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Interview: A Quick Yarn With Keepsakes

Interview: A Quick Yarn With Keepsakes

By Fluffy / Wednesday 9th August, 2017 10:42AM

Keepsakes has been unleashing his brand of crunchy, industrial techno for the better part of five years and has dropped dancefloor-decimating tunes on labels from Poland, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. The producer has toured Europe twice in the past 12 months and has been promoting 'Haven' club nights when at home in Auckland, the latest of which will see Lobster Theremin signee Daze visit our fair isle from Australia. We shot the breeze with Keepsakes to chat about touring, the thriving European techno scene and fostering positive international dance relations...

UTR: So, I’m guessing you’re the sentimental type. What’s your favourite souvenir from your musical adventures?

Surprisingly enough I think I’m probably one of the least sentimental people I know! I’m really not one for dwelling on the past too much. But I think my favourite souvenir from the touring I’ve been involved in the past year or two is some of the records I’ve picked up along the way. Nothing beats that feeling of discovery when you’re in some tiny record store in some random town in the middle of nowhere and you find a release that blows your mind that you never knew existed before. Techno is such a deep genre too so the potential for this kind of random discovery is pretty huge.

You started out on Polish label Sequel One. How did you hook up with those cats?

Like a lot of musicians today, those guys found me through the music I’d posted on my Soundcloud back in 2013. The label boss Jakub sent me a message saying he was in to my tunes, and we pretty much immediately worked out the first release from there. It’s amazing how far a new artist can go just from putting their music on Soundcloud and then posting it in the right groups on there and Facebook these days!

These days you’re involved with South London Analogue Material, a label run by Ansome and Ossian. Spin the yarn as to how that came to pass, if you would?

Ansome hit me up back in 2014 after he’d heard my work on Sequel One and asked me to start sending him tracks. We both started getting recognised within the European techno scene at around the same time so we’d been aware of one another for a while before we got in contact. It actually took a while with those guys until we settled on a couple of tracks they were happy with. They really forced me to up my game with my productions and make them even crunchier for sure.

Your eponymous EP came out on SLAM in 2016. Is there an overarching theme to that piece of work?

There wasn’t really an overarching theme to that release, it would be pretty difficult to convey anything that meaningful through two tracks with stupid names that were only really intended as dance floor bangers. I’ve been thinking about putting together a proper LP for a while now though, which I think would need to have a larger theme tying it all together, even if it was just a particular musical reference or texture that I wanted to express.

I saw in a social media conversation you had with one of my friends that you were skeptical anywhere in New Zealand would stock said release. Why do you suppose that is?

The recent revitalisation of techno that’s been seen elsewhere in the world since the mid-to-late 2000s hasn’t really happened in New Zealand up until quite recently, at least in regards to the more underground, left-of-field side of the genre – there’s always been plenty of very clean, quite boring four-four music available here for people that would rather get table service at some sterile hell hole in Auckland’s Viaduct than have a dance to something with a bit of attitude in a grimy basement. There’s definitely been a few heads holding things down for techno here before the recent rise in interest, but they were far and few between.

I think in this country people have grown up with the worst examples of dance music shoved down their throats by shite commercial tastemakers on stations like George FM, so the kids have either gotten in to that puerile bollocks, or the more discerning ones have been turned away from house and techno completely, with no idea how weird and raw that kind of music can get.

Ultimately, all of this is going to factor in to the decisions made by records stores here in regards to what they do or don’t stock. Fortunately things have gotten quite a bit better here in the past year or so thanks to nights like Inky Waves and Friendly Potential, but even still those nights are more focused on more house music sounds than harder edged techno, so it’s taken a bit longer for people to get in to that sound, in Auckland at least. Christchurch seems to be the place in this country where people love this sound the most!

You had a track on a recent compilation by renowned Techno label MORD. For the uninitiated, tell us a little about the mystique surrounding the label and how you got on board with the infamous imprint?

