Naty Seres is an electronic producer and DJ based in Berlin, who is running the label Atmophile Electronics. She has played already in several venues and festivals around Europe such as Berghain, Waking Life, and Modem Life. She was also one of the main organizers of the Freqs Of Nature Festival, one of the best and most innovative festivals in the hypnotic genre.
Hey Nathalie, thank you for your time. You recorded a podcast for us last year. How did you approach preparing the mix?
Thank you for having me. I selected the tracks I wanted to include in the mix, built a storyline around the music, and then I recorded it.
What is your home setup?
My setup at home is a Xone92 mixer, 2×1210 Technics & 2x Nexus2 2000 CDJ’s
When it comes to recording a mix, what is your creative process from preparing to recording?
First I start with an idea of the overall mood in the mix, then I start with the selection of the tracks that I wish to include. I have different lists where I save tracks, so when I’m recording a mix or I’m playing a set, I can work my way through those lists of tracks which I otherwise would have possibly forgotten. And then, of course, I have tracks which are my favorites, which I really want to include. I guess I always start with the tracks I want to have in that mix and then compliment with the others to tell my story.
I’ll do different takes of recordings, listen to see if the storyline adds up and if parts with tension work out well.
If someone doesn’t know your sound, how would you describe it?
Driving, groovy, trippy, always with a mindful approach to applying different mixing techniques to different types of music/genres within the set.
How old were you, when you started DJing? Did you teach it yourself?
I started when I was around the age of 16-17, I was playing psychedelic trance back then. I had older friends who were already into Djing, they showed me the basics, and then it was just endless hours practicing at home and from time to time playing with friends in house parties.
How long did it take until you felt ready to play at a public party? When did you get your first gig?
I got my first gig maybe like 1 year after. I always had friends throwing parties and I had a couple of friends who were doing live sets at that time. They encouraged me to play the opening sets for them, one thing led to the next and I landed my first few gigs.
Are you managing the bookings yourself or do you have someone organizing your booking requests?
I have a friend who helps me with my bookings, which is very helpful as I find it difficult to mix up the financial and creative relationship with the promoter.
Last year you had your debut at Berghain, one of the best techno clubs in the world. How did your day look like and how did you prepare for it?
Before the show, my mum, partner, brother along with some good friends were with me at home. I remember my mum kept telling me “Kid, you have to eat” and she made me some food. I double-checked several times if my USB sticks were all exported correctly, made sure that everything was functioning. I think I checked my bag like 3 times before leaving to Berghain, making sure that I had everything.
I put a lot of thought into my set, I knew exactly the first few tracks I wanted to play, as well as the last track, which was this beautiful track by “Umwelt – Escape To The Brave New World”. With all the other tracks in between, I went with the flow, with the feeling I had for the dance floor at that moment.
Are you nervous or stressed before playing? Do you have rituals before playing?
I used to be nervous in the past, especially when I played at places I didn’t know or when it was in front of a bigger audience. Experiences have shown me that if I have fun playing to the people, the people have fun too and in the end, we are all there to have fun together – which is what it’s all about! I, therefore, wouldn’t say that I’m nervous these days, I’m rather excited to play and try out my new records. I don’t have any rituals whatsoever.
You were also one of the main organizers for the unique Freqs of Nature Festival and played alongside some of the heavyweights of hypnotic and experimental music such as Mike Parker, Dasha Rush, and Rrose. How did your residency influence you as a DJ?
It mainly helped me gain more experience playing on festival stages. Knowing how to work with a festival crowd and noting my set times at a festival are important, as it varies a lot from playing a set in a club where it is usually dark.
Do you get many promos? If yes, how do you organize them?
I get quite a few demos via mail from promotion agencies and labels. I don’t think I have an established organizing system yet. There are just days when I feel like checking my inbox for all demos and I work my way through them.
It’s different though when I get direct messages from people asking me for feedback. I know how much heart is put into those tracks and when someone goes through the effort of writing me an email, I always make sure to give time to listen to the music in full length and write them a detailed feedback. I’m not the fastest to respond but I always do it eventually.
How do you organize your whole music collection?
