02.05.2019 | Words by: Nikole Evans
Lux is an artist that I think is very well known not just in the halls of De School, or in the Amsterdam/Berlin music scene, but globally. She’s well known not just for her talent, but for her genuine, and sweet soft-spoken nature, that people find very endearing. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet her, so these questions and answers were done via multiple voice notes on our phones late at night making this experience a bit more intimate and personal. We begin our interview speaking about her start in the industry.
Moving is never easy, transitions can be extremely difficult, But with the help of your local underground electronic music community, that move can become a much more interesting and exciting transition. Meeting people in unfamiliar territory, becomes a bit easier. After moving to Leipzig, Lux found her space in the scene organically. It wasn’t something forced. Having been a musician since childhood, the decks and turn tables just seemed like another instrument to expand her interest. “When I first moved to Leipzig, I wanted to look for people to do more musical projects with, I was going out a lot, and it took up a lot from my weekends” (something we all can I’m sure relate to) “So it seemed obvious to have that longing to start to DJ”.
She first started to teach herself digitally, purchasing a controller then switching to time code and after a few years she started to invest her time more learning to play vinyl. Her first gig was with a friend that threw a benefit and asked if she would be interested in playing for them, they convinced her she had to do it and believed in her talent despite her lack of experience. That gig changed everything, “I had no idea what to do, so I got this controller, and practiced at home before, but basically had no idea what I was doing. So of course, I was nervous and excited, but the feeling that was left from this night, was so intense and so overwhelming. I just knew right after I really needed to do this again.”
The infamous Conne Island in Leipzig was the first official venue that gave her an opportunity to play and began to book her on a regular basis. She graciously gives them all the love in the world for this opportunity. Conne Island eventually invested in a studio space that their artists could use for free, giving her not just a place to play, but a space and chance to learn on professional equipment that she did not obtain herself. She soon found herself locking herself in the studio, obsessing with mixing, and beat matching until she felt comfortable enough to begin to play again. I like transparency, and Lux is very honest about her luck and how things happened with electronic music from help noting that she knows this is not the same circumstances for all artists, and she’s extremely grateful for the opportunities she’s been given, careful to credit each club, person, and party that’s helped her along the way.
She feels the same about the freedom that she has been granted to play what she likes. I understand that some artists feel that they have a job to do and they cannot deviate from their sound, that they need to give the people what they want, and what they came for. Luckily, Lux says she feels no pressure to do so: “I've the feeling that people who book me are aware that I don't stick to one genre when I'm playing, that I like to spin different moods and play more eclectic. For me it's more the challenge of still allowing this to become a narration, and not just a mechanical addition of tracks. Also, of course you sometimes need to be brave to take the freedom you want to have, but I think it doesn't need to be necessarily a risk - if you don't forget to keep up the connection to the people. It depends on the way how you transform this approach. Naturally you have the crowd in mind and I don't think it's healthy to ignore them. It's the difference between making or producing music and DJing in my opinion. When you're DJing, the process of the musical output is with the people, it's not a situation of a concert where you show people something that you have finished in the studio before. Of course, you also want people to listen and in the best cases you can show them something new or different they're not familiar with. But it's still an act of communication that needs both sides, which brings this interesting challenge that makes DJing fascinating to me.”
Speaking of freedom, one of the topics I wanted to discuss with Lux was something that I think that isn’t discussed much in this industry, something we take very much for granted, and don’t think too much about, the financial freedom we have in this industry to constantly fly artists to other countries, AKA the carbon footprint left behind by this industry. I’m sure as an artist it can seem like a dream, but is it actually necessary? To me, personally, it seems not only incredibly privileged, but also a bit physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting for the artists involved. Lux tries to be on the road and not in the air as much. She enjoys being able to play quite often locally, and regionally, playing in a different country each weekend isn’t exactly her cup of tea either. “It’s something very important that lacks an open discourse. What’s going on is pretty insane, the whole development of how DJs are constantly flying from one place to another, without considering the costs and the environmental consequences. It's more than urgent to overthink this standard that became so natural. Apart from that - reducing the flying could probably even sharpen the appreciation again for being in different places of the earth. I love traveling and it's a gift to me. And I hope to keep it like this. Flying should be the exception, not the condition.”
