Grime Time & Sick Girls
- Words: Vivian Host
Christian "Fussi" Fussenegger, a video journalist and one of the six heads behind Berlin's Grimetime, has no problem rattling off ridiculous stories about the UK grime MCs and DJs that have played their event. "DJ Twister of Fire Camp only ate his dessert after Lethal B had tested and approved of it," writes Fussenegger. "Monkstar of Newham Generals was quite freaked out by 'all the white people looking at him' in the restaurant; Lady Fury was totally perplexed by the Berlin crusties at Friedrichshain flea market; and DJ Cameo and D Double E were not aware that there had been anything called the Berlin Wall or the Iron Curtain."
Though people in the grime scene are known for taking themselves way seriously, Fussenegger and partners–including WMF club owner Gerriet Shultz, filmmaker Heidi Frankl, Jahcoozi singer Sasha Perera, student Jan Ramesh-Schoening, and graphic designer Frederik Frede–put together a banging party while keeping their sense of humor. Nobody in the crew DJs, so egos don't get in the way–the simple goal is to inject a dose of roughneck lyricism and big-ass bass into the scene. "I think Berlin will be the hotbed for a new style of music that combines genres–if people here manage to drop their stupid fixation with minimal techno and 4/4 crap," says Fussenegger, who also hopes to see a "Bob Marley or Jello Biafra of grime" one day.
"All the established clubs invite the same DJs; no clubs are taking risks or trying to be cutting edge anymore," agree the Sick Girls. "It's time for something new." As Sick Girls, Alexandra Droener and Johanna Grabsch are doing their part to push the boundaries of the Berlin club scene, which still has few DJs that play multiple genres. The duo represents the gamut of underground bass music–grime, baile funk, booty house, dancehall, bass-heavy IDM–with their Revolution N°5 parties, and are good friends with the Grime Timers. (Grabsch was booking WMF when Fussenegger first walked in the door–with the Wiley album and a Nasty Crew mix in hand–and proposed the Grime Time party; Droener has known club-owner Gerriet for 14 years, from DJing and working the door at WMF and doing bookings for "dirty techno dungeon" Tresor.)
"We never planned to be DJs," says Grabsch, "but people responded so well and so quickly, we felt the urge to go on." The pair's first "gig" together was a last-minute tag-team set in August 2004 in a tiny room of Tresor called the Tuna Bar. "I played Drexciya and 2 Live Crew and Ward 21 and Wiley," recalls Grabsch. "It was one of the greatest nights of my life, finally having met someone I was able to communicate with only through music. We each played a track which the other answered and it worked so well. We even ignited some of the techno ravers with our 'strange' music. I remember Alexander Kowalski coming up and asking us for titles, shaking his hips heavily."
In a city of very serious DJs, Sick Girls know their mission: to make people dance to music they have never heard before while keeping the fun intact. "Grime Time and Revolution N°5 deliver the same feel of a new beginning, like how we felt [at the start] of techno and drum & bass," says Droener. "It's all just a natural development [between us and Grime Time]–we've just stuck with the people who've got the same open and adventurous mind in terms of music. I just love them."
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