#64 - Andrew Red Hand
Whilst we just about recover from South London Ordnanace's EPM Podcast we now welcome the dark electro, bass and techno of Romania’s finest, Andrew Red Hand with EPM Podcast 64. Starting with a slow burn electro mix that takes in Gesloten Cirkel, Anthony Rother, Versalife, Drexciya, Suburban Knight, BMG and even the Balanescu Quartet’s take on ‘The Model’ he cranks things up a notch in the final half an hour as techno takes over with DJ Bone, DJ Skull, Scan 7 and Ultradyne joining the throng before the mix closes out with the more house styled production of D’Marc Cantu.
A self-taught DJ, producer, uncompromising warrior of the underground, Andrew Red Hand has always tried to avoid the obvious trends and hype, an attitude that made none other than Aaron-Carl name him ''the Romanian Underground Resistance himself''.
Born in Iasi, the second city of Romania, he's one of the first generation of DJs in town and he was there at the beginning of the underground scene in 1997 at VIP club, one of the very few clubs in the country that promoted electronic music at that time, where he learned the art of mixing and played occasionally. In the following years he organized countless events with guests across the country in different clubs, such as club Imperium where he became resident, fighting with the power of sound against the new trends that flooded Romania. In 2002 he made the first ever broadcast, live techno mix at a local radio.
As a producer Andrew Red Hand is signed to 6 record labels from Detroit: Matrix Records, Twilight 76 Records, Databass Records, Cratesavers International, Detroit Techno Records, 6ONE6, as well as Belgium's Melodymathics & 8311 Music from Bulgaria.
His musical productions fuse together the soul of his native town Iasi, known as 'the spiritual capital of Romania' with the futuristic electro, techno, acid sound, being characterized, in fact, by a free, no compromise exploration of electronic music, unique and groundbreaking in his country, Romania; His sound is often compared to the Detroit sound, some of his early tracks being considered by Claude Young and not only as ''true Detroit spirit music''. His music got support from the likes of Anthony Shake Shakir, Alan Oldham, DJ Bone, Terrence Dixon, Detroit Techno Militia's DJ Seoul, DJ Godfather, Sean Deason, Thomas Barnett, Mysterious Mr O of Detroit Grand Pubahs, Dave Clarke who charted and played it in his famous ''White Noise'' radio show as well as in 2008's Awakenings set, Body Mechanic in his ''Detroit Promo'' radio show, the DJs of the esteemed Global Funk Radio, New Detroit Radio ...
Being a versatile skilled DJ, his sets are a musical journey, one of a kind in Romania. He plays music that stands the test of time, regardless of trends, hype or fads, starting with Detroit techno, electro/techno bass, ghetto tech, soulful jazzy house to Chicago's acid, raw jacking house, timeless classics and some other international cutting-edge electronic music too. As you will soon find out…
Q&A with Andrew Red Hand
1. Was the track selection of your mix a relatively easy process?
Not at all! Au contraire, I may say it was a pleasant pain. I am very careful as to what I play and these days it is very hard to find some new music comparable to the quality of the one that I grew up listening to. I admit that I am quite picky, but I'd rather play some music with substance, regardless of the year it was produced, than to pollute with some up to date nonsense, just for the sake of being actual.
2. Growing up in Iasi, Romania, what were your first experiences of electronic dance music?
In terms of discovering music it was a rough process as in the communist era all that you could find there was only music made here, which was not all so bad, but you had lots of propaganda music as well. My father had a friend who recorded some reel to reel tapes with all sorts of great international music that I was messing with on our Russian Majak reel to reel player. Then after the 89 revolution we had plenty of music on cassettes but mostly it was commercial crap but I found some good ones over the years too. As the home internet arrived late here, I was recording from Viva's Housefrau & Berlin House, 94-95 TV shows and MCM's techno on VHS and then on cassette tape - haha. I discovered a lot of high quality stuff, there I first saw Carl Craig or DJ Hell mixing and I learned a lot of great music as well. Then we gathered at club VIP in 97, where our underground movement started and I had access to great music, Berlin Detroit - A Techno Alliance CD comes up now in my mind.
