Berlin’s Underground Hero: Jimmy Trash

Away from Berlin’s main club circuit exists an underground community of inglorious talent, artists that haunt the city’s unlisted basements, and smoke-filled bars. Take a closer look at these tastemakers and scenesters in Berlin’s party community and you’ll find a bunch of DJs with a knack for digging, unique styles and fantastic taste. One such hero is wild-card DJ Jimmy Trash, whose motely style is as enigmatic as his attitude. Nothing we write here will even come close to describing the variety of sounds and genres that his DJ sets encompass; Afro, soul, rock n’ roll, psych, Latin, Turkish, 12”s, 7”s, just about everything goes. All delivered with a bravado, rocking and feral attitude.

The primal sounds of Jimmy Trash can often heard at Monarch, Kreuzberg’s cult locale, perched above the crowds at Kottbusser Tor. Monarch, which can only be reached through a side-door situated next to a street-level kebab shop, is often home to punk bands, hip-hop nights and even music lectures. It’s here that DJBroadcast first encountered Jimmy Trash, unleashing a ferocious selection of soul records to the packed, smoke-filled hoards that inhabit the quaint, old club. He can also be found at Heiner's Bar (“aka. Ping Pong Bar part 2, aka. that place where ‘Jimmy gets super fucked up and doesn't remember your name’”) as well as the rock n’ roll haunt, White Trash. There is also the annual Trashfest, a celebration of electrifying, live rock n’ roll he organizes alongside local artist, Mohair Sam.

Jimmy Trash (not his real name) grew him in Southern Australia, in a farm province 90 minutes north of Adelaide. “As a child it felt isolated, but it was a great place to develop an imagination,” he tells DJBroadcast. There, growing up with his brother, he “learned to handle scorpions and centipedes [and] how to cut sheep toenails.” It was through this secluded upbringing he began to do tape exchanges with ‘80s punk DJs from local Adelaide radio stations. “The distance from people in general made my love of bringing second-hand, new wave records home, finding alcohol any way possible (also brewing it myself), and getting drunk alone with my 60s suitcase record player and ligneous old piano very erotic.”

"a life of being creative, fucked up, hungover, intense, moody, can be accepted and even advantageous”

After school, Jimmy went on to play in various Australian bands and even do a season as the organist in a Freak Show (“it taught me that there is another way of living and I don’t need to have a shitty secure job and that a life of being creative, fucked up, hungover, intense, moody, can be accepted and even advantageous.”) Nowadays, along with making documentaries and being a researcher and editor for the re-issue imprint Analogue Africa, he also teaches music in an English-music camp in Germany. “Playing an instrument lets you talk with people of other countries, ages, backgrounds. You see Roma kids in Berlin slaying out the most sensual and hypnotising jams on the melodica, even pre-teens. That's because they know why they are playing, they are taught to stand out with their playing, not fit in with the shitty school orchestra playing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme.”

Although you won’t find Jimmy Trash playing the city’s main club circuit, he is part of a larger collective of DJs that who are going beyond Berlin’s attachment to just electronic music. “Berlin is SO much more than techno and house, just like it is very much about techno and house!” he says. There’s also everyone’s favourite subject matter, gentrification. “Don't talk to me about gentrification until you have spent a season in Charlottenburg because that place hasn't changed in decades and probably won't. The attitude that propagates Berlin's stereotypes to the outside world come from people who have had a marvelous failed season in Berlin, go home with their tail between their legs, and need an excuse to why they crash on their parent's sofa after they promised their friends they would never come back.”

And the best shows he’s played to date? “The fourth installment [of Trashfest] was the best party I have ever seen in Berlin. It was about 16 bands across two venues – the extinct Raum and Bei Ruth. When my band played, I saw people crowd surfing and getting dropped onto broken glass, feeling their cuts, and putting their bloody hands up in celebration afterwards. I had a severed bunny head and was ripping its tongue out with my teeth. Someone set the bins on fire outside the venue and a lot of regrettable and fucked up things happened, but still, it was the best party I have ever been a part of, even if I wasn’t DJing. As far as DJing goes, all I need are my records and a bottle of Raki (I don’t drink whiskey anymore these days) and I'm super happy, I love my vinyl.” Here are to many more wild parties and great music by Jimmy Trash, Berlin’s very own wild-man.