As one of the main residents at Berlin’s Sisyphos club where her emotional, high-intensity techno and house sets in the mighty Hammahalle room, described as the dark beating heart of the club, have attracted a huge and faithful following. Alongside fellow resident Jonty Skrufff, Fidelity co-hosts the ‘Berlin Soul’ radio show which streams across stations around the world.
“I´ve always loved loud and bombastic music…and techno has touched me deeply since the first time I discovered it. I experience techno as very liberating for me and I love to scream along to it at the top of my lungs when it comes to a peak. Techno really helps me deal with feelings of anger and aggression while it´s also strangely spiritual to me.”
Having carved out a niche as a leading underground techno DJ/Producer in Berlin, can you tell us what prominent techno DJ/ Producers played a part in your career and what helpful advice did you get from any of them?
Some people have helped me enormously with remixes, gigs, opening their network to me, with help and advice too. But I prefer to keep these relationships private. All-in-all though, I haven’t been able to rely on much outside help. All my life, people have struggled to box me and to some extent I’ve liked that and embraced it. I’m not the kind of person that will pretend to like or do something that’s not really me, just to fit in or to be part of an upcoming trend. Not fitting into boxes is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you’ve got a lot more freedom to do what you want, be authentic and true to yourself. Though on the other hand, nobody knows what to do with you.
So sound-wise, for example, I was often too hard for the house floor (besides not really playing house apart from the odd acapellas I like to drop) and not hard, fast or “pure“ enough for the techno floor. I’ve always liked the more groovier and more melodic sides of techno and like to layer and experiment with lots of different sounds anywhere from acid, electro or even hip-hop all the way to industrial sounds, film-scores, ambient or atmospheric sounds and any kind of spooky or trippy noises or even classical music.
I guess I’m also more of a lone-wolf-type-personality and would consider myself more of an observer and thinker and not so much a talker, which makes this whole networking thing a bit of a drag. I’m also the queen of low self-esteem.
If I wouldn’t have this incredible passion for music in general and techno in particular, I would have given up a long time ago out of sheer discouragement and disappointment. My biggest help have been my close friends who’ve encouraged me to keep pursuing my dreams and my audience. This might sound cheesy but it’s true. Even at my worst gigs, I’ve usually had at least one person that came up to me or wrote to me afterwards and told me how the music I’ve played has touched them. And these drips and drops of encouragement plus my friends who’ve been there for me on my darker days, have made it possible for me to pick myself up again and again and keep going.”
Do you think Techno is in a healthy place now and what does techno mean to you?
“Someone very smart once said ‘Find something you love and let it kill you’. That’s techno to me, I don’t really know what you mean with ‘is techno is in a healthy place’, but healthy or not, it’ll always be my best friend. Techno to me is not merely a music genre, it’s a life style and a kind of language. It’s speaking to very primary needs of mine: To be left alone with my thoughts and to work things out in my head while being surrounded by like-minded people and breathing in their sweat and absorbing their energy as they dance, working through anger or anxieties and arriving at joy, together.
The communications are subtle and brief, a nod, a smile, a little dance together or a short exchange of words. Yet, I draw enormous amounts of energy and hopefulness from this. It’s as important as breathing oxygen and drinking water to my survival. Without techno and music in general I would perish. There is something that happens to the brain when you’re with other like-minded souls in a space, dancing to repetitive rhythms. Some kind of telepathic collaborative problem solving of some kind, as I always come home from clubs with new ideas for projects or how to fix something that’s not working.”
You’ve been an Exclusive resident DJ at Sisyphos since 2012 and can you tell us how you got involved with their infamous party?
I was at the right time at the right place. I’ve actually had my first gig at Sisyphos in 2010 for an external party crew who were doing parties in different locations in Berlin and was blown away by the location. It was my first time at Sisyphos and me and my friends who came along had trouble finding it at first.
At that time, you had to know somebody who knew somebody at Sisyphos to know when parties were on and to get in. There wasn’t a proper club entrance. The old gate had a bicycle lock of some kind there to keep it shut and someone had to come and get you in.
‘Wintergarden’ was still a storage room of some sort and I played on the beach. I was very impressed with the artwork, the lights and projections and played a deep-tech-type set which included a lot of Max Cooper tracks. Eventually, one of the lighting guys came over and asked me what this incredible music was and I said it’s Max Cooper and told him how much I loved the lights and visuals as well.
It was a magical night that I’ll never forget but it wasn’t until 2011 that I got another booking at Sisyphos, again from an external promoter who did a ‘Secret Island Festival’ reunion party at Sisyphos. ‘Secret Island Festival’ was a super magical boutique festival on an island in a nature reservoir in Sweden, where both Jonty and I have been playing since 2008. Both Jonty Skrufff and I played this time on the ‘Scheune’ floor (the somewhat smaller floor indoors) and Sisyphos was amazing again and a proper club now with a super alternative and underground crowd but still very much below the radar, even for Berliners. Jonty and I both loved it.
Then as coincidence had it, Max Cooper’s manager asked my partner in crime Jonty Skrufff one day if this place called Sisyphos (he’s never heard of it before the booking request came in) was a good place for Max to play at in Berlin.
Jonty and I have been big fans of Max Cooper and been playing his music on our radio show called ’Berlin Soul’ for years and Jonty said the equivalent of hell yes and so we went to see Max Cooper’s gig at Sisyphos, where we then bumped into a friend from the ’Secret Island Festival’ days. He introduced us to the new booker at Sisyphos that night. After a few gigs that went well at Sisyphos for both Jonty and me, we were then invited to be residents at the club. It was a great blessing, in particular for me, and for the first time I had full freedom to play what I like without having to fit a particular sound that was established as the norm for a particular floor.
The ‘Hammahalle’ in Sisyphos was a work in progress and not a very popular floor to play on at first. Most DJs wanted to play ‘Wintergarten’, the ‘Strand’ (beach) or the ‘Scheune’ floor (the somewhat smaller floor indoors).
Not me though. I’ve loved the roughness of the ‘Hammahalle’ and for the first time in my life I have really felt I could express myself fully as an artist there. And for that I’m very grateful: Not only to have found this place and become a resident there but also to be left alone and experiment with my sound without any restrictions as to what kind of sound I have to deliver there to be re-booked. This has really helped me find my sound and myself to some extend. Really a dream come true.”
What exciting four tunes never leave your record bag on the event and why?
Statistically speaking, according to my Rekordbox histories from the last few Berlin Berlin @Egg London gigs I played these regularily – Matador ‘Clowns’ on Rukus and Francesco Terranova’s ‘Terra 1’ on EPM Music.
I guess, they are good get-out-of-jail-type tracks for me that work anywhere and anytime, allowing me to take the crowd to places a bit out of their comfort zone. I’m playing slightly differently in London intuitively choosing tracks that are more accessible to a wider spectrum of music lovers, mostly because the set-times are much shorter than in Berlin, meaning there’s more pressure to grab the crowd quickly and to keep the vibe pumping with less opportunity to go off the beaten path and experiment around. It’s a different challenge and I really enjoy having to adapt to different circumstances, crowds and local preferences, yet still play what I love and stand for.
In London, I play a bit less hard and more bouncy, rolling and deep stuff and more tracks with vocals than in Berlin. London crowds tend to be a bit more impatient and more into instant gratification tracks, which is cool and fun. I enjoy playing a few more crowd pleaser type tunes with less trippy, spooky, weird-ish long-con-type tracks though I try to go deep and experimental a bit, slowly taking the crowd more into my Berlin sound as my set progresses.
I’ve also being playing these tracks repeatedly CementO’s ‘Nordisk Skjønnhet’ on Ploink and P Leone’s ‘Stability Control’ on Work Them.
I don’t have any fixed playlists for my gigs and always play from the gut, relying on a systematically tagged and organised music collection, so I can always find the right track in the right moment, or so I hope.”
How would you describe your sound in “a couple of adjectives”?
How does ’unpredictable, emotional, cinematic, cathartic & bombastic’ sound.”
And lastly before you leave us what should we be listening to before we head of to Berlin Berlin ?
Tune into one hour of my last sets at Berlin Berlin or on my soundcloud and hope you enjoy it!
Interview by Fidel Trotman
Fidelity Kastrow heads up the Sisyphos’ Room alongside Jonty Skrufff and Juli.N More at Berlin Berlin on Saturday October 21st at Egg London. In the Main Room the Berlin Berlin Allstars welcome the illustrious Andre Galluzzi, Guido Schneider, Danilo Schneider and Eveline Fink and whilst Betriebsfeier takeover the Terrace with Coco Berlin, Empro, Seb Blake and Smash TV and joined by the BB Residents Ireen Amnes and Kyle E. Homostash X Cockheart rock the Loft with Tafkanik, Carly Foxx, Pavline and Safira. Performers on the night include Parma Ham making his debut alongside a stellar cast of wild performers including Gregory Kara, Kokaine Tyson, Luke Harris, Marnie Scarlet, Alejandro Gocast, Bitch and Party, PrinceJasonJason, Santi Storm, and Von Kuntz. & Fidel. Catch the Kuntskammer cabaret with Lewis G Burton, Kassandra Powell & Guests in the Apothecary. All info at www.egglondon.co.uk or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BerlinBerlinLDN/