My records are organized by occasions when I would play them, festival style, opening set, etc, and separately I have some records which are my current favorites. It’s different from my digital files, I have categorized them and I have one folder with new tracks. From time to time I go through the whole folder of new tracks and categorize them too. I always have one folder of “tracks to play on the next set”. But I have to admit I haven’t found a perfect system yet as I have hard times remembering track titles. I’m more of a visual person, labels and pictures from records are easier to remember for me.
Where do you like to dig for your new music and what are your favorite platforms to buy it?
I mostly dig on Discogs for older stuff or non-techno releases. I check discographies of labels & artists. Once I find something it always leads to a new page to check. I have endless tabs of discogs pages on my browser that I wish to check. My browser is always a mess.
For new releases I check Deejay.de & Hardwax, I have to admit that I’m not following digital releases anymore that much, perhaps I should do that more again.
Let’s talk about your skills behind the decks. How do you approach your transitions technically in your mixes?
I practice a lot at home, I play almost every day for some time, most of my records I have played so often that I don’t really think in advance on how I’m gonna transit between tracks, it just comes naturally. I personally find that for hypnotic tracks I’d rather mix in smoothly with no rough transitions, whilst when it comes to electro or the harder more acid/ravey styles I like to make quick and more rapid transitions.
Do you know exactly what you are going to be playing or do you mix spontaneously?
I pretty much know what I’m gonna play. Especially since I have been playing more vinyls, I have to know what to bring in my bag. Not all tracks work together, so I prepare blocks of tracks that work well together in between them I can maneuver and change the order, or leave some out and replace it with others. But it happened often, that I prepared a set, and the moment when I arrived at a party I felt like playing something completely different, having my digital files make it possible to change a whole set immediately.
Do you play with more than two decks and do you use external effects?
I have not yet used external effects in my set and I haven’t really thought about using some, to be honest. I guess I like to focus on the order of tracks and building up tension within my selection rather than with effects.
I do play with 3 decks at times, but that really depends on the set I’m playing. I used to be more into layering in the past but that phase of mine has changed. These days, I enjoy tracks being played by itself. At times I layer some loops of voice samples, or samples I recorded in the studio. Or if there are tracks that are missing that extra punch, I’ll layer a kick below. But generally I play with two decks these days.
In your gigs, do you also play with vinyl? What are the perfect conditions in your opinion to play vinyl in a club or festival?
I do more and more, I think approximately 40% of my set are vinyl these days and the rest is digital.
The perfect setup would be turntables in good conditions, no feedback on the needles, good monitoring, and a stable surface, that’s all to make me happy. Berghain would be an example where everything is just perfect!
How familiar are you with b2b sets? What does it take to play a comfortable b2b set?
I like playing b2b’s, it can be challenging at times and it pushes you to take more risks and that’s what I like about it, you can’t prepare that much for a b2b-set! I have a group of friends and we meet quite regularly and play for a whole afternoon all together, I love these afternoon sessions.
What I need to play a comfortable b2b set is to feel in harmony with the person that I’m playing with and the music styles kinda need to be similar.
You also played in a lot of other venues and festivals. Any memorable gigs that stay forever unforgotten?
Berghain is always the most special for me, so is the Waking Life Festival in Portugal and of my other favorites was the GAMA festival in St.Petersburg – that was a wild one!
Due to the situation with COVID-19, what’s your opinion on live streams? Do you have some upcoming online gigs or not?
I think it’s great for the dancers that they still get to see their favorite artists play on their living room screen and give them a little bit of that party feeling, which we all miss so much.
I don’t have any live streams scheduled for myself, I personally prefer to DJ to an actual audience. I’m trying to take as much advantage of the COVID’19 situation as I can to spend time in the studio.
When and where was your last gig before the shutdown?
My last gig was at Distillery in Leipzig, it was a very fun gig.
Do you have any advice or tips for beginners?
I’d say having fun is the most important and knowing your music by heart. The rest is just practice.
What are the greatest advantages of a DJ?
I can decide what music will be played.
Can you finish this interview by sharing what you are listening to at the moment?
It varies from my mood and day but I’d say mostly hip-hop these days.