(Artwork based on a photo by Jan Croonenbrock)
Music & Interview
Shaleen … founder of Surd party series and member of the Seelen crew
Hi Shaleen. Great to have you for our little “Music & Interview” series. I was just thinking about the moment when we met first but (as usual) I cannot remember. Do you know it? Was it at a Seelen event? Not sure but let’s start at the very beginning and with little introduction. Where were you born and grow up? How was your childhood? When did you realize your passion for music? What kind of music did you like at that time / when being a teenager?
Hey Jürgen, thanks for having me! To be honest, I can’t remember either. Probably it was one of our Seelen-nights or maybe at Berghain. I was born in Bielefeld, but up from then I moved a lot. My father’s still living in that area, so it always feels like home when I’m back there. Basically, I have always liked music and my passion for it awakened already when I was pretty young. But when I was 15 I discovered electronic music and fell in love with it immediately.
(Shaleen, promo pic 2020)
In Essen you organize(d) the party series SURD. Please tell us something about it. When did you start it? What is/was your concept? What‘s the idea behind it? Anyone else involved?
The Surd event series started in 2016. The concept is based on the combination of art and music on the one hand and on the embodiment of our fundamental cornerstones – open mindedness, equality, LGBTG support, freedom to self- realization and the unity by our devotion to techno – on the other hand. We put a lot of effort into the whole set-up design with our art and video installations, to create a special kind of atmosphere and make it an entire SURD experience. Furthermore we love to work with photography, videography (like in case of our trailer clips) and got also some great support by our graphic designer Pixelgesicht, who creates gorgeous artworks for us.
There’s actually a whole collective of artist involved into SURD. The resident DJ’s / Producers next to me are Damiano (Cosima), Miro (Miro Von Berlin), Sammy (Shoener), Miran (Miran N.) and Rob (Dj Hyperdrive).
Courtney Calevra – our lyrical mouthpiece and creative talent – is part of the project from the very beginning. She writes all of our texts and creates art video installations for each event. I really need to say, how grateful I am for having such a great crew. The next step we’re working on currently is our upcoming label – which is really exciting to me.
(Surd poster for party in June 2019)
Some time ago you moved to Berlin. What was your reason for doing it? What are the differences to your hometown? Do you feel comfortable in such a big & city? How do you earn your money? What are the things you like to do (that are not directly connected with music)?
Like I said before, I was always moving a lot. I always had a special connection to Berlin and I’m totally in love with big city vibes, especially since I have lived abroad. Luckily I was able to earn some money by doing what I love most – sharing music, djing and creating events. Besides I was working a lot in promotion and also went to university.
(Shaleen, promo pic 2020)
I already mentioned Seelen. You’re the first female member. When was your first contact with the guys? How did it happen? How do you work together? How do you feel?
I couldn’t be happier to be part of such an amazing label and I felt right away very welcomed so as if it was meant to be like this – it just matched. The guys became my closest friends and I couldn’t have imagined a better start into this chapter of my life. We’ve got always a great time while we are working together, because we’re understanding each other perfectly. My first contact to Jan (JANEIN) was when he was playing at SURD a few years ago. Shortly afterwards we went together with Nik (Narcisss) to Berghain, where we had a lot of fun. We stayed in touch and after I had showed Jan a few tracks of mine, which he seemed to like, he invited me to be part of their team. Big shouts to my brother Jan who believed in my right from the beginning and gave me this wonderful opportunity.
(Seelen Records logo)
One reason for this interview is your upcoming EP on Seelen. Please tell us something about the production. When did you start producing in general and when did you start the work on this EP? What are your inspirations and intentions? What equipment do you use? What’s the way you work on a track?
I started producing some years ago and basically I would say, that I do find a lot of inspiration on a personal and emotional level as well as in circumstances and situation that concern me. In case of ‘Deconstruction‘ it was the first time that I started producing a track and kind of directly finished it. Usually I’m working on a production over and over again, because I’m to picky with myself and do always think that it’s kind of unfinished, so that I try to rework it endlessly. Meanwhile I have learned that it’s not always about perfection, but about a learning progress. I have a Drumstation (Novation), a 909 (Roland) an Arp Odyssee (Korg), a Model D (Behringer) and some Effect Pedals at my home, but Damiano, Miro and me are building our new Studio at Arttraktiv currently, which is really great. My good friend Sibel (Yakoyako), who is working at Schneidersladen will get us some cool Modular as well.
