Ellen Allien SOOL

Ellen Allien SOOL
By now, Berlin’s Ellen Allien has developed into a formidable creative force on the international techno scene. Not only does she own her own label — the coveted Bpitch Control, home to the likes of Modeselektor and Sascha Funke — but she’s also perfected a strain of "serious” futuristic techno around her distinct vocal chords, which colour SOOL as they have previous efforts like 2006’s Orchestra of Bubbles, 2005’s Thrills and 2003’s Berlinette. Simply put, she has a great ear. Part of it has to do with a career of crate-digging; the woman DJ’s wide-ranging sets, often culled from all corners of techno’s past. But part of the credit must goes to her choice of collaborators. In the past, this has mostly been fellow Berliner Apparat. This time around, however, Allien is working with Antye Greie-Fuchs (aka AGF) and the result is her most challenging, atmospheric and satisfying listen since the big jump forward that was Berlinette. AGF turned in the fascinating but underrated Words Are Missing earlier this year and her angular fingerprints are all over SOOL's 11 tracks. Props go out to Allien for knowing when to let her collaborators breathe a little. With clangy, humid beats, the results don’t limit themselves to the dance floor but they don’t ignore it either, making for a recoding full of spontaneous left turns and addictive, often primal rhythm templates.

Upon first listen, SOOL immediately strikes the listener as your most experimental record to date. Why move away from the dance floor to this more private space?
Hmm, I do not agree. Some tracks are dance floor, and I am playing them in my DJ sets, and it works out very well! When I am doing music, I want to sing a song or do special listening tracks. Doing only dance tracks bores me. I want to do music for listening at home, for riding my bike, for jogging or some after-hour tunes. Every time I return to the studio, so many ideas are already waiting in my head to get out, to become produced. I love to do music and I could do it every day. But there is no time left. I am playing three times per week. I run a label. I do my own fashion collection.

Why did you decide to work with AGF?
We have been very good friends for years, from when we were touring back in the old days in Brazil and Argentina with the Goethe Institute. After all these years, she finally built a bigger studio and she told me that she wanted to produce or co-produce other artists. One day, we finally managed to find time together and we jumped into the studio and worked on the next Allien LP, SOOL. And I am such a big fan of her. I have loved her sound for years. And to work with her was very professional.

Each of your albums so far has been different from what came before. Is it a concern for you to try a new approach every time?
I think you can always hear the Allien sound, which means playing with vocals and not using common sounds. Of course, behind every LP stands a different concept. On SOOL, I had the urge to leave some space and void in the sound, to let it sound mysterious and show my spiritual side. I am not religious, and so I am searching for ways that enable me to feel my spiritual side. It is a good switch into another world. Human life is very important for me.

How do you juggle your time between Bpitch management, touring, DJing and making your own music?
BPC has a very good team in the office and the artists are my friends mostly. The success of the artists and the label is showing me that we all are going the right way. It’s all about finding a good and adequate structure. For me, it is important to rock all my passions. Passions give you a lot of energy, positive energy. That’s the key. I feel good with what I have done and what I am doing, and I want to share my passion with other people. That’s my happiness. We all have to work a lot. I am lucky that I am mostly choosing things in my life that I am up for.

What ingredients must be present for a successful track?
I like music where I have the feeling that I have not heard it before. If the track is doing something with me, and I feel that other people would love it too, and I want to work with that person, the track will be released. The person behind a track is very important for me.

How do you approach lyrics? Are they part of the sonic landscape of the song (i.e., more for sound and spontaneous) or do you work on them separately?
I write the lyrics mostly before I am doing the track. The songs are written for people I loved or love, or written about emotions. Very personal. (BPitch Control)