Dutch born DJ, producer and label founder Steffi has been at the forefront of electronic music development for nearly two decades. Having established a fierce reputation as resident DJ in Berlin's infamous Panorama Bar, she runs no less than two labels - Klakson, and new project Dolly. This Friday she'll be joining the hefty line-up in the mulletover Dome at heavily anticipated Bloc Festival. We managed to catch up with her just before the madness ensues.
Let's talk about the scene that you came through in Holland; how you got your first break as a DJ and how that developed.
I started to play records 1994-1995 and when things got more serious, I moved to Amsterdam in 1998 and hooked up with Steven de Peven (Awanto3/Red Nose District) and we started a monthly electro night (real electro, that is not what they call electro these days) at ‘Mazzo’ (RIP). We also started to play as a collective, representing our concept called ‘Elechicks’ which stood for electro, IDM and banging booty :). He introduced me to Dexter and in 2000 we started our record label called Klakson and dropped the first Dexter release ‘I Don’t Care’ which gave us international recognition. After 3 years we finished our nights at Mazzo as the club shut down and I started to organise my own parties in Amsterdam, until I moved to Berlin in 2007.
You’ve been a resident in Berlin for a while now, how do you think the two cities, Amsterdam and Berlin, compare, both in terms of the electronic music scene and the general lifestyle?
It's like comparing apples with pears as they say which seems to be impossible. Every city has its different vibe and lifestyle. It depends a lot on the size and economical situation actually. There are things Amsterdam has that Berlin does not have and vice versa.
You’re playing Bloc this year, which has a new site at the London Pleasure Gardens. Part of the setup there is the German boat, MS Stubnitz, which has been brought in specially. Have you heard of the boat before and have you ever played a gig anywhere similar?
I played multiple times on this boat when it was harbored in Amsterdam for a few years in a row and we did several parties on the boat so I am quite familiar with the boat you could say :)
You run Klakson records and dolly, what’s the central ethos behind the labels and what are the plans for forthcoming releases?
Klakson is a more quiet label and only releases every once in a while as it is very specific with what it stands for. I have a release lined up for this year. It’s a collaboration between Dexter and myself and is planned for the end of the year. The other label, dolly. It’s a label I started in 2009/2010. I wanted to do something new after arriving in Berlin and I wanted a label that’s more active than Klakson representing a slightly different kind of music. I have an ‘Obsolete Music Theory’ (aka Steven Tang), an Oliverwho factory release and Virginia’s first solo 12 inch in the pipeline. There is a side project for dolly called dolly dubs series with a slightly different sound, something more exclusive with releases from Martyn and Staffan Lindberg.
You’re known to be a very good technical DJ, working the EQs and pulling off difficult mixes while keeping the crowd enraptured. Who are your own personal favourite DJs, and who did you look up to when you started out?
I don’t have a favorite DJ, to be honest I never looked up to a DJ. I really enjoy playing with a certain group of DJs as they have the same taste in music, other then that its more about the music than the DJ for me. It always was. Even when I started to go to clubs before I was a DJ myself. Good music is the main key no matter who plays it.
Your own productions are full of warm, fat sounds. What kind of production gear do you use, is it all analogue machinery and what is your favourite piece of kit?
I have some hardware stuff in my studio but no favorite instrument as they are all nice and stand for their own sound. There is a lot of analogue stuff and some FM synthies (which is a digital synthesis for those who don’t know). I use a computer with logic and a few plug-ins to make my setup complete.
Staying on production, can we expect to hear any new Steffi material anytime soon?
Yes you can actually. There is a new Ostgut Ton 12 inch coming out in September and with my group ‘third side’ (Analogue Cops + Steffi) we have finished our full length album! This will be released after the summer as well, and we are actually going to do a few live shows. I am really excited about this as we are bringing hardware only and I have never played live before!
What would you say has been the happiest moment of your life to date?
Christ what a question! :)
I see that the amazing Patrick Cowley produced Sylvester track: Need Somebody To Love Tonight is one of your all time classic tracks. Who would you say is your favourite musician/producer of all time?
This is one of those difficult questions I really cant answer as there are soooo many good artists. My musical taste is so big I wouldn’t be able to pin it down to one name. I am sorry.
What is the relationship like with Ostgut Ton, is there a family vibe with all the artists on the label?
What is a family vibe? Going on a holiday together hahahaha, we never did that actually. There are a lot of great artists on the label and most of them are also playing as a resident DJ and are on the same booking roster so we have a strong connection because of this.
Aside from your involvement in music, what other kind of art are you most interested in? Do you get to experience much of the art scene in Berlin?
Not really to be fair. I spend all my time on music.. I like a good exhibition every once in a while but I am not an active museum visitor or anything like that.
Finally, please describe your perfect day.
No internet, no telephone, no bullshit!
Thanks for your time Steffi, it’s very much appreciated!
You are welcome!
By Joe Evans