29 May 2008

Oh! You Pretty Things

"Hear the music

Say the word

See the light

Join the herd

Love it comes

Love it goes

Diamond memories

Go with the flow"

(Felix Da Housecat - Intro From "Silver Screen" -2002)

Perhaps felix was rhyming about the fantasy, glamor, and exhilaration one can only experience in a club full of sweaty strangers that is so poetic. It's a universal phenomena. And in this case, it was prophetic...parties weren't meant to last......

The last Nag far surpassed even the best scenario I had imaged. The queue curled long around the smelly alleyway just like old times, and every time I turned around there was an old regular. And trust me, after playing every week for 6 years there were many many cycles of 'regulars', of every possible sort, and everyone made an effort, carrying on the Nag aesthetic, i.e. got out their eyeliner, sticky tape, mirror ball masks etc......it really was a fabulous looking crowd (cheers to Chris from We Know What You Did Last Night for the fantastic pics). Boy George performed just before me and truly bedazzled everyone, he was really was on form I must say.... maybe he was inspired by the sentiment of the night? The only minor annoyance was Pete Burns', uninvited, performance. After playing my first three tracks to an ecstatic audience, I looked up to find him on stage with a mic waiting to perform over a CD he had the sound engineer put on, on a separate CD player out of my view in the DJ booth. Then he had the gaul to make a catty remark about me. You can imagine my offense since it was my last performance of a night I'd just dedicated 6 years of my life to! But I think anyone who was there can agree, he didn't have the music or voice to back up his big attitude. His performance was really more of inappropriate interruption than anything, and luckily the crowd were rightly in my favor and gave him big ol' boooo! Thanks ;)

Here is my playlist from the night. I spent about three days sifting through all my old vinyl, re-discovering so many memories in that black plastic. For my last Nag set, I didn't want to play anything that came out past about 2003. It was all about the electro-clash-back. And it was interesting playing vinyl for the first time in about a year. I think it is more emotional, less analytical......Although, that could have easily just been the circumstances of it being a completely indulgent nostalgia trip.....but even so, vinyl has more physical presence because it's analogue, making you sense it rather than think about it. But hey, there is nothing wrong with thinking a bit about music a as long as it doesn't replace the feeling part. In fact it's best to feel it and think it. It was interesting to play that format again. I'm happy that I could still rock it out with vinyl...but god, it was too bloody heavy...and dusty!.....anyway, let's save the CD/Vinyl debate for another blog. Here is the playlist:

JoJo De Freq's best of Nag Nag Nag (the early years) set:

★Felix Da Housecat - Silver Screen - Jaques Lu Cont Remix (City Rockers)
- This is possibly the ultimate anthem of the time. An absolute, hands down classic.
★Kiko - Monique - David Caretta Remix (Goodlife) - French muscle!
★Steril- Grey (Gigolo) - Stompling/marching German-style techno stiff-riff with an ironically sweet an seductive Japanese female vocal. An underground Gigolo clash-sic.
★Legowelt - Disco Route (Ghostly Internatonal) - Legowelt is a truly brilliant artist. Were is he now, I wonder? I might do a retrospective on him at this blog later.....
★Kiki - Gas 126 (Bpitch) - Samples "Heat Of Glass" by Blondie to an ecstatic effect.
★Vitalic - Poney Part 1 (Gigolo) -OMG is this not the most beautifully powerful dark techno record in the word?! He wrote this with sympathy for the pony's forced to slave on circus fairground rides, apparently. I played this non-stop for a year in 2002, and had another un-played copy hanging on my wall in plastic. No joke.
★ Miss Kittin & The Hacker - Stock Exchange (Gigolo) - Possibly my favorite track from as a synth-pop duo. Uplifting, melancholic and poetic. I wish I could of played many more, but time was limited.
★ TGV - Fools Gold (Turbo)- This was a staple in my bags for years high NRG melody...OMFG how I love it.
★ Ellen Allien - Salzsee (Bpitch) - This is very early Ellen. 2001 I believe? It sounds like a cosmic harpsichord from the future. One of my faves from her.
★ Kiki - Wasp (Bpitch)- OMG this is the most underrated electro-tech anthem. I played it a Glasto 2004 and people are still talking about it.
★ Monologic (TBL)- This is a strange Detroit Ghetto-tech-electro hybrid. Got it on import, never heard anyone else ever play it, but it didn't leave my box for years. Bounce dat.
★ Christopher Just - House (Cheap) - Can you believe this came out in '99!? It's so a head of it's time, it's frightening. It was the photo-type for new acid house. In fact I've not heard anything in it's style better since. Gwan Christopher.
★ Ascii Disc - Einfach (L'arge D'or) - This was simply my favorite NRG acid disco record for years. Brilliant.
★ Kiki - Luv Sikk (Bpitch) - Yes, I know another Kiki track, but to be fair his early stuff still sounds so good. Classic.
★ Creme De Menthe - Plastique (Disco B) - Apparently this guy was from the north of the UK. This is surely the coolest, sexiest, quirkiest pop of the time. I love it.
★ Dot Allison - Substance - Felix Da Housecat Remix (Mantra) - Still sounds sultry and anthemic as hell. Another classic. Seek this one out.

