For most people, it is fascinating to see and hear the masterminds behind the decks. It is more than interesting to see what it takes to create the magic on the dance floor, and with this series, Monument continues to showcase the perspective of a DJ.
In our previous interview we presented the French artist Hydrangea. She began producing music in early 2014, and released her debut album Dawn Lights on Annulled Music. The album was followed by further productions on imprints such as Two&Two Records and Silent Season. Hydrangea’s releases are hypnotic trips with a profound connection to nature, and her main influences come from a range of Italian deep Techno artists.
You have been active in the electronic music scene since 2014. How old you were when you got in touch with Techno for the first time?
Since my childhood, I have always been attracted to electronic music. But I was about 22 years old when I really turned to techno, and then to deep techno. When discovering a new passion, one can spend days and nights learning more and more about it. That’s what I did for many years before starting to create my own musical world.
You already created a mix for Monument. How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
This is something that I do pretty often, when people ask, for example, what I do with my life. Before I really hated it, but now I love to share my passion and work with people. For those who are not familiar with my music, I say that I make deep and atmospheric techno, “kind and soft techno”. I say that I take inspiration from nature, and try to re-transcribe it into my music, to share a maximum amount of good energy and just make people feel at peace.
How did you learn DJing? Did you do it yourself or did someone teach you?
I don’t really consider myself a DJ, but more as a story maker. I am still training to play vinyl, I’m still not good at it as it needs a lot of practice. But as with everything I start, I love to learn by myself; by trying and working hard until I reach a certain level where I feel confident enough to share my ideas with the world. Learning and working as an autodidact is, I think, the best way to learn more about ourselves and who we really are, especially with all the obstacles and challenges it can bring.
How did you get your first gig? How was it?
My first gig was a Container event in Paris, organised by BLNDR and Thorm. They invited me to play there. I have to say I was very anxious, but everybody was very kind and made me feel comfortable. Everything went well, it was a new sensation for me to share a musical journey in front of a crowd and I loved it, just seeing the people coming there to hear you… That feeling has no price!
Do you prefer digital, vinyl or a mix of both?
I like both. I am not a big vinyl buyer, just when I really love the releases, I buy them for my own pleasure and to support friends. Meanwhile, my collection is slowly growing, until the day I will be able to play them (and I really can’t wait).
How do you organise your music collection?
I organise all the music I have on my computer by labels and catalogue numbers. I’m a little bit of a maniac what it comes to this, but it helps me a lot when I need to find a certain track again.
Do you use any external effects units when DJ’ing?
Do you have a certain way for making transitions? Could you describe it?
What I love to do the most is to play on 3/4 decks and take elements from each track, to kind of recreate a new track. It brings many options to make the transitions.
How do you prepare for a gig?
I am very nervous about failing at a gig, so I don’t take too many risks yet. Some days before the gig I prepare my track list, and check if the tracks all fit together. Sometimes I try to improvise, but I like to create journeys and coherent steps in my mixes.
How about when making a mix? Do you have a specific way of selecting tracks?
I just spend a lot of hours searching and selecting the tracks I like the most – it can take some hours or many days. I always create folders in advance on my computer, that I keep filling up every day according to the main mood I want to create for each mix.
How does your gig day look? Do you have rituals before playing?
My day is about travelling, which I really love, even though it can sometimes be a little bit stressful. Travelling alone is, however, such a wonderful experience. Once the event starts, I like to be at the venue from the beginning so that I can feel the energy flying around and mentally prepare for my set.
Many people say that living as a touring artist is stressful, depressions and burnouts being among the consequences. What is your experience with this?
I cannot say the contrary, some touring periods aren’t very cheerful. We all have our ways of managing the anxiety. Nowadays, anxiety is a common and serious problem that we need to care about, already before it reaches the concerning mental state. Whenever I start feeling bad or sad, I try to do meditation, go for a walk in nature and remember my goals and how lucky I am to live this experience. That instantly brings me back warming feelings of happiness and serenity. Travelling is also an extraordinary way to let my spirit breathe, but travelling can be travelling somewhere in the world or just simply by listening to music and closing the eyes.
When and where was your first gig outside France? How do you manage the booking requests?
My first gig outside was my second gig after the Container one. It was a gig in Tresor organised by Dasha Rush (« All You Need Is Ears »). I will never forget this incredible and magical gig. I have an agent taking care of my booking requests, he is also a good friend of mine, who I could trust even with my eyes closed. That is very important for me.
How often do you play?
Not a lot actually. I think that my music fits better for the festivals, during the winter period it’s way more quiet. But of course, I adapt to the surroundings when playing at clubs. I wish I could play more often, but I’m not the one who decides.
Are you planning on playing live sets or hybrid sets anytime soon?
I’m working on two live sets including exclusive tracks: one more deep- and ambient-techno-oriented, and the other more club-friendly and groovy. But actually I am more focused on my next releases. It takes some time, and I try to work on them as often as I can.
Finally, would you like to share some of your “go-to” tracks at gigs?
This is pretty hard to give an answer to, there are so many tracks that I like to play, so many great artists that I discover every day… I can’t cite them all but if I had to name some artists:
And here is a track I fell in love with and loved playing last summer :
That would be the track I would listen to if I wanted to go back to the wonderful year of 2018.