Photo: Sven Marquardt (REKA)
Even for the casual observer of the Berlin rave scene, the name REKA will ring a bell. As a Tresor resident, she co-curated the club’s New Faces series and has recently made a name as a producer with her first EP Diving the Innermost for BITE. She is also however a veteran DJ, starting out in Madrid in the mid-00s as part of the electro duo leChic. Having moved to Berlin, her style changed drastically – her furious, eclectic sets are laced with EBM and industrial influences. Her contribution to our Groove podcast even raises the tempo.
Last Autumn’s Diving the Innermost was your first solo release after more than a decade and a half of DJing. You have said that you felt the pressure to release something. What gave you that feeling – is it part of the constraints of the music industry or are the fans that demanding?
I guess it is understandable if fans are curious about what you would produce, but the real pressure came from the music industry and it’s been there for a long time already. For many years I felt incomplete professionally just because I didn’t have any records out. This is a long and stale debate we all have long talked about; good producers who get gigs as DJs and suck at it and good DJs who don’t get enough gigs because they don’t produce. It is totally unfair, so it’s life. And this is not the most unfair aspect of the industry, I could rant on and on about things that are not fair. But this is a business, a big business now, and that means money goes first. It is not about the music anymore. Take it or leave it. Having said that, I am currently very much enjoying expressing myself through music created by myself.
You also mentioned that you approached production from a very theoretical standpoint first. What helped you getting more comfortable with producing?
The thing is that I never felt like a musician, but on the other hand I loved computers, tech and science and I really missed studying scientific topics so the way I tackled producing was reading all that I could about synthesis theory at a very deep level because my scientific brain needs to know everything – and that’s not always fun. That’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t just make music, I needed to know what every little knob was doing to the sound signal in order to twist it or just to not be uncomfortable with not knowing. It reached a point where I was very lost in hardcore physics and making no progress at all with music, and then it got even worse because I fell in love with sound design and the idea of creating all the sounds from scratch and manipulating the waves to your desires, or just experimenting, which is my favorite part. Listening to lists of samples has been excruciatingly painful for me. 80% of the sounds in this EP are made by me from zero, including kicks and snares. I was also determined to do all the work myself, so nobody would question if I was producing my music just because I was a female – pretty common years ago. I even wanted to master the tracks myself, but I decided to leave that last part for someone else or I would never release anything. I have to say that being comfortable did not come only with feeling knowledgeable, and with practice. The most essential part was being surrounded by the right people at the right moment for my music to finally find a place were it was understood and I felt comfortable sharing it.
The EP provides the “soundtrack of my encounters with the esoteric and shamanic worlds which have been crucial for (your) development”, you have said in an interview. What exactly were those and did you try to translate them to club music?
There was never a specific intention, the music just came out like that. I was never thinking about a theme, but after putting all the tracks together I could perfectly hear some of the different emotions and stages that I’ve gone through, especially while participating in ceremonies with sacred plants like Ayahuasca or San Pedro, during which things can get very heavy but also very bright as well. For those who don’t know, these are therapeutical and spiritual rituals where you will drink a brew of plants which naturally contains DMT, a molecule that allows parts of the brain to connect in new ways so different mental processes can take place. One is having access to your subconscious. Everything that has been stored there throughout the years and you probably didn’t even know about is accesible for you to look into it, process it and discard it or place it back but with a different meaning. You can actually edit your subconscious. To me this is the ultimate type of therapy, this way you can reach places that no one else can. I recommend this to everyone, especially if you had to go through something very heavy in your life. Even when you think it’s alright, that you were strong enough and you did not collapse, it is actually then when you need it the most because evne though shit is buried very deep down, it is still there and it will resurface. Make no mistake. Shit needs to be cleaned, not swept under the carpet. All this is what “Purge” and “Diving the Innermost” are about. In this ceremonies, you also connect with something bigger than yourself, with all that is. This is how “Under my Eyelids” sounds like. Polarity soundtracks a passage in between.
Apart from your residency at the club, you were also in charge of Tresor’s New Faces series which has put a focus on up and coming DJs and producers but have announced in late 2018 that you would discontinue running the events. What was important to you when you were running the series and what made you decide to stop?
I was just one of the multiple hosts, not in charge of the whole program, which means that I hosted one night every two months. They want to have different styles rotating. I always found great pleasure in the discovering of new music and new artists, more than watching the same big names perform over and over. It is that excitement of the new, that freshness, I really enjoy it. The vibes at the club were also different to the weekends, it felt more private, more personal. I stopped simply because conditions did not work for me anymore, the rules require the hosts to be there all night and doing the closing, on a Wednesday night, which was tough. After a few years it reached a point where I preferred to have that time for my own projects.
You have taken up a new residency at Georgia’s Khidi recently. How did that come about?
It was right after the BITE night last December, my second time playing there. It was a great party. Towards the end, the owners invited me to become a resident and I happily accepted because I love it there.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
I wanted to do something different than what I normally do. I tend to start very slowly, sometimes leaning towards experimental or industrial stuff and then progressively going up in tempo and energy. But this time I challenged myself to start and keep a fast and uplifting tempo from the beginning and throughout the whole mix keeping an old-school “rave-y” feeling. I still could not start super fast from the beginning, it’s just not natural for me I guess. Still faster than usual!
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as a producer?
I am currently finishing an PE in collaboration with Imperial Black Unit which will come out on Fleisch later this year. After that, I would like to focus on my solo stuff, I am aiming for an album and another EP and I have a lot of material already. If time permits, I would love starting collaborations with artists from other disciplines. Regarding gigs I will mainly keep touring in Europe and the surrounding areas, but will also visit the USA on different occasions and tour either Asia or Australian sometime before the year ends.
Stream: REKA – Groove Podcast 198
01. Terence Fixmer – Even Horizon (Ostgut Ton)
02. Anthony Linell – Vision of the Imminence (Northern Electronics)
03. SC-164 – Walker’s Rights (Subapical)
04. CUB – Primitive Sleep (Downwards)
05. Umwelt – _Faceless Power (Voitax)
06. Silent Servant – Death of Decadence (Hospital Productions)
07. Front Line Assembly feat. Robert Görl – Eye On You (Terence Fixmer Remix) (Metropolis)
08. Marcel Dettmann – Metalloid (Ostgut Ton)
09. NX1 – BT2 (BITE)
10. Unconcious – Decadence in Your Eyes (Unreleased)
11. Fatal Morgana – (Imperial Black Unit Remix) (Unreleased)
12. Blind Vision – Near Dark (2nd Mix) (New Zone)
13. REKA – Diving the Innermost (BITE)
14. New Frames – We Go Public By Way Of The Net (Hands)
15. Max Durante – Molotov (Sonic Groove)
16. Tesox – Go Ahead London (Intensiv)
17. Thomas P. Heckman – Art Mechanique (Death Becomes Me)
18. Random XS – Give your Body (Delta Funktionen Remix) (Delsin)
19. Ecotone – Lust (Dame Music)
20. The Exaltics – The Hunch (Last Known Trajectory)
21. Buzz Kullz – Avoiding the Light (Avant!)