ZU-ZUSHI 2: IF- REVISITED
Author: By Saori Nakagawa
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
"That, and the fact it starts with 'z'. We have a history of putting on parties with names starting with 'z'," he laughs. Hence the name for the upcoming event at Horse Bazaar in Melbourne, set to take place on the evening of Saturday 10th February, 2007: Zuzushi 2. When he says we, Bergen is referring to his record label and event organizer IF- Records, an entity that's been in existence for well over a decade, in one form or another. While it's now based in Japan, the label owes allegiance and a debt of gratitude to its old stomping ground in Melbourne. It also bears an impressive legacy.
The label ran the huge Omniglobe warehouse rave parties at Global Village in Melbourne - home of Every Picture Tells A Story - in 1995/96, they toured German acts Biochip C and Jammin' Unit, they ran the Zoetrope live electronica sessions between 1997-2001, and collaborated often with legendary Melbourne clubs like Filter, Teriyaki Anarki Saki, Centriphugal, Revolver Upstairs and Honkytonks.
At the same time they were releasing music on compilations like the Zeitgeist series, as well as individual artist recordings by Little Nobody, Artificial, Soulenoid, Guyver 3, Isnod, the LN Elektronisch Ensemble, DJ Venom, Schlock Tactile, and Kid Calmdown.
Other (mostly Melbourne) artists involved with the label included Voiteck, Steve Law, Honeysmack, 8-Bit, Digital Primate, Son Of Zev, Blimp, Tee-Art, Rhizo, Q-Kontrol, Black Lung, Frontside, Josh Abrahams, Half Yellow, Zog, et al: a who's who of the more cutting edge producers at play in this remarkable city in the 1990s.
"It was brilliant to have them on board - especially at the live music events. We felt extremely lucky, and I was a huge fan of everyone we got to play," Bergen, the guiding force of the label since 1995, humbly demurs.
But along the way, IF- itself made a huge impact of its own, on many of these artists' own psyches (and careers), if those involved have any say in the matter.
"I used to go to the IF- events, and so got to know the crew," says Damian Stephens, a graphic designer perhaps better known as Isnod - a celebrated, if subversive, underground Melbourne live act.
"Then I started doing design for the label. It was on one of these occasions that the esteemed IF- label head came around to look at a cover I was doing, and I was listening to what my cohort and I had put live to tape the night before. He asked what the hell I was listening to, and then - after a five minute pause - asked if we could do it live." Damian sounds incredulous. "The next day he called to tell us we had been booked for the Espy [Hotel, in St Kilda, Melbourne]. As I'd never even thought about doing it for an audience, I thought he was joking. When I realized he was serious, I shit myself!"
Briony Wright, the editor of Australian Vice magazine, and an occasional DJ herself (under aliases like Venom, Bee-Dub, and Boring) seems to remember the early IF- days fondly. "I was friends with Andrew Bergen, ... so I started going to the events, and eventually came on to do the opening sets at some of the parties," she recounts. She says that IF- Records, leading up to 2001, when Andrez took the label to Tokyo, was "Quirky, amazing electronic music that made a mark in and beyond Melbourne." Then she laughs. "Probably most importantly in China!"
An artistic collaborator with Bergen in the latter half of the '90s - under the moniker of DJ Fodder - was Jeff Willis, who also makes music himself as Kan Tags