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Rem Koolhaus

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Rem Koolhaus started DJing when he was a teenager, but it wasn’t until he made the trek to the Bay Area for school that he got serious about it. Meeting cats like Kid606 piqued his interest, and through the love of music, he started hanging out with the likes of LL from Lazer Sword and Rollie Fingers from Icee Hot. Getting hired as creative director at XLR8R magazine also didn’t hurt. He later moved to New York, but he returns to his beloved SF to play alongside Julio Bashmore and local hero Claude Von Stroke. Don’t miss him at the XLR8R holiday party at Public Works on December 18th.

SF Station (SFS): Rem Koolhaus. That wouldn't have anything to do with architect Rem Koolhaas, would it?

Rem Koolhaus (RM): Yes, it does!

SFS: While on the subject, what would your dream venue be for your music?

RM: I used to be obsessed with Fallingwater (by Frank Lloyd Wright) as a kid so I think I’d really love to do a long ambient mix there. That would be incredible. As for rave time, a custom secret warehouse stronghold designed by Carlo Scarpa would be the ticket.

SFS: In NY, you run a party called TURRBOTAX®. Tell us about the inspiration behind that party.

RM: Well, when I first moved to NYC, I wasn't interested in throwing parties at all. I had just finished doing some nights at 222 Hyde called Already Gone, and it took a lot out of me. My friend and co-worker, Contakt eventually convinced me to partner up to do a monthly after a fair amount of badgering and vision questing.

TURRBOTAX® was born out of frustration really. we were into this mutant strain of UK House and Garage, and it wasn't really getting played out. You couldn’t go to an event and hear people like Martin Kemp or Mosca at the time. It also was a bit reactionary, in the sense that there where so many parties that had über serious titles and had an oppressive, clubland stigma to them. We really wanted to do something that reflected our roots in not-so-legal warehouse/basement/house parties, where it was really just about the music and your friends. No MC's, no hosts or prom night style photo set ups, we really just wanted to do a bare-bones party that focused on the music and the moment.

SFS: Everyone wants to know; how did you get sponsored by Asahi?

RK: (laughs) I think we are the only non Japanese-themed party they sponsor. I don't know, we're really lucky. Asahi has supported us from the very beginning and have been behind us all the way. They give us cases upon cases of delicious Japanese beer to give away.

SFS: When you come back to SF, you'll be playing with Julio B. What do you appreciate about his talents?

RK: I love Julio Bashmore's tunes. He's really gifted in making house music that's melodic and pretty, but still rambunctious and full of energy.

SFS: Your mixes are filled with a medley of what sounds like cumbia and muscians like Brenmar, who was recently in SF. How would you categorize the genre you spin?

RK: Actually, I don't really play cumbia, its too slow and accordion-ey for me. Right now, I'm into playing a lot of 90s tunes off of labels like Strictly Rhythm and KMS sped up to pair with newer tracks from people who have been pushing a very nebulous mutant-house-meets-post-dubstep sound.

It doesn't really have a genre name, and people will stone you to death if you try to call it anything. I think my favorite attempt though was when Boomkat described a Shortstuff record as "Tribalist-flex-step." I'm sure that writer's head is on a stake somewhere in London.

SFS: New York pretty much has everything California has. What do you do first when you come back to SF?

RK: Well, that’s not true! New York is great and I love it here, despite the cold, and all that. But it really can't do Mexican food or beaches. Also, avocados here are like two bucks each — I'm not kidding. So I'm planning a few trips to Los Jarritos, Taqueria San Francisco, and La Taqueria.

Haters can hate; LT has the best tacos, case closed! But the first thing I will do is probably hug a few peeps, then let a live chicken loose in Rollie Fingers' house for his birthday.