Where are you based?I live in Costa Rica up in the mountains just outside of San Jose with an amazing view over the Central Valley.
Is this your hometown?No, I’m originally from a small village in Germany’s Black Forest.
What brought about your move to Costa Rica, and how long have you been there? I moved to Costa Rica mainly for recreational reasons and to work on a new, music unrelated project. Sorry for being so vague but I don’t like talking about things before they have materialized.
What is your first musical memory?My father playing his records. He was into Jimi Hendrix a lot as well as into the Who and the Rolling Stones. Not very eclectic but better than my school mates who mostly grew up listening to Schlager and Abba.
What was the first record you bought?Some terrible mid 70s Eric Clapton record that I listened to maybe once or twice and then threw away. My dad had told me that Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were the greatest guitarists of all time and since he already had a bunch of Hendrix albums I thought I’d do a little exploring. What a shit record that was.
What was the last record you bought?I don’t buy single records, I get new shipments in from Nigeria every month or so. Best record out of the last box was Jerry Boifraind aka The Handsome Rebel “Natto Messiah”.
Who sources these records and from where? How did you set up this arrangement? Are these shipments all for you personally, or do you sell some on?I have friends in Ghana and in Nigeria who buy up records for a living. A small portion of their finds goes into my own collection while the majority is being distributed through an international network of retailers and ebay sellers.
What inspired you to start DJing / the label?I grew up listening to post-punk stuff. By 1994 things got very boring and I couldn’t really get into any current releases so I started going to fleamarkets and second hand stores to look for records. I fell in love with Serge Gainsbourg, Jaques Dutronc, Nino Ferrer, etc. along with obscure Library Funk records. I was living in Berlin at the time and the fleamarkets back then were incredible for digging.
One day a friend who was DJing at the Hohe Tarta, an illegal club in a now long gone building in Berlin Mitte asked me if I’d wanted to help him out by playing a few records as his shift was from 10pm to ca. 8am and he didn’t have enough shit. I got to play whatever records I wanted, the drinks were for free and in the end I got paid on top of it. I was hooked. Only a few months later I started promoting my own nights and gave up my day job.
How long have you been DJing / running the label?I’ve been DJing since 1994. I’ve been re-issuing records for other people’s labels from 2008 and with the Lagos Disco Inferno 12″ series only just started my own imprint a few months ago. I’m also continuing working on releases with Academy Lps in NYC and with Superfly in Paris.
How did you get so into Nigerian music?I started out concentrating on buying records from Guinea, Ghana, Benin and Nigeria. Today I think I have found pretty much all the records I ever wanted with the exception of Nigeria. The scene there was so vast and there were so many bands and labels that nobody could ever hope to track down the entire Nigerian discography. Not that this would be a bad thing, I’m not a completist.
How would you describe your sound / the label`s sound?I’m reissuing various Nigerian Disco & Boogie, Funk and Afrobeat records.
Which production / release are you most proud of?The Freedom Family album that just came out a few months back stands out for me as I got to work on this together with band leader Albert Jones who had an incredible recollection of the touring all over West Africa in the 1970s and he also wasn’t shy to talk about any of it. Usually I don’t have much interest in liner notes as I believe the re-issue should mirror the original release and stand on its own but this project was different. The record together with the liner notes is a true testament to an era.
What are your favourite places to play / hang out in?Besides a very memorable recent gig in Saigon and the quite mind blowing experience of having run a club night in Conakry Guinea back in 2006, Berlin is probably still my most favorite city to play out records. I love the fact that you can go on as late as the crowd wants you to and the many nightlife tourists who come into town from all over Europe keep things fresh and exciting.
How did you find yourself in Conakry Guinea? How long were you there? What were you doing?I lived there for 3 years. Guinea seemed like a great place to set up home base. The country was considered to be relatively stable, there’s still an amazing live music scene. Guinea is also an amazing place to travel, the scenery is unimaginably beautiful, yet there is very little tourism. I’m not really a big fan of the faux rasta backpackers that pollute the country of Ghana for example. I spent a lot of time going to Sierra Leone by land and digging for records in Freetown, Kenema and other cities in the North.
Can you tell me something about your time in New York?Sure, I’ve lived in NYC for two extended stays of 4 years each. Once from 1996-2000 while I was running a weekly party called Vampyros Lesbos, after the infamous sexploitation soundtrack which I helped in putting out in 1994. I was running the same night as a monthly at Philly’s Silk City and doing several regular nights all over NYC.
What is your favourite place outside of a bar / club / record shop?The beaches and the cloud forests of Costa Rica.
I have some Japanese surfer friends who took 6 months out to visit Costa Rica. Both coast lines are supposed to be amazing. Do you surf?I’ve just started.
Do you see yourself as part of any scene?No. Outside of some very occasional touring I’ve been doing most of my DJing at self-promoted club nights and I found that the best way to establish a good night is to create your own scene.
Who does the label`s artwork?For the most part I just restore the original cover for my re-issues. Sometimes I work with elements from various original cover designs and when there was no original cover like for example for most of my 7″ releases I make shit up myself.
