We have a Carhartt WIP website for customers in the US and Canada. Now offering domestic shipping and returns. Check it out.
He is a DJ, producer, joint founder of the Hi Hat Club, creative brain behind AUDDA records, co-owner of the Groove Attack record store in Cologne, and lover of deep jazz and soul: Twit One is one of the hottest and busiest cats in the German beat-smith scene. He calls his own music Cool Bap style - a chilled mesmerizing blend of Boom Bap and soulful cool jazz, that he already presented to the world with several solo albums and EPS on labels like MPM, Entbs or his very own AUDDA imprint. For Carhartt WIP Radio Twit One now mixed a show consisting of soon to be released and maybe never released material with involvement from the UK's Henry Wu, Lorenzo Merluzzo, US DJ, producer, singer/songwriter and trumpet player Miles Bonny and the quiet sounds of a grasshoppers swarm. To accompany his show with some deeper information on his work and life, we met him in his local neighbourhood in Cologne for a chat about his work, his history, his local peer group and more.
Hey Twit, to our knowledge you spent your youth in Bottrop, a city in west central Germany. How did you come into contact with music down there?
Twit One: Yes, I spent my youth in Bottrop. It’s a very miserable place for a teen. To fight the desolation, my friends and I got some instruments together. I wanted to play drums but I did not have enough money so I ended up on the bass guitar. From then on I played in several bands. We just made tapes and had no releases. One band was a psychedelic rock band from the town Gladbeck. It was called Feuer (German word for fire). We received a stage ban very early on as the singer made a fire on stage. The other bands I played in made some kind of grunge or punk sound. Then I played in ska and reggae bands. One day I hung out with a friend in his father’s arbour and discovered the program FastTracker. It was on an old 4/86 PC. And on this program I made my first loops. In the arbour his father kept his record collection with lots of records by Kraftwerk, Third World, Bob Marley or Madness and a modified radio with which we could listen to police radio. The first tune I looped was Sun Is Shining by Bob Marley. I sat in front of the computer and listened to it stoned for hours. I was 19 around that time.
And how came the next step? You moved to Cologne and linked yourself to the Hip Hop scene of the city right?
Twit One: Yes. I listen to rap since the early 1990ees. Public Enemy and such stuff. I had always a deep interest in this sound, but I could not explain myself how they do it, as I had no clue how they sample. When I came to Cologne 1999 I finally saw my first MPC and realised how people do beats on it. A year later I bought me one with my buddy Lazy Jones and another friend. Then we studied the machine for one year and recorded beats on tapes. I just listened to the old tapes a while ago: many of the music were recorded to loud. But it was good to learn that long in order to develop a distinctive sound that you can call your own. It took a long time before I released my first stuff. I think my first beat was released in 2009 on the first Hi-Hat Club compilation on Melting Pot. But before all this I met a guy called Lewis Gropp while cleaning dishes in a kitchen. I was a dishwasher at the restaurant Tafelspitz in the Cologne district Nippes and he was the assistant cook. We liked each other and jammed a bit. Then I ran into Fleur Earth at a party and we formed the band Fleur Earth Experiment with whom I had my first release. I played the bass guitar. Ah and I made the Skurreal EP with Fleur Earth in 2008. That was actually the first record where I released beats. But the Hi Hat Club 1 was a door opener.
How was the feeling to produce beats alone instead of working with other people in a band?
Twit One: It was a relief, as you get the total control. I still like the band concept, but you have to do many compromises. And organize the shows. You are only partly a musician. I was always the tamer. I checked the rehearsal dates, checked that we got shows and more. I also studied during that time. I started to study English and also tried to study music, but did not show up that much. The only class I visited frequently was African-American-Literature. But soon I ran out of money and had to clean more dishes to get along. After work I just did music by myself and with friends.
And when did your first solo release come out?
Twit One: That was my Steppingstones 10inch on Melting Pot in 2011. This was my debut. It was a mix between LP and EP. The label called it the smallest LP in the world.
Since then you appear under different winking monikers like Echomann, Tito Wun and you collaborate with a lot of friends. Why so many names and how do the collaboration come up?
Twit One: Well the collaborations are mostly born out of the moment. All my friends here in Cologne make music. And when others play PlayStation and hang out, we do music. For instances Lorenzo Merluzzo, whom I met at the Groove Attack record store. We just did a loose meeting to make some music. We named ourselves Disco Rigido, which means hard-drive in Portuguese. And then we had a release on Ava. records. We always invent such names like 4Trackboy & Echomann, my project with the rapper Retrogott or 27 Karat Years, my project with Henry Wu from London. Each project with somebody else gets a new name. In the beginning I choose different aliases to make it easier for my listeners to distinguish between my several projects. But I must say choosing so many aliases only confuses the people. Now it is too late. For my up-tempo stuff I use the name Tito Wun, which is an anagram of Twit Uno. And Twit One stands for my hip hop productions.
Besides producing music, you do two more things around sound: you run the web radio program
Radio Love Love and you are a co-owner of the Groove Attack record store in Cologne. Can you tell us a bit about this two adventures?
Twit One: Radio Love Love exists for eight years now. Back in the days my friends and I hung out in my former studio the Tree House and listened to the new records we bought. We thought why not share our music with others and launched the podcast serial Radio Love Love. New shows come regularly or unregularly. It is an easy adventure with no pressure. We have a great fan-base and also had many prominent guests out of different genres. Lately we had Lord Finesse. But also lots of buddies from our peers in Cologne participate. And nowadays we also get quite some bookings via Radio Love Love. It looks like a lot of people like it.
And Groove Attack? Isn’t it strange to co-own a record store where you used to buy much of your collection?
