Check the streaming of Ellen Allien’s vinylism set at Phonica and a exclusive interview with Berlin’s Techno queen.
Ellen Allien needs no introduction. Countless world tours, 7 studio albums and almost 20 years commanding the influential BPitch Control imprint have earned her a top spot in electronic music history.
Last Thursday 27th July, we had the honour to play host to one of Ellen’s striking Vinylism events. Conceived as an intimate way to support her favourite record shops around the world, Ellen launched Vinylism in 2016, featuring vinyl-only DJ sets showcasing records that she hand picks from the record store before her set.
With hundreds of punters eager to catch Berlin’s Techno queen spinning in an intimate spot, the queue went around the corner this time and sadly some couldn’t make it inside – we are very sorry for this, wish we could accommodate more of you!
Fortunately our friends from FACT Magazine came down to stream the event. Check how it went below.
We didn’t want to miss the opportunity of chatting to one of the most prominent figures in modern electronic music and we managed to catch up with Ellen before the in-store session to discuss her projects, love for records and Berlin as the electronic music capital.
Hey Ellen, it’s a real pleasure to have you today at Phonica. How are you doing?
Hey Phonica – so happy to be able to play some tunes in-store!! Phonica is a dope shop, I’m trying to come visit every time when I’m in London to find some fat tunes. Let’s see what I can find today 😉
For those who may not know, ‘Vinylism’ is an ongoing project of yours in which you perform an in-store DJ set at a record shop playing records you pick up from the racks. What inspired you to start this?
I worked for many years at Berlin’s Delirium record store and for me a record store is a meeting point for music lovers, selectors and DJs. It’s the the base where I’ve found all the amazing records I own, the most important place for my history of DJing.
I started doing this project when I played in Iceland for Sonar Festival. I asked my promoter if there was any record store where I could play some records before my gig, just to meet people, hang out and talk about music and discover the scene in Reykjavík. I was simply curious about music from Iceland, traditional music and electronic music that influenced the scene there. We found Lucky Records, and here the project started. It felt so good to be there, to meet amazing people and connect with them as well as supporting the store and the vinyl itself!
After this first Vinylism I chose the next stores because I was a big fan of their selection: Lucky Records – Reykjavík, Discos Paradiso – Barcelona, Ultrasuoni Records – Rome, Gravity Records – Turin, Smallville Records – Paris, La Fin Du Vinyle – Montreal, Serendeepity – Milano, Superior Elevation – NYC, Clone – Rotterdam, SpaceHall – Berlin and Phonica in London!
What is the main difference of playing records in this alternate setting vs a club / festival?
It’s a very intimate surrounding! And we are in a shop where people buy the music for the club, so it all starts here. Also people can buy the records straight after I played them. And – it’s for free! If you just wanna hang out, listen to music together with some other music lovers – you should just come 🙂
You have been touring the world since the very early 2000s. Many of your peers have become full time usb these days, leaving their record bags at home in order to travel light. With an incredibly busy touring schedule, what keeps you motivated to still drag – several, I suppose – record bags with you every weekend?
I started traveling with records again about 2 years ago. If I can play them it’s just magic. They are very heavy but I don’t feel good without them. Often I can’t play vinyl because something on the set up doesn’t work out and I switch to usb but for me it’s important to be able to at least play some records.
It’s just a part of me, how I started DJing and I still love it! I love the sound and the way I’m mixing is a bit different, everything is a bit more fragile and I just adore music on vinyl. I could digitise the tracks – I’ve actually done so with some old-school records, but in the end I just prefer to play the original vinyl. It’s simply a passion!
Ellen Allien has become synonymous with the notion of Berlin and Techno. There are few artists who fit the mold so well – almost like Derrick May and Detroit, or Frankie Knuckles and Chicago – how do you feel about constantly being associated with the Berlin scene, do you like it?
I started DJing in the 90s, first generation DJs – I was born in Berlin, all my feelings towards music and my DJ career is related to Berlin. The history of the city, the architecture, the warehouses, and of course the clubs inspires me – the whole city has always had a big influence on me. I saw the wall falling and the city changing, many people move to Berlin to be a part of it, to express their feelings here and to get a piece of what Berlin offers. I mean we have this huge and amazing club scene here… Yes, of course I like it 🙂
In the eyes of many (ex)Londoners, Berlin is the undisputed European electronic music capital. There has certainly been an exodus in recent years of Brits moving to Berlin in order to focus on their music careers. I guess this internationalisation has come a long way from the early post-wall days. Where do you think Berlin is heading and how do you imagine its ideal future version?
It’s up to the people moving here. People who move here just to consume or hope to build a super successful career with the city as a background probably won’t bring us the best impact. It’s still important that creative people come here to bring good energy to the city – spirit and soul is what Berlin needs.
Tell us about BPitch Control, the label has put out over 300 releases and soon will celebrate its 20 years running strong. Can you attempt to describe this journey and, perhaps, pick one track that encapsulates the label’s sound?
BPitch has always been the banner for a global network of creative relationships and friendships, a platform for freaks, artists and music lovers! I could never choose one track, as the whole back catalogue makes BPitch what it is 😉
Earlier this year you released your 7th LP. Do you have anything else in the pipeline for 2017?
Of course! There will be the first RMX package from my album out on the 1st of September with edits by Rod, K-Hand, Skudge and Emmanuel Top, and a second one later this year. I will of course continue my Vinylism shows in record stores all around the world as well as my We Are Not Alone parties and our BPitch parties around the globe. Our home base is the Ipse warehouse and garden in Berlin – everybody should definitely come and visit us. Next date is August 20th where I play alongside Heidi, Fjaak and my BPitch homies Aérea Negrot and Kiki.
Thank you Ellen!