In the blues, “Crossroads” is the mythical place where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. In techno, it is XRDS under the Brussels ring in Anderlecht, where the Fuse invites DJs from across the world to come together once per year.
Who? The specialist press describes Helena Hauff as one of the best DJs in the world. Behind her eclectic profile, she has a past as the driving force of the Birds and Other Instruments parties at the Hamburg cult disco Golden Pudel Club and she was a member of the duo Hypnobeat, which experimented with Roland keyboards and effects pedals. In late 2017, Crack Magazine called her “The Most Exciting DJ In The World (Right Now)” and her BBC Essential Mix was declared the best of 2017. What does she play? Hard-hitting acid house, raw industrial and EBM, darkwave, minimal wave, and abstract electro.
Who inspired her? Karlheinz Stockhausen, The Cure, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Radioactive Man, and Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam”, which her grandmother once bought for her at a flea market some years ago.
What are we looking forward to? The follow-up to Discreet Desires (2015). It’s called Qualm, and it is a very raw, analogue-based album that will be released via Ninja Tune on 3 August. The music “tries to create something powerful without using too many instruments and layers.”
Sympathy for the devil? The title of the new album refers to a sudden sense of unease. Future tracks like “Entropy Created You And Me” and “Fag Butts In the Fire Bucket” may well increase this feeling. Hauff also turns out to be fan of Somnambulist, aka the Belgian Mark Burghgraeve, whose depressing minimal wave is the perfect soundtrack to a trip to purgatory.
Hampton, Virginia, US/Berlin, Germany
Who? Adam Longman Parker was trained as a classical pianist in his home country at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts, but has been manipulating the turntables since he was ten years old. He later studied music production in London before settling on Berlin.
What does he play? Musically, Parker is located at the intersection of house, downtempo electronica, and techno. “Before, electronica was the fun music and classical was the serious; whereas now it’s one experience for me,” he says. “The genre doesn’t really matter.”
Who inspired him? As a toddler, Parker was addicted to Michael Jackson. Later on, he thought of his piano teacher as a second mother, he would devour his parents’ soul and funk collection, he was influenced by Ricardo Villalobos at Room One of the Fabric club in London, and he fell head over heels for Richie Hawtin’s minimalism.
What are we looking forward to? More material created at his home studio in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg. His EP Vice/Principle, released earlier this year, is his second release on the Belgian R&S label, and it takes you on a psychedelic trip flavoured with jazz and krautrock. “Working with Renaat and Sabine (from R&S), who’ve had a hand in so much of the most significant music of the past few decades while never losing their open-mindedness, is a real privilege.”
A devil in disguise? Parker was stoned when he and his brother came up with a pseudonym to post a hip-hop remix: “We were thinking of the blackest name possible and came up with Afriqua.” And he would sell his soul to the devil for a day in conversation with Quincy Jones.
Chiba City, Japan
Who? Nobukazu Takemura, pillar of the Japanese underground scene. Since the late 1990s, he has garnered much local credit for his hypnotizing techno sound, his Future Terror parties, and his Bitta label. His reputation is now also growing in Europe.
What does he play? He combines both abstract techno and infectious dancefloor anthems with unknown house tracks and obscure contemporary electronica. “It might be that my definition of techno covers a little bit of a wider range of music than others,” he recently said.
Who inspired him? Watching Jeff Mills (the headliner of this edition of XRDS) at The Liquid Room in Tokyo made him want to try the turntables himself. He thought it was the sound of the future. He immediately identified with “his rather violent sound, because I felt the same energy as I did from hardcore punk bands I was into in my youth.”
What are we looking forward to? The Industrial JP, “a project which brings musicians and filmmakers into collaboration with factories and industrial facilities across Japan.” For Record Store Day, Nobu released the 7” Toyo Vinyl, which samples sounds from the factory where his own vinyl records are pressed.
Better the devil you know? Even though he does not shy away from raging noise, and his unfiltered recordings produce a dark and brooding techno sound, he informs us that he has never considered techno and DJ-ing to be satanic.
Melbourne, Australia/Berlin, Germany
Who? The Australian house DJ and dance producer who was born as Lewie Day blossomed in the electronica scene in Melbourne. Despite his earlier agoraphobia, he now spends his time travelling the world. Day has been living in Berlin for the past three years, where he occasionally stands at the turntables during parties.
What does he play? This expert in Balearic grooves, house, and electro will occasionally dare to sample a cricket or a seagull, but he is really specialized in chill-out music.
Who inspired him? As is evident from the synths, distant handclaps, and the many Italo bass lines, Lewie Day was mainly inspired by the 1980s and 1990s. He gives a special shout-out to Dire Straits, Wally Badarou, Daft Punk, Sade, and Boards of Canada.
What are we looking forward to? A follow-up to his album debut Lonely Planet, which was released a year and a half ago and which took four years to make. During that time, Lewie Day swapped the dancefloor beats for a more atmospheric, more pulsating, and more spatial sound. “A round-the-world journey undertaken from the comfort of your couch,” as a colleague nicely summarized his journey. According to Day himself, his travels took him to the lonely ends of the earth – the cold space above us and the sweltering depths of our planet.
Maybe Satan is in his ass? No, not really, unless his sampled kookaburra contains a sinister message that totally escapes us. We are, after all, worthless ornithologists.
> XRDS. 8/7, 13.00, Vijverspark/Parc des Étangs, Anderlecht