Music & Interview
Nendza … young DJ and producer discovered by Ressort Imprint’s A&R Ekserd
Hello Nicolaj. Nice to meet you for this small “Music & Interview” feature. Let’s start at the very beginning: your childhood & youth. Where were you born and how have you been raised? What did you want to do after finishing school? Do you work or study at the moment?
Hey Jürgen, thank you for having me, I really appreciate it. I was born in Bremen. It’s a wonderful small city in the northern part of Germany. In 8th grade ,I changed from a normal school to a boarding school in North Rhine-Westphalia because my childhood wasn’t the easiest. I finished school after two years, moved back to Bremen and I started to work right away. At that point all I wanted to do was music, so I just started working as a bartender to pay my rent, which I have been doing ever since. While working a promotion job I saw Berlin for the first time. This was in 2013, I was 18 at the time. I moved to Berlin in 2016 to do music, but left after half a year because of the very stressful and expensive housing situation. It just spontaneously happened that I then moved in with my best friend in Leipzig, which is really close to Berlin, so I thought it would be an easy way back to Berlin. Since then I‘ve been living in Leipzig.
(Promo picture of Nendza)
With what kind of music did you first fall in love? When did you discover techno? As there any pivotal, special moment that made you go “wow that’s it. I love it and wanna be part of it”?
My first musical love was Boomfunk Mc – “Freestyler”, it was during my kindergarten time. I bought the single. My wonderful mother, who raised me mostly on her own, always listened to Grunge and Heavy Metal/Cross-over like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, but also Rage Against The Machine and some other stuff, so I like this kind of music as well, because it was the music of my childhood.
But electronic music always grabbed my attention the most, wherever I heard it, for example in movie soundtracks like the Matrix or Blade. But in Bremen electronic music is not that popular, so my „that’s it“ moment was in Berlin in 2013. During the promotion job I told you about, I met a guy I already knew from school in Bremen. We became friends and he told me about „real techno”. His voice always had something mysterious when he talked about it. In Bremen, most of the people call anything from plastic/minimal Tech House to Electro Swing „Techno“ – but „Techno“, so he told me, would be „different here“, meaning in Berlin. I was intrigued and very anxious to experience it and so I asked him to show me what he was on about – like Berghain and his vinyl collection. After that there was no question – techno completely caught me, I was hooked and I knew immediately that I wanted to do this. This was where I can live out the more „unconventional“ side of myself. It felt like where I always wanted to be, where black and gloomy is natural, it’s not that much about emotions, it‘s more like atmosphere-over-emotions for me, it’s my personal definition of what it does and means to me.
(promo picture of Nendza)
Some of your family members are artists and musicians. What kind of music/art do they make? Were you involved with your family artistically? How did they influence your decision to become a musician and to produce techno?
My mother is an artist, shed starts her career as a tattoo artist and illustrater the year I was born (in 1994). My father played bass in different heavy metal bands and also was a singer songwriter. Because of that I‘ve been singing and playing guitar since I was a child. I actually started producing with guitar riffs, vocals, and simple beats quite early, at the age of 15.
My uncle made movies and then there is my little sister. That’s all, no more people in my family. Small but very special and very good. So my family had a very significant effect on me, because there was art and music all around me, everyday.
My mom also lives life her very own way. From her I learned that there is no good without bad, I think the music I make, which often originates from the bleak shadows of myself, is the best therapy one could get and in the end it promotes the bright, shiny sides of live.
(promo picture of Nendza)
You are about to release your first record on Ressort Imprint, the label run by Ekserd and Głós. How and when did you get in touch with them? A common way for young artists today is to release their stuff on their own label or at least via bandcamp. Did you ever think about releasing it yourself? Why did you choose RSI? Are these tracks the only ones you had on the shelf, or are you a busy producer with tons of stuff that never saw the light of day? What are your inspirations and how do you make an idea into a finished track?
Yes and I am really happy about having chosen RSI as the label I want release my first 12inch on. I have been working 24/7 on my productions and DJ skills since 2013, I listen to as many new releases as possible, so I had a good overview of labels to send my demos to. I wanted my first release to be well planned and on vinyl, so I waited and waited and worked and worked a long time until I found RSI.
I listened to every single track on the label and simply knew „that’s it, I will send my first official demo to this label.“ Fortunately it worked! I wrote a little letter about myself and my love for music, accompanying some of my tracks. Tim aka Ekserd wrote me back and asked me to make some more tracks.
