WMC Preview: Q&A with Anja Schneider
In this week’s Winter Music Conference guide, we summarized why you should check out the white-hot techno DJ, and now label impresario, Anja Schneider. Click here to read the article. Of course, there were a bunch of interview outtakes, so here’s the full Q&A for the super fans. Scroll to the end of the interview for full details about her appearances during conference.– Arielle Castillo
When and how did you wind up in Berlin?
I'm originally from Cologne, and actually it was for music. I came for one weekend to have a visit at the famous Planet club — this was '93 or '94. After this visit, I decided I had to move there. This was my city, with my music.
How did you end up in radio first?
When I moved to Berlin I had just finished my studies in marketing and communications, and I worked first in an advertising agency for a few months. At home, I had heard always pirate radio -- Kiss FM, it was all DJs.
I was so into this music and I loved it, so I went there and I said, Hello, my name is Anja, I’ve just come to Berlin, do you need help. Because I always had in mind since I was a child that radio was something that I loved.
It was really, really small; it was a pirate station -- it was only four people. So I worked there as a program manager, because I came there from a marketing background. I tried to build things up and always tried to bring more electronic music into the programming.
I worked very long as a marketing manager, and then I changed radio stations; I got a really nice offer from a national radio station. So I built up electronic music shows there. After two or three years, my boss came to me and said, You have built up all these electronic music shows, why aren’t you doing one yourself? In the beginning I was a little afraid, because I always loved to work behind the scenes.
It was in the middle end of the Nineties, and there was a big, big electronic and techno scene in Berlin, and in the station, they were not so much into this music. They tried to get listeners from this and wanted to build up this music, and this was the reason why I went there. They were very, very open.
How did you transition into playing clubs?
After I made my radio show, after one year, I had so many requests to play in a club. I have so much respect for DJs that at first I was like, No, I can't do this.. But when you're standing in a club and you have to do it, you start to take it seriously — especially if you have a critical audience
What was the biggest challenge for you in playing at a club, versus playing on the radio?
I think this was not such a big challenge. I think the biggest challenge was then after three years, because I always had music in my mind, to really produce music, to bring the ideas on a record, and on the track. And then of course, the label, and then to help young people get music. This was a big challenge. Not the thing of, Okay, I’m now a DJ. At the end of the day, we’re all playing records.
When did you decide to start making your own tracks?
It was 2004. It was together with Triple K, a longtime friend of mine I know since 10 or 15 years ago; he’s an amazing talent. When I decided to make a track, he was the first one I asked, so we made the first three tracks together. And now he is one of my best artists on Mobilee.
And what about the label?
Because of the radio I received a lot of demos of young artists, young people. So I was always in contact with new artists with a lot of music. I think that it was not so big to say, Okay, if you already receive this music, and you have already this name, and it stands for taste of music, then it's logical to open up and start your own label. But it was such a big step.
Are you releasing both vinyl and digital tracks?
Of course, we have both. Both mediums are quite important for us. And we’re still pressing records, and we still love records, and records are our main business. But both markets are still very important.
What about when you DJ; what do you use?
I’m not playing Serato. I have a record label, so I play records. I love vinyl; I love the sound of the vinyl. Sometimes it’s quite hard to travel with 20 kilos of records around the world, and then you get into a club and they have only CD players. Of course, I play also CDs because you have the latest stuff on CDs. But I’m still old school, and still traveling with 20 kilos.
So if you're traveling with all those records, how much of your set list do you plan ahead of time?
I’m always a person of the moment. So it’s always good to see the atmosphere and then decide. I can’t decide days or a week before. This is not my style. I’m very intuitive, more emotional. Even if you play a pool party in the afternoon, you play different than an underground club during the night. So you have to decide at the moment.
Where do you think techno is going in Berlin? Everyone seems to be talking about how minimal is boring, and how people like Modeselektor are getting so popular.
I think first of all, I have to say, Berlin was always -- not even in electronic music -- a very, very interesting city for musicians and actors. If you look back to the Seventies or Eighties or Nineties, a lot of big bands came to Berlin to produce their albums, like Depeche Mode, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie.
Now with the big hype of electronic music -- or call it minimal -- people think since then it starts. It’s not true – Berlin was always attractive to music. I think music in general is going back to melodies and harmonies. Minimal can be quite boring if you hear it all whole night.
Berlin is so big, and we have so much talent. Modeselektor lives here, but we also have Ricardo [Villalobos] and Richie [Hawtin], and then you also have Paul van Dyk coming from Berlin. You can't speak of one Berlin sound. Everything is possible, I think, in this city. And no one knows exactly where it's going.
It seems your label has been following a housier sound lately.
Yes, I think so. It has melody, something warm. For me, minimal is also house, very funky -- it comes from house. House was always there; it was never gone. It will be there hopefully in 20 or 50 years.
What are you most excited about for conference?
We have two Mobilee parties -- even in Miami, we are a small label. We’ve existed three years, and it’s a big thing to go to Miami for Winter Music Conference. We don’t know if people accept that or even know us. It’s a big thing for us to do our own parties. And even how my artists do, if people like them. I’m really looking forward to seeing how people like them, and I’m sure they will.
Anja Schneider performs Friday, March 28, at the Beatport Pool Party at the Remix Hotel at the National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include M.A.N.D.Y., Tiefschwarz, Gui Boratto, and Dubfire & David Squillace. Doors open at 2 p.m., and admission is free with registration at www.wantickets.com/EventDetail.aspx?e_id=37542.
She then performs Saturday, March 29, at the Listed Loves Mobilee party at the Townhouse Hotel Rooftop, 150 20th St, Miami Beach. Others on the bill include Pan-Pot, Sebo K, Hac Le, and Mike Khoury. Doors open at noon, and tickets cost $15 in advance. Visit www.listedproductions.com.
Finally, she performs at the Mobilee Loves Sobebeats party at Jakmel Art Gallery, 3501 NW 2nd Ave, Miami. Doors open at midnight, and tickets cost $20. Visit www.mobileelovessobebeats.com.