Fashion and music have always gone hand in hand – Michael Jackson’s white glove, MC Hammer’s baggy pants, the Mods and the Rockers, Madonna’s coned boobs, Elvis’ giant lapels, the list goes on and on. The music we like and the clothes we wear are more often than not a reflection of each other. But while followers of punk, hip hop, heavy metal, country music, reggae and countless other genres certainly have their own recognizable clothes, accessories and fashion, visually identifying a fan of dance music is a lot harder. Apart from the slightly scary ‘ravers’ out there, fans of dance music tend to just look like your average Joe, but this is something that would change if Alexander Gerlach and Helen Kapidzic had their way.
As Nicone, Kapidzic a former stylist and make-up artist and Gerlach and musician and graphic designer appear to be on a quest to get clubbers to leave their skanky threads in the dirty laundry basket and glam it up in the name of fashion and music. Perhaps this will all make more sense if Gerlach explains it himself. “WE OFFER THE MUSIC FOR YOUR PANTS AND THE RIGHT SHIRT FOR YOUR BASSDRUM,” the Berlin local says bizarrely. “EVERYBODY WANTS TO SHOW UP WITH A NICE SHIRT OR GORGEOUS DRESS AT THE RIGHT PARTY WITH A PERFECT BEAT. WE HAVE BOTH, YOU ARE THE PARTY!”
So, stepping back a little, where did the two meet? “NICONÉ WAS FOUNDED IN OCTOBER 2007 IN BERLIN,” says Gerlach. “BUT ONE YEAR BEFORE WE HAD ALREADY MET AND FALLEN IN LOVE! I PRODUCED MUSIC AND ALSO WORKED AS A DJ AND FOR A LONG TIME I WAS LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT T-SHIRT FOR ME. FINALLY, HELENA SAID TO ME ‘IF YOU CANNOT FIND IT, LET´S DO IT OURSELVES!’ BUT WE WANTED TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL AND SO WE DID´NT TAKE THE NAME ONLY FOR OUR FASHION BUT WE ALSO TOOK THE NAME FOR THE MUSIC THAT I PRODUCED.”
Any coverage of the fashion side to ‘brand Nicone’ should really be left to relevant publications, so for now let’s stick to their music which is actually of a very high standard. A typical Berlin house sound, Nicone’s tracks are warm and rounded, looping beats and full bass lines that would be fit perfectly in the early stages of a Villalobos or Luciano set. Many of their tracks, including Nightclub and Omikoshi both contain gypsy-folk inspired samples giving them an distinct yet not exactly original ‘polka tech’ sound that is present in the hit track Heater by Samin and the more recent We No Speak Americano by Yolanda Be Cool vs. D Cup.
“THE FIRST TRACKS WERE RELEASED IN 1998/99,” says Gerlach of Nicone’s music, which is actually only produced by him, although apparently Kapidzic sometimes makes guest vocal appearances. ”IN OUR STUDIO WE WORKED WITH HARDWARE LIKE JUNO, CHROMA POLARIS, VOYAGER AND WE USED THE LOGIG FOR GETTING THE TRACKS READY.NOW I WORK WITH ABLETON AND STILL LOGIG AND OF COURSE A LOT OF PLUGINS.” He might be all about the beat these days, but dance music wasn’t Gerlach’s first musical love. “AS A TEEN I COMPLETELY WAS INTO HIP HOP!” he recalls. “I LISTENED TO ALL THAT DE LA SOUL, RUN DMC, EPMD AND Q-TIP STUFF. AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL, WHEN THE FIRST TECHNO PARTIES STARTED IN EAST BERLIN, I WAS INTO ELECTRONIC MUSIC. I WENT TO LEGENDARY CLUBS LIKE PLANET, E-WERK, TRESOR AND WMF. IN THE BEGINNING OF COURSE ONLY FOR DANCING BUT SOON ENOUGH I STARTED TO WORK AS A DJ AFTER I HAD RUN A RECORD SHOP WITH MY OLDSCHOOL FRIEND FOR SEVERAL YEARS.”
Electronic music took over and Gerlach took full advantage of his location in Berlin, still considered today to be the best city in the world when it comes to clubbing and club music. “IN BERLIN THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD,” Gelach says of his own home. “THE CLUBS DO NOT CLOSE SO EARLY, which is great for partying, and the all important movements and music trends that have started here. THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT THAT BAD AND LIVING IS inexpensive. BERLIN IS LIKE AN ISLAND, WHERE ‘BERLIN RULES’ APPLY.” One such place where ‘Berlin Rules’ were in full effect was at the infamous Bar 25, a ram shackled riverside nightclub that looks like a cross between a junkyard and a circus. The club shut in 2009 but those lucky enough to have been talk about it’s hedonistic atmosphere with stories of people spending days on end lost in its magic as if they had entered into the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland. “I PRODUCED TWO SINGLES FOR THE BAR 25. I HAD SO MANY GIGS AND SPENT SO MUCH TIME THERE, THAT I DID A TRACK CALLED NUR MAL KURZ, THE TRANSLATION MEANS ‘ONLY FOR A SHORT TIME’ BUT NOBODY WENT THERE ONLY FOR A SHORT TIME. BAR 25 WAS LIKE A TIME TRAVEL MACHINE, YOU WENT IN ON A FRIDAY AND WHEN YOU LEFT IT WAS MONDAY.IT IS VERY SAD THAT THEY HAD TO CLOSE THIS LEGENDARY PLACE”
This will be Gerlach’s first time in Australia and it seems 2011 is shaping up to be quite busy for Nicone both in terms of the music and the fashion. “IN JANUARY I RELEASED MY JAPANESE TRACK CALLED “ANOMACHI” AND IN FEBRUARY THE GYPSY SINGLE “caje sukarie” WILL FOLLOW ON OLIVER KOLETZKI´S LABEL STIL VOR TALENT. ALSO I AM DOING AN ALBUM WITH SASCHA BRAEMER, WHICH WILL BE RELEASED MAYBE THIS AUTUMN. ASIDE FROM THAT, HELENA AND I WILL CONCENTRATE ON PRODUCING SOME NEW SHIRTS AND PANTS FOR THE LABEL, BECAUSE WE GOT A LITTLE STUCK WITH THAT.”