When we had the first version of the EP in early 2018, he told me that it will at least be about a year until the actual release, so I asked him if I may work on the tracks until we reach the time-limit – so we could have the best result and tracks that fit the labels sound perfectly. That brings me to the question about my workflow. I produce literally every day. I breathe records. So I am definitely the producer who has tons of unreleased stuff, but I also delete a lot of it to have the most space and room for new ideas and to not be stuck with an old idea. The way I produce my tracks changes from day to day. I love experimenting. Sometimes I start with just noise and try to sequence it in an interesting way, sometimes I start with a kick drum, which I guess is the more the conventional approach.
If you don’t have a good financial background or start as a DJ, you likely will not have access to a big studio and you have to learn how to get the most out of the very little tools you have. like cheap plug-ins. You have to be very creative and well-versed in sound design to get a great result. Fortunately, from time to time I was able to buy a great synth and a drum machine while I produced the EP, so just at the right time. I felt as if I had wings with the new gear, so much more bandwidth and these gourmet, raw, more organic, vibrating sounds. But I learned in the years of having nothing more than a laptop that you can create masterpieces with nearly nothing – it’s about the emotions, not about the gear. I bought the Arturia Matrixbrute and the Analog Rhythm mk2, which I heavily used on my upcoming release. Because of this background I prefer a hybrid of digital and analogue equipment – sound design and so called „designer-techno“ fascinates me a lot.
I enjoyed the process of creating my own interpretation of a labels sound, but there will soon be a label of my own, for sure. It’s one of my main goals to simply do what I want. I set myself high creative standards when it comes to releases, which I think I can only fulfill on my own label.
(snippets of Nendza’s EP “Divulge”, out soon on Ressort Imprint)
Being from Bremen and now living in Leipzig you surely have a little insight into the techno scene in both cities. What can you tell us about the scenes there? Do you go out there often?
Well, in Bremen, good, quality events are really rare and hidden. There is no real marketing, promotion or anything. You have to know the people. It’s still mostly little paper-notes that you only get at the party, like in the old underground days. But if you enter the rabbit hole it’s a lovely space. It’s not this utopian vibe that you have in Berlin. It’s a lot of noise music, bass music, newbreak, garage-house and UK stuff, as well as a lot of really raw self produced stuff, but it’s lovely! Just like the city. A established artist playing there is something really special, but there is a breath of fresh air now with crews like Delusion, who book really nice acts to their venues and run their own label. That‘s great for the city.
The problem in Bremen is, that the local government doesn’t exactly make it easy to start a club or even rent space for parties, that‘s one of the reasons why many young people move to other cities.
In Leipzig, the scene seems more advanced, both musically and in terms of promotion and selection and bookings. There are also a lot of underground parties – in basements, houses or open airs. It’s kinda easier to network. The people are really open-minded and happy to take you through the night. Maybe it’s because there are really a lot of venues for this size of a city – many young people come to Leipzig because of the good club scene. It is huge relative to the size of the city and if you look at the line-ups at Distillery, IFZ or Mjut, you will see that the quality is very similar to bookings in Berlin. In Leipzig, „awareness clubbing“ also seems to be pretty much established. Most clubs and partys create a safe spaces for the LGBTQI Community and promote these policies, which is in turn reflected in the mindsets of the audience. So in clubs, politics are an important issue – just like the music is. It‘s 50/50. „Saferclubbing“ is also part of most club concepts in Leipzig, which means that you will get help from trained personal who known exactly what to do if you have taken the wrong pills, someone bothers you or if any other problems occur. They also promote these ideals in local politics.
(artwork of RSI013’s B side label)
You are not only artist and music consumer but also you worked at Leipzig’s famous techno club IfZ. What was your job there? What is it like to work at a place where most of people enjoy their lives? How is it different from a „normal“ job? Did you find the time to enjoy the music a little bit there?
Yes, i worked there at the bar. The job was fun. I became acquainted with a lot of interesting people and listened to a ton of good music. It‘s great if your bar-guests after their gig are Freddy K, Henning Baer, Rrose or other grandmasters of Techno. I also really love the architecture, the crowd, and the soundsystem. They do a good job. I think people should check out their bookings. It’s an interesting filter.
(full stream of Nendza’s “Anvil”, taken from RSI013)
Many musicians and artists move to Berlin – a creative metropolis. Also your label Ressort Imprint is based in Berlin. Do you visit Berlin regularly? Is it an option for you to move back to Berlin in the (near) future? Do you understand the hype about the city? What does Berlin mean to you?
I understand the hype and I love Berlin very much. It‘s raw, it‘s dirty, it’s honest and direct. The main reason is the kind of „stepped up“ attitude of life that I feel when I‘m there. Every time I visit Berlin I am extremely excited. Maybe I will move to Berlin again when the time eventually feels right. Leipzig is a wonderful city, it’s also cheaper than Berlin. Many streets, the parks and all are just very romantic and provide a very creative and inspiring atmosphere, but Berlin has this “everything can happen antime-vibe” – I love both.
(promo picture of Nendza)
But let’s get back to music and your musical output. The accompanying mix for this feature is your first official mix/podcast. Please tell us how you get started and how you mixed it. Will you become a DJ now?
Since I started producing, I also dj with vinyl for myself. My plan is not to play the big bangers to get attention. I want to do it in my very own and individual way – with the most expression possible. The mix was recorded digitally because I couldn’t find all the selected tracks on vinyl. I started to select the tracks for the mix a few months ago.
(promo picture of Nendza)
Personal music taste often changes a bit over time – or sometimes completely. Please name your 10 all time favourite tracks (of any genre) and tell us why they have a special meaning for you.
10. Stratosphere by Thomas Hessler (IMF)
This brilliant Track touches me in a euphoric way. I just feel confident when I listen to it, it gives me courage. The virtuous rhythmic patterns, the impressive, aspiring vibe.
09. She Showed Me Heaven (Radial Remix) by Luke Slater (Mote-Evolver)
Driving, surprising laser sounding clubtool what energizes my to the limit. And I have to say it‘s just cool.
08. Calm Down by Answer Code Request (MDR)
It‘s impossible to describe what I feel when I listen to it and that‘s one of the reasons why it‘s that great for me.
07. Gospel Two by Johannes Heil (Odd Even)
Groovy dubby track, kind of ascendental atomshere, just awesome.
06. Dust (Tessela Remix) by Alex Smoke (R&S)
Heavy breakbeat, for me that‘s timeless, cutting edge
05. Tubular Bells (Oldfield) by Levon Vincent (Novel Sound)
Touches me in the deepest sense and the arrangement is really interesting.
04. Phantom Studies by Dettmann | Klock (Ostgut Ton)
For me this is just genius and not just a techno track, it‘s a techno song. I really enjoy this one while drinking my coffee, smoking a cigarette and just listen, but it also works in clubs, that‘s something I appreciate a lot.
03. Yasur by Fixeer (Tsunami)
This is the kind of ecstasy I need during a long, dark night , drives me crazy.
02. I Against I by Massive Attack feat. Mos Def (Melankolic)
A lot of trip-hop hooked me in my young years, this one has great lyrics and a killer-flow.
01. Edouard (Kareem Rework) by Blind Delon (Oraculo)
Very charismatic kind of techy darkwave track.
Well, it‘s not really a Top 10, I couldn’t do this chronologically. These are important songs to me that I often listen to to get certain emotional benefits.
(the29nov films video of Answer Code Request’s “Calm Down”, taken from MDR018)
Coming to the end of our small interview, I would like to ask you about your future plans. Are there any releases except for the EP on RSI planned? What about dj gigs? Or anything in your private life?
The main focus at the moment is to start my own label. There are also some remixes coming soon for an upcoming artist from Berlin and I have a lot of ideas, but I will take my time. My goal is not to produce an EP every day, just to stay on peoples radar. Time will tell, but I am diligent and obsessive, so there will be new stuff from time to time. Thank you for these exciting questions, Jürgen, it was a pleasure.
Photos by Maike Nendza (Nendzart)
Nendza’s “Divulge” on Ressort Imprint
all stuff on Ressort Imprint
Tracklist of Exclusive Mix:
01. Isorine – Introspektiv Indeldning
02. Conforce – Black Mesa
03. Ntogn – Samten
04. Antonio De Angelis – Incrisis
05. Svecra – Nida
06. Bastian Balders – Rabea
07. Jamaica Suk – Pan Oramance
08. Groof – Empatico Iim
09. Viels – Rhyuski Grhosour
10. Izaru – Refused To Be Found
11. Luis Flores – Negative Pressure
12. Roll Dann – Intencion
13. Silvershower – Ice Fractions
14. Temudo – Longe
15. Juda 931 – Sleep
16. P.E.A.R.L – Infinite Stars
17. Strck – Type Type (Hector Oaks Remix)
18. Juan Sanchez – Morcilla
19. Kill Ref – His Sequenced
20. Hiroaki Lizuka – HH2 (Endlec Remix 1)
21. SVT – Subterrane A Realm
22. Dark Matter – Crystal Geometry
23. D-leria – End Of Line
24. Jokasti – Nek Pulsar
25. Fixeer – Yasur
26. Chris Shape – Shidevar
27. Illnurrse – Rubber
28. Uncrat – A Present For My Plant
29. Ontheground – Eternal Beings
30. Advanced Human – Swallowtail
31. Linkan Ray – Amok
32. Dold – Shutdown
33. Nimmo – Contradiction
34. Kareem – Hinrich
35. Asymptote – No Truth
36. Farizio Rat – Lupu
37. Borai – Dark Of The Sun
38. H4l – Disc 2 Dysnomia