Berlin late seventies. In a divided city characterized by political tumult there was a massive resurgence of young creatives, rebels, forward thinkers – a lively community that left its influence on music and art in all its forms for ages to come.
To kick off our new Mix Series in fashion, here is Vladimir Ivkovic – longtime resident at the infamous Salon des Amateurs in Düsseldorf and the man behind Offen Music, a label specialized in authentic subjectivism. We had a talk with one of the finest selectors of hidden musical gems out there.
You have a very rich and distinguished taste in music. The music you play can be challenging, being quite dark and cold. Why do you think this is?
I grew up in a family where music was a natural part of everyday life. There were several musicians close to the family. One even owned a discotheque. So, I was already experiencing music and its impact on me from the beginning. We were a medium-sized family where every member brought something individual to the table. I went from listening to Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, Factory Records, Jazz and The Smiths in the early days, to the Yugoslavian new wave / punk sampler Paket Aranzman, to groups like Laibach, Borghesia, and everything else that followed or happened around the same time. There were also books, movies, observations, conversations and friends. It was definitely not something life-changing like a first Kraftwerk experience, because Kraftwerk I’d probably heard when I was four. I still love lots of it. I am not sure about the music I play. It can be challenging and cold, but it can also be challenging and warm, or not challenging at all – like life. I always wonder what Morrissey would do, if he would burn down the disco where I play.
You are a resident DJ of Salon des Amateurs. For those of us who have never been there, can you describe the vibe?
Salon des Amateurs is a small place with a decent sound system. There is no light show, except for the disco ball and a red light used by The Kom(m)ödchen – a cabaret / theatre below us in the same building – to indicate that a show is still going on downstairs, so we’d know not to play our music too loud. The volume is sure to go up when that light goes off. There is no ingratiation. And residents like Detlef, Lena, Jan, Arne – to name a few – add something special to the whole vibe. The rest is uncertain and exciting.
You have your own record label, Offen. I’ve read that the idea of the label came about when you wanted to release material by Serbian producer Rex Ilusivii – which turned into an incredibly stunning and beautiful double LP. Can you tell us something more about this?
The idea was there a long time ago when I received Der Räuber Und Der Prinz’s “Jagd Auf Den Hirsch”, but at that time there was too much distraction for Offen to happen, so that one was released on Desolat. But when I found the Rex Ilusivii / Suba archive, or when it found me late in 2013, Offen Music had to happen in order to release some of it, while the rest would be released on other labels. We’re working on it. So, the archive prompted the creation of Offen. There was no excuse not to do it.
What are your plans with Offen in the future? Any upcoming releases?
The first release early next year will be MA by Smagghe and Cross, an album that arrived without any warning. It triggered so many associations. It is emotional in every (cheesy) way – quite the opposite to easy listening. There is nausea, humor, nosebleed… essential “live sick, die old” stuff. There is an almost forgotten unreleased recording of “Tender Chaos” from early 2009 by Beck, Nash and Reyenga; an original and a remix by Gilbert Cohen and hopefully Gordon Pohl if he doesn’t get distracted by other projects. There is also more to come from Suba / Rex Ilusivii.
When was the last time a DJ really surprised you?
Detlef / Toulouse Low Trax does that quite often.
If you have to name your most precious musical find recently, who or what would it be?
If I have to answer this seriously, then I can’t name only a single most precious find. In terms of who, there is Ola Vasiljeva, Tako, Marcel Paracetamole Koch, Detlef Low Trax and others. James Pole always has great music playing when I make it to Red Light Records. There is also Mikkel Oliver Brask and so on. In terms of what, it would definitely be that stunning Rex Ilusivii / Suba archive.
Tell us more about the mix you recorded for SSFB.
When I was asked to put together this mix, I came back home with this “strange sounds from beyond” loop in my head and thoughts about some old dreams I had. This hour of music is perhaps a subconscious soundtrack of those dreams – hence the title.