Photo: Press (Avalon Emerson)
Having released a slew of EPs over the couple of years, Berlin-based DJ, producer, software engineer and former fashion photographer Avalon Emerson has just debuted on the Young Turks sublabel Whities with a new single showcasing her out of the ordinary approach to Techno. “Staying in one zone too long is boring,” she says and that surely is mirrored in her contribution to the Groove podcast. Listen to Avalon Emerson’s mix after our interview with her.
You originally come from in San Francisco, have lived in Arizona and recently relocated to Berlin. Firstly, what made you come to Germany’s capitol and secondly, what are the main similarities and differences you have noticed between San Fran and Berlin?
I came for the weather! Just kidding. Both Berlin and San Francisco have a way of collecting weirdos from many corners of the earth. In Berlin it’s great to be in the middle of so many people making music seriously, and a stone’s throw away from a myriad of european cities, but I definitely wish I could get a decent burrito here.
Your new EP on the Young Turks sublabel Whities is dedicated to Arizona, where you were born. Burning Man aside, the juxtaposition of the desert and Techno seems rather paradoxical. What was your concept for the two tracks, aesthetically speaking?
Well, I was born in San Francisco, and I’ve never been to Burning Man. That’s about 900 miles north of my Arizona hometown where I lived when I was a kid up until I was 19. The desert is harsh and largely not suitable for life, certainly not humans, but it’s one of the most gorgeous places on earth. I think a lot of that kind of duality finds its way into my music. For my birthday one year my friend gave me photos of the desert with facts about the desert typed on them. I dragged those with me to Berlin and when I was making this record, I’d often gaze at the photos while listening back, so I suppose it’s less of a literal tonal comparison concept, and more emotional and personally nostalgic.
In a recent discussion at salt + sass with journalist Elissa Stolman and Melissa Taylor of tailored communication, you have talked about leading a double life as a developer and DJ/producer. You pointed out that this grants you a lot of creative freedom. What exactly does this entail? What kind of impact does it have on today’s music production that DJs are virtually forced to produce music as self-promotion?
The artist hustle can be rough. Respect to people working every aspect of it to make a living. Having to turn down projects, remixes, etc for me has been more of a necessity for me, and I’ve also been obsessed with streamlining the creative process. I just don’t have the time or energy budget. Beyond that, making music and DJing has always been a release for me. Finishing a song has been the only surefire cure for feeling really shitty. I haven’t ever felt forced to do it, it just comes out. I’m really lucky that I have not one, but two ways to spend my time that give me fulfillment. Though itcan be frustrating to be in two worlds that don’t really understand each other. My music friends all think I’m some sort of hacker from a 90’s movie, and my software co-workers don’t really understand why it’s a life changing experience to play at 3pm on a sunday at Berghain.
Was there a specific idea you had for this mix?
An hour isn’t very long, but I tried to make this a recent representative of what I sound like when I play. It’s also got some great records from friends. It’s literally the best feeling in the world when a brand new bangin’ cut from a friend hits your inbox. So proud.
Just like your DJ sets, your mix covers a broad range of styles to be found in dance music. While a lot of people criticise especially the Techno scene for being stylistically conservatice, others praise a newfound eclecticism in dance music. As someone who’s been DJing for years in different settings and who usually opts for diversity in her sets, how do you perceive the current situation? Are the crowds nowadays as open-minded as it is being said? And where do you see the most interesting developments, musically speaking, within dance music?
People say I’m pretty musically diverse, and though I don’t feel like I negatively clash energy levels or vibes, yeah I guess I play through different “genres”. Staying in one zone too long is boring.
You’ll play at Dresden’s TBA tonight, kicking off an event series called XXY which is hosted by people associated with shtum/Uncanny Valley, where you have released an EP last year. Can you tell us a bit about your ties to the Uncanny Valley clan?
I love playing with the UV boys and I really like Albrecht (Wassersleben)’s DJing. They were one of the first people who asked me to send them demos, back when I was just uploading stuff to my soundcloud.
Last but not least: Where will you play in the next weeks? And is there perhaps a new release already on the horizon?
Thank you for the gig-calendar promo spot! I’m going to play in Japan and Saigon for the first time next month which I’m madly excited about. I also have new music in the works, of course.
Download (MP3, 320 kBit/s, 62:06 Min., 142 MB)
01. Broken English Club – Godless [Cititrax]
02. Aroma Pitch – Portal [Aroma Pitch Recordings]
03. Justin Cudmore – Crystal (Mike Servito’s 730 Reshape) [Honey Soundsystem]
04. Bwana – Homeboy [Aus]
05. Eøn – Light Color Sound (Cybernedit)
06. WBeeza – Black Moon [secretsundaze]
07. Unknown – Unknown [Primitive]
08. Dorisburg – 128 [Boss Muzik]
09. HMC – Stroke [Dirty House Records]
10. Cleric – Shifted Reality [Figure]
11. Joris Vorn – Chemistry of Attraction (Dark Science Dub) [Wolfskuil Records]
12. Grain – A1 [Fatcat Records]
13. A Sagittariun – Concrete Walls [Elastic Dreams]
14. Frans – No Cry [forthcoming Ectotherm]
15. Christopher Joseph – Post-Traumatic [Flexxseal]
16. Stranger – Ommoord [Monnom Black]
17. Courtesy & Solid Blake – 27 [unreleased]
18. Physical Therapy – Spasm [forthcoming Work Them]
19. Urulu – Lullaby [Voyage]