For the 46th edition of the Phonica Mix Series, we welcome long-time Salon Des Amateurs resident and curator of the Offen imprint, Vladimir Ivkovic.
Hailing from Belgrade, Serbia, Vladimir Ivkovic grew up collecting records, establishing himself as a selector from an early age at his father’s venue, Sara and Omen. Now a local in the bustling city of Dusseldorf, Ivkovic is a long-term regular at one of the city’s most infamous venues, Salon Des Amateurs.
In addition to launching his own experimental label Offen in 2015, Ivkovic also manages Loco Dice’s dance-focused imprint, Desolat. He has been making waves on the club scene over the past few years – renowned for his leftfield and often challenging live sets, Ivkovic continues to deconstruct and disassemble the notion of dance music, retaining a fierce sense of originality in the process. Working closely with fellow Salon regular Lena Willikens, Ivkovic is billed for a number of upcoming international gigs and festivals this year.
Vladimir took some time out, ahead of his upcoming tour, to answer a few questions and record a stunning mix for our series. Check it out below!
First of all, hey Vladimir! How are you doing?
I’m fine, thank you. Busy following this change of seasons, from winter to autumn and back, in a day – among other things, like taking care of Desolat in one way, and Offen in another way.
Can you tell us a little bit about the mix that you’ve created for us, what was the inspiration behind it?
The mix is a mood recording the night after you guys asked if I’d contribute to the series, and it’s the sound of the end of the day that many people call Valentine’s Day. The mix contains tracks that carry lots of stories, memories, and some music that will hopefully be available at Phonica, sooner or later.
You and the Salon des Amateur crew have established quite a reputation for yourselves as diggers with pretty eclectic/leftfield tastes – do you think Dusseldorf nurtures this kind of experimentalism in any way?
In our case probably only as a frame, a city that it’s not too big and not too small, there’s the art academy which draws certain kinds of people, that’s where some of the Salon people are coming from. The size of the Salon… sometimes when it’s full inside and you don’t see the window front and the street, then, for a moment you can think that it could be everywhere, at any time – in London, New York, Berlin (…) but it’s not. It’s been something like 14 years of sharing and reimagining that space with Detlef Weninrich, Lena Willikens, then later with Jan Schulte, Arne Bunjes who runs Themes For Great Cities, Frank D’Arpino… we have all developed and exchanged a lot over a long period of time – in our own pace, without hurry and hysteria.
Speaking of digging, you’ve got quite an exciting month coming up, with gigs around the world in Sao Paulo, Amsterdam and Manchester – do you find much time to scour for new material whilst on tour?
Sometimes… Amsterdam is quite easy, because I usually find something at Red Light Records. Manchester, Sao Paulo and other places – I’ll see what happens. Finding new music is always exciting, but I also enjoy aimless walks, or places where I can sit, smoke a cigarette and observe new places. If there is not much time, I’d usually rather do something like that. The music comes when it comes.
How do you prepare yourself mentally/physically for long periods away from home? You’ve got a few weeks before you set off now, what does your schedule look like?
I can travel with limited amount of music, and I have certain rituals to enter some kind of reclusiveness in order to imagine places and music in them before I travel. Usually it happens almost last minute, but it works for me, it’s part of the ritual. If you mean preparations in terms of mental or physical fitness, in order to “deliver” on point – that’s something that I leave to other people. Sometimes really interesting things happen when you overstrain mentally or physically, go over the top, in a way, and I don’t intend to keep that bar too high. And I take my home with me, so I’m never completely away from it.
What are the highlights of touring for you? Do you find it easy to maintain a love of travel when it becomes a part of your job?
Highlights for me are when I have some time to explore the city I’m in, spend some time with people I know, find new knowledge or insight… Travelling is a part of it, it’s not something that I love or don’t love, but I do like the kind of temporary solitude at the airport. When I’m not too tired.
You’ve been playing b2b with Lena Willikens a lot throughout 2018, do you two have a particular approach that you take towards playing together that helps you keep synchronised over an extended period of time?
Lena and I don’t play b2b. What we do or what happens when we play together is intuitive navigation through realms that open up in those situations. We’ve known each other for so long, but we don’t see each other often, so our encounters when we play can turn into quite intense conversations, imaginations and fun. What keeps us synchronized is this and maybe curiosity to see what happens. I actually can’t explain it.
You played at the RA Choose Love benefit for Help Refugees in Berlin this January. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the possible dialogue between dance music and the refugee crisis, what are your thoughts on this?
I’m happy that I was asked by RA to participate and contribute to such good cause. The talk: it seems that I missed the talk about the possible dialogue between dance music and the refugee crisis. That’s not the point anyway. The terminology in which we are forced to think and to deal with the situation is so wrong. “Refugee crisis”! Their villages and cities are destroyed. Where are those people supposed to go? To Mars? Our society’s narrative is purely economic: how much does it cost? Can we pay for it? The absence of empathy and humanity is something to talk about, this absence that causes so much suffering. I hope that events like RA Choose Love help someone to overcome fears.
Coming from Yugoslavia, is this a cause you feel particularly close to? Much has been made of the connection between dance music and counterculture, is this something you feel a part of?
I feel close to it as a human being, and if you mean dance music as counter to a culture of fear, then it’s something I feel a part of.
In light of this, you’ve mentioned previously your frustration with the ‘slow pace’ of Dusseldorf, is this something you see reflected there politically?
I mentioned the slow pace, but I’m not frustrated with it. I think that Salon des Amateurs was / is possible partly due to such pace of the city. Things have time to grow, you are not exposed to trends, there are no opinion makers and opinion leaders who tell you what’s right, wrong, hip, what rules are to follow.
You’re billed for young festivals Houghton and Strichka Festival amongst others this summer. Having also performed at the likes of SSFB in Amsterdam last summer, are you excited about the experimental direction some electronic festivals seem to be heading in?
I wouldn’t call it experimental. There is so much music available to everyone, nowadays we can hear and discover so much more than through local record stores or radio stations that were main suppliers of music not so long ago, and it’s exciting that people have a chance to hear it outside of their rooms, loud and to enjoy it collectively.
Interview Credit: George Kontou
01. Coil – The Universe Is A Haunted House [Threshold House]
02. Peter Christopherson – In My Head A Crystal Sphere Of Heavy Fluid [Chalice]
03. Mutant Beat Dance – Crete feat. Marianna [Nation]
04. Xen – Mi A Ni [LDDLM]
05. Coldgeist – Provoke – [Dement3d]
06. Geins’t Naït & Laurent Petitgand – XXX [Offen]
07. Die Wilde Jagd – Fremde Welt [Bureau B]
08. Mutant Beat Dance – From Another Source [Nation]
09. Chris Carter – Blissters [Mute]
10. Passarani – Coldrain [No label]
11. Autechre – Are Y Are We? [Warp]
12. Cocteau Twins – Feet Like Fins [Fontana]
13. Pink Industry – Anyones Fashion [Zulu Records]
14. This Heat – Fall Of Saigon [These Records]
15. Nurse With Wound – Eternity [Jnana Records]
16. Nurse With Wound – The Strange Play Of The Mouth [United Diaries]