Interview: Jan Rohlf of Polymorphism/CTM

22 Nov 2012 — Warren O'Neill

Focused on forward-thinking club music, Polymorphism aims to pump life and modernity back into the somewhat sterile House/Techno dominated Berlin club scene. Previous events have showcased labels Hippos In Tanks and 100% SILK, but this time the focus is set on Hyperdub and their artists King Midas Sound and NFOP regular Hype Williams (aka Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland). We talked to one of the organisers, Jan Rohlf, ahead of the event's fourth installment at Berghain tonight.

What are the origins of the Polymorphism events and what makes them unique?
Jan: When we started preparation for the next CTM festival which is coming up in January, we began to analyse what we feel is the state of music culture at this very moment. We had the feeling that we are dealing with an overwhelming wealth and variety of music of all sorts, and we were thinking, 'why is it that way and where does it come from?' Basically, Polymorphism started as an offspring of these inquiries leading towards the festival. The idea was that instead of having these strict subscenes that are bound to specific aesthetics and genre ideas, we would like to focus on artists and labels that do the opposite: ones that try to include as many influences and aesthetic forms as possible, to be "polymorphic" in a certain sense. Nowadays we are exposed to more and more material, influences and cultural artefacts than ever before, because we have high digitization, [access to] the internet, and open archives. We wanted to engage in these open-ended processes where we have no limits. This is the idea behind Polymorphism.

The Polymorphism line-ups seem to be mainly UK and US artists, is there a reason for this?
Jan: I feel that this hybridity is something that in Berlin, or maybe even in mainland Europe, is not there. This is quite a broad statement, but Berlin is still kind of stuck: if you are making a refined step within a certain formula it can only be boring. You need certain reckless people to make some experiments, and it might sound stupid or kitsch, but they just want to test new ground. That's what I feel we are missing in Berlin. It's not that there is no-one doing it; but for the majority it doesn't work that way.

Why were Hype Williams and King Midas Sound chosen for Polymorphism #4?
Jan: Hype Williams are artists that, I feel, "browse the world" so to say. They take whatever is interesting for them and stitch it together or mould it in their own unique way, and are artists that you can't pin down to a certain style. They are people who try to throw smoke bombs and play with the audience and the media's expectations. If you follow the career of Kevin Martin [King Midas Sound] and see all he has done in all his 35 years; going from his free-jazz project God to post-industrial electronics with Justin Broadrick and Techno Animal, or  onto his dancehall stuff; King Midas Sound becomes more like nocturnal poetry. So he is also very diverse in his approach.

Any strange request from Hype Williams?
Jan: Definitely, it was quite a process! What they wanted from us changed constantly, [and] even in the last few days before the concert we had to find some new things for them.

Will there be any more Polymorphism nights before CTM?
Jan: We are working on some ideas for April or May but the same ideas will feed into the festival. People who like Polymorphism will also like the stuff at CTM.

Details of tonights event can be found here.