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Feature: Estroe [Interview]

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Estroe started DJing in 1998 and is regarded as one of the few international female DJs who made it to the top. She has travelled to the USA, the Caribbeans, Russia, Canada, Japan and across Europe. Her list of venues and festivals is impressive: Berghain (Berlin), Watergate, (Berlin), Fuse (Brussel), Tresor (Berlin), Sub Club (Glasgow), Cocoon Club (Frankfurt), Rex Club (Paris), Origami Entertainment Club (Tokyo), Warehouse 702 (Tokyo), Harry Klein (Munchen) and many more. Estroe was one of the residents at the Off the Record nights at Club Ma22o from 2002, where she worked closely with Steve Rachmad, Cellie and Carlijn. Many established DJs and producers were invited during her sets: Adam Beyer, Joel Mull and Anthony Rother, amongst others. Meanwhile, she was also involved in a new talent night called Set Off, and the experimental soiree Explicit Sounds which she organised together with Steffi, who is now resident DJ at Panorama Bar, Berlin Her career took off from there. Her style developed quickly and in more recent years, Estroe has been known for her warm, subtle mixes of techno and tech house that fluently evolve from delicate and warm music to darker sounds with energy and groove. Her delicate and profound productions are not about maximum compression, distorted hi-hats or full-on bass drums. Instead, they are about atmosphere and space. Estroe started producing several EPs and singles (on labels such as Lessismore, Little-D, and Muzikism) before releasing Driven on Connaisseur Recordings in 2007. This track sparked the interest of several big names. Ellen Allien chose Driven for her Fabric.34 mix CD. John Digweed was blown away by this minimalist masterpiece and promptly asked her for a remix on his Bedrock label. Estroe’s long-awaited debut LP Elemental Assets, featuring a guest appearance from Miss Kittin, followed via Connaisseur Recordings and received widespread critical acclaim.

Hi Estroe, thanks for sitting with us today! Tell us where in the world you are and what you are up to today.

Hello! Today it’s Pentecost and it’s an extra free day, so I have some time to answer your questions from Rotterdam, The Netherlands

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? Have your daily routines changed and is the Netherlands now coming back to a state which feels a bit more normal so to speak?

I’m good and handling the situation quite well I suppose. Making sure that I work-out 3 times a week at home, going for long walks with my dog and working from home. Today is a day that we get more privileges, public transport is allowed with mouth masks and terraces are opening for 30 people with 1.5 metres in between. Also museums are opening again also for only 30 people at the same time.

What is something you do now (regularly) that you did not before Covid-19?

I am communicating a lot with Teams and Zooms and this is something that I didn’t need to do before.

Once nightlife eventually resumes what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

I hope we are getting back to more intimate club settings, less commercial big festivals and a renewed appreciation for local and national dj’s. Dj’s will travel not as much as before and that might also have a good influence to nature.

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays and what platform has become your go-to-source when it comes to discovering new music?

As my life is changing, my preference is changing too. I’m not dj-ing that much anymore so I don’t have to listen with a ‘functional’ ear (what and when is something working on a dancefloor) and can focus on my mood. I’m combining Bandcamp and Spotify for that. Sometimes I check what my friends are sharing on their Insta stories too.

Your music has a certain nuance and sophistication about it. What were among your greatest inspirations and who are your musical influences?

I’ve been influenced by a lot of minimal techno and ambience artists. For example ‘the early days’ of Richie Hawtin. Robert Hood and Jeff Mills. But I guess you don’t hear this in my music so much, but on the other hand maybe you can hear it in some of my tracks in the structure. I’m a huge fan of Monolake and Nils Frahm. Massive Attack, Plaid, Arovane, Rhythm and Sound and Yagya.

You’ve long been noted as a creative DJ by both your fans and contemporaries. A lot of this comes down to your unique track selection and impeccable programming skills. How much time is spent on finding those unique selections and do you think the art of DJing has been lost to an extent?

I spent a lot of time in selecting, re-selecting and selecting again. I’m not one of those dj’s who come unprepared to a gig at all. I’m to ‘ocd’ for that, ha ha. I always imagine different scenario’s and will have music ready for those occasions. I also make a selection based on energy on the dancefloor. I still make my playlists like I used to do when I would fill my record crate. I also can't stand it when I don’t have the artwork of a digital release so I will google it and add it to my digital playlist so I have everything organized and tidy. :)

I think the art of dj-ing has just changed. It’s more about entertaining today and with all the new technologies it’s shifted from turntablism to adding samples and fx to hybrid dj/live-sets.

You have some new music out on Lessismore. Tell us a bit about the release, how you approached the writing process and the inspiration behind the project.

There’s been quite a big time frame between remixing this track and the release, but I remember that I wanted to change the original to a version with sounds that I liked at the time. This track was produced with one eye to the dance floor. Nowadays I started making more experimental laidback stuff and I started adding my own vocals. I think that it’s safe to say that this release, this track of mine is in some way closure of a specific period.

It’s your third release on the label dating back to 2016, what does it mean to you to continue to release there and how important do you feel it is to maintain relationships with labels you have released on in the past?

There’s a special connection with Lessismore because it’s going way longer back, than 2016; in 2004. I was just starting with releasing and with Lessismore there was a great ‘click’. Loved the artwork, and more important; the label owner. We stayed in touch and we like to work together. I do feel it’s important to maintain relationships with labels, it’s good to be friends and to have a similar view on the music and the promotion.

What do you do with ideas or works in progress that never end up getting finished and getting released? And if they are kept do you sometimes go back to them even years later?

I save them and once in a while I go back to them, make a selection and try to finish those. Even years later, yes.

What’s a piece of gear that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

I’m a big fan of Omnisphere so most of the time you will here sounds from that one in my tracks. And I’m very pleased with my NI Komplete Kontrol because it feels like I have more than a thousand synths and sounds ready to use.

Your Rosedale Records imprint has been quiet for just over two years, what are your plans with the label going forward?

Yeah, I have it on hold..quitting seems so final and I want to keep my options open in case I have an album or a new release that I might want to release. But the reality is: I just don’t have the time right now.

I started working at a music conservatory for Pop and Electronic Music and I’m getting more and more cool projects and responsibilities there and I’m enjoying it so much! It’s a full time job, especially during this Covid-19 time. I’m also in a team that’s developing an international associate degree for electronic music artist who already have a career but want to finish a music education program as well. And this is very time consuming. But fun!

Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

That’s a great and difficult question, I love movies! Maybe a movie where I felt the music didn’t fit or was to obvious or ‘in your face’. Maybe a science fiction movie. Yeah definitely a science fiction movie! But can’t think of a specific one right now. Maybe you have some suggestions?

If you didn’t end up as a DJ/Producer, do you imagine yourself doing anything else?

Well that’s a very easy one because I combined my music career with nursing for a long time. I used to work on the oncology ward in a hospital. So if music hadn’t come along I would have strived to work at the emergency ward and work on an ambulance.

What does the remainder of 2020 hold for Estroe? Anything you can share with us?

I suppose I’ll mainly focus on working at the music conservatory, coaching my students, sharing all my experiences from the past 22 years. And hopefully this summer I will make some new music. I feel some inspiration coming up!

Estroe has new music out soon on Lessismore, follow her releases here: https://bit.ly/3csQkat

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