Mord is a Dutch, Rotterdam-based label run by Bas Mooy that arose out of the ashes of his old label Audio Assault. They’ve been pretty instrumental in pushing that harder edged techno sound in Europe for quite a few years now, helping launch the careers of artists like Ansome, UVB, and quite a lot of the people touring the European circuit right now. They’re also pretty infamous for their huge label showcases they do around the continent – they did one at Berghain shortly after I arrived last year.

I got involved after Bas sent me an email shortly after my first S.L.A.M release, asking if I’d like to participate a track to the compilation, so it’s taken quite a long time to come out! Though the yearlong wait between finishing a track and releasing it is pretty standard once you start releasing on vinyl.

You’ve toured extensively throughout Europe. Did you self book all those shows or do you have a bunch of pals over those ways?

I do have quite a few mates I’ve met online involved in the scene over there, but fortunately I have a really decent booking agency that takes care of all my bookings for me in Europe. They take care of quite a few bigger techno artists, so have some really good contacts themselves which has helped immensely. Really they’ve been a godsend for me because I don’t know how I would have toured that intensely without them doing all the negotiating and admin for me!

Do any particular dates stick out in your mind from those expeditions?

Closing out Tresor for 5 hours on my last tour was a particularly special gig – that club is a real institution for techno internationally; their nights and their label have been instrumental in shaping the genre since the 90s, so it was a real honour to play there and get to show off such a long set. The interior of that place is just amazing too – their main room is this giant concrete bunker underneath a disused power station with what looks like prison bars separating the crowd and the DJ, it just adds to the atmosphere so much.

London’s Jaded techno after parties, held in Corsica Studios from 5am till 3pm on Sundays, are also a highlight. They’ve been kind enough to have me play there twice now, and every time it’s a really fun experience – that after party crowd in London knows how to go hard, they really appreciate those harder sounds in techno.

I also have to mention the massive Order warehouse parties I played at a couple of times last year in Paris – they were always mad – and gigs I played at Petrol and Kompass Klub in Belgium, both really great venues. Really I could just keep going on and on here, I’ve had so many good experiences playing in Europe because people over there really love the kind of techno I play!

Back home ways you’re running the ‘Haven’ club nights. Tell us a little about the vibe of those?

Tom McGuinness, my girlfriend Marie (Jaded Nineties Raver), and I started Haven back in 2015 because we felt the more left-of-field, crunchier side of house and techno was getting zero attention in this country, so we started it so there would at least be someone pushing that kind of music here. We did our first couple of gigs with New York label L.I.E.S’ Terekke and with Wellington house maestro Borrowed CS. Then we disappeared for a year with Tom moving to London, and myself going on tour with Marie, before coming back at the start of this year, taking on a side show from Danish DJ Courtesy after she killed it at Splore, as well as doing the Auckland leg of the Ansome tour earlier in the year.

These days we’ve found our home in Whammy Bar’s backroom. It’s just a black basement space, perfect for our vibe, and the loveliest people run that place. Musically we are largely focused on the weirder, gritty side of house and techno, like what’s released on labels like L.I.E.S and Lobster Theremin, on the one hand, and on the other we’re pushing that harder industrial sound indicative of labels like Perc Trax and Mord too. Basically if you want to have a dance to some banging out-there electronic beats free from the testosterone and narcissism-fueled bullshit you get downtown, this is the place for you.

I understand you have Aussie artist Daze, who is signed to Lobster Theremin, jumping the ditch for the next Haven. What can we expect from their tunes?

Yes Daze is coming to play for us this Friday! He’s someone we’ve wanted to get over for a while after hearing his first release for Lobster Theremin. He plays fast and crunchy techno and electro, with the odd blissful pad and drum break thrown in to the mix. He’s played at Berlin’s notorious Berghain a couple of times now, so you know he’s going to bring the goods!


Haven, featuring Keepsake, Daze, DJ Kush Boogie and Becky, is happening at the Whammy Backroom on Friday. For tickets head over HERE


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