In terms of ''clubbing'', we here in Iasi were one of the first cities in Romania who had the guts to promote electronic music back in the day. In the early 90s we had a bar called ‘Cocktail’ here where some future to be DJs were playing music on some CD players & turntables. It wasn’t until 95-96 when there was a club called ‘Nr 1’ where the resident DJ held a few house/techno parties that I attended. The rest of the nights there were commercial dance music. All the underground movement started at VIP club in 97 and I had the chance to be around. We were a handful of people but I think that those were the most honest and sweet local parties ever. Then in 2000 we had a great club named ‘39’, that was the first club in the country that had 2 rooms, techno being played in 1, house in the other. Those were the heydays of high quality music being played out here. Then trends invaded and the destructive order begun and it continues to this day...
3. How has Romania changed since the 1989 revolution? Do you remember life under the Communist regime?
Romania has changed since the 89 revolution, whose flame started in my city Iasi btw. The main problem is that our revolution was kind of stolen, the dictator Ceausescu has been killed in 89, after almost 50 years of communism, but not after his Security and others unknown killed more than 1100 people and injured more than 3500. His political slave Ion Iliescu, a former prime secretary of the communist party in my city came into power immediately, sadly. So after that we started to have a democratic regime built by a communist with his close friends. And here we are after 25 years, we have a brand new president which is from the German minority. He is being accused of involvement in international traffic of our Romanian children and who, as former mayor, took care to return illegally, among others, the former Gestapo headquarters to his German association. Nazi? At the bottom, they're all the same communist mofos rotating themselves with their new-born puppets. I never voted, I don't want to legitimize their destructive system and I don't want to hurt my people! 50 years of Communism were enough, I guess at least 50 must pass in order to clean their mess.
Yes I remember life under the communist regime, mofos made me a pioneer too for the few years until the revolution. I was even advanced as a group commander too haha. And the first teacher was beating the hell out of us with the ruler on the hands. But I could not be brainwashed and I don't forget! I was lucky enough as my mother worked in the grocery store and I had food, but I saw lots of people suffering from hunger. When Ceausescu introduced the food ration to pay back the money from those economic terrorists called IMF, I started to see rows of like 50 people standing in cold winters at 5 AM for 1 kilo of milk everyday! And most of them there were old folks. There was a specific list and little amount of food a family could get with that card. You had to shut your mouth, not criticize the regime or elsewhere you were beaten to death if someone would tell the police. Lots of people were thrown in jail and killed. People including my mother were forced to go to China-like parades for the dictator and his retarded wife. And even after this criminal times the true Romanian spirit still lives on, has resisted. People were still thinking free and making fun of them quietly.
And the baddest thing the Communist mofos did to me is to kill my dearest person, my everything, my mother! In the early 90s in the days of the former communist mofo Ion Iliescu, there was no blood control in the dirty hospitals and everyone could donate without a check. And when my mother needed a transfusion they inject her a contaminated one with Hepatitis C, basically they sentenced her to death. This year, after a long time and brave fight, my dear mom has died! And there were thousands of similar cases!
So I invite anyone to come and find out what our nation is all about but don't miss the villages! You'll find hard-working warm people with huge souls and positive spirits and a quite a beautiful country as well. Not as the false international media depicts us, showing mostly the criminals, beggars and all that. That's not the real Romania!
