Random Facts With... Nick Höppner

We talked in-depth randomness taking in politics, Merkel's Barbie doll and how many kick drums dropped at Berghain since it opened!

Random Facts With... Nick Höppner

We talked in-depth randomness taking in politics, Merkel's Barbie doll and how many kick drums dropped at Berghain since it opened!

Boing bom tschak. 

You might know Nick Höppner. He's done a few things in his time. Running the inimitable Ostgut Ton label, holding down a residency at Berghain/Panoramabar for a very long time and being editor of German electronic institution Groove Magazine are just three of these far from few things. A proper grafter he's a unique, long-serving and truly dedicated figure in today's electronic music world. 

He doesn't do much press either, so it was an honour when he agreed to do our Random Facts series. Not only that but when we confronted him face-to-face over a Skype we were very nicely surprised to discover he'd really done his homework. What ensues is an indepth talk about politics, activism, a mathematical dissection of how many kick drums have been played at Berghain and a fair bit more besides. 

How are you doing?

Good! I got passports for my kids today.

First passports?

Yeah.

Where are you off to?

I’m taking them to Stop Making Sense actually.

Oh great, so you’re having a whole holiday out there?

Yeah, we’re staying for a week.

We’re off on Friday actually, for Garden Festival and Electric Elephant. We’re doing a party with Prosumer on Saturday.

Say hello, I haven’t seen him in ages!

So Stop Making Sense is soon... 

I think it starts July 31st then it’s the first weekend in August.

From Wednesday this week it’s basically solid for a month and a half out there. I think Tisno likes it for a while but then they get a bit fed up with it.

Maybe it’s all over when they actually join the European Union fully. Is it in the EU already?

They started accepting Euros last year but they're not in the EU for another 2-3 years I think.

They’re just associated or something. When they become a member I think regulations will become a lot more strict and festivals will become a lot more expensive. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens then.

Health and safety blah blah blah...

Exactly.

I guess that’s why it feels so, not lawless, just quite open. Not too many restrictions.

I played there 2 years ago and it was super relaxed. I think it was not making sense economically for the promoters, it seemed a bit under-attended but I thought it was perfect. Super chilled out, a really nice venue.

If you can do that for 1000 people and you can break even then I think that’s a nice scale of people.

Absolutely. 

How is everything with the label?

I never made a big fuss about it but I gave up managing the label over one and a half years ago. I made the decision to focus on DJing and producing only because I became the father of twins and more than a year ago my wife started working again and I just couldn’t manage all the different things. Something had to go and rather than being an absent or over-worked father I had to let the label go. Actually, Jenus (Baumecker's husband) has taken it over from me, he was my assistant for almost 2 years before so it’s in good hands.

Are you still involved in some way?

Yeah, on a technical level although that’s fading out as well. Accounting the label, all the boring stuff, manufacturing... That’s quite a complex issue so every once in a while when they face a problem they need my help but when it comes to A&R I’m completely out of there. The last really big thing I had my hand in was the Function album last year.

How does it affect you buying and playing records? Do you approach it differently?

Since I stopped, simply put, it affects me in the way that I’ve got more time in the first place and I can fill this space with record shopping. Before that I spent almost every day in the office and I was playing at the weekends and sometimes I was so fed up with it. It was techno all day in the office and techno all night at the weekends and sometimes I couldn’t be bothered going to record shops any more. Now it feels much better to be honest, I can actually put the effort in that I should have in the first place.

I think it’s really important to start enjoying music again. It’s a different thing, running a site and hearing music all the time, but I said to someone a few weeks ago that I don’t know if I even like music any more - I didn’t actually mean that, obviously - but when you’re so deluged with things it can be hard to work out what you like.

Absolutely, I deal with music professionally every day but then again I feel quite estranged now that half a year is over and people are putting up ‘the best 50 albums of the first six months’ already. Sometimes I think I don’t even have 50 favourite albums of all time, it’s like ‘how is that possible?’ These are the 50 albums I listened to once or twice in 6 months and I’m not sure if one or two of these lists were actually assessed. I really can’t believe that anyone would go back to like 90% of them, how is that possible? I don’t think there’s that much great music out there that you’ll take 50-100 items out of every year that you will revisit all the time. I don’t think that’s possible.

