What’s Bastard Pop? As far as I can tell, it’s two-fold: part of the concept is sabotage of the shitty, over-produced, pablum spoon-fed over mainstream radio, and the money grubbing industry behind it. Top-40 radio hits, the songs you love to hate, the songs you just can’t (la-la-la-lalalala)- get-out-of-your-head are mixed along with cult hits of the 60s, 70s, 80s, et al and thus metamorphosised into danceable, collaged masterpieces. In the process, the DJ gets to rediscover and recycle his (or her) whole the record collection, youth of yesterday meet youth of today, nostalgia meets invention, Peaches kisses Destiny’s Child’s ass, laws are broken and the DJ fiddles with beats and dials to his heart’s content.
I was first introduced to the concept of Bastard Pop on a 7”, a present from Munich electro-noise duo Dis*ka, called “Mixed Bizness”. Put it on the stereo and guitar-riff of dreams, rubber-burning stadium rock comes blasting out of the speakers. Before you can stop yourself, your dormant mullet-banging gene pops into action and your fingers shoot to the sky. Then suddenly a funky, slightly nauseating, ear-worm slithers over the top and 90s-cream-boy Beck is singing about mixing business with leather, homework with Heather and making all the lesbians scream. Ugh. And yet…somehow…appropriate. It works, not just in terms of the beats, but the lyrics – mixing pain with pleasure, in this case. Just when you’ve had enough of being ripped off by Beck, the chorus breaks out and it’s Highway to Hell, afterall! Reminds me of one of my favourite proverbs “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”…
This phrase must have been going through the brain of the British DJ, formerly known as Gary Barlow, latterly known as Kurtis Rush, (now probably using his real name again), when he he posted on a website dedicated to the so-called Bastard Pop that he was giving up on the bootlegging thing. “…What had started off as fun is almost turning into an industry and a “marketing” tool, and I dont want anything to do with it.“ This summer, just around the time Gary Rush or whatever, abandoned his limited-edition, white label vinyl mongrels, bootlegging came to Berlin in the form of a hyped up evening at ex-WMF, dedicated to Bastard Pop.
Ralf Summer, one half of the aforementioned Dis*ka, was on the decks in the little room at the WMF, when I arrived. He was working the decks like a proper top-40 terrorist, complete with a flack cap on his head and Fidel Castro look-a-like, Peter Muehlbauer. Fittingly, Peter aka “Dämonenkiller” also has several collectives dedicated to the upholding of Bastard Pop – “Rational Joyce”, “Stabilelite” und “Die! F.S.R.”. I’m not enitrely sure what these collectives are doing, but if you want to know more, contact Dorfdisco and we’ll pass you on. At the WMF, Peter and Ralf were dj-ing under yet another name – Rip Mix and Burn. They played Epheser TNG „A las barricadas“, Ungeist „Love Me“, Reisswolf „Gottmutterblut“ and I distinctly remember an Aerosmith-mutated Britney Spears. More importantly, it was danceable, had a sense of humour and there was even a guy standing near the decks who looked like the blueberry pie barfer from the film “Stand By Me”, wearing striped suspenders and bopping around.
After soaking up enough rip, mix and burn, I sashayed into the big room to see how many mutated rabbits “2manydjs” could pull out of their magic record cases. And what a heaving, throbbing, sweaty sight met my eyes! I have never been to the WMF before midnight and seen such a crowd. At the center of this tempest, two cute and humble DJs, Stephen and Dave Dewaele, from Belgium, laying on the vinyl faster than a blink of the eye, seamlessly merging and layering different songs and genres for what seem like hours on end. I started dancing and this is what happened:
Song: Early German Punk classic “Fred vom Jupiter” by Andreas Dorau
Effect: People immediately started dancing like cheerleaders to the infectious schoolgirl chorus. …sneakily turned into…
Song: Dolly Parton’s “9-to-5”
Effect: People laugh, look confused and keep shaking their asses
…which then mutates into House of Pain’s “Jump Around”
Effect: People start pogo-ing like idiots
…which then slides into another hiphop track I don’t recognise which then is sneakily mixed with Aerosmith’s “Walk this way” which all somehow ends up with the Jeans Team singing “eins, zwei, drei, vier.”
And the crowd was as crazily mixed up as the music. A sweaty, shirtless 18-year-old boy danced ecstatically next to a woman dressed in a tailored business suit with a string of pearls around her neck, pumping her hips and lip-synching to, “Push it, push it real good”.
After that, I heard it was time for DJ Everybody and DJ thewholefamily, which organiser Ran Huber explained meant that anyone who wanted to could get on the decks. Have I died and gone to a new club heaven – where there is no dresscode, where everyone dances, where all genres of music are played…?! Gary, Kurtis, whatever your name is, come back. You started something. The interracial mixing of vinyl, black on white, fat on thin: it’s not music, it’s culture. Only time will tell if this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, or just another stairway to marketing hell.