Above Photo Credit: Camille Blake
Resom is more than a DJ. Over the past couple of decades she has also performed the role of manager, political activist, organiser of workshops, and promoter – it would be fair to say that she shares a real passion for the scene and continues to fit many of the above into her increasingly busy touring schedule. Her DJ sets are often eclectic, combining a wide variety of genres and sounds – an approach that is clear for all to see on her Mantissa Mix, a recording from her closing set at School Generation, ://about blank. This is one of the most in-depth and thought provoking interviews we have had to date, so we will leave it there and let the interview do the talking…
Hi Nadine, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you grew up?
Hi James, yes I can. I grew up in the GDR, Bezirk Erfurt and later it was called Thuringia (a county in Germany). I grew up w/ my Mom, Dad and older sister in a typical GDR prefabricated building, surrounded by armist families and many kids. A relocation to Erfurt gave my parents the chance to let us grow in better conditions than before. I had a great childhood, loads of music around me – even though there was not much from the
west to access, but you know, if you don’t have much you get creative.
I never felt a lack of anything, but I guess that would be different if I would have been older when the wall came down. When the wall came down everything changed for everyone, a time of new and/or disorientation started. New school, new music, new people, a new political and economic system, new everything and loads of thinking and questioning things became important to me. Arts and Music outside the box gave me stability. It had a huge impact on me to be part of a generation without orientation or fixed rules – everything could be done the way you wanted, but you had to fight for this really hard, I mean literally fight. It was a time of extremes, a time of the unknown, of exploration, a time of insecurity on one side and total creativity and freedom on the other. After my A-levels I moved to Leipzig to study and decided on Philosophy, Religion and Cultural Science. I had so many questions about the sense of life and why the hell everything feels so bad, sad and heavy. In the end I just came up with more questions and this never stopped and I hope it won’t ever.
I lived in Leipzig for many many years and was surrounded by amazing things but at one point I felt like I have to move on – there aren’t many job opportunities I liked in Leipzig and I always felt very connected to Berlin, where I had lived for a while before. So now i’m located in Berlin again since 2010, a city that connects and divides, a transit city of constant movement, that never gets bored of old paths. A city of explorations and constant overflow, where the ability to focus yourself is for me the biggest challenge. It’s home.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your favourite music and bands growing up, and also what led to your discovery of electronic music?
Namedropping is not really a thing of mine bc my memory is very bad. I didn’t have much influence outside the box until I was 11. But I remember the moment when I moved to a new school after the wall came down and they played Madness – Our house in the school radio (yeah we really had a school radio that was run by students) and was like wow: I like that! Beside that I was listening to a lot of „alternative“ and Indie Music. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Breeders, Rage against the Machine, Inchtaboktables, Die Art, AG Geige, Neurosis, EA80, Guts Pie Earshot, Schleimkeim and of course everything around the Fugazi Universe. But also loads of unknown bands that were touring and made a stop at Korax – a self organized alternative left radical Community
Center where I spent more time in the last school years than in school itself!
Electronic influences came with bands like Erasure, Depeche Mode, Anne Clark, Yazoo or Alison Moyet solo – my sister was very much into that sound. And also Reinhard Lakomy who wrote „Der Traumzauberbaum“ (my first record ever) and recorded loads of electronic albums like „Der Traum von Asgard“ or „Das geheime Leben“ – electronic
music was simply there.
Electronic Dance Music in consideration of club music was new to me in the early 90s when the Raveculture came to our little town after the Wall came down. But coming from a more punk/hardcore socialisation, Drum’n’Bass and every kind of breakier music had a high impact on me. I went out to clubs every weekend – dancing my shoes off to broken beats. good times! We drove a lot to other cities to attend parties. Seeing Ed
Rush, Kemistry and Storm, Optical and all those 90s D+B Heroes was huge fun for me and I guess people from outside Germany can’t really understand how important those places like Conne Island, Pudel or Kassablanca are for whole generations of Musicfans, but they definitely deserve all respect for doing what they do!
Having lived in Leipzig and Berlin, what drew you to these cities and where, if anywhere, can you see yourself living next?
