Photo: Zoé Perko (LUZ1E)
LUZ1E has become a household name in the world of electronic dance music over the past few years, but it is impossible to pigeonhole the Berlin-based DJ, producer and FemmeBassMafia member. While electro is a cornerstone in her work as a producer, Luzie Seidel—who, full disclosure, is a former Groove intern—regularly shakes things up as a DJ as well as a prolific solo producer or her on-going collaboration with DJ Swagger under the DJ DOOM moniker. Her mix for our Groove podcast is just as multi-faceted and genre-agnostic as her sets and releases, incorporating electro and bass music as well as IDM and some braindance cuts.
You came to dance music through house and later discovered techno and electro for you thanks to Underground Resistance and Drexciya. Apart from the music itself, the contents as well as the political dimension was interesting to you. Why?
Music and politics are intertwined with each other. The context is always political. Most, if not all the music we listen to has built a subculture as a refuge from and a tool to translate different forms of oppression, pain, and injustice into joy and communality. And that’s not just the case if you look at Detroit, but all the different birthplaces and cultures of music, for example jazz, afrobeat, or UK and South America with its respective rave cultures. So you can’t really separate both of these worlds, because they are always going to influence each other and be relevant in some shape or form.
You’re a member of the Berlin FemmeBassMafia collective that offers DJ mentoring to female, trans and non-binary people. What are your goals with this programme?
We want to create access where it is not available. Especially marginalised groups from the queer, BIPoC and disabled communities (or any intersections of it) have roadblocks in the way, spaces that are not created for them and hence are missing access, a safer space to learn and like-minded individuals with the same lived experience. We want to offer another type of learning experience, community and culture of sharing, learning and development for people who didn‘t have the chance to learn it or who just don’t know where to start.
The first two years of the pandemic were marked by discussions around what would have to change after a new start, triggered by topics such as plague raves, structural discrimination as well as reports of sexual misconduct. Speaking as a DJ who also has an activist stance, how did you perceive the situation once things went back to “normal”?
I wouldn’t describe myself as an activist, but more of a political person in general, since that would take away from the dedication „real“ activists put in. I believe this is a complex issue. Superficially, Covid definitely changed the landscape of club culture. Through total stagnancy, when Covid was predominant, there was suddenly more space for thought and discussions around politics within the club scene. Bookings got a little more diverse, awareness concepts got even more integrated, we’re now talking about these issues more openly and have public debates around them while people are starting to listen more closely. Discussions around gender equality, racism in nightlife and sexual violence for example are on the map more than before and are considered increasingly crucial. On the other hand, I wonder what really changed underneath the surface because I feel that most of these developments were taking place on a superficial level; that promoters, clubs, etc. are just doing enough so that they are not called out instead of doing it because they understand the real issues and structures behind it. There is so much more to do and to work on. What Covid kickstarted is just the beginning. Nevertheless I’m very happy to see progress and a slowly changing culture. The struggle continues.
Social and political questions are more or less explicitely addressed in your work as a producer as well: your last EP for Voitax was called Radical Optimism, and you have recently contributed a track to an Avoidant compilated with the not-so-optimistic name Planet Destroyed. Would you say that there is a link between the sound of your music and the thematic contexts in which it is being presented?
Everything I feel and experience in life I filter through music. I strive for a substantial confrontation with sound, politics, language, relationships, myself, and everything that is important to me. I think this is why I want to translate my internal thoughts and external experiences into sound and conceptualise it into pieces of music to which other people can listen and attach meaning. In this way, there’s a sort of organic transformation and development taking place which connects us all.
Together with DJ Swagger, you form the production duo DJ DOOM. You have released three EPs so far. How did the collaboration come about and what does your working process look like?
We’ve been friends for some time now and always enjoyed each other’s musical output and taste, as he’s also a person who very much cares about the history and culture of music and listens to music from like 80 different genres (laughs). I think this brought us together and also made us work and jam together. He’s a person with irrepressible energy when it comes to creative projects. Sometimes we visit each other and jam for a couple of hours and essentially have a basic structure for an EP or a couple of tracks ready. Then we finetune it and brainstorm some funny ideas and concepts for the tracks and EP. DJ DOOM is about nonexistent boundaries—either genre, imagination or fun.
Much like DJ Swagger’s, your own sound regularly picks up on the aesthetics and musical parameters of genres such as electro, breakbeat or bass music, but also includes other stylistic elements. What rhythms and sounds are currently most interesting to you in your studio work?
I’m fascinated by the intersections and merging of sounds and genres where I’m able to create something completely new with influences and bits from everything I’m listening to. I’m interested in an observe-and-adapt kind of approach. For example, taking broken rhythms and beat patterns from old jungle and D’n’B Records that I try to recreate with more electro-leaning sounds. Or trying to translate the rough energy from 90s techno records into fast-paced electro cuts. It’s basically a mix-and-match approach where I try to encapsulate and bridge the space between the root sounds and influences and the innovative spirit of contemporary club music.
Also as a DJ you don’t limit yourself to one style in your sets. How do you prepare for them?
Usually, I look at the club, collectives and/or promoters, my time slot and with whom I’m playing to create a sort of context. Depending on where and with whom I’m DJing, I always play just a little differently without losing my core sound. I try to build a narrative of different moods and energy levels throughout the set to have a conceptual framework and end it with a funny banger or a hit like “Blue Monday” or something (laughs).
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I wanted to create a small journey through the hybrid sound realms of IDM, electro, bass and braindancey kind of deeper, melodic sounds that I’m really passionate about and listen to a lot but rarely play out in the club. This set is more like a deep, cute, meditative trip which could be a subtle soundtrack to working, cooking, cleaning or whatever (laughs). I would play something similar to this as an opening set in the club, instead of the high energy peak time thing that I usually do.
Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?
I’m planning to focus more on producing again and playing gigs that fill up my heart and make me feel joyful and connected while also pursuing my other passions and jobs in writing. There’s also loads in store for FemmeBassMafia and a couple of other projects in planning so keep your eyes peeled! Also I wanna become a YouTube cook at some point (laughs).
Stream: LUZ1E – Groove Podcast 365
01. Aux88 – My Electro Vision (Acapella)
02. Morphology – Into The Unknown
03. Sansibar – 4DIGITGHOST
04. Polychain – Cloud Animal
05. Annie Hall – Random Burst Robot
06. L/F/D/M – In The Dish
07. Deimos Defender – Schael
08. DynArec – Lowest Perceived Legitimacy
09. JCow – Magma
10. Stocke – Trauma
11. Bergman – Jacobian Determinate
12. Dopplereffekt – Rocket Scientist
13. Stojche – Phobia
14. Preis – Flounder
15. Fastgraph – VSAT
16. /DL/MS/ – Thyme
17. Shcuro – Surface Tension
18. Hadone – Futuristic Spell
19. Animistic Beliefs – Untitled (Khi Mình Gặp Lại)
20. Aux88 – My Electro Vision (Acapella)
21. LUZ1E – Sensory Perception