So it's time now to let go of Nag Nag Nag. A lot changes in 6 years. I've moved on. And I'm sure so have you. This is a good thing. I think this will be the last time I speak of it.


26 May 2008

Bom Bom Brazil!

I recently played in Sao Paulo, my first time in Brazil, and it was de Bom! (good in portuguese). The climate was colder than London, since it was the first week we really felt Summer here at the beginning of May, but the first signs of Winter in Brazil. So like a silly tourist I didn't bring enough warm clothes thinking I was going to the tropics (a good excuse to retreat to the hotel sauna most days, I LOVE saunas). But the Sao Paulo that I experienced was not really that classic cliche of thong bikini's and fruity Carmen Mirandas, but a sprawling cosmopolitan metropolis of over 11 million people. Hence, a fantastic fashion-music-art-nightlife scene. The club I played was Clube Gloria. All of it's interior walls were covered ceiling high mirrors which cast a dream-like sense of space and light. The crowd was mixed-up, fixed-up, and looking sharp, but in a not-trying-hard-way (which is the best way innit!?). My lovely hosts were resident DJ/promoter, the truly brilliant, Barbie Da Silva who warmed us up with some welcoming eclectic electro, staying true to the best warm-up form, and the fabulous Fernando from Smartbiz DJ agency in Brazil. Although I was in a jello-y jet-lagged state for most of it, I had a truly, truly, truly outrageous trip. I'm going back to Brazil!


A link to a live an exclusive DJ mix and interview on the Smartbiz Radio show in Sao Paulo (in English).

A link to an interview I did for Rraul a Brazilian music webzine (in Portuguese).

20 May 2008


......yes, the rumors you've heard/seen are true. We will celebrate over 6 years of wild Wednesdays, and the end of a trailblazing-rule-wrecking-forward-fighting-legacy on May the 28th. I hope you can join us!

.....but the point of this blog is not to add to the press announcements, but to tell you a bit of my personal story (sigh, watery eyes).........

After making the life changing move to London from Vancouver to kick off the new century in Jan 2001, it was almost exactly a year later when I met Jonny Slut via Fil OK on NYE '02. Our decision to start up a night together was pretty much instantaneous. I was 21, and had already spent the whole year trying to hook up with like minded promoters/DJ's/artists. Finding the club scene increasingly soulless and stale, and the prospect of even getting a booking as DJ, let alone carving a career as one, next to impossible. The state of dance music was at the highest point of commercially since it revolutionized music in the UK, and everyone and their Gran wanted a piece of it. It was about big money, chart places, unattainable superstardom and, as it seemed to me at least, no new kids allowed! There was also a distinct air of old boys club domination, and the lofty and impersonal fashion of facelessness was king. The effects of this status quo was a rejection of any sense of, what I will generalize and call, "feminine" aspects in music. i.e. vocals, melody, emotionality, and the most basic expressions of dance music sexuality. Just a few things not uncommon in the gay scene either. But I'm not a sociologist so I don't want to go any further into drawing abstractions. What I want to do is convey to you the picture I had of the dance scene at the time, it's the mood, and ultimately what motivated me to want to start my own club with a uniqueness, even a rebellion to what I experienced, and I guess why in a matter of months, Nag Nag Nag escalated into such an explosive fervour.

By Spring 2002, Nag had moved from it's original incarnation at a disgusting, black-walled-sewer-flooded-rotted-smelly-basement of a Leicester Square pub, to the newly refurbished "The Ghetto" that had just been bought by the hugely supportive, nightlife visionary, Simon Holbart (RIP). The Ghetto excited me, it had the vibe I liked. It was down a Soho back alley, it's exterior wall was covered by a giant ghetto-fabulous graffiti sign, and inside you went underground to find red walls, white leatherette side-seats, it was intimate and sleazy, and to me it wreaked of Soho punks from days gone by. It was really quiet in our first few months, but I had fun dressing up in my outrageously loud home-made DIY charity shop outfits, incessantly dancing around to my own DJ sets, and generally just being free. The music I played was eclectic, a mix of synthetic quirky house like Music For Freaks, Detroit ghetto-tech, Dutch "Clone" electro, Italo disco, and the energetic anthemic techno-pop coming from Europe, still very underground at the time, from the likes of Gigolo records and B-pitch Control. Each week, I dreamt about it being great, but in reality it wasn't. I used to joke about there one day being a queue outside, (like "as if!?") But I never expected or planned the attention that was just around the corner.

