Panorama Bar resident Steffi has always wowed crowds with her ecletic yet elegant mixes and sophisticated flair. The Dutch-born, Berlin-residing DJ chats to Morgan Richards about Berlin, the GEMA controversy and her two labels; Klakson and Dolly.
Pulse: When did you first start DJing and how did it come about? Steffi: I started to play records 1994-1995 and when things got more serious, I moved to Amsterdam in 1998 and hooked up with Steven de Peven (Awanto3/Red Nose District). We started a monthly electro night - real electro, that is, not what they call electro these days - at ‘Mazzo’ (RIP). We also started to play as a collective, representing our concept called ‘Elechicks’ which stood for electro, IDM and banging booty! He introduced me to Dexter, and in 2000 we started our record label called Klakson and dropped the first Dexter release ‘I Don’t Care’, which gave us international recognition. After three years we finished our nights at Mazzo as the club shut down and I started to organise my own parties in Amsterdam, until I moved to Berlin in 2007.
What was the first record you bought? Wham.
Who were some of your early musical influences? I am a big new wave fan - an 80s kid I suppose.
You've mentioned that you were "not totally a fan" of the mid-2000s minimal craze. Was it hard getting established when you moved to Berlin in the midst of it? I moved to Berlin because of my residency at Panorama Bar so I had a great start, as they knew what I was playing, so I did not have to prove anything, other than delivering quality of course.
What are your thoughts on the proposed GEMA changes for 2013? I understand that prices in general go up every year, but it has to be within reason. Their calculation for the rise of the yearly contribution makes no sense and small clubs really have to keep their heads above the water. This can also go within reason rather than being so drastic. I think it’s good that they want to make sure the artists get more money for their music being played in venues, but the problem is that a lot of the artists don’t see anything back from GEMA. It’s a really corrupt system, if you are asking me, and I find it rather ignorant to not come up with a solution where both ways can meet halfway at least. On the other hand, it’s time for us to do something about it, and if you really don’t want this to affect the music scene, we all have to get up and do something about it. I have posted the petition on Facebook and the response was so lame, but as soon as they hear that Berghain will shut down they are all in panic. We need to fight for all the venues and not let them take our possibilities away.
Do you think clubbing in Berlin will be severely affected under the changes? Berghain have just announced they will be continuing business as usual, but what about smaller establishments? Not as usual, to be honest. There will be some radical changes. I mean, now you can go clubbing at Berghain for 12€ and stay until Monday morning. They will have to raise the entrance fee up to 18€ to be able to keep the place going. For a lot of people in Berlin this is way too much money, as there isn’t such a strong economy and a lot of unemployment. One of the good things about Berlin is that you can still afford to live a nice life compared to other ‘world’ cities. This is something we should all value.
Apart from DJing, you run not one, but two labels. Tell us a bit about Klakson and Dolly. Any incoming releases we should be looking out for? Klakson is a more quiet label and only releases every once in a while, as it is very specific with what it stands for. I have a release lined up for this year. It’s a collaboration between Dexter and myself and is planned for the end of the year. I started Dolly in 2009/2010. I wanted to do something new after arriving in Berlin and I wanted a label that was more active than Klakson, representing a slightly different kind of music. I have an Obsolete Music Theory (aka Steven Tang), an Oliverwho Factory, a Johannes Volk release and Virginia’s first solo 12" in the pipeline. There is a side project for Dolly called the Dolly Dubs series with a slightly different sound, something more exclusive with releases from Martyn and Staffan Lindberg.
While on the subject - will you personally be releasing any new material in the near future? I have just finished an album with Third Side. This is a vinyl-only project I have together with Analogue Cops who own restoration records. We just did our first two live shows. It’s new for me and I have to say I totally love it! We will be doing more live shows when I’m back from japan. Other than that my new 12” for Ostgut Ton comes out mid-September, a track on a compilation for Field Records, a track for the Bleep Project (Warp's label) and some remixes. And I’m going back into the studio to work on a full-length album with Virginia.
What are a few tunes really kickin' it for you at the moment? Head High - 'Rave'
Johannes Volk - 'The Lost Signals'
Helix - 'Honig'
Tervino - 'Derelict'
Steffi - 'Schraper'
What are you most excited about for your upcoming Australian tour? That I have a chance to be back after 16 years, visit some friends and get to see the country again from a different perspective.
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