He who never rests..., with heart and blood and beats and laptop. A modern-day blues traveller. First of Finland, then Cologne. New York, Mexico and, now, Berlin. Producer-musician Khan is always on the move.
Born Can Oral, raised in Frankfurt, of Turkish-Finnish extraction. A hot-blooded man from a cold place, with contradiction in his soul. He first made his mark during the height of the Cologne techno scene, playing alongside his brother Jammin Unit and as Khan & Walker for the Djungle Fever and Structure labels.
By the time he moved to New York in the early 90s, music had become a mania; producing a twelve inch a week for three years, in so many different styles, that he was compelled to adopt alternate identities – including Bizz O.D. 4E and El Turco Loco. It also enabled him to keep up a relentless flow of releases without competing against himself. (A selection were later compiled on the retrospective Passport).
On signing to indie rock label Matador Records, he decided to create a ‘living persona’. And so, ‘Khan’ was given flesh and blood and offered up a sacrament of sex and techno to counter the faceless sterility of dance music. On the cover of his debut, 1-900-Get-Khan, he sold himself (and several others) as a male hustler. Live shows at the time, which prefigured the trend for electronic one-man bands, continued this theme. While the music played, Khan would strip down to underwear with his name stitched onto the ass. This, partly as a reaction to the draconian ‘no nudity, no dancing’ law introduced by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and partly just a way to get the party started.
Next came the album No Comprendo, a living-breathing homage to all the musicians who inspired him, featuring collaborations with Diamanda Galas, Kid Congo Powers, Julee Cruise, Andre Williams, Brigitte Fontaine and Stereo Total’s Francoise Cactus. It established Khan’s reputation as an innovative presence in the music world. But the desire to shake things up and off snapped at his heels. He submerged himself in more collaborations and side projects: as the Legally Jammin (with Little Annie and Christian Jendreiko) and no wave ye-ye duo Kid & Khan. But mostly as larger-than-life dance combo Captain Comatose on Playhouse.
Over four years they released two albums – Going Out and Up In Flames – and numerous singles, entertaining hundreds of thousands of clubbers from London to Leipzig and Bilbao to Berlin, which became Khan’s new adopted home. They even made a cameo appearance in Die Nacht Singt Ihre Lieder (The Night Song), a controversial film by award-winning German director Romuald Karmakar. After touring continuously with Captain Comatose, Khan has hung up his spacesuit for a while and decided to don a tuxedo for his latest solo incarnation.
Die toten Hasen. Le lièvre morbide. The gothic bunny. Call it what you want. This startling apparition in cheap suit and greasepaint is a Dada nightmare. A torch singer from the depths of hell, delivering a decaying electronic blues.