With an enormous catalogue of releases and one of the most relentless sounds in all of techno, Elements head honcho Rebekah is undoubtedly at the top of the current crop of producers and DJs within the genre.
After touring her Elements showcase around Europe and then following that up with her critically acclaimed debut album on Soma Records, her reputation has grown significantly, so much so that a few more successful years will in no doubt see her commanding legendary status.
Her latest trip to Ireland will see her suitably sharing the bill in District 8 with the iconic Scottish pairing of Slam, the storied brains behind Soma itself, for a label showcase. Soma celebrated its 25th anniversary in existence last year with a formidable compilation that featured heavyweights like Kobosil, Robert Hood, Adam Beyer, Jonas Kopp and loads more that have collaborated with the Scots or worked with the label.
The same label that initially broke Daft Punk into the world of electronic music has been home to some of the most talented artists techno has ever seen; Clouds, Dax J, Gary Beck and more, as well as breaking in some newer names, such as recent addition Charles Fenckler.
Soma has been home to some of the best we’re likely to ever see, with Rebekah’s place there being an entirely deserved one and another defining move in the history of one of the most influential imprints dance music will ever see.
When you started out Elements in 2014 with your own EP, did you think it would go as far as it has?
“Secretly I hoped it would! Upon discovering Malika Maria’s, I loved the idea for her to be able to join me, either part of an album tour or a showcase, we just needed to figure out how it would work. The EP that came out was born from a concept of a simple and definitely been-done-before idea, but I wanted to see how it would translate in to techno music. Bringing visuals to music and vice versa has always been one of my creative tools, so this whole project seems like a logical progression.”
You grew up in Birmingham and started DJing when you were 16. How has your sound changed after such a long time on the go?
“When I started out I just knew I wanted to become a DJ, one of those spur of the moment decisions! I really hadn’t developed a taste for a specific genre so I ended up buying all sorts of music, from deep house, trip hop through to techno. I really discovered techno when I was 17 and felt like I had arrived home, but mixing it was another thing, I just struggled with the loops and as a novice it was easier to mix more formulated house music. So I started playing Chicago and French house and it progressed down a house paved street until somewhere in the mid to late 00s.”
“I was so unhappy and disillusioned with the house scene that I started a new path to discover my original passion for techno, the records I would secretly play when none of my friends were around. 10 years on and I am happier and more at ease with what I’m doing than ever, and the genre always keeps me satisfied with the amount of great music there is to be discovered.”
Could you give us a quick rundown of your live set up?
“It’s a real simple Native Instruments, four-channel Traktor set up, laptop, RME sound card, two NI X1’s controlling the channels and one NI F1 controlling effects. All of this through the Allen & Heath Xone 92 mixer. This works well for me as I really enjoy mixing three to four tracks as it allows me to build energy within a DJ set and have control over the tracks with specific cue points.
“I am not one that plays loops only, I still appreciate the tracks entirety but this freedom allows me to jump through different sections. Using the F1 mapped to effects is also an easy tool to have and a lot of fun whilst playing, not one to be abused though! Occasionally I bring the Roland Aira TR-8 along but it doesn’t sync so well with the Traktor software so it’s now saved for the album tour which will be of a live hybrid set and a whole new way of performing.”
Where do you find most of your inspiration comes from?
“By the time I have reached the studio I may have already have the idea for the track on the go, recently I have been making a start on ideas on flights, in hotel rooms between gigs and occasionally late at night at home.
“More often is the case when I have some free headspace and the moment catches me. Once in the studio I have a few pieces of kit I can come back to, to get some ideas going like the Doepher Dark Time, a nifty little sequencer and I recently added the Dave Smith Oberheim Ob-6 to my set up, so there are some really powerful sounds to be played around with in there too.”
You chose the lineups for your Elements showcases, was there a specific process that went into picking acts?
“Mainly it’s about an energy within techno that I am looking for, leaning towards the more industrial sounds that are out there, possibly more UK in essence. I think the UK artists are more interesting in their choice of sounds and references to their past influences. But I am not biased, that would be doing the scene a disservice! It’s also a home for the faster and harder sounds to be explored, I have had such backlash for ‘being too fast and too hard’, that I needed to create a place where there are no boundaries.”
Techno is really going from strength-to-strength at the moment, what are your views on the current state of the genre?
“It’s just a wonderful time to be around it, to see the young kids really getting in to the sound all over Europe and beyond makes me super happy. It’s almost like I can see myself at a younger age experiencing it for the first time. It’s also exciting knowing the scene is going to be healthy for many years to come.”
Rebekah plays alongside Slam in District 8 on May 6.
Words: Tommy Holohan
Photo Credits: Phillip Boegle