Saturday, May 10, 2008

One Hundred Project : Frank

What is on your stereo at the moment?

Dig Lazarus Dig by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

4 records that changed your life. Why?

The Birthday Party: Prayers On Fire

I grew up in a very remote area called the Black Forest in southern Germany, in a village of only 400 inhabitants. Life was very idyllic and growing up being surrounded by nature is something I'll always be thankful for but there was little of cultural interest for a teenage boy.. I was a big fan of Swiss radio DJ Francois Muerner who had a show called "Sounds" Tuesday nights between 10 and 11 pm. I had grown up listening to my fathers' Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin records and good old Francois opened my ears to a whole new dimension of music that was out there. Unfortunatelly, I was only able to tune in on his station in very clear weather. I think I was 14 years old when I heard "Zoo Music Girl" while sitting on the window still at night overlooking the nearby valley and listening to this assault of a song. Still to this day, this album along with their second LP Junkyard remain favorites of mine for their raw brutality that still, in some weird way is kind of funky.

Vampyros Lesbos "sexadelic dance party"

The re-release with tracks from two LPs by Manfred Hübler & Siegfried Schwab that were used by Spanish Sexploitation film director Jesus Franco for his movies "Vampyros Lesbos", "She Killed In Extasy" and "The Devil Came From Akasava". I helped on the release of this record myself and did the promotional parties for it. I traveled around Germany with a gang of Go Go Girls, a custom made, chrome plated Go Go Cage and some crates full of Sexploitation soundtracks, French 60's Pop and Hammond Organ Funk. In 1996, I moved the whole concept to NYC where I kept doing the weekly "Vampyros Lesbos Party" for 4 years and even branched out to Philly for a monthly event.

Mickey & The Soul Generation "get down brother"/"how good is good"

This was the first really expensive record that I bought. It cost me $400 and has since more than doubled in its price. This is one of the holy grails of rare US Funk 45s. I was still in NYC and fed most of my party's proceeds towards a growing collection of Funk and Soul 45s. I made an effort to find the rawest, most unpolished and most engaging tunes of the genre and this record shows both extremes of the genre: "how good is good" is a fast, storming monster that ignites a dance floor and has people who've heard it before yell with anticipation as soon as they hear the intro. "get down brother" on the flip is one of the heaviest songs ever recorded. The drums sound as if they could tear down a building and the whole thing has such a momentum, it really is slow but it's unstoppable. Buying more and more expensive records was also my own personal method to battle a growing coke habit. It worked, now I have a nice and timeless collection of obscure Funk 45s and still breathe through two separate nostrils.

Pax Nicholas & The Nettey Family: Na Teef

This was the first African record that I found. I bought it at Smith's Records in Philadelphia. A store that had remained untouched by other collectors for decades solely because of the dangerous neighborhood it was locacted in and because of the slightly creepy owner Stan who didn't really like the company of white people. To my luck his racial prejudice didn't extend to Europeans so I was the first Funk collector to have access to his unbelievable storage room upstairs. On a later visit, I explained to him that my wife was offered a job at the German embassy in Conakry, Guinea and that I might move with her to Africa for a couple of years. Stan said "hey, good for you... let me see, I think I have a bunch of African records around here somewhere..." he took me to his office where one entire wall was lined by LP shelves and he pulled out a bunch of releases on the Nigerian Tabansi label.

I bought the entire lot of maybe two dozen because the covers looked so intriguing. Closer inspection at home revealed that only one record contained funky material but this one was a true winner. The four tracks sound undeniably a bit of Fela but have a whole individual, trippy feel to them. I found out that this record was so rare that no-one else had ever heard about it. My curiosity about African records was sparked and while I was before worried about how I would keep myself busy living in Guinea for three years, now I knew that I would just travel around and look up more records like this one. On an interesting side-note: I found out that Pax Nicholas is now living in Berlin and I arranged for his record to be re-released in the near future.

What are you looking forward to?

As interesting, enlightening (I normally never use this ugly word) and rewarding the past three years of travels were. It's also been challenging and a mentaly as well as physically abrasive. It is also strange to constantly stand out like a sore thumb wherever you go. Traveling in Africa can be very comforting and alienating at the same time and your mind gets bombarded with unexpected and unimaginable impressions pretty much without a pause. I'm really looking forward to finding a nice home in NYC and take our three adopted African street dogs on a walk without having to worry about them snagging up a dead rat, a mumified frog or even less appealing things, dead or alive. I'm also very looking forward to meet up with all my old friends. And I'm looking forward to playing all these African Funk records for a dancing crowd!

