TLDR: Nadja & Helmut of Klartraum talk about Berlin’s role in the dance music industry.
Nadja Lind and Helmut Ebritsch have been making an impact on the Berlin’s music scene since they started working together in 2006 as Klartraum. Together they have created and shared exceptional music through unique productions and creative live sets, both known for their thoughtful and fluid techno sound. Their label Lucidflow releases carefully chosen tracks that fit their dreamy yet focused atmosphere, each offering something special that adds to the global soundscape.
With years of experience weaving their music into the Berlin clubs through their performances and label’s releases, Nadja and Helmut are able to give us some great insight into what makes their city unique.
Berlin has been continually rising as a major global music destination for not only electronic music, but other styles as well. What do you think contributes to this success?
Nadja: It’s a melting pot of cultures and ethnics and very vibrant and alive. Berlin’s gone through a tough and very surreal time of war and cold war where it had been divided violently for over 28 years (1961 – 1989). This fuelled the longing to rebel, have fun and break free and I think had an impact on the so called ‘underground’ scene. Berlin used to be a playground for all kind of raw and illegal venues popping up like mushrooms. It’s an act of creativity to build up parties without having much money in your back. And in a poor and devastated city like Berlin was there is also a seed for new beginnings and an atmosphere of departure. Germany and esp. Berlin has made a turn around from the most narrow minded suppressed and cruel system to an open minded free and mingling society. Berlin also once had 3 functioning airports which also contributes a lot to gather people from around the world. You will encounter all kind of creative peeps, funny looking creatures as well as freaks and lost souls. The other day I passed by an older man ‘walking’ or better pulling his stuffed toy dog on a leash.
The range is infinite.
Helmut: Berlin has a strong history with electronic music. Also the reconnection of both german states made much possible, as there were a lot of abandoned buildings in the east. This helped to build a base club scene. This then has grown over the years, inspired younger people. Also one point is, Berlin is still cheap enough for artist to survive. The artist network, the club scene and the affordable prices to live are some factors.
What was your introduction into the Berlin scene like? How does it compare to the current scene?
Nadja: On my first visit to Berlin I didn’t think of the city as very charming or appealing. The opposite! It was freezing, grey covered in dirty snow and ice, the streets were bad, the balconies in Prenzelberg were partly coming down. Dog poop everywhere. I rather found it disgusting back then but surely the parties were wild, dirty and raw which is for me a metaphor of ‘underground’. Amazing!
Few years later I came back in summer(!) to play some gigs in Berlin and my boyfriend and friends kept pushing me to stay and live in the city. I immediately started producing music with my dear friend Helmut who also lived around the corner. I loved the vibrant, green surrounding and its artists and I moved here.
The city has changed a lot in many ways over the years. The current scene sometimes seems to be a bit equaled and rigid and controlled but it still is the only city in Germany (or Europe?) where you officially can party 24/7.
What really is nice about Berlin that you hear all kind of languages when you are out and it’s rather unusual to have a conversation in German.
Helmut: Like speedy boarding. I made electronic music for 10 years in a small town and was the only one together with some friends and 1000 rock / metal bands. I moved to Berlin to get a job and on the third day at work someone introduced me to a DJ. He was not only a DJ but also party organizer, we decided to do some music together. Tigerskin released it on his label Organic Domain Records and I played many Berlin clubs and festivals. Also my project “Klartraum” together with Nadja Lind was well appreciated and we played nice clubs like Tresor, Arena, Maria, Ritter Butzke. Later with my project “Hatikvah” together with vocalist Florian Schirmacher, we also had many club adventures (a step more complicated with full vocal setup).
The scene now is just far bigger and younger. Also some cheap, commercial approaches entered the city. It looks like a sell out to rip off tourists. I think also the drugs changed from MDMA to Ketamine.
But there are still beautiful places and always new interesting spaces are popping up (and also disappearing).
What is the best part of the Berlin nightlife, as a DJ and as a fan?
Nadja: Every day/night of the week is ‘week-end’. And you get to see your friends/ DJs/ collegues from all over the world once in a while since everybody comes here either to play or to party.
Helmut: Berlin is just an interesting place. You never get bored in Berlin or you have some condition named ‘depression’.
Really interesting is to see really weird clubs, cellars, art places. Heaven and Hell is that you can choose from such a big variety of clubs that you are sometimes overwhelmed. Also it can be incredible time consuming if you are looking to get creative things done.
Besides of nightlife even “normal” street people look like funny costumed aliens with stuffed animals.
What are some unique challenges to working in the underground house music industry in Berlin?
