Zeynep – Groove Podcast 402

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Photo: Matthias Mahato (Zeynep)

Zeynep has “never been interested in cultivating just one sound,” as she says herself in the interview accompanying her contribution to the Groove Podcast and it shows: in a little under 70 minutes, the Berlin-based Harmony Rec. resident traverses a variety of styles and moods. Emotive yet driving, complex and poignant, dreamy yet anthemic: this mix, like so many of Zeynep’s sets, is hard to pigeonhole and simply enjoyable.

What got you into electronic music in the first place?

Before I was able to develop my own taste in music, I’ve experienced pretty much every kind of music in my childhood—I was influenced by Kurdish and Arabic music that my mum would listen to, for example songs by icons like Nancy Ajram that are filled with lively rhythms and are very hip-driven. My dad listened to this music too, but also had a soft spot for European pop and electronic music. He would come home from work and occasionally bring a cassette or CD on which I would hear tracks like “Better off Alone” by Alice Deejay or “Be My Lover” by La Bouche for the first time. Listening to those quirky tracks kind of defined electronic music for me. But my journey into electronic music truly began around the age of 14, when I was introduced to legends like Daft Punk, Miss Kittin, Green Velvet, Underworld, Dopplereffekt and so many more. As I started exploring the club scene, I encountered a diverse range of electronic and club music, some impressively good and others less so. Since then, learning about and digging electronic music has become a natural habit for me.

As you’ve mentioned, you started going to clubs relatively early. What did your first experiences look like?

Yes, illegally at the age of 15. I come from a small town in West Germany, where the opportunity to explore electronic music in a club was limited. On weekends, I would hop on the train to Cologne or Amsterdam, discovering the nightlife with a couple of friends. From venues like Trouw and Gewölbe to smaller illegal raves in the forest, I went through it all. The more I went out, the more I discovered that the dancefloor is actually a healing place for me. Back then, the partying scene had a different vibe and even the DJ job was different than what you gotta bring on the plate today … (laughs) Now I’m starting to sound like those “old folks” reminiscing about the past! It’s true though—with time and new generations, there come changes. There will always be someone complaining about something, but honestly, what’s life without challenges, changes, and learnings? I’m grateful for the journey I’ve had, as all these experiences have played a significant role in shaping me into the DJ that I am today.

When and how did you start DJing?

When I started going clubbing I was always the enthusiastic dancer positioned at the front or beside the DJ booth, eagerly observing the DJs’ techniques. I was so fascinated by their track selection and how they seamlessly blended each song to create a specific vibe. Spending numerous hours in the club, observing and listening, has afforded me valuable insights in curating music and deepened my understanding of the complexities involved in the craft of being a DJ. The whole experience taught me the importance of embracing a crossover of various genres without hesitation. I have never been interested in cultivating just one sound. Instead, I’m driven to explore stimulating rhythms and unusual sounds and bring them all together. In 2016, I finally made the decision to purchase the old and not very beginner-friendly DJ equipment of a friend and started my self-guided journey of learning how to DJ. Playing on some crappy Logitech speakers in my bedroom and recording myself on my iPhone to hear one good transition out of 50 bad ones made me smile. I never had the aim to turn DJing into my profession and sometimes I am surprised to find myself where I am right now. And although this job has its ups and down: I am very passionate about it and truly feel blessed and free to do it.

You’ve recently joined the Harmony Rec. label, operating between Prague and Berlin, as a resident. How did that come about?

This year in April, I had the opportunity to play at one of their renowned DIY warehouse parties. My set took place in a boxing ring, with people dancing both around it and inside. It was an exhilarating experience and one of the most memorable sets I’ve ever played. The energy from the crowd kept me in the flow, and the people from Harmony mentioned that the applause I received was the longest in their history! Following that, I was invited to play at another one of their parties in Berlin at OXI. After the gig, Tomas and Jan, two of the founders of Harmony Rec., approached me with a flower in their hand, kneeling down. Initially, I was apprehensive, thinking they might ask something else. (laughs) To my surprise, they asked if I would like to become their resident. Overwhelmed with emotions, I immediately teared up and happily accepted their offer. Since then, a deep friendship has blossomed, and Jan and I decided to celebrate it with a five-hour closing set at the nine year anniversary of Harmony Rec. in October.

Besides your work as a DJ for the collective, you are also involved in booking the events. What’s important to you in terms of programming?

Our crew is pretty democratic, which means that this answer is a collective answer: in the past, the bookings were primarily handled by the core DJs. However, nowadays, everyone involved has the opportunity to suggest their favourite artists and see them perform at Harmony at some point. We truly appreciate this approach as it is very different compared to how other crews might operate. We believe each of us has reached a stage where we harbour our own distinct vision of the music that should be featured at our parties. It’s amazing to see these diverse perspectives come together harmoniously.

What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove Podast?

I didn’t have a specific concept in my mind, but I do enjoy revealing various facets of my music collection. I recorded the mix during a period when brighter days turned into darker days and I think that’s what I’ve tried to express. It was a one-take experiment, focusing on tracks with rhythmic drum elements flowing through dub and old-school atmospheres merging into some darker spheres towards the end of the mix. I hope you enjoy it!

Stream: Zeynep – Groove Podcast 402

01. Kasra V – Magic or illusion
02. Kaval – Impreza
03. Émotsiya / Katarak – Plomp In The Domp
04. DJ Gear – Ode To M1 (Far Dub Mix)
05. Phran – Fantascene
06. zander zel – JUGOSO
07. Medicine 8 – Big Dick In The Room
08. DJ Aquatraxx – Chamán Mixx (Nate S.U Rehydration Edit)
09. djfix – PTF (Program to Feel)
10. suki – Göbelki (forthcoming on Butter Sessions)
11. Wigs – Aqua Temple
12. Baraka – Queen (Blu:sh Remix)
13. Roza Terenzi – Kandy Floss
14. Eoin DJ – The dawn (Dub)
15. Konalgad & Mosleo – Rabbit Vision

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