Interview: Monika Kruse
We caught up with the revered techno figurehead
Revered techno figurehead Monika Kruse’s talent and dedication made her one of the world’s most highly-respected DJs and producers, who has inspired many in her 25 years long career. She started Terminal M label back in 2000, and it remains one of the most consistently outstanding techno labels. Monika Kruse joined us for Familia’s 5th Birthday celebrations with her label showcase and we had a brief chat with Techno’s First Lady…
You’ve played the piano since an early age, subsequently training your ear and perhaps leading to where you are now in your career. Do you think current or previous experience with a musical instrument is essential learning for a budding producer?
I don’t think it’s essential but it definitely helps. I was learning Classical Piano when I first started my training and later Jazz, my knowledge on harmonizing and it how affects the way music sticks in your head has given me more space to improvise on my productions and also how I put my feelings into a track. A lot of artists fall into the trap of perfectionism in their work, from the tracks they produce to selection and mixing techniques throughout their DJ sets.
Do you ever fall into this ‘perfectionist’ category with music production and DJing? If so, how do you overcome something that’s arguably a slightly negative way of working?
Oh ha, that’s a really good question! I am 100% a perfectionist, I’m rarely satisfied with my sets, sometimes I go home and I think “ah I could have done this better”. Personally, this way of thinking is helpful to me, if every time I played I was satisfied, it would mean I haven’t given myself room for improvement. The pressure now is definitely higher these days than ever before due to social media, everyone is recording you with their phones or you're being live streamed, and once it’s out there, it’s out there. With producing it is hard, as I mostly everytime have the feeling the track is not finished yet, but it is important to let go the feeling of perfectionism, and on one point to release the track.
With news of political upheaval in the headlines every day, tell us about your charity ‘No Historical Backspin’ and how this combats racism and violence?
I founded this organization in the year 2000 when there was lots of violence against refugees, but also against gay people. Some of my gay friends where getting attacked on the streets after parties, and when DJ Rush was attacked because he was black, I strongly felt I had to speak out and do something about this. If I went to the club with a message or threw a party with this in mind, people might start to think as well as dance. I remember a few occasions where we met some really right-wing people at the party (which was good) because we were able to have a discussion and say “Hey, if we can all show love on the dancefloor, why can’t we show love off it?” and that’s really what the mission is. At a Backspin party, all the DJ’s play for free, and all the money raised goes to victims of these attacks, normally paying for lawyers or medical bills. We’ve now raised over €100’000 so I’m really happy.
Tell us about living in Berlin, the best place for crate digging, the most outrageous club space over there, favourite bar and the best place for a meal after a night DJing or just enjoying the cities nightlife?
Hard Wax is definitely top for Records, they have a lot of Detroit stuff you can’t get in many other shops, it’s very special. Unfortunately, a lot of good stores have closed down because of the record crisis what’s a real pity. The best place for me to get a late dinner or an early breakfast is at home, haha. I like to cook, I can make some noodles and then get straight into bed!
You’re no stranger to playing at Familia parties here in Egg, this is your third booking with the Familia clan. What’s so special about this party that makes you want to come back each time?
The thing about Familia and Egg is that we are good friends. I’ve known Gabby since when I DJ’d at Trade and now I’m here for Familia and this party, this club, is really about Family. If I play abroad, you guys will always come along to my show, you stay in contact even if I’m not playing here, that means a lot to me. A lot of this industry is now just about business, but you guys make it more than that. I’m really grateful you have given me the opportunity to showcase my label here and to invite artists who have never played in London before, like tonight with Skober. You trust me and support me, my artists and my belief in them.