Hey CEM, thanks for letting us release the live recording from your set at Meat Free, it’s an absolute belter! Can you talk us through it, were there any stand out points of the set for you? Would you say this is the signature sound of Herrensauna?
Thanks a lot for the invitation, and for such a great introduction to Manchester. It was quite a challenge to take over from such a stellar DJ like Eris Drew, but I really feel the transition from her set to mine was smooth and carried a sense of anticipation and energy right through until the end of my set. It was so great to see very visible reactions in the crowd with some of my most favourite selections of the night. Mixing, of course, is a skill and even though I strive to perfect this the more I play with vinyl, I feel like overall, there were some imperfections that really added to the atmosphere. I feel that the tempo was slightly lower than what I might play at our own events, but definitely embodies a flair I think I am known for, and has a selection that really borrows from a wide range of artists – for myself, and for our events, diversity is key.
We chatted over delicious Japanese food about this – the story of how you learnt your craft on the decks is a good and almost unplanned one. Do you mind recounting it? What kept you motivated to continue learning? And at what point did you see this becoming a career changing direction for you?
Well, thats kind of a funny, cute story most people don’t know or expect from me. I first learned to mix my vinyl collection with turntables I found in my ex-partners storage, deciding to tune them and slowly taught myself how to listen acutely to different tracks, familiarising myself with the craft. It takes a lot of patience in the beginning, but now feels very natural to me. I enjoy the entire process of searching through countless catalogues and shops when I travel, often meeting really curious and engaging people along the way. There’s something so personal about finding that perfect record – it almost feels like uncovering an artefact, with so much music being available digitally, I really enjoy how using vinyl in my sets has become something that’s also signature to my sound and approach. I really feel that in playing with vinyl often, my commitment to DJing and really appreciating music has been solidified.
I actually don’t think so much about a career, because I really enjoy contributing to quality events – I like being the person who’s trusted enough to provide some, if not all, the music for the night…which of course is just one element. In doing our own events, we really learned that so much effort goes into this sort of cultural production – from bookers, to bartenders and technicians, stellar nights are almost certainly due to collaboration and teamwork.
On the whole, there seems to be a lot of artists juggling both music production and DJing. Massive respect to you for having achieved that just via DJing and Herrensauna alone. There’s a definite pull towards your sound. Do you feel the need to start producing at the minute?
I have an incredible amount of respect for musicians, in particular those who manage to produce and tour simultaneously. Managing multiple schedules, ongoing deadlines and travelling in general really requires patience, discipline and communication – especially when you are somewhat central to the party and vibe, it can really require a lot of energy to be present, socialise and enjoy yourself. With that being said, producing is something I am sure I will undertake in the future, but I really can’t say when, or even if there would be a particular sound I have in mind. At present, I have some abstract rhythms and inspirations I feel I have collected through travelling and really broadening my taste in what I listen to, both while searching for music and also for my own listening pleasure. I think that my own producing would begin when I feel like I am unable to find what I’m currently “looking” for…for now, I’m still happy taking my time and educating myself.
Can you let us know what’s in store for you in 2019, have you got any big projects or goals you can share with us?
At present, a lot changes week by week. I’m playing quite regularly in Europe, and I enjoy seeing new cities and scenes, and returning to many clubs as well. We’ve been hosting a residency at Rote Sonne in Munich, which has really helped to change the scene there to be more queer and interesting, which is a big change for a city which is often scene as conservative.
I really like that we have been able to contribute to communities beyond our own, and really help other people, other artists especially.
2019 will see me returning for an extended tour in Asia, hoping to see a lot of new faces and cities, and really just enjoy travelling as I do so. Our event at Tresor in Berlin will switch from Sunday to Friday, allowing more locals to come to our event without having to compromise their Mondays. It really seems like overall attitudes towards queer identity and projects, and just in general, our presence has changed, even in a city like Berlin. Tresor is iconic, but for a long time has embodied a very rigid, straight identity which doesn’t really accord to where club culture is heading – we need to push for all spaces to be inclusive…this is always the goal I share with my colleagues, it’s been so from the beginning.
We know what you’re capable of, the rest of the world needs to catch up if they haven’t experienced one of your sets yet. Thanks again for making it such a special night CEM.
Once again, thanks for inviting me – the venue, team and other acts were wonderful, and I really feel like our respective scenes share a similar vision – see you again somewhere!