I agree with you but I think that’s the transient nature of music at the moment. We’re in a time where there are so many publications and everyone is trying to get clicks to their site. There’s a need to write about things constantly. I’m not trying to funnel this down a negative path at all!

Not at all, I think these things are worth addressing as much as being positive about stuff. I’m completely on the same page as you. I think this over-saturation is a problem and putting emphasis on stuff that doesn’t really deserve it is a problem as well. It’s just not possible that everything is fucking important. It’s not true that everything is important and if you combine all the music magazines, blog, sites etc you get the impression that everything is great and everything is important and has longevity and I really don’t think that’s the case.

I agree. Watching the Glastonbury coverage this weekend on a website and there’s this content that’s being generated by having two people in a field talking about what the weather might be like and it’s like that old thing of ‘better to stay silent...’ I don’t know what the saying is but it’s something about keeping your mouth shut and removing all doubt that you’re a fool rather than opening your mouth...

But then a festival is a perfect spot to do that because you can experience that yourself. You get the full impression, or a rather good picture, of who the artist is, what their stage presence is and how their music works in front of people. It’s a much better thing than going on Soundcloud for half a minute for this and that, 5 minutes later it’s forgotten because your friend is sending you an email and you have to check out that and you go to the record shop... It’s crazy.

So this random facts thing is a way of stepping away from your standard drivel and we’ll just see where we go with it and which avenues we go down! We’ll play a bit of tennis if you like. Have you got any to start with?

I can start with my shortest and probably most stupid one. I researched some facts about Germany and found out that Angela Merkel has had a Barbie doll made after her. They did it in 2009.

Wow, I have to find that. How does it look?

A lot slimmer, a lot younger... It’s a Barbie in her signature dress and haircut.

Did she let that happen?

I am not sure if she’s been asked, I didn’t see if she reacted to it. I think it’s quite a good symbol for what she signifies. For me she’s the bread and games chancellor. She’s the mother of the nation, singing everyone a lullaby and making them feel safe yet there’s proper shit going on. She’s super-popular and unless the opposition gets their shit together I think she’ll be in power until I die... She’ll probably outlive Chancellor Kohl, the pear shaped one, he was in power for 16 years - 4 consecutive legislative periods - and she’s already in her 3rd so she’s getting close.

Is there a limit in Germany?

I’m not sure, I don’t think so, not for Chancellor.

The election last year was just overwhelming.

Yeah, it was a huge success. But still she missed a complete majority by a couple of percent so she had to look for coalition partners and now there’s a coalition again between the social democrats and the Christian union.

How does that affect Berlin? Has that dissolved it a bit?

I can’t put my finger on the effect on Berlin but what it means for Germany is that, because it’s such a big coalition, the feeling of consensus and being content with stuff is cemented. There’s not a lot of progress being made, maybe it’s the same in a lot of other Western countries but it feels like there’s a huge conservative backlash going on and this kind of mindset is just cemented because she’s been in power for so long and she makes the majority of Germans feel safe apparently.

Safe? Right... Interesting! I think that’s more than can be said for what’s going on here. No-one’s had that feeling of safety in the UK for a while, I don’t know what safety is anyway, but it’s quite interesting watching Cameron’s reaction to the new EU leader recently - there’s a bit of a witch hunt going on over here. That is politics in this country, I don’t know how it is over there but...

At least you have a debate going on and it seems that the majority of English people, or British people, seem to agree with Cameron about pulling out of the EU or at least reforming it in a major way. Maybe he’s right but I think he does it in the wrong way, he doesn’t seem to represent the British middle-class or working class, it’s all about money and saving the city of London.

Exactly which is... Sorry, I can’t stop looking at that Barbie doll of Merkel, she has much better hair than in real life. Having UKIP split the vote here has in a way been quite a good thing as it has highlighted the absurdity of it, it’s split the right and the far-right so that there’s 2 parties and I think their power becomes less if you split it in two. I think that’s been a useful thing, I obviously don’t subscribe to any of that but I think it’s an important thing.

But then again if you look a few years back when you had those huge student protests when they raised the tuition fees. It was massive, violent, super scary. Then you had the riots in East London, nothing like that has happened in Germany since the student revolt in the 60s. There is a proper upheaval in the UK but still the government continues to reconstruct society in a very dangerous way - the NHS is going...

Privatising everything, even the NHS. People aren’t angry about that though, there isn’t that dissent that there used to be in this country. I think it comes back to the internet: so much information... Like the Poll Tax, people could mobilise and become angry about something. People are like ‘well I’m alright’...

Still, I don’t know a lot about politics, I pick up stuff here and there - but my gut feeling tells me that the UK is a lot closer to boiling point than Germany. Give it another couple of years, this shit is unstoppable. Maybe it’s not bad enough yet because our standards of living have been so high in the Western world already and now there’s a steady decline. Lots of people are moaning and getting frightened and their voting for UKIP and more radical parties and maybe this will continue to be like that. I think we’re living in super-interesting times with regards to things like that

I agree completely. The cost of living in London is so expensive now that I think we’re going to end up with a lost generation of people - kids who leave university or school aren’t going to move to London because if it costs £800 to live in a room in a flat, you’re going to make a decision to go to Manchester or Berlin or wherever.

For sure. When I started playing in London a lot it was all about Shoreditch and everyone I knew lived there, now everyone’s living in Peckham and people are moving to Vauxhall. London ends after Vauxhall, it’s a last resort. Where do you go from there? It’s over!

I’m very lucky because we live just off Kingsland Road and my friend has had that flat for 7/8 years but all of our friends have moved out and people have moved to Walthamstow or beyond - you’re pretty much in Essex out there.

Walthamstow is where East17 are from right?

Exactly! And now it’s become ridiculous. Property is unsustainable in this city. I don’t mean to get into prices of flats but my friend bought his flat for like £150,000 7 years ago. It’s now worth £400,000 and it’s...

Good for him!

Well yeah, great for him! But it’s madness - you’re not going to have people choosing to live here and I think that’s sad because I think London is a great place and I love living here. I’ve been here about 20 years...

It’s one of the most amazing cities in the world, that diversity... Every country in the world is represented in london, you don’t get that in New York or Paris. It’s a shame that this is really in danger.

In quite serious danger of not being the city that it once was. It’ll be a rich person’s playground basically, a ghost town with people buying houses for investments. But we’re getting heavy again...

To be honest I’ve got a few more heavy facts...

Well I do enjoy talking about this sort of thing! I started this format because it must get boring for you answering the same questions.

I was really happy about this idea actually, just a couple of weeks ago I played a gig and I could have given them a pamphlet of my most given answers because they asked 6 questions and it was the same shit... If you Google my name, invest 10 minutes, you’ll have it all served on a plate. I understand that people from more exotic places are interested in Berlin and they want to, even if they know the answers already, they get something from me answering it in person. I’m not trying to be arrogant or something but sometimes I literally answer questions 100 times.

I agree, I did a similar thing with Move D a few weeks ago (we’re just going over it again) and we deconstructed his Wikipedia page because his family had written the whole thing. They'd extended it beyond what it was.

I would like to read what my family is writing about me on Wikipedia! They get everything wrong about me anyway, it would be hilarious.

You should get them to write it for you!

Or the update to my DJ biography.

In this world of information you get asked the same questions, sometime people go ‘I read in an interview that...’ and it’s like well yes, I said this, let’s move on and talk about something else.

If you’re more funny and quick-witted than I am then it’s easy to deal with it. The perfect example for that is The Mole, if you check out some of his interviews they are hilarious. When he gets asked one of those stupid questions he just goes off on a completely different tangent and just talks about what he likes. Sometimes it’s deliberate mis-information or just stupid stuff and it’s always worth reading or watching his interviews - there’s a really famous one he did a few years ago for Electronic Beats or something, I think it’s on YouTube, and it’s the most perfect interview I’ve ever seen.

So he just talks about what he wants to talk about?

Yeah he talked about how he looks like a pig, that he’s super lazy and then when he was asked to explain his music he just shut the journalist down saying ‘I did the music, my job is done, now it’s your job’. A little cocky but very funny.

i think it’s good to... Like he says, it is the job of a journalist to write about the music rather than for an artist to talk about it until they’re blue in the face or stop liking it almost.