Nadja: I would say every 3rd person you meet here is either a ‘dj’ or ‘producer’ or some way involved in the biz. So you can imagine how overcrowded the scene is. Nobody’s waiting here for another ‘dj’ or ‘label’ to squeeze in.
Sometimes I have to be very focused to keep up my schedule since there are so many distractions. There are always friends and interesting people in town you can meet up with and it’s hard to say ‘no’.
Helmut: Getting things done because there are so many distractions and people visiting. Cope with the pressure and speed of the city. The huge amount of artists in the city create a bored state about music and it is hard to find “new and fresh” sounding artists as there is a big copy and follow the leader (most selling) mentality.
Pinch through the mediocre artist layer, “music needs to be cheap” and “no payment” mentality.
Are there any current trends that you think will continue to grow? Any that you hope will end soon?
Nadja: I am so occupied checking out new artists and music for my Lucidflow label as well as touring as a DJ or Live artist and producing as a solo artist or live duo Klartraum or in collaboration with other artists and running the Agile-Mastering with my buddy Helmut that I don’t know what the current trend is. And I don’t care much about trends either.
What I personally don’t like is music diced together from pre-recorded sample loop CDs. I am getting tons of promos and it’s kind of dull to listen to the same beats and vocal samples used in different tracks pitched up and down over and over again. Then I mostly just delete them without leaving any feedback.
I hope Jazzradio.net will continue as long as I do – in all these years I never heard even one bad song on this radio station. They also play Lucidflow from time to time which is really nice! I have a little radio in my kitchen where only Jazzradio is being played and whenever a friend comes to visit me they ask me: ‘Wow that’s nice music, what is this?’
I certainly don’t pay attention to what ‘I hope will end soon’ – I would need at least 10 more pairs of ears to do so.
Helmut: I guess the venues with a nice garden or outside area will grow. It is just to perfect with nice music sitting outside and breathing fresh air.
I hope that “real” live artists will grow or artists with a message (not sure if this will be a reality in the future).
I hope that the cheap sell out spaces without love will die. Also I’m not in need of mediocre overhyped places with bad sound systems.
What clubs or events should visitors be sure to check out?
Nadja: I had really good times playing at Globus floor in Berlin’s oldest techno clubs TRESOR where the sound system is nice but you won’t become deaf after the night. In summer there are also a lot of out-door venues happening.
Helmut: They should checkout the Atonal Festival for sure, it is the leading electronic music event in Berlin.
If you want to step further in understanding electronic music this is the right place.
There are a lot of spaces that are quite cool Kater Blau, Suicide Circus, Berghain, Chalet but it also depends on what line-up you prefer. Sometimes it is also more interesting to spot out the real underground “illegal” club spots – for that you have to know someone that knows.
Maybe also visit some electronic concerts at the Kraftwerk, Berghain or other concert capable places.
Are there any up and coming local DJs that we should be listening to?
Nadja: Yes: Weisses Licht (they just released their EP ‘Self Discovery’ on Lucidflow) – you can also check out a live performance on SoundCloud. Very young and dedicated, talented Berlin artists.
And (even if they are from Sydney Australia but partly located in Berlin: My friend and amazing live performer & DJ Renae Treak / DJ Trinity! and her husband Dave Stuart. You can also have a listen to them on The Lucid Podcast series.
Also Grünbox with who I made my 1st EP ‘High-Heels Trap’. Some mothns later he released his EP ‘Pura Vida’. Great person, great artist!
Also outstanding: Yapacc! He has delivered the most amazing remixes for my label Lucidflow and the next release is in pipeline!
C-Rock & P. Testor
Coming soon: Yapacc, Sashanti & Victoria incl. remixes by Gunnar Stiller, Björn Wilke and us, Klartraum
… There are so many it’s really hard to choose – sorry for everybody I forgot to mention. Best is to check out Lucidflow releases and podcasts! 🙂
Also soon on Lucidflow a very nice Oscar Cornell release and last part Klartraum Enneagram Album – E4
We will also release a Best Of Lucidflow 3 and of course continue our series Lucid Sounds (14)
I am personally working on several projects: Some straight techno tracks to Dub as well as my Ambient Album I am planning to release. Co-ops with Paul Loraine will be out soon on Wolf Trap again. Some other co-ops: G-Man, UGLH, Saytek, Deep Spelle, Omar Salgado among others. Some remix works.
Helmut: I’m not interested in DJs so much. I’m interested in people that create something.
I’m also not interested in hype waves so much. I can only suggest to listen to Yapacc (Live), Weisses Licht(Live), Wareika(Live), Nils Frahm(Live), Siriusmo and I love good, long playing warm up DJs.
Get a feel for Berlin from their perspective with this fantastic set from Nadja Lind: