An undeniable figurehead of the Berlin house scene, Cinthie is one of those DJs whose reputation is second to none. She has been on a meteoric rise over the past few years with shows across the globe. Her various co-run imprints Beste Modus, Beste Freunde, Unison Wax and we_r_house have garnered her a lot of attention in the underground house scene amongst her own output on the likes of Watergate, Black Keys and more. We talked to her prior her release on Ground Service, more about that below.
Ola Cinthie! What's life in Berlin like at the moment?
Oh, it's fantastic. It's finally sunny and warm and it could not be better right now.
We've been following your process of building your own studio (via Instagram) for a while now. How is that coming along?
Hahaha, oh yes, the neverending project. Well, it's done and I have to say it was absolutely worth it. The acoustic is sooo much better now. Some people asked me why I'm doing it, well the answer is easy. I really want to concentrate more on producing this year... and I already did but the acoustic was terrible in my rectangle room. I thought it would be nice to invest a bit of money to get it done properly. I never build stuff like this before but I have to admit, it was good fun and also kind of meditating in the end. But it could have done faster, but due to being on tour for a couple of weeks and then my daughter having some days off from school, it took a while.
Being a single mom… How do you structure your time to be able to handle everything you do? Are you some kind of time management mastermind?
I think I am, yes, but that's something I learned at school or at work. It's just simple time management. I bring my daughter to school around 8 in the morning and then I go straight to the studio to make music, record my radio show, do some digging or a&r-ing for my labels or just some admin stuff. I have to say I love my structured life cause it grounds me. That's a very important thing next to the crazy weekend life. And after a few years being a single mom now, it's easy.
Speaking about music. How do you keep such a great balance of combining older house tracks with new ones? Do you think the younger generation seems to be forgetting about the roots of house music?
Oh thanks, I see this as a compliment. Well, I worked in a records store between 1996 and 2001 and this is where I got most of my music from. I also started Djing round 1997 in clubs etc and I played mostly house music but of course also some other kind of electronic music. I still have all of my records from then and I usually always dig through the old stuff for my radio show.
When I find a cool old jam I, of course, bring it to the club and play it. And since my network is increasing, I get lots of new music sent which I also want to play. So yes, trying to provide a good mixture of new and old. I don't think the younger generation seems to forget about the roots of house music but since everyone is only into Techno, it's nice to show the kids something new, they may have never heard.
Obviously, you now have a very thought-out selection of raw house beats, jacking grooves and a hint of classics as well. But your sound did change quite a bit throughout the years. Do you think artists need to reinvent themselves in order to evolve? Could you pinpoint artists who were the most influential for your sound?
I don't think artists should change their sound completely. I m not sure if I have always been playing house, but my music was definitely always about the groove. No matter if it was house, a bit of groovy techno, some minimal or whatever I played. From the older generation, I definitely like Kerri Chandler for sure, Chez Damier, Todd Terry, Jovonn, Eddie Fishin' Fowlkes, Miss Minx, K Hand and a lot more... From the newer generation, there is Brawther, Malin Genie, Lazare Hoche, DJ Steaw etc, the list is endless I guess...
Going back to Berlin. The German capital city became one of the most important cities when it comes to electronic music. Why do you think that this culture became an important part of Berlin?
Because we don't have any industry here like, for example, the car industry in Bavaria or Baden Württemberg. All we have are startups and the music industry. The good thing is, that we don't have closing hours, that makes it so special cause you can go out at any time of the day, you will always find some good music to dance to.
Also because of the history we have in Berlin after the wall came down, we had a lot of empty houses where underground culture could grow. Also, the police from the west didn't know what to do cause they thought the police from the east was still responsible and the other way round. That's why no one really gave a shit about all the illegal warehouse parties.
I threw some myself between 2004 and 2006 and although the police came around a couple of times, we never had too much trouble. And once we made a name as the capital city of electronic music, all the tourists came because compared to other cities, it's still so cheap here and everyone is pretty laid back.
The last couple of months has seen you perform from New York to Singapore. Are there any confirmed dates you look forward to the most? Any particular countries, clubs or crowds that have a warm spot in your heart?
Yes, I finally got my US visa and will go for a little US and South America tour in June, then back to Asia with gigs in Japan etc. Haven't been in Japan for ages so I'm really looking forward to that. Especially cause I'm bringing my daughter this time and we will also chill on Bali for a bit.
Tell us a bit more about Elevate? What kind of project is it and what does it comprise of? Any special releases lining up that you look forward to as well?
We created Elevate with my crew cause we all have superb labels and I thought we should support each other more to gain more attention. We just had another meeting the other day and I want to blow up the company a bit. Means I have the opportunity to get a small room next to my house were I can store all the stuff and maybe even get a second room which we will turn into a little record shop. Elevate definitely stands for selected vinyl and we will start adding the labels from our inner circle and like-minded people.
The music will mostly be house and we will also sell some merch. The idea after that is to post and support each new release that has been added to the shop and ideally sells every record exclusively 2 weeks before the official release. We will also offer our back catalogue for streaming for those who are not lucky enough to live in a big city with 10 record stores.
How much would you say that creating all your labels helped you develop your career? What is it that you look for when signing new artists for any of your labels?
Since I'm not ( yet ) the greatest producer on earth, it has definitely helped me to develop my career. Cause let's be honest: these days it's more about getting attention through all kinds of things than from just the music. I'm a good and well-experienced DJ, no question but to gain the more international attention you have to add something to it. So I started with my labels and created a good solid fan base with it.
But now I'm concentrating more on producing and ( hopefully ) going the next step. Just building a solid career. Deffo not looking for the hype and a fast blow up!
Let's finish this one where we've started – in Berlin. Is it true that Berlin-based DJ's, producer's, vinyl lovers don't dig in local shops? If not, which is your favourite record store and what makes it stand out from the rest?
Hahaha who said this? It's deffo not true. I love digging in shops cause I love to meet and mingle with people. My favourites are Blackround12, Mitte Musik and the Record Loft. The staff is friendly and they have a good selection of music. But to be honest, these days I don't have as much time as I had in the past to dig in shops but I still try to go to one once a week or every second week.
Thanks for your time and we wish you all the best in the future!
Cinthie is dropping ‘Ninetease / Treize’ via Ground Service, backed with remixes from ZKY, one half of Cab Drivers and co-founder of Cabinet Records. Out and ready for grabs on 9th May (Vinyl) and 28th May (Digital) 2018. Press HERE to get re-directed to shop.