Music & clubs

A chat with… Jason Forrest aka DJ Donna Summer

ECHTZEITMUSIKTAGE! Forrest wears many hats - as a radio/breakcore DJ, owner of the Cock Rock Disco label and founder of Berlin’s confetti-infused Birthday Party nights.

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Photo by Nora Heinisch

Jason Forrest, aka DJ Donna Summer, has worn many a hat on his trek from Down South to NYC to Berlin: as a radio and breakcore DJ, owner of the Cock Rock Disco label, founder of Berlin’s confetti-infused Birthday Party nights and a broad-palated recording artist.

With his new album The Everything in tow, Forrest performed at this year’s multi-venue Echtzeitmusiktage (Sept 8-30) – which features the pick of Berlin’s avant-garde mafia – on September 16. We interviewed him before the show…

What’s the difference between playing at an avant-garde festival and a rave?

Fewer drugs, usually. I mean, usually the breakcore parties are really clean, as a lot of leftist types don’t really drink or do drugs. On the flip side, some art audiences are usually so restrained at first that when they do loosen up, they go wild! This one show in Karlsruhe had this local Sufi guy who just does that whirling Dervish dance where you spin and spin and spin. If he lives, he goes faster and faster! I had him going that night!

Are you going to use the Echtzeitmusiktage show to indulge your more experimental side?

I actually have a new album just finished, and yes, it’s more arty, but still quite fun. It’s my goal to perform a bulk of that at the show for the first time. One thing that people will be surprised at is that there’s not really anything “fast” on it. No breakcore. No 200bpm songs. I’d be hard-pressed to really describe it correctly, but maybe it’s psyche-doo-wopprog-crunk.

I got really into Morricone a while back; he switched arrangement styles so quickly that it’s like sampling, in a way. Let’s say he has a trio written for electric radio, harp and human breath! I have a song with harpsichord, saxophone and rave synth… ha ha!

But do you think the experimental music scene gets what you’re doing?

I feel like they respect it. When we performed the whole [John Zorn-invented improv piece/game] “Cobra” a while back, it was me-as-laptop-dude vs 12 other “real” musicians and I always felt like they were up for it as equals. That said, it can get political, and that’s sort of a drag. People who are in with institutions are usually wary of “popular musicians”. Luckily, my stuff has always been far too weird to be really popular.

And minimal techno has its avant followers.

While a point can be made for its “high art” possibilities, the day-to-day of that scene is kids doing drugs in toilets.

Can you spell “Echtzeitmusiktage” without having to look it up online?


ECHTZEITMUSIKTAGE | September 8-30. For the festival’s schedule, visit