Ellen Allien on BPitch Control, Her New LP, and Women in EDM
As a DJ-producer, Allien has been at the forefront of the Berlin techno scene pretty much since the wall came down. And as head of the internationally renowned BPitch Control label, she has also emerged as one of the foremost tastemakers on the global techno scene.
Allien's talents extend beyond just music, however. She is a full-blown renaissance woman with sidelines in fashion, photography, design, and even the performing arts.
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Ahead of this Saturday's headlining gig alongside Martin Buttrich, LINK and Miami Rebels at Story, we here at Crossfade chatted with the talented Miss Allien about the origins of her label, the experimental evolution of her latest album LISm, and how women do it differently than men in EDM.
Crossfade: How did your first get drawn to electronic dance music? What was the electronic dance music scene in Berlin like immediately after the wall came down? And how is it different today? Has it become more touristy or commercialized?
Ellen Allien: It is actually much more interesting now than it used to be when it started out, since more and more international people are living in Berlin, giving much value to the scene. Of course, there is some commercial stuff going on, but we still have a big underground scene. As long as creative people move to Berlin, the city will continue to be interesting. The key to Berlin is the freedom and the creativity -- both factors are full-on.
What was the concept behind BPitch Control when you first launched the label in 1999? And how has that concept evolved over the years?
The core concept and motto is "do it by yourself." BPitch is a platform for electronic music, from listening to indie to techno, house, and breaks. Now we are a big record label with a worldwide network, with its own booking agency, events, and also a fashion line.
BPitch has drawn comparisons to seminal electronic music labels like Warp Records, because of your eclectic artist roster which includes diverse artists like Modeselektor, Jay Haze, and Jahcoozi. What's your criteria for selecting artists and records to release? What sort of general style of aesthetic are you looking for to define the label?
I am looking for artists that impress me, artists that have something to say, people with strong personality and talent. That's the main and only criteria.
You've juggled the multiple roles of DJ, producer and A&R manager. Which is the most rewarding role for you and why?
DJing is making people and me dance -- it's rock 'n' roll and giving good times. Producing is a bit deeper -- it's telling stories about my life. A&R is searching for the best I can find -- it's searching for the future, which isn't so easy, it's a daily challenge. It's just the same with the graphic design and video art that we develop day by day. It would be better not to sleep, this way we would have more time. [Laughs]
BPitch has always stayed at the cutting-edge of electronic dance music. Where do you think EDM is headed in the future? Are the techno and house forms exhausted? Or is there still room for innovation?
Electronic dance music music is an important part of the music and club business. It's huge for big festivals and clubs worldwide. Surprises are always welcome, for BPitch and the crowd. For example, we signed a new artist, Dillon, who makes music between EDM and songwriting, and is being very successful. Her live performance is amazing -- people and BPitch love her. Electronic music is also getting more and more into other art fields like theater and cinema, which is pushing the genre toward constant innovation.
You've managed to keep a successful label running despite challenges brought about in the industry by the Internet and digital distribution. What is the secret of your longevity? How have you adapted to the challenges?
Creativity, clear minds, patience and passion are the keys.