songs and electronic sounds.

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Author: Gerhard Schick
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Germany has a large, lively, and active DJ scene which is constantly evolving. It includes everyone from full-time techno DJs who perform for thousands of people at huge events, to amateurs who entice wedding guests onto the dance floor. Many DJs are their own music producers as well. Since it is now extremely cheap to create electronic music – a fast laptop is often all that is needed – an enormous variety of styles has emerged.

But the number of certified "scratching" masters remains small. Noisy Stylus, based in Cologne, is one such group. This scratch band has won several German championships, and in 2004 it placed first in the European finals and second in the world finals of the ITF (International Turntablist Federation). In its form of DJing, the turntable is used as a musical instrument. Just as in a conventional band, pieces of music are rehearsed and performed together. The difference is that each musician's instrument is the turntable in front of him and the wide selection of albums behind him. A DJ can endlessly vary the pitch of the music by pushing a record forward or pulling it back on the turntable, while the rhythm is determined by a crossfader which governs whether the record on the left or right turntable can be heard. This is how the unique sound of scratch music is created.

The career or role of the disc jockey is often associated with a sophisticated concept, a definite attitude and a philosophy. One of the best-known German DJs, Hans Nieswandt, has written a book entitled "plusminuseight – DJ days, DJ nights" in which he compares DJs to priests, shamans and medicine men, as well as pilots, captains, and train drivers. "It's like any industry where one person sits up front in the cockpit with all the buttons and controls which only he can operate, while everyone else enjoys the ride. DJs (...) take responsibility for the long trip and, with instinctive certainty, bring the people entrusted to them to their destination – or not." DJ Ipek Ipekcioglu from Berlin thinks that empathy and the ability to sense emotions in the audience also play an important role. Nonetheless, Ipek – who has achieved national acclaim with her fancifully described "eclectic Arabesque-conFUSION OrAsia" style – follows a well thought-out concept when she DJs. She plays a number of very different musical styles in rapid succession, creating an emotional roller coaster ride for the dancers. Mixing traditional Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, and Indian music with techno, house, and pop has become DJ Ipek's trademark.

DJ Illvibe, son of jazz pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, uses the turntable as a musical instrument. He stays true to his musical roots by performing with the jazz/funk band Lychee Lassi. The turntable and special DJ sounds are an integral part of the band's musical concept. DJ Illvibe isn't just a guest playing house beats for the jazz musicians to improvise to. He is a musician on equal footing who is completely immersed in the music when he plays with his bandmates.

Germany's long tradition of electronic music continues to influence current productions to this day. Joint appearances by the electropop band Dyko and Wolfgang Flür are just one example of this. Flür was the drummer for the band Kraftwerk, whose austere, progressive electronic compositions achieved worldwide success in the '70s and '80s. Even American techno pioneers were influenced by Kraftwerk. In this way, the music evolved and returned to German dance floors – where it is now played by Wolfgang Flür, among others. Before performing as a DJ, he plays drums in concert for Dyko, whose lead singer, John Barrie Dyke, also consciously orients himself to the Kraftwerk sound, which he updates and enhances.

This segment immerses itself in a lively, creative, nocturnal music and dance scene, giving viewers the opportunity to experience these current trends for themselves.
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2007
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Electronic Music from Germany

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