You’re one of few electronic artists who still takes the time to make full-length albums. What is the attraction of recording an album?
My last album was a 45-minute soundtrack, ‘LISm’. It came to life because I did a soundtrack and a show for the Centre Pompidou in Paris. I took parts of this for ‘LISm’. I did that for me, as an artist, to create music that I want to create because I like to listen to it myself.
If you do an album, there’s two stories. There’s the story of you, as an artist, creating something out of your soul. A story you want to tell, a concept. It’s a creative process – if you want to do it, you do it. If you don’t do it, you want to sell tracks. For me an album is a piece of art, a story. It’s a different piece of work, to go into the studio with a producer and take my time not going around travelling.
The nightlife, it’s out of your daily life, and you must switch into something else. For an album, I switch into my soul and go really deep and take something out. Something you can’t tell in words. I’m not so good in front of the camera. I’m not so good in words, so I say it in music. Maybe now it’s easier for me, because I’ve trained myself over the last 18 years. But music is the way I can really express my emotion. I never wanted to become a DJ. I started playing on stage because that was the way to play my music. I made music because I had to do it. Nowadays maybe people don’t listen to albums as much anymore, now that they have podcasts, and playlists with their hits, or their record collection, with their favourite records.
To you as a person, what is the most important piece of work you have created in your life?
The most important thing I have created as a woman is staying in the scene for so many years, and still having passion. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve created for myself as for the music, every album is equally important because every album shows what’s going on, but I think ‘Stadtkind’, ‘Berlinette’ and ‘Orchestra of Bubbles’ are the most important albums I have done. At that moment not many albums came out in that kind of style, so I was one of the key girls from Germany. But now there’s so much good music, it’s hard to make key albums. You have to play live and transport your music. Tour around with a concept, and visuals, so that people can listen to it at the concert. To see it live you have to make the people feel it.
So much music is coming out, how do people pick it? It’s an overload, so you have to let them listen to you. There is music that has such a strong personality, that people will always see a picture. The music is so strange, that people want to follow it. An artist can have this as well. This is about talent. If you have a talent then you are transported these days. There are some artists who have this, because they are more special than others, even though some people may hate them. They hate them only because they are special.
Which artists have this, according to you?
I think for sure Modeselektor and Moderat (Modeselektor & Apparat). They are a group of 3 talented persons, moving together and creating something with a brain and an idea, and they put all of their energy inside of this. They are very strange people, that’s why it’s so amazing. If somebody is not strange or special, it’s boring.
Or the new project Howling, it’s an amazing singer and, as a person, very interesting (Ry X) together with Frank (Wiedemann, of Âme fame), a friend of mine and a producer. He’s more of a conservative german producer, to makes it not so freaky. It’s a good combination.
And Seth Throxler. He’s not making a lot of tracks, but with his personality and touch of music style, he doesn’t take the easiest way to play. He doesn’t do a pure techno set to please the crowd. He combines very different tracks. A little bit like me, he takes the past and the future. He has it.
Nina Kraviz has it. She’s strange, and has a very strong passion. She’s a good singer and she’s transporting something from the past and something from now. Of course, also the sexy that she’s using to get bigger, but she’s sexy, and interesting on the musical side.
And Motor City Drum Ensemble, he’s a bit shy, he’s not really transporting the sexy like Seth Troxler, but he has a very sensitive touch to his music and that makes him so interesting. The way he’s choosing his sounds, mixing them together.
And Dillon, she’s with BPitch. She just has an untouchable voice. When she plays live, people cry and she cries herself. She sings live and it catches the people so much. You try to have it, or you have it.
What was the last time you heard something and were transported?
Four Tet! For me that’s always a wow. And Art Alfie & Mr Tophat (a Swedish duo), I play so many tracks by them. It’s so groovy. They mix house music with techno, which is very refreshing. Makes me dance like crazy.
In September you’re playing the Oasis festival in Marrakech, Morocco. What do you expect? Have you ever played in Morocco?
I’ve never played there, although I have visited Marrakech before. I have a feeling Oasis is maybe influenced by Ibiza a bit. They chose the warmer sounds in their booking, they chose people they expect will play music that will fit to the Marrakech vibe. Oasis is pretty big, I think it will be great with the nature around. I think it’s a very good place to go and have a little holiday!
Marrakech is so nice, you feel like you’re transported 200 years back. But there’s also a lot of young people and things going on as well. This is also the case in Istanbul and Tunisia, and these sorts of places where people want to have a new life and come loose of the religion. Also in Lebanon, I played there last year, there’s a big party movement, and a lot of underground parties.
What are your plans for the future?
Obviously, I have my ‘High EP’ coming out June 29th. On Bpitch, we have a release by DJ Phono and one by Manik on Ovum. Garry Todd has an amazing album coming out. Not many people know him, he’s from Australia, but living in London at the moment, he has a fashion store selling old Adidas shoes. He made an amazing concept album, but we don’t know yet when it will be coming out. He’s a freak, we love him, but nobody knows him [laughs]!
As for myself, I’m touring a lot, and in the winter, I’ll go back to Berlin to, maybe, make an album. I’m looking for a partner to do a project, something like ‘Ellen and …’, but I’m still looking for the right partner. And next week, I’m playing at Glastonbury! I better find me some rain shoes…
Just bring your swimsuit!
Yeah, I’ll take my swimsuit. Then we could make a movie, ‘Dancing in the Rain’!
Thank you for time, Ellen, and see you at Oasis!
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