2022 Roundup

Reflecting on 2022 in its entirety seems almost impossible; it’s been a fast-paced year with such a surplus of news that it’s proved tough to keep up. Despite the year’s hectic character, we published six titles: The Secret DJ presents Tales From The Booth (featuring interviews by Manu Ekanayake, Dave Jenkins, Tracy Kawalik, Joe Roberts and Nicolas Stecher), Harry Harrison’s Dreaming In Yellow, Paul Hanford’s Coming To Berlin, Martin James’ French Connections, Jim Ottewill’s Out of Space and Rob Ford’s Members Only.

To round off the year, we spoke to our 2022 roster about their reflections on the past year and their hopes for 2023. From the new Daniel Avery album to compilations of Argentinian synth music, our authors have gifted us some great recommendations to keep us occupied.

Manu Ekanayake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manu Ekanayake

2022 has seen things get back to “normal” what are your reflections on it?

It’s been another hard year, as every year seems to be these days, but there have been some professional upturns towards the end of it. The world is still going to hell in a handcart politically though, so I’d better enjoy it while I can.

What have you been reading this year?

Probably my best read this year was High Concept, the Don Simpson biography by Charles Fleming, which I managed to find on eBay. I recently blagged my way into a panel discussion about the new Top Gun film which featured Jerry Bruckheimer himself, so I was curious to read about his 80s film production partner. Together they were responsible for the likes of Flashdance, An Officer & A Gentleman, Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop, so they pretty much defined cinema for people who grew up in the 80s and 90s.

Also, Simpson’s appetites for cocaine and sex workers were legendary, even by the standards of the day. But while the book doesn’t shy away from all that, it’s also a great exploration of 80s Hollywood in general. In the post #MeToo era, it’s particularly interesting, if saddening, to see how Hollywood is still finding ways to reward those who make money, even if they’re behaving in the worst ways.

What have you been watching?

Hip Hop Uncovered on Disney+ was my standout documentary series which is essential for any hip-hop head. I came of age listening to 90s hip-hop and this tells the stories of many of that era’s behind-the-scenes players; like Bimmy, formerly of 80s NYC coke-dealing crew Supreme Team (whose founder, Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff is allegedly the one who had 50 Cent shot) or ‘Haitian Jack’ Agnant, the former friend whom Tupac accused of having him shot the first time it happened in NYC.

He also accused him of being an informant and then died before he could be challenged on it… which complicated Jack’s life, to put it mildly. Stories for days here as we see the protagonists go from living that street life to working in the music industry, which they soon learn is not without its own set of double dealers and dangers.

What have you been listening to?

It has to be Daniel Avery’s new album Ultra Truth. He’s always been a league apart from anyone in dance music and that continues here. Never one to settle to the limits of merely making techno, here he merrily mixes ambient with whatever else he pleases to create the kind of soundscapes you want to fall into. Pure class, as always.

What have you been playing with?

Until the pandemic, I hadn’t played a computer game in over 20 years, but I ended up getting obsessed with a few games on my phone. The latest of those is Marvel Strike Force, which is basically a mix of a turn-based RPG with Top Trumps. As you go through building up your characters, it’s embarrassing how obviously you can feel yourself getting dopamine hits. But considering how addicted I am to social media, which works in the same way, I’ve decided to just go with it.

Have you been listening to any podcasts, audiobooks or radio shows?

This year I found the Trash Tuesday podcast on Youtube. Comedians Annie Lederman, Esther Povitsky and Khalayla Kuhn get their comedy friends on and talk shit about the issues of the day. A great combination of being anarchically funny and also having lots of US comedy industry references, which I love. Recent guests have included Mark Maron (who as an ace podcaster loved it) and Anthony Jeselnick (who really didn’t.)

Which websites have you used the most?

Various social media sites and probably Wikipedia if I’m honest. It’s annoying that Jimmy guy is always asking for money but it is a pretty great resource these days so it’s probably worth bunging him a few quick I reckon.

What have you been doing the most?

Alternating periods of depression and anxiety about the overall state of the world and the rise of the global right wing with occasional periods of work-based lucidity.

Have you found any new sources of inspiration or creativity over the last year?

I was about to answer with a flippant ‘no’ or say something about how the UK’s utterly wretched Tory government sometimes make me so angry it overrides my general malaise. And both of those are true to some extent. But I also discovered the work of Vidura Bandara Rajapaksa a few months back. He’s a Sri Lankan comedian who’s not Romesh. In fact, he’s much funnier, with a dry delivery that hides some very cutting insights into the Western world that only an immigrant can bring. Catch his new special Monsoon Season before he’s all over TV like….well, you know.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Seeing more comedy, petting more dogs/cats, maybe going back to the Edinburgh Festival, going to the occasional nightclub and generally trying not to go under during the Cost Of Living Crisis.

 

Harry Harrison (DiY)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Harrison

2022 has seen things get back to “normal”, what are your reflections on it?

It’s been absolutely fucking mental. I had my book published after twenty years of trying to write it, three exhausting launch parties, twenty interviews, getting on an Amazon best seller list and in The Guardian. Now completely exhausted.

What have you been reading this year?

Dreaming in Yellow by Harry Harrison (plus lots of other stuff, I especially enjoyed the John Cooper Clarke autobiography).

What have you been watching?

Currently, the World Cup but Shetland, Vera and Endeavour (I’m a sucker for a slow-paced crime).

What have you been listening to?

Dark songs by old men – Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and lots of jazz (I’m 56).

Have you been listening to any podcasts, audiobooks or radio shows?

Radio 4 on weekdays and Radio 6 Music all weekend.

Which websites have you used the most?

No comment for me and Spotify for the kids.

This has been the first actual year where things have returned to some form of normality post-lockdown. Have you spent your time doing anything new as a result?

I seem to be going to pubs a lot more.

Have you found any new sources of inspiration or creativity over the last year?

No, but having finally been published, I have the confidence to write more books. Just no time. I have the bare bones of a novel in my head. Hope to start in 2023.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Well, as DiY we always attached great significance to the number twenty-three, so I’m hoping to promote a nice little gathering somewhere sunny for us old people to gather and drone on about our glory days.

 

Jim Ottewill

Jim Ottewill

2022 has seen things get back to “normal”, what are your reflections on it?

If I was to manifest positivity and ignore the other bits, then the long, withering demise of the Tory party by its own hand has been a joy to see. Although, if it could happen quicker before they destroy anything or anyone else, then that would be nice.

Equally, if not more joyful, has been witnessing venues, festivals, raves and places filling up with life and energy again.

What have you been reading this year?

All sorts of business as the various mounds of books, magazines and paper-based nonsense littered around our gaff are constantly swelling.

I’ve been digging some recent issues of the stone-festishing zine, Weird Walk, the short story horrors of The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez, Jeremy Atherton Lin’s Gay Bar, and Debbie Harry’s Face It

I’ve just bequeathed a big stash of old copies of Muzik magazines from the superclub heyday with some wicked features, including Gurner of the Month. Someone somewhere should revive this.

What have you been listening to?

Lots and lots and lots of great sounds, both new and old. Sault’s latest records, mixes galore on RA and FACT, the new Acid Klaus album, digging through the A Love from Outer Space Facebook group for gold, this Black History Month mix on BBC1Xtra for Rampage, lots of Tom Ravenscroft and 1Xtra, Martha on NTS, this new compilation of Argentinian synth music, the new JD Twitch compilation

What have you been watching?

Our ears have been treated well with lean, mean musical protein. Our eyes are full of shite! So plenty of reality TV, like Married at First Sight. We did watch Disclosure about trans lives on the big screen via Netflix, which was wicked.

Which websites have you used the most?

Depressingly, as I’m 41, Instagram and Twitter, then The Guardian’s live blog. I’d be constantly refreshing this page and the accounts of journos like Ian Dunt or Pippa Crerar whenever I got a whiff that a Tory leader was gonna get strung up by their awful back-stabbing bastard colleagues.

This has been the first real year where things have returned to some form of normality post-lockdown. Have you spent your time doing anything new as a result?

Meeting up with people without having to count how many of us will be there or booking ahead is obviously amazing. Although it felt like that ended a while ago. Time and memory are quite difficult to grapple with in the wake of Covid alongside everything else that is happening or has been happening in 2022.

Getting Out of Space published and taking it on a little tour has also been a new and, at times, nerve-wracking experience. Other than that, enjoyable old habits continue – binge drinking whenever the opportunity arises.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Less tumult, perhaps? JK Rowling fucking off? The end of the Tories? Without sounding like a member of the ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’. We have a Ukrainian family with us at the moment, and an end to the conflict there (and everywhere else) would be overwhelmingly positive. I’m plotting more scribbling while we’re also heading to the US for a trip to see some fam too in 2023. We’ll hopefully get the chance to hoover up as many oversized burgers and IPAs as our collective beings can handle before Trump gets back in.

 

Paul Hanford

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Hanford

2022 has seen things get back to “normal”, what are your reflections on it?

I began the year finishing the writing of Coming To Berlin, we were still in a form of lockdown in Berlin, but cafes were open. So every morning, I’d get up and go out and write, drink coffee and listen to music until I’d run out of words. The biggest reward with the book, other than writing it and holding the physical copy, has been reactions from people in Berlin. Getting messages and sometimes people approaching me saying they’ve read it and the stories in the book of the people I wrote about that have in some way related to their own experiences. Or they’ve seen Berlin in a new way since reading it. That’s been incredibly rewarding finding out it’s had some kind of dialogue with people who’ve found it.

What have you been reading this year?

I purposefully didn’t read any books during the writing process. I’ve had my whole life until then to read and to form my own opinion of what a book can be, that stuff stays in you and during the writing process. I purposefully didn’t want to be influenced by whatever was on my bedside table.

Then, reading books again became a reward for finishing my writing. Since then, lots of stuff has been growing, thumbed and hanging around on different shelves, but I have to say what has left the most impression on me, sadly posthumously, has been Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a bible of long-form essay writing and observation, a model of integrity and gentle precision.

What have you been listening to?

I’m out a lot, so I put a lot of trust into hearing good music in places I go. I have NTS on at home whenever I cook, and I tend to get immersed in the music of who I’m interviewing each particular week for my podcast, Lost and Sound, so what I’m listening to is very ephemeral. There’s an energy in frequencies that I always resonate with, and in Berlin, it’s fairly easy to surround yourself with good music, to blindly trust people’s choices of what they put on in cafes, bars, and shops, and subsequently to be surrounded by this perpetual vibe. If you pushed me to say what I’m listening to in the last few days, all I can remember is Fred P – Transcending Worlds, Steffi – The Red Hunter and Yr Lovely Dead Moon – Don’t Look Now.

Have you been listening to any podcasts, audiobooks or radio shows?

AIR Podcast – a brilliant Berlin-based podcast that delves into electronic music, other podcasts: You’re Wrong About, Radio: NTS, Refuge Worldwide.

This has been the first real year where things have returned to some form of normality post-lockdown. Have you spent your time doing anything new as a result?

Recently, I’ve been discovering some new places in Berlin that have opened up in the last couple of years, such as kwia – an ambient audiophile club/bar where you take your shoes off at the entrance. The DJ plays really low to the floor, and you sit around on sofas, cinema seats and the floor. The interior is like a cross between a spaceship and somebody’s living room but with good cocktails.

Have you found any new sources of inspiration or creativity over the last year?

Always. That’s got to be one of the main responsibilities of the creative side of anybody’s life: to keep feeding whatever inspires us. I’m getting better at detaching myself from the work when deadlines or pressure gets too intense and remembering to tune into my surroundings and listening, going for walks or meeting friends.

Lockdown, although I doubt it brings much joy to think about, was also such a good time for re-tuning us into our surroundings (when you don’t have a choice) and not taking things for granted. It was like a stripping away of all of life’s external hecticness, that back-to-basics lo-fi fourth album by an artist rediscovering their surroundings. I definitely think it’d be a waste not to return back to normality without taking onboard anything positive we connected with during that time.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

I’d like to start writing a new book. Other than that, the standard wishes of an ex-Londoner living in the western world’s last vaguely socialist city: the universal acceptance that everything is intersectional and interconnected, subsequently the end of all regimes, the downfall of neoliberalism, a universal living wage and more diversity in Berghain line-ups.

 

Rob Ford FWA

Rob Ford

2022 has seen things get back to “normal” what are your reflections on it?

