Photo: Nachtshaduw (Rebekah)
Rebekah doesn’t compromise, neither in her music nor outside of it. Active as a DJ since the mid-90s, the Birmingham-born producer made a name for herself with a slew of hard-hitting techno releases on labels like CLR, Sonic Groove, and Soma where she released her debut album Fear Paralysis in 2017. Having just launched the #ForTheMusic to tackle sexism in the music industry, she is now back on the Scottish institution with a four-track EP fittingly titled The Bitter Boys Club. Her mix for the Groove podcast likewise doesn’t pull any punches: this is 98 minutes chock-full of belting material.
How have the past months been for you?
It’s been very up and down, to be honest. At first it was fun to have time off to look at my health and get in the studio, then when it didn’t look to promising around June and July, things were a little darker in my outlook. But I snapped out of it and started to look for opportunities and then ultimately became a little selfless in my pursuits. This really has helped me in the past months.
In August, you announced that you’d offer two people the chance to have you as a mentor for half a year. What was your motivation for that and what would such a programme entail?
With the free time I had available it seemed like a great time to be able to offer to work with up and coming producers and share some knowledge with others. In the end I had just under a thousand applications, so its been pretty intense narrowing down the search to just two people. In the end I took five on, with a few others that I have offered some short-term help and advice. For the five, it’s really about seeing what their needs are, how they are as individuals, some are more confident than others and can be easy to set goals and plans with, others it takes a little longer and you just work with them step by step as the pressure can be too overwhelming to look further in to the future with goal setting.
Shortly after that, you have launched the #ForTheMusic campaign in September urging the music industry in an open letter to, amongst other things, “ensure artists, employees and audiences are protected against sexual harassment.” Which concrete steps do you think need to be taken by the industry as a whole and individual actors within it to make this happen?
The mentoring programme was also part to play in the launch of this campaign. With so many women producers contacting me it seemed only right they I stand up and create a campaign that addresses some of the hard realities of our industry. Harassment and assault are so common and I really want to change the narrative, this can’t be a rite of passage for up and coming producers and DJs anymore. The idea of the campaign is to get the industry on board, from the tech companies, agencies, promoters, artists, festivals, and venues, to all commit to want to change and doing whatever it takes to change. Already I am in talks with initiatives that can be connected to the industry to implement the training and materials for venues to adopt a zero tolerance policy and create a safer space, setting expectations for clubbers and vulnerable artists alike. For the artists and major industry players, I want to address the rumours, to change this culture of silence that we have, to speak out about the perpetrators. Let’s show compassion to the victims. Let’s not fear for ourselves and our careers, but let’s do the right thing now. We have the perfect opportunity to change the industry for good.
Your new EP for Soma is fittingly called The Bitter Boys Club, while some of the track names hint at very different themes. What role play titles in your work – are they an expression of the topics that you are trying to translate into music?
This one was created around 18 months ago, probably after seeing online hate by frustrated boys aimed at more successful artists. It was just some fun and gave me a topic to work on via the vocal addition. I came off Twitter for around 8 months due to just seeing all this precedented hate and jealousy. Another reason why the campaign is not receiving as much support as it could do, the men believe women have it easier, due to how things are perceived on social media. Yes, women do tend to have more online fans, its easy to follow beautiful women when they share photos, etc. But this is redundant, blaming the player and not the game. The way the system is set up is what needs to be addressed, what values we place and where is important.
Musically, the four tracks clearly aim at the dancefloor, however globally there’s very few chances that they will actually be played on one. What role does techno music generally play at a time when the social experience that usually is so central to it is near impossible to have?
It’s just a way to keep it moving, as an artist you create because you love to create and not for a purpose. When the bigger DJs have ghost producers, they are creating to keep their DJ careers going. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s been happening since dance music began, maybe DJing alone is their creative offering to the world. But as an artist, you need to create; it’s something inside of you that needs an outlet. So I think now is a great time to be in the studio, no expectations, no pressure – just make music that you feel.
