Electro-swing is a genre that has been mostly popular across the pond from us and never really had a good rep, however, there is something skillful and wonderful about two worlds colliding (i.e., polka + electronic music). You can attend a party in Germany, with the typical hipster fashion of bowler hat and suspenders and throw yourself back to the 1920s, whilst still hearing our modern underbelly techno and house beats. The genre has a lot of instrumentation combined with each track that really brings out the loose fun that they must have during those Great Gatsby days!
Not unlike, Sound Nomaden or Parov Stelar, Polka and Swing master, KimSka, runs an entire club for those who love to shimmy and jib. The Tiger Rag Club has an abundant podcast playlist on Soundcloud that showcases the lively and creative nature of this underdog of a genre.
KimSka, a.k.a., Kim-Sven Briddigkeit, is the exuberant individual who's music background is as colorful as his Polka, Balkan and Electro-Swing blend in music style. Originating from South of Germany, KimSka the DJ was born nearly twenty years ago after being asked to play a gig at a Scooter Run. When the promoter asked what his alias is, he did not really have one at the time, so he settled for just using, Kim and mentioned the type of music he would play. After that, the promoter took it upon himself and listed him as, KimSka on the flyer.
Magnetic Magazine has the great pleasure of premiering an exclusive interview and mix from, KimSka, to introduce the new voie de vie in dance music!
Magnetic: What is the "scooter run" you referred to as your first gig?
It is a convention, where people meet and show their custom vintage brass scooters and then they would race. They happen all over Europe but are definitely a subculture thing. It is inspired by British mod from the sixties. I would place these parties in the late evening called, ALLNIGHTER and for many years I mostly played Northern Soul & Ska.
M: What is your musical/DJ background? How did you start playing/making music?
K: I began DJ'ing for the school parties that I organized, but I didn't have a special genre then. When I started listening to Ska music a few years later, I quickly fell in love with it. For a very long time, I played Ska and the love never really ended between us.
M: Why Electro Swing and Polka? It is a very niche genre, what is it about it, that you love?
K: Ska is fun, that is what I have always loved about it. It is joyful and danceable, people always kind of dress up in an interesting way when they came to the parties I played at. I had always wanted to bring people to this feeling. That is what I found in Electro Swing and Balkan Beats. It was different from Ska, but it evoked the same energy. Sometimes, it even comes with the offbeat.
M: When did Tiger Rag Club come to be? How did it start?
K: When I met my girlfriend, eight years ago, she introduced me to her neighbors. They were a very kind family that she was very close with. Weirdly, the parents were much older and their kids were younger than her, so it was unusual but charming. Their son, Paul, was fifteen years younger than me, but we really clicked. We had the same creative notions and shared similar ideas that we wanted to work on, so I convinced him and his friend Max to try DJ'ing, too.
We started with a monthly party at a club in, Freiburg (Klub Kamikaze), where we blended the genres, Balkan Beats (me) and Electro-Swing (Max & Paul). When the club was closed, the proprietor opened another club called, Schmitz Katze. He took us and our concept with him to the new location. We ended up starting a three-day festival called, Tiger Rage Festival and invited many of the artists whose tracks we loved to play. After that experience, we started an event called, Tiger Rag Club, that we put on every other month. Each time we would book an artist that we have always wanted to see live. Eventually, another club approached us about our project and we extended it to a club called, Karlsruhe.
M: What were your intentions for Tiger Rag Club?
K: We wanted to create a platform for people with the same interest or style. We always wanted to have a good time and have shared that with others. Our goal was to represent a fun and creative context of music.
Can you tell me more about your first Tiger Rag Festival? How was it organized with Paul & Max? Who were some of the artists? Was it a full house? What was the audience like? How did you feel after the event was complete?
K: The first TRF was in 2012, while Paul was spending six months in Australia and I had started planning with Max. It took us about six months to figure out all the details since we had to do everything ourselves. Publicity, bookings, artwork, sponsoring, etc. Paul was back shortly before the festival started. At the festival, we had artists such as Dunkelbunt, Kiwistar, Dirty Honkers, Shemian, Alice Francis, Phos Toni and many others.
Unfortunately, we had a low turnout because it was raining cats and dogs for three days, but we still had a great time. Freiburg has a very mixed society and since we have one fo the biggest universities in Germany, there were many students, but also local guests between the age of twenty and forty. After the festival was over, we were exhausted but felt very fulfilled. We wanted to keep throwing that festival ever year from then on.
M: What future do you see for electro-swing? Do you feel that is increasing in popularity?
K: I have a feeling that the hype over Electro Swing is slowly going down, but I don't fear that change. There always be new developments throughout that kind of music and it always is a process. I am sure that the audience will always love friendly and upbeat music no matter what, we just need to adapt to the changes.
You say that you feel that the hype of electro-swing is over, in what ways do you mean? How would you suggest would be a good way of restoring electro-swings popularity?
K: I can only speak for Europe, since it has been going for such a long time, already, that people's interest seemed to have decreased in the genre. Also, there are not enough new music being made in the style. I think that the vintage character of this genre will remain popular, but develop towards other styles, like Blues and maybe even, Rocksteady... other decades can be reinvented, too, other than the Roaring 20s.
Check out KimSka and Tiger Rag Club via Facebook & Soundcloud: