Ellen Allien on What Makes a Good DJ Set: "It's a moment, it's creativity"

"For me, DJing is not the perfect set. It's a moment, it's creativity—what you want to do in that moment... Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”
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"For me, DJing is not the perfect set. It's a moment, it's creativity—what you want to do in that moment... Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”

One of the most beautiful aspects of Movement is that it brings truly unique and talented artists together for one weekend in Detroit. One of those artists just so happened to be the talented leader of BPitch ControlEllen Allien. Known for her DJ sets and production, as well as her label, she is continuously pushing boundaries and, in doing so, has evolved dance music culture by making all the right moves.

We had the opportunity to sit and chat with her in order to get insight into the woman behind the music. She shared her history, how she initially found the dance music scene and the magic the Movement festival brings to Detroit.

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“I grew up in Berlin, on the west side, and I started listening to electronic music when it just started. In Berlin in ’89, the wall came down and, then, we had more space for the sound of the future.”

That sound? Dance music.

“So many people moved to Berlin to create something; artists, music lovers.”

It was during this creative and artistic “boom" in Berlin that Ellen first began to get involved with the music scene. Truthfully, it all started at one of her first jobs.

“I worked in this bar. And it was there that I first started DJing. And then I opened my label in ’99 and have, now, over 360 releases. I also run my own booking agency with my best friend. So everything I do is very independent, working with people I have known for a very long time.”

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Her approach is unique and creative. With everything she does, whether it be producing new music or signing artists to her label, Ellen’s world is full of motion.

She describes it as a “flowering business. It's always moving, there's always something going on. I love it.”

Movement weekend for Ellen was extremely special, as well.

“I’ve played here before and at other clubs during the weekend. It's very emotional to come here, for me, because I have been here (in Detroit) when the festival isn't happening. And there is nothing going on, the city is empty. It's nice that Movement brings people from all over the world. The city is so fucked up. But people come here to enjoy the music and bring the life back here. It's amazing.”

She brought that same emotion and passion to her set, as well.

“I arrived, showered and went directly to the stage. My set… You saw me, how I danced and moved. It was very physical and emotional for me. I tried to play some old school tracks, bringing European music together with American music, old school and new school mixed. It'd a very special to play here. It is really, really special.”

As for her set, itself, was using both mediums of vinyl and CDJs.

“I played some vinyl. I did have some problems. Sometimes people are thinking ‘Oