Sebo K, Diva


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The past couple years have seen Watergate become a sensation in Berlin for steadfast techno lovers as well as semi-oblivious party people. While its billing reflects an intimate knowledge of underground dance culture, its eye-popping light show and posh décor attract plenty of average punters. As one of Watergate’s resident DJs, Sebo K’s style suits this shade of gray perfectly. His Back Up Vol.1 mix balanced gloomy atmospheres with shamelessly romantic lyrics (Efdemin’s “Just a Track” and Larry Heard’s “Sun Can’t Compare” being standout moments). “Far Out,” his late 2007 single on Mobilee, sounded playfully mean and appeared in plenty of pounding tech-house sets, but also found its way onto Club Azuli’s Miami 2008 mix, thrown in amidst names like Laidback Luke and Fred Falke, and most notably a nauseating club remix of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” As its title might suggest, “Diva” is R&B-inflected house that certainly won’t freak out any squares and will surely repel dance music’s chin-strokers. Nonetheless, it’s well worth a spin for the rest of us.

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Very little is surprising about “Diva,” aside from its ability to juice so much excitement out of tired clichés. Basic house elements introduce themselves in an orderly fashion — first peppy high hats, then the abbreviated bass line, bass kicks, single note synth stabs, and finally the sassy Diva and her incoherent word fragment of choice. About three minutes in the beat disappears and two syllables repeat faster and faster, while a bit of delay turns the heat up, and finally the bass kick returns, joined by a pseudo-orgasmic “ohhh!” It’s a cookie-cutter breakdown, but for some reason it works. Mavens may find their tastes too well honed to tolerate it, but much like SIS’ “Nesrib,” “Diva” boasts an unembarrassed tackiness that makes it a good one for any DJ to keep in tow — there is definitely a time of night calling out for this sort of thing. As conceptually unoriginal as it may be, “Diva” will perfectly suit plenty of euphoric moments in the months ahead, not least in that flashing box along the River Spree.

harpomarx42  on October 21, 2008 at 9:56 AM

This is a right good track. I do feel that it will just be a spark in the night track, like Heater or The Sun Can’t Compare. You never know, though…

Did Sebo K mix Back Up Vol. 1? Or have I missed out on 3 other volumes?

hutlock  on October 21, 2008 at 10:09 AM

Sebo K did mix Back Up Vol 1, but there is a Vol 2 out, mixed by GummiHz too.

eric cloutier  on October 21, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Sebo K did mix Back Up Vol 1, but there is a Vol 2 out, mixed by GummiHz too.

are you thinking of “back to back vol. 2”? the one that’s a compilation and a mix cd?

Will Lynch  on October 21, 2008 at 12:21 PM

yo, my bad about that “vol.4” thing. totally random mistake.

littlewhiteearbuds  on October 21, 2008 at 12:25 PM


eric cloutier  on October 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM

your reputation is so sullied now, will, you might as well just hang up the pen (keyboard) and call it quits.


hutlock  on October 21, 2008 at 12:37 PM

eric: Yeah, that is the one I was thinking of.

Groove N' Vibes  on October 21, 2008 at 1:20 PM

Killer track !! I’ve just heard it last saturday in a Paris bar.
Certainly one of the top tracks of this fall.

petepete  on October 22, 2008 at 9:33 AM

really? this is the worst track i’ve heard out in months. makes me cringe. completely uninspired and couldn’t have taken more than 20 minutes to make. and to add insult to injury, it’s a one-sided vinyl.
i like sebo k’s remixes but tracks like far out and diva do absolutely nothing for me.

littlewhiteearbuds  on October 22, 2008 at 10:06 AM

I have to agree with Pete here in some respects.

First, the single-sided vinyl thing — especially after making “Far Out” single-sided as well — seems insulting to vinyl buyers and a sign that Sebo isn’t confident enough in his productions to put out two tunes. On the upside, the Beatport version includes remixes of “Far Out,” including an excellent one from Agnes.

Second, this track feels like a marketer’s idea of capitalizing on a primed market: “deep” stabs, “soulful” vocals, populist breakdown, etc. I mean, kudos to Sebo K for pulling it off so smoothly, but I don’t think it’s one of 2008’s finer moments.

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 10:37 AM

petepete + lwe…

seeing as i was the antagonist in quite a few other threads, i figured best to bite my tongue until someone else who’s side i was on spoke up.

you both perfectly expressed all my gripes, most notably your comment, lwe, about the capitalization on a hit trend.

the sheep factor to techno seems to be stirring itself up again, and its getting pretty annoying. i’ve been so uninspired by music lately that i’ve completely put off the podcasts that are now weeks overdue, and i can’t even muster up the energy to work on a new promo mix for myself. i’m pretty confident that another round of daniel bell next week here at the bunker with myself on my birthday will help, but shit…techno has hit a wall again, and i’m semi-concerned that no one will shake this slump off of us until at least the wmc.

