Monday, March 19, 2007

Interview: Ellen Allien

Ellen Allien is a woman of many talents. I had the pleasure of contacting her during her ongoing tour, and here's the text. Many thanks to Ellen and Marit, aka Damero, for making this possible. Ellen plays at Studio B this Saturday with Miss Kittin.

Question: I’ve read that the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the subsequent environment, was a major inspiration for your music. However, you were first introduced to electronica in England. What prompted you to return to Berlin?

Ellen: After one year in London I got homesick, I just missed Berlin. When I came back to Berlin I knew why immediately. There I could hang out with friends, do music ... Then the wall came down and Berlin was finally united again. The youth conquered the streets. A lot of people moved and still move to Berlin to do arts, open galleries, bars, clubs ... It was and is the city of hope.

Question: What are your impressions of the current scene?

Ellen: The electronic music scene in Germany and Europe is really big. And everybody and everything is connected. The technical gear and software is so advanced now that as an artist you can hardly follow ... The market is full of releases and labels are popping up everywhere. It's really necessary to filter. This is what I try do to with my label and as an artist. We get a lot of demos and if I don't want it, another label will definitely release it for sure - the scene is boiling!

Question: How did you become Involved in creating The Other Side of Berlin with TimeOut?

Ellen: I was asked if I'd like to participate in this project and I said yes. Last summer we then started to shoot and tried to catch the street life of Berlin.

Question: What impact has BPitch Control had on your music?

Ellen: It's important to me to spread music. BPitch Control is a label, an artist management and a booking agency. We are trying to support our artists at its best, to help them produce good music, to release it. We are always looking for talents and we are trying to modernize the label constantly. I find it fascinating to move things. We were one of the first big labels from Berlin - and see now - there are so many. This is important - to have variety.

Question: What inspired you to start a fashion line? How do these different fields – fashion and music business – compare to being a musician?

Ellen: Fashion is my hobby. I love to draw clothes, to choose fabrics, to work with them .. To do music is like a mirror reflection, it's a deeper artistic level. And BPitch Control is the perfect social environment where everybody pulls on the same string. It's like a lego world.

Question: What artists have influenced you? What led to the collaboration on Orchestra of Bubbles, and can we expect similar albums in the future?

Ellen: Ellen Allien sound is IDM, Techno, Breaks and Song. The next album will be a solo album - I don't want to talk about the details yet. For now there will be remixes and a mix CD for Fabric/London, and some singles in summer. And my new fashion summer collection.

Question: Two tracks were added to Orchestra of Bubbles after it leaked.

As an artist and a label owner, what are your impressions of online distribution? Does additional exposure make up for a potential loss in sales?

Ellen: We can't complain. We sell a lot of MP3s. More formats mean more sales. Unfortunately it's really easy to get free MP3s. So please buy not steal our music!

Question: In Orchestra of Bubbles, particularly in the single “Way Out,” there’s a really strong vocal element. What prompted you (and Apparat) to start singing? How has this affected the live show? How has playing to a worldwide audience affected you? What kind of format can we expect during this spring tour; will you be singing?

Ellen: I sang on all of my albums - it's fun to sing. And I love playing live with Apparat. We will play more this coming summer.

Question: What approach do you take when it comes to creating a song? Do you begin with an idea in mind, or a beat or instrumental? How does your approach to remixing differ?

Ellen: Normally I have an idea first and write a song. I then work on it for a while. When I work on an album I have a main idea before that I want to create. And then each track has its own idea too. To be in the studio is something really important for me. It absorbs me and I don't do anything else - it's all about music. It's a lot of fun! And I can concentrate on one project.

Question: You’ve had a major release in each of the last six years. How do you manage to stay so prolific, while still managing a label and touring?

Ellen: I just like producing music, to do remixes, to write songs, to travel and to DJ. The label works on its on - I have a really great team! I love to meet people and to talk to them, to see how they live. And it's great to work with the label team and the artists, it's very creative. And I still find time to meet my friends, do Yoga, see movies, fashion whatever ...

Question: Any idea what direction your future work will take?

Ellen: I do where my heart leads me to. The summer will be fun, a lot of festivals! And I will be in Ibiza for one month and start working on my solo album, but slowly ... there are still so many other projects I want to do! And the label will move back to its old office, that got renovated - nice!

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