Berlin-via-Warsaw high roller of the new generation of techno VTSS aka Martyna Maja returns with a mesmerising 6-track EP titled ‘Borderline Tenderness’, this time from Berlin-Milan based label VEYL run by
Alex Knoblauch & Maenad Veyl and visual artwork by Tomaso Lisca with photos by KEYI STUDIO
Following a tremendously acclaimed collection of releases showcasing her fresh take on dance floor belters through Intrepid Skin, REPITCH,
HAVEN and also featuring on KAOS, Monnom Black and Hellcat; this new record expands her horizons to different sides of her odd electronics as in ‘Woah’, while also giving a proper dose of her well-known craft to incorporate hardcore, EBM and acid influences on cheeky techno grooves.
新一代来自华沙现居柏林的Techno领军人物VTSS又名MartynaMaja带来了令人着迷的6首曲目EP，名为“ BorderlineTenderness”，这一次来自Alex Knoblauch和Maenad Veyl经营的柏林/米兰品牌VEYL，以及来自Tomaso Lisca的视觉艺术，KEYI STUDIO摄 在发行了许多备受赞誉的专辑之后，这些专辑通过IntrepidSkin，REPITCH，HAVEN展示了她在舞池腰带上的新鲜风采，并在KAOS，Monnom Black和Hellcat上脱颖而出；这张新唱片将她的视野扩大到“哇”中她奇怪的电子产品的不同方面，同时也适当地运用了她的著名工艺，以结合铁杆，EBM和酸性影响在Techno上。
How have you been doing over the past year?
I got a dog, which is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. Taking care of that little creature has
really helped me so much. I’ve also been thinking about a lot, including how I want to live my life. As Kylie Jenner famously said, “This was the year of realizing stuff,” and it indeed was that! Like everyone, I went through a lot of ups and downs and questioned every single aspect of everything I do. I’m good now, though! I have the ideas, the energy, and the will to keep fighting, however cliché this may sound.
I’ve been working on moving out of Berlin since October and now it’s finally happening. I’m grateful for everything that happened to me here but I want to try something new. I’ve been thinking a lot about how the lifestyle I had there was not sustainable—for many reasons—but mostly for my mental and physical health. I love DJing and I believe I’m good at it, but I want to focus a bit more on production now, in a wider sense. I’m also getting back to playing live after a two-year hiatus.
What have been the biggest challenges for you accompanying the lockdown? Have there been any unexpected joys or moments of progress, peace, insight, etc?
I was absolutely miserable for the longest time to be honest. I was completely broke, and it felt like I was surrounded by so much hate and evilness on the internet. I actually expected people to have more compassion towards one another, but I guess we all were hurting. I couldn’t listen to club music at all, I lost the feeling in my right foot for months (it’s back now though, all good), and even more was going on for me personally. So it all felt like everything was just exploding.
But I guess all that misery has led me to start questioning every aspect of my life, and as someone extremely self-aware and obsessed with self-healing and self-progress, I’ve discovered some answers deep inside myself and started fixing my life step by step. It’s still an absolute mess, but I couldn’t just stay where I was when life stopped and wait for the clubs to restart. I know some folks just put their life on hold and wait for Berghain to reopen, but fortunately (or unfortunately) that wasn’t me. The world will not be the same, we have to adapt and rethink our ways. In a wider sense, not only regarding clubbing.
Berlin is a place full of people trying to make it in the electronic music industry. What do you think has allowed you to break through the noise?
While back in the days DJs were more anonymous, now people love to know more about you. This cult can obviously be extremely unhealthy and has already created a weird new reality, but regardless of how anyone feels about it, it is what it is. I guess the key is working hard on all elements involved. I’ve been producing, playing live, and DJing for some years, and I’m quite confident about the quality of what I’m doing. But I also have a bit of let’s call it “a personality,” or whatever, and I don’t hide it under a bacl and white Instagram. I actually try to express myself with any arts I’m involved in. I think there’s so much beauty in creating your image in a way that stands out from the mass of copy-paste profiles, sounds, and images.
Do you feel like being in Berlin trapped you in the techno world?
Yeah I guess so, a bit. It’s a bit of a bubble. I moved here when my career was already kind of taking off, so up until the pandemic I had never actually been in Berlin on a weekend, so I never really settled in terms of making friendships and relationships with people other than DJs. I always meet people in clubs and bars and whatever, and when you tour like that and move to a new place you’re never even there to party or socialize. I’ve just been thinking about how that’s not a long-term solution for me, not what I consider a real life. I’m not blaming the city for that, just the lifestyle. One of the things I’ve realized I want is a normal life for myself, outside of “the scene,” and I think it’s going to be easier when I get out for a bit.
What’s your take on everything happening in Poland and what do you hope to see change? What do you think is the way forward to make change possible?
I love my friends there, I love my family, but I always was more of a nomad and still am. I was meticulously learning English growing up because I knew I wanted to see the world, live in different places, and understand how our differences make this world beautiful.
