As a DJ Ellen Allien has enormous skills and resource, sourcing and collecting music for many years. A techno lover from the start Ellen comfortably blends and weaves a pattern of her own hypnotic Berlin techno, acid, freak jack slammers and classics. Absorbing the space and the energy of the dancers, she creates something mysterious and captivating for the here and now.
The latest release is Ellen’s 7th studio album ‘Nost’ with the corresponding remix singles on BPitch.
We have a personal chat with Ellen Allien discussing her latest release and plans for 2018.
Electronic Groove: Hi Ellen, we are very happy to chat with you here in New York City. What can you say about the scene in Big Apple and how does it compare to Berlin and to other cities?
Ellen Allien: Thanks to you. The scene in New York changes very fast. It’s more international here. In Berlin too, but here it’s even more. In Berlin, there are many clubs opening and closing, but here it’s even faster, and I think there are more rules in America. Also, here you have closing times, we don’t have that in Berlin, things are more flexible there. I think if the club is constantly open you have to learn how to keep it open, in terms of politics and in terms of how you organize everything.
New Yorkers are very good at this, some of the people here are very experienced and they’re really good in terms of music styles. I’m very happy to say that because when I started in the 90’s it wasn’t like that. Back then it was really hip to make parties, so everybody was doing them and they invited you, but you didn’t know the people who you were working with, and when you arrived it was a mess. So for example, maybe one night I was at a club, wanting to have a good time, and then something happened, maybe the CDJs or the turntables were not working or the sound system stopped five times, or the police came. Now, when someone pays a cover, they can be sure that something good will happen because we all know what we have to do, and we can concentrate on the music again (laughs).
EG: I see you are playing with Volvox from the Discwoman crew. What do you think about their concept? And do you think that the position of women has been improving lately in this industry?
Ellen Allien: I think it’s very important that there are groups of girls running things. I myself like to work together with men and women, I’m a fan of that because I like the male and female energy, they bring something special together. Especially in our team where we have all kinds of sexually orientated people working together, I think that is a key part of what we’re doing. But I understand that strong things can also come from these kinds of groups that work as a team on something. I think this is very important because there are many men groups out there. In most of the festivals and clubs the owners are men. I think women have to push them and vice-versa, we have to bring them together, trying to let go old habits because this doesn’t bring us forward.
There are many, many female producers and female DJs that are sometimes better than men, every promoter has to see that. Maybe a girl DJ is very famous and sells tickets but at the moment doesn’t have any hype, then maybe they won’t book her, because there are only booking one girl DJ and the rest are ten men. There’s something wrong there and maybe its because in the history of music, most of the hits have been created by men. Also, when I do my charts, they’re often based on men. Maybe just one girl or two make it to the top, because there are still many, many men producers. So, girls, hurry up! (laughs) I mean, it’s good that it’s mixed, and I think the men are a little afraid of us, but we are not afraid of them 😉
EG: Tell us about your latest album, NOST. How would you say that your sound has evolved since the last ones?
Ellen Allien: I think I did what I wanted to. There are new synthesizers on the album that I’d never previously used before like the Moog 35 analog system and the Prophet analog synth. I wouldn’t say I made something new or outstanding. It’s the music I want to listen to, a reflection of who I am at the moment and what I love, something that reflects what I want to do which is fun, and that’s what I want to give. If some DJs want to play them, I’m happy, and if not, I don’t care. I’m not a calculated artist; if I was, I would be different, a different shape and a different order.
The way I’m playing at the moment as well as the music I like to hear when I go out have their influence the records that I make. In the past, I listened to a lot of music at home, like Indie Rock. I don’t do that anymore, I don’t know why… At the moment I’m only listening to techno, it’s something that gives me space, makes me move in my flat. At home I like to mix with vinyl, it’s like a hobby but It’s also my job, you know… There’s also a lot of music out there so I have to listen to them at home and get adjusted to tracks that I want to play at clubs. I also like to listen to myself play.
EG: You recently released a second and third pack of remixes which includes artists like Truncate and Gerd Janson. What do you think of those? Any favorite one?
Ellen Allien: I think they did some amazing remixes. On the first remix package we had K-Hand from Detroit because she’s my hero. I would say I’m in the second female generation of DJs and she’s from the first. Emmanuel Top, Kyoka, Truncate, Gerd Janson also did remixes. In regards to Fatty DL, I love his productions. All the remixes are amazing, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there.
On the third package I included one of my favorite artists, DJ T-1000. He’s from Detroit and currently living in Berlin making very dark melodic techno. In the pack there’s also a remix by Eomac, he’s also dark and really cool. My favorite producers made a very good job.
“In the past, I also listened to a lot of music at home, like Indie Rock. I don’t do that anymore, I don’t know why… I only listen to techno at the moment”
EG: What is the selection process of the artists?
Ellen Allien: There are some artists that I didn’t agree with and some that I couldn’t bring on the project. Other couldn’t do it and others just don’t get it… it happens, you know, and it wouldn’t make sense to bring them on because you always want to show the best of every artist. That’s why I ask them because I am a big fan of their work.
EG: Do you have any new music coming out?
Ellen Allien: Actually, my new single is ready, but I’m searching for a label to release it. I think I should offer my music sometimes because I have released everything on BPitch over the years. I can continue to do so but it’s also good to give my music to somebody other labels and to share it.
EG: Do you have any labels in mind?
