Mix 122 Carl Suspect

№ 122

Next up on The EDWIN Music Channel is Carl Suspect, a DJ, producer, and label runner, who was born and raised in the German town of Dresden and recently relocated to Berlin.

№ 122 - Carl Suspect - The EDWIN Music Channel

In his hometown, with a bunch of friends, he co-runs the globally famed label, Uncanny Valley, formed in 2010 with Albrecht Wassersleben, Conrad Kaden and Philipp Demankowski.

Today the label functions as an international network that supports art and music in various forms and features over 100 releases in its vast catalogue, which in addition to regular releases also produces limited white labels and special edits.

Regardless of the medium, we aim to pave the way to make distribution channels in the music industry sustainable and fair. We want to demonstrate that there are numerous social connections in club culture that drive a modern label. We share our knowledge and assist others in realizing their own projects.” He reveals about the ethics of their label enterprise, which also hosts the vibrant sub-labels Rat Life and Shtum.

In 2019, Carl Suspect created “Suspect Radio”, a monthly residency at Bristol’s, NOODS Radio, which he utilises as an experimental platform for new music and discoveries from the past.

Right after his relocation to Berlin, he started a new sound adventure called Crude Fact, which features himself and Kashual Plastik mastermind T.V.S.T exploring wild electronic tropes and guitar-loving sentiments.

As Carl Suspect does nothing without a distinctive thought, he has prepared a mix for The EDWIN Music Channel that he describes like this: “I immediately had two ideas. First, I wanted to incorporate spoken word segments to provide context to the mix. Secondly, I aimed for the entire mix to have the feel of a tape you'd record for friends or your secret crush.”

His exploratory journey features music by artists like Uncanny Valley boy Jacob Stoy, UK legends Two Lone Swordsmen, mythical jazz icon Miles Davis, and exclusive material of his latest project Crude Fact, all blend together in a journey music style.

As ever we spoke to our host about his time on planet Earth. Read below the extensive interview with Carl Suspect, who spoke about his origins, some peculiar highlights of his NOODS residency, his most cherished new musical talents, and more. 

Q. Hey Carl, what were your first musical influences? What kick-started your passion for music?

A. I used to listen to the radio a lot and recorded songs from broadcasts. My parents had a large record collection with a lot of jazz and Berlin-school electronics, which probably sparked my interest. In the early '90s, I had no clue about electronic music, but I bought this compilation because I thought the skull on the cover was cool:  V.A. Techno Party. There are tracks on it that I would still play today. Another significant influence was the music scene in my hometown of Dresden in the late '90s and early 2000s. There were many off-location events in old factory halls, basements, in the woods, or abandoned houses. The vibe was incredible. I got to know Cuthead during this time since he was one of the organisers of these raves. The freedom, the perceived anarchy, and the diversity of genres at these events had a profound influence on me.

Q. When did you first start to seriously buy records, dig, and try yourself out as a DJ?

A. I started buying my first records around 2000. Back then, Drum and bass was quite big in our city. They were the golden times for this genre that seemed to come from the future. That's how I began searching for this music in record stores, and it just continued from there. 

As for when I first started DJing, I can't say for sure. It was probably around 2007. The cool thing about a smaller city like Dresden was that you always had the opportunity to play somewhere, even if you weren't that great at mixing yet. There was always someone in some club who would put you behind the DJ booth and trust you.

Q. Do you have any memorable moments from your early days behind the decks?

A. In Dresden, there was a cool little club called the "Altes Wettbüro." It had a beautiful parquet floor. However, when people danced too enthusiastically, the entire floor would vibrate and sway, causing the turntable needles to skip. So, we often tried to slow the crowd down and make them dance less by playing some quirky and experimental records, which is the opposite of what a DJ usually does.

Q. You co-founded the Dresden-based label Uncanny Valley and its sub-divisions Rat Life and Shtum. What are some secrets of the label history, that have never been published?  

A. We started the label in 2010, and undoubtedly, some unusual things have emerged during that time that people today might refer to as our "Top Secret." Our catalogue is extensive, and there's much to discover. As a record label, in addition to regular releases, we often put out white labels, edits, etc., that can't be directly associated with us. Have fun searching. Behind some of the peculiar artist names in our catalogue, you might also find well-known producers, right? Who is Konstantin Tschechow, anyway?  We've also used the runout grooves of records to hide small messages and quotes. Sometimes, you might find a URL to a secret website with bonus content there.

Q. What future projects is the label working? Any highlights in the pipeline?

A. After a longer release hiatus, we have a series of exciting projects in the pipeline. Jacob Stoy has recorded an impressive album titled "Overload," which will be released soon. Additionally, there will be an EP series from Cuthead, who hasn't released anything in a long time. Acid Adams has put together a cool acid compilation, and we have upcoming releases from Leif Müller and DJ City. Stay up to date and visit our website.

