For the first of our On the Road series featuring on-the-go artists on tour, we catch up with Ellen Allien as she embarks on an intense summer of back to back gigs from coast to coast. Her latest release, Dust people scrambling to book Berlin’s influential lady and madre of Bpitch Control. In this brief interview, we chatted about the challenges and highlights of her latest album, her favorite hobbies and when she forgot to go home.
So, where in the world are you now?
Berlin, chilling on the sofa, after the Dust record release party at Panorama Bar in Berlin. Tomorrow I'll have to catch my plane to Chicago.
“Dust,” I understand is your most personal album. Can you elaborate a little more on this? What is personal about it and why did you want to make something personal? It takes a great, bold thing for an artist!
I wrote stories inspired by my own life, and then turned them into songs with lots of vocals. It creates something very personal. I wrote the lyrics and recorded everything at home with a cheap microphone. The producer Tobias Freund did really good work on the technical side [of the production’. Actually, all my albums are personal and in Dust songs are just more structured, for example You, Rain The Sun, Huibuh, etc... It's better to record the vocals before, by yourself.
This album is very abstract and there’s a lot of experimentation that goes on. Does this signal there will be a change in direction of your musical style or direction in your career?
Each of my five albums is electronically abstract. My albums always wander between listening music and dance music. The instruments that were used to compose Dust, like the guitar, clarinet [and] bongos bring something warm to it. The mix of all these elements makes it interesting.
What is your favorite track on the album?
Should We Go Home / Sun The Rain / You / My Tree / Flashy Flashy... Oh I like them all very much, actually.
What were some of the challenges and highlights of putting this together?
It was during the winter, in Berlin [and there was] a lot of snow, every day. Tobias Freund and [I] spent weeks together in the studio. We drank Ginger Tea and managed to find good results very quickly, without hurrying ourselves.
You are a busy woman, how do you handle everything? What is next for Ellen Allien this year?
Passion lets me put everyting together as a whole...the love of music and the fun I have when I'm DJing, healthy relationships to friends and [my] boyfriend. The label work is [my] daily story, and DJing is rock n’ roll. Fashion is my second, little passion, that I pursue on the side and it's a big fun too. When you finally have the cut tissue in your hands and you can wear it, that's great. The next thing on the list is the USA – Asia – Australia tour. After that I'll make a video clip and mix the Bpitch Control Best Of compilation. After 11 years releasing music on BPitch Control, we have a couple of tracks in our catalog.
What is your favorite part about touring and what are you looking forward to the most regarding this tour? Do you have a favorite country or venue in the world you like to play in?
I'm really excited to play in Detroit, there's the amazing Movement Festival there, a highlight, really. The line-up and location are excellent. And I grew up with the music of Detroit. And New-York, too, always genius parties and art exhibitions. I also can't wait for Australia, because people are very open minded there and the festival in which I'm playing is ace.
Where were you when you forgot to go home?
Bar 25, Panorama Bar... Both clubs are in Berlin.
What is your favorite thing about what you do? Least favorite?
Running the BPitch Control label, Ellen Allien Fashion, searching for new tunes, DJing, yoga, kissing, good food, meet friends. And the least favorite : plants.
What do music do you listen to just for yourself, on your free time? What do you do during your free time?I listen to Caribou, LCD Soundsystem, Kate Bush, Shackleton, Alva Noto, Fela Kuti...
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Healthy, freaky, and still on earth.
What are you doing tonight?
Going to sleep early, as I have to leave tomorrow and start the tour, in Chicago. Just packed my bag.
Finish the sentence: Music is my….