Photo: Press (Kate Miller)
It’s been a few years since Kate Miller left her native Melbourne for Berlin. It’s a bit easier to get a foot in the door there than elsewhere, she says, but the rest depends on hard work, patience and good taste. There is no doubt that the DJ and radio host has been working hard in the past few years and step by step, her patience pays off. After a set at Berlin’s Panorama Bar that was as eclectic as it was energetic, we asked her right away to contribute to our Groove podcast. Her choice – cold, funky Electro cuts – surprised us a lot more than all the good taste that went into it. Read our interview with Kate Miller and listen to her mix below.
You grew up in Australia and also have started DJing when you were still living in Melbourne. How would you characterise Australia’s scene and what made you leave your home country for Berlin?
When I first left Melbourne, the scene was very different to what it has become today. There were a handful of great clubs in the city such as Third Class and The Mercat but these days you can go out every weekend and experience something really world-class. All the DJs play with vinyl and have their own unique sound. Take Wax’o Paradiso, JNETT, Jennifer Loveless, DJ Kiti, Otologic and Babicka for example. There’s also heaps of amazing live acts, my favourites at the moment are Catlips, Kangaroo Skull, Roland Tings and Cale Sexton. I visited for a few months last Summer and was so impressed by all the festivals and day parties as well as the club nights. Especially the monthly event series Mania, run by Sleep D, Sugar Mountain Festival and Rose Quartz – a little 500 person festival held 3 hours out of Hobart (Tasmania) in the mountains next to a lake. The location was breathtaking and the music was great and so varied all weekend. Even though it rained solidly almost the entire time everyone there was so keen to party, perhaps it made the experience even more special. When I was DJing in Melbourne back in 2011 I didn’t feel like I had many opportunities, which is why I left. But if I was living there today as a 21 year old again I might not leave. That being said I am happy that I have built a life for myself in Berlin and I love it here too.
While a lot of aspiring DJs and producers come to Berlin in order to make it here, only a handful actually get the recognition they deserve. How did you experience Berlin’s scene when you first came here and what do you think is necessary to make a name for yourself in a city which is so oversaturated?
Yes, almost everyone you meet here is a DJ, it’s crazy. But even though it would seem that that would make it more difficult to make it as a DJ, I think in some ways it makes it easier, just because of the sheer amount of clubs and bars and events here, it’s much easier to get your foot in the door with a small gig than in many other cities where there might be only 1 or 2 clubs. To break through from that beginning phase to playing at the bigger and better clubs takes hard work, patience and good taste. I think developing an interesting and unique sound is really important, and if you meet the right people someone will give you a chance eventually.
It seems as if you haven’t yet dabbled in producing, at least there’s no releases to be found. Many DJs will nowadays happily admit that they only produce music on the side because it helps them getting booked. Is that a necessity you see for yourself? Would you even be interested in producing music?
I haven’t released anything yet but I have always played instruments and for the last few years been producing for myself and with friends, it’s lots of fun but I’m not yet at the stage where I feel ready to release anything and I wouldn’t want to force it, especially not in order to get more gigs. DJing is my first love and I think it’s quite different to producing. I really look up to DJs like Lena Willikens, Tama Sumo, DJ Harvey, Tim Sweeney, Ryan Elliott and The Black Madonna. For me they are DJs first and foremost, even though many of them produce, I look up to them for their mixing skills, their ability to build a set and tell a story with records from different backgrounds, for the amount of hours they spend every week digging to find the gems that make their sets so special and for the unique sound that each of them have developed. That is what I aspire to as a DJ. There are of course some artists who are capable of being great at producing and DJing but that seems quite rare. It would be great to release something one day, but only when I feel that I have made something special.
You co-host a show with Johanna Knutsson on Berlin’s Cashmere Radio. How did you get to know Johanna and what exactly is the idea behind your joint show?
The offer for the show on Cashmere came in through a friend of mine. I’d just become friends with Johanna, through my boyfriend who got his hair cut by her and told us that we should be friends. I was really excited about our new forming friendship so I thought hosting this radio show together would be a great way to get to know each other and share music. I knew her as a DJ and producer already and was a fan of hers and had a feeling it would work. For the first show we did hardly any preparation, we just had a quick Skype call and said something about a ‘futuristic, dreamy vibe’ and it fitted perfectly. That seemed really special to me because I usually find it quite difficult to play b2b with other DJs. It’s been a lot of fun so far, I really love the context of radio. It’s so relaxed and you can play virtually whatever you want which creates quite interesting shows I think. I buy a lot of records that I don’t usually play in clubs so it’s really nice to still be able to share that music.
You are primarily known as a House connoisseur, but your mix for our Groove podcast is dedicated to Electro. What is your connection with the genre and why did you decide to go for an Electro mix?
House is where it all began for me, and I continue to love and play house music mostly but I really love exploring other genres too. The record store Cry Baby in Melbourne really taught me to explore all genres. They don’t sort their records at all or write any information on them, so you end up pulling out stuff that you would otherwise never find. The reason I decided to make an Electro mix was simply because those are the records I am enjoying the most at the moment. And also because those records are a bit more difficult to play in a club context, so this was a good opportunity to present that side of myself.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the next weeks?
My next gig is at Panorama Bar on the 6th of August for Klubnacht with Gerd Janson, Ben UFO and Bicep. I’m especially looking forward to this gig, I played there in April at a Dial label night after Lawrence, who is one of my favourite producers and DJs. The saying ‘don’t believe the hype’ doesn’t apply to Panorama Bar. The vibe in that place is still so special. Then on the 27th of August I’ll be playing at the next instalment of the Oscillate series at ://about blank with Dr. Rubinstein, Fred P, Paramida, Session Victim and a few other familiar faces. I really love ://about blank for their political engagement and this party is very close to my heart because it’s run by my partner and best friend so it feels like a family gathering. Then later on in the year I’ll be heading back to Australia for a few home-side gigs which I am also really looking forward to.
Stream: Kate Miller – Groove Podcast 63
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01. Dopplereffekt – Technic 1200
02. E.R.P. – Gleaning Creation
03. Q3A – Untitled B2
04. Versalife – Transgenics
05. E.R.P. – Eagle Nebula
06. Terrence Dixon – Rush Hour (Convextion Unreleased Version)
07. Microthol – mod_electro_mix4
08. Sync 24 & The Exaltics – Vacuum (Sync 24’s Bad Trip Mix)
09. Lonny & Melvin – Theme From Murdercapital
10. Koova – Losing It
11. R-Zone – Mynheer
12. Kangaroo Skull – PON 1
13. I-F – Playstation #2
14. Sync 24 & The Exaltics – Ten Years in Ten Weeks (The Exaltics Mix)
15. Marco Bernardi – Emotionle Part II
16. Marco Bernardi – Switches, Draweres and Washing Machines