Ellen Allien: Yes, I have some labels in mind. I have to send them the finished packages and wait for their thoughts. Whoever likes it gets it.
EG: What about BPitch? Any exciting releases coming up?
Ellen Allien: There’s a guy from Paris, Maxime Iko, who’s been running really good gay parties in Paris for many years, Cockorico. He did one record and I’m thinking whether to bring it to BPitch or start a new label with it. Also, I’m thinking about starting a new techno label, just techno, to give it a bit more distribution. Right now we have Rough Trade as our distributor. Also, it’s better to give albums to a smaller distributor that’s specialized in club music. I’m searching for a name now, and there are some very good artists that have already asked me to do records. So maybe this is something I´ll do this next year. Bring one kind of style together under a new label and keep Bpitch for albums or for casual releases. I think it’s good to make something new.
EG: You’ve been doing the Vinylism events around the world. Why didn’t you do one here? And what are the next stops?
Ellen Allien: I couldn’t do it because of timing, it was impossible. The next time I come to NYC I’ll do 100% Vinylism. I would love to do it at Halcyon and they have a good set up there. I have to think what I’ll do this year, but I should continue with my vinyl events, they are very cool.
We don’t have any dates yet but are working on stuff. I would like to do one in Movement Detroit because they’ve booked me there. Last year they didn’t let me do one, so I have to talk to them to see if we can do it together. I would love to do it in Detroit. Also, my booking agency asked me if I wanted to do a stage in some festivals, to sell it, but I don’t want to do that. I think it’s cool to leave it to the record stores because it’s more for communication. Maybe we can do a record label, maybe I’ll call the new record label Vinylism. But I don’t know, I have a lot to think about. I love that not everything has to be for something. It’s cool we work for free, i think everybody works for free at some point. I mean, not my promoter, there is some money for that obviously. But I do it sometimes, I think all DJs work for free once in a while. The record stores like that. It’s lovely.
EG: How many cities have you hosted Vinylism at so far?
Ellen Allien: A few ones so far: Montreal, New York, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Turin, Rome, London, Reykjavik, Rotterdam… And it was so cool. People really come for the music, and they listen to the tracks from the record store, because I mostly play tracks from the record store, whenever it’s possible and there’s time, I love to do it.
EG: Where did you play on NYE?
Ellen Allien: I played in a place close to Rome for a few friends. It was awesome and crazy. Then I played in Spain. This country always has an awesome crowd, you can play hard, pus they’re funny and really cute.
EG: Which has been your favorite NYE party you’ve played at?
Ellen Allien: I mean, the best of course is to play at home, because you have your friends, you party longer, and then you go out. It’s also nice to work, to go to another city, but then you have to take care of sleeping enough because the next day people pay me, and I have to travel again. So I try to play well, then sleep, and then go to the next one. I try to concentrate on my gigs, to make good sets for the promoters. Otherwise my sets wouldn’t be good, I don’t do that.
“My dream in the future is opening a club”
EG: Now looking into the future, tell me a little about your plans for this new year.
Ellen Allien: I want to start the new label, I’m still searching for the name. We are also working on a concept for a new club in Berlin for Summer events. It’s really hard when you have to leave clubs where you’ve been before. We found one of the most analog clubs that we have at the moment, they have the best lineups, the music schedule is amazing, especially in the last two years. It’s a bit far away, so tourists don’t know about it. Only real music lovers go there. It has two floors, not too big, very industrial, no hipster stuff. It’s really based on music. We will be running our ‘We Are Not Alone’ parties there. We have been working really hard on this. Then I will play at Tresor, which is where I come from. I go back to this club because the team is always doing a great job in terms of who they book, the resident DJs, and the artists on the label. I’m a big fan of what they do. We also want to find some new artists for our booking agency, that is our basic plan for 2018.
We have a booking agency with younger artists. I’m with a bigger agency by myself but we want to make a new group with the kind of people that fit together, that complete each other. It’s interesting to think and really work on this as a team, and talk with many artists, how they feel about this, if they need help, and they really want to be a part of it. I think it’s time in Berlin to build some groups again, to bring them together and exchange.
I also have a lot of music swimming on my hard drive. Just did a remix for Mount Kimbie which will come out next year. I did a remix for Depeche Mode this year, so that was really cool. What more can I ask? They are my heroes. Now I have to produce dope tracks, my heroes touched me a little bit (laughs), now I have to create good music! I want to work with some different labels, to showcase my music, to exchange a little bit. With my team we can control everything including the artwork, because the music is really strongly based on the identity of the artwork. I think the artist has to have his own ideas as to what fits the music. My dream in the future is opening a club and then all the guys can see what’s going on (laughs).
Ellen Allien Upcoming Dates
March 24, 2018 – Get Lost | Miami, USA
May 17, 2018 – Moogfest | North Carolina, USA
May 28, 2018 – Movement | Detroit, USA
We Are Not Alone Upcoming Dates
March 10, 2018 – Ex Doana | Rome, Italy
April 1, 2018 – Griessmühle | Berlin, Germany
July 06, 2018 – Griessmühle | Berlin, Germany
EG: And to close, What was your favorite track of 2017?
Ellen Allien: I think the number one track of 2017 for me is Inigo Kennedy – ‘Voyager‘. It’s amazing.
Ellen Allien’s ‘NOST Remixes’ are already available.Grab your copy here.
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