An artist, I would say, when they finish an album or even an EP they’re sick to death of it. But that’s just the start of it, you’re facing interview after interview and you can’t deal with it any more but you have to. It’s all part of the game, it’s all fine, but sometimes it can be a little annoying.

Let’s move on with your facts then.

So... I’ve got a fun fact for alcoholics. The human liver regenerates itself completely on a cellular level during your lifetime with a couple of exceptions - like the heart and the brain - we are a completely new person every 7 years as old cells die and new ones grow.

I kind of knew that about the liver but I didn’t know it about the rest of the body!

The brain has stem cells too, the heart as well, and it’s still a mystery to science why the heart and the brain don’t regenerate that way because there are those stem cells. For me it begs the question why there are still things like liver cirrhosis and it gets sick from drinking when it regenerates constantly.

Obviously it regenerates itself on a natural level but once you’re adding in other forces then it’ll screw it up isn’t it? But it’s interesting about the brain and the heart, they’re the two things you really can’t do without - you need them both working full time to live so maybe there isn’t time for them...

Every organ is super important but those two are like the signature organs in a way and it’s funny that those are the ones that can’t really regenerate.

I knew that the liver was pretty resilient, it must be for all the abuse that one gives to it I think. That’s very interesting.

I’ve got another science fact for you, it’s not about science but about a scientist. Einstein married his cousin. I then researched, on Wikipedia, about the marriage laws in Germany and it was perfectly legal - you can marry whomever you want unless it’s your grandparents, parents, children, sibling or half-siblings.

So secondary ones are fine?

Yeah, the straight bloodline is forbidden but I could marry my first cousin or my aunt. But, on the other hand, if you think about marrying someone of the same sex it’s not legal in Germany. There’s something called [German for civil partnership] which is like a quasi-marriage but it doesn’t grant the same privileges as it would for a heterosexual married couple. There’s still...

A disparity between the two. The UK law was only very recently changed, I don’t know if you still have the same rights here. There was something in the paper recently about it. I think it’s not far off being quite similar here.

Marriage is still impossible in Germany, I could marry my cousin or aunt but I couldn’t marry my male cousin or my uncle.

Wow. I was just looking up the UK one and marriages between first and second cousins account for over 20% of marriages worldwide.

I read the same Wikipedia entry in German!

20% is amazing. UK... What does it say?

You know someone who married their uncle, aunt or cousin?

No, I don’t.

Me neither.

I wonder where the geographic location of that is.

Wikipedia says something about it being quite popular in Turkey - something like 10% of marriages in Turkey are between cousins I think.

There’s your 10% there, we just need another 10% from somewhere else and we’re done. Probably America... Sorry, that’s a total generalisation and completely unfair. That is very interesting though. I’m trying to think of something to lead in from that which isn’t futile, I had lots of planet facts because my girlfriend is obsessed with space. The mass of Earth is 597219000000billion kilogrammes. I thought that was quite heavy.

So how many billion trillion is that?

There’s a lot of zeros.

I can’t even pronounce that number.

I wouldn’t know where to start.

Although it’s such a small planet considering the size of things, I don’t think there’s even a word for this number. I’ve got some numbers for you, I did a little maths. The average speed of a track played at Berghein Panorama bar is 125bpm. The place has open on Fridays and Saturdays for a decade now. Counting both floors, let’s say an average of 68 hours of techno and house has been played on 520 weekend. If you do the maths, 265,200,000 kick drums have been dropped at the club. That’s 1,473 consecutive days or 4 years of non-stop kicks. I think that’s also a rather conservative approximation.

That’s amazing. Imagine trying to depict than in an infographic. There’s someone here who’s really into design, I might get him to make one...

That’s just counting the weekend, for a couple of years now there’s been stuff happening during the week and there’s a little extension off the back where shows are being put on. Then there’s the laboratory which I haven’t taken into account but let’s say that about 300,000,000 kick drums have been played.

Wow, do you DJ every weekend?

Yeah, sometimes, sometimes not. June was really quiet but July is looking a bit better and August is pretty packed but I try to be away for 3 weekends and have 1 weekend off but most of the time it doesn’t really go that way. I need money to make ends meet but I have to take more bookings than I actually would like to.