Q. You have a monthly residency at Bristol-based Noods Radio! What is the aim of the show and what have been some highlights of the past four years?

A. Ah, so the show has been running since 2019 :D. For me, the show is an experimental platform. I play music I've discovered or that I'm currently exploring. Sometimes, I invite guests or focus on specific themes. However, it's mostly a reflection of my mood and my surroundings. So, it's a means of communication for me and a genre-fluid collection of music.

Here are three highlights from the past few years:

I recorded a special on Digital Hardcore recordings. In the early 90s, a group of musicians got together in Berlin and formed a label and genre under this name. Fast breakbeats, techno, noise, wave and punk were combined with political messages. Just in time to become my youth soundtrack. However, under a thick distorted layer of aggressive sounds on B-sides, you can find many textures of jazz, hip-hop, Berlin school, old horror movies, post-punk and ambient.

Under the main theme of Electronics from the GDR, I compiled a wide range of electronic, dance, wave and punk music from East Germany before the wall came down. Some of the tracks were released on the state-owned Amiga label, and some were self-released on tapes or were never released.

In 2020 I recorded a special about German drummers of all genres. I have not only chosen records by my favourite drummers like Mani Neumeier, Klaus Weiss and Jaki Liebezeit but also by producers like Sneaker and Credit 00 who have squeezed wonderful things out of their sequencers.

Q. In terms of style, how would you describe your way of DJing?

A. I've never confined myself to a specific style, and I don't intend to. Many factors can influence my DJing – the venue, the audience, the situation, the time, and the vibe in the club. I play with all these influences and find the right formula for the evening. In general, I'm more interested in the obscure and outsider things. It also depends on what I aim to achieve on that particular night. Do I want to go with the flow with the audience? Do I want to challenge the people?

Q. Do you have any new solo records or projects in the pipeline?

A. I've recently taken a longer break to step back from music production. I plan to pick it up again in the winter. Next up are recordings and rehearsals with the band Crude Fact, a project of F. from Kashual Plastik and me. The goal is to create an album or EP. However, I'm not making specific plans. Solo projects will also be in the works, and I'm excited to start writing music again.

Q. How did you select the tracks for your Edwin Music channel mix?

A. When EDWIN approached me, I immediately had two ideas. First, I wanted to incorporate spoken word segments to provide context to the mix. Secondly, I aimed for the entire mix to have the feel of a tape you'd record for friends or your secret crush. Music that moves you, sharing it to express your connection. Maybe even hide a message in there? Ideally, you'd transfer it onto a cassette and play it in your dusty old car until it can't go on anymore. That's the vibe this mix is intended to convey, and that's how I selected the music.

Q. You recently moved to Berlin. Did the relocation inspire you to new creative ideas and projects?

A. A good friend referred to relocating to a different city or place as a mental experiment, and I think that's an appropriate description. Moving to a new place always involves leaving something behind and embarking on a fresh start. It's both easy and challenging. Of course, it's all inspiring. I've been in Berlin since July 2022, and the city feels good. In the vicinity of Arkaoda Berlin, there are plenty of interesting artists to collaborate with, and there are many points of connection.

Q. How is the musical scene in your hometown Dresden right now?

A. Dresden has always been an intriguing city from a musical perspective. Due to its unique geographical location in a valley and its relatively poor transportation connections compared to other cities, there aren't as many external influences as possible. The city is very self-referential. This is fascinating because it has led to the development of a unique and distinct scene. Picture it like a pressure cooker with a lid, and over time, it creates a sort of creative "Soljanka" with all its advantages and disadvantages.

However, the city, like many European cities, faces the usual challenges of the cultural scene, including rising rents and gentrification, which leave fewer spaces for studios or clubs. At the same time, institutional support is decreasing. But where there are shadows, there is also hope, and Dresden has always had creative solutions for the challenges of the times. If you're curious about the next generation of producers or DJs, simply drop by the MIDI event hosted by Albrecht Wassersleben. It takes place every two weeks on Wednesdays at midi.dance.

Q. You also work as a graphic designer. What’s something you’ve learned through music that has helped you in your visual work?

A. I'm not sure if I want to use the term "designer." I spend a lot of time exploring the things that surround me. City residents leave all sorts of peculiar objects and create obscure forms and complex structures. I work with them and experiment with them. So, I'm more of a curator of the environment, selecting or finding the motifs that can serve as a basis for a project. Beauty and decay are always around us, and you just have to discover them. There are several ongoing series and research projects that will be unearthed and used at some point. In my case, it's the other way around – visual elements influence the music and its mood. You can find some of my work HERE.

Q. What are some records from the past that coined your musical taste of today?

A. Unrolling this musical tapestry isn't easy, as it's filled with many colours. Let me try to summarize a few key elements: There was this guy in the schoolyard who gave me a cassette with a mix from Digital Hardcore Recordings. It was all pretty cool. Tracks like Alec Empire's Generation Star Wars or the "Low on Ice" album on Mille Plateaux are essential.

And then, of course, there's Drum & Bass. I still vividly remember the first time I listened to the Torque LP by Ed Rush, Nico, and Trace on No U-Turn. An important influence was also Christian Morgenstern. He had this Miscellaneous EP series with a unique sonic world and energy. Sonic Youth has always been a companion, and at some point, I'd like to create music with the same power and desperate energy as records from the band Shellac.

Q. Can you name some musicians/producers, who are underrated in your opinion?

A. Let's not label them as "underrated" because they are simply very talented, and everyone who knows them highly appreciates their work. Perhaps the following artists deserve more attention, and I'm not limiting this to just music.

Takako - A producer and DJ from Japan, based in Berlin. Her DJ sets are genre-bending, and her modular-driven productions seem to come straight from the future.

Tot Onyx - An inspiring personality and producer. Her live sets are always impressive, performative, and inspiring. Also, be sure to check out her project Group-A.

Elena Sizova - What can I say? She's produced a record with Gerald Donald as Der Zyklus and is one of the best DJs I know. Be sure to check her out!

Siem Salaboem - I met her in Arles during Les Rencontres de la Photographie and she is an amazing visual Artist based in The Hague. Her works have a very special mood and depth that I truly appreciate.

Loma Doom - You always need some Doom in your life. The most eclectic DJ I know, with a very fine sense for sonic experiences. She's always up for Sonic Youth nerd talk as well.

Kashual Plastik - Woooow, chaos, pain, and beauty are so closely intertwined. Make sure to check out this essential label and the associated artists.

Jacob Stoy - A good friend of mine. As mentioned, he is about to release an album on Uncanny Valley soon and also has a fantastic visual output.

Max Frimout - Perhaps in the past, he would have been called a musical prodigy. But he's just super cool, a mix of scientist, artist, and astronaut. It's always fun to hang out with him.

Nina Hannah Kornatz - A painter based in Leipzig. I never met her but I really like her large-scale paintings, the colours and the structures. Very inspiring!

Q. Who is your favourite person to follow on Instagram?

A. I'm not sure if I want to make any recommendations for a multinational corporation here. Somehow, the whole social media thing is boring. But recently, I discovered a page of someone who digs excellent holes, and that's how social media should be: It’s strange - it must be someone from Dresden. Otherwise, consider following one of the artists above; they need the attention and support, not just any content generators.

Q. Can you name us people who should collaborate for a better world?

A. Humans should collaborate for a better world. There is far too much violence, hatred, and envy in the world.

Q. Is there anything you like to add that we forgot?

A. I like trains.

01. Planetary Assault Systems - Cassette Intro(Ostgut Ton)
02. Carl Suspect - It's Still Red (unreleased)
03. Jacob Stoy - HHM (Uncanny Valley)
04. Qlowski – Interlude [02/11/1975](Feel It Records)
05. Humanoid - Laughing Box (Rephlex)
06. Allen Ginsberg reads Howl 
07. Shifted - Several Instances (Avian)
08. Topdown Dialectic - Vol. 2 A2 (Peak Oil)
09. Parris - Dusty Glass Bubbles (3024)
10. Refused - The Refused Party Program Intro (Burning Heart Records)
11. Miles Davis - Pharaoh's Dance (Columbia)
12. Edgar Froese speaking
13. Duval Timothy - Cold Is Coming (I Should Care Records)
14. Matthias Schuster - Atemlos (Konkurrenz Schallplatten)
15. Two Lone Swordsmen - Tiny Reminder No.1 (Warp Records)
16. Die Letzten Ecken - Der Ritter (Billo Tonträger)
17. Crude Fact - Untitled Demo (unreleased)
18. Brian Eno And The Words Of Rick Holland - Fierce Aisles Of Light (Warp Records)
19. Todd Rundgren - Intro (Bearsville)
20. Saga & Mei Lwun –    Def Con 2.01 (OM Records)
21. Kluentah - Der Wuestensohn (Public System Recordings)
22. HIA & Biosphere - The Rotunda (Headphone)
23. Nabihah Iqbal - Elvis (self-released)
24. Magnús Jóhann & Skúli Sverrisson - Umboðsmaður almættisins (Reykjavík Record Shop)
26. Maurice Lecoeur - Le Soleil Qui Rit Rouge (Transversales Disques)