Interview: Anja Schneider
From her inspiring, instinct-driven DJ sets where she has every bit as much fun as the dancefloor, to the label and accompanying agency, where a savvy head for business is mixed with a sharp intuition of how best to develop mobilee and its stable of artists, Anja Schneider approaches it all with a distinct sense of passion, vision and energy.
Beginning her career as a radio programmer before going on to host her own show ‘Dance Under The Blue Moon’ on Berlin’s Fritz Radio since 2000, Schneider is responsible for the city’s longest running underground dance music radio show. Broadcasting every Saturday from 10pm, it has introduced generations of Berliners to electronic music.
It was from these simple beginnings that sprung mobilee – a distributor suggesting Schneider start up a label to support all the demos she was receiving as a radio host, and as such mobilee was birthed in 2005, with a booking agency arm to follow in 2007. Today mobilee’s HQ also branch out to studios where label talent Re.You and And.Id have full-time set-ups. Of all skills, Schneider’s ear for unearthing and supporting hot new talent has reined supreme. A scan through the back catalogues of mobilee and its sister imprint Leena and you’ll see the likes of Maya Jane Coles, Solomun, Shonky, H.O.S.H., Nicole Moudaber and Pan-Pot all alumni of Schneider’s labels, well before the artists were the household rave names they are today.
Juggling the responsibilities of touring every weekend, with running a label and agency, plus a weekly radio show, alongside that of being a mother, studio time is a rare but auspicious occasion for Schneider; but when the stars align, the results are memorable.
With that, Anja Schneider is ready to return to London this weekend with “Anja Schneider Invites” at The Steelyard. For this intimate session, Anja will bring along Citizenn, Igor Vicente, and K.I.F.F. Anticipating the event, we caught up with Anja from her Berlin offices to speak on her approach to lineup curation, London, Los Angeles, Berlin, and much, much more. Please find complete information and tickets to “Anja Schneider Invites” at the end of this article.
“In the end, the music must be quality and make you dance. It doesn’t matter what kind it is.”
To start off, since we are anticipating your London event, I wanted to ask about the venue. At this point, I’m sure you have your pick of many great London venues, but what was it about The Steelyard that made it the “one”?
Honestly, since I’m not based in London I don’t know that many. I’ve had this great partnership with LWE and it gave me the chance to do this party, which was a great honour as it also gives me a chance to do something different. When we have a mobilee party, we are all together. Here, it is really all my responsibility. This actually makes me a little bit nervous!
LWE came up with the idea of the “Anja Schneider Invites…” party and also came up with the venue. I had never played there before, but I saw pictures and asked friends who had, and they said it was amazing. Personally, I couldn’t tell you much about the venue, but I trust LWE 100% as they always find the best spaces. They have good hands in finding something really special!
The event is described as your “most intimate London show to date”. What steps do you take to ensure this intimacy?
Sometimes you come to a club, do your job for 1 or 2 hours, or have good days or bad days, but here it is all about my name. You really can’t hide anywhere. You have to be there and think about everything. You have to think about the guests and how you will build the night, so it is completely different from a “usual” gig.
It doesn’t have to be a huge venue or huge club gig. For me, I am always nervous when people get really close to you. Here, everyone will be close to me because they come to see me. It is completely different then, say, playing at fabric, where they might not even see you. I mean, I like that too, but for this it is something very special.
You obviously also curate the lineup for this event. Here, you will be playing alongside Citizenn and Igor Vicente. Regarding Citizenn, personally, I find him to be a rather refreshing figure in dance music, as he incorporates a certain intermedial approach to his music, essentially combining art, philosophy and technology. You have also described a “click” moment between you and Citizenn. Can you describe this moment and why you felt he was the right artist for this event?
I think I discovered him about 2 or 3 years ago when he had his first single out on Kerri Chandler’s Madtech label. From that I saw something very special. He had a different perspective on things. It wasn’t simply “tech house”. Then we met and I was surprised as to how young he was. When I first heard the single I was sure he had an extensive history behind him. I always look for artists who can ignore hype or fame, and do things their own way. To me, this is very authentic and Citizenn does it, and has done it all the time.
From his personality: he is young, energetic, funny, and is burning for the music, not his career. Some young producers just want to have this business-class life, but he is truly different. It is also amazing to see him play. If someone is funny and you like each other, of course this is great too!
I actually saw Citizenn in Amsterdam last weekend when he played alongside Deetron. Coming from the 90s school of dance music, I was quite impressed with his track selection as at one point he even dropped Joey Beltram’s ‘Energy Flash’, which sounded as fresh as it ever has.
See also: Interview: Citizenn
As for Igor Vicente, he is a recent mobilee signing. What drew you to him as an artist?
I have to be honest in this case: we were were friends before he signed with mobilee. He is similar to Citizenn when it comes to his DJ sets. He knows exactly how to build things up and mix great new tunes with fantastic classics.
For this event, I actually didn’t want to have a mobilee artist on the bill, but the last 3 or 4 parties we had together Igor blew my mind. I was dancing for hours, which normally never happens. He also brought me back to the 90s.
I thought the combination of Igor and Citizenn would be a great musical night, so now I am the one pressured to follow through (laughs). They have never met but I am absolutely sure they will match musically and personality-wise. Maybe if I don’t do music anymore, I could become a DJ matchmaker!
So, this is the first time you 3 will share the same lineup?