Get To Know: Helena Hauff

Get To Know: Helena Hauff

Hamburg-based DJ and producer Helena Hauff has fast become one of the most important electronic music artists working in the scene. Never one to shy away from the eclectic and the unexpected, she's a force to be reckoned with both in terms of her selection and solo releases. Her debut album Discreet Desires was rapturously received, and on 28th October Hauff offers a follow-up four-track EP Have You Been There, Have You Seen It. Listen to the first single, 'Gift' here, and read on to find out what's shaped the new material. 

Hi Helena! We’re very into the first single from your forthcoming EP. Where have you been, and what have you seen since the release of Discreet Desires that makes you the producer and DJ you are now? 

Hello! I’ve been to some interesting places that I’ve never been to before, like Iceland, Mexico, Morocco, USA, South Korea and India for example. I met some cool people there which I always find really inspiring.

I'm assuming lots of that travelling has been done while you've been on the job? How does your work as DJ inform your production style, and vice versa? 

They’re two very different things. But if I put an EP or album together I think of it as almost like a DJ set - it’s got a beginning and an end so I think about how one song leads into another.

How has your new EP come into being? What does your studio setup look like when you’re making music? And how do you kick start the creative process?

A lot of the time I just switch on the machines and start jamming. Normally I start programming some beats. Other times I’m inspired by other people’s music and I try to recreate a certain sound. It never ends up sounding like it but it’s a good way to get things started.

And you wrote the EP in your native Hamburg, right? I've often fantasised about moving there for its renowned electronic music scene. What can the London night life scene learn from its German counterparts? 

Well, there is much more going on in London, but the problem is it’s too strict, there are too many rules and not enough freedom.

Yeah the fact that most clubs close at about 2.30am doesn't really help does it. There are some great collectives doing great things for electronic music in the city though. Siren for example are bringing a lot of talented women to the forefront of the scene. Over the years since your debut, do you feel there has been any improvement in attitudes towards gender balance?

There are definitely more women present now. But there’s still a lot to do and I wish we wouldn’t even have to ask this question anymore.

Hear hear. It’s well known that you view DJing as a craft and not just a means to spin your own records. What do you think makes a great DJ? And what can those who don’t produce do to hone their skills?

A good DJ for me is someone who surprises the audience and can keep the energy up. Also, I find it quite important that a DJ has got their own style of DJing. With my favourite DJs I can always tell it’s them even if they play different styles of music - it’s the way they pick tunes, the way they think about music. They could maybe play two tracks together that no-one would think would fit but when in the moment it makes sense. Also, they have their own style of mixing tunes, how long they let tracks play, the way they EQ and so on.

But all that is a skill you only develop with time. When you start out the most important thing is just doing it. Just try and DJ as much as you can even if it’s just at home in your bedroom.

QUICK FIRE

A song to start the party?

Alien FM ‘It's About The Bangin’ (Puzzlebox Records 27)

A song for a long journey?

Anything by Depeche Mode

Last live performance you saw?

Blood Sport

Digital or analogue?

Analogue

In the studio or on the road?

On the road

90s or 00s?

Now!

- - - 

Thanks Helena! Have You Been There, Have You Seen It is out on 27th October via Ninja Tune. Catch Helena at Printworks on 21st October. 

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