Inside the Secret Nazi Dance Music Underground
Before Edward Perkowski was arrested for hoarding assault rifles, he is believed to have been uploading pro-Hitler EDM tracks as ‘DJ Ghost of the Reich.’
Jungle beats hypnotically hammer as Hitler’s words flash across the screen: “I shall annihilate everyone who is opposed to me.”
In this music video, the track’s heavy baseline pulsates, and instantly, you’re flying above a bombed-out Berlin circa 1945. A high-pitched voice booms: “Set the level, keep it rockin.’”
Cut to an extreme closeup of the führer himself—his unblinking, beady eyes gazing at the horizon, shadowed by his visor cap. More German rants as mortars burst.
Welcome to war trance. It’s a frightening underground marriage of Electronic Dance music (EDM) and White Power music (WPM).
One alleged pioneer of the genre, DJ Ghost of the Reich, has been uploading videos including the one described above, “Wer Deutschland Liebt” as early as 2009 and as recently at this past March.
“Wer Deutschland Liebt,” has racked up 21,609 views online. It is believed to be the handiwork of 33-year-old Edward Perkowski Jr., who was arrested on Long Island for weapons and drug charges on June 16, according to Suffolk County authorities.
Social media and website registrations for DJ Ghost of the Reich—or DJ GoR for short—all appear to lead to Perkowski.
Perkowski offered a DJ GoR compilation CD on his military surplus store website, while an original website DJGoR.com was registered by Perkowsi back in 2009. One Twitter account for the deejay uses Perkowski’s middle name, “Dale.”
The Suffolk County Police Department championed Perkowski’s takedown in a press conference last week. As Suffolk County police commissioner, Timothy D. Sini, showed reporters a photograph of Nazi paraphernalia—purportedly taken from Perkowski’s Mount Sinai home—he stated: “To think that this [the photo] was in the town of Brookhaven is extremely disturbing.”
He also believes his officers may have averted a dangerous plot. “Today’s search warrant might have prevented a deadly, violent incident like the one we saw recently in Orlando,” he said.
Perkowski and his younger brother, Sean, were cuffed after detectives say they discovered six assault rifles, thousands of rounds of ammo, mushrooms, and wads of cash stashed inside their Mt. Sinai home. Cops also allegedly unearthed a disturbing trove of SS neo-Nazi swag: bomb-making instructions, racist manifestos, and a giant German swastika flag.
As The Daily Beast previously reported, Perkowski faces 25 years behind bars for multiple weapons and drug charges. He remains in jail on $200,000 bond.
The police presser mentioned nothing of Perkowski’s alleged Nazi trance discography, and the Suffolk County Police Department did not return messages seeking comment on Perkowski and his alleged hate music.
Still, Perkowski and DJ GoR caught the eye of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a bigotry-fighting nonprofit based in Alabama, years ago.
The SPLC’s senior fellow Mark Potok pointed to a now defunct website, djgor.com, which was registered to “Personal Computer Doctor” Edward Perkowski at a Huntington Station, New York, address—a residence where Edward Perkowski’s brother and father, Edward Sr., resided, according to public records.
On the site, DJ GoR peddled a “National Socialist War Trance” album titled Judenfrei (A Nazi term which means “free of Jews”) for $28.99 a pop.
Fans could send a money order to a P.O. Box in Bedford, Pennsylvania, where public records show Edward Perkowski Jr. also previously had an address.
“The Aryan man attaches a sense of worth to every activity. He wants to create something worthwhile: food, clothing, houses or machines, works of art or anything in value to anyone,” the website states. “For the Jew, there is one thing of value: money.”
The anti-semitic film appeared to have been a favorite of DJ GoR.
DJ GoR produced a cache of musical tracks (in one YouTube comment, he stressed his songs take months to create and that “the videos also take a bit of time to make ‘right.’”) and curated almost 200,000 fans by crafting drum-and-bass beats and mixing them with historical speeches from Nazi officials.
Online patrons who flooded to the Neo-Nazi boogie man’s YouTube account know DJ GoR as “the original War Trance DJ!”
In March 2016, he posted a video to YouTube, splicing scenes from Der Ewige Jude into a techno anthem.
In a music video for a song called “Border Patrol,” DJ GoR mixes dialogue from actor Edward Norton’s character in American History X, apparently missing the moral intended by the filmmakers.
The quick tempo coalesces alongside images of chaos and protest around the world. “More than 150 million African and Asian immigrants living in Europe, under Islam, now they want to rule,” the video’s messages flash. “Nationalists are the only resistance.”