If I would know where I could live next I would be there already. Berlin always attracted me because it’s open minded atmosphere. I went there for the first time when I was 6 years old for vacation (that was in GDR times). I think it was the first time that I heard hip hop music on the street and saw punks. It’s simply a very attractive city when it’s about arts and culture. I just hope that Berlin is not losing its spirit, bc it’s on the direct way there… which also is weird. I sometimes miss that people from abroad who come to Berlin seem to take everything for granted and don’t respect the history of the city.
And Leipzig is still home. I feel very connected to Leipzig, to my beloved friends that I don’t see often enough and really miss. So of course I’m always like: maybe I should go back to Leipzig. Shall I really go back? Going BACK? Well one day maybe.
You have run and contributed to female-dedicated music workshops for many years. Firstly, co-founding “Do It Herself” which was taught by non-professionals, and now the likes of “Spoon”, where you are able to provide a professional perspective. How has your contribution to workshops changed over the years, and what positive changes and results have you seen first hand?
Thanks for this question. I started to host DJ workshops in 2003 with Ladyfest Leipzig and I was part of Propellas (female files of music) in Leipzig. We organized parties and concerts with female* line ups only. electric dress, a project in Potsdam asked me to host a long running DJ workshop and later Conne Island started gender equality campaigns as well like: Amplify and Equalize XYZ. The motivation to host workshops is pretty simple. There was/is always a lack of gender balance in the music scene, I simply try to spread knowledge. But to get things right here: do it herself (back in 2006) and all the other projects were always for female and non-binary people in the subculture of the music industry, bc this is where I still feel home mainly. The idea was always to open a new room for them. A lot of people said that this would be an exclusion of Cis men, but we always just wanted to open a new (and safe) room to experience yourself and learn from each other.
Your recording from Dekmantel Selectors was one of my favourite mixes of 2018, full of deep, dark tracks with plenty of groove. One of your best traits as a DJ is that the crowd never know what they are going to get. How do you go about preparing for a set and does it change with the setting, time slot or even a back-to-back? Do you have a preferred setup?
I definitely prepare each of my sets. Most of them sub-consciously, but I do. I try to get as much info about the line up and the timeslot I was booked for. The set at Dekmantel Selectors for example was a different one than I originally preprared, because due to difficult weather conditions my set was first cancelled and than moved to another time and stage. So I had to prepare everything new and also improvise a lot. I was playing after Rabih Beaini and before the b2b of Objekt and Call Super (thanks again for sharing your stage time w me!), so I kinda tried to move the people from abstract electronica vibes to the dance floor mood. It worked out I would say. And btw: I’m never really happy with my sets. It’s a very rare situation that I tell to myself: YES! that was a brilliant set I played.
The trend of many DJs breaking through into the scene following a hit EP seems to be dying out. Whereas it was always mentioned that the likes of Ben UFO did not make music, it is now more common to see DJs such as Darwin and Alex T, who host parties or contribute to the scene in different ways breaking through. Did producing music ever interest you or did you ever feel pressure to do so?
I’m hesitating here with giving the right answer tbh. Yes of course it interests me, but it is a completely different thing to DJ and to produce. Imho it is a rarity that a great producer is a great DJ aswell. There is so much good music out there and simply taking the time and making the effort (and money) to start producing is still something I struggle a lot with. I take my time so yeah maybe one day there is something I would release, but maybe not.
(Wrongly in my opinion), the occasional voice of discontent declares that politics has no place in dance music and that “DJs should stick to being DJs rather than constantly airing views on what they think is right”. As someone who’s career has been intertwined with politics, hosting The Amplified Kitchen talk series at ://about blank amongst other activities, what place does politics have in dance music, and what positive changes have you seen first hand?
I wrote my thesis about this actually and did a lot of research in the field of political expression on dance floors. I came to a yes and no result and would still stick to this. Politics are important, but I think the dancefloor itself as a space of silence should stay a place where a common habitus is simply celebrated. People dancing and chatting is nothing I like. Words shouldn’t matter – because dancing and listening brings me into a sphere of the „unspeakable“ – this is where I feel home the most.