(snippets of Shaleen’s upcoming EP “Consolidation” on Seelen Records)
Before this EP you made a remix for label mate Narciss. Are there differences in working on own stuff and on editing stuff of someone else? Which ones? Did you talk with Nicolas (Narciss) about it during the remix process or just after you had a final version?
It was a really interesting experience for me to do this Remix. Since it was my first remix, I was a bit insecure about it in the meantime, but in the end I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to proceed my learning progress in that way. Thanks to Nik for believing that much in me and giving me the opportunity to do that. I had a final version which I showed him once, when we were at the studio.
(full stream of Shaleen’s remix of Narciss’ “Brennpunkt”, SEELEN006)
You travel through Germany with the Seelen family – just mentioning the incredible Institut Fuer Zukunft in Leipzig or Berghain’s Säule. How does it feel to play at famous places like these where you (and many of our readers) like to dance. What are strangest experiences? What do you like and what do you hate about touring?
To me it felt like a dream come true, because this was exactly what I always wanted and what I was working for. So I feel really gifted that this really happened to me and it doesn’t feel strange at all. In general I was just happy to be there and to make this kind of experience, while having my friends and the whole crowed all around me. It was always heavily energizing and the atmosphere empowered me to put my feelings into the music I was playing.
(Shaleen, promo pic 2020 by Jan Croonenbrock)
We mentioned that you’re the first female member of Seelen. There is also strong discussion about including more female DJs and artists, about more diversity in the line-ups. What do you think about this discussion? Should promoters create a line-up of 50/50? Do you feel there are disadvantages because you’re a female DJ? Is it difficult to work in a “collective” which mostly consists of male artists?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to make a lot of negativ experiences, the boys at Seelen for example immediately welcomed me and treated me as an equal member. But as a women, I am of course aware that it doesn’t always work out that way and so I do support equal opportunities naturally. Women have proved already that they belong behind the decks and they should be treated like this. Basically, I believe that artists should be judged by their talent and ability and not by their gender, but yeah there could be more mixed line ups out there. No one should be ever discriminated and art should always stay free.
After this political issue let’s get back to music. Please tell us something about some of your favourite records/tracks. Which 10 records/tracks you love and why?
01. Trance Wax 5 (NTBR Edit) by Trance Wax
02. Ehre by Parallx feat. Chris Tnebris
03. Hello Planet Earth by Ellen Alien
04. Kobald M by JANEIN
05. Picture Perfect Smile by Cosma
06. Street Smarts by Narcisss
07. Steady Raving by WAST
08. Sutton Hoo Artefacts by Mayeul & JKS
09. Ruined by Somewhen
10. Move In Circles Walk On Lines by Hector Oaks
(stream of “Ruined” by Somewhen)
There are hard times for artists, labels and clubs due to the corona virus and the lockdown. But nevertheless we would like to ask you about your future plans at the end of our small interview. What’s coming next? Records? Remixes? Already new gigs planned for the end of the year/next year?
Currently I’m working a lot on my productions, but of course I’m also thrilled for everything that’s coming up next. Everything that had to be canceled is just postponed and I really can’t wait for things to move on. As well as I’m looking forward to share all of it with you by time.
all releases on Seelen Records
Tracklist of Exclusive Mix:
01. Verschwender – Face of Silent
02. Narcissss – Vandale und Liebe
03. Fiedel – Troll Bait
04. Escape To Mars – How Far Is It To Nowhere
05. Arnaud Le Texier – Decryptage
06. JANEIN – Alien Speak To Me
07. Verschwender – Luzifers Mob
08. Inhalt der Nacht – Trieb
09. Shaleen – Deconstruction
10. JANEIN – Apollo
11. Narcissss – Move Your Body
12. Stigmatique – Virus
13. Shaleen – Consolidation (Cadency’s Make Them Punk Remix)
Seelen Booking for Shaleen