Ellen Allien is about a Berlin as the Eastside Gallery. In fact one of the main inspirations for her music is the culture of reunified Berlin and she loves the place so much her album Stadtkind was dedicated to the city which has become a mecca for lovers of all things electronic. The first lady of techno, she heads her own imprint and booking agency in bPitch Control, designs her own fashion range and still somehow finds time to produce her own music and DJ at clubs across the globe. We caught up with the multi talented Ms. Allien as she took some time out of her hectic schedule to talk with us about her favorite places, how to get more women at festivals and gives us 5 acts for tomorrow . So read on for a glimpse of the future from a woman with her finger firmly on the electronic pulse…
Well I’d like to start off by asking about your early career, what was it that drove you to want to be a musician and DJ? How do you feel being a woman in a male dominated industry has affected your career? Is there anything you wish you’d have done differently?
Since my early childhood I was into music. The organ, the radio and my turntables were the things I loved to play with. My father was always playing instruments; I think he influenced me a lot. My passion for music brought me to DJing. I’ve always felt very comfortable in the music scene. My booking agent and my label manager both are women. Bpitch control is a label and international booking agency. That is open to everyone and we book both women and men. There are always a lot of men on the dance floors of festivals so it is kind of normal that they book men to play music for men. If they would book more women at the prime time there would be also more women on the dance floor. I think the promoters of festivals should book more women to attract them to come to festivals.
You have a long and deep relationship with Berlin’s Watergate, how did this partnership first come about? Tell us about the upcoming album. How do you think Watergate and Berlin have evolved over the years? And where else do you love playing?
We did many showcases and I’ve played a lot over the last few years at Watergate. I really like the club but at the moment I prefer to play at the Panorama Bar.
Currently I am digitalizing many classics from my huge vinyl collection. So I can play classics and the people on the dance floor recognize the tracks and get flash backs, then the floor is on fire so I’m having a lot of fun in combining the classics with future unreleased tracks they probably haven’t heard before . I also always love playing at Nitsa in Barcelona; I have played there for years now and one of my best ever shows I always enjoy is in Paris for “les ambassadeurs” which is a themed annual party .This year the theme was chaos…Wowt the small club owned by Robert Johnson in Offenbach can get also very wild as can Studio 80 in Amsterdam and of course my residency at the Circoloco parties at the DC10 on Ibiza, where I stayed for 6 months last summer. My new soundtrack LISm is not a really suitable for clubs as it’s more of a listening experience. I felt the need to compose a 45min long Ellen Allien journey, I registered many instruments such as bells, strings, percussions, piano as well as vocals and thatʼs why it has a very warm sound; the soundtrack transfers you in different worlds, from passage to passage.
You also head your own imprint bpitch control, what inspired the move to starting a label and how does it compare to being an artist? How does your A and R process work in selecting acts that fit the ethos of your label? Alot of the best labels feel like very close knit groups, almost like families, do peoples personal opinions/politics come in to play when inviting someone to work with you? And should there always be a message behind music?
I founded bpitch control to have the possibility to work independently and to create space for artists feeling the same, searching for a platform to realize their creative visions. It is more like a partnership then a family for me and as a platform for creative and social exchange. bpitch control is a not only a record company but an international booking agency too and the network has intensely built up over the last 15 years.
What are your feelings on the current electronic landscape and where do you think techno is heading? There seems to be a lot of cross pollination of genres occurring, how do you feel about these experimentations?
The musical evolution in electronic music is very exciting. Artists try to go further on, new record labels are founded and groups are moving things on. It is growing and many understood that together we could even grow bigger. There is so much music on the market; you barely have the time to follow all the new releases. Everybody has his own responsibility to put his filter on to know which kind of information he wants to have. Personally I am not so much into these big marketing concepts without any content. It makes my smile. You and I, we are the filter. Put it on, yeah sure it takes time to filter all the information and people who may not have time are going to be tempted to take the ones easy to find. But if you want more then look further.
When I’ve seen you play I’ve been caught off guard by some of the vocal samples you slip into sets- I’ll always remember ‘ “Lose Your Soul’ by Ryan Gosling’s ‘Dead Man’s Bones’ being used to great effect. It’s an unusual choice, how do you go about selecting samples outside of electronic music to incorporate into sets?
I am always mixing what my heart desires. Of course I try not to go too far. As then the music would not be danceable anymore. My new album LISm is a soundtrack, far away from the standard arrangements; I did it only by feelings. My dj sets are more free style, they change from time to time, sometimes more techno, sometimes more house breaks, it depends on the music that inspires me. I try to mix the classics and the future, to weave together different styles.
Other than music you also have your own fashion brand. Can you share with us how this came about and if you have any other plans to make any other forays out of music into other spheres? Musically what does the future hold for you?
I am designing the Ellen Allien t-shirts because I love t-shirts, almost all the time I am wearing a t-shirt. After taking care of the bpitch control merchandise there came a point when the fabrics did not satisfy me anymore and it was natural for me to design the t-shirts I prefer to wear myself or get cool designs from others. If someone wants to share a design with me, please head to www.fashion.ellenallien.de And get in contact!
For future news, release and tour dates visit BPitch Control’s official website: https://www.bpitchcontrol.de/
Ellen Allien’s One’s to Watch
1. Dillon http://dillon-music.com/ sheʼs an amazing singer-songwriter and a cosmic person watch the video for “your flesh against mine”
2. Thomas Muller – Heʼs one of my favorite techno producers and djs, besides the fact that it is great fun to party and travel with him https://www.bpitchcontrol.de/artists/thomas-muller3. Aérea Negrot – She makes outstanding music, somewhere between electronic Latin opera and house. The live performances are just insane. https://www.bpitchcontrol.de/artists/a%C3%A9rea-negrot
4. Joy Wellboy – A Belgian band, one of the most interesting music couples at the moment. They make a flashy music.http://www.joywellboy.be/
5. Safety Scissors – Undoubtedly the best electronic pop band at the moment check them out at http://www.facebook.com/safetyscissorsmusic?fref=ts