MIXED EMOTIONS 15 years later.
A long time ago, in another lifetime, i had a big nightclub in Montreal called Sona, and i djed at that night club every friday night from 3-7am….
it was about a hundred times less glamorous than it sounds. yes i was an owner and a dj but i was also playing techno to a big room that mostly wanted house, and i had already had my glory years as a young rave dj, and all in all i was starting to wonder where it was all heading. Musically i was playing less and less inspiring music to less and less inspired people, myself included. Inspiration has a cycle to it, and around 99 i was at a low point. But slowly in the background , gaining momentum….there was a new sound creeping in (as is always the case, you have to listen very carefully to hear it) ….. those strange records you secretly love, but for some reason feel afraid of playing. they feel too weird, or too challenging, so you put them on a tape…. or you listen in the car, building up a whole fantasy of how glorious the world would be if you could just play THOSE tracks.The tracks i was slowly building up could be loosely called electro. Not the classics really, not straight 808 or Miami bass, but a new strain with a heavy 80’s influence…. Dutch records from emerging masters like I-F, and german ones introducing Kraftwerk inspired kids like Anthony Rother: crucially a generation of techno and house kids looking for something more. they were small records, B-sides, delicate, hand picked. I felt nobody cared…. but i was in love.
Turns out it was my turn to do a mixcd, which was a big deal at the time, at least for me. Because i owned the label, and the club, i could indulge in the classic textbook indulgment move: a DOUBLE album. i wanted to hedge my bets. I also wanted to introduce myself to the world. CD1, since forgotten to history, was the sound of what i was playing at Sona at the time…..good techno, early Swedish stuff, some classic bombs, solid late 90’s techno. it was “good”. i’d give it a solid 7 on 10. at best.
But the second CD….. this was my baby, my labor of love, my manifesto….. i took all those special records i had been saving, and put them together. hiding in the musical shadow of the “safer” mainroom CD, i did what you should always do anyway— i just played what i truly adored.
i called the second disk “electro-funk” and the whole package was called MIXED EMOTIONS, a reflection of my state of mind at the time (at a key moment in the artwork process, i heard Michael Douglas prophetically say ”mixed emotions” in a movie, sealing the deal). I was really happy with the results, which even included some very basic stabs at production (an intro)…
at the time something else that bothered me was that i was not famous. it wasn’t so much that i wanted to BE famous, but i wanted to at least LOOK famous. be a bit like some of my heroes: Bowie, and Duran Duran (well, Nick Rhodes actually) and Soft Cell….. i wanted to at least be on a record cover. i had been in love with the techno and rave ethos, i had enjoyed the ecstasy fuelled facelessness that was exciting in the early 90’s, but it had run its course (back then) and i was bored out of my mind. i wanted to be MORE, i wanted to be FREE….and so i did what anybody would do: got naked, grabbed some lipstick and posed.
while it seems so obvious now, at the time in 2000, for a DJ to blatantly do away with the “dj image” and present himself as a personality was not very common. many friends laughed at me. i took some heat. BUT i knew very quickly that it was the heat of haters…… and it was quickly overshadowed by a new love, and a connection with a growing scene of people that felt the same. i learned the first of many valuable lessons: if nobody thinks you are an idiot you probably aren’t doing anything very good.
what happened next was the stuff of fairytales: DJ Hell heard Mixed Emotions and came calling. i made Sunglasses At Night with Jori Hulkkonen shortly after launching my production career. The electro revival of the early 2000s was in full swing, and all my dreams were coming true. in my mind, Mixed Emotions was ground zero, and it is still to this day my favourite mix i have ever done. Competed in one take with just the basic two 1200’s, no fancy tricks and no tech….. just the basic ingredients that start any movement: LOVE, courage and a little luck.
this new sound, for me, reached a peak with 2002’s DJ Kicks mixcd, by then integrating new twists like DFA and more vocal tracks….. but Mixed Emotions was always the prototype. naive and pure. the vital FIRST escape.
im not a nostalgic person, and rarely look back: but here it is with all its rough edges: the cover painting, the literary fable, the bathtub shot, the pink “japanese” Turbo logo, and of course the music. 15 years later.
love from montreal