I believe what’s happening comes from ignorance and how ugly the history was to us at a few points, though it might often just look like evil. For me, understanding the world and other people comes from traveling, seeing, and talking to people, and getting to know their stories and understand their points of view. Or even reading foreign press daily. It’s such a simple thing for us now to live here [in Berlin] with other English-speaking people, and communicate as easily as it is and act like it’s our all native language. People from English-speaking countries—or wealth—don’t even consider how much of a privilege it is to know English like that.
My family members come from a different generation, and they were taught to speak Russian. For most of them, the Soviet Union is all they saw. I’m lucky that my mom and dad moved to Warsaw and worked their asses off for me to understand more about people, culture, and life. They also implanted into me the belief that if I work hard enough and make smart enough plans, I can do whatever I want. I don’t think that’s very common in Eastern Europe. After the gloomy days of Communism, there’s not that much enthusiasm for the future.It’s also hard to dream big when you’re just struggling to survive.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to talk shit about where I come from. I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through and all the experiences I had in Poland. It’s a beautiful place with gorgeous mountains in the south, the sea in the north and my personal favorite part where my mom comes from, Mazury, with thousands of lakes and forests. It’s such an interesting culture and there’s so much good music there these days. I don’t believe my generation had enough in us to institute the real change, but I believe Gen Z will. They’re finding ways to explore the world—even without traveling—and to not be as scared as every generation before. I have so much respect for the people who stay and fight for their countries, but I don’t think that’s my role in this. My perspective is kind of gloomy, and I’m not too hopeful, so this affects me a lot in everyday life. But as long as there’s fight, there’s also hope.
Keyi, as you know, has a strong relationship with Chinese club culture. Have you spent any significant amount of time in Asia? If so, do you have any general impressions of nightlife there? Or is this somewhere you’re planning to go?
Unfortunately I haven’t been to Asia that much. I just had one tour there in 2019 with stops in Shanghai and Seoul, so I haven’t experienced anything I would even wish for. One of my first things to get cancelled in March 2020 was a big Asia tour with gigs in Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore and Seoul. That was the most painful part of the pandemic. I’m excited to see some places reopen there and to go back. The gigs I’ve played there so far were beautiful.
I could be wrong in making this assumption, but I associate you and SPFDJ—and your social media presences specifically—with a distinct brand of third-wave feminism that’s brazen and unapologetic. Is feminism and the way women are viewed and treated in the music industry important to you?
I definitely see where you’re coming from. With SPFDJ I think it’s something more thought-through since I know she’s more educated about this topic, but I’ve learned a lot from her. I just work on being less apologetic about who I am, which is also connected to my femininity and to feminism in general. It has taken me so long to learn how to be comfortable with my womanhood, to make friendships with women, and to learn how to stop comparing myself with others, especially women.
It’s definitely important to me, and knowing that my presence and work has some kind of effect on other women builds me up so much. I think Lina [SPFDJ] and I have (almost) succeeded in being judged for our work and our skills, and not by the way we present ourselves, or at least we’re getting there! Of course techno bros will be bros and either overlook or tokenize women. But I can see a change already. Or maybe we’ve just grown thicker skin!
对我来说绝对重要，而且知道我的存在和工作会对其他女性产生某种影响，这让我非常振奋。我认为Lina [SPFDJ]和我（几乎）已经成功地因我们的工作和技能而受到了评判，而不是通过我们展现自己的方式，或者至少我们到达了那里！当然，techno bros将一直是bros，他们忽略或将女性标记化。但是我已经看到了变化。或者，也许是我们的脸皮变得更厚了！
Do you feel like with celebrity or visibility comes a responsibility to use your platform for advocacy?
I do feel like all musicians and DJs have a responsibility to use their platforms this way, not only because we have a big platform, but because we’re playing music that started as a political movement. So avoiding this is absolutely ridiculous. And I’m not saying that everyone with a big platform owes anyone anything, but electronic music has always been political. Of course you can’t expect everyone to be extremely knowledgeable about every issue, because we all came here for the love of music. But the fact that there’s a lot of folks staying quiet in certain situations shows that they came here to just use this culture and create a narrative to suit their agenda for “apolitical rave culture,” which is hedonistic and short-sighted. I do get tons of shitty comments every time I speak up for the simplest issues, but to be honest I’ve just started blocking people like that. I don’t need this energy and I don’t need people of this sort on my shows or listening to my music. I want to be surrounded with people who love, respect other people and stand up for one another.
You just hosted a mix series called Music Up, Women Up, that consisted of sets from other women you respect in the scene. Is this part of any larger initiative you’re undertaking to elevate women’s voices? And on that note, do you think the answer to female oppression is collectivism and mutual support?
I’m really happy with how this project turned out. I’ve invited a few amazing artists like Rui Ho, Lokier, Chippy Nonstop, Lyzza and YhaYha, all absolutely beautiful and talented folk. It was a collaboration with a fashion brand, and while these can be tricky, I do feel that without our main source of income (gigs), it’s so important to support one another, also financially, cause likes don’t necessarily pay your rent. I don’t have much experience working with brands, but this is another interesting topic, especially now when we can’t gig. I know there has always been this illusion of an “underground” and a lot of downsides that come with getting money from companies, but maybe that’s some kind of a solution for musicians to survive another year of this. With mainstream music it’s kinda normal, but we hold so tightly to the idea of some kind of underground that we’d rather see people go broke and suffer than get some kind of partnership with a brand, all to maintain the “ underground scene”. Is this “scene” in a room with us right now?
