NPR logo

De Phazz: Jazz with a Turntable

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89939626/89967145" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
De Phazz: Jazz with a Turntable

De Phazz: Jazz with a Turntable

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/89939626/89967145" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Ms. ELLA FITZGERALD: Oh, look, the orchestra's getting ready. Dance with me, George.

(Soundbite of music)

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

The music of German DJ De Phazz is, well, a bit hard to categorize. He calls it jazz with a turntable.

(Soundbite of music)

YDSTIE: De Phazz samples and remixes music he finds just about anywhere, from Ella Fitzgerald hits to 10-cent flea market records. And the outcome is both surprising and seamless. De Phazz is known as Pit Baumgartner when he's not turning tables in dance clubs. And he joins us now from his studio in Ladenburg, Germany. Welcome to the program.

Mr. PIT BAUMGARTNER (DJ): Hi, there.

YDSTIE: How would you describe what you do?

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: Well, I would say, first of all, it's a collage thing. I must say I'm not the world's best composer and, or musician, but I love to bring things together which normally don't fit. That makes it very interesting to me, so it's a collage. I think music should serve somebody. Personally, I'm very tired of somebody who wants to tell me the truth about something. So my music is more like, you know, it joins you while you're doing something.

It gives you space to not listen to it immediately or constantly. But if you listen to it constantly and deeper, you should have some little pearls to find out.

YDSTIE: Let's listen to a little bit more of your music. This one is called "Next Message" and it's from Godsdog.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) My baby she left me, I don't know why she leaves. (unintelligible) my baby, she left me, she had something up her sleeve.

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: I think it's a typical collage album. So you change your style over the years, but "Godsdog" is a very - it's very close to collage because I mixed up very old sounds or sounds from different areas of the world. And yeah, it comes very close to collage.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: I got green and soul.

YDSTIE: Your latest project is a solo album. Typically you work with big groups. Were you just ready to take a break? Why the solo thing?

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: From time to time, you have to have a break of - especially after a tour, you have to have a break from people or from the concept. De Phazz is, beside me, is a band concept. We have two singers, Karl Frierson from South Carolina and Pat Appleton. She's half African and half German. And I'm - used to work in a concept, means I have to sometimes create songs because the people have to have something on stage. But if you don't have that concept, you have more freedom to work beside formats.

YDSTIE: Well, let's hear something from this new album, "Tales of Trust." This is a piece called "Noh Song."

(Soundbite of music "Noh Song")

YDSTIE: Where did that song come from?

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: Well, first of all, you have something like those actors from a noh theater. Noh song means noh theater from Japanese theater.

YDSTIE: N-O-H. Right.

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: Right. You - don't miss the H, it's very important. So what I like is bringing that atmosphere of that theater in a completely different environment and just like things fall into your hands and then you try this and you try that. And at a certain point the song gives you the direction. The song tells you, listen, I need a trumpet or I don't need nothing, I'm an instrumental song.

So that's the - this is the best point to reach. And then it goes by itself and I'm just a media which, you know, I just use the tools and bring it together. But the song rules.

(Soundbite of music "Noh Song")

YDSTIE: What motivates you in a particular direction?

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: Oh, well, I'm a radio listener myself for years for at least, oh, 20, 30, 40, oh, I don't know. So, and there's always some interesting things going on; new music, old music, which inspires me right away. And then sometimes even if you try to copy something. Let's imagine you take Elvis, try to copy Elvis and there's something completely different coming out at the end. But you start with that inspiration and that's how I work.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: And I don't think that really somebody invents the new music. I mean, I don't think that's possible, you know? so many music around in the train, the supermarket, the airport. I can't really tell you, am I composing this or did I heard that just two days before somewhere?

(Soundbite of music)

YDSTIE: Well, you say you're a radio consumer, were you one of these young people who listened to all this pirate radio in the North Sea?

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: Yes, that was one of my favorite things to do. You know, like, the summer when you have to go to bed while the sun's still shining because you're too small. It was the best to have that little transistor radio and switch to through the channels, besides the channels, the sounds that transistor radio was doing, the squeals and squeaks and everything. It was a like a synthesizer. I mean that fascinates me. And you ask yourself what kind of music is that? So, yeah, I grew up with that. So I don't know the word in English but it is (unintelligible).

YDSTIE: Let's listen to an example of a song that you wrote for your most recent album, "Days of Twang." This is called "Shadow of a Line."

(Soundbite of song "Shadow of a Line")

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Spend some years in the shadow of a line. I'll learn how to bark, I'll learn how to fly, now there's someone in the distance who wears my name, we used to lay freedom. Is tomorrow changed?

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: We love to entertain ourselves so a lot of people ask us, why don't you do that bossa nova drum and bass thing anymore? I said, I know how it works. It was fun to do that, but let me do some new things. Sometimes you lose audience, sometimes you win, lose a new audience. But I think the important thing on my side is to entertainment myself and not jump on that track which functions, rather go new ways and fail, but yeah. I think that otherwise you get tired or you get, I don't know - I don't want to find out. You know, it's just like a peculiar thing, you know?

YDSTIE: Pit Baumgartner, otherwise known as De Phazz, thank you very much.

Mr. BAUMGARTNER: You're welcome. Thank you, it was a pleasure.

YDSTIE: His next album, "Tales of Truth" releases on April 30th. And you can listen to full songs by De Phazz at our music Web site. Go to npr.org/music.

This is WEEKEND EDITION. Scott Simon will be back next week. I'm John Ydstie.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.