Ibiza Voice Podcast 564 :: Cinthie
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Cinthie is a quiet work horse. The Berlin based DJ has built up her own musical empire and it consists of well regarded labels Beste Modus, Unison Wax, Beste Freunde, Second Base and we_r house. She puts out her own effective, classically influenced stripped back house cuts on a few of them, and masterfully A&Rs the rest. She’s made names of a number of emerging talents in the process, and also hosts her own radio show. And of course she DJs round Europe on a regular basis—as well as holding down a residency at Watergate in her home town—AND is a single parent raising her young daughter at the same time. We have nothing but respect for her.
As if that wasn’t enough, she’s just rebuilt her own studio from scratch and is already hard at work in there crafting her next releases. She’s back to using real hardware having spent a while producing on Ableton, who she also worked for, and is soon to launch an online store, Elevate. To find out more about that, what she has coming up and how she recorded her mix, read on…
Ibiza Voice: How are you, how has 2018 been so far?
Cinthie: I’m very well, thank you. And 2018 has been absolutely amazing so far! Hope it will continue like that.
You have just finished building a new studio, tell us a bit about that, how long it took, what your requirements were.
At the end of last year I decided to concentrate more on producing. I spent a lot of time at my studio but I realized the sound isn’t very good.
That’s why I decided to build some absorbers and stuff to avoid resonances. My friend Christoph from Berlin Acoustics has done a lot of studios at the old studio building I was running and has also just build Ben Klocks studio for example. So I invited him round and he made a proper plan for me. As I wanted to save up some money, I wanted to build some stuff myself.
I got the plans and started. First we needed to knock down that second ceiling, which was a dirty job. All that dust. Oh my god! But well, it had to be done and then I started building a bass absorber wall in the back and some absorbers round the ceiling. The rest was a bit too advanced for me, but Christoph has build the rest and then finally after like 2 months building, he came round with the rest of the panels and we put everything together. I have to say , I’m so proud of myself that I’ve done it. Cause it was the first time I have really built something like that.
I made a few mistakes and also I was on tour in Australia and Asia plus my lovely daughter was on school holidays, so I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to do. I guess without all that, I t would have taken only 3 weeks to build, but now it has took me almost 3 months. But it was absolutely worth it, the sound is so clear and amazing.
What are some of your favourite bits of gear in there? Any hardware or software that really defines your sound?
As I worked for Ableton for a long time, I only used Ableton in the last couple of years. But then I did this EP for Ground Service , that’s the label of Jens, who is one half of Cab Drivers and he invited me to the studio to rework the drums. And what shall I say? It was just soo much more fun to use a proper 909 and jam instead of moving the mouse. So I bough now an 808, a 909, a 707, SH 101, Roland D 50 plus my studio partner has some other gear I’m allowed to use.
I also got a MPC2000 from a friend as I never have worked with one and I was keen to check it out. I will probably clock everything through a sequencer from Pyramid. I’m still setting the studio up with cables etc. But I’m excited once it’s fully done. I also just bought the Arturia collection which has a lot of amazing synths on board. But for now I have to finish two remixes and then I will be back on working on some solo EPs.
How long do you spend in the studio? Do you try and work in there like a 9-5 job, or do you only make music when the feeling takes you?
Due to the fact that I'm a single mum, my time is limited. I usually go to the studio everyday from 9 till 15:30. Although I’m more creative at night, I love my daily routine. And also once you are in your workflow, the tracks come round more easily. I’m also excited to have some friends coming over and we will work on some collabs or just jam.
Cinthie in the mix for Berlin Mitte Institute 2011
Does it get harder or easier to write music? I guess you maybe have more skills than ever, but have already used lots of ideas, is that fair?
It definitely gets harder to write music. I mean I have lots of ideas but not every idea will turn into a track and not every track is ready to be released. Unfortunately I compared myself a lot with the boys in my crew who are bad ass producers. But since the end of last year I just have to let it go and said to myself, I only have this life and I just do what I can and get better.
Learning new things every day and it’s good fun and it’s satisfies me a lot cause I made it myself. But also at the moment there is a lot of competition. Your music really has to be on point. But I’m getting there, no worries. Unfortunately I have a lot of skills using Ableton but I never played piano etc, so it takes a while to get everything in tune.
You run various labels - how long do you spend A&Ring? What is your process? How do you know when you have found someone you want to work with, is it based on just a feeling?
I spend a lot of time listening to some new stuff. I usually work like 16 hours per day at the moment to get everything done and have no free days. While I was building my studio I was signing a lot of EPs for we_r house and some stuff for Beste Freunde cause I finally had the time to listen to a lot of music.
Usually I would say I spend like 3 hours per day with signing new stuff. I usually listen to the stuff of people first that I have already met in real life. It’s just easier than clicking on a random demo with a copy and paste text and the wrong label name (yes, true, we are not Innervisions ffs :p hahah)
Next to finding some great tracks, personality also counts a lot for me. Your tracks can be dope but if you are an asshole I won’t work with you. But thank god so far only nice people have sent us some tracks. Some people send usually 3 or 4 but we would only take one for Beste Freunde as we usually only do VAs. But since I also have we_r house, it happened a couple of times that I requested more tracks and signed a full solo EP for we_r house with the artist. I’m very happy I’m able to do that now and it works out pretty well.
How did you record the mix and what equipment did you use?
I recorded the mix at my studio and used my two Technics SL1210 and a small CDJ from Pioneer to play a few unreleased tracks.
Was there an aim for it from the start, did you have a certain thing to say, certain records to play, a sound to represent?
Yes, as usual I started my mix slowly and tried to build it up. I listen to a lot of DJ mixes for my radio show but I have to say I miss a lot of flow in most of them. It’s one thing to put two tracks together but if a certain vibe or flow is missing, I won’t play it. That’s what I tried to create with the mix. A nice flow that gets you in the mood for a night out with some friends. It’s a bit more stripped back and deeper than most of my other mixes. Something I would play at the beginning of a night at Watergate for example.
Where do you get your music from and how long do you spend looking for it each week?
I try to go to a record store every week of if I’m too busy then every second week. I'm lucky to live in Berlin and be surrounded by all these amazing record stores.
Since I’m playing more and get more attention, I’m also in the lucky position to receive a lot of promos or people just bring me their latest record to a gig, which is absolutely lovely. I’m probably spending around 2 or 3 hours digging every day.
What else have you got coming up/are you looking forward to?
I will have a lot of upcoming releases, remixes and a nice US and South America tour upcoming. I will also be back in Japan or Asia in general this summer and hopefully also back in Australia, plus a lot of fantastic festivals and my beloved club gigs in Europe.
But the highlight this summer will be my summer holidays with my daughter for sure. I’m so much looking forward to it to do just nothing and hang out with her. Another really big project is the launch of Elevate, an online store we created for like minded friends and their labels. I just thought why not support each other more rather than just doing everything on our own? I think we can have a much better reach and promote the music and our labels much better together.
I have the opportunity to rent a shop right next to my house and I guess I will take that opportunity and get it and pump the shop up, maybe add some distribution next year as well as a streaming service for vinyl only labels (no downloads of course). I’m super excited about it! This will hopefully be my future project when I’m retired one day.
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