Photo: Press (Elisa Bee)
The music Elisa Bee makes is both hard-hitting and intricate. Event at its most peak-timey, the Italian producer and DJ’s take on established techno and house music formulas is highly rhythmic and percussive. Having released music on labels such as Unknown To The Unknown, Balkan, and Stolen Goods—that will release a new EP by her next week—she has proven time and again to be highly flexible and versatile in regards to style, too. The same can be said about her contribution to our Groove podcast. It’s the condensed experience of an Elisa Bee all-nighter.
You picked up DJing in 2007 while living in Sardegna, playing at a local bar where you worked at that time. Already back then, you had a very broad taste. What kind of music did you play when you first started out and how did it come about that you transitioned towards techno and house music?
Yes, it was 2007 and I was living in my hometown Alghero. There were—and still are—no clubs or venues promoting music that isn’t commercial, so the only way for me was to approach the bar I was working at that time as soon as I decided to buy my first CDJs and mixer. They were really open-minded and trusted me and other DJs who were playing very cool and different music to express ourselves with no boundaries. So that’s how I started, playing 6/7 hours sets going from R’n’B, hip-hop, dub and reggae to trip-hop, acid jazz and funk as well as electronic music of course. My transition towards techno and house has been smooth and natural: during my incessant digging and listening, I just noticed that those kinds of beats were more fun for me to play and I used to get more and more excited about playing them during those very long sets.
In 2009, you moved to Milan. What impact did that have on your work as a DJ?
The impact has been huge! After two years of DJing around Sardinia, noticing that it would have been so difficult to evolve in such a limited environment as the one I was living in, I looked at myself in the mirror and said “Okay, it’s more and more clear that you want to do this for a living. Grab all your belongings and leave!” So I moved to Milan with my dog Rupert, started producing a few short mixtapes and uploaded them online. It wasn’t long before I got my first booking and made a living out of it, but the most important thing for me has been being finally able to go out and dance, listening to my favourite DJs and learning a lot from that, discovering new artists and clubs. Being finally part of a club scene, a community, had an amazing impact on me and at the same time I understood how important the tough beginnings of my career in Sardinia have been: when you literally have nothing around you, your mind can be very creative!
As a producer, you debuted in 2012. What did your first steps before that look like before that?
As with all the processes I’ve been through, it happened without planning or forcing myself. I approached production because I naturally wanted to create the kind of music I liked to play in the club, the feeling of mixing my own music with my favourite tracks is always exciting. I’ve moved my first steps in the world of production by observing my producers friends and constantly asking for tips and help when I was feeling lost, spending hours and hours trying to make something good out of it. My best friend His Majesty Andre can confirm: I’ve been really demanding at that time. (laughs)
What does your studio set-up look like?
Do you remember the famous Four Tet picture in which he showed where he wrote his album and the gear he used? Well, that is more or less my set-up! I moved so many times during the last ten years that I had to keep it as light as possible—and I’ll keep doing so until I will decide where to finally have a solid base in this world. (laughs) My laptop, an Apogee Duet 3 sound card, Adam A7 monitors, AudioTechnica ATH-M50x headphones, an AKAI MPK Mini MIDI keyboard, and a Behringer TD-3 are fundamentally my set-up!
Your latest record, the Sample Minds EP, came out on Posthuman’s Balkan, a label with which you have close ties. What significance does it have for you as a producer—would you say that it serves as a specific side of your work, a certain sound?
As every production does, this EP also serves a purpose. It helps to build and consolidate the identity of a project. In this particular case I wanted to show, to myself in the first place, that techno has different gradients: it can be colourful, playful and groovy while paying tribute to the rawness of the original statement of techno itself. It’s also experimental; it’s about finding out where your skills can take you or where you can get rid of everything you know and let happy accidents be.
You’ve contributed a track to the inaugural compilation of the Milan-based Stolen Goods label, a collaboration between DJ Lele Sacchi and the label Asian Fake. What’s your connection to Stolen Goods?
Being part of the Milan club scene since 2009 allowed me to cross paths with Lele and Asian Fake many times. When they decided to start a new label last year, I’ve been one of the first to know about it. I liked the multi-genre attitude behind the project and the intent to promote Italian club music, showing the world our vibrant scene. So after my contribution to their first compilation Volume 0, we decided to release an EP that is going to see the light next week!
You host a monthly show on Radio Raheem and even before that, radio played a crucial role in your life as a DJ. What relationship do you generally have with medium and how do you go about programming your Radio Raheem shows?
My relationship with radio is a long one indeed! After nine years of working as a producer at RAI Radio 2 (Italian National Radio), I started my collaboration with independent web station Radio Raheem. Here I’ve found total freedom and a very supportive team to fully express myself musically. I imagined my show as an opportunity for listeners to discover some really good music, producers, and unreleased stuff coming in the near future, so every month I look out for promos/exclusives and mix them with some freshly released tracks and sometimes old favourites of mine; I mainly play acid-, house- and techno-infused beats, but there is—and always hass been!—space for electro, drum’n’bass and many other genres I love, including crazy tracks hard to categorise!
You’ve recently played an all-nighter at Milan’s Tempio del Futuro Perduto. It’s become relatively rare that DJs play sets this long. How did you prepare for the opportunity?
What a journey it has been! I loved it so much. I just knew that “time flies when you’re having fun,” so I selected some of my favourite tracks ever, plus many recent discoveries and created a huge folder of music: from my own idea of the perfect opening set until the peak time to the closing hours. I went out for dinner with some of my favourite people, then straight to the club to take in its atmosphere. Tempio is one of my favourite venues at the moment, so I couldn’t have asked for a better place and crowd for my all-nighter.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I wanted to take you to the club with me, trying to sum up in one hour what would be an all-nighter played by me: a journey from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. in 60 minutes! By the way, while working on the mix I played many unreleased tracks that will be out soon. Follow the artists for all updates on their amazing music!
Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?
In the immediate future—as mentioned before: next week!—I’ll release my new EP on Stolen Goods Records: two original tracks and a groovy Cromby remix. I will also release a four-track EP on Unknown To The Unknown’s Dance Trax imprint, I’m so happy to be back on the label after my UTTU debut in 2017. My I Love Acid vinyl-only debut EP is also ready and in the pipeline … so my intention is to release and produce music, following my constantly evolving creative flow and nothing else. There’s so much to learn and discover that I prefer not to plan too much but feel inspired day by day.
Stream: Elisa Bee – Groove Podcast 372
01. Nocow – I’ll Hurt U
02. Ackermann – No Vacancy [Unreleased]
03. Kristin Velvet – Slater Hills (Josh Wink Remix)
04. Harvey McKay – Dark Phase [Unreleased]
05. Roman Lindau – After Dark
6. Uncertain – Clash
07. R.M.K – In The Jungle
08. Gene Richards Jr & Fixon – Digital Reduction (Confidential Recipe Remix) [Unreleased]
09. Procombo – Neptune X
10. Feo Paraíso – Golden Tears
11. Franz Jager – Purpose
12. Human Safari – Hostage Case
13. Fixon & Gene Richards Jr – Dim The Lights [Unreleased]
14. E91 – Plava
15. FERDINGER – Real Power (ANNĒ Remix)
16. baybisbald – Heat Transfer
17. Olympe 4000 – Look Better Offline [Unreleased]
18. Miri Malek – The Phase At 6PM [Unreleased]
19. Elisa Bee – A Place In Space
20. Bot1500 – Chartreuse 8