The BPitch Controller gets behind the decks for this week's RA podcast.
If we could pick just one person that personifies the meteoric rise of Berlin's electronic music scene over the past fifteen years, Ellen Allien would definitely be right up there. However, it was actually during an extended stay in London where she first got bitten by the dance music bug, making multiple visits to Eddie Richards and Colin Faver's weekly acid house residency at Soho's now defunct Wag Club.
Once back in her native Berlin, Allien witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the resulting explosion of electronic culture and creativity in the city, working both behind the bar and the decks at the Fischlabor club before going on to host her own radio show on Kiss FM entitled Braincandy. The world of production and label management was the next logical step for her, and she launched her label of the same name in 1995 to showcase the uncompromising abstract techno that she was favouring at the time. The closure of some of the bigger techno clubs at the time spurred Ellen to start her own series of parties under the name BPitch Control, and it wasn't long before she decided to close Braincandy and use BPitch as her new outlet for recorded material.
Ellen is famed for her work with various co-producers, with Heiko Laux, Holger Zilske, Apparat and AGF being just some of the names that have aided her musical vision over the course of her career. However, it's behind the decks where she's proved herself more than capable of taking on the big guns on her own, having mixed no less than six different commercial compilations. Her 2007 instalment for the Fabric series was comprised of a single live take using only vinyl records, and this week's RA podcast sees Ellen return to her trusty Technics to sculpt a special mix with some of her favourite slabs of wax, both old and new. We asked her some questions about fashion, music and collaborations in advance of—among other things—her appearance at this year's Movement Festival.
What have you been working on recently?
I'm currently working on my two new singles. They are almost done. Furthermore I'm working on our new festival, Sasula, which will be held at WMF club in Berlin. We'll have two floors, a concert floor and a dance floor, where artists like Telefon Tel Aviv and Chloé will delight the crowd.
I'm also concentrating on my new Ellen Allien Fashion autumn/winter 2009 collection. Well, I cannot count the myriad of BPitch projects I'm bringing forward...we 're about to sign a lot of outstanding new and thrilling artists.
In my private life I'm currently "working on" my new apartment. I've had tough problems with that lately...
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at Watergate in Berlin.
Can you tell us a little about the mix?
I would say that the mix is a typical Ellen Allien mix. Actually it mirrors the classical definition of a DJ-mix: I tune myself into the mix for the first 15 minutes and then—slowly but certainly—I get right into it; the sound gets deeper, I get straight to the point and finally I bang the dance floor.
At the beginning I'm always a little shy, I have to get warm with the crowd, I have to figure out the atmosphere. Only then I can really rock the floor. At this point the music gets more and more diversified. That also depends on how much confidence I have with the crowd and with the sound and the atmosphere of the location in general.
Who has been your favourite producer to work with?
One of them is certainly Apparat, because we mainly had live appearances together: we largely used Apparat's tool Dschihad, I made the drums and he the melodies, I also sang and used my voice a lot, which I really love. Working together with Apparat has been a really stirring experience.
I also loved to work with AGF, who's a friend of mine and a great woman. She has been able
to translate my ideas and visions very accurately and with great professionalism. She has been very sensitive towards my wishes. With Smash TV (Holger Zilske) we also managed to carry out magnific projects.; he experimented a lot with vocals, and I love that.
Do you envisage a time where you'll record an album on your own without a co-producer?
No, definitely not. Working alone is something I'm not interested in. I love to work with different producers and I hate to sit lonely in front of my computer. I like the group dynamics and the ping-pong feeling that emerge when working together with others. I generally have a group personality, which means that since my childhood I have always been used to work and to be with others. Without any doubt I prefer that to lonesomeness.
How is the fashion label going? Are you putting as much time into it? What are you up to next?
The fashion label is going on very well even if most of the time still goes into my thing, which is obviously music. Making fashion remains basically an interest and a hobby. Sure, it takes a lot of time, but I get lots of satisfaction and fun out of it, and it's worth it.
As I already mentioned, I'm currently working on the new Ellen Allien autumn/winter collection 2009. It's going to be a very special line, just to give a short peek: we'll come out with individual items, patchwork is back and of course, the evergreen denim.
For the spring/summer collection 2009 I created two fabulous lines. Besides the rather elegant but nevertheless sexy and cheeky mainline, with its black python fabrics, I also made a jersey-item everyday-line "QUARTETT."
For the online shop go here.