This Friday sees someone who has been described as ‘the European Omar S’ come to Bristol, to play for the Caravan crew. I refer, of course, to Kassem Mosse, maker of dirty weirdy house music and much admired by Joy Orbison, D Bridge and the Autonomic crew, not to mention by pretty much everyone interested in the non-beatport end of house music. You may know Caravan as being a record label, run by October and putting out a wide range of loosely house and techno based music – ranging from the epic Italo journeys of Antoni Maiovvi to the heavy as lead deconstructed sonic workouts of Emptyset… And of course October’s own unique take on things as well.
Anyways, October, along with Idle Hands’ head honcho Chris Farrell and Simon Twine, have decided to launch a night. In October’s own words:
A while back I got contacted by Marco Bernardi of Clone / Soma fame, now running Timbuk2.  He really wanted me do a night, which I was initially highly apprehensive about but all that soon subsided after some thought was put into it.  Chris Farrell and myself were discussing how Bristol needs a real House and Techno party.  Not a massive rave up in a big club but a more intimate sweaty basement vibe reminiscent of early Berlin, Glasgow, Detroit, NYC and Chicago. 

I wanted to book artists that I felt a real musical connection with that would fit in with what we are doing and had a few people that I was interested in booking, but Kassem Mosse was always our number one choice”

 

Anyways, because we always like to spoil our readers, we got Kowton (of recent Resident Advisor mix fame, and a DJ on the night) and October to combine forces and interview Kassem for us. Here’s how it went down…
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There has always been a healthy undercurrent of interest in your work amongst techno-heads in Bristol and seemingly the rest of the UK; do find this following is reflected in Germany and the rest of Europe?
I should start by saying that I am really glad about the interest from the UK, as this also started really early and after I had only done few releases. When meandyou invited me to perform in Manchester together with Lowtec and Even Tuell two years ago that was my first ever gig outside of Germany. Sometime later when the people from Non-Plus and Doldrums got in touch with me I was really surprised and happy to see such interest in my productions coming from a direction that I wouldn’t have expected. Same with the Commix remix comp: I realised that there was apparently a much greater openness in the UK than in my own environment. Myself included to a certain degree, as I haven’t really been following any of these UK scenes in recent years. It made me realise that I should perhaps make an effort to catch up.
Following the release on Non-Plus, it seems like there’s beeen a surge of enthusiasm for what you’re doing from heads across the UK underground; do you feel a musical affinity with UK underground music?

Well, as I said above, I must admit that I am quite ignorant about the current substreams. I was however strongly influenced by UK labels and artists in the 1990s: Warp, obviously, and even more so Rephlex and Skam, Two Lone Swordsmen in their Flightpath Estate period, to mention just a few examples. The UK sounds I liked had different roots obviously, everything was more bassy, more breaks oriented and plainly more weird and strange than what I heard in Germany at the time. I soaked all this up even before I really got into Detroit sounds. So I guess the influence is perhaps not a conscious one, but it’s there no less. Also in this sense of openness, often parties over here will still be very seriously conservative musical affairs, a single style and groove. But I want changes, I want breaks, I want to be able to play Prince alongside a techno record and I want people to enjoy that.

When we first became aware of your music a few years back, a mate of ours claimed you ran all your tracks through a VHS recorder. Is this true? If not, why do you think he told us this!?
Hahaha… that is amazing! Your friend has a point: I’ve been collecting all sorts of cheap equipment since the 1990s and I like the fact that a lot of these items have an imperfect sound. My way of production is completely unsophisticated, which ties in with the VHS. When you use imperfect tools there is always the possibility of magic: things happening that you cannot explain and that you don’t direct, they just happen by themselves. You lose control over these the devices and sometimes that can be a really good experience. I like when you can hear that something was recorded with a machine, when the mechanical process reveals itself. That’s a certain sense of honesty: electronic music is an artificial form and I believe you should be able to hear that in a recording, an element that reminds you of the process of recording. Take the Leron Carson album on Sound Signature for example: you can hear how the sound drops on the tape at times. I totally love those tracks for that. I believe there is an aspect to analogue gear that people mostly ignore in these tiresome analogue vs. digital debates (and I should add that, yes, of course I also use digital equipment and computers for certain things): I don’t prefer analogue over digital because I believe it inherently sounds better or something, I prefer it because I love analogue imperfection.
Would you say you’re part of any local scene? Or do you operate in isolation?
While I was part of a local collective and am still affiliated with its members and their current projects I don’t really consider myself as part of a larger local scene. I do my own thing, but also collaborate with friends on other projects, like Chilling The Do, my Freeform Ambient co-op with my mate Lorenz, who releases as Mix Mup. Most of my connections are based on longstanding friendships.
You recently remixed Commix for the ‘Re:Call to Mind’ project – have you ever considered yourself a junglist?

