Photo: Marc Krause (Ziúr)
“My emotions are me 24/7 and so is my music, I don’t do math but I feel things out”, says Ziúr in regards to her first full-length release U Feel Anything? which came out in late October on Planet Mu and Objects Ltd. Just like her own productions, the Berlin-based artist’s DJ sets can be quite an emotional rollercoaster, drawing from Industrial-tinged contemporary club music, Jazz and Thrash Metal alike. For her contribution to our Groove podcast however, Ziúr played it safe – or that’s at least what she told us.
Before you kicked off your solo career, you were active in the Hardcore scene and were a member of a Punk band. What drew you to electronic music?
I’ve never seen myself as part of any scene, I was always active but since I was little, was always hovering between the poles. I also am no fan of the hardcore scene in general. I like being referred to as punk because it implies a bit more freedom and less dogma, at least if i define it for myself. Nothing specifically drew me towards electronic music, I never planned any career moves, they literally just happened after experimenting with production tools. What did draw me into club spaces and away from the squats was that I was very sick of all the white boys playing in bands. Modern club spaces for me are the most diverse I’ve so far experienced and it’s such a breather.
As a producer, you’ve first made a name for yourself with a remix for Peaches and have since then released several other remixes. What’s important to you when you remix other people’s music?
I’ve gotten to a point where I’m only remixing friends or projects that really inspire me sonically. Additionally, sometimes I do them because I gotta pay my rent. All together I feel a little remixed out by now, so I guess that explains it?
Your debut album U Feel Anything? was released a few weeks ago via Planet Mu. Could you tell us about how you wrote and produced the album?
I usually boil some water and then slow cool the beats for about 15-17 mins until they’re almost al dente. Important here is that you add salt after the water boils and not before. When they’re perfectly done, drain the water and let the beats cool down for a minute. This is now the perfect time to start preparing the sauce. No beats taste any good without sauce so this part is beyond crucial. I start chopping sine waves and fry them in oil until they’re golden brown, then deglaze them with white wine. If you’re not into alcohol you can replace the wine with white noise instead or even add white noise additionally. This is the point where I’m usually going quite freestyle according to where i want the production to go. Add attack, sustain and release if you feel like it and mix it quite well. Don’t overdo it on the mix, be careful you can still taste all components in the sauce. Later add sauce to the beats, invite some people over and enjoy.
You are one of the founders of CO-OP, a network launched at the end of 2016 that has released a compilation that was available for free, however you asked people to donate to an organisation of their choice if they did. What was the initial spark for the project, and is it still active?
The music on co-op was never free, we explicitly said that. However, you could download it for no money and we encouraged people to get politically active and the worst case scenario hereby was that people would bow down the capitalist road and donate to organisations we thought were support worthy. You can still download, be active or donate today by the way, there’s no expiration date on activism. The initial spark of the project was a world turning to shit and a feeling of “what are we gonna do about it?”.
BOO HOO, the regular Berlin club night that you organise together with Joey Hansom, both focuses on showcasing women, people of colour and trans people as well as providing an alternative to Berlin’s Techno-dominated clubscape. What’s important to you, musically speaking, when programming the BOO HOO nights?
BOO HOO has no official agenda, even though I spoke in interviews about our strategies behind shaking up the regular patterns of the same old same old, but we don’t want to be seen as “club night saviours”. What’s musically important to us is that we don’t pity-book people and therefore tokenise them. If your music sucks, you won’t get booked no matter what. We only book people who inspire us. We don’t see ourselves as rebels against Berlin’s white-male-dominated techno-infused club line-ups but on the other hand only follow our vision of how we’d like club line-ups to be. Our utopia is diverse, that’s all.
BOO HOO doesn’t believe in the concept of a “safe space”, but according to you has created an “asshole free zone”. What constitutes the difference between the two and what do you do to ensure that BOO HOO is an “asshole free zone”?
There is no safe space, this line of thinking is just make-believe. Shit goes down no matter where but I believe if you’re spreading love and book a diverse line-up, chances are quite high it attracts less assholes. To be honest, there’s always one asshole at every party, no matter where you go. We got lucky so far and didn’t encounter too many incidents like this and I believe that if you book certain people at an event, it also attracts a friendly crowd. All together the term “asshole free zone” might be a bit polemic but we got lucky so far and I don’t think it’s only coincidental.
You have stated that DJing “with being a producer and needing to find a way on how (you) could play my tracks in the club” in an interview with Discwoman a few months back. What does DJing mean to you now that you get booked more and more, especially internationally?
My main motivation for DJing is the fun I have playing. It’s beautiful being able to do this as a job. I enjoy that modern club spaces allow for everything to be possible and I’m shamelessly testing the limits. I also really love getting technically better at working the decks which gives me a lot of space to improvise and dare things. There probably is one moment per set where I completely fuck things up but therefore being experimental and daring things very often elevate my set to unforeseen heights. Additionally, I use this experimental approach to escape the regular patterns and keep playing out interesting for me.
In a Resident Advisor interview, you have stressed that your DJ mixes are rather meant to take their listeners on a journey than showcasing your own skills. Which journey did you have in mind for your contribution to our Groove podcast?
Actually, the Groove mix is one of the rare ones I recorded live so it’s maybe a bit less of a journey and more of a constant flow. I realised that with knowing it’s been recorded – and also the fact that i usually play with 3 CDJs and this was recorded on 2 – I was a bit more shy with experimenting and played it rather a little safe. I still like the fact that when u actually see my play in a club on a good day I can potentially take it up a notch or two. See this one as a tease.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks live in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer?
We’re working on new worldwide dates at the moment, so I’ll be coming close to you very likely within the next year but you should definitely come to my Berlin record release party at Berghain on nov 30th with Coucou Chloe, Swan Meat, Kiddy Smile and Jackie. When it comes to productions I’ll be working on a follow-up release when I find the time for it so stay tuned for that as well!
Stream: Ziúr – Groove Podcast 131
01. Yeah You – Track Want
02. M.E.S.H. – Privilleged Lord
03. Golin – Koko Pachin
04. City – End Zone (Yoshitaka Hikawa Remix) (Avbvrn Edit)
05. Metaknight – Violent ft. Shug
06. Rian Treanor x Young Thug (Aïsha Devi Edit)
07. Jlin – Never Created, Never Destroyed
08. Anna Morgan – Pose Bitch
09. Ledef – Purity Binez
10. Boy – Rush
11. Equiknoxx Ft Devin Di Dakta – Bubble (Florentino Remix)
12. Mun Sing – Emerald
13. Coucou Chloe – Underdog
14. Britney Spears x SA – Put Yr Luv All Over My Positive Centre (AM’97 Blend)
15. Iydes – Diced
16. Errorsmith – I’m Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable
17. Ziúr – U Feel Anything?
18. Only Now – Liquid Eyes
19. Faze Miyake – Below Me feat Sasha Go Hard – Total Freedoms Jezzy Pride Mix
20. Ziúr – Don’t Buy It
21. Kelela – Better