What couldn’t you live without? Why?

My wife. Because she gives me all the comfort and direction that I need. I'd be lost without her.

Most memorable gig?

Hmmm... let me think...I guess it would have been this crazy club in Bremen. I forgot the name, it was some 12 or 13 years ago but I played records from 11:00PM until 9:00 AM and finished off a 1.5 Liter bottle of vodka in the process.

Who/what are your influences?

I don't really have any influences as DJs are concerned. I'm not really what most people would call a DJ anyways. I don't mix, I don't match beats, I don't scratch, I just play one record after the other. I've always loved music and been going to see bands play but I never really went to clubs, mainly because I didn't like the sort of music that was played there. I do have some friends who are into Hip Hop and therefore, I've seen some DJs with amazing skills though like Cashmoney or this group called the X-ecutioners. I don't know much about DJ-ing in this sense but I have a lot of respect for it. Me on the other hand, I'm just a collector who likes to share the music he likes. I'm a human jukebox.

What is the best and worst thing about the city that you live in?

The best thing about Conakry is a live club called "Forchette Magique" where they have this amazing Mandingo live and every Wednesday. Some of the best African Jazz you could wish for.

The worst thing is that it's being rated as the second-filthiest city on the African continent.

Given the accelerated pace of modern culture, what are we due a revival in?

I'm pretty much detached from the pace of modern culture. I haven't had television reception for over 6 years, reaching back three years before we moved to Africa and even here we could have TV but I destroyed the socket when moving in. TV is too addictive and too much of a waste of time. We do have a plasma screen and video projector though to watch movies on DVD. As far as records go, I think that the best music has already been recorded. I still buy 2 or 3 new CDs a year, mostly by bands that I grew up with who still do interesting things or groups like the Dapkings. I wouldn't call them a "revival" band. They're keeping good music alive. Other than that, I'm busy listening to the old stuff I'm digging up. There has been such a long period of time now where nothing of any cultural significance has happened as far as music goes, for me it's all a waste of time. I make an effort to never listen to the radio either. When in the Western world, I always choose to walk if a cab driver refuses to turn off the radio. Having to listen to music I don't like to me is aural molestation.

Hero? Why?

I don't have a specific hero. There are many people who have done things that I would call heroic. Like Serge Gainsbourg for example or of course Fela Kuti. Dennis Hopper has made some daring and heroic movies (I'm refering to those he both directed AND starred in). Sam Peckingpah. Alexandro Jodorowski is a hero. The MC5 were heros... I don't have one single personal hero, I have heros for different genres, different days or moods.

Is there anything else that you feel that we should know?

Western relief work in Africa is a complete lie. All African countries are incredibly rich in resources and most are very fertile. What happens in most cases is that a corrupt and unfit government holds its people hostage, sells off the country's resources for pocket change in under-the-table transaction with Western and Eastern companies, incorporations, amalgamations and governments. All sub-saharan African countries could be well off if thier businesses would be conducted with at least a bit of honesty and basic ability. Why does nobody know this? Because all Westerners who come here are business men who profit from these conditions, politicians who aid them and a few tourists who can't or don't want to see what's really happening. Did I miss mentioning relief workers? No I put these togther with the business men. Relief work is not a business? Think again!

Frank runs Voodoo Funk and unlike most collectors who use eBay, GEMM, Discogs and local digging spots to get their fix, he upped sticks and moved to Conkary, West Guinea to find those rarer than rare funk 7"s and 12"s and along the way got an education that wasn't just limited to music. I wrote a post on him a few days ago and you can read it here.

Frank - Afro Shop


00:00 Orlando Julius - psychedelic afro shop
05:55 Fela Ransome Kuti - beautiful dancer
12:50 Orch. Anassoua Jazz de Parakou - norou
15:47 De Frank & his Professionals - psychedelic man
22:08 Pat Thomas & Marijata - we are coming home
28:00 Christiana Essien - my kind of man
31:55 African Bros Int. Band - hold your lover tight
41:40 Les As Du Golfe - tsi ma le to
47:20 The Creation - noble kings
53:02 Jeff Tagoe & the Vis-A-Vis - abifao
55:55 Antoine Dougbe & Poly Rythmo - honton soukpo gnon

Download it here.

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