Diggers Directory: a mix series that salutes the diggers, record enthusiasts and music lovers. For more in the series, browse through the archive.
Hans Reuschl is a digger of exotic rhythms from across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and a seasoned graffiti artist in Berlin. Many moons ago in 2000 he joined forces with Hunee for a DJing partnership as Triple A Soundsystem and then launched his own, long-standing Vulkandance party and label. A couple year later he formed Africaine 808 with Dirk Leyers, mainstays on Golf Channel for bringing a polyrhythmic approach to all they do. Hans goes down a similar route for his Diggers Directory mix, themed around deep and mellow modern African soul and jazzy traditions.
Catch DJ Nomad in London on 1st December for the Good Block 5th Birthday. He plays alongside Jonny Rock, Habibi Funk and Africaine808 (Live).
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
The love for music definitely came through my mom, who was a huge Opera fan. I grew up listening to Wagner (who only lived 25 Km from where I grew up). I can definitely say that it influenced me in the way how I perceive and try to create harmonies , when I am making music, today. I still think ‘ Siegfried’s Rheinfahrt ‘ from Götterdämmerung is one of the most epic pieces of music of all time. Other then Opera , my parents collection involved Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding , Louis Armstrong – the kind of ‘black’ music that was commomplace. My 7 year older Sister Ira was the biggest musical influence in the family. We grew up very basic, without a lot of money to spend, so we had to tape music from the Radio. My Sis introduced me to recording tapes and making mixtapes. When my Parents got a Stereo , she would inherit the old DUAL recordplayer (which still exists and works) , and I would spend a lot of time listening to the Albums her friends brought, or later , those we bought from the money we earned.
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
I grew up on the countryside, and all we had was the Radio. There was no MTV, yet , and almost no cultural live, clubs , discoteqs etc. – so my window to the world was music. I started an obsession pretty early, or let’s say I inherited that obsession from my dear Sister. When my mum asked me what I wanted for my 10th Birthday, I said : A Record (remember I didn’t even have a record player ). That Record was Blondie – ‘Parallel Lines ‘ . Ira would wind me up and tell everyone I only wanted it because the woman on the cover looked like our mum, haha… I don’t know what she missed – but I I was already heading into New Wave , while she was still a Rock Chick.
I think that glorious moment , when you hear a piece of music for the first time, on a record you just bought is epic. It tops just listening to the music, because you can share the excitement with your friends and family. This is the sole reason that made me become a DJ and Recordcollector. I want to recreate and share the excitement.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
Nowadays I store all the records that I want to keep and play in my appartment. Only stuff I want to part with goes into storage or to shops. I sold my big storage about 6 years ago, mostly 90’s Dance, Disco and Afrostuff I knew I would not touch again. When I get new entries I rip the tracks I want to play out with a 1210er and a Terratec Soundcard, using Audacity. Afterwards the Records end up somewhere on a pile, until they end up in a rack. I seperate Funk, Modern Soul, Disco , from Tropical and Afro from Brazil from Electronic genres , from Rock , from Hip-Hop from Reggae from 90’s Breakbeat stuff. So it’s very basic , and sometimes it takes me a while to find a record , which is great – since I get to Browse and find new Ideas on the way.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
My favourite city – Paris … of course. The city with the most possibilities for me , by far. It’s like a second home to me.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
There’s too many to mention… from early nineties East London days , Jamaican Streethustlers like Horace , who scavenged whitelabels from all the Jungle outfits at the time and sold it on the market , to the guys that live in different countries all over Africa (whom I will keep anonymous) and help me find records, today. There’s a lot of amazing people that help me find things or spots, and also some that leave you guessing if it was the right decision to trust them, haha.