Birmingham’s Que Club was pivotal for you and has recently been the subject of a documentary. How did you end up going there for the first time, and what made the club so special to your eyes and ears?
The Que Club was the first venue I went to that felt like a real rave, I had been going to smaller venues around and Birmingham but this was nothing I had experienced before. I just loved the sheer size of the venue, walking from room to room, finding hidden spaces. The main room is a huge amphitheatre which goes really high at the back with seating, the view from the top is really wild. The techno parties there had the best atmosphere, you could feel the electricity in the air.
Aside from the occasional open-air gig with strict safety regulations in place, you, like many other DJs, mostly played live streams or recorded online mixes. Would you say that this has changed your DJ style in the past months?
I thought it would change, maybe using the time to really assess what I am playing and which direction I am moving in, but to be honest the harder sounds are still what I am drawn to, the impact, energy and sound design within the music is still exciting to me. The only new addition has been more breakbeats but I think that is a consequence of the tempo being up and over 140bpm, breakbeat always lends itself to this tempo, so there is a lot of half timing or two stepping when you dance to techno at this speed. It also breaks things up from being so straight.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
I originally wanted to create a story and build slowly but how things turned out was more like a club set, maybe it’s the fact I am not playing so much live that when I get in to the studio to record a mix I am full of energy and trying to tap into that from the start. The mix is some music I have found or been sent, I tried not to listen to too many promos as I get more excited from the music by digging for it. I am liking a little bit of a minimal influence within the harder sounds too, rather than leaning towards hard house, but generally it’s a mixed selection.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
Should we even be making plans at the moment?! My outlook is only a few months ahead only. A new EP for Elements for early 2021 and the launch a producer challenge in the next weeks, aiming to help people use more creative tools and thinking outside of the box, so much is out there on how to producer technically but not so much about using other ideas to create.
Stream: Rebekah – Groove Podcast 277
01. Karenn – Shoes Off
02. Endlec – Tartus
03. Tommy Mork – Last Warning (TechnoGlobal VA)]
04. kaamzs – Et Toi
05. Code Walk – Melt
06. Unknown – Untitled
07. DJ T-1000 – Frequency Kill
08. Hioll – Our Fight Is Not Against You
09. Blame the Mono – Mill Flashback
10. Swart – ID (Wanton remix)
11. Janein – Kobold (Somewhen remix)
12. 19.85 – En Vano
13. Blk – Girl
14. Rebekah – Confession Tape
15. Daniel Schieber – Waikawa (Diskotød Remix)
16. Cancel – W.T.F
17. Jaystring – Techno Beat (Vendex remix)
18. SveTec – All Turned Out
19. Nano Rinnegato – Kurayami No Sonata
20. Stan Grewzell – Anoxia
21. Plague Exhibition – Without Mercy (Kenny Campbells Merciless March remix)
22. Gareth Wild – Live Wire (Roll Dann Remix 2)
23. Aahan – The presser
24. Charles Fencklet – Walk of Terror
25. Sædem – Metal Brick
26. Millhouse – Eye Of The Hangover
27. Kaanzs – Kindly Calm Down
28. DJ Mahatma – Sick and dart Free Chicks
29. Moleculez, The Relic – Iconic Storm (Stormtrooper remix)
30. Moerbeck – Simple Things
31. Rebekah – Lock n’Load (One for the Road)
32. YA – Rise of Azshara
33. The Relic – Mind-lock
34. Endlec – Sharp Killah Gruv
35. The Prodigy – Smack my Bitch Up (Abdénord remix)
36. Exsiderurgica – Prisma
37. Sædem – C V L T O
38. LJT – Public Order
39. Seema – Red Heat
40. SVNT – Nightmare on Pornstreet
41. Acronix, Edge Harmonix – 9 Lines 2Nd Fase