Berlin-based Barcelona native Rebeca Lozano Mendez, better known as Reka, has blown up on the world stage since beginning out as a DJ more than 10 years ago. Since then, she’s become a long time resident at Tresor, embarked on a career as a producer ( her debut EP, Diving the Innermost came out on Phase Fatal’s BITE in 2018) and made the jump to Berghain. But there’s more to Mendez than being a connoisseur of all genres dark and hard-edged. In addition to being a DJ, Mendez is an entrepreneur and a science enthusiast. KEYI sat down to talk with her about her world before techno and the ways in which research and precision define her creative work and her extra musical life.
居住在柏林的巴塞罗那本地人 Rebeca Lozano Mendez，更广为人知的名字是 Reka，自从 10 多年前开始担任 DJ 以来，她就在世界舞台上崭露头角。从那以后，她成为 Tresor 的长期居民，开始了制作人的职业生涯（她的首张 EP，Diving the Innermost 于 2018 年出现在 Phase Fatal 的 BITE 上）并跳槽到 Berghain。但对于门德斯来说，不仅仅是成为所有黑暗和尖锐的流派的鉴赏家。除了是 DJ 之外，Mendez 还是一位企业家和科学爱好者。 KEYI 坐下来与她讨论了她在 techno 之前的世界，以及研究和精确定义她的创造性工作和她额外的音乐生活的方式。
You’re answering these questions en route to Spain. What are you doing there, and when was the last time you traveled to your hometown?
Yes, I am. The answer is a bit awkward. My father died months ago and I am the closest relative to take care of the paperwork following his death. I was not close to him at all, I hadn´t seen him in more than 15 years, so, it´s not a sad trip, I’m planning on enjoying the good weather, food and seeing old friends in my free time.
What has the last year without frequent travel been like for you? What have you been focusing your energy on?
I actually enjoyed not having to travel that often and being home often on weekends. Seeing my close friends frequently was a delight. Before Corona it was very difficult to coordinate, we were all on the road often. I´ve been doing a bit of many things. I have read, worked out, slept, and taken time to introspect more than it was possible when things were normal and I have also enjoyed that. I also took time to study new things. I´ve done some streamings or podcasts, and a rmx, but music has not been the absolute priority. It´s been a long time that I felt I needed other types of inputs different from music.
I know you’ve invested a lot of time into entrepreneurship. What is it about this field that excites you? Are you at liberty to discuss any projects you’re working on launching?
I love problem-solving and innovation. I am wired to optimize. Wherever I go I always see what could be improved. It´s a blessing and a curse, of course, because most of the time there is nothing you can do about it. My project is about optimizing the way musicians tour, both to make it more comfortable and healthier for us, and also less damaging to the environment. The way the software works will also streamline the entire booking process, so bookers and agents will also see benefits from using it, saving an enormous amount of time for them. From entrepreneurship, I’m mainly interested in coming with new ideas to solve problems, so just the creative part. I’m very bad at the business side and that´s why I’m currently stuck looking for a partner with this kind of background as well as knowledge about the music/booking business.
我喜欢解决问题和创新。我是一个善于优化的人。无论我走到哪里，我总是看到可以改进的地方。当然，这既是一种祝福，也是一种诅咒，因为大多数时候，你对此无能为力。 我的项目是关于优化音乐家的巡演方式，既要让我们更舒适、更健康，也要减少对环境的破坏。该软件的工作方式也将简化整个预订过程，因此预订者和经纪人也将看到使用该软件的好处，为他们节省大量的时间。 在创业方面，我主要对提出新的想法来解决问题感兴趣，所以只是创意的部分。我对商业方面很不擅长，这就是为什么我目前一直在寻找一个有这种背景以及对音乐/预订业务有了解的伙伴。
Have any of these initiatives centred on alternatives to social media? You’ve been vocal about your disdain for platforms like Instagram and Facebook and the ways in which they manipulate visibility and popularity.
Yes, indeed. I have been flirting with ideas for alternative platforms to the ones existing now, but I decided to focus on the booking software first or I will never get anything done.
What changes would you like to see happen in online culture and within the underground community as spaces reopen more generally? What do you think it would take for these paradigm shifts to take place?
I would like to see a bit more acknowledgment of the music itself. I see too much emphasis on the social media metrics. On one hand, we all know that anyone can get a big following, directly buying followers and likes or paying for services that help you do so, you can even pay for youtube views!. On the other hand, some artists are really good online entertainers, they enjoy being exposed and they are ingenious and funny. I think that´s great for social media but I think it´s totally unacceptable -and this is what´s happening- that your number of gigs, fee, and how many pages you get in a magazine can depend on how big is your audience on IG. It´s mind-blowing and frustrating.
I’m also tired of so much narcissism and vane superficiality online. I consider myself an aesthete, so I need to feed my soul with images, maybe even at the same level as music, but I feel overflooded with so much nonsense nowadays.
Before you got involved with music, you were involved in genetics research. Can you talk a little bit about what you were studying and how you’ve maintained and cultivated your non-musical interests?