I was just thinking of how we could quantify how many kick drums you’ve ever listened to or played in your life. Coming back to the coverage of things, 1 in 10 photos has been taken in the last year.

I heard something even more mind-boggling, that the ratio is even higher.

It’s quite staggering and how many of them are of any use to anybody really?

I think the same can be said about text messages probably and with the advent of digital media you get a lot of new forms that haven’t been there before. Its insane but it’s probably about the same with the amount of music being listened to. I once heard that how many bytes are being transferred through the internet and how much of it was porn. It was ridiculous.

Where are all these data farms as well? The West Coast of America I think... How do you filter music now?

I don’t listen to every promo I get sent, I go to record shops, to different ones and I rely on friends recommending music. Just the normal things.

It was exciting when things like blogs were blowing up and you could find all this music, I got so excited by it, and then you really you can’t have everything - you don’t need everything either - and you gravitate back to a sort of gate-keeping position.

I use these kind of things in a reverse way, when I look at the RA top 100 I don’t play those tracks. That’s not entirely true, maybe 10% I find interesting. It’s a very harsh way of putting it and when there is huge hype around records or labels of course I’ll give it a listen but a lot of times it doesn’t really fall in line with my own tastes. Sometimes I ask myself if I’m really listening to the same music that everyone else is raving about right now. I think it comes down to how hard proper journalism really is. It’s super-easy to rave about something and be positive about it, just saying it’s great and reminds me of this, but scrutinising something and taking the time to live with something not just for a couple of hours until you write your review or do your interview, it takes time and effort. A lot of stuff gets blown out of proportion. Sometimes when something blows up on Twitter, Facebook and RA or something similar it already puts a stamp on it for me because so many people are going to play it now, why should I get in line and be the 1,001st DJ who’s going to play this for the next couple of weeks?

And you need that, in history it has always been like that - something to kick against. Everything from punk onwards, there’s a reaction to things.

This is how I think identity works in a way. It’s not so much about what you stand for but what you stand against. Somehow you build up this patchwork of little patches of identity. You more often chose something in a passive or indirect way by rejecting something else and over time you accumulate stuff that fits your personality and builds up your identity.

Otherwise you’re gray or beige, you’re not black or white or a strong colour. My girlfriend says I hate everything and I don’t think that’s true, I think I just have a strong feeling towards things that are just average. I think that’s what makes me angry almost, it gives me fire.

Average is quite a difficult category to operate with. What’s average to you might be very important or significant to me. Also, I think sometimes ‘give me more average stuff than another so-called artist who thinks he or she will save the world and is so important’. I think that’s something you shouldn’t neglect and the whole culture of techno and house in particular when it all started, there wasn’t this huge aspiration to be something and to cross over and be culturally significant on a broader level. It was pretty much self-contained. Back then everyone was a DJ now everyone is called an artist, I think that’s really problematic. For want of a better word, a lot of the time I refer to myself as an artist too but all I’m doing is playing other people’s music and I half-know how to build a clap track. That’s all I do if I’m honest and that’s all everyone else is doing if they’re honest. I don’t know, I would like it if the whole situation would deflate a bit and come back down to earth, it feels very over-heated and hype driven and just not honest. I’m not trying to advocate authenticity because I think that’s killing creativity too. I don’t want to be the authentic, experienced Berlin DJ. I think authenticity doesn’t really have art a lot.

Especially not with the whole fetishisation of analogue equipment and things. I was having a conversation with a friend and I think the reason you have that love for it is the kids that didn’t grow up with it and didn’t have it. There’s a need for something to hang on to.

Of course but the same kids don’t have a landline at home with a wire on it, why don’t they fetishise that?

Fair enough! It’s a bit like the late 90s when, for want of a better phrase, the subliminal, quadruple vinyl pack with terrible remixes and we’re at that sort of ‘glut’ stage again as it’s a cyclical culture and we’re just at the end of that again and I think it’ll just regenerate.

I think I agree. I really hope so actually because a lot of the things going on don’t feel right. Those inflated fees and tech riders and this DJ porn on Facebook with everyone posing like Jesus. The worst thing, and it’s something really interesting, is just why does the lowest common denominator always work? Why does poor pop music always work for so many people? How does it work? I really don’t have an answer for that.

