LISTEN: XXXY’S LOVE LETTER TO BERLIN

The producer and DJ takes us on a sonic tour of the city from Landsberger Allee to Kreuzberg.

Welcome to the first in Parallel's Love Letter series – a recurring feature that sees our favourite musicians, producers and DJs create 40-minute mixtapes dedicated to their cities. 

First up is xxxy (aka Rupert Taylor). The Manchester-born, Berlin-residing producer and DJ came to everyone’s attention a few years ago with the timeless 12” 'You Always Start It'. Playing with the rhythms and tics of two-step and garage that were in the air, it was deceptively simple music that you’d hear every time you went out, for good reason.
 
But, as we discuss below, xxxy wasn’t one to get stuck in a groove. His subsequent releases, remixes and decision to move to Berlin a year ago are all testaments to his changing sound, which these days counts techno as its principle influence. Listen to his Love Letter to Berlin mixtape below, and find out about his track choices as well as his thoughts on life in Berlin as a musician.

Hi xxxy. Your Love Letter to Berlin begins and ends with field recordings of the city. Where are they from?
One was near my flat in Landsberger Allee and the other was done at the Turkish market in Kreuzberg. I record stuff on my phone quite a lot and I just wanted to add atmosphere with those. I chose the Turkish market because of the hustle and bustle, the textures and sounds: there’s traffic and the canal and boats and people shouting.
 
How did you choose the music?
I wanted to use artists that are based in Berlin or were based in Berlin when they recorded the track, so that was literally it. I wanted to showcase artists from Berlin whilst sticking to the usual style I play.
 
The Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto record you start with is really interesting.
I actually saw both of them doing a lecture at Red Bull in New York when I happened to be there at the time. Sakamoto’s on piano and Noto’s doing electronic stuff on the record.
 
There’s also PT/B, who’s a guy called Phillip Tweball who lives in Berlin. He does stuff under his own name but I think the PT/B name is to avoid getting sued for sample issues! I’ve met up with him a couple of times; he came to see me play at Panorama Bar and subsequently I played a show for him at OHM Gallery. He makes really good music so I wanted to include him. 
 
There’s also people like Benjamin Damage [the final track] who’s a friend of mine and just released a great album. ‘Poly’ was my favourite track from the album and it worked well at the end of the mix.
 
When did you move to Berlin and why?
I’d been in London for nearly five years and I decided I need a change. My rent costs were enormous and my tenancy was coming to an end. I’d just played a show in Berlin and I hung out with loads of my friends here and I thought I should give it a go. A year later, I’m still here and I’ve got no plans to move.
 
Why do so many Londoners flock to Berlin?
I just feel very relaxed there. There are so many people in London all the time and you don’t have any space to yourself. But here, especially where I live, there’s no one around. It’s so peaceful. Also there’s a big ex-pat community but it’s not just Londoners! There are Americans, Romanians…people from all over the world. Not that  many Germans unfortunately!
 
Has living in Berlin affect the way you make music? Your style has changed a lot since the two-step, garage days of the last decade.
I don’t think the city has influenced me yet. Maybe it has. We’ll see in winter if my style changes…but I always try and do different things anyway. As for ‘that sound’, I just feel like I’m done with it. It was done to death and then murdered by pop-house acts – it was the end of a whole genre basically! I could quite happily keep making different versions of the same song the whole time and maybe make a decent living off it. But I don’t want to. I want to try different sounds.
 
Finally, do you still queue to get into Berghain?
(Laughs) I only really go these days if I’m on the guest list.



Tracklist:
[Recording Prenzlauer Berg]
Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto — Trioon II (loop)
DJ Richard — Bane
Mike Dehnert — Umlaut (Levon Vincent remix)
PT/B — Leave Me Behind
Italo Johnson — 004A
Sean Dixon — Reconcile (Palms Trax remix)
Massimiliano Pagliara & Lee Douglas — Fall Again
Lando — Stunts
Avalon Emerson — Honest Gangster
xxxy — FWP
Call Super — Migrant
Benjamin Damage — Poly
[Recording Kreuzberg]

Next in the series: Simian Mobile Disco's Love Letter to London.