By Charlie Porter
Mr Ties is a DJ who lives in Berlin.
He runs the monthly party Homopatik, which starts at 23.59 on a Friday night, and runs to 10pm the next day.
During it, he plays for many hours at a time, at different times, for fun.
For him, playing records is a pleasure.
This is Mr. Ties at Homopatik in the summer.
Here’s Mr Ties on The Bandwagon in the summer – go straight to 55mins for the start of a Mr Ties two hour mix.
And next Saturday, October 12, he’s coming to London.
To play at first chapter of a new gay party, Chapter 10.
At Dance Tunnel.
His real name is Francesco, and he comes from Italy. I spoke with him on Skype earlier in the week, to chat about how he came to play records, and how his style has evolved. As with all conversations, I’ve kept the words as they were actually said. I could translate Francesco’s words into cleaner English, but then they would entirely loose their character. I’ve kept everything as he said it, occasionally adding explanations if I think it needs it. Francesco has a cold, and has a hoodie over his head. He’s drinking a coloured liquid from an old water bottle. When I turn the machine on, I’m asking him if he’s feeling OK…
FRANCESCO: Nothing I think it’s a bit cold. Where I was in Sweden and so that’s it.
ME: You got the first winter chill
Yeah I was a bit light dressed in Sweden, so it gets me a bit fucked up.
It’s in your bones.
It is like I am cold. I am coughing sometimes.
Are you going to Istanbul tomorrow to get in the heat.
Yeah. I’m going there for one week.
And you played in Sweden at the weekend?
I was playing in Malmo, in this club called Babel. The location was nice but you know the clubs in Sweden are a bit fucked up.
In what way?
Because they have a closing time at 3am, and I come from Berlin…
Where 3am’s barely the opening time
Yeah, my party, I open at midnight usually, on Fridays.
So tell me a bit about how you got started playing records. What was your route into it?
I was 18 years old I think. I was together with a DJ, he was like a soulful house DJ. At the time it was really funny because I did not appreciate house at that time, I was totally listening to electro, breakbeat, Warp stuff, and so at the time I thought, OK he had records at home, I just one time said I want to try it too. He said, take the first beat and flow it with the other one, are you going to make it? And I did it, and I already had fun with it.
I thought like, OK, I want to have my records, so I could play my records. So I started to collect my own records. And then I realised the record is a pretty unique acoustic medium. It’s different from MP3s or the digital medium. And then I had my little record collection. And then I moved to Berlin.
Where were you when you were 18?
I was in Rome. At the time I remember I bought different records like electro or electroclash, or like drum and bass, breakbeat, a bit house, a bit disco, all this stuff together.
Why did you move to Berlin? Was it the clubs?
Not really the clubs. I just wanted to change city from Rome, and at the time I didn’t have the chance to look and see which was the city for me. Just one shot, there you go – OK, I’ll move to Berlin. I said to myself either I go to Berlin or I go to San Francisco. Or I go to Tokyo. And then in the end I went to Berlin. And it was nice. It was really nice. Also the time that I came was really nice Berlin.
When did you arrive?
Was 2006, 2005. And was like really super nice. The city was still keeping this old charm, now that is really not there. The emptiness charm.
When there were still things that were kept as they’d been.
Yeah when there were less shops around. Now it’s like all over shops. All the businesses.
What were you doing when you first moved there?
I was living in a squat house in Friedrichshain, for a couple of months, and nothing, I went like often to parties and had fun with friends. It was a really moving situation [he means it was fluid]. I remember squats then were all doors open, and really free, really open to everyone. And that’s it.
And so it was a complete immediate change from Rome.
Yeah, Rome is a beautiful city, but I lived there for 9 years and I wanted to see something else. Like right now I’m going to Istanbul because I want to see something else.
When did you start playing records out?
The first time I played in a club? I played already in Italy at different times. At the time I didn’t have a record player at home, so me going to a location to play was the only chance for me to listen to my records too. So it’s like, at the time I was forced to find gigs. I just wanted to listen to my records.
That was in Berlin or in Rome?
This was in Rome. Then after a while I was in Berlin, and I started to play also in Berlin. I played in a bar every Monday, playing in a bar on Monday night. That was Barbie Deinhoff’s. I just played the things that I liked. Always.
It seems that you play records that you like, but they’re records that people want to hear.
Yeah but sometimes you recognise you don’t have to play what people like to hear. I have to play what I like to hear. I can really play with it. If I know that someone doesn’t like that, I can just play that till they’re leaving the dancefloor. It’s like, you can do the opposite.
But that makes it interesting to be playing records.
Yeah I hope I can show them a bit what I have to say, it’s simple like this. It’s like you just play records that you like, and some people like it, sometimes all the people like it, sometimes nobody likes it.
And if nobody likes it you play something else.
Yeah I can also switch it, if that doesn’t work, OK, 10, 9, 8, 7, here comes another one. This is a good DJ, when you still have the control. So it’s still like, you can still fade out to something else, or even create with the record something else that would fit better in the context.
