LNS & Dj Sotofett: The Ransom Note Mix
A dynamic mix with no f**ks given from two of the most interesting producers and DJ’s out there.
Dj Sotofett and LNS have established themselves as independent artists not bound by the convention or shackles of ‘industry’. Over the years they have released some of the most innovative and interesting records across a plethora of record labels including Wania, Freakout Cult, Honest Jon’s, SUED and many more.
For years Dj Sotofett has been the powerhouse behind the Sex Tags family of record labels and has never been one to be pigeonholed often releasing music which is hard to place or define. It’s wild and chaotic – just the way we like it. Over the years he has dabbled in Dub, Techno, House and beyond. One thing is for sure though, it’s always been weird and wonderful.
LNS has formed a strong relationship with the Sex Tags family of labels, releasing a number of records in collaboration with Dj Sotofett via the imprint. She has her own label, LNS and has a busy and consistent release schedule which leads to her records being found in the bags of discerning collectors and DJ’s all over.
In recent times the pair have formed a close relationship with Tresor, the longstanding Berlin label and club which has been pivotal in the evolution of underground Electronic music. It appears the pair share a similar sensibility to the DIY ethos which has always been associated with the club.
Anyway, let’s cut it there. Here is their mixtape and a rare interview…
– You’ve both formed a strong bond with Tresor, why is it important to you as a label and institution?
LNS: I have collected Tresor records since I began buying records. Some of the most essential dance music of the 1990s and 2000s are in my opinion, on Tresor. Examples are #129, Drexciya ”Neptunes Lair” or #27, Robert Hood “Internal Empire.” The great thing about Tresor is they are not just a classics label either, they continue to be relevant and publish more than just techno. Their recent #299 by Xor Gate, ”Conic Selections,” is Gerald Donald doing ambient. Excellent stuff! And the club matches this rigorous attitude as well. They consistently maintain their quality, such as continuing to book Detroit acts throughout trend changes, and the excellence of the booth, sound systems, and general staff competency is unmatched!
DJ SOTOFETT: My brother and I used to check every Tresor record we could get a hold of in Norway, and sometimes we found really great Detroit outputs like #160, Blake Baxter’s “Dreamsequence”, or Paul Johnson’s remix of Joey Beltram “Instant” on #180 which still makes me happy everytime I put it on. Those records’ mix of House and Techno are very valuable! And Pacou with his many releases seemed to have nailed the “Techno sound of Tresors basement” really well. As LNS says, they have stayed a bit true to Techno compared to many other labels and clubs.
In my opinion the most interesting thing Tresor as an label-institution can do now is to get (old school) US American producers to mix the club music of European artists – that would be a very valuable exchange as many in the US still make mixdowns the old school way – giving music life and a (hand)crafted precision much modern European dance music strongly lacks. It’s a fantastic way to bridge music and sonic skills, especially for artists that cannot travel to Europe all the time. It would also create a sorely needed return of the external mix-engineer.
When the Sex Tags Mania label I been running turned 15 years I didn’t want so much fuss about it. Instead of celebrating ourselves it was more interesting for me to reach out to some of the mainstayer labels I really liked. The collaboration with Tresor came out of this and there was nobody more sensible to bring along than LNS in my opinion.
As for Tresor the club, they took in Restoration Records for regular parties in the basement almost ten years ago, and I was invited to one of their nights in 2015 to play a closing set after one of Analogue Cops’ very skilled live sets. To be honest, it’s definitely one of my favorite DJ moments, playing in that basement on absolutely perfectly calibrated turntables and soundsystem, and it’s still 100% which is very important as most clubs nowadays have terrible set up for vinyl DJ’s. Any institution that pushes quality like that and has an open door does something right.
