Podcast 639: Session Victim
All-vinyl, feel-good house.
Podcast 639: Session Victim
All-vinyl, feel-good house.
As the live music industry grinds to a standstill, Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling released Needledrop, their fourth album as Session Victim. Available now via Night Time Stories, a sister label of Late Night Tales, the album takes inspiration from the lavishly textured and subtly layered jazz and soul compositions that found their way into late ’90 trip-hop, and its brimming with the organic groove and low-slung house that underpins the Session Victim catalog.
Freer and Reiling became close friends in the mid-’90s, growing up in Lüneburg, and small town in northern Germany, where they organized parties with a small crew of friends. Hanging out at the local record store and listening to every record that came in, they grew close and began DJing together around ’97—but they drifted after leaving Lüneburg in 2001, Freer to Berlin and Reiling to Hamburg. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve in 2007 that they reconnected.
Filling that seven-year period were several musical excursions: outside of work at Resopal Schallware, Freer began producing the slick house that appealed to him; while Reiling, who has released two solo albums on Giegling, pursued hardcore metal with his Two Tribes band and discovered a knack for electronics and hip-hop. Come 2007, and the time felt right to hit the studio together—and, after working on two tracks, they met up in Berlin or Hamburg each weekend in the pursuit of new material. Their debut release, No Friends, came out in 2008 on London’s Real Soon, where Freer had released his debut solo record the previous year.
Releases have come thick and fast since then—including three albums on Delusions on Grandeur. Broadly speaking, the Session Victim records encompass the dusty, uplifting house of No Friends, doused in funk and soul to make them perfect for club play but fun enough for home-listening. Away from the studio, they curate the label Pen & Paper, launched in 2018, and perform as DJs and live, where they bring their live instrumentation and sample-based processes to stage.
Session Victim’s XLR8R podcast is a vinyl-only mix recorded in the duo’s studio in February. Whereas their club sets traverse a multitude of genres and tempos, this podcast is more direct, comprised of house records they’ve been playing out recently, all with the funk and groove that make Session Victim Session Victim. It’s wonderfully smooth and uplifting—press play and you may just forget these little difficult times for an hour.
What have you been up to recently?
HF: Been cooking and eating a lot. Sorted my records and worked with some people to get their music ready for mastering and cutting.
MR: I tried to come up with a good way of playing Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl” on guitar but failed pretty hard so far. Her stuff is ridiculously difficult to pull off, I think.
Talk us through the thinking behind the new album: how does it compare to earlier Session Victim music?
MR: With Needledrop, we wanted to make an album especially suited for home listening and we always knew that should be a one-piece vinyl record that you only have to flip over once. So, our main focus was to create a strong listening experience over anything else.
Where and when did you record the mix?
HF: The final mix was recorded at my place in early February using three Technics 1210, an Ecler mixer, and my new El Capistan delay which I bought myself for Christmas. I worked on the selection for about three weeks. The problem is, the longer I work on a mixtape the higher I’m aiming, suddenly considering three-deck mixes and stuff like that! This time I focused on a good flow and giving records more time instead of aiming for perfection.
How did you choose the tracks that you included?
HF: We aimed for a mix that represents what we have been playing in clubs. Matthias gave me a choice of records and I worked around that to create a good flow. We prefer longer sets, so we can play many genres and intensities, but here we focused more or less on house. It’s kind of rare for us to have the records play out FOR so long, and also for us to stick mainly to one style for 60 minutes.
How does it compare to what we’d hear you play in a club?
HF: We always play one record each, so every set is an improvisation— nothing is planned; we’re just trying to play the best possible record for the room. All of these records have been in our bags, so I would say this reflects what you might hear in the club from us—minus jumping needles, crazy style changes, and EQs at 3 am!
How are you finding the downtime at the moment?
MR: So and so, to be honest. I miss going out and playing music, of course, as that’s my favorite thing to do. On the other hand, I find myself reading more than usual and practicing bass and guitar a lot. Plus, we both get to play co-op video games with each other, which I highly enjoy.
HF: As a musician, it’s really hard to turn down shows and actually block off a holiday, in particular when you are a duo. Not having a choice to play any shows makes it easier to accept the time at home for me and making the most out of it.
What are your plans when COVID-19 passes?
MR: Well, go out and dance, play records to people, jam with friends. First thing I will do is get a haircut though!
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. A Vision of Panorama “Euphoria” (Mellophonia)
02. K-Lone “Cruisin” (Dr Banana)
03. Tom Ellis “Co-Create (Partly Printhaus)” (Good Ratio Music)
04. Alexander Albrecht “Schaefer Street” (Patrice Scott Remix) (Scissor and Thread)
05. Sports Casual “Trackin 101” (Exotic Robotics)
06. CZ Wang and Neo Image “Just Off Wave” (Mood Hut)
07. KX9000 “High Def” (Point Neuf Records)
08. The K-Scope Project “Organism” (Tribal America)
09. Universal Agents “West of Athens” (Ovum Recordings)
10. Groove Chronicles “Myron” (Groove Chronicles)
11. Mood II Swing “ooh” (Strictly Rhythm)
12. Robert Glasper “Enoch’s House” (DJ Kemit Remix) (white-label)
13. Julian Jabre “Deliverance” (Basic Recordings)
14. Session Victim “Needledrop” (Night Time Stories)