Twit One: Sure. I remember when my friend Lazy Jones and I stood outside of the store looking at the covers in the shop window. Back in the days when I did not have the money I bought tapes like Disco Diamant by Scope and Defcon and I discovered lots of different new music this way. During that time I also discovered Stecken, a cute bar down the road of Groove Attack that now is defunct. I discovered many styles while hanging out there, too. Later on I hung out at the store all the time and got a part-time job. And when Marcus Worgull wanted to stop being a co-owner of the shop I jumped in. I dropped my studies years ago and thought that might be a chance to get a legal job you know. Also I just live down the road so all is perfect.
We heard that soul music is your number one passion. True?
Twit One: That is true. I had also times when I said to myself: wow Brazilian music is ace, too. But I will not start to collect Brazilian music as I have enough to do with collecting soul. But today I am open to nearly everything what we sell in the store.
And when you DJ you represent that love for soul or do you play as a hip hop selector?
Twit One: I always try to play soul. And I would love that the world sees me as a soul DJ. But I get booked for several different styles. Sometimes it is a beat set, then for a soul party. And when we are booked as Radio Love Love I also play rap, reggae or Afro beat.
Do you do regular parties in Cologne, too?
Twit One: Every now and then. But not as a resident. I play ones a month at club Roxy, but mostly because friends from other towns like Suff Daddy or Max Graef are booked and I come around to drop some records with them.
How did you choose the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Radio show?
Twit One: Well firstly I did not want to play stuff that I play during my beat sets as I heard that stuff so often already. I thought: lets take some unreleased material or stuff that will get released soon. For instance the new Disco Rigido stuff has not found a new label yet. But I love it and so I need to share it with the world.
And what releases you will have in the near future?
Twit One: There will be a second Flat Pocked album with Lazy Jones. I think we will call it “Krötenwanderung” (toad migration). Then I work on a project with some friends from Bristol called Turt and C.Tapps. Turt is a rapper and C.Tapps a soul singer. It will be a soulful rap record. I also work on a new solo album, which will be the follower of my album The Sit-In. And I work on my yoga/ambient record in the broadest sense. This will be very relaxed and is almost ready. Just the yoga instructions need to be recorded.
As you produce a lot of music with your peer group, your peer group is mirrored in the music. Do you do also music that mirrors the circumstances of our times in the year 2017?
Twit One: Well not really. But I am working on a project where I do a 10-inch for an art exhibition with city sounds of Cologne in the year 2017. This will be a very limited release. I think only 20 records. I recorded electric vehicles, drones, speaking supermarket cash points and such stuff. But in my usual productions I do not do such things. I do music that to some folks is old fashioned. Just recently somebody wrote in a review that I do antique beats. I liked that. I produce like in the 1990ees in terms of sample selection and the way you produce your tracks on an MPC. I call my stuff Cool Bap - which is a mix of cool jazz and Boom bap. Just relaxed beats that you can use as cushion to our fast living times. Music to come down.
What are three contemporary producers that you would recommend to our readers?
Twit One: Dennis Ayler from London. Jay Daniel from Detroit. His new album is amazing. And Al Dobson Jr who is also from London and released some amazing stuff on Rhythm Section International. There are so many good new producers.
And what are three soul records that you love deeply?
Twit One: Sweet Charles: For Sweet People ( People Records 1974). I've been constantly listening to this album for years. I also did several gigs with Charles here in Cologne. He can tell the best stories from back in the days when he did music with James Brown or hung out with Muhammad Ali. Then something of Curtis Mayfield. Maybe the The Impressions album The Young Mods’ Forgotton Story ( Curtom 1969). It is the last The Impressions album with Curtis and the record features all for what I love him. A third one? Well that is not easy. I do not like lists I have to say. What are your top three jazz pianists? I mean I can’t say that. There is Ahmad Jamal, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Erroll Garner, Bill Evans and then we are already at five and I did not even mention Thelonious Monk, Kenny Barron, Oscar Peterson and so on. And with soul music it is the same. I would say I could name you now for each letter a soul musician I love.
We sit here right in the middle of Cologne, a city with a rich musical history. How do you see the contemporary music scene of Cologne?
Twit One: Well there is still a lot going on here. Maybe not so much music that gets as big as legendary bands like Can. But they have not been that big during there heydays too. So let’s see how big the current producers from Cologne will be in the future. In the electronic scene there are many artists like Lena Willikens, Barnt, Marcus Worgull or Damiano Von Erckert. But also for instrumental hip hop the scene is lively. And between the scenes slowly new stuff emerges. Last year Retrogott and I played with Kurt Wagner for a special one-off show during the Week-End Fest. Kurt Wagner liked it so much that we now play as the opening act for his next Lambchop show in Cologne. But often the scenes do not unite even if they could do. For me there should be more exchange between the scenes. And here in Cologne a few people who do big events like Cologne Music Week or C/O Pop should know a bit more who is representing Cologne in terms of sound right now. These people do events and invite newcomers from all around the globe, but I rarely read names from Cologne on their bill. That is sad, as there are many acts that represent Cologne musically. Many things run wrong here, but I love Cologne. I hate the carnival, but I love the summers in Cologne!
Will you feature newcomers on the new label that you recently launched with your Groove Attack colleague Uwe Welter?
Twit One: I think so. Our new label is called Goddess and the first LP-release features music by 4Trackboy and me as Echomann. The release was very well received. After our talk here I want to talk to Uwe to do another record. Maybe a compilation with music made by our customers. There are many young producers that visit our record store all the time. I think there is a lot of potential. And a compilation like that is done very fast, as there are many talented cats that hang out at the Groove Attack record store.
Twit One discography