It’s time to take your mind and body out of the endless loop of the day to day; reach out of the end of year charts and the zeitgeist freaks’ fame predictions and immerse yourself in the soul of one of London’s newest cultural happenings: Toi. Toi. It came into existence just over a year ago now and it’s the brainchild of Isis Salvaterra and Claus Voigtmann. Throughout their debut year the pair have made a succinct point of creating an intimate, timeless musical and social happening in numerous spaces across London with the help of guests like our very own Craig Richards. They stretch beyond the four walls of the venue in the aim of rousing social consciences as well as the party spirit of a community of people who all make Toi. Toi. the special event that it has come to be.
Here for our blog, Claus has prepared us our own sonic presentation of the party to set the scene as you read our interview with both Claus and Isis, delving deeper into their first year with Toi.Toi. and looking forward to their Room Three takeover this NYE here in Farringdon.
You recently celebrated a year of Toi Toi - congratulations - how would you describe what Toi Toi is and stands for as a party? Isis and Claus: Thanks. Toi Toi is a community rather than just an event. Our regulars and our artists engage in all sorts of activities with us, be it a social effort like we did with Red Dot Relief with Seth or Jay or now with Toys & Needs helping Latin America or simply by discussing and being critical about everything that is part of or affects our lives in any sense be it music, culture, politics and so on. Everyone takes part.
House music has many dynamics, it’s so varied and diverse - where does Toi Toi sit on the spectrum? Isis & Claus: We do not like to necessarily be narrowed to genres even though at Toi Toi as an event we are pretty much showcasing house and techno and its sub genres but what makes up for that programming is, as we said we are a community, and for a community to be complete it needs to be part of a combination of different forms of art. What we all are and do is a result of the close interaction between the members. We go to exhibitions, plays, other parties brought by the people that attend ours - it never stops at just electronic music. You might find us going to a concert of say Herbert or Reich or Funkadelic and so on, these are all influences that make up who we are culturally and it is reflected at Toi.Toi. and all the other events we attend.
We do not limit anything to genre but we do to quality. We always say that there might be an artist/act we might not necessarily love (that’s taste) but it is vital to be able to assess the quality of that artist’s production and performance even though it is not particularly one’s own taste. Music needs to be challenging and to us if it doesn’t have that element of risk and complexity leading to change, we really are not interested.
Sometimes it’s very hard to get the vibe and feeling right for a party - what do you think are the key ingredients? Isis & Claus: Love what you do.
Claus, before you started doing Toi Toi you were relatively unknown as a DJ - and now a year on your profile reflects the success of the parties - what do you think has changed over this time in your style and approach to playing? Claus: That’s true, I was a relatively unknown DJ but that is because I became a DJ not so long ago and the party has certainly served as base to what I am as a DJ today.
For me as a DJ having ToiToi as my playground is immensely important. It is my stage, my home. In the beginning I was testing my skills in warm-up sets a lot, then I moved on 2nd slots then eventually did some closing sets. The notion that one has a promotion and can just do whatever they want is true, but only to a certain extent. It is important to know your place and grow as experience comes. With those sets my library and my skills grew extensively throughout the whole spectrum, from opening to closing. Overall DJing for me is a continuous learning process ….a beautiful one.
Now my next step is to switch to vinyl entirely, I have always played Traktor vinyl and vinyl but as a strong believer in vinyl we at ToiToi think that the real underground solid music these days is mainly to be found on vinyl and the whole cultural exchange, tradition that comes with it gives an enormous sense of belonging (community) to something tangible and meaningful and not disposable.
There have been so many stand out records this year in this very strong year for house music - which have been the defining ones for you and Toi. Toi.? Claus: It was indeed a very strong year for house music. The records that touch me the most and get the most play aren’t those that you can label 2011. My aim is to play timeless music e.g. a record from 2000 that you can’t pin down as such but still blows people away. At the same time there are a few amazing new things getting released.
What would you say has changed in the party over the year, have any elements been added in or taken away? Isis & Claus: Over the past year we have had to ‘hide’ a bit more to keep the essence of what we want. We still use the same venue from our first event (sometimes in the year moving to a slightly bigger venue) – change is slow- on purpose. It is basically because we believe in music having the power to educate, to change, to create a better society and before someone comes through our door we would like to have at least an indication that they are willing to take part in that and not simply ‘have a night out with his/her mates’. It is about cultural knowledge and the willingness to exchange with others to make a difference, it’s about music generating a sense of togetherness and music being the catalyst to engaging in the world we live in. We do not want to be ‘secret’ or exclusive or anything, we are just careful and patient, it needs to be right, we have been to places like The Rex in Paris or BeCool Off-Sonar, we are now here at fabric so it is mainly about it being in tune with our ethos and not just take the party somewhere for the sake of it.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the year?
What have been your three favourite moments of the year? Isis & Claus: The highlight of the year is certainly when we did the Red Dot Relief Official event in May. We have had huge support from our community, be it fashion students making and selling t-shirts or volunteers working at the door, absolutely no cost over sound, venue, artists, it’s the togetherness, it works… we pulled off a beautiful event and generated £5,000 to the victims of the Tsunami. Same day you guys at Fabric generated £12k for RDR, that is exactly what I mean by being in the same ‘ethos’, it is something that is higher than music industry dot, it’s about the world and helping each other and we are empowered to do that via music, we just need to use it.
Isis: When Jan Krueger and Daze Maxim became our residents, it was certainly a moment because we all click so well and it happened very naturally. I take much pride in having them as what Toi.Toi. stands for, it is all there, skill, knowledge, experience, love… envious mixing techniques with deeply musical influences combined with so many years experience and being the good and loving people they are. Ufff.. unbeatable!
Claus: We got to travel quite a bit this year. Two places stand out for me. Supynes Festival in Lithuania and The Rex Club in Paris. Both were an absolute honour to play but also the people behind it were the real highlights. Especially in the “Hello” crew of Rex, we found likeminded lovely people that put the same care and attention to quality into what they are doing as we do.
What are you looking forward to next year? Isis: We just want to keep doing what we do.
Can you introduce your guests that are celebrating NYE with us for our readers? Claus: Our first guest is Romanian Cristi Munteanu aka Cristi Cons (Amphia / ar:pi:ar). We met him when he was playing a showcase in London. We after partied together and I ended up playing over 24hours back to back with him. Musically he can’t be pinned down to the famous “Romanian sound” only. At such an early age, his knowledge of music in its broader timeless sense is enormous. On finishing his masters in music, he’s got 14 years of Cello education on his back that he applies not only to contributing with the National Youth Orchestra of Bucharest but to his own electronic productions on his newly founded label ‘AMPHIA’. Cristi I can’t wait to repeat the last time and we’ll warmly welcome you back at Olympic House.
Isis: In order to fulfil all the remaining requirements to complete Room 3 in line with our ethos at Toi Toi we chose ‘The Mole’. An artist with little need of introduction I am sure (the guy’s music curriculum is one to be very impressed by) we chose Collin because all that experience makes him a DJ that can travel from disco to techno in absolute precision and knowledge about what and how he is playing it. Being the room ‘room 3’ and on New Year’s Eve we felt we needed to inject a bit of funk and like I said, he is definitely up to the task!
We would like to thank everyone the support throughout this year and wish you an amazing new year full of musical bliss! Happy 2012!