I find myself living more in a bubble than ever before. Seeing how the eight billion people on the planet suffer at the hands of a tiny minority of leaders and people of power remains depressing.

What have you been reading?

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard.

What have you been listening to?

Rob FWA… I listen a lot to my own music. Says something about my personality, I guess.

What have you been watching?

The Watcher and 1899.

Have you been listening to any podcasts, audiobooks or radio shows?

I always listen to DJ Virus on a Tuesday on Kool London.

Which websites have you used the most?

Anything with a cookie policy to accept. I guess I spend most time these days on the likes of Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

This has been the first real year where things have returned to some form of normality post-lockdown. Have you spent your time doing anything new as a result?

My family is certainly carrying on like Covid is over. With an eight-year-old, it’s been nice to move on from lockdown life and get out and about a bit more.

Have you found any new sources of inspiration or creativity over the last year?

Nature. Growing and planting trees and shrubs to encourage more wildlife around us. Absolutely the best thing for mental health.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Continuing to rewild the land we own and bring as much wildlife into our lives as possible.

 

Martin James

Martin James

2022 has seen things get back to “normal” what are your reflections on it?

It’s been a dark year where resilience has counted – but it’s getting harder to remain positive. But my book French Connections was republished, and I was really thrilled at that. I worked on a film about Spanish breakbeat and recorded quite a bit of music. Also had a few academic articles published. So 2022 wasn’t without its merits.

What have you been reading?

I really enjoyed Sound of the Machines by Karl Bartos. It’s a fascinating read that comes with an interrogation of his life in and out of Kraftwerk through his own philosophical position. Reading it feels like a series of long conversations with super-sharp academics. Brilliant but occasionally hard going.

On the opposite end of the enjoyment spectrum, I loved Martyn Ware’s Electronically Yours, which felt like sitting in front of the guy who invented Human League and Heaven 17 and chatting over a few pints. Down to earth, entertaining and in many ways as revelatory as Karl Bartos’ tome.

Another book that I read and loved this year was Harry’s DiY book Dreaming in Yellow. I spent a few years in Nottingham during DiY’s early years, so much of the book was personal to me. It’s a brilliant book that has done the scene and the people proud.

On my current reading list is Simon Strange’s Blank Canvas which explores the links between art school and creative music and subcultural activity.

What have you been listening to?

Lots of new electro artists like Gabe Gurnsey, Gemma Cullingford, Nuha Ruby Ra, Maria Uzor, Regressive Left and so on. I loved the no wave/ mutant disco sounds of Holodrum and NOZO. The Comet is Coming album blew me away. Jazz and electronic avant-garde are a great combination. Quite a few newer artists like electro-funk-indie band narcissus and dream pop/ synth wave band Lines of Flight. Actually, I think we’re in the middle of a great revolution in music. It’s the best it’s been since the early 90s.


What have you been watching?

Scandi-Noir of Netflix… literally everything. Otherwise, I don’t like TV.

Have you been listening to any podcasts, audiobooks or radio shows?

Martyn Ware’s Electronically Yours…. really engaging interviews with legends from electronic music. The episode with Jam and Lewis was amazing. We tend to forget the huge input black artists had on synth-pop and 80s electronic dance music; these guys are a league or two above legend. I also really enjoy Trailblazers and a music industry pod called Where’s MY Hit Single

Which websites have you used the most?

Social media!

This has been the first real year where things have returned to some form of normality post-lockdown. Have you spent your time doing anything new as a result?

Sadly it’s been a year of battling against the significant cuts made by the industry during lockdown. We’re living in a much harsher world now. I kind of miss the optimism of lockdown. In terms of new things… I’ve produced a new album with a friend in Australia. We’re called Mothloop and it sounds like Talking Heads meets Heaven 17 in Studio 54. Contaminated disco, in other words.

Have you found any new sources of inspiration or creativity over the last year?

As ever, my inspiration comes from researching hidden histories. There is so much to unearth about music, and as each new dynamic rakes over the soil, new things become hidden while others become lost. I’m currently obsessed with cultural exchange between black and white artists and why we consider certain forms of music to be for a white audience, others for a black audience and yet more for audiences of other ethnicities.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Being able to afford to stay warm, stay in work, to get going on my synth-pop book, which is now taking shape. I’ve also got a documentary project I’m quite excited about.

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