This coming May 12th, BPitch Control boss Ellen Allien will release her upcoming LP Nost, her first club-ready album since 2010.
Nost is short for “nostalgia,” each track a homage to her twenty-five-plus years on dance floors all over the world. During her long career Ellen has emerged from Berlin’s fertile, post-wall era and gone on to secure an impressive list of achievements which have undoubtedly made her a consistent positive and progressive contributor to the evolution of the city’s techno scene. Her DJ sets, musical productions and her iconic label, BPitch Control have become intrinsic elements of the city’s effervescent techno culture, as well as that of the techno movement around the globe.
Throughout her career Ellen has remained an avid lover and collector of vinyl, still today choosing to play records at clubs and festivals whenever possible. Her love for vinyl has taken her to launch a series of events called Vinylism that see her perform very intimate vinyl-only sets at some of her favorite record stores around the world.
Hello Ellen, thank you for taking the time to talk to us while in the middle of so many exciting projects such as your Vinylism event series and your new album Nost dropping in May!
Let’s talk about the album first real quick . How long have you been work ing on it?
I started to work on the album last year. We produced and mixed it during autumn and winter in Berlin.
Can you talk us through the vision behind it, what inspired it and any overarching message it may have?
Walk ing by night in the streets of Berlin, city lights, reflections, sounds and melancholic emotions are the main inspiration. The feelings you get while wandering through the dark romantic streets of Berlin, dreaming about love, freedom and sex.
The tracks are made like my DJ Sets, and on top I am using my voice as an instrument. One track talks about the first visit on the moon, for me a big a huge step for the human power to reach another planet. I know a guy who booked a trip to the moon, the owner of “Cirque du Soleil.”
I love the earth, I don’t want to leave…
Will you be releasing the LP on vinyl too?
Yes, the album will be released on Vinyl on my label BPitch, I founded in 1999. It will be released on CD, Vinyl LP 12” and digital. Some great remixes just arrived and we shot a video last week for “Call Me”, feelings of the Berlin street life.
Do you keep a copy of each of your vinyl releases at home?
Sure, all my records are at home of in the office. I love playing vinyl at home. I do often DJ sessions at home, it is fun to switch into the
world of electronic body music. Mixing sounds, beats, old school records with unreleased music. It’s a dreaming machine, pure happiness.
By the way if we were to go through your record collection right now and count it, how many records would be find?
Some years ago, I sold 50% of my collection. The pearls and best ones are stored safe in my plastic boxes to protect them from dust and light. Some of them I bought three times.
How many? Maybe 6000. I travel with my record bag. Sometimes due to the technical situation in the clubs it is not possible to play vinyl. Then I switch to the CDJs. Yesterday for example I was at the Berlin record store Space Hall. We will do there one of my “Vinylism” series, only vinyl sets in selected record stores all around the world. I am still looking for a DJ to join me there…
Do you remember the first record you ever bought? Where did you buy it and what was it?
What I remember are the first singles. Second hand jukebox singles gift from my family. I had a lot in my room. I started to listen to them when I was 8.
The first record I bought was Eisbär from Grauzone. The first techno records I bought were from UR, Dance Mania, Space Teddy and Plus 8.
Bam Bam’s “Where’s Your child”, DHS’ “Where Is Your Acid ”, “Brazil” from Spectrum, “Cosmic Evolution” by Microbots, Cosmic Baby, Juan Atkins, Dr. Motte, B12 and more and more…
Do you still have them?
Yes of course, I keep all my good records and play them or collect. It is a part of my life. All these memories, music is my diary of life and feelings.
Do you have a “most-prized“ record in your collection?
No, not really… I got them before the records are overpriced…
I‘ve spoken to a lot of artists about their record collections and always wondered if they have a short “must-find“ list of rare records they hope to own one day. Do you have such list and if so what‘s on it?
I found them all or have them already. Luckily i didn’t miss the must-buy records! (laughs)
Rarely I hear records I must have, and if so I am happy to hear another DJ playing the. If there is a record I must have, it is amazing to have this feeling of passion!
You launched your Vinylism events last year, where you play in some of your favorite record stores around the world in a very intimate setting with your fans. How have past events been so far?
It’ a very interesting project, every city and record shop is so different. The way they buy the records and present them in the shop, the connection between owners, labels or costumers. It’s interesting to see if they run their own business in terms of distribution or just a record store being very close to their costumer.
I love the stores selling second-hand and new records, tees, record bags, head phones, slip mats etc. as they are connected to the music and their costumer and understand the way to distribute and to sell as more they can survive.
It is fun to do the Vinylism events, to see happy faces during the early evening. I love being in record stores, checking music, talking about music, meeting people. It’s a meeting point.
You have Vinylism events in Rotterdam and New York City coming up this month. Tell us a little about why you like the record stores hosting the events in both cities.
Clone Records is one of my favorite ones in terms of their selection and how they explain the sound of the past and new music. The choose exactly the music I am playing.
Superior Elevation Records in New York are more into vintage records, all kind of styles, for a good price.
Which record stores and cities do you plan to visit with the Vinylism series in the coming months/years?
The next one will be in Berlin at Space Hall. The have a big selection of old records and new electronic music, rock and indie. A huge store and for many years now at the same place. An amazing store.
Is there any particular record store in the world you still want to visit but haven‘t had the chance to yet?
(Laughs) Not really. I have already seen many. On Mars, maybe. I hope i will be surprised…
Like in Iceland at Lucky Records… such a cool store, they have also a little stage where bands sometimes are doing concerts, you can find there all these amazing Icelandic music, new electronic tunes and old school records. The owner is running the store with his wife and his child is in the store after school. A big music lover…
From a DJ standpoint, what ‘s your opinion with regards to going digital versus only playing vinyl?
For me it is not important if a DJ plays with CDJs, Traktor or vinyl. The result counts, the music and the journey the DJ can build up. I love to play records, WAVs or aiffs… MP3s do not enough sound quality to be played in clubs.
I have a lot of pleasure playing the original records, I love it so much. The way I am mixing records is just a little bit different to digital. The sound is less in the midrange, which I love. It is just hard to travel and to carry the records. Sometimes not possible to play them in the venue, but if it is possible the magic can happen!
Do you have any advice for someone who may be thinking about starting their own record collection?
Buy what you love. Clean the records and buy new sleeves. I store them in boxes to protect them from dust. It keeps them in better condition.
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