TAPEd conversation: Heidi (Get Physical / Phonica)
So anyway, you probably heard/went nuts for that recent Get Physical track by Heidi (pictured above) & Riton. I mean, a lot of people have been unduly hating on Booka Shade's label in 2006 and at times I've been chief among 'em. OK, so I'm not Piers Martin, who seems to've always taken the label's success as a personal, not just musical, affront (for reasons slightly beyond me), but you can't dispute the fact that, to some extent, Get Physical has been a victim of its own success, with decent cashflow (a genuine rarity amongst independents) leading to a few too many unnecessary comps along the lines of DJ T presents GET YOU PHYSICAL FULL BODY LINGUISTIC PARTY MEGAMIX VOL. 43. But, equally, I can't argue with 'Learning From Making Mistakes', 'In White Rooms', 'Stalker' etc - all sophisticated production, melody and dancefloor-smashing appeal. And while those three tune hardly deviate from the GP sound that was so revelatory back in 05' (and now seems slightly tired), Hell's mix of Chelonis and the Fuckpony LP demonstrate to me a more than adequate engagement with the present on the Phiz's part.
Hailing from Canada, home of maple syrup, that dude out of Due South and, er, some other people, Heidi Van Den Amstel moved to London a few years ago and duly started up Phonica with Simon Rigg and pals. Since then, Phonica's emerged as the pre-eminent source of underground electronic tuneage in London, and their website is daily bread for 4x4 jocks around the word. As you already know.
Heidi's been building a sturdy name for herself as a DJ in recent times, recently spinning at the Get Physical beach party off-Sonar and deservedly bagging herself a residency at Monza in Ibiza, and you probably know that her debut 12", put together with Riton, recently came out on Physical. A bumpin' electro-houser with a mournful cello bridge and irresitible piano riff (what in god's name was that RA reviewer on about when he said the tune has no hook?), 'Vejer' has done the business in the clubs and, to my mind, been one of the best releases of the year. If you haven't got yourself a copy, do it; there's some nicely workable Jesse Rose mixes on the flip too.
Just out this week is Heidi's Monza Club Ibiza Compilation Vol. 1 (I know, the title sounds a lot like what I just ribbing). I would describe it to y'all, but why bother when le Sherbunator's nailed it already:
These days, the very idea of an "Ibiza compilation" is a risky proposition — after exactly 3,436 CD covers adorned with sunsets and too-small bikinis, the genre long ago jumped its own Balearic shark. Heidi, however, of the highly regarded Phonica record shop, wrests the trope from irrelevance's jaws with that rarest of mixes — a session that manages to put scenester sectarianism on hold in favor of proper, pumping floor-fillers, thanks to a toothy track selection and one of the meatiest mixing styles around. Modern minimal is represented via John Tejada and Marc Houle; Kerri Chandler and Dennis Ferrer represent the old school without making it feel like detention, and artists as diverse as Fuckpony and Tobias (Freund, aka Pink Elln) prove that "funky house," that dreaded two-word phrase, isn't a genre, but simply a state of mind.
So, yeah, I asked Heidi a few questions....
‘Vejer’ has that bumping Chicago sound, and the classic Phonica electro-house vibe, anchored by the Physical minimal-not-minimal percussion track. Did you set out to make the record with a fairly exact idea of what you wanted to produce, or did you go in with a completely blank slate and feel your way through the process?
I knew exactly what i wanted to do...I wanted to make something that had the old school vibe with a fresh new sound. I also knew I wanted to put some string in it......The result was 'Vejer'.
What’s it like serving all those Barleys and know-it-alls over the counter?
They tend to stay in there own neighbourhood but a few do filter out into the real world and come into Phonica. For me it's comic relief. You just have to laugh because if I really took them seriously then I'd be just as bad.
You made ‘Vejer’ with Riton. What was it like working on a track with your nearest and dearest? I’m sure if I did the same with any girlfriend I’ve had, one of us, or both of us, would be dead.
I have to be honest and say it was great...We had a laugh and I enjoy working with him. He's a very talented person and a hard worker and I admire that. He understands me and my ideas which makes it easy for us to do things together…
What’s the most irritating thing a Phonica customer can do/has done?
Well it drives me mentally insane when a customer comes into the shop and asks me a question and I give them an answer and then 2 minutes later they go over to one of the guys that work in the shop and ask the exact same question…Like my answer isn't credible enough because I'm a woman...It happens at least twice a day...can you feel my pain??
How does it feel to see ‘Vejer’ getting a good reaction when you (or someone else) plays it out? Obviously it doesn’t feel bad. But you can elaborate.
It feels fantastic...It's great to see people freak out to what you've done. Adrenaline rush to the head...
How did you go about selecting the tracks for the Monza mix?
