Cornflex

Scris pe 02.03.2008 de Cypher

Acum cativa ani imi varsam naduful intr-un articol, la acea data "naduful" fiind numarul redus de performeri straini dnb ce reusisera sa afle ca Romania e mai mult de o pata gri pe harta. Situatia s-a schimbat intre timp, nu trece luna fara ca vreun invitat de calibru sa sa dea de lucru subwooferelor autohtone. Ba chiar unii dintre ei recidiveaza, strangand rapid la activ peste 3-4 evenimente romanesti. Daca esti cititor 4elemente, ai acum ocazia sa afli ce crede unul dintre ei despre muzica, scena, MacGyver si S&M, printre altele. E vorba de Cornflex.

First up, who's Corn Flex and how did he get the name?
Good question - trying to find that out for more than 2 years, now.
Well, I am just a long-term music enthusiast from Dresden, Germany, who early got infected by a mental disorder called JUNGLE. The name comes from some breakfast cereals I tried to stuff into my head lost in thoughts, one early morning in the late 90s. It sounded funny to me when it hit my mind, so I adopted it. All relations to a strategic plan behind it - such as "corn" for corny, cheesy or "flex" for flexible, flexin' etc. - were invented later by either me or the CIA.

You've been spinning for more than ten years now; enough time to watch the scene grow and mature. In your opinion, what does it take exactly to make a scene healthy?
From my small angle, I can see it growing, spreading and becoming more international ? although there still is and probably will be the major impact of the so-called British music-exporting monopoly. Nothing to complain about this, since high-quality & timeless productions and transitory mass-hysteria soundtracks still balance each other in the scene. I see amazing producers rising at the moment, putting good vibes together in any direction - clubby, crunchy, grimey, soulful, techy or whatever attribute you want to use for categorising them.
There is one funny thing about drum&bass: it never really split up into different genres, as Techno did, for example. Some might wanna see this happen, but it is a matter of fact that it can mainly still be embraced in one dj set of about 2 hours. I am aware that a various set like this might disappoint people who entered the scene for a certain sound or genre. But in my opinion, there has to be room for diversity.

For the last two years, your name's been a fairly regular fixture on flyers for events in Romania. What's your outlook on the movement here and the way it's evolved during this time?
First of all, I have always just been a visitor. So, everything I can say about the Romanian scene, is just from a very personal point-of-view. When I first played in Romania, in June 2005 in Cluj-Napoca, the response blew my head off. How ignorant could I have been, to think that there is not a lot of drum&bass in Romania?
In the last 2 years, I had a lot of longer chats with close friends and buddies like Dan Bazix, Addo, Dudu, Tavi and Alin (from BAU), Agent, Tina... (and I could go on with this name-dropping forever). What I learned from these talks, is that the scene in Romania is still young and looking for its own direction. For example, in Germany, drum&bass is mainly an underground thing, with some exceptions in major cities. In Romania, I think, it will also have to find its own way on a local basis. Right now, in each bigger Romanian city you might have one or maximum two serious promoters pushing things forward. There is no real local competition. So, it all depends on the protagonists, right now, if a city will be considered to be dark, soulful, full of jump-up-wobble or whatever. This is a normal development and not to be rated as good or bad. What I just hope is that people will stay interested in variety and a wide, stylistic spectrum. Otherwise, I might lose my audience in Romania. ;)

In a more global sense, how do you see drum'n bass five years from now as opposed to how you saw it five years ago?
Five years ago... hmm. This was about the time when the term ?liquid? started to come up. I was quite excited since it seemed like quite an acceleration of the spreading of the drum&bass ?universe? ? if you want to see the early 90s as its ?Big Bang?. What I can see lately, is the high imrovement and refining of the sound quality in a lot of the tunes, as well as new influences. For example, for me the tune of the year 2007 was "The Shroud" from Breakage - that works the floor without any superficially kicking drums. This guy is a visitor from another planet - I am sure.
Generally, drum&bass has always saved its own life by absorbing other music influences. This might be possible to say about a lot of music genres. But waving the flag for drum&bass, I would state provocatively that drum&bass has a special ability to easily eat and digest these styles and to still sound unique. Luckily.

MP3 has become an accepted medium for music played in the club; besides laptop dj'ing, manufacturers such as Pioneer are embracing it more and more. What format do you use and why?
I am a big vinyl lover and even used to cut some on my own if a tune wouldn't find its way to a final release. Since I live next to a very active vinyl pipeline, I have a proper supply of new plates. Lately, about 1 year ago, I started to use CDs, as well - mainly due to a lot of travelling and some more unreleased or exclusively digital material I came across (shouts to trackdonalds.com).
I like to use vinyl since it is the most intuitive medium for me. You can really see changes in the music, breakdowns etc on the plate. So it is easier to drop in tunes from whenever you want them to start. That lets me mix faster, get more lively and allows me to make weird mixes in order to scare people. ;) But any tool is okay, if you know how to use it properly. If you are MacGyver and able to rock the floor with a gluestick and your pocket knife - go for it!

I'm not going to ask you the vinyl question, instead, do you think the CD as a medium has any future, with USB ports and Ipod docks appearing on equipment?
I don't know. Any medium has its instabilities on stage. So, you just have to cope with it. Funnily, I still like more the idea and sound of a jumping needle - compared to a broken CD or even worse a PC shutting down. It is that unique SWOOSH-noise. Lovely!
Thinking of evolution, CD is a funny hybrid between physical and digital publishing of music. So, the logical consequence might be that it will die out in the near future. Well, I am definitely waiting for the day, when a DJ will call himself retro for playing from CD. It will be the day, when I will start to feel reeeeeally old...