Outside of the dancefloor, everything is political and I’m happy to see more and more people expressing a political point of view. But I would love to see more diversity and real dialogue here, instead of online debates and hypocritical statements that seem to simply try to attract attention. Public shaming, or calling, or boycotting something is a way that I decided not to join. It took me personally a long time to listen to other people s’ opinion but I try more and more and I’m happy that the collective of ://about blank for example is going the same way. Conflicts and debates are important and they make us grow, so I totally support dialogue and conversation, but for me the sub-context, like listening to a voice are needed to actually understand a persons opinion. If I only read a text on social media there is something missing out, and I need exactly that info.
On the flipside to this, in 2018, ://about blank cancelled a Room 4 Resistance gig due to their part in the cultural boycott of Israel. Do you believe that groups on opposite sides of the political fence can co-exist in the same forum?
TOTALLY! That’s what „Techno“ always meant so much to me and is what I still believe in – diversity directly on the dancefloor – where it doesn’t matter where you are from, how you look like, what job you have or where you go after the rave or who you vote for. It is sad to see that there seems to be no interest in a further dialogue nowadays and continue a process of learning from and with each other. But also, I think it is sometimes important to split up, take different paths and come together again. One of the main issues the global „left“ has, is the separation idea. To bring things together and learning from each other is an Utopia, but I’m a utopist and strong believer of Douglas Adams theory of human imperfection, bc that is what makes human life actually interesting – imperfection.
We have listened to your mix several times since you sent through around a year ago, hoping that one day we would be able to release it. Thanks so much! Could you give a bit of background to it – where it was recorded and the ideas behind it?
Sure. It is pretty much connected to the chosen release date for this mix, as I will be playing at De School in Amsterdam again for the Het Weekend. This time I will play two sets. A daytime dance set and an ambient garden set.
The crew of De School took over ://about blank last summer and this mix here is the recording of my closing set at the most beautiful garden of ://about blank. I was overexcited, jittery and had this crazy idea to create a acoustic movie for the audience. I was performing in London the weeks before and went to an MVE where they played the soundtrack of a german 70’s Science Fiction TV series I never heard about before. It was so feminist and progressive that I decided in that moment that I have to use the samples. That’s where the citations are coming from sometimes. The reason to use those was bc I think that ://about blank and De School have a lot in common when it is about forward thinking curating and pushing debates. Of course there are mistakes being made, but again: I personally find this even more interesting, because it gives the chance to reflect, process and learn.
You have played at some amazing nights, clubs and festivals in 2019, Mother’s Finest Weekender, Horoom (Bassiani), PPG @ Soup Kitchen, Freerotation, and even a tour of Asia! Can you outline a few of your musical highlights from the past year?
That’s one of those very difficult questions. I def have some fav nights already. Playing 7 1/2 hours alone at Horoom was def a highlight! The whole Asia tour was so amazing but intense. I played so many different sets and felt like I’m crossing to higher levels – just to fall back to the edge and climb up again with the next set – a total roller coaster of intensity. I ended the tour with a weekend with DJ Nobu, which was just so much fun. We always learn from a lot from each other and have a great time together. I feel very honored to have been able to share decks with him for so many times now and I know we will do this again and again. ❤
But I think one of the most exhausting weekends was the one with Candy Pollard where we played two all nighters in a row – at Zur Klappe and at Pudel Club, which was so much fun and musically absolutely mindblowing! Pls book us together! We are simply such a good team! it’s TRUE!
What plans do you have for the rest of 2019 and 2020?
I will play again De School as mentioned before and then will leave to Mexico for a 4 weeks tour with Electric Indigo, who is a huge inspiration to me for 20 years. We have a very packed tour plan and are going to play many big events like Cervantino Festival and Neam in CDMX. We both will also play an ambient b2b set at the UNAM in CDMX and end
the tour in Honduras. I might go to NYC in-between too 🙂
For 2020, I plan to return to Asia of course. Zhao Dai in Beijing offered me a residency now, so I’m more than thrilled to be the second international resident there beside Haruka. But I will also focus on my other job more, which I’m very excited about. So see you on the dance floors! I hope you enjoy the set and thanks for the interview!
Interview By: James Acquaye Nortey-Glover