Who is your favourite visual artist?Not sure what you mean with “visual artist”. If you’re talking about visuals as in video projections at clubs etc. I do my own videos and sometimes even slides. Whenever possible I also bring in my own projectors. I’ve always been going to my venues at around 4 or 5pm to set up the visuals and break everything down myself after the night is over. Even when I was dj-ing in Gunea, West Africa, I brought in two video projectors. In Conakry we only had power every two or three nights and even if I got lucky and my party was on a night where there was power the outages were so frequent that besides the turntables, the PA and the projectors, I always brought my own diesel generator.
How about a painter?I’m helplessly ignorant when it comes to the arts.
What are you currently working on?I’m currently working on the last 3 releases of the Lagos Disco Inferno 12″ series and on the re-release of the Martin Brothers’ album “Money”, which is one of the deepest Afrobeat records out there. Only a handful of original copies are known to exist.
Which label is doing “Money”? Academy? Superfly?“Money” wil be released on my own imprint Voodoo Funk Records just as the series of Disco 12″s.
What would you most like to work on in the future?I’m toying with the idea of putting out a series of Edo Funk 12″s. Edo Funk came out of the traditional music from Benin City in South East Nigeria. By the early 1980s some artists put a pumping disco beat under their tracks with sometimes truly spectacular, trance inducing results.
These sound absolutely amazing. I really hope the project comes off.I hope so as well.
Does playing and making music pay the rent?I’m taking a break from the nightlife right now, I didn’t move to Costa Rica for the club scene… but I might move back to Berlin in a few years from now and then will most likely go and shake things up a bit.
I don’t make any money with my reissues. The only thing I get out of my releases are the fun of doing it and a couple of boxes of promo copies. I’d hate having to make money with record releases in 2013.
Could you do CDs or digital to recoup some costs?The way I work is that I’m putting together releases for other labels or with my own imprint. I’m working with Honest Jon’s who are doing all of the financing and take care of the manufacturing etc. I love the creative aspect of putting these releases together and am content with only receiving a few boxes of promo copies as payment… I’ll probably move back to Berlin one day and by then all of these releases are probably deleted and I can sell them at my parties.
What sites, if any, do you regularly check on-line?I’m in the process of limiting my online time more and more and going back to reading books.
I totally agree. Despite how it might look.
What was the last book you read?I just got done with “The Northline” by Willy Vlautin and now started with Donald R Pollock’s “Knockemstiff” which I’m already enjoying hugely. His “The Devil All The Time” was the best book I’ve read all year.
You into gritty Americana then?Yeah… I like my books to be a bit on the darker side.
What is your favourite book?That’s a tough one. Almost as impossible to answer as what would be my single, most favorite record. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Derek Raymond “I was Dora Suarez”. Brutally bleak but genius.
Didn`t The Fall`s Mark E Smith do something with this book, or Derek?James Johnston and Terry Edwards from the Gallon Drunk accompanied Derek while he was reading from the book. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a collaboration with Mark E Smith but that could have been possible. Just imagine all the positive energy between the two of those… the thought is almost scary.
What was the last film you saw?“Boy” from director Taika Waititi. A truly heartwarming and at times hilarious coming of age story with quite some grit under a generous coating of eye candy.
What is your favourite film?Another hard one to answer… the two movies I probably watched the most often are Hopper’s “Out Of The Blue” and Jodorowsky’s “Santa Sangre” and I’d say it would have to be a tie between the two of them.
I haven`t seen “Out Of The Blue” but have vivid memories of “Santa Sangre”. Do you know why “Out Of The Blue” was banned in the UK? Hopper was hugely influenced by Jodorowsky wasn`t he? Somebody told me Jodorowsky is in Paris now, reading Tarot, telling fortunes.
I’m not sure why “Out Of The Blue” would have been banned in the UK, maybe for the pretty graphic substance abuse and suggestion of incest? It’s a deeply disturbing movie but I don’t think it could be called exploitive or gory and there’s no frontal nudity or anything. Germany was pretty big on banning VHS releases and they didn’t touch this one. I even remember having seen it on public television late one night.
I haven’t kept up with what Jodorowsky’s been up to lately. The other day I’ve seen a new Spanish book by him, I think it was on psychology.
What is your favourite piece of music? If that`s too difficult, what`s your current favourite piece of music?At this point I’m very deeply immersed into a load of obscure Edo Funk music which I don;t think more than half a handful of people outside of Nigeria have ever heard so it wouldn’t make much sense mentioning any of these I guess. Recreationally I’ve never stopped listening to a lot of Rock music and I would have to be honest and say that “Fun House” by the Stooges probably is the one record that I’ve listened to the most often, that still to this day gives me immense pleasure and that very rarely does not get at least one play every week.
Can you name 3 records for sunset / sunrise?I don’t think I ever played records during sunset but great tracks to prepare people for daylight are Kiki Gyan “24 Hours In A Disco”, Oby Onyioha “Enjoy Your Life” or maybe Gboyega Adelaja “Colourful Environment”.
Can you name 3 records to start a party?When I play by myself and there is no other DJ on before me, I usually start fairly early as the venue begins to fill up and wouldn’t want to drop anything too demanding or aggressive within the first hour or so. A great warm up track is Joseph Osayomore “Ororo Nor Dey Fade”, maybe followed by Obanigronism “Disco In Danger”, by then I might drop something like Tony Grey’s “Time Factor” and ass shaking should spread like wildfire.
Frank has put together something special for us, which we will get on-line as quickly as possible. Until then you can find a host of amazing mixes over at the Voodoo Funk site.