Cologne’s Neues Fleisch lands in Vilnius

Pictures by Mathias Schmitt, Markus Luigs, Nene Kanter
Neues Fleisch: Aleksa Alaska, Phillip Jondo, Hoff 10.20

We are talking to Lukas Echterhoff, the founder of dance music event series Neues Fleisch. Only one year old, Neues Fleisch started it’s journey back in the woods of Cologne with a spontaneous outdoor party that blasted the local dance music scene. The name Neues Fleisch eventually grew into nomadic party series inviting such artists as Kris Baha, Toresch, Identified Patient, Post Ave and other names that spread authentic sounds to dance to. This time Neues Fleisch is visiting Vilnius’ Opium Club and bringing a name we are already familiar with – Aleksa Alaska, along with a local artist from Cologne – Phillip Jondo.

The first Neues Fleisch was held in the woods of Cologne. Not your usual place to kick off the event series. Tell us more about the birth of the event and what happened back there in the woods.

Haha, yeah that’s true. It was more a reaction to the situation. Really hard times for Cologne, club after club got shut down and a continuing a lack of experimental dance music. Usually, people in Cologne just went out to tech house or Berlin type of dark techno. I was missing a particular sound in Cologne, and I couldn’t see myself as a DJ at any of the existing events or in one of the clubs, so there were no excuses left anymore.
I asked my friends for help and some of my favourite local DJs and a few days later, all plans were figured out. I chose my 20th birthday for this special happening. We brought an improvised bar and lots of decorations out into the woods like old grave lights in the trees and set up a curtain from the second hand store next to the DJ booth.
During the first two hours, just one guy showed up. In the third hour, the dancefloor was already packed, more and more people were coming. I started my playtime during sunrise, I think it was around 4 am. By the time the sun was up, I couldn’t see the end of the dancefloor. You can imagine that it was one of the best nights of my life.

Neues Fleisch is a young project that continues to run successful performances with strong artists under its name. When it started, did you have a vision for its growth and direction it would be heading to?

When it started, I just wanted to play the sound I like and bring it to Cologne. The vibe was really different from other parties, way more underground and raw, but at the same time more sophisticated and focused on the music. From party to party, it started getting more professional and at some point some people in their late 30s or 40s, who used to organise parties back in the days of Cologne, hit me up and told me I was doing something moving for the scene here – then I realised, I’m doing something right.
But there was never the motivation of doing something successful or big. All the time I just did what I wanted to do. Bookings, designs, videos, concept, just how I like. It felt really natural all the time. And I think people understood what is special about NF and really appreciated that it fills a gap in Cologne’s music scene.

How would you describe the difference between Neues Fleisch and other event series that feature similar artists? What makes your sound unique?

To be honest, I haven’t been to a lot of parties who feature similar artists. In Cologne, these kind of artists have never been here a lot. I think being open for everything is a very important point for NF. Usually, it’s a mix of various artists from different backgrounds.
For example, at the party with Identified Patient, two friends of mine from Cologne started the night with some ambient, afterwards a wild Krautrock band from Düsseldorf/Cologne played in the middle of the completely fogged dancefloor, and afterwards, my friend Marius Houschyar from Prague performed a crazy raw ebm-industrial live-set, all before Identified Patient or myself started playing.
So basically it’s a mix of performances in the beginning and a party afterwards, with the whole night usually being underlined by visual art.

Visual aesthetics happen to have a special part in your project’s identity. Please, describe it and how does it contribute to the sound of Neues Fleisch?

Yes. For the very first Neues Fleisch party we put posters all over town and I think they were one of the main reasons that the party was such a success. From then on, the visuals were a strong part of our identity. It’s important for me that the posters and teaser videos already implicate and show, what you can expect at the party.
And it’s interesting for me to invite artists who have their own ideas of aesthetics and include visual cues into their performance. For example, the project Toresch, where Jan Wagner underlining the music of Detlef Weinrich (Tolouse Low Trax) and Victoria Wehrmeister with visual art. I think it just fits together very well.

Most the events happen in Cologne, Germany. Why was Vilnius chosen as the next location for the event series?

I visited Vilnius for the first time in February for holidays. On my first night in Vilnius I went to a bar by chance, and there they played some really sick dark and slow experimental stuff. The next day I came back, met a lot of nice people, music still great. After a walk through the city, we ended up in another bar. When they played some rare old German NDW there, I realised that the music in Vilnius is something special.
I went back to Vilnius in August to visit my good friend whom I met at my first time in Vilnius. After a great weekend at DT Camp, we played together in a few bars and I just had a really awesome time. So it was clear for me that I have to do a Neues Fleisch in Vilnius.