2007 has been bleak for the mainstream music industry, judging from the statistics. What effect do you think the decline of the traditional music business model will have on drum'n bass?
My opinion - and I will try to cut this short - is: almost no influence, at all. Drum&Bass is and has always has been an independent, underground music. Of course, there are people earning more or less money with it. But even the bigger labels ? such as Metalheadz or Hospital are not following the business models of major labels. Even if they wanted to, they couldn't. So, I don't see a real change coming up regarding the music landscape of producers or networking DJs installing imprints and trying to make a living ? some of them better, some worse.
What probably will change, though, is the distribution of the music. It is stupid to deny digital media for music. We will have to get used to the idea of music as a non-physical thing; and this idea is not new, at all. What lacks at the moment, is the respect for the artist. I am not talking about a music lover that just collects mp3s for his own pleasure. If music is not the most important thing in your life, you might not be interested in spending money on it. But I am talking about wannabe-DJs earning money by playing illegally downloaded tunes. That's disrespectful and somehow like biting the hand that feeds you.
So, what should change about music, generally, is the awareness and respect for it as a piece of art. Luckily, vinyl sales in the Drum&Bass are actually on a slight rise, as far as I have heard.

Tell us a bit about the High Finesse Bass Travel Agency. Any world domination plans?
Basically, we are a bunch of old junglists in my hometown Dresden, working on the vision of a wide-spread and open sound which we like to call FUSION JUNGLE. We have several clubnights in Dresden and are touring through Eastern Germany, as often as we can, in order to spread our sound. Just this year we opened up our own club, which will host several styles - from Fusion Jungle over Dubstep and Electronica to Minimal and Detroit Elektro & Techno. Officially a non-profit cultural association, we don't follow any financial goals. We are trying to think global and act local - exceptions included, like litle tours through countries such as Romania, Italy etc.
World domination plans? - Who needs world domination when he has a lot of friends worldwide and a great time together?

Your myspace page hosts a dub-infused liquid track signed "corn flex". Would you like to get into production more seriously?
Yes, bineinteles. The tune is already 2,5 years old and I have collected some ideas on the way. The problem is just the time-factor. I have just been too busy to sit down at the "assembly line", again. But a partly Hungarian, partly Indian oracle told me these words: "Csak lássán, my friend. Shanti shanti, things will happen when they are supposed to..."

On a more personal note, what's the most memorable moment you've experienced behind the decks?
To be honest, it was the party in Cluj-Napoca, mentioned above. I played back2back with my mate, Metasound in this weird discotheque called Tut-Ankh-Amun. The warm-up DJ played some eurotrance / dancefloor stuff, before and not knowing about the Romanian drum&bass scene, we were prepared to get beaten up when we start with the first drum&bass tunes. In the end, it turned out to be one of the best vibes I had experienced since then. I guess it was also about the positive surprise - but I still have my big respect to the people who were there, that night.

How about the strangest one?
A very good friend asked me once for the favour to play at a Thanksgiving Festival in her home village. I think I left quite a surreal impression there when I climbed on stage after the local Brass band - not wanting to go into details...

You play across the board, but one can notice you're more into the "organic", soulful side of drum'n bass. What are your music influences?
Let me put it like this: I need FUNK in Drum&Bass - no matter in what direction it goes. And, of course, there is a lot of that to be found in the tunes using melodies, vocals etc. But I have always been a lover of crunchy sounds, true skool jump up basslines or drum experiments. So, FUNK for me derives from the structure of the drums and the basslines - and nothing else. Basically, in my sets I am always trying to find the right mixture between being a music nerd and an entertainer, between surprising and catchy etc. - all, of course, within the range of what I consider to be good drum&bass music.
Anyways, above all that, in my opinion, the mother of any electronic dance music is DUB. And this is what makes my heart beat faster ? as in the usage of sounds and samples. Dance music should also be something to dive into and feel and not only to be hit by the next struck of hardcore pressure.
Let me give you a little bit of a weird comparison, here: If somebody whips your ass every day (because you just like it hardcore), at some point you won't even feel the pain, anymore, nor the pleasure (if you are into this kinda S&M stuff...), because you have become numb. At some point, you have to decide to either quit going to parties since they don't please you anymore or you start to learn again what love means.

At several of your romanian gigs, you were accompanied by MC Tina. What MC's have you collaborated with so far and who did you have the best artistic chemistry with?
I am not a big fan of MCs. A lot of them are not there for the music - they think the music is there for them. What I like, though, are DJ/MC collaborations trying to perform together, not just parallelly. So far, I personally only had this feeling with people who are good friends - such as Mikey Romeo (Trackdonalds, Frankfurt), Paula Herself (High Finesse, Dresden) and Tina. I guess you have to share some visions to work well together.

Finally, I understand you're preparing a mini-tour through Romania. What can you tell us about that?
I am a big fan of Brigada Artistica Urbana, since I first saw them perform. It amazed me how they are creating this distinct feeling of drum&bass music, playing 100% live, and how they seemlessly moved from one mood to another. So, when playing in Timisoara together with MC Mike Romeo, last October, we met for a little studio session. And both Mikey and the band, were quite enthusiastic about the way they worked together. Also, at the gig, Mikey and Tina performed together perfectly. Musically speaking, it was love at first sight, I think. So, the idea of joining forces came up, in oder to create a new live show. For this reason, now we will get together in Romania in March for some studio work and, of course, some live shows. I am quite excited to see it all happening, now.