Am I being unfair in thinking that some people don’t want to think sometimes? It’s an escape for them of sorts and most people don’t give it time.

Maybe...

Maybe that’s just me being disillusioned with the human race but there’s a lot of shit people in this world and a lot of shit people listen to shit music. Maybe I’m being unfair.

If I’m honest I’m thinking quite similarly but I’m just trying to be optimistic. I tend to be pessimistic but I can’t live like that, especially now I have kids! I brought 2 kids into this crazy world and I can’t moan about everything and tell myself 95% of thing and people are shit. I can’t teach that to my children!

You’re completely right. You have to straddle a line between realism and positivity. You have to translate that onto your kids now. What I can’t explain is the popularity of a lot of quite difficult music, which I think is a good thing. Someone like Boddika and Joy Orbison making records, they’re really hard, tough records that are quite challenging and yet they’ve got a huge audience and I think that’s great.

Absolutely but I’m not sure if this is the start of something or just the exception to the rule.

I just think those sorts of things, the level of them, they probably do get paid too much many but it is interesting. You’re always going to have a reaction to both, to every movement there’s always a reaction.

Sure. What I just said I feel I have to put into perspective because the world I described there is not my world. I’m not onstage in front of tens of thousands of people, usually I play to 150-500 people in a club and the feedback I’m getting and the people I meet are super genuine and it’s really rewarding. Still, the question is whether this is the start of something or are they just the 5%? From that perspective I really can’t complain. I feel free to play whatever I want to and most times I get a lot of appreciation for doing so and I’m not feeling restricted in that way.

I have the same thing about the 5% rule but of 7 billion people in the world that’s quite a lot of people.

Yeah, we’re both not great at maths...

You’ll have like... 350 million people. That’s not a bad amount of good people in the world or interesting things, that’s the way I look at it in a positive light.

You have to.

Christ it has been an hour already... You crack on with a few more facts!

I can continue in a pretty dark vein because something I’ve been trying to get into and have a more active role is the whole refugee situation in Europe and there’s something pretty upsetting going on in Berlin right now. I’ll just read you what I’ve prepared. Berlin’s new yet unfinished airport cost 35-40million Euro each month, just for sitting there unfinished due to corruption, mismanagement and poor planning. In 2013, Berlin has spent around 71 million Euro on 8,000 refugees. Still, the airport was supposed to open 2 years ago and there’s still no progress, no new opening date and it’s just bleeding tax money. Basically, 2 months of the airport just sitting there covers the whole cost for accommodating refugees for a whole year in Berlin. There’s a huge debate going on in Berlin and lots of morons are blaming their situation allegedly getting worst of refugees just coming here for the good lie and taking the money out of our pockets. That’s a big shame. In Germany there are a little less than 190,000 refugees, France holds a few more at 230,000 meanwhile a country like Lebanon are hosting 865,500, Turkey is holding 610,000, Iran is hosting 875,000, Pakistan is hosting 1.6 million refugees. If this doesn’t put Europe’s mental deformation into perspective nothing will. Another number - since 1990, conservative estimations claim 8,000 refugees drowned on their way from Africa to Europe in the Mediterranean. Other independent refugee organisations claim it’s more like 25,000.

Why would they lower it?

