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FILE 94 // AMILA

Hands Amila 5elect5 Essentials

French DJ and record collector Amila is one of Berlin’s music tastemakers when it comes to all the other genres outside mainstream Techno. With Altered Soul Experiment, he was able to create a platform with multiple outlets both digitally and physically to reach his audience. The label releases only mixes on cassette tapes (like the good old days) and has an impressive roster including names such as Ge-ology, Antal or Specter – all of their mix tapes are sold out. The monthly radio show on NTS plays the finest selection of Soul, Boogie, Disco grooves and ambient Jazz by Amila himself or guest DJs. The party series in Berlin provide the space and time to bring all the fans and enthusiasts together onto one dance floor. To guarantee maximum “Altered Soul Experiment”, Amila brings his own rotary mixer and cartridges as well as recorder to the shows. The fuel to power and grow the ASE empire, Amila shared his secret essential which are, believe it or not, cookies! Apparently the French cookies are the best for inspiration and creativity, but while he is based in Berlin – the German brand Milka does the job. We understand.

Essentials Amila 5elect5

1. RECORDER (TASCAM, CHECK HERE): Essential piece of gear to realise how sloppy your mixes get late in the morning ! I’m now recording everything at home or while playing out and it actually really helped me improve over time.

2. STICKER (ALTERED SOUL EXPERIMENT, CHECK HERE): I stick those out as much as possible. It doesn’t serve any purpose but I like to think that people would take the time to check what it is about.

3. COOKIES (ANY BUT FOR MILKA, CHECK HERE): I don’t think I ever worked on anything without a box of cookies in the room. I like those ones because they are good value and Milka probably put some strange chemicals to make you want to eat the whole box. I can also recommend the other ones with the melted chocolate inside the cookie …

4. CASSETTES (ANY): I’m still taking time to put out tapes on my label. I like to be able to put out mixes on a physical format and cassettes is the only media that make sense. I’m not specially into their sound but I like the limitation of a format.

5. CARTRIDGES (SHURE, CHECK HERE): I find that in almost every club, you have to bring your own needles. Even if everything is dodgy, you’ll know that they will do their job just fine. On the downside, if you miss a beat you won’t be able to say it’s the cartridge’s fault.

6. MIXER (DJR4000, CHECK HERE): I’m not an audiophile geek but this mixer has a lot of sentimental value. I’ve used it out in so many parties and shared it with so many great artists. I’ve always been able to enjoy myself a lot more on rotary mixers and this one is portable enough to be able to carry just about anywhere.

Writing Illustration Quote Amila 5elect5

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FILE 93 // DETROIT SWINDLE

Hands Detroit Swindle 5elect5 EssentialsThe Amsterdam-based duo of Maarten Smeets and Lars Dales – Detroit Swindle started their individual music careers  before they joint forces in 2011, to produce, DJ, play live and run Heist Recordings together. Their knowledge and passion for diverse music genres from Classic House, Jazz, African funk to Disco shaped the Detroit Swindle’s signature sound as well as the ability to put any audience on a musical journey. Their continuously developing and seemingly expanding live set up is probably one of the most impressive and elaborate with tables filled with multiple synths, drum machines, samplers, pad controllers and cables.

When Maarten showed us his 7″ record collection along with the beautifully crafted vinyl weights and personal rotary knob mixer, we understood the passion and dedication that got the duo to where they are now. There is always an “easy” route in every career, but Maarten and Lars take up every challenge to grow and evolve their music – which brought them to a collaboration with the nine-piece brass brand Jungle by Night for their new album “High Life” (to be released on May 28th) to make their music more “live and jazzy”. Essentials can be living proof of your career as well as a reminder to where your roots and core inspiration lies: in Maarten’s case clearly his family and the music.

Essentials Detroit Swindle 5elect5

1. FAMILY (POLAROID AND GIFTS): I always carry my family with me, in 1 way or another. My wife is a big Polaroid geek, so we always have those little photo’s lying around the house. This one of my daughter is already a few years old, but it takes me back to a lovely holiday to St. Maarten in the Caribbean, so i still carry it around with me. My wife’s name is Roos (dutch for Rose), so hence the pin. My 3 year old son is a big Lego head and ever since he accidentally dropped some lego in my record bag when he was helping me choose the records for the weekend, i kinda stuck with

2. VINYL WEIGHTS (SOFT LEATHER CO, CHECK HERE):  We found these 2-in-1 vinyl weights and 7 inch adapters at a really cool shop called The Scout Leather company. They’re really heavy, which works well for those old warped records and they look nice too. We always need some extra time to explain what they are going through airport security, but with a thick pile of records, they’ll stop you anyway.