I wanted to showcase the different stuff I'm into. I only had a month to choose the tracks and usually you get 3 months so I had to go with my impulses and there are tracks on the CD which I always play and I thought that it would be true to a condensed set...I wanted it to be accessible. Car, home, club. I made the CD before the Ibiza season started and some of the tracks I put on there became big Ibiza tunes this summer which is great.
What’s your favourite Bowie album?
Favourite TV show ever?
In England it has to be French and Saunders and Ab Fab...I love those chicks.......There frickin’ hilarious [what? – Soft]
What, if anything, do you love about living/working/partying in London?
I love the buzz of London...I'm quite hyper and I love being in a city that accommodates my personality. It's diverse as well....always something new and exciting happening. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be able to live here and then I always have a little moment whenever I go over one of the bridges that crosses the Thames. I just look at the history around me and it makes me smile...I love old stuff. Canada is a fairly new country and it's history is pretty boring but the UK blows me away. The first time I ever saw a castle I tripped out. I only saw things like this in the movies and seeing it in real life was really special. Bodiam castle was the first one I saw...If you haven't been to see it you should - it's beautiful.
Do you plan to make some more tunes any time soon? Have you caught the production bug? Any scheduled releases in the pipeline?
I certainly do...But I'm just concentrating on DJing at the moment...The next one is going to be a filthy bass monster and hopefully I can convince DJ Rush or DJ Funk to do some vocals on it…
What’s the ultimate wedding disco song as far as your concerned? I’m all about the Proclaimers’ ‘100 Miles’…
Anything by one of my idols......PRINCE.
Who, be it in the real world or the dream world, would you like to collaborate with production-wise?
Carl Craig or Andrew Weatherall...Love those dudes.
What’s special about playing in Ibiza, particularly Monza?
Ibiza is soooo wonderful. Every time I've been there I've just had a truly amazing experience...Everyone is there for different reasons...You can chill out, eat amazing food, go to beautiful beaches…And you can combine it with the pure insanity of the clubs...I always thought that it was really cheesy but i was proved wrong. Yes, there are horrible parts of that island but you can avoid them easily. Monza is special as well...The vibe is electric. When I played last year at Penelope's I've never been able to top the feeling I had when I played my last record…It was a moment that I will always remember. I was so grateful for that opportunity.
Have you been ‘innocently’ pushing your 12” on unsuspecting customers and their listening racks?
Actually I haven't...It's up to them to decide if they like it or not...I wouldn't be upset if they didn't. It's not for everyone.
When did you have your 4x4 moment? Who was spinning or what was playing when you first thought ‘Fuck. Fuck. FUCK. I fucking love house music…’
There have been a few...Derrick Carter was the first.......Filthy jackin’ Chicago shit.....love it.......he still makes me shake my booty.....Andrew Weatherall made me dance the longest and hardest at Haywire about 4 years ago when it was in that shithole in Shoreditch........Nice and dark and dirty and more bass then you can imagine...I'd never heard anything like it before and I freaked out. I left looking like I took a shower on the dancefloor...Totally soaked with sweat and sporting the biggest smile.
How/where did you first meet the Get Physical crew?
I met them almost 3 years ago at The Key when M.A.N.D.Y. were playing and we just connected...We've been mates ever since.
There’s been talk of a Phonica record label for some time now. Any firm plans?
Not yet......were still to busy to take time out to sort out a label.
What does the dream Van Den Amstel rider consist of?
I'm living the dream right now...
What’s the worst/funniest raving injury you’ve suffered?
I was in Berlin 2 years ago for Antony Hill’s birthday and I was bitten by the Panorama bar bug along with Konrad Black and Ewan Pearson (I secretly blame them) and the next day after not having any sleep I was at the Get Physical offices and I don't know how I did this but I managed to smash my head off of this piece of steel crane sticking out of the wall and it split my forehead wide open and blood was everywhere. They had to rush me to the hospital where I had stitches put in. I then had to go straight to the airport to fly back to London with a massive head and 2 black eyes that later appeared. I have a great scar to remind me of that weekend for the rest of my life.
Heidi's Current Top 10
1. Martin Buttrich - Full Clip // Planet E
2. Sleeper Thief - Chasing You // Mobilee
3. Audion - Mouth to Mouth // Spectral Sound
4. Shane Berry - Fillertet 2 (Gabriel Ananda Remix) // Trapez Ltd
5. Locodice - Flight LB7475 // Ovum
6. Andre Crom/Tigerskin - Notaufnahme // Liebe Detail
7. Stefan Goldmann - Sleepy Hollow (Ame Remix) // Innervisions
8. Cobblestone Jazz - India in Me // Wagon Repair
9. Elon - Moving In (Riton Remix) // Made to Play
10. Ferrer and Sydenham - The Back Door - Ibadan