The music video later shows images of a city in ruins with the words, “This is what multicultural and liberal leftists, anti-fascists and anti-racists want.” It ends with a call to action: “How will Europe appear in 20 years, it depends on our behaviour, opinions and actions in the present.”
Comments on the hate videos range from perplexed (“I didn’t know the Nazis had rave music”)” to the crazed and creepy.
“Very prophetic… We need to prepare… Take note!!!” commented a user called Gary James Harkins, before ending with a common white supremacist code, “14/88.”
Another user, tritratulala, posted, “the mexicans arent the real problem for the white american society; its the asians. no migrant-group there grows so fast as them.”
Other Neo-Nazi deejays frequently list DJ GoR as an influence.
DJ Nazi Scum, who hails from Michigan, says he began listening to “National Socialist Techno” in 2007. In his ReverbNation bio, he lists as influences “GOR,” DJ White Pride, and DJ Adolf, among others.
“I went with the name ‘DJ Nazi Scum’ not referring to ‘nazi’s’ as scum, I’ve said this before,” the anonymous musicmaker wrote. “The reason I went with the name is I would hate to have some spic divide it like you see with millions of bands all over.”
The trance artist added that his “accounts have been banned and censored (Youtube since 06, 2k odd subscribers, 200k views, last.fm censors everything)” before signing off with “HEIL!”
Like DJ GoR, other Nazi deejays hide their hate behind racist online handles.
DJ Panzerfaust, named after the German World War II anti-tank weapon, has a similar repertoire on Last.fm. His bio on the site states that he’s a “nazi hardcore techno producer from The Netherlands.”
But the deejay believed to be Perkowski, who also calls himself “The original NYC War Trance DJ” on other sites, claims to be influenced by Hitler favorite Richard Wagner and the more contemporary DJ Germania. In a Q&A on SoundClick, he is resolute he’d never sign with a major label. As for the inspiration for his name: “I have much respect for the Third Empire.”
He added in the third person that DJ GoR’s style of looping music made from hardware, software, and “live instruments” to “old newsreels” is “one of a kind.”
DJ GoR lists the same location as Edward Perkowski (who went by his middle name, Dale, or DJ for short)—Bedford, Pennsylvania, while also calling New York home. “Hello Fans. Heil! They try and try but they cant duplicate Dj Ghost of the Reich!” he wrote.
On DJ Germania’s own profile, he says he’s a “personal friend of DJ Ghost of the Reich” and “Most notable for being featured by DJ GoR on his youtube channel.” The wannabe hatemonger then lists his subgenres as “NS Techno,” “Nazi Techno,” and “Juden Raus House,” referring to a 1936 Nazi board game, “Jews Out!”
The gradation from thrashing, skull-crushing death metal, the signature music of the modern day skinhead or neo-Nazi, to transporting, euphoric electronica is undeniably a radical departure.
“This seems to be a new variation,” said Robert Futrell, professor of sociology at the University of Las Vegas, who coauthored the book American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate.
Futrell points out how the play on EDM and “real Nazis” can be dangerously hypnotic. The instrumentals and the images and speeches work together to “do things that shade into a familiar pop culture form, which creates confusion and curiosity.”
Essentially, the end game of the white supremacist musician is to strap the boots on the listener.
“All they’re looking for in a strategic sense is for you take one more step,” he said. “It’s like saying ‘Hey, white people, if you could just understand what we’re about, you’ll be enlightened and want to become one too. Music is a tool to draw in new recruits.”
Potok, of the SPLC, suggests that war trance is a part of a greater push to spread the Neo-Nazi message. “What’s happened is that the White Power Music genre has subdivided into about 20 or 30 subgenres,” he said. “So at this point almost every kind of popular music has a kind of analog in the hate music world.”
Trance, like the incarnation of so-called racist folk music, is just one experimental branch on the tree. Music is an effective tool and works to warp impressionable prospects to join the movement.
“For older people it’s hard to believe that any kind of rock ‘n’ roll with Nazi lyrics would change anybody’s politics,” he said.
But, intaking many former white supremacists, Potok says “they commonly say the music was very prominent for them when they were young.”
While being indoctrinated, “You walk around all day with these lyrics in your head, oftentimes listening to the same track 20 to 30 times a day and ultimately it does make its way into your brain,” Potok said.
This particular musical landscape is rife with all kinds of popular styles, save for hip-hop. And they all track back to a 1970s British band, Skrewdriver, whose frontman Ian Stuart Donaldson is a bit of a punk pioneer.