4. Why has the music of Detroit had the biggest impact on you?
Because they're the creators of this marvelous thing called techno! Their creativity doesn't stop at techno though, they took so many genres to another level, being straight techno, electro or even house etc. Not to mention Motown and the multitude of talented artists in a lot of music. In terms of pushing the boundaries Detroit artists are the kings! There is something special in that area. I know there have been some hard times for them over the years, but I guess that it helped in the end, I've noticed that struggling forces you to be more creative. And a way of escaping may be by doing music, you can get out mentally at least. You need to have a lot of talent and vision to make a track like ‘Night Drive’ in 1985 and today, after almost 30 years, to still sound like tomorrow. After all, I think the test of time is the most feared critic and making music that can stand it is any artist's goal. Detroit guys did it successfully. It's a dream come true for me to release music on their legendary labels and working with them always inspires me to do more than I normally can, so I am always very thankful and greatly honored! But I am quite sad sometimes to see some of them adjusting their sound more or less to the trends, I am always expecting from Detroit music that amazes me, not predictable or trendy.
5. Your mix starts with an Underground Resistance Radio Intro. How did you come into contact with UR and what effect has their music and ideology had on you as a DJ and producer?
Oh yes I did that intro by cutting and mixing some of Mr Banks' words for my three mixes I had the immense honor to do for Underground Resistance's Radio UR. I think it sums up two important messages that people tend to forget: to not allow yourself to be programmed and to ''kill'' the radio station, the major source of controlling everyone's mind. And I was very pleasantly surprised to see that they use it for one of their promo videos for their Radio UR.
I came into contact with some of them since the myspace era and I think before that too but I finally met them when they came here in Bucharest at Rokolectiv in 2008 to perform as Interstellar Fugitives. I love this project! There was DJ Skurge, Jon Dixon, Cornelius Atlantis, Frankie Fultz (special shout out for making that lovely artwork for me) and my hero Mad Mike Banks. Great talk and amazing people. Mr Banks even had the amiability to take a picture with me, unmasked, while I was melting down! Haha. We all know he's not into pictures at all. It was the most inspiring and breathtaking experience ever. Like seeing the past present and future of Detroit's electronic music right in front of your eyes. I'll never forget when Cornelius aka Atlantis asked me to get him on stage, as the ISF plan was. I had covered my face with their famous scarf and wearing a home-made UR t-shirt, I got Cornelius on stage blindfolded as if I would have caught and handcuffed him, the Interstellar Fugitive. And then I let him go and the astonishing performance begun.
Well their ideology wasn't new to me, I mean it was new in terms of how to apply it to music. When I found out about UR it was like a confirmation that I was on the right track as a DJ with my combat against the mediocre music that was being spread everywhere here in Romania. But the idea of (underground) resistance is old and I read about it on our people's resistance against the communism. When Churchill basically sold our nation to the communist Stalin, at the Yalta Conference, the newly arrived communists started to eliminate anyone who did not want to adopt their criminal vision and in order to resist, a lot of people had to retreat in the mountains. Tons of them have been thrown in jails for not giving up their beliefs and a lot of them managed to resist, while some were murdered sadly.
As a producer their music influenced me in terms of opening up my horizons first of all. I think almost everything they released is quite amazing in terms of quality and depth and every time I play it, it gives me a sort of strength and touches me in a special way. UR is at the forefront of electronic music, no doubt. Their artist’s music stands the test of time and inspires so many people to do their stuff and push the boundaries as much as possible. I think the world needs more visionaries like Mad Mike Banks! And less loop players that push monitors onto their zombies…haha!
6. How is the techno / dance music scene now in Romania?
Now? It's a circus world: clowns, clones and zombies. It wasn't always like that! On a large scale Romania did not find out about the greatest, the high end forms of electronic music sadly, like Detroit techno / electro, Chicago house or others. It's deeply buried in the low end ones. Here's why: prior to 2000 the few underground DJs that existed were playing what they wanted, mostly house, but it was free, quite diverse music and hence people were pretty open minded. When the progressive-house trend hit, most DJs quickly moved to it and so the destructive order had begun. No more diversity, the same crap all night. And as we know linearity is the death of creativity. When this thing so called minimal started to be in vogue, again the same DJs jumped on the bandwagon. Same sounds all night, ridiculous loops all over, no more advanced music. It's the same bad situation today too. So if anyone wants to ''thank'' some well known guys from here for this situation, they should start with the [a:rpia:r] guys who were part of this and spread this sub-mediocre music since its inception, the progressive-house era. And their clones too, who are spreading as well exclusively this mnml and its failed hybrids for ages. So Romania is dominated by trend-shifting DJs that would play any trendy music as long as they have cash in their pockets. They don't give a funk about the quality of music and its real impact on people.