By Summer 2002 it blew-up. It suddenly filled up with the most inspired, inspirational, crazy and wayward crowd. We attracted a large percentage of art-students, fashion-outsiders, gender-benders, and outcast like-minded straight clubbers just sick of the boring sterilised beat supplied to them by the 'super' clubs. It was hedonistic, self-expressive, and for me, a dream come true. I acquired my first agent and pretty much right away started to play out at other clubs in the UK and Europe.

By 2003, it went overground, ridiculously so. Mixmag did a story and interview with us and the heading was "The Secret's Out!". It was like one minute we were freaks and the next we were fashionable. Everyone wanted in, massive queues stretching to the end of the alleyway, people milling around outside up to an hour before we opened, page long guest-lists faxed in from uninvited big-time fashion houses. Certain dance press demanding queue-jumps at the door, even though they were originally un-supportive of our outsider ideology. Certain unnamed superstar "purist" techno traditionalists dancing to my sets?! More unnamed "intelligent" electronica genius-wizards asking to play with us for free?!!! Nag in the News Of The World!??? British Vogue wants an interview???! Christina Agulara and Justin Timberlake turned away because their entourage was too big??!! Cilla Black??? WTF? For me it was like a giddy, dizzying mix of panic, excitement and chaos. But also suspicion and annoyance as I tried to avoid the flash of cameras in my face. To my irritated discomfort, due to my paradoxical shyness, suddenly everyone wanted to pose with me like I was some kind of freak fairground attraction. I was, and am still, not really a showy person in the sense that I was more about feeling the music and experiencing the individualist freedom that Nag offered in it's womb-like fantasy world, than about having my chubby face in every magazine. I like to give of myself, but at a certain point it felt like my image was no longer my own. The photographic fashion frenzy was only fun when it was on my own terms. I became frustrated that our unexpected success in media-hype terms was misunderstood by many to be something far less innocent that I ever intended.

2004, for me was the darkside. After a few years of hedonistic mayhem, I started to play harder, and I sort of discovered "Techno" in the traditional sense, how it was more linear repetitive beats meant for mix manipulation by the DJ, and to me it was as avant-guarde and energetic as anything I played before, but much colder and meaner. Basically I wanted all the faux believers out. And after a year or so of pummeling, I pretty much got my way. For me it was a period of isolation and paranoia. Not fun really. But I learned that I could communicate what I was feeling and thinking through my DJing, that I could be technical, and that post-electroclash, I could still energize the pants off people.

2005, enter bleepy techno, acid house's second coming and electro house. Also believe it or not, minimal, before it resulted in the mass rigamortis that it is today, it was futurist, synthetic, tribalist, quirky and fun, which I like. All these new sounds re-inspired me, and I started to lighten up a bit. The club was still packed to the brim, but much more cosmopolitan now, with a large percentage of Spanish, Italians, Brazilians and other Europeans. I was playing almost every weekend abroad due to the international status that Nag received. So I was playing sometimes three to four times a week and traveling to some crazy places, like Tokyo, Kazakstan, Israel, Mexico City. It was a mix of exhaustion and elation all the time.

(Thanks to anyone who is still with me, I wasn't expecting to write this much either, so I'll start to wrap it up........)

For the next few years Nag exceeded way beyond what I imagined and was packed full every week with very little promotion up until 2007. This last year has been slightly quieter but has still had some amazing highlights like Bonde Do Role live (who absolutely destroyed the place) Black Lips, and Patrick Wolf. I must admit I had begun to focus a lot of my energy on production. Setting up my label and teaching myself the science of creating music and having the time for the art of creating it, all by my own do-it-yourself will, has been all consuming and inspiring.

Saying goodbye to Nag is like saying goodbye to a little bit of JoJo De Freq, the name I christened myself to be it's resident DJ. And, as I hope you can understand by my former story, it has been a major part of my life for more than 6 years.......so...

I want to thank everyone who ever came to Nag, whether I ignored you (sorry!) or rocked you, it was the crowd that made that place what it was, that fed my energy every week and that made it special, and that conjured up the magical symbiosis between me and you. Thank you for helping to fulfill my vision of freedom, forwardness and fantasy. I hope to be seeing you all soon at my next club....more TBA!!!