Andhim’s First Club: Scratch Battles and Hip-Hop in Germany


This story is over 5 years old.


Andhim’s First Club: Scratch Battles and Hip-Hop in Germany

"No fake shit, just skills, and that was exactly what I loved about that scene."

My First Club takes us back to the beginning, transporting DJs and producers back into the depths of their memory, asking them to take us on a trip to those pivotal first nights in clubland. This week's subject: Simon Haehnel of andhim.

The very first club experience that I can remember was a hip-hop party in our hometown of Cologne, Germany around 1998. It took place in an off location next to the Neumarkt. I was 14-years-old and super nervous and worried that they weren't going to let me in. I still wonder how I managed to get in, but there I was, a teenager surrounded by all the older hip-hop heads, watching curiously with big eyes.


Back in the day, when hip-hop still had this wonderful old-school touch, it was like a dream to me. There were people freestyling and break-dancers were showing off their moves, all accompanied by the music of one of my early heroes, DJ Stylewarz, who was playing back-to-back with DJ Lifeforce. These were two of the top DJs in Germany at the time. They were mainly scratching and didn't really care about whether people wanted to hear tracks without interruptions. That was the time that we lived in and I loved every minute of it.

Standing next to the improvised DJ booth for two hours watching my two idols doing backspins, chirps, stabs, and transformers (pretty much the only tricks one could do those days) was just so pure and honest. No fake shit, just skills, and that was exactly what I loved about that scene. Even if you were not in a battle, it always felt like a battle. You always wanted to show that you were the best and that you had top skills and the maddest instrumentals. At the time, DJs put stickers over labels to hide the names of the records they were playing. It's so nerdy, but I also really appreciated this competitive behavior because it showed passion and and meaning.

I soon found out that there were far better DJs than DJ Stylewarz. But then again, this first meeting was like a big adventure for me. I had all his mixtapes and records and was just stoked to see a DJ performing live and feel the energy of the music and people. Those old school hip-hop parties had a wonderful spirit. They were so versatile and exciting. As a kid I was totally into turntablism, so I had all those DMC videotapes. It was something I loved and it was the reason why I wanted to become a DJ. I actually recorded some of the tapes on cassettes to listen to over and over again on my Walkman. I would create dozens of tapes with the best of scratching put together from other tapes, videotapes or my own sessions. I was really addicted to it.


Read more: The Odyssey of the Sausage Tour Gave Andhim a Taste of America

At the time, I was also very active in the Cologne hip-hop scene. I was working in the biggest record shop, Groove Attack, and would go to hip-hop parties quite often. However, that slowly started shifting in another direction, since the music and attitude of hip-hop artists and parties began to change. The enjoyment and the realness of the scene made room for over-coolness, bling-bling, and jerks. For me the true spirit of the music was gone, but luckily I almost simultaneously discovered that the house scene had all that "freude," joy and happiness that I had lost in the hip-hop scene.

Like for many others, my first experience as a DJ was, of course, in the "örtlichen jugendzentren", or the local school parties. However, when I played my first real club gig, I think I was about 16-years-old and was literally shaking. I prepared the set weeks before and knew every single scratch. Thankfully it turned out to be a pretty good night all around, but it took years until I got over the nervousness!

Catch andhim at CODA Toronto on October 2nd, for more info click here.

andhim is on Facebook // Twitter // SoundCloud