In a not-so-subtle track titled, “Skinhead,” Skrewdriver sings:
“Waiting in the lane way, waiting for the scumSmash their yellow faces, kick their fucking bumsWhen they plea for mercy, we will show them noneSkinhead, skinhead, ’til the job is done…”
If Ian Stuart Donaldson is the Elvis of White Power music, Futrell says the torch-holders today have jumped across the pond and hail from Minneapolis, in a band called Bound for Glory.
In a kind of anthem of sorts titled “My Honor Is True,” the musicians hammer hardcore lyrics cloaked in neo-Nazism.
“Here I stand as hard as steelI bow to none on this battlefield…To secure the safety of generations to comeFor the men that took their loyalty to the graveI live for them, I carry the blood of the brave.”
Yet some experts say that however intoxicating or repelling the music is, it should be monitored and not eliminated altogether.
“In general, we don’t want to be promoting the music but I don’t think we want to do the opposite,” said Pete Simi, a Chapman University professor and director of the Earl Babbie Research Center who coauthored American Swastika with Futrell.
“The music does provide an outlet for folks who have extreme ideas and if they were translated into action can do a lot of harm.”
In fact, blocking all “nonviolent” forms of release Simi says, could trigger greater violence beyond a performance stage.
“For the person producing it, it’s a form of expression,” Simi said. “You’re putting your heart and soul into it and creating this art to express how you see the world.
“That’s a powerful device. Especially for someone who believes they have this special insight that other people don’t have. Having that kind of medium to express that is valuable.”
War trance music is another iteration of the movement essentially wiping camouflage on its face to seem more mainstream. “There’s explicit, intentional efforts by neo-Nazis to do things that would be considered counterintuitive,” Simi said.
Rather than tattoos and mosh pits, EDM is a kind of covert maneuvering of the message. “It allows people to basically blend into society a litte more because you wouldn’t expect somebody who presents themselves as mainstream or even a kind of left-winger, in terms of style, to be a person who is very committed to neo-Nazism,” Simi said.
And just like mainstream music, the white power musicology has its own celebrities who are serious about aiming to reach the most ears and eyes possible.
Simi knew Wade Page, a 40-year-old skinhead who back in 2012 stormed a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and shot to death six Sikh worshippers before police officers felled him.
“[Wade] was excited about his involvement in the music scene and he really thought he was doing something important for the movement by playing shows.”
In fact, Simi thinks it’s possible that if Page, a base guitar-playing frontman of a band called End Apathy (who admired non-movement bands like Rush and Pearl Jam) had gained success as an artist, he might not have gone out in a shootout with cops. “If he had achieved a higher level I think there’s a good argument to be made that that could have constrained him from committing that act of violence.”
DJ GoR’s fervor for führer trance seems to have struck a chord with his fellow neo-Nazis. In one DJ GoR music video titled “Himmler ReichsFuhrer SS,” commenters like Björn Björnss marvel at his musicality.
“father and mother of nazi techno, and the best video to it ive seen SIEG HEIL,” Björnss writes. Another user, alchinkyjizz7, chimes in: “My favourite nazi techno <3 Sieg heil !”
Yet some of Perkowski’s supporters claim he isn’t a bloodthirsty Aryan sympathizer. One longtime friend, Dolores Burd, denied Perkowski was racist. Rather, she said, he’s just a voracious student of German history and culture and planned to go abroad.
“When I met the guy he denied any involvement in this stuff,” Perkowski’s attorney Matt Tuohy told The Daily Beast.
Regarding the drug and assault weapons charges, the attorney remains in the dark. “I don’t know if he’s protecting his brothers. I don’t know who’s doing this stuff,” he said. “The district attorney’s office they’re purposely hiding the ball. It’s like playing blackjack. I don’t have any cards in front of me.
“They won’t tell me anything. Seriously.”
As for the assault rifles, Edward Perowski allegedly told him, “They aren’t mine.”
Tuohy couldn’t say whether his client mixes Holocaust reels alongside other aficionados like DJ Adolf, DJ Himmler, or DJ 1933. The defense attorney is very clear that he himself is anti-bigotry. “I don’t want to be associated with any Nazi stuff. I don’t agree with it or believe in it.
“And I have zero idea of him [Perkowski] making any music.”
The attorney, after being informed of an alleged nexus between the online avatar DJ GoR and his client, told a Daily Beast reporter he’d determine whether Perkowski and DJ GoR were one in the same when his client’s back in Suffolk First District Court on Monday.
Meanwhile, back on DJ GoR’s YouTube channel, one commenter, zaza53905, wrote in German, “your statements are punishable.”
DJ GoR replied that the dissenter was a “Communist” and yowled, “I AM AMERICAN NOTHING IS PUNISHABLE! 1st amendment right. 88!”