Gabrielle Guetta's Female DJ of the Week: Ellen Allien
The multi-talented, multi-functional, multi-just-about-anything Ellen Allien is this week’s Gabrielle Guetta’s female DJ. I’ve chosen Ellen for this week’s feature story for the superb Boiler Room set she agreed to do after countless invitations from the Berlin BR echelon. The electronic music empress performed a superb mix. Then again, nothing less is expected of Ellen Allien, a female DJ supreme, #266 in The Official Global Rankings and #8 female DJ in the world at the moment.
Start the set, and enjoy getting to know one of the best in the biz when it comes to IDM, techno and electro!
So let’s start with a little background check on Ellen Fraatz aka Ellen Allien. She’s a German-born (1969) Berliner who’s got many tricks up her sleeve. She’s a DJ, the head mistress of the label BPitch Control, a music producer and a singer in both German and English language! If that doesn’t impress you, Ellen’s also a businesswoman and a fashion designer.
Taking on a variety of different roles, it doesn't seem to matter how Ellen expresses her fascinating, multi-faceted inner works. The talents of Ellen didn’t come out of nowhere. From a young age she played the organ, and later saxophone. She developed a serious interest in 7“ records as well as an undeniable interest for acrobatics. That lead to dancing and fashion design - her other major interests besides music. She’s always been independent, whether it meant escaping into her own musical realm as a teenager, living in a squat for several years or the spontaneous decision to move to London in 1988. Inspired by Kraftwerk’s minimalistic pop hit ’Das Model’, she was blown away arriving to London just in time for the acid house boom. After a year's worth of partying at the world's most versatile music scene, she returned home just before the Wall came down. Ellen was destined to take over the reunified Germany, especially Berlin, to which she dedicated her first album (2001) called ’Stadtkind’ (City-Kid). The post-reunification album included strong notions of cultural blossoming and the deepest feelings Ellen Allien had developed for Berlin:’Du gibst mir die Kraft. Ich bin ein Teil von dir.’ (trnsl. ’You give me strength. I am a part of you.)
She started her musical career long before her debut album, though. As most of today’s artists, Ellen started out as a DJ in the early 90s. Moving quickly from bars to the buzzing electro club scene, she was a regular at premium venues: E-Werk, Casino, Tresor, then at Maria am Ostbahnhow, Watergate, WMF and Ostgut/Berghain. Being a female DJ wasn’t holding her back, as she played also abroad in clubs like Nitsa in Barcelona or Fabric in London; festivals like Sónar, Melt!, Nuits Sonores, Time Warp, Wire in Japan, I Love Techno, WMC Miami and Dour.
Listen to 'The Kiss', from the EP 'Werkschau' and an impressive visual piece by Lisa Wassmann!
Allien started to host a radio show on Kiss FM, thus giving rise to her first label, Braincandy, which she ran from 1994 to 1998. After the test-run of the first label and a successful party series, she established BPitch Control in 1999. This was an important milestone in not only Ellen’s life, but also the underground electro scene of Germany in general. Among the BPitch family, DJs like Kiki, Sascha Funke and duo Toktok get their first releases out. Today’s electronic music stars Paul Kalkbrenner and Modeselektor strived for fame from BPitch as well.
BPitch Control helps along in Berlin becoming the Mecca for techno music. The label takes on international artists as well, including the Venezuelan Aérea Negrot, the Israeli Chaim and the Brazilian Dillon, Thomas Muller from France, Mr. Statik from Greece, We Love from Italy and Dance Disorder out of Spain.
In between creating the label, she became a music producer herself, issuing a series of full-lengths – ’Stadtkind’ (2001), ’Berlinette’ (2003), ’Thrills’ (2005) and together with Apparat ’Orchestra of Bubbles’ (2006), ’Sool’ (2008), ’Dust’ (2010). Besides 6 studio albums, she’s released numerous EPs and mix-tapes.
Listen to her 2012 release, ’Take Me Out’ from the EP ’Galactic Horse’.
With the release of ’Orchestra of Bubbles’ featuring Apparat, Ellen becomes a live musician for the first time and leaves Berlin for an incredible journey around the globe. She works on her new albums Sool in 2008, teaming up with AGF and Dust in 2010, doing a project with Tobias Freund. There's no particular sound you could put your finger on and say: this is Ellen Allien. Rather, with every album, she explores new ways of being creative, often connecting the dots between genres like techno and pop, house and indie.
The same goes for her DJ-sets – with an eclectic taste in music she’s always perfecting her DJ skills, having the all-important talent of connecting with the raving crowd on the floor. Pre-recorded sets and Ellen Allien are as far a part as the Earth and the end of the Universe – she knows how to push buttons, but she also knows how to create beats, match the beats and twiddle the knobs in a way to make you go out of your mind. Embodying tastefulness on a next level, she’s also understood the essence of playing the music and the crowd as a DJ - she’s the master of the dance-floor. That’s why she was the first female to receive the honors of contributing on the infamous Fabric 34 mix-CD series.
Nowadays, the multi-talented Allien stayed addicted to music, movement and freedom. Looking for new talents for her label, working on music production as well as fashion designs for Ellen Allien Fashion. Ellen is recognized world-wide for her unique talent to innovate, to capture so much diversity in her sounds and different roles she manages to fulfill. This is a female DJ whose extensive body of work shows that if you have taste, ambition and talent, it doesn’t mean whether you’re a man or a woman – you can be successful!
Watch the most-viewed video for the ’Sun the Rain’ by Ellen Allien on Youtube. The track’s from the latest album ’Dust’, which was released in 2010. It displays the more emotional side of the empress of electro, incorporating mystical vocals and electric guitars, an inclination to a kind of indie electronica. Not to mention the superb video edited by Phil Scholl & Pfadfinderei.
Upcoming tour dates:
2012-11-30 Barcelona, Nitsa (ES)
2012-12-01 Brussels, Fuse (BE)
2012-12-14 Mexico City, Hooka (MX)
2012-12-16 Mexico City, Time and Space (MX)
2012-12-22 Bergamo, BPitch Showcase @ Bolgia - with Camea, Pfadfinderei Visuals
2012-12-28 Berlin, Panorama Bar (DE)
2012-12-29 Lecce, Lloundiciottavi (IT)
2012-12-31 Tokyo, Womb (Japan) - with Apparat
2013-01-05 Bologna, Cassero (Italy)
2013-01-07 Playa del Carmen, Coco Maya, Circoloco (MX)
2013-01-24 Montréal, Igloofest (CA)
2013-01-25 New York, Warehouse, BLKMKT (USA)
2013-01-26 Miami, Treehouse (USA)
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