Restoration tried inviting me so many times that Tresor asked for someone else, but now I play and organize parties there regularly, the first years mostly in the basement, with Jimi Tenor playing a live Techno set, also Jori Hulkkonen and Dresvn live, as well as LNS, DJ Tatjana and Roland Lifjell among others. Now I’ve been asked more to play and do things at Globus, and it feels like there is a musical rebuilding era there – it’s fully refurbished and sounds great, which means it’s our turn as artists to do a really good musical job, introducing the wide spectrum of quality underground dance music. Prior to working so closely with the “main club” my brother (Fett Burger) and I did our Sex Tags Mania parties at Tresor’s sister club OHM even before it was called that – that 200 capacity club had immense freedom for some years, building up a music culture that was broader than most other established clubs in Berlin Techno City. Now I see more freedom in Tresor and Globus actually.
– How do you tend to approach your releases as a duo, is the goal always to ‘write an EP’ or ‘write an album’ or ‘just jam’?
LNS: Let’s just say the goal is never to write an EP or album. It always starts with a desire to just make some music or expanding on sketches we have individually made together. I can’t say this ever feels like jamming because Sotofett tends to get a vision very quickly and is really good at executing. I am better at getting quick melody ideas.
DJ SOTOFETT: If your goal is “always” to do this or that you probably lost a long time ago. Some people think about melody first and can sit and create melodies and harmonies, sound and production, or even arrangement is second, I guess those people write music. Other people are more into the “technical” or rhythmical side of things and approach music differently, by experimenting and jamming – this, especially the technical experimentation side of music making led to the creation of Dub. So instead of making harmonies or melodies you can increase harmonics and rhythmic elements from something that is already there – and that has proven to be one of the most crucial methods in recorded music ever. Whatever you do, the most important thing is to create and generate as much as possible, often just to perfect your craft and learn. If you do this there will be material you can easily put together to a 12”, EP or album. It comes by itself if you just create. There’s very little mystery to it, just practice, but with practice comes magic sometimes. Personally I find it interesting and it also makes me very happy to make music with LNS and other people I work with, so from this standpoint I can never get enough. If it’s good music I want to release it, as having an output frames a project, and it’s also a big part of what I do and who I am.
– Both of you have gravitated more towards Electro as of late, was this intentional and what were your early influences in this space?
LNS: I have gravitated towards Electro since I started collecting records and DJing. The 808 beats and general vibe always resonated heavily with me. I usually say this is because as a young teenager I listened to a lot of hip hop which had similar beat structures, so it had an instant familiarity for me. Electro is my constant, I never want to play too many techno tracks without adding electro. And the tracks I have made are almost always electro in some way. It was a happy coincidence that Sotofett was also an appreciator and it made a lot of sense for us to focus on it, because whether intentional or not, our music tends to end up in that universe.
DJ SOTOFETT: For me Electro as well as Funk, Disco, P-Funk, Jazz, Afro-Funk, Fusion and so on came naturally to me through Hip-Hop. At age 11-12 I already listened to Cybotron’s “Clear”, Newcleus, Kraftwerk, Egyptian Lover and all the classic Electro tracks played by old school Hip-Hop DJs. The second record I ever released – a collaboration with my brother – has a lot of Electro tracks. It’s from 2003 and called “Kompjosa” (Sex Tags 002), and I have to say that some of those tracks are still incredibly good!
Electro has been around me all the time, but I started playing it more consistently maybe after 2011 when I found all these Electro-Funk records in Detroit – back when those records were $7 a pop for new copies, not $50 or 100+ like now. It was so fresh having these new Electro records that still had that real old school funk, not as stiff as European Electro often is. That year we also released “Reson” (MANIA 23) on Sex Tags Mania and that’s as much Electro as Techno if you ask me, especially the beats – pure 808 bliss all the way! Skatebård’s “Emotinal Bits” was released by Sex Tags Mania in 2013 (though the track is from 2005), and that’s maybe the first BIG Electro track from any of us, still a total killer and it’s incredibly loud too. There’s also the “Tech Droppers” project released on WANIA in 2018 which very few people know is LNS and myself, classic six track EP that should honestly be reissued. Also LNS’ first 12inch “Heliacal Rising” has an Electro remix by E-GZR, and that collaboration resulted in their “Crypto Stock / Beatdown” release on WANIA in 2019. And now I almost forgot a 12” I really like, the “Arjun / Afroz” (MANIA 29) release on Sex Tags Mania from 2018 with Zarate_Fix and myself, that B-side is Deep Electro Deluxe!