Lux says she is very thankful her independence and that she’s able to be express this in regards to her bookings, so she is able to keep them at a rate that is not so manic, and healthier, something I think helps greatly with not only the longevity of an artist, but the music they are able to play. “I ask myself, do I need this gig? Of course there are some gigs that would be stupid not to play because the chance might not come again, but I always try to check in with my own capacities and also if it’s something money wise. Is it necessary for me to play all these gigs in this month? If I can choose, I would just try to keep a good balance between playing and having one or two weekends off too. It’s important for me not to lose the passion and the appreciation for music and DJing, and what’s going on there. Of course, it’s not possible for many artists to keep it like this, the financial pressure. Also, right now I can still keep it simple. I don't need to spend much money to live the life I can live right now. And I don't want to spend much money to have something you can call a rich life. But of course, this is me as an extremely privileged German living in a city like Berlin. Where expenses can still be kept moderate compared to other cosmopolitan cities. I don't know what the future will bring and of course it makes me anxious too. So I don’t think it’s good for me to play gigs like crazy and forget about all those issues. Friendship wise I can say, I have mature friends that have empathy for my situation and I’m also a character that likes to write to my friends if it’s not possible to see them in person. I’m lucky that I can say I've never really felt lonely when I play gigs in different cities and different countries, I’m able to enjoy myself quite much, I just enjoy being on my own, and I keep up with knowing the people who have invited me, and so far I had, lovely, open, interesting people. So therefore there was actually no need for feeling lonely”
One of the last things we spoke about, was the differences between the Amsterdam and Berlin scene, and I asked her opinion and also, if there was a favorite venue she has played in and why it was her favorite. “It's a little hard for me to make a general judgement about the Berlin scene, as it's a bigger city and I had my most nights out in Leipzig and not here. Besides the only club where I play regularly is ://about blank - which I love to play at. I used to go out a lot in my early twenties but it was also something that changed when I started DJing. It might sound a bit weird but the club scene was actually not the reason why I moved to Berlin. It’s not what attracted me most. Rather the opposite: I was a little afraid that the whole excessive input, the surplus of club nights and parties could mute my passion, endanger me of getting over saturated. But it hasn't happened so far, as I barely have weekends where I've got the need to go out. Right now, I appreciate to have weekends off and not listen to club music in general, just to do something completely different. But getting back to compare the scenes. I guess they are pretty close to each other - I mean obviously they're also a strong exchange of German and Dutch tourists between Amsterdam and Berlin. I love playing both for sure. And there was one experience last year that impressed me sustainably- when I played at Closer in Kiev. The whole club experience was really stunning, the atmosphere, the crowd and the club itself. Besides that, Kiev was super interesting to visit. I also love to play at Institut für Zukunft and Conne Island. It’s a very special thing for me to do as the connection is just different. Leipzig is where I started DJing and where I emerged my crucial connection to what I'm doing now. Therefore, I’m also really excited to play at Nachtdigital this year again. I’ve been visiting the festival for many, many years and it also was a part of growing up for me within the whole scene I'd say. So yes, it means a lot to me to be able to say good bye to them like this.”
I’m reminded of one of my final weekenders at Trouw, The Nachtdigital weekender, and meeting some of their staff upstairs at on those infamous picnic benches. We smoked and listened as they talked to my friend Kelsey, Finn, and I about the beauty of the Leipzig scene, how amazing it was, and how we must go there. “If you really think this weekender is amazing, imagine our city, you guys need to go to Nachtdigital.”Lux plays during Het Weekend 04.05 – 06.05 on Sunday from 15:30 until 18:00. Tickets are still available here.