Some of my longest standing dealers (and friends) is of course Paulo from Superfly records ,and nothing beats emptying a bottle of redwine with him at the end of the day of digging , and listen to the insane selection he’s going to pull out.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Again , too many to mention. Sometimes it feels like hunting Moby Dick. 10 years ago – it was ‘Good Name’ from Onyeabor… It took me 6 years to find it in acceptable condition for a good price… then – when I finally found it – I got immediately tired of it and never played it out , again. Now I have a huge list of candidates , that I will probably never meet , but since that Onyeabor Experience I learned to be more relaxed about my own greed.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
I like both , of course. It really makes no difference to me. I get into ‘the zone’ – Diggers will know what I am talking about. I block out everything else. When I am with people , I am also digging for them – and if it’s a good friend – he’s also digging for me. I spend many weekends in Paris digging with my mate Emile Omar. We always have the best time, because I can learn so much about Compas and Zouk from him , and I can turn him on to some Ivorian or West African stuff – so we both go home happy. I went digging with Beppe Loda ,many times – and I never stop learning from him, although we play very different styles of Afro. Whenever I am in Lisboa , I go with my friend De los Miedos, and we both never go home empty handed – Same thing in Vienna with my boys from Tingel Tangel Soundsystem.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Yeah, I usually start with the dirty hard work first. That means Bottombins. Then you work your ways through the pre-selected genres. The Bottombins will already show you with what kind of shop you’re dealing with. The genre sections and how they are sorted will tell you if the dealer has a plan about what he’s doing or not. Of course , everybody loves a dealer that sorts afro records into the reggae section.In the age of Discogs , the less clue a dealer has about what he’s doing – the better for your purse.
Here’s a little story: One time I was playing in the South of Germany with Tom Wienland (Seven Samurai). We went digging to a shop deep in the countryside, he had last visited 20 years ago. We got in and hit the bottombins, and pulled out tons of stuff. When the Recorddealer saw how we were operating , she took away our stacks and said she first had to ‘price’ them. I saw her go online, and my mood dropped from superexcited to ‘let’s get the fuck out of here’.
Tom held on to some of his selection and wanted to listen, if there were any skips and he could lower the price. Out of sheer frustration I started browsing through the reggae section , and found an absolutely mint copy of the Memory of Justice Band’s Mash Down Babylon. With a 80’s pricetag in Deutschmarks, changed to Euros. I bought it for 18 Bucks.
6. Just to take the piss out of the seller on our way out, I asked her if she had more copies of that record. She shook her head, looked it up , on discogs and freaked out. So – one little hint : always ask first how much the bottombins cost.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
A role of informing me instantly about the time, era, style and sometimes value. Take for example the label Debs records … they had thousands of releases of 30 years , but each era had it’s distinct artists that did the covers. I love well designed Covers – I am so spoiled and blessed , being able to dig African and Westindies music , and being able to always find new fantastic artworks.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
Since it’s autumn, I tried to go into a comforting deep, mellow musical vibe – so the logical decision was to go into African modern soul and Jazzy traditionals. I wanted to reflect the time of the year , instead of going all ‘Heatwave and Palmtrees’.
Since I been collecting this mix of Jazzy Polyrithmic Modern Soul vibes for a long time, now, I tried to put in a surrogat of what I liked and what me or others have not put on too many other mixes before. 2 years ago , I did a ‘Cameroon in Paris’ mix , that included all the Michot Dhin, Bill Loko, Eko etc. productions , so I made sure the focus was this time more on Ivory coast. 80% of it are Ivorian productions, with little hints of Gabon, Nigeria, Mali and Parisian Congolese.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I put, I think 4 Boncana Maiga tracks from an album and a 12” on it – he and Mobio are of course centrepieces of every African Modern soul selection.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
I admire DJs and human beings, not record collectors. I am happy to have met and played with some of the greatest of the genre, and most of the ones I played with, I admire. First and foremost all my Brother’s from Tropical Discoteq, Paris crew : Emile Omar , Hugo Mendez , Aurel Muzicaltrips and Nicolas Skliris. For me , they are the best in the world , because they’re not just great diggers – each an entity in his own field – but also great guys and amazing DJ’s , that are in for the right reason – to share and make people happy.