More than just stings of Electro has always been around us, but my guess is that people were just thinking “House Music” or “Leftfield” when that was so popular that they forgot to pay attention to what we actually released and played. But sure, there’s more Electro now than before, it’s about 20 years since the Electro Clash explosion, and it’s more or less 40 years since Electro was born so guess we’re on the third wave now.
– Why does Tresor seem like a more suitable home for these tracks than say one of your own labels and how does it feel to be part of such a back catalogue?
LNS: Our labels are more part of the niche market. Tresor has a massive influence and instant recognizability. It is a huge honor to be a part of that!
DJ SOTOFETT: Exactly, and sometimes the very same music will have different impact depending on what label ends up releasing it. Also the excitement from the people that are behind the Tresor label colours track proposals and selections which is really fun. The back catalogue is also colouring decisions which can be both good and bad, when it makes the artist try to live up to the technical standards it can be very good, but when the artistic output is conformed to what is already on the label it’s a problem. Following a stylistic thread and conforming is a thin red line that’s easily crossed by most people. Besides from that a huge reason why things get released by whoever is basically timing. If I want to release three Techno or Electro 12inches in three months I’ll do it myself, but if I feel some of the tracks are better in the context of Tresor it’s worth being patient. That said there’s a thread kept alive by Tresor that involves the collaborative output by LNS and myself that is not a duo project anymore, it’s a triangle between us and Tresor.
– Where was the mix recorded?
DJ SOTOFETT: This mix is put together by two recordings, both are recorded live at Globus, Tresor. The first part is mixed by me on the re-opening month May 2022, and LNS’ part (after 56m30s) is from her first Tresor resident gig February this year. Earlier this year we made the very full-on studio produced mix “The Reformer Mix Vol. 1” to promote “The Reformer EP” on Tresor so this time we wanted to present something live recorded.
– What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
DJ SOTOFETT: In 1999 I got 2 x Technics 1210 mkII and a Gemini PMX-16 Scratch Master. Still have the same turntables and also the mixer actually, though it’s really beaten up and it’s not in use. Now I have same turntables and a Formula Sound FF-4000, that mixer has very good faders and sound quality too (and so much cheaper than standard Xone and DJM models!) – still I think the best physical interface on faders for a club mixer is on the Pioneer DJM models, very quick for fast mixing!
LNS: First DJ set up at home was 2 x Technics 1210s and a Xone-62 shared with my all deejay roommates! (Shout out Club 563). Current set up is 2 x Technics 1210s and Pioneer DJM-250.
– Anything else we need to discuss?
DJ SOTOFETT: Clone West Coast Series will release the album “DJ Sotofett & The Colours of Computer Generated Instruments” later this year – we’re just doing final tracklist and cutting which is always really fun – maybe to nobody’s surprise it’ll be very electronic. Also this year I will finally release Jimi Tenor & Kabukabu meets DJ Sotofett “No Warranty Dubs”, a Afro-Dub and Jazz album on Sex Tags Amfibia. And on June 8th Belgium label Souvenirs From Imaginary Cities will release two remixes I made of Richard Lamb on 12”, both remixes in the same world as “The Reformer EP” that LNS and I just released on Tresor Records.
LNS: Keep a look out for my new EP on Counter 99 “Misiats,” which will be in shops over the next months. It is an example of my more organic sensibilities, even including several tracks where I utilize my sister Nadia Sparrow’s wonderful flute talent. This record is a tribute to my mother’s Ukrainian heritage (the name “Misiats” being the latin spelling of “місяць” or “moon”). I made all the tracks prior to the invasion, but now feel it is important to draw attention to the origin.