Obviously we have to stay independent and authentic, but in my opinion first of all we have to survive and stay sane.
您刚刚主持了一个名为Music Up，Women Up的混音系列，其中包括您在场景中尊重的其他女性的场景。这是您为提高女性的声音而采取的任何较大举措中的一部分吗？在这一点上，您认为女性压迫的答案是集体主义和相互支持吗？
我对这个项目的结果感到非常满意。我已经邀请了几位了不起的艺术家，例如何瑞（Rui Ho），洛基耶（Lokier），奇普不间断（Chippy Nonstop），Lyzza和YhaYha，他们都是绝对美丽而有才华的人。这是一个与时尚品牌的合作，尽管这些技巧可能很棘手，但我确实感到，没有了我们的主要收入来源（演出），互相支持很重要，而且在经济上，因为点赞是不能拿来付房租的。我没有与品牌合作的经验，但这是另一个有趣的话题，尤其是在我们不能演出的时候。我知道，总是存在着一种“地下”的幻想，以及从公司那里获得钱财会带来的许多弊端，但是也许这是一种使音乐家能够再生存一年的解决方案。对于主流音乐来说，这是很正常的，但是我们对某种地下世界的想法是如此执着，以至于我们宁愿看到人们破产而遭受苦难，而不是与某个品牌建立某种合作伙伴关系，所有这些都是为了维持“地下世界”。这是现在和我们一起在一个房间里的“场景”吗？
What music have you been working on recently?
To be honest I’ve been doing everything but techno recently, and I’ve been enjoying the shit out of this! The lockdown and isolation from what I’ve been doing every single week of my life for the last 13 years (going to clubs) has kind of been a freeing experience. I always hated “the scene talk,” the rules, and the expectations. I’ve started doing stuff that just makes me happy and not thinking about how anyone is going to react or whether my usual crowd will accept it. I’ve put out music that partly I know I might not have the crowd for, just yet at least. It’s fun, though it can be challenging at times. It almost feels like you’re failing. I’m trying to flirt a bit more with music that’s … I don’t know if “mainstream” is the right word, but maybe “accessible”— what folks can listen to at home. Not just in this special moment with the special soundsystem. That’s beautiful as well, of course, and I’ll for sure keep making club bangers, but I’ve finally understood the charm of actual songs and everyday home listening.
It seems like you’ve been quite productive; you had a remix with Nene H, you released an EP on VEYL. Are these all projects that you started and completed in the lockdown?
My EP on VEYL contains six tracks. It’s a bit symbolic to me since half is EBM and techno. I made all of those as many as three years ago and just did new mixdowns. The other three I’ve made since life stopped and I’ve slowly seen the world I’m trying to move into. I’ve changed over the last year. As a person, as a DJ, as a producer. And the new tracks on there are the ones I absolutely love (“Woah,” “Goin’ Nuts,” “To Whom All”Lovers”). We also just shot the music video to “Goin’ Nuts,” which indeed was pretty nuts to pull during the lockdown, with all of the restrictions! But Mother, the agency responsible for it, absolutely nailed it. Should be out 20th of May, with the most gorgeous cast (and crew) I’ve ever seen. All the Berlin club babes!
Loved working on that Nene H remix, it was for Possession which has a special place in my heart so I immediately said yes. It’s my new kink – working with vocals, in any way, also with my own.
Do you have any other upcoming plans or projects you can talk about?
I’m getting back to playing live, which is super exciting! I never enjoyed playing live techno in clubs to be honest, and I quit doing that two years ago, even that’s kind of how I started back in Warsaw. For this coming fall and 2022, however, I’ve agreed to a few shows at selected festivals (like just announced No Bounds in Sheffield). I’ll be playing a completely different live show; it will be more of a “freestyle” vibe musically an outlet for me to do whatever I want without having to make sure people are still dancing.
I’m trying to work on my own vocals as well. I used to sing around 10 years ago, but I got kicked out of music school for health reasons. If anyone ever heard me talk I have a really deep strong voice, it actually has something to do with some vocal cords dysfunction. I can’t fully get back to using my vocals as my main tool, but I’m trying to find solutions and a middle ground, and to not get too coc*blocked by this. I’m also recording an LP and making some really cool remixes for people who are not in my closest circle, which is so exciting. I’m most inspired by differences.
What are you working on now? What are your future plans and goals? What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
I hope to be healthy, be happy, not broke, and to maintain some of the most beautiful friendships that 2020 provided me with. And be the best dog mom the world has ever seen. And maybe dj some.
Interview 作者： Chloe Lula
Styling 造型师: Samantha Pletzke
Make up 化妆: Servulo
Nails 钉子: Camila Inge nailsvoninge
Translation 翻译: Emi & Joyce
Agency 中介 : Modern Matters
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