Other heroes include – of course – all the before mentioned and to keep it simple let’s stay in the Afrotropical world : my longtime friends Rickard Masip aka Tropical Treats and Pedo Kopp from Analog Africa, Fred Martin, JB Couder & Florence Mambo Chick, Black Ben, Jan Schulte, Afrobot, Dave ‘Afrosynth’ Durbach ,Disjoke Boulo, Dj Bronco ,Guy Dermosessian and all Kalakuta Soul crew ,Diggers Digest, Erky Jerky + Steve Osten, Jeremy Spellacy, Antal, Mike Burns, Jumane, all Red Light Massive, Sofrito crew, Celeste Mariposa, Uchenna, Frank Gossner, Amir, (next to each other, lol) Tropical Timewarp, Alex Figuera (Vintage Voodo) and Yale Evelev (Luaka Bop). So many more that been doing it for so many years and have been building scenes. Gilles Peterson needs to be mentioned because he’s a Don.
And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
Again, I am going by a Collector/ Dj standpoint. The new kids on the Block for me are Dene and Niall from Casa Tropical , Toronto who are kneedeep in Afrosynth, Soca and Boogie and are taking over the torch from the old masters: Invisible City Limits crew (RIP). Bram Owusu and Umoja in Amsterdam are hot, same goes for Marc Graebnor and Giuseppe Leonardi in Vienna . Vincent Privat in Paris is making massive waves in the Zouk world. Adrien from Mawimbi crew in Paris is digging more and more into the traditional vibes, too .
If you’re open for ‘everything goes’ – Armin Schmelz from Tingel Tangel Sounds, Vienna is a name you should remember. I think there’s hardly anybody that knows more about obscure Austrian and Italo pop gems and pretty much everything else that is odd and works on the Dancefloor.
In Berlin , Tom Bolas is rounding up Nigerian Boogie, Das Zündet Crew is hot for Underground funk, and Edna Martinez, Coco Maria, Eli Pavel ,Isa GT, Rita Só and Dj Diskohengst from Kréyol crew and Gregg Villanova (Diaspora) are the force for Tropical Vibes.
Is it true you’re a graffiti artist? Does this feed into your DJing and producing much?
Indeed graff taught me a lot. You learn to freestyle, to adapt to your surrounding and flow freelly – and most important -to always give your best.You can’t throw away a piece you messed up. You always have to stay focused and have to learn to keep a sort of elevated attention , while at the same time not giving a toss. Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and put people into their place. It definitely helps in the music and nightlife world.
In 2000 you formed the Triple A Soundsystem with Hunee. Do you ever get a chance to resurrect that together?
Good that you mention it. Hun just moved back to Berlin, but we’re both busy most of the year . It’s about time for a reunion gig, but I guess I have to set it up myself and book him half a year ahead. The time we played together was a great time of learning. I think it made us both better DJ’s then we were before. We learned a lot from each other in these 6 years. Playing only back-to-back mode really teaches you to be spontaneous ,creative and open to feel the crowd. I am looking forward to re-vive that.
How’s things going with Africaine808? Any new music that’s nearing release?
It’s been a fantastic year. We just had a little Benga-Re-Edit thing coming out on Flee Project last week, after a busy year touring non-stop and doing remix work for idols like Tony Allen or Amadou & Mariam a.o. Right now, I am on the way to the studio, where we are working on material we recorded in Cabo Verde for an EP with Cabo Zouk and Cola-dance vibes. I have no clue where we gonna release it , but it’s great fun working on it, so far. In winter we will start working on a new Album. This time with more Soukosse, Zouk and Jazz vibes.
And besides that is there anything coming up on your horizon that’s getting you excited?
I am looking forward to see Hugo’s (Mendez) new Label come to live. What he and Nico (Skliris) selected so far is absolutely awesome. Same goes for De los Miedos new Label , where he will re-release Cabo Verden music that was produced on the street he lives on, in Lisboa in the 80’s. This weekend I am playing for the first time in a big club in Istanbul and my old Turkish Writer friend Barki is travelling with me, which will be epic. The week after , I am doing the next ‘Zouktime’ Party at Sameheads which will be the Release for Giuseppe Leonardi’s first e.p. on Music from Memories new sublabel second circle . Giuseppe , Armin Schmelz and me are playing , all nite long. The day after we play live at the big Lusafro Festival at Gretchen, and then it’s off to London for Good Block anniversary and my first Dj Gig in Bristol.