I studied Biology and specialized in Genetics. My plans were to become a medical researcher and finding the cure for cancer via genetic engineering. But after some rough years due to overworking and family issues, I decided to take a sabbatical year to indulge in my artistic cravings which were waiting to see the light from a very early age. I then started studying graphic design, photography, acting and learned how to dj, this, just for fun. Unfortunately, the music world totally captured me and I never made it to the workplace as a geneticist. I kept connecting with science though when I started learning production, sound design, etc… I would go really deep to understand how everything works from the bottom up, the pure physics and that´s one of the reasons for being so slow to release music, I was just studying instead of doing. Now I am more into alternative/preventive medicine, brain function, advanced nutrition, and so on. Again, trying to optimize 😉
When and why did you decide to move into a music career?
It just happened to me, It was never in my plans to work in the music field despite devouring music since I was a kid, I really thought I belonged to the academic world, I was quite good at it. The thing is that so many doors opened for me even before I knocked. Everything came extremely easy. It was like that was my destiny. In about a year of buying my turntables, I was already running a party in Madrid and Dj Hell invited me to join Gigolo Roster playing as a Dj duo with my best friend. We were getting paid to play music and traveling for free, hanging out with some of the coolest artists at the moment, getting free clothes from fashion brands… it was amazing!! How could I walk away from that!You’ve achieved a lot as a DJ, becoming a long-time resident and curator at Tresor before producing standout releases on some of the underground’s best labels and then becoming a regular at Berghain. How did you accomplish so much so quickly?
You’ve achieved a lot as a DJ, becoming a long-time resident and curator at Tresor before producing standout releases on some of the underground’s best labels and then becoming a regular at Berghain. How did you accomplish so much so quickly?
Omg, you make it sound much better than it actually does in my head. I feel I didn’t accomplish enough for all the years I´ve been working on music. Really, not at all. I feel I could have done much more, but I am really really bad at selling myself or networking, I have a tendency to walk away from “important” people as I have always the feeling they might think I’m talking to them out of interest. I struggle to ask for help. I want to do everything myself and I also recently realized I´ve been self-sabotaging consistently. I clearly need to work on all this, but thankful that you see it that way.
你说得很好，比我想象中的要好得多。我觉得我这么多年来在音乐方面的成就还不够大。真的，一点也不。我觉得我本可以做得更多，但我真的非常不擅长推销自己或建立关系网，我有一种倾向，就是离开 “重要 “的人，因为我总觉得他们可能认为我是出于兴趣而与他们交谈。我很难向别人寻求帮助。我想自己做所有的事情，最近我还意识到我一直在自我破坏。我显然需要在这些方面做出努力，但感谢你能这样看待它。
Are there any moments that stand out to you as times when you realized you had reached an important milestone or objective?
Yes, of course. I will just talk about my milestones as Reka, not to mix things. The first time I used Reka was to apply to the RedBullMusicAcademy, and luckily enough, I was selected as a participant in the Toronto edition 2007. It was a wonderful experience. Then becoming a resident at Tresor was a big moment in my solo career. My first E.P the next. Playing at Berghain several times and then playing at Berghain on a Sunday evening I would count as the last two milestones.
You put your first EP out to critical acclaim on BITE in 2018. When did you first decide to start working on your own music, and how have you enjoyed the process of making music vs Djing?
In the beginning, I did not want to produce. I just loved finding new music, new labels and artists no one knew about, old school gems, and just sharing them with people. I didn´t have the need of making music, but everyone was pushing me to it, like “you need to release music or you won´t have gigs, it´s the way it is now”. So I started learning and I liked it somehow cause I love music and I was, especially at that time, a computer freak, so playing and experimenting with all those plug-ins was actually quite fun. The problem at the beginning was that most of the music I made was very undefined in style and not suitable for any label I could think of at that time. My sound is definitely more fitting to current times, and as some friends from labels gave me deadlines, I made a couple of records. I need deadlines, otherwise, I can´t finish anything, I get sidetracked with infinite other interests.
What is your production process like?
I am so inconsistent that I don´t even have a process yet. It depends on what I’m working on. In my first e.p for BITE, I did a lot of sound design work, even for drums which I regret now because it was so much more time-consuming, and samples sound much more powerful. After that, I started using more samples.
What are your plans and goals for the future, music- and otherwise?
I´d like to release an album, remix a bunch of artists I love, and work on some sort of audiovisual project. On the non-music side I wanna launch the booking software asap, exit, get some cash and maybe start working on the alternative to social media. Eventually, I´d like to go back to studying. I’m infatuated with a new discipline called biomimicry which copies the way nature has designed structures, processes, and systems to design innovative solutions to global (or local) problems.
Are you working on anything now?
Learning how to build a software company when I have no background in this field is quite time-consuming so I´m struggling to find time and head-space to finish my album and other production projects. But I’m trying to be present delivering mixes, in the form of streaming or podcast at least once a month.
Is there anything else you want to discuss that I haven’t asked you?
No, and thank you for the thoughtful questions!
Interview 作者: Chloe Lula
Translation 翻译: Emi