It’s always different lobbyists. When you have a protest in London, the police say it was 80,000 and the organisers say it was 120,000 and the truth is probably somewhere in between. The reason why I’m thinking about it a lot is a couple of years ago, for one and a half years a number of really desperate illegal refugees, mostly from Africa, have occupied an old abandoned school here. Just a week ago police shut off the whole neighbourhood because there were 200 squatters and they wanted to evict them - 130 left the building and 70 are still there, refusing to leave unless they get sorted out with the right to stay and with papers and it looks like civil war there. They literally blocked off an entire neighbourhood, even if you live there you can’t get in there just like that - you have to show your passport and a policeman or policewoman accompanies you to your flat and then you go in. The businesses there don’t make any money and don’t let anyone in. It’s blocked off from several sides and there are supporters and protest camps around it. I went there a couple of times and there was a big demonstration on Saturday that I went to. I’ve never been politically active, more like an armchair general. This whole thing right now really has the potential to get me out of my chair because there are lots of things you can argue about but not welcoming refugees, and also making this division between accommodating refugees for humanitarian reasons which are basically war or civil war, poverty or huge corruption doesn’t count. I don’t understand why this isn’t a humanitarian reason. Also, if you try to put yourself in the shoes of someone getting out of Sudan - they spent all their money, they risk their life and make it to Greece or Italy and then they get here and end up in prison or face deportation right away. I don’t get that. In my opinion, I’m looking at it very naively, I’m not trying to look at it from either wing but as a human being and I don’t get it. It’s the epitome of the fucked up nature of the human condition, it’s so bad. It doesn’t actually cost a lot of money to make these people live her, they’re not coming here to live on the dole and they have justified demands like wanting to stay here, rent a flat and they want to be able to work. They want access to German lessons and so on. They’re not terrorists, they’re not criminals, it’s families. Old ones, young ones and they’re criminalised in a very inhumane way and I can’t deal with that any more. I’m still sitting in my armchair but I’m reading up on it and I need to find a way I can help. In a couple of years my children will be able to ask simple, justified questions and if I don’t have the answers I don’t want to feel as bad as I will if I haven’t done anything.

That comes back to the first point we were talking about with mobilisation, maybe one should be the catalyst. You say you see it here in the UK but maybe you should be the catalyst to things out there. When you put it into perspective with the airport it just seems an absolute tragedy.

Yeah, instead of kicking out the refugees, take the power from the people who have the responsibility for this disaster. It costs so much money and doesn’t help anyone, it’s a really bizarre situation. The argument against those refugees is always that law and order thing of ‘there are laws in Germany you have to obey’ but in my mind it’s pretty obvious that laws can be wrong and there are people who have the power to change them. We’ve got to build up a critical mass and put pressure on people. It’s something that really upsets me at the moment and I hope I find something, maybe even a fundraiser and giving money to the appropriate organisations.

It’s all about awareness and using the position you have to do something to enable it. Maybe it’s worth taking hold of this absurdity of the age that we live in, in terms of DJs, and mobilising all the people you know to do something about it. We were over last year for the thing at Panorama to promote diversity and it was very prevalent in the city while we were staying there and people were talking about it. The thing is, it’s not trendy is it? Asylum seekers, refugees, it’s not cool in a way.

It’s cool and trendy as long as they shut up, you know? Those refugees are super determined and loud and have clear demands and that’s when your wine-drinking, social-liberal type gets frightened because he isn’t used to it. I think it’s brilliant that they are not caving in and that’s totally necessary. I would like to support that and make them strong enough to get through it.

You have a platform as well personally that you can use.

That’s another thing I was thinking about. I typed up a couple of messages on Twitter and Facebook already but didn’t post them because it felt like I still didn’t know enough about it and it gives me a strange feeling. I’m a semi-public figure, on a really low level, and in writing something like that I don’t want to be misunderstood. This isn’t a vehicle to promote myself as a DJ or to be perceived as cool or anything so I didn’t do it. Until I make my mind up and work out what my angle is it’s going to stay private, although I’m talking to you about it now! It’s the biggest thing on my mind.

It’s all about how you execute something. The problem with social media is that so many people say so many things and shoot from the hip. It’s all about how you communicate it really, that’ll help. It’s obviously a very important thing to communicate and there’s a difficulty of being perceived as jumping on the bandwagon or something but if you have a whole cohesive argument around it...

I’m still building the argument. As I said, political activism is not part of my biography. I always sympathise with it but somehow I am just too lazy or whatever. I’ve been one of those I have to admit.

I’m the same. I read a lot, I talk a lot but in terms of doing it that’s another thing. If it happens then let us know! 

I started reaching out to a couple of DJs already just to feel them out but we’ll see how it goes and I’ll let you know if something happens in that respect.

Well If it happens and we can do something to support then let us know.

Thank you, I appreciate that.  


Nick Hoppner plays Stop Making Sense festival next weekend. 

He also still continues to hold down a residency at Berghain/Panoramabar, plays all over the world and makes records. 

Wil

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