Anja Schneider - Rule, Anja
In Australia for the very first time for We Love Sounds, Berlin techno goddess Anja Schneider plans to make her visit an event to remember. 3D's Cyclone found out more about her roots, influences and audio risk-taking.
Techno is a macho subculture, but Berlin's Anja Schneider, like Ellen Allien, has broken through many barriers. Yet, while she's known in Europe, it's only now that her reputation has reached these shores. She even committed to limited Australian press for 2008's debut 'artist' album Beyond the Valley. This year, finally, Schneider is touring. 'I'm looking forward to it,' she says in rapid broken English. '[Australia] is an interesting country. I've never been there. I've heard so many good things. Of course, I'm looking forward to it. I'm not looking forward to the long travels, to be honest. But, to be there, even if it's for a short time, is a main event in my life.'
Schneider relocated from her native Cologne to Berlin in the early '90s. She had visited the city, checked out the Planet club and, enraptured, decided to stay.
As such, she's long been active in Berlin's underground, pursuing a career in radio by initially capitalising on her marketing degree. Anja was content working behind the scenes, but eventually she was touted her own slot - and found she loved hosting. Her Dance Under The Blue Moon on Fritz Radio (fritz.de) has been called 'the imperative soundtrack for Saturday nights in Berlin.' Schneider's broadcasting led to her DJing in clubs, although she was at first apprehensive about the transition.
Many Berlin-based DJs travel constantly, but Schneider is immersed in the local milieu. 'Because we have this amazing club scene, every weekend there are big superstars playing in Berlin. It's really great as in Berlin we also have a lot of respect [for each other]. It's not like there's another label or another DJ coming to Berlin and the other one is like, 'Oh my God, they'll take our jobs!' No. It's actually quite nice. You can talk. There's always a big round table. You're not alone - and this makes it easier.'
Inundated with demos due to her radio show, Anja launched Mobilee Records alongside fellow DJ Ralf Kollmann five years ago. She never considered it a business operation. 'It's not a 'DJ' label,' she stresses. 'It was not just like, 'C'mon, we'll do the label, then I'll have more gigs...' This was not the idea.' Schneider wanted to develop young talent. To this end, the label has become 'more professional.' Mobilee has a management and booking arm. It's also marketing albums.
Again, Schneider came to production late. Her premiere, Tonite, a collaboration with Sebo K, materialised in 2004, being licensed by PIAS. Anja pitched Beyond the Valley as her exploring 'the place where your parents told you not to go to play as a child. Why- Because anything could happen. It's dangerous and anarchic. All the creatures that have been chased out of the village have gone there to hide.'
To some extent, she's already outgrown the album. 'First of all, it was hard work,' she recalls of the recording process. 'It took half a year or something. I did it with Paul Brtschitsch, my co-producer. It was like a normal office day. We met every day at 10 o'clock [and worked] until seven at night. It was quite intense. I learnt a lot of musical history - [I learnt] about harmonies... The first album was a reflection of my recent life, and my life as it was happening in the clubs, and I was touring and playing. Now, after this experience - the first album and my getting more established in music productions - I think, 'OK, if I'm gonna do a next album, then it's gonna be completely different. It's probably not gonna be a dance album because I'm also interested in other music.' All these dance records you can make on your maxis, on your singles, which are coming out on Mobilee. With an album, you have a chance to present yourself as an artist in a completely different way. I didn't take the chance with the first album, but it was more authentic to make it a dance album. But now I would change it a little bit.'
Anja's own listening is diverse. She strives to keep up with all electronic music, not just techno, because of her radio program. Aside from that, she loves hearing Johnny Cash-or Radiohead. She's just attended a Whitest Boy Alive gig. 'On my iPod when I'm travelling I have no electronic music.'
In the 2000s techno has been defined by a minimalist aesthetic but, as with the rest of Berlin, Schneider is rediscovering house. Anja also remains attached to the spacier Detroit style. She stresses that Berlin always enjoyed a deep connection with Detroit, back to the days of Tresor. It's not a competition. 'There is still a really big love for Detroit,' she says. That said, young clubbers don't know Detroit classics like Strings Of Life. Nevertheless, Anja holds that the Detroit ethos could be revived. 'It's sad that the young people don't know [the Detroit originators] but, as a DJ, I have this experience every weekend. If I'm playing an old record from this time, the young people, the kids, don't know it, but this is what makes it special. Even if the people coming in are like 'What is this-' and you tell them what kind of record it is and it's from the '90s, this is something we can bring back. It's our thing, it depends on us - the new generation.'
WHO: Anja Schenider
WHAT: Plays We Love Sounds at the Hordern Pavilion
WHEN: Saturday 6 June
MORE: myspace.com/anjaschneider / welovesounds.com.au