Interview by Fidel Trotman & Nicky Trax
What’s been the best thing about moving to Berlin? having spoken with Daniel Miller recently he sung its praises for clubbers getting not too wasted because of the longer opening hours and also how a wide range of older clubbers mingled with younger ones in a more free and accepting atmosphere…
Jonty Skrufff: “Daniel is right, you very rarely see totally wasted or super-drunk people in Berlin clubs, people seem calmer, more relaxed and more open, at least in the best clubs. I guess this reflects the vibe of the city.
The best thing about Berlin? It’s a super-alternative, super-scruffy city with a vibe quite unlike anywhere else I’ve been. It’s (to use a term that’s no longer evil in the UK) it’s broadly a left-wing, socialist city where extravagant consumption is dismissed and indeed is a major faux-pas. Nobody cares about flash cars or flash watches or flash people; authenticity is far more valued.
All of which means you don’t need much money to live well (and yes, it’s still cheap, certainly compared to London).
Having carved out a niche as a leading underground techno DJ/Producer in Berlin, can you tell us what prominent techno DJ/ Producers played a part in your career and what helpful advice did you get from any of them?
Jonty Skrufff; I must pay tribute to my earliest DJ teachers, Alex Silverfish (RIP) and Marco from Italoboys. Alex gave me invaluable advice much of which I still follow today including one memorable tip: “never under estimate how many DJs there are in the crowd’. Firstly he was spot-on in literal terms but what he really meant was, take it seriously, practice and practice again until you’re good, because every single error will be noted by huge chunks of the crowd’.
Having said that I still make lots of errors in sets today and don’t mind at all (he also told me to be bold and put my own personality into my sets).
Alex also gave me my first ever gig, at London’s 333, by coincidence the same venue where the Italoboys gave me my first residency some months later. Both had a generosity of spirit that also, I hope, rubbed off.”
Do you think Techno is in a healthy place now and what does techno mean to you?
Jonty Skrufff: Techno has never been stronger, or more diverse, what it means to me is a way of life- this life of immersing yourself in music, clubs, nightlife etc and somehow making a living at it, one way or the other.
I see it like classic 70 rock compared to pop, all the bands that ended up having great legacies (whether Led Zeppelin, Dead Kennedys or even the Rolling Stones) lived the life full on. Jazz was exactly the same, most of today’s venerated jazz heroes spent their lives in and out of jail and partying, performing like there was no tomorrow. Of course, there usually is tomorrow but you find that out as the journey unfolds.”
Sweltering summer parties at Sisyphos must be pretty insane right and can you tell us about the atmosphere, energy and vibes from the club that opens Friday evening and shits Monday afternoon?
Jonty Skrufff: “Actually it’s been cold and extremely wet in Berlin in recent weeks, with the worst storms on record, accompanied by widespread flooding. Despite that the Sisyphos parties are always exceptional, in particular because of the crowd.
Last year Sisyphos was listed on all the blogs/places to visit in Berlin sites so it was absolutely swamped with all sorts of people, many of whom didn’t get in. Right now, it’s packed without hype, in particular with clubbers who understand music and really want to dance- you can’t ask for more.”
You’ve been playing at Berlin Berlin for two beautiful years now and what makes BB so special? Do you have a favourite night that you played?
Jonty Skrufff: “They’ve honestly all been good, again, it’s the crowd that really makes it. Berlin Berlin attracts a great mix of girls, queers, misfits, German expats and occasional Sisyphos regulars exiled in London. The Egg London sound systems are all good too.”
How would you describe your sound in “a couple of adjectives” ?
Jonty Skrufff: “Tough and tender” (Techno).
And lastly before you leave us what should we be listening to before we head of to Berlin Berlin:The Birthday on July 15th?
Jonty Skrufff: “Our radio show Berlin Soul:
Jonty Skrufff joins the legendary electronic music pioneer Daniel Miller (Mute Records) to celebrate Berlin Berlin: The Birthday on Saturday July 15th in the Main Room for Sisyphos alongside Yetti Meissner and Fidelity Kastrow at Egg London. On The Terrace you can connect with Rumpelkammer featuring Peter Schumann, Bo Irion plus the Egg London Residents Ireen Amnes, Kyle E & Fidel whilst Steyoyoke Recordings’ Nick Devon, Dahu and MPathy make their debut on the Ground Floor. In the Loft the Homostash DJs celebrate with Tafkanik, Carly Fox, Pavline and JVP. Performers on the night include Plastic Sister, Luke Harris, Beatrix Carlotta, Gregory Kara, Bliss Theadora, Kokaine Tyson, Ruby Bird and Syban and rounding off in the Apothecary catch the Kuntskammer cabaret with Lewis G Burton, Kassandra Powell & Guests.
All info at: www.egglondon.co.uk