The thing I find interesting is the tension between you and the room.
Yeah me I actually don’t, I just do it. I don’t have all this thinking actually. For me it’s I just play some records, you know. For me, I’m not a fetishist. For me, if I do a good mix, it pushes me to do much more crazy stuff than anything else.
When did you start doing your first night?
My first club? I did some parties in Berghain Cantina before, and then in other locations but now they are not anymore there. And then I started to do the party in About Blank, and it was on Wednesday night, but the club was still illegal, and we could not write the address [he means publicise the address], it was super indie, and so it was pretty nice but there were just our 150 friends, and then the club closed for a while because they had a problem, and then they opened again, and when they opened again I decided, OK, I’m going to start doing one Friday [a month], instead of doing it weekly, I started to do one Friday, that’s it. And it was already going pretty big from the first one. It was like, boom.
It worked. We did a really crazy flyer for that night. You saw it?
I’d like to see it.
[Mr Ties starts typing and sends a link through Skype, and sends the following flyer]
This was the time still when we were doing the flyer. Then we stopped doing flyers.
Why did you stop?
Because the party was already super big.
You had no need.
Exactly. And it was also like it became much more underground you know.
I love how you start it at 23.59.
What do you mean?
As in one minute to midnight.
Yeah we have this crazy start. I used these wrongs [he means mistakes]. There are a lot of wrongs in the flyers, grammar wrongs.
Does the club have a set closing time, or does it close whenever you want
Normally we close at 10 at night of the day after. It has developed like this. The first time we did Homopatik, it was maybe like at 1 o clock in the afternoon. Then it was 2 o’clock. Until we reached 10 o’clock in the night. And then we started to always do 10 o’clock in the night. 10 o’clock in the night. 10 o’clock in the night.
And that’s how it is now.
Now it’s 10 o’clock in the night, and sometimes in the summer we do some special, we do like all the weekend, from Friday past Saturday and the party continues.
Is there a time when you like playing records, or does it not matter?
I don’t know because it’s my party, and I like always to play at my party. It’s like, my party is different, because I play so many different hours. Like before, for a lot of years, I played just from the morning time til 10 o’clock in the night. And then I started to break this tradition. And then I started to play at peak time in the house floor, or peak time in the techno floor. Let other people play at the end.
So it could depend on who the guests are.
Hmmm, no. no. It’s just I play in all the rooms at Homopatik, it’s my party. Sometimes I play spontaneously, just some records. To have fun with my friends.
It sounds really super fun. It’s interesting for a club to be based around fun.
I don’t know. At least I’m basing it around fun.
If you’re playing on vinyl for so long, how many bags of records do you take?
When I go to Homopatik I have three bags. I need help with them. Imagine three bags, 60 kilo alone is a bit much. Four I did once in my life. Also if you carry record bags for one hour, it’s a bit of a gym.
What’s the difference between playing at your own party and like when you come to ours?
When I play in UK, I try always to play more vocal stuff, because I cannot play it usually in Berlin, it’s not that I cannot play it, but less people understand the sense of the records. There I can play really nice songs.
Is it a different thought process when it’s a shorter set, or is it still spontaneous?
It’s spontaneous. You just have some records in your bag, and it’s like I want to play this this and this at this point.
Well I hope we can make it fun for you at Chapter 10.
I think I will have fun for sure. A lot of people have talked me good about the place. Like everyone actually. Ah yeah, really good. But there when does it close for example.
Also at three [we both laugh].
That’s why when you were said about Sweden closing at 3am, I didn’t say anything. Welcome to Britain.
This is actually all around like this right now, like it’s all around becoming like this. My fear is in a city like Berlin they want to apply for this, I think they will not because they will destroy the economy of the city it would be not good, but in Rome they stop selling alcohol at 2, they close at 4, or all around it’s like this. This imposing of the state of when we have to dance or not dance. If you think about it, it is super strange, you say to the people when they can dance, or when they can’t dance. It’s just for that. When don’t you tell me when to go to the toilet or not? It’s like. It’s like this.
But the sad thing is it’s stuck here in this way of thinking.
They were the first one [he means the people now in authority], you understand, they were the first party generation. Now they want to be moralists. Like OK.
Pretending they never went out.
And the thing is, when it’s a club that’s always open, there are just normal people who go to the club. It’s a strange situation.
[And with that, I let Francesco go get some rest, and go get better]
Aaaah he’s so lovely!
On Saturday 12 October.
Here’s the poster.
Oh yeah I didn’t mention – I’m playing records too, with Dan Beaumont, before Mr Ties.
Actual real life records.
It’ll be super fun.
I’m off on holiday to get myself ready.
Get a tan so I look right nice in, um, a near pitch black room with a smoke machine and a laser.
See you on Saturday!xxx
Photo Credit Christian Olofsson via Resident Advisor