And so the level of knowledge of people regarding more advanced music is kept by these guys to a level close to 0, to their benefit. But sadly you can't live eating only burgers to McDonald's and listening to junk electronic exclusively. I think that the new young generations should hear first all the history and the greatest music ever made, before being bombarded with crap from everywhere. If you don't have some filters through which you analyze the music, then you'll believe that everything is good. In order to discern the high-end from the low-end you have to have some knowledge, otherwise there is a major risk of becoming a zombie follower. Many DJs have transformed over the years in audio programmers, false prophets of sound and people must be aware of that! They're like wolves in sheep's clothing now, ready to fool you with their crappy music, using their notoriety.
And this is my mission, to inform and play to the people the greatest music that can inspire them as it inspired me, touch their hearts, brains and minds and raise the level of awareness in order to avoid becoming a zombie machine. No trends, hype, or BS... I think am I the only guy that has the guts to play some Detroit electro and even straight techno here or some raw acid, if you can believe...
7. Any production / release plans for 2015?
Yes, I have some. I may say that doing music saved my life in 2014...
So for 2015 I have a special EP dedicated to my dearly missed mother. I have the immense honor to release it on one of the labels I always greatly admired, Holland's finest MOS Recordings! It will be some house, techno, acid, funk, some church bells, rain, choirs, strings, etc... made with sighs, tears and sorrow.
And I have an electro EP that will be out on my favorite underground label, Detroit Underground, the cool label of Kero. ''Inspiring Memories'' EP - 1 track dedicated to Underground Resistance that I named it ''Fugitive For One Night'', in memory of that magic night when I met them, and also a track dedicated to Bass Agenda (Nr 86), the great radio show where I had the honor to be interviewed this year by the good man Andy! And there will be some remixes on the EP too.
I had the honor to do some remixes for some Detroit legends that are about to see the light: one for Sean Deason's classic ''The Shit'', which is the first electro remix for this hot classic, it will be out on his Morpheus Records, a sublabel of his iconic Matrix Records, where I had the pleasure to release my EP ''Life-Changing Experiences'' this year. Then a techno remix for Thomas Barnett's ''Lord Of The Sith'' that will come out on his dope Vissilusion. And a deep electro-funk remix for Niko Marks as well (tba).
Also I made an electro track ''Robot Battles'' that will be out on a CD compilation with some great electro artists, on Remote Influence.
I also did an electro remix for the Spanish Sbles3plex for their upcoming album on Fundamental Bass Intelligence, and an electro? remix for W1b0, out soon on Bass Agenda Recordings.
8. What’s the best way to keep warm in the cold winter months?
Doing music. In winter I do a lot. Sadly the winters are not snow filled anymore as they used to be when I was a child. They were like in fairytales, beautiful, with a lot of snow, especially those at my grandparents! Now it barely snows, there were years with almost nothing and the temperature increased too, so the snow last for fewer days anyway. So I guess if someone will convince the biggest polluters USA and China to change then we're gonna have some amazing cold and snowy winters again.
