From his adopted home of Berlin, DJ and journalist John Loveless runs his party and label Hot Concept. The roving party, where he also acts as resident, has seen him share the booth with a diverse range of artists, and has since evolved to include a label arm, which he launched in May of this year with an EP from Beigean.
Alongside his new label ventures, John works as a creative consultant and A&R for Erol Alkan's Phantasy imprint, where he curates an in-depth interview series called 'The Forum'. Elsewhere, he holds a residency at Lichtenberg's community-led platform Cashmere Radio, inviting the likes of Cormac, Daniel Avery, Karen Gwyer and Dark Entries boss Josh Cheon to join him on his 'Display Resolution' show. Musically his monthly shows, and his DJ sets, explore offbeat house, psychedelic techno, heartfelt disco, outsider pop, transient ambience and, in his own words, "quite simply, whatever else works".
Off the back of his inaugural label release, we invited him along to give us a glimpse into what John Loveless is all about...
Please introduce yourself... Who are you, where are you and what are you?
I’m John, I’m a DJ based in Berlin, having been born and raised in the North-West of England. I run a small party and a label called Hot Concept, and I’ve been DJing for over a decade, with mixed results, and I also have a background as a writer and journalist covering electronic and alternative music. As such, now the tables have turned, I am determined to nail this interview and give you the provocative headlines you crave.
What does your music sound like?
I’m just a DJ, so I suppose it sounds like everyone else’s and nobody’s at once. I have a residency on Cashmere Radio in Berlin in which I am wilfully, indulgently ‘eclectic’ once a month, whereas this mix is very much programmed and recorded with a dancefloor of sweaty, chemically altered friends in mind. I tend to favour records that sound a bit weird or off-kilter, and although there is new-wave, acid house, breaks and very ‘now’ techno in this, I think that would be the unifying theme. But I don’t feel like you can really see (or hear) the wood for the trees when attempting to summarise your own taste.
Where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded in the home of Berlin’s foremost rave benefactor, Charlie Leahy, aka, sprintf.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
A nightclub, if you happen to have one to hand.
What should we be wearing?
What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?
All my dreams involve combing my hair.
Which track in the mix is your current favourite?
To be honest, I spent a torturous weekend narrowing them down, so I don’t want to hear any of them again for a while. But of course I have an affection for those I was peripherally involved in; Beigean on Hot Concept, and the amazing Laurel Halo remix of Wilted Woman’s truly bonkers first release on Phantasy. Most of the tracks are relatively recent to 2019, but I tried to incorporate a few things that feel like ‘signature’ records of mine, at least in my eyes. Nitzer Ebb’s ‘Control’ is one of those, ever since I heard it on the first edition of Trevor Jackson’s Metal Dance a decade or so ago, I haven’t stopped playing it out regularly.
What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?
I’m afraid I was kindly schooled by too many Acid House Dads for it not to be Andrew Weatherall’s first Essential Mix.
What was your first DJ set up at home and what is it now?
I’ve never owned a DJ setup at home, I just learned in bars and clubs. When I want to try out blends, including those in preparation for this mix, I run it all through the unsung hero of MP3 software, Virtual DJ. This isn’t a point of pride or resistance, I might add, I’m just typically skint and have therefore never learned to properly appreciate the value of a solid investment or the freedom of financial security. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s made me a better or worse DJ, just an ineffective boyfriend.
What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?
There’s no right or wrong way to do anything, but if I’m forced to speculate… At a festival, definitely the track you start on, whereas at a club, you have much more scope to win people back and occasionally confuse and/or repulse them. And I say that from my vantage point as a veteran disc jockey of no less than three festivals.
What were the first and last records you bought?
The last I purchased was ‘Forgotten Wasteland’ by Claro Intelecto (who is still brilliant and interesting, even if I knocked their classic ‘When The Time is Right’ out of this mix due to time constraints. Sorry, Claro!). I also got this wicked psych-pop record, ‘Daily Ever Dawning’, by a Texan named Bill Baird, while on a Bandcamp haul. The first was either ‘Flat Beat’ by Mr. Oizo; a seminal bonafide classic that I still love and play, and one that imprinted a style of sonics on my brain that I think you could even trace in this mix. OR, more likely it was ‘Do You Want Me’, by Lelaini, a one-not-even-a-hit wonder I saw on The Box on cable TV, where it was ‘requested’ conspicuously often given that nobody bought it… Despite a promising Bangalater-esque start, even the Rhythm Masters can’t save it with their ‘Killa Club Mix’ on the flip…
If this mix was an edible thing, what would it taste like?
Dodgy, but just get it down you.
One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything?
Nothing comes to mind, but earlier this year, I download a Massive Techno Banger from Zippyshare and found out the hard way that whoever had uploaded it (possibly the artist?) had fucked with it to create a fluctuating BPM. Teaches me for being a cheapskate and getting ideas above my room size. Incidentally, Zippyshare is now blocked in Germany, although it’s too early to say if the decision is related.
What’s next for John Loveless?
Hopefully just more of the same, but different.
Anything else we need to discuss?
Yes, if you’re reading this with immediate effect, please come to the next edition of Hot Concept at Paloma in Berlin on Saturday July 27th. It’s a special collaboration with Dark Entries, featuring myself, the mysterious E. Myers, and the even-more mysterious ‘Metatron Men’; two beloved local selectors celebrating Pride with a ninety-minute set composed entirely of Patrick Cowley productions, under his own name, and others in the ‘Cowleyverse’.
Follow John Loveless.