“It’s as vital as the decks and samplers
we use at gigs and in our studios,” he reveals. “Dada was all about throwing art and the respected trends on their
head; it was focused on a sense of mirth, the cut-up ‘found’ art aesthetic, and innovation. We like to think that
IF? pursues all these things.”
Perhaps that’s why the collective’s first party in Melbourne in two years – to be held at Horse Bazaar,
on Saturday February 10th  - is called Zuzushi, a Japanese word that translates as “shameless and impudent”.
|son of zev + isnod
After all, just as the influential magazine American Art News once naively called Dada “the sickest, most paralyzing and destructive thing that has
ever originated from the brain of man”, UK commercial club ‘zine Mixmag once disparaged an IF? Records release – Zeitgeist 2,
in 1996 – as sounding “like a rabid dog being flogged against a corrugated iron fence”.
Since 2001, after shifting base to Tokyo, IF? has made some dramatic inroads with a flurry of events and records, working with
DJs and producers in Japan like Tatsuya
Oe (Captain Funk), Magnet Toy, Yamaoka, Slam-dunk Ninja, Funkamor, and the experimental TTAK Collective – along the
way exploring more innovative Japanese electronica, techno, house and hip hop.
“Tokyo is more
competitive,” says Bergen, who took the label to Japan also six years ago. “In some ways it’s a tougher scene to break
into. But generally people are very open-minded, and they’re there to revel in the music rather than associated psychotropic
influences. But there were people like that before we came to Tokyo,
and they made the early years of IF? something special.”
|LNEE minus 2
If it sounds like Bergen is making comparisons, it’s because
he is – with Melbourne,
the city that gave birth to IF? in 1995.
Back in the ‘90s, IF? kick started the careers
of Melbourne-based producers like Adam Raisbeck (Sense), Shaun Green (Blimp), Damian Stephens (Isnod), vocalist Marcella Brassett,
Allan Klinbail (Son Of Zev), Bergen’s own musical outlet Little Nobody, and the collaborative LN Elektronische Ensemble
– which churned out one of the more memorable, hilariously eclectic reconsiderations of The Doors classic Light My Fire.
IF? worked extensively with pioneering Melbourne
live acts Voiteck, Zen Paradox, Honeysmack, Frontside, Digital Primate, and Artificial, early on in their respective careers,
and collaborated with clubs like Filter, Centriphugal, Honkytonks and Teriyaki Anarki Saki, as well as the MUD rave party
crew (Every Picture Tells A Story).
The events IF? put on were mad – innovative
collaborations of DJs and live acts crossing the spectrum of beats and pieces, often called upon to play one-on-one and challenge
themselves as well as each other, at parties like the Omniglobe raves at Global Village, and the legendary Zoetrope live sessions
at the Punters Club in Fitzroy from 1997 to 2001.
“When we started out, the only decent local
label was Psy-Harmonics and there was nowhere that live acts could get a regular gig,” Bergen
recalls. “By the time we left [in 2001], the situation was a lot healthier.”
Zuzushi 2 will mark the first time the former Melbourne
IF? crew and it’s newer Tokyo brethren will come together
in two years.
“It’ll be a bit of a reunion gig,”
Bergen admits, with a knowing laugh. “It’ll also
be about showcasing new, innovative styles of music – as well as drinking vast amounts of alcohol in creative new-fangled
Bergen will be playing under his Little Nobody alias,
a project in which he has previously performed alongside the likes of Squarepusher, Jeff Mills, Coldcut, Scanner, Cari Lekebusch,
Ben Sims, Luke Vibert and Derrick May, from Tokyo to Detroit.
His second album, Action Hero (2000), was one of the four nominees for Australian Dance Music Album the following year, alongside
Bergen will also appear later the same night at
the next More Bass party at Ace Morning in Brunswick - playing live with accomplices Isnod and Son Of Zev under the alias
of the LN Elektronische Ensemble - and he will be having an exhibition of his Tokyo photography, held at Brunswick Street
Gallery in Fitzroy from 2nd February to 15th February, to coincide with the tour.
“Same concept, art and music – shameless
and oh-so-impudent,” he quips.
|andrez + marcella
Zuzushi 2 happened on Saturday 10th February 2007 at Horse Bazaar (397 Little Lonsdale St., Melbourne),
from 8pm to 3am, featuring Little Nobody, Tokyo’s Slam-dunk Ninja vs. Schlock Tactile, Sydney’s Kid Calmdown and
Sleepy Robot, and Melbourne’s Isnod, Kandyman, DJ Venom vs. Ghetto Boys, DJ Neo, Son Of Zev, and the LN Elektronische
Ensemble feat. Marcella. Entry cost just $5.
IF? @ MYSPACE