Cxemcast 083 – Rachel Lyn
Interviewed by Maria Ustimenko.
22.04.2020

Cxemcast 083 – Rachel Lyn
Interviewed by Maria Ustimenko.
22.04.2020



Eartheater – OS In Vitro [PAN]
Rene Hell – Unpack; Glue [PAN]
NHK'Koyxen – 568_491 [PAN]
J. Tijn – Gundge [In An Instant]
Ron Morelli – Exhibition of Counterfeits, Part 1 [BITE]
Figure Section – Slick [Aufnahme + Wiedergabe]
Mystics – Muscaria (Cravo Remix) [Hayes]
Clouds – Jugendstijl [Headstrong]
Tor Lundvall – 2:00 am [Strange Fortune]
Delusions – Death Tree (Velovr remix) [Ballistic]
Andrea – 20th November [Illian Tape]
Uncrat – Face the Wunder [Proper Line]
Thomas Brinkmann – Mex [Editions Mego]
Miguel Verdolva – O Superman [D:Vision]
Glitch – War Path [Industrial Strength Records]
Lucky & Easy – Classylassie [Ann Aimiee]
Cardopusher – Body Count [Mechatronica White]
Developer – Get That [Failsafe]
Samuel Kerridge & Taylor Burch – Transmission 1 [DNSKER]
Mystics – Barone Lost The Duck [Hayes]
Raoul Delgardo – Digi Steelworks 2 [Sheep Recordings]
Rachel Lyn – Put The Record Back On [Unreleased]
Arpeggiators – Discover Yourself [Harthouse]



How did you approach this mix?

When I think of Cxema, I think of a rave we all dream to go to. It just feels like a place where I want to be, so I tried to imagine it when creating this mix. I love the energy of big industrial spaces. The videos I've seen, it almost feels like you're back in time. The next time it happens, I'm getting on a plane with a friend to come and experience it. 

You've lived in different cities in Europe, are you in Berlin currently?

Yes, I’m currently based in Berlin. I was born in Australia and left almost 13 years ago. I like to travel, I’ve lived in Milan and London too. Before I moved to Berlin, I was often coming there for the weekend for years and years. I'd literally just go clubbing and to the record store. I'd always take my suitcase to the old Record Loft and ask if I could keep my suitcase behind their desk. Like, “I'm flying at 7 pm but I'll just stay here all day digging records.”

I was collecting music in Australia and Milan, but I never looked at it as a job. When I moved to London, I started DJing at a couple of underground parties for a few years, then I got some nice residencies, playing at Village Underground at a party called Superstition, for instance. Around this time, promoters kept asking me to play and it got quite busy. I started thinking about creating music at that point.

Why then?

I mean, I was always thinking about making music, but I'd think about how to make the sounds I was liking, so I’d go deep into areas, like studying early electronics of the ’60s/’70s. I didn't have any instruments at that stage. I was on the computer, learning Ableton and trying to make things inside the computer, which, I realize now, I don't use to make music at all. I need a lot of instruments. I needed to find my thing, but I definitely wasn't feeling inspired to make music just with a computer.

What is it about a computer?

I just feel like I needed to touch something and not have all the control. Also, the aesthetic… I was looking for something in particular. The thing is, I only use a computer to record and make arrangements. I don't use it as a sound source. I'm not even heavily into the deep web of plug-ins, I'm not very technical like this. I'm good on the computer, but it feels foreign to create music just with it. For sure, it's a tool, I absolutely love sampling, so this is where the computer or the internet comes in handy for me.

If you took all the instruments away from me, I'd make it happen, but wouldn’t enjoy it as much. I'd rather find instruments I like and learn to play them. It’s much more organic. This is also how I learned: just by being curious, in and out of studios trying things, learning on the stage while performing, listening, and watching how others do it, jamming with others. I didn't go to school to learn the modular or how to make music. It's self-taught, but with the influence of different scenarios over time. 

Why did you decide to leave London and move to Berlin?

I love London, but I felt like I needed to leave as I wasn't feeling inspired. The people I was meeting at the time in London, we had different ideas about collaborating or making things happen. I always wanted to do something different, my vision was different. Also, I moved to Berlin for the lifestyle, I'm not really made for the big city. I also wanted a fresh start. In Berlin, I was lucky to instantly meet nice people that were open about ideas and creating things together. 

I had been saving up for a long time to start a modular system (working my ass off, actually), so this was the first thing I did. I bought speakers, a modular system, a mixing desk. I put everything into that. I was lucky at the time, I was also meeting others who were using the modular, and I'd go into their studios and see what they were doing because I was trying to learn as well. And I thought: “Hmm, first of all, these people are awesome. Second of all, they are making incredible sounds and music, and nobody's doing anything with them. They're just at home playing on their equipment.” 

So, creating Modular Gang [live event series Lyn founded in 2017] was about putting together a platform for myself to learn and make life more enjoyable. Even today, I'm learning. You can't just buy the equipment and instantly know what you're doing. I'm aware of that, that's the reality of it. It also sucks to work alone all the time, so it was a platform where I could learn, where I could meet people like me and create stuff together, explore life together. I created the first party with a few artists I'd just met. They had never performed before, but I knew they were super talented. I'd also never played completely live at a venue before. It was the first time for all of us. 

How did you come to collaborate with a Berlin promoter Oscillate?

I was DJing with them often and one day, I asked if they'd be up for giving me a room to launch Modular Gang as an experiment. They said that they’d always wanted to do something live like that, and it worked out super well. We've been doing two parties a year with them. I'm also creating pop-up events and workshops at Sound Metaphors, a record store in Berlin. It's a free community event where everyone can come, you can listen to a nice artist playing live, and then they also give a workshop.

