David Moufang has been in the house and techno game since it began. He started at the discotheque, witnessed the emerging of raves and clubbing, acid house and ambient techno. Since then he plays and releases most amazing records – his debut album ‘Kunststoff’, released in 1995, still sounds like future.
The Mulholland Free Clinic is his newest live project, a product of long-time friendship and collaboration with Jonah Sharp and Juju & Jordash. In other words, Magic Mountain High and Jonah Sharp, or Reagenz meets Juju & Jordash. Their musical explorations will be available as an album on May 5th, 2017 (via Away Music).
Ahead of their album release performance in Radion, Amsterdam, on the day of the release, we’ve talked to Mr. Moufang and learned a bit about his clubbing experiences back in the 80’s, his creative process, work with Pete Namlook, his attitudes and opinions on music making, parties, psychedelics…
“…I find this ritual of dancing with others very important and substantial, it’s so powerful, definitely not trivial as some people see it”
What changed in dance music and clubbing since you started?
I think that at the core it’s pretty much the same as it was when it all started in the late 80’s. I am old enough to even remember a time before techno and electronic music – the word DJ didn’t mean that much, the music was different, but also the whole party situation. There were no parties as we now know them, in warehouses or such places, only mainstream discotheques.
And how was it at the discotheques back then?
The doormen would not let people in sneakers in, they would always look out for people who spent the most money at the bar, treating them as favourite clients, while others would be turned away. It was hard for people without much money to get in, and I hated it.
There was no beatmatching, people would play The Cure after Madonna, in different tempos, you could just get away with it. I was learning the technique as I was going along – until this day I never owned two turntables. I was only able to practice while I played at the discotheque, and later at parties.
The DJs played records owned by the discotheque, they wouldn’t bring their own music. Once per week, the owner would give them money to go to a record shop and buy some new records. They would put them on the shelf and give the receipt to the owner. The discotheque I started in, back in 87’, was open every day, from Monday till Sunday. I liked going there because of these two DJs that were playing really good music.
I was watching them play for some time and, as I was curious about the records, I knew exactly how the covers looked like and where they were on the shelf. One time the DJ didn’t show up and there was a panic about what to do… I said ‘I’ve never done this, but I’ve watched the guys and I think I know where some of the good records are on the shelf…’ After the night, the guy told me I had a new job.
What were you playing there?
At that time I was strictly into ‘black music’ – hiphop, soul, funk, disco, but I also had to play stuff like ‘Love Shag’ or ‘Happy Birthday’. I already knew some house records like Mr. Finger’s ‘Can u Feel It’ or Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk’s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’, and I would play them at the discotheque without really thinking about it as some new genre. I discovered house music later in the 80’s, and techno in 89’.
How did your transition from discotheques to parties came about?
A friend that also DJ-ed in the same discotheque started to do acid house raves. I had never heard about that at the time. It was in a rundown factory and there were many different people from all kinds of levels of society, rich and poor, different races and nationalities. It was so lovely and, for me, that was the true revolution, this amazing mix of people, even more than the actual music.
In 1990 or 1991, there were some people in Mannheim that were trying to sell a club, as it was out of business. They thought they would never manage to sell it if they didn’t find someone to create some business first. So, they gave the keys to my friend who started doing his acid parties there. Techno then was like 180 bpm, people danced like crazy and I was used to hip-hop, funk and 90 bpm.
When I was there, I didn’t really dance, it was super fast for me. I would usually just sit there and watch. The people would often come to me to ask if I was ok, if I took a bad pill or something… I was ok, but I thought it was very sweet. In other places, like rock concerts or commercial discotheques, someone would sometimes start a fight or steal a wallet. They didn’t care for people around them much. It was a real eye-opener, it changed my worldview and made me a fan of the rave subculture.
What would you say the point of clubbing and dance music is?
We get together to have fun. I can be with total strangers in Taiwan, not being able to speak with people, not knowing anything about them but, with the language of music, I can totally relate and communicate. We can have this great experience together and we don’t need a translator. It’s amazing what music does to a person. It’s some kind of universal language that works with all kinds of different cultures and even species – my cat is into music, I can tell!
I’m not religious and I’m very skeptical about religion as a dogma, but the existence of music seems somehow divine. I find this ritual of dancing with others very important and substantial, it’s so powerful, definitely not trivial as some people see it. It may sound weird or esoteric, but I feel like it’s healing people and even the planet. Like some kind of exorcism through dance.
What kind of setting do you prefer to play in?
I prefer really small parties, 200 people max, when you can get to know everyone there, see their faces and expressions, and what’s behind them… If it’s too dark, I’m blind to people. And a party is kind of special when it’s outdoors, isn’t it? Some kind of sunrise or sunset or a rooftop setting.