In the 90s I took some interest in it, went to a couple of parties, locally and also when I was in London, but I would not have considered myself a junglist. I really liked the energy of it, though.

Why did you choose the name Kassem Mosse – is there a meaning behind it?
Let me think… I would say it’s twofold: it’s an attempt to go beyond a local context (i.e. Germany, as in Kassem Mosse is not Wolfgang Voigt) and to represent a personal aesthetic. The name is derived from an earlier alias, and the whole idea behind it is to keep people guessing, or better: to make it up for themselves. I always get different associations, and a whole lot of misspellings. I like those errors. Everything is so fixed in a way nowadays: you get your profile page on some website and that’s the official Mosse right there. That’s a bit boring, because I would like to keep it mutating: in a way it’s an experiment, a little game with names. Whether you spell it Kassem Mossem, Karem Mossa, Karem Mousse, Kareem Mossee or Kassem Mosses (I stumbled across all those variants on the web) shouldn’t really matter, because what matters is that people are getting into that music. What is funny about the name though is that people in Germany never manage to pronounce it “right”. But that’s just a further aspect, another mutation.
What gear do you use in the studio and in a live set up? 
I won’t comment on this, simply because I believe that it doesn’t matter. I use the tools I have at hand, I could do the same or similar with something else because the approach would be the same. As I mentioned I’m not about sophistication, you can make the most amazing tracks on the most bland piece of gear. Put some energy into it, be willing to go the extra mile is all.
Being a DJ as well as a live act, can you tell us a little about your experiences and the different reactions you may get when you DJ or play live?
Perhaps the difference come down to control: when I play live I try to create a set that gives me enough freedom to shape the tracks as I go and a situation where I can also lose control, where I can get lost – a potential for things to happen that will surprise me (in a good way, hopefully). When I DJ I want to stay in control. I’m not sure about the differences in reactions between the two approaches, because I do not DJ as often as I play live, so it’s hard to compare.
In general what I do will mark a break from what was going on before, because I like my music rough and raw and I don’t stick with a single style for the whole set; I’m not a purist. What I like to do is move along with sound rather than style – 808 sounds for instance can be used in any electronic style: techno, house, electro, whatever, so why not mix them up? The music must be quality, that’s the most important thing.

This year in Hamburg I played a whole night together with my friend Annette (who releases, a bit too sporadically I think, as nike.bordom) and that was a great experience and audience. People really got into the flow and were open for going different ways. That’s how an ideal night should be like.

Did you work together with Omar S for his revamp of your amazing ‘578’ track on FXHE and if so, what’s the man like to work with?
Yes, I did. We met in Berlin and set up a session and we recorded some takes of his live mixes of the original track. It was quite an amazing experience for me. He is a producer that I have admired since he started releasing – the sound, the attitude, I love it all. At the point when the first FXHE releases dropped I was quite disappointed and fed up with electronic music, everything sounded alike and clean, everybody was getting into these shiny laptop sounds and there was this guy recording this amazing raw music and that restored my faith and kept me going, producing tracks no matter if they sounded perfect as long as they were deep and funky and real… At the time I obviously never would have thought that I would ever get a chance to work with him. I learned a lot from those sessions. He’s super-focused when he’s working on a mix. And I found him to be a very nice and funny guy, actually.
Any plans for an artist album?
I’m considering it, but I’m not sure if I really want this for KM: there are releases but in a certain sense it’s also a live thing, it’s about what happens here and now. On that night, with that crowd. And it should be subject to change.
I know this doesn’t make too much sense – there are the 12″s after all. But when I try to think up electronic albums that I really admire or that really impressed me, then I’m worried that I couldn’t come up with something that would come close. And if you just do a double 12″ with a couple of tracks why would that be considered an album? It’s really a complex thing and a difficult format. Eventually it will happen though, one way or the other…
What do you have in store for us for your Bristol debut?
Raw live sonics, I usually play unreleased stuff and tracks that I play just live, with some odd parts from new projects thrown in. Or I just jam once I get into jam mode. Raw machine funk is what I have in store…
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