3. 7″ RECORD BAG (A GIFT): Lars gave me this bag for my birthday last year. I was always messing around with silly ways to bring the 7 inches, and this little bag is great. it holds more than enough for a weekend, and i can stick it to my Rimowa case with industrial strength velcro. pretty cool :).

4. MIXER (A GIFT, CHECK CONDESA): This mixer was handmade for us in Australia by the lovely people of Condesa. It’s a great sounding machine, fully analog and those potmeters look so lovely. It’s a joy to play with and in the 2 years that we’ve taken it on tour, i can’ remember a single sound engineer that wasn’t head over heels in love with the sound. And that says quite a lot.

5. BOOK (YANN MARTEL, CHECK HERE):  I’ve been wanting to read more for a long time now, but with a full bag, it’s not always easy to find a nice, smaller sized book. I’ve actually just bought an e-reader, so this might be the last book i’ll take on tour. It’s one i’ve read a long time ago, but I really enjoy reading stories like this for a second time, to discover more meaning behind it, and pick up the nuances that you might have overlooked the first time. It’s a great book about a Taxidermist and a writer who’s decided he’s no longer a writer. The storytelling is enchanting and there’s a lot of hidden layers of meaning in the book, which i really like.

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FILE 92 // JOHANNA KNUTSSON

Hands Johanna Knutsson 5elect5 EssentialsJohanna Knutsson is a Swedish-born crate digger, DJ, producer and label founder/owner. Although she already had a successful career as a hair stylist, she decided to quit her business and relocate to Berlin to focus on a career in music; her second passion. It is an impressive tactic to pursue a musical career by initially focusing on a different profession. Johanna is now a full-time artist touring around the world but still enjoys to cut hair on several days a month to stay connected to her other creative roots. Running two established labels “Zodiac 44” with Luca Lozano and “UFO Station Recordings” with Hans Berg, hosting the radio show “Low Power FM” with Kate Miller, and having recently released a track on the label “Midnight Shift Singapore”, her career seems to continue reaching exciting new levels.

Johanna’s essentials are a beautiful collection of gifts she has received from her strongest supporters and closest friends. She draws her daily dose of inspiration and energy from these thoughtful items and is a strong believer in a network of like-minded creatives that share, respect and learn from each other. Thank you for the reminder that being an artist doesn’t need to be an isolating lonely job but can be warm and loving if you create or find your family.

Essentials Johanna Knutsson 5elect5

1. MASKING TAPE (MT, CHECK HERE): These colorful Sticky Tapes I use when I’m organizing my record bags before a show.Some times if it’s a intense gig (bad monitoring, strange vibes or just a lot of things going on in he dj-booth) I feel in control because the different colors tells me what could possibly fit well musically together.

2. MUNECA QUITAPENA (WORRY DOLLS, A GIFT):  I got these from my music-and soul mate Kate Miller. I worry about the world a lot, but it helps having these with me. Also, the gesture of giving me these was so beautiful.

3. SAGE (A GIFT): My very good friend Pjotr gave me this sage to burn. I always burn it before i practice djing at home, don’t know why but it gets me in a good mood.

4. RAINBOW CRYSTAL (A GIFT): My partner bought me this as a birthday gift a few years ago, lifts my spirit ans basically just something pretty to look at when I make music.

5. NOTEBOOKS (OWN COLLECTION): I always have books and lists with me to write down every music idea I get, things to remember and to-do lists.

6. ENAMEL STEEL CUP (VINTAGE): My coffee cup. No ideas will come without coffee. This particular one I bought in a second hand shop in Australia as a souvenir of my first Australia/Asia tour ever!

Writing Illustration Quote Johanna Knutsson 5elect5

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FILE 91 // DENT MAY

Hands Dent May 5elect5 EssentialsDent May’s music takes you always to a blissful and warmer place. Following his heart and his old friends, the Mississippi-raised singer songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalists relocated to sunny Los Angeles 2 years ago. Dent’s latest LP “Across The Multiverse” is filled with dreamy psychedelic pop which takes you on a cosmic trip back to a breezy summer day in the 70s. The lyrics are smart and humorous just like him off-stage, his music videos, his short biography (“hotel bar lounge singer, daytime tv talk show host, tarot reader to the stars”) and his essentials. His backpack is packed with “on the road must-haves” he has refined over the years touring around the world. The selection seems to describe him well: a creative professional with creature comforts we all are too familiar with: a healthy addiction to Chapsticks lip balm or Ricola cough drops.