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 11:51 AM

does anyone know if there are any sonic benefits to one-sided vinyl? i really have no idea and wonder if that might be the case… if you can somehow get a “better cut” out of the slab if you only do one side.

if that isn’t the case, i have no idea why some artists/labels are doing one-sided vinyls these days…

the only one-sided techno vinyl i’ve purchased in the past year has been (big surprise) the echospace record on modern love, which after hearing the story* behind the release makes me wish i’d held out for a bootleg. i could see picking up the first desolat record, if only because, you know, huge, but everything i’ve seen lately that’s been one-sided has been a total waste of wax (at an inflated price).

* there’s a missing vocal that would have been perfect, were it not for licensing issues.

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 11:59 AM

so far as i know there’s no sonic benefits to a one-sided vinyl. typically a 45 sounds better than a 33 though, from my experience – same goes for a thicker piece of vinyl. 180g and such.

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 12:27 PM

true on those points. just wondered if there was something about using one “side” of the vinyl that might benefit the sound somehow.

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 12:27 PM

other than sounding cool when you tell your friends you just spent 18$ on one song, no. no benefits.

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 12:29 PM

i take that back…

i do remember someone telling me that since you’re not putting an audio filled side down on to the platter, face down, and backspinning and such, you’re not “rubbing” something off.

but that’s purely speculatory and probably just some psychosomatic reaction to an overprotection of their investments.

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 12:39 PM

baha yeah, any rationale founded upon “rubbing something off” sounds like horseshit to me 😉

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 12:50 PM

i didn’t say i believed it, i’m just relaying what i remember some dusty old codger telling me years ago when i was digging through bins and chatting him up.

hutlock  on October 22, 2008 at 12:52 PM

I cast my votes here for:

1) Tune ain’t so hot.
2) Single-sided vinyl is bullshit.
3) There are no audio benefits to single-sided vinyl.

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 1:01 PM

thanks, hutlock

eric, wasn’t trying to shoot the messenger there… just wanted to make light of the “rubbing” statement in a way that wasn’t too obvious/unrelated, i.e. “that’s what she said.” no harm done :)

hutlock  on October 22, 2008 at 1:48 PM

Yeah, I don’t doubt that there are lots of crazy old dudes lurking around vinyl shops spouting such nonsense. I pretty strongly resemble one of them at points, actually.

sarah joy  on October 22, 2008 at 2:18 PM

eric, based on what you’ve been saying, now’s the perfect time for you to step up as the techno messiah

littlewhiteearbuds  on October 22, 2008 at 2:33 PM

I should add to the discussion that I fully stand behind Will’s review of the single. He did a great job of underlining its appeal and drawbacks, and surmised correctly how effective it would be on dance floors, as evinced by Groove’s comments above. Anything beyond that is personal preference.

harpomarx42  on October 22, 2008 at 2:35 PM

All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric! All hail Eric!

To be serious, I also don’t see the purpose of single sided vinyl other than a lame-ass cost-cutting measure. Ever put a needle on the back of one? Confused me, it did…

hutlock  on October 22, 2008 at 2:48 PM

Then there’s the old Cybersonik promo record with no grooves on it at all… Dan Bell gave me one years and years ago and now I find it on Discogs trading hands for STUPID money. Geez, people…

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 3:42 PM

apparently people have a problem with someone speaking their mind, eh?

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 3:55 PM
petepete  on October 22, 2008 at 4:11 PM

to harpomarx42, cost cutting measure? more like money making scheme. if sebo k released diva as the a-side and another track with a remix as the b-side this would have been a decent ep maybe worth buying, but diva as an a-side only feels like a rip off to me.

it seems like mobilee are taking advantage of sebo k’s name and fame just to sell more vinyl. on they’ve even gone as far to advertise the fact it’s got full cover artwork. it’s as if they know the track won’t sell itself based on the quality of the music. i have the same problem with area remote records. mumbling yeah was a good enough record to warrant a one sided vinyl release, but the tracks from gimmik and lauhaus are standard at best and not worth my 10 euros. if i do like the track, i’ll buy it on beatport, but for labels that supposedly want to keep the vinyl format alive, they’re not setting a very good example.

anyway, i think it’s an easy cash-in on the current trend of ‘we’ll make it sound like house but still keep it minimal’. i guess people gotta pay the rent but so do i, so when you make average tracks, at least back the release up with 2 or 3 other tunes so i don’t feel like one of my favorite labels have completely lost touch of their customer base.

if sebo k and mobilee’s names weren’t printed on the ‘full cover artwork’ this release would never have caught anyone’s attention.

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 5:32 PM


you  on October 22, 2008 at 6:38 PM

A lot of people are down on music that’s being put out these days, I can see that…

I’d like to propose a solution:

Make music.

If you’re not satisfied with what is out there make what you want to hear.

Hearing DJ’s complain about new music is really funny.

It’s like a cover band complaining about the bands they cover, “they just don’t make good music anymore”.


harpomarx42  on October 22, 2008 at 6:41 PM

petepete: You’re correct. What I meant by the ‘cost-cutting measure’ was by saving the cost of cutting another track by just making slabs of vinyl

Which method is cheaper is unknown to me…still, one-sided vinyl gets two-thumbs down from me.

eric cloutier  on October 22, 2008 at 7:15 PM

its not like that at all. it makes it pretty damn difficult to do our job when there isn’t one record that we want to play.

if a dj doesn’t like what he’s playing, he’s not going to play well. and that ends in a shitty night for everyone.

chris  on October 22, 2008 at 7:24 PM


agreed on all counts on single sided vinyl. i’ve never once in good conscience bought one because i could never justify it.

i have to take the somewhat opposing view and say that i’m optimistic about techno and house music. there are so many labels out there doing wonderful things and keeping that bar set so high (wagon repair, ostgut, raster-noton, oslo, even perlon after all these years) that we can brush off all of these releases and still be left with some innovative stuff. everyone has always said that “there’s no new innovation” but it’s always wrong.

this sort of reminds me of the current “minimal is dead” discussion, which i definitely don’t want to get into, but the point is that trends come and go, but there’s always a lot of good music left at the end of the year. as we near there, i can think of loads of albums and singles that have been truly great this year, despite what ‘genre’ it falls under or the myriad of uninteresting prog-producers-try-out-minimal tracks.

you  on October 22, 2008 at 7:25 PM

Don’t play records that you don’t like.

Don’t have any records to play since you don’t like any?

Take some time off DJ-ing and make music.

Too tough of a job?

Join the plumbers union.

littlewhiteearbuds  on October 22, 2008 at 7:28 PM

Re: Chris’s comment

Here here! There will always be (lots of) artists who are content to piggyback on others’ ideas and movements, but I think it would be a bridge too far to say innovation or interest in standing out is drying up.

littlewhiteearbuds  on October 22, 2008 at 7:30 PM

Re: Illinois Comcast user “you”

Out of curiosity, are you making music?

hutlock  on October 22, 2008 at 8:48 PM

Re: Eric —

Yeah, that’s the one. I mean, it was a cute trick and all, but who on earth would spend 18 EUR on it?!?

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 9:46 PM

@ “you” (i have a good feeling i know who this is)

as far as i can tell, the argument was never “techno sucks / techno is boring,” etc. the argument was that sebo k made a lazy track and for some reason hot shit label mobilee decided to release it as a single-sided vinyl.

i, personally, have a bigger issue with the latter part of that statement than i do with the former, but, again, i don’t think anyone reading or contributing to this site is going to come on here saying anything like, “shit sucks, i’m bored.”

in other words, “you” started it!

james kartsaklis  on October 22, 2008 at 9:47 PM

also re the above

in releasing a single sided vinyl, mobilee delivered a further slap in the face to vinyl buyers by releasing a digital release of the same track with remixes that i think many of us would actually want to have on vinyl.

eric cloutier  on October 23, 2008 at 6:11 AM

i guess the long and the short of my frustration with this record is that sebo k is responsible for tracks that never leave my crate, via digitally or analogue, that i still drag with me to almost every single gig, so to have him kick out a cop-out tune makes me wonder if his golden days are gone and we’re ushering in a new, rushed production method.

to name a few…

too hot [mobilee #001]
side leaps / rancho relaxo [mobilee #003]
changes ep [highrade records #018]
bell clap dance remix [rekids #018]
lohn + brot remixes [liebe*detail spezial #05]

and the king of them all…

let me dance remix [pokerflat recordings #082]

see where i’m going? the dude puts out amazing tracks for years and then decides to phone it in…gets frustrating. i’m not abandoning him as an artist and i’ll still give his stuff a chance, but this onces kinda sloppy.

Chamboche  on November 16, 2008 at 1:56 PM

I heard Mathew Dear play this on thursday and Andrew Weatheral played it last night. Kind of surprised me that they’d play it, but it definitely worked on both occasions.

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