Otto von Schirach

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(Photo by Sarah Sitkin)

Today’s weird artiste has been suggested to us by several folks over the years, most recently a reader named voodoojuice (not his real name, we assume…otherwise, he probably has to repeat it several times at parties). He’s a breakcore artist from Miami named Otto von Schirach, and even in a genre of music that’s pretty much all lunatics, he stands out as being extra wackadoodle.

Before we talk about Otto and his mythological origins, let’s back up a sec and talk about breakcore. A mid-’90s offshoot of hardcore techno and “IDM” (aka “intelligent dance music”…one of those genre names so obnoxious, I can only type it in quotation marks), breakcore basically lays an unholy mishmash of distorted kick drums and snare hits, gangsta rap and horror movie samples, dive-bombing bass lines and death growl vocals over breakbeats that have been chopped up and sped up to the point where the only logical way to dance to them is to fake an epileptic seizure. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

You can get a peek at several breakcore artists in action—including Von Schirach—in this excellent video, which was apparently done for some German television show. It’s mostly in German, but you don’t really need to understand what anyone’s saying to figure out that these breakcore producers and their fans are fucking nuts.

So, back to Otto von Schirach. According to his official bio, Von Schirach was born in 1978 in Miami or possibly dropped off by aliens and introduced into a Cuban/German family that included santeria practictioners and possibly wolves. He acquired his first drum machine in either 1991 or 1995, possibly from a neighborhood crackhead. Soon thereafter, he began making beats, which were decidedly breakcore-esque but slowed-down and strongly influenced by Miami booty bass, goregrind and IDM O.G.’s like Aphex Twin.

Von Schirach’s first big “break” (breakcore pun!) came when he got to open for the industrial band Skinny Puppy in 2003. According to one bio, “He scared the living shit out of all the Skinny Puppy fans night after night with his 35 minute, 3 costume change, ear punishing dance party.” That might sound far-fetched, but we’ve met a few Skinny Puppy fans and underneath all the black clothing and piercings, they’re a pretty skittish bunch. So it’s quite possible that Otto’s unique “spin” (DJ pun!) on breakcore really did freak them out.

That spin, as heard on albums with fantastic titles like Global Speaker Fisting and Oozing Bass Spasms, combines elements of (and again, we’re just quoting from the official bio here) “Electro Bass Noise, Gore Grind, IDM Glitch, Calliope, Breakcore Gabber Jungle, Gangsta Rap.” And as if all that weren’t enough to blow your mind, he’s also been known to perform in a superhero costume. We foresee a future Sir Ivan collaboration.

P.S. The track in the clip below is called “Teabagging the Dead.” Awesome.



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