1. NOTEBOOK (NO BRAND): I used to buy fancy leather notebooks, but I was too afraid to write in them because they were so pretty. Now I buy the cheapest I can find. I use them to jot down songwriting ideas, make set lists and keep track of practical stuff. The pen is from Santa Anita Park, a horse racing track I frequent in Arcadia, CA.

2. SUNGLASSES (MOSCOT, CHECK HERE): These are my Moscot clip-on sunglasses. I’ve been through so many because I always lose and break them.

3. LIP BALM (CHAPSTICK, CHECK HERE): Most fans of my music know that I’m hopelessly addicted to Chapstick. I’m talking two tubes per week. I also made my own lip balm to sell at the merch table, but it sold out super fast.

4. COUGH DROPS (RICOLA, CHECK HERE): I’m constantly popping Ricola for my singing voice. I actually went to their website the other day and there’s all these testimonials from celebs like Bruno Mars and Nicki Minaj about how they can’t sing without it. I’m not even sure if it helps, but I like them.

5. TRAVELLING MEDICINE CABINET (OWN COLLECTION): Anyone who’s traveled with me knows I’m insanely afraid of getting sick and losing my voice, so I keep pretty much every possible type of over-the-counter medication on me at all times. This is actually my significantly pared down collection for touring Europe. I had even more with me in the US.

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FILE 90 // PAN DAIJING

Hands Pandaijing 5elect5 EssentialsPan Daijing. It’s not only the artist’s name but also stands for a singular art form because there is no genre or label that can sum up her work. Pan’s live performances take place at galleries, museums, theaters and underground venues – the space becomes a part of the experience for her and the audience to connect. Her album Lack 惊蛰 on Berlin-based label PAN is merely a teaser into her world of extremes creating an appetite for more. Pan’s work can be violent, dissonant and dark but with delicate elements, moments of relief and silence. The high contrast of her work, however, feel almost meditative and allow the artist and the audience to become more intimate. It’s a smart technique Pan has full control over because she directs and builds her shows to every detail ranging from lighting, costumes and visuals.

Born and raised in China, Pan moved to Berlin 2 years ago after receiving a sound design degree in San Francisco and starting her musical career back in China’s art and performance scene. We were able to catch her in between international tours and a trip back home to China. Dressed in black leather from head to toe, she shared with us that wearing leather gives her comfort and has become the outfit of choice on stage. Spending time with her family and eating home-cooked meals are equally essential to her creative process as the selection of items shown below. Although her work is so international, avant-garde and borderless – her roots and inspiration are in China and will always stay in China.

Essentials Pan Daijing 5elect5

1. CALENDAR (FIND IN CHINA): Chinese year calendar with photos of ancient antiques. Good remind of the day.

2. CANDY (FIND IN CHINA): Sugar free throat candy made with classic throat healing recipe in china.

3. OIL (WING LONG, FIND IN CHINA): Red flower oil helps with muscle pain and wounds. Must have for frequent travellers and heavy sports life. Intense smell also refresh the brain.

4. VIBRATOR (FIND YOUR OWN): Vibrates away all the stress. Quick pleasure.

5. SYNTHESIZER (ATOMO SYNTH, CHECK HERE): Favorite piece of gear of all time.

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FILE 89 // PYUR

Hands Pyur 5elect5 EssentialsPyur aka Sophie Schnell is fast and fearless. Reaching out to Scuba to offer her vocals to landing a job at his label Hotflush Records and this year getting signed to the Hotflush artist roster. Her debut LP Epoch Sinus seems to be only the opening chapter to the world of Pyur. The album’s sound is so diverse and beautifully crafted that it deserves its own genre. Sophie’s sound design is deep and mystical, drawing inspiration from classical music, nature and anything she “sees” while making music. Her creative process and work is both visual and sonic and this experience is shared with her audience by releasing a video piece for each track on the album.