That's the idea of Modular Gang: everyone can learn together. At least, I hope it inspires in some way. Also, a reason why I created it was that the platforms already out there were always too advanced and too serious for someone like me because we were just learning. There were so many of us at that stage. It's relatable and you can be involved. It's... What do you think would be a good word?

Reachable? 

Yes, it's reachable! And it's very friendly and fun. The thing is — and it always has been and always will be — it's just fun. It gives me pleasure to create events and see someone like Alex the Fairy, who had never played live before, but is so incredibly talented, blow everyone away. Modular Gang also formed 3Ddancer, with Alex, myself and Volruptus. We have since played in Moscow, CTM/Berghain, and on Boiler Room. All that is because of this platform highlighting underground live talent. In the Berlin area, there aren't many platforms for that.

With the pandemic crisis happening, I'm also running a Modular Gang Internet Party. I booked Lady Starlight, Nene H, Galcid from Japan, myself b2b with Alex the Fairy and other artists. It's a community vibe, getting closer to the artists, seeing inside their studios. It's all for fun. I’m trying to raise money for the artists too, as everyone has lost their jobs. It's something for ourselves to watch at this time and keep creating because usually around this time we'd have a party. So, I thought I'd turn it into an internet party.

How did 3Ddancer come together? Your bio on Resident Advisor says that it started as an improvised jam at Modular Gang. Was it improvised in a sense that you created the act on the spot? 

Yes, we never planned to become an act. I asked Volruptus and Alex to come and play at the launch of Modular Gang. Before the party, I realized I needed someone to close, so we all thought, “Why don't we all jam together?” And it was so good, people really went crazy. We had so much fun doing it. We thought, “This is something, we need to keep rehearsing together.” We put out a live album last year. We record everything that we do — from all the shows to jamming when we're rehearsing — and we just cut out the best parts, our most memorable moments. Without editing; we just chopped it, mastered it, and created a 14-piece live album from it. It's called Great Fucking Success because coming together randomly and then making this live show happen was an awesome success. 

Before buying music equipment, I actually never thought about being a live artist. It was never my plan, ever. Now, I feel like I'm DJing and playing my ambient hybrid show and performing as 3Ddancer equally. It just happened. Through modular and through physical instruments, my whole life changed.

What are you working on now?

My next project is my record label. I've been working on its development for a while, as the details are important to me. I don't want to say too much yet, but it’s only going to be for my recordings, I'm not releasing other people's music at this stage. If I do decide to release other people's music, that will be a sub-label. I think people would expect me to release techno or something, but it's not that. It's music for objects, for movies, for theater. The first record will be out soon.

Why did you decide to create a label?

I like to be independent. I like to make decisions: what it's going to look like, what it's going to feel like, the message. If you sign your music to a label, you don't get all of those options. If I actually wanted to put out a track tomorrow, I could. I master it and I drop it. If you give it to a label, they might put it out in six months, or they might have a schedule planned out for the next twelve months. This is the advantage of running your own record label. You can have a lot more control over what you're doing, and I think it's exciting to have control over your work and your message.

The visual side of your projects and the way you dress for the performances, in particular, seem really thought-through. How important is this aspect of music to you?

With all of my acts, I'm certain characters. Sure, I’m also being myself and I'm just living out certain parts of personality this way. I love to play with fashion, it’s a big part of the story. In my home, I have a “dress-up wardrobe” and if I travel to a country, I visit vintage stores and markets. I buy dresses, in particular. I have a fetish for gowns and theater-like pieces. I have a gown for every performance. When I played my Ambient Hybrid show at Halle am Berghain, I found the couture dress for it a year before and thought, “This would be perfect for an event like that.” I have lots of dresses that I haven't worn yet, they are for specific performances.

At the end of the day, what I focus on is really being true to myself as an artist and not second-guessing my ideas. I'm not trying to be like another artist. I want to be what I want to be. This is my biggest goal: every day to be closer to the artist that I am.

Are you a full-time artist?

No. To this day, I still have a job. I've never relied on making money off music. I still work all week. When I get home from work, I work on music. It's super hard: having a day job but also having to gig on the weekends, but I’ve always worked really hard, it has always been important to me.
 

How do you handle it?

I'm a very organized person, so that helps, but things don't happen as fast as I want because I have to go to work during the day. I don't have the privilege to write music all day. It just doesn't happen. I need time, I need space, I need to feel relaxed to write music and think about ideas. Anyway, I'm not someone who can just wake up and write music every day. It's not discipline, it's that I don't have the energy to do things. I'm on a morning U-Bahn with everyone else going to work. It's not easy, but I can't rely on music. Look at what just happened. We lost all our gigs, we just lost everything due to COVID-19. However, I yearn for that place where I can be completely free to be creative all day, every day... I yearn for that, but sometimes it feels like it's an illusion. It's not easy to be an artist. Also, not relying on music for money keeps the musical part flowing, you keep creating, it's the escape. 

But I always pay for music. Even if you're not DJing, but you like the music, if you like going out clubbing, you have to contribute. The music, the merchandise, the tickets that you're buying contribute to the music community so that it keeps on going. If you really like the scene, contribute. Don't just buy a subscription to streaming platforms. That's not helping anybody but the streaming platforms. Buy an album or a track once in a while. It's not for free. We're spending so much time, we sacrifice to make these things happen. Contribute.

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