9. Where does the tag ‘Red Hand’ come from?
It's a real one, a red port-wine stain, a birthmark that I have on my entire left hand. I love it. I'm half man, half amazing ... so beware of the Red Hand haha! Perhaps the most famous is Mikhail Gorbachev's, he has a small one on his forehead. Actually the mark saved me from going to the army. I hate the army, especially if I have to do it with some former communists. Never! I was sent by the authorities to the military hospital so they can check the mark and after I was complaining to the doctor that according to our laws you could not join army if you had a major mark on your body and more than that I will not allow any post-communist mofo to mop the floor with me, he postponed me with 1 year. Pretty convincing. The next year they removed it from being mandatory, so I could raise them the middle finger laid back. In the meantime I have talked to a friend who knew some authorities and I was safe, with a pack of good coffee there would be no army for me haha. So I was covered anyway!
10. What is your all time Top 10?
Wow, it's pretty hard to pick only 10. There are hundreds of pieces of amazing music that I love in many genres ! Ok, I'll name some that come up in my mind now.
So in no particular order, except for position nr 1 & 2, which are perhaps the most well known Romanian musical masterpieces, done by 2 geniuses from my area of the country Moldova, first is Ciprian Porumbescu's - the Ballad for Violin and Orchestra. If someone wants to hear how the soul, the beauty and the pain of the Romanian spirit sound in one masterpiece, that's it. And then the Romanian Rhapsody by George Enescu, another timeless art of our nation.
Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, I love it all but part 1 is killing me! The most profound and haunting music ears can hear imo. I dig Wilhelm Kempff's interpretation and my good friend Matei S.'s ones too. He used to play at our National Theatre when he was a child and he really can transmit the message to the point of me melting down in the seat haha.
Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 - as everyone knows, astonishing!
Coming back to our electronic enviroment - Jeff Mills - Blue Potential, with Montpelier Philharmonic Orchestra, to me this is the next level of techno! I knew it ... I am amazed everytime I hear this concert, Gamma Player is f**king insanely goosebumping and extra-terestrial interpretated !! (3.5 on RA, roflmao)
UR - Final Frontier - I can't pick one favorite track from Mr Banks as I love his music, but I think on this one angels came down to Submerge and played the strings with him or something. Best acid electro masterpiece ever, heavenly!
Model 500 - Night Drive. I'll never get tired of it. One of Godfather's of Techno masterpiece, enough said ...
Sade - It Is A Crime. I love Sade, her music is a medicine for soul. Bring her to Romania, fools!
John Lee Hooker - Chill Out & The Healer. John Lee Hooker is my favorite blues man. And as he said ''Blues is the healer''! His music really helped me to get over a problem some years ago. Thank you Mr JLH! I regret I never saw him live.
Stevie Wonder - I Just Called To Say I Love You - this is one of my favourite childhood songs. I remember when I was a kid a friend of mine got a cassette from abroad and we both fell in love with this, we played the hell out of that tape over and over again that day.
And the list goes on and on...
Ok so thanks much for the interview EPM! It is a big honor! Warm greetings from Iasi to everyone. And... beware of the Red Hand!
ANDREW RED HAND LINKS
Facebook Page - www.facebook.com/AndrewRedHand
Soundcloud - www.soundcloud.com/AndrewRedHand
Youtube - www.youtube.com/user/IS0232
EPM Podcast 64 - Andrew Red Hand Tracklist
Andrew Red Hand - Underground Resistance Radio UR Intro
Danny Daze feat. Translucent - Beatdown (Erika’s Spaced Up Remix)
Gesloten Cirkel - Zombie Machine (Acid)
Nrsb-11 - Shadow Corp
Andrew Red Hand - Haze De-Stress
Ekman - Sharada
Anthony Rother - Schopfer
Morphology - Zilog Z80
Andrew Red Hand - From Ecstasy To Agony
Versalife - Below The Horizon
Drexciya - You Don't Know
Seldom Seen - Catwalk
Suburban Knight – Elimination
Balanescu Quartet - The Model
Bmg & Derek Plaslaiko - The True Story Of A Detroit Groove
Vidrio vs Gosub - Excelsior (Vidrio Remix)
Ultradyne - Lost A1
DJ Bone - I Do
DJ Skull - Power
Scan 7 - The Resistance
D'Marc Cantu – Grey
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