We met Sophie at her studio / apartment in Berlin. The moment we stepped into her space, it was like entering another cosmic dimension and we understood immediately where her music was coming from. Her studio was filled with “Pyur” material such as crystals, ocean inspired decorations, candles, beautiful textiles and mysterious art work. On the contrary, Sophie also told us that she produces a lot of music for commercials and films because she enjoys the challenge to be creative within a limited time frame. Her essentials are the items that channel Pyur’s creative energy to be fast and fearless at her studio and on the road.

Essentials Pyur 5elect5

1. HARD DRIVE (INTENSO, BUY HERE): My musical and visual projects tend to get so large that I have to outsource most of my data, to be able to keep on working without crashing my poor laptop. On this hard drive is EVERYTHING. So I take good care of it.

2. CRYSTALS (PERSONAL COLLECTION): These are a selection of stones I carry around, the Pyramid one I use a lot for artworks, the others I like because of how they feel. I think of stones as inverted rooms, that I can enter. I learn from their process of becoming what they are.

3. MIDI KEYBOARD (M-AUDIO, CHECK HERE): This is my little travelling midi-keyboard. It’s good enough! And there used to be more stones on it. They are real Swarovskis, my stepfather used to work there a while ago. The rest of the stones must still stick around somewhere in suitcases, flats and other countries..

4. ALPHA DISC (GIFT): I use this Alpha-Disk (developed by Lissy Götz) to change my mind every now and then. There are many sentences and affirmations for re-programming the „highways“ of the brain arranged in a circle and I close my eyes and point to one and read it and feel it inside and then I often feel quite different afterwards. It’s good when I feel stuck.

4. BOOK (THE ROYAL TOMBS OF EGYPT, BUY HERE): I have a habit of travelling with heavy books, most recently books about ancient Egypt. I can easily get lost in the mystical and beautiful artworks and beliefs from that time. It’s quite inspiring for me. It’s forms and signs seem more futuristic than from a long time ago. The sarcophagi remind me of star gates. The knowledge of  ancient Egypt is somehow on an intuitive level a big part of my music.

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FILE 88 // SIEREN

Hands Sieren 5elect5 EssentialsSieren aka Matthias Frick can be added to the list of the creatives we have met with multiple talents. Despite being based in the Techno capital Berlin, Matthias never stopped pursing his love for UK influenced bass music, field recording and experimental soundscapes. The richly textured and intricately programmed warm sound of his latest record Ascension EP on Apollo Recordings, the ambient division of renown R&S Records, shows his continuous evolution of  the “Sieren” sound and identity.  Most of the artists seem to achieve this level of professionalism only working as a full-time musician, but Matthias told us that he is actually a full-time product / software developer at one of the leading music software and hardware companies named Ableton by day. While being blessed with such musical talent, Matthias confessed that he currently enjoys having the luxury of doing both.

Matthias moved to a new studio / apartment in Berlin only few months ago but we were impressed by his clean and minimalistic set up. The subtle scent of an air purifier added to the cozy atmosphere and we couldn’t stop but notice his key to success: structure and self-awareness. The furniture, the polished selection of studio gear and the essentials he chose to share with us are all honest collections of simply things he truly likes and appreciates just like the two career paths he has chosen for himself.

Essentials Sieren 5elect5

1. HEADPHONES (SONY, BUY HERE): I’m not gonna talk about the Lightning Adapter, because that being another essential is a whole different story. But the Sony headphones have been a loyal companion of mine for a couple of reasons: I listen to all my music when I’m travelling on those and thus I’ve gotten so used to them, that I also use them for making music on the go. They are quite cheap, yet very great sounding and easily replaceable in case you lose them, since almost every major store carries them.

2. EARPLUGS (OHROPAX, BUY HERE): As a result from living with too many flatmates whose sole purpose was to audition for Jurassic Park (preferable at night) I’ve grown so used to them, that I can basically not live without them. Personally I found them to be the most effective acoustically (almost too good to actually wear them in a club) and also most pleasant to wear.

3. JU-06 (ROLAND, BUY HERE): Roland quite nailed it with the Boutique series. I always wanted a Juno 106 but somehow passed the window where they were still affordable. This one gets as close as it gets to the original in my opinion and ever since I got it half a year ago it has already heavily informed my productions.

4. NECKLACE (ICON, CHECK HERE): I wish I could say there’s some sentimental value attached to this one, but I do like the design and combination of geometrical shapes with elements of nature.

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