G.I. DISCO - what´s that ?

 
 

Dear Listeners, Music-lovers, and Dance Aficionados,


This is Kalle Kuts' & Daniel W. Best`s first „G.I. DISCO“ mixtape. What is this all about you’re asking?  Allow me to explain:


My friend and fellow music buff Kalle Kuts and I were talking about our favorite music from back in the day, when we began to get into music and DJing. We discovered that we both were into “Soulful 80’s Club Music”, which in retrospect, played an interesting role in the West-German experience.


Luckily for us, the American G.I.s stationed here and all over Europe during times of the "cold war", brought the Music to Germany.  Equally responsible were the DJs on AFN (American Forces Network), as well as the so called “Ami (or G.I.-) clubs” within the vicinity of the army-barracks in such cities as Berlin (West), Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Rammstein, Würzburg, Göppingen or Mannheim.  In the city of Berlin was the infamous club „Labelle“, the only club of its kind to be known to a larger public. Sadly however, "Labelle" is not remembered for the music but for an unfortunate terrorist attack in 1986.


Most of these places where ethnic melting pots where African-American G.I.s mingled with local German women. The only German men in these clubs came mainly for the music and were happy to gain admission!  This simultaneously offered the Afro-German community a home where they could be part of the majority…for at least a night.


At a time where German radio and TV stations only played mainstream Pop and Rock, Kalle went to GI Clubs such as "Chic" in Berlin, when I went to the Cinderella club in Stuttgart to hear this phenomenon. Thus were our first serious clubbing experiences. In addition, music migrated to the German countryside youth-clubs, mostly frequented by second-generation work-immigrants from Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and Arabic countries.


Influenced at this time were German bands of the so called „Neue Deutsche Welle“. One of their main representatives, the Berlin based “Spliff”, even wrote a popular song about the G.I. Clubs called „Das Blech“.  As a result modern day artists the likes of Metro Area, Chromeo, and International Pony gained critical acclaim.


This „G.I. DISCO for Beginners Mixtape“ was recorded with a DJ mixer, 2 turntables and a microphone in an old school radio-show style.This is only the beginning of a wonderful musical journey - watch out for events, mixes, and more…


Daniel W. Best & Kalle Kuts (January 2010)










Dear Listeners, Music-lovers, and Dance Aficionados,


welcome back to the second "G.I. DISCO" mixtape! If you are new to the story or missed volume one, we recommend listening to our "G.I. Disco Mixtape For Beginners" and reading its

liner notes.


Some of you (probably mainly the younger folks), may be wondering why we have divided the new mix tape into two parts. Our intent is to re-introduce a very common album concept of the late 70s and 80s to you - first side for dancing, and second for romancing. Music was released on vinyl or cassettes back then and a record/cassette naturally came with two of them. When you were through with dancing to side A, you simply flipped over to side B the “romancing side” or visa versa. You also could put your turntable on repeat and continue dancing or whatever you chose to do while listening to the romancing side (wink, wink). In case you’re wondering what a "romancing side" aka “slow jams” is, and their affiliation to something like "G.I. Disco" and/or club music history allow us the explain:

Back in the 70s and 80s there was nothing wrong with being a little “romantic” so it was essential that every DJ spin some “slow jams” during their club set.


We would like to enlighten you as to how the listening

experience felt before CD’s were introduced and how the Zeitgeist was during this time. Also lets take a moment to enhance your knowledge of how both music and music production was impacted, and how the big “Funk Bands” of the 70s successfully updated their sound. They accomplished this several ways:


First by introducing new technology i.e. drum machines and or electronic drum sets, synthetized basslines to tight brass sections and rhythm guitars. The second was utilizing Synthesizer hits to compliment accompanying instruments such as the Fender Rhodes, Flute and Piano.


Phenomenon’s called "one hit wonders" appeared on the club music scene and often gained success commercially shortly there after. What made them unique was their use of the new technology as opposed to traditional instruments. Don’t assume this made arranging and production nearly as easy to do as in modern times with the advancement of computers, software, and memory. It took skills and patience to perfect sounds and program the patterns. Most of the gear used for was costly for the average musician, and there was still a lot of analogue outboard gear i.e. hardware effect- and dynamic processors and mixing desks/mic preamps needed. Next came the assistance of an able audio and recording engineer and last but certainly not least - expensive studio time and audio tape reels. If some of these technological terms are foreign to you don’t worry the objective is for you to understand what lies behind music production.


Unto the musical side of the spectrum.


Singers as well as musicians had to perform with what is referred to as “ near perfect pitch and tempo” during the recording process as there was no such thing as "auto tune" yet available. The discipline was to execute their parts correctly the FIRST TIME, which now due to modern technology is often compromised. There were no hard disk recorders or function the likes of copying & pasting so the recording process was arduous and manual. If one failed to finish recording or mixing within the scheduled time, pictures needed to be taken of the mixing board and corresponding outboard gear settings in able to resume.


There were a number of smaller challenges also. For example, analogue synthesizers often tended to go out of tune with time, so they often needed to be recalibrated.

In 1983 Yamaha introduced the legendary and affordable DX7 synthesizer, which eliminated tuning issues as it was completely digital.


It had a glassy simulated Fender Rhodes sound that quickly replaced the traditional analogue Rhodes and associated electric pianos. For example, you can hear it in nearly all Whitney Houston ballads. It also came with very strong lead solo sounds that were in fact so fresh that even rock bands started using it from time to time in place of traditional lead guitar ie. Van Halen´s song "Jump". Once the MIDI protocol was introduced it made programming, arranging sequenced patterns and, controlling sounds a bit easier. However it was and still to this day is not infallible. A typical scenario would be to do the same mix down repeatedly due to one (or several) drum machines and/or synths going out of sequence through the length of a track.


Major record companies and their A&R departments knew and did their jobs back then. This knowledge enabled them to allow an Artists ample time to develop a sound and a fan base which often took a few years to accomplish. If by chance an A&R person failed to recognize and in turn sign a great song before it was released on one of those many independent disco labels, he made sure to close the deal on it. This was commonly the case upon witnessing a crowds reaction on the dance floor.


We realize this has been a lot to take in but, if possible take note of the aforementioned while listening to the NEW G.I. DISCO mix tape especially before you accuse some of the songs of being dated and or "cheesy". For instance applying heavy amounts of reverb on bass drums and baselines was the norm back then and may from a modern day point be considered excessive. Music as with all things is in constant transformation so who knows what the future holds. For those of you whose interest we have managed to spark, we have set up a YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/gidiscoberlin. We have also included a "G.I. Doku" play list with some videos that provide additional historical information. If would like you to contribute or be updated on events, please check out our website and blog

www.gidisco.com and our G.I. DISCO Facebook page. We hope you enjoy the new mixtape as much as the last one.


Keep an open mind…


Kalle Kuts (March 2010)