"In 6th grade I was given the chance to select cassettes for my schoolmates during a daytime dance. For 25+ years since then; top 40 and classic pop at the ice rink for free skate, bedroom mixtape trip-hop & indie blends for my high school crush, house music at dawn on a wintry morning in a clandestine warehouse, throwback 80s club mixes for my best friends at a house party, disco edits in a rock club for rad kids in Philadelphia, rhythm-heavy jams for Mission bar hipsters, sci-fi synths in a superclub for the tech elite, and a mix of all of these seemingly disparate sounds for 100 episodes of a live internet radio broadcast have been among my happiest and most memorable experiences.
I’m influenced by my dad’s collection of Merseybeat and Motown records. As a child of the 80s, Prince and the Revolution, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Run DMC & Aerosmith, and Hall & Oates all continued this mix of rock and soul. An introduction to “DiY” through punk rock and post-punk at a young age led to my time as a vocalist and bassist in two bands. My hometown’s proximity to Chicago and the pounding beat of House and Industrial music led to an infatuation with giant speaker stacks in clubs and raves until today.
The dance floor is a sacred space. My main goal as a DJ is to elevate that space without interruption for as long as I’m able. As a dancer I’m aware that sometimes breaks are welcome and needed. Clearing a floor is an opportunity to fill it again, and I get greater satisfaction from building up an empty floor than taking over a full room."
For the fourth installment in the CST mix/feature series, Vinyl Dreams resident Niklas brings us to a galactic realm beginning with a guided meditation then weaving in and out of dark extraterrestrial landscapes with uplifting bursts of soulful reverie. Let us welcome the Fall with Niklas' stellar September mix.
CST: Where are you from and where do you live now?
N: I live in San Francisco, CA. I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, WI. A Rust Belt burg with a fantastic DiY subculture, weird music, and a direct interstate pipelines to/from collegiate enclave Madison and broad-shouldered Chicago which became capitals on my musical map.
CST: Introvert or extrovert?
N: Both. I love parties and dancing but am often restless or uncomfortable in crowds. DJing gives me an opportunity to participate in a really special way.
CST: What's your favorite record shop?
N: Vinyl Dreams in San Francisco. I’m lucky to have been invited to play a regular slot on Thursdays which streams live and then archived via YouTube.
CST: What is your morning ritual?
N: When I can remember to, opening my eyes and saying “thank you” before I do anything else. Then a rush to get to work at the last minute, followed by coffee, and more coffee.
CST: Happiest moment?
N: Being tapped to open for Nicky Siano in SF on his birthday. To this day it doesn’t seem like it actually happened. I’m forever humbled by the experience and if I never play out again, at least I did that.
CST: What's the first record you ever bought?
N: There was a period of time where I might have been embarrassed to admit this, but the first 12” dance record I ever bought was a slightly warped but playable copy of Sasha’s “Arkham Asylum/Ohmna” on Deconstruction. Each side a 13+ minute progressive trance opus that truly seems like it would have been made longer if not for the time limitations of the vinyl single. I used to turn off the lights, burn a candle, and start mix sessions at home with Arkham Asylum because it starts from near silence, and the kick drum doesn’t first appear for nearly 4 minutes. In a way tracks like this have always held a place for me and I try to make a point of never starting a DJ mix with drums.
Unfortunately this record didn’t make the cut when I moved my collection to California, though I’ve since made space on my hard drive for the digital file.
CST: Where was the first party you ever went to?
N: My hometown: Drop Bass New Years Eve 96/97 “Music, Two Turntables, and a Lot of Bass”, which gives me the right to brag that I got to hear Larry Heard play the sunrise of my first party. My friend and I showed up super early to meet some girls we liked who were photographing the event, and the first DJ (who I wish I could find the identity of) opened his set with “Pulse State” by Future Sound Of London, which was an eye-opener for me. Before this moment all of the music I was hearing on mixtapes was alien, unobtainable. Here was a local DJ starting his set with something I was intimately familiar with. The curtain was lifted!
CST: Favorite part of the day?
N: Lately it’s been the time I spend walking my significant other and our dog either to or from our neighborhood MUNI stop. They’re the best, and I’m so grateful to be able to enjoy this simple thing. There was a time not too long ago where I don’t think I was in any position to appreciate things like this.
CST: Where is your favorite place to dance?
N: As a young man, I loved to be on a stage or riser, even on a speaker stack. I still do from time to time. I’m a bit of a speaker freaker and love that feeling in front of the bass bins when the air pressure is vibrating right through my body.
CST: Is there a concept or theme for this mix and if so, can you tell us about it a little bit more about it?
N: For a long time I’ve strayed from this approach to mixing and these particular subgenres of dance music, which I have always loved, collected, and played at home. These floating, ethereal, moody, synthy strains of techno and house music. It is really nice to dive back in, and included in this mix are a few all-time favorites that have been in my collection for nearly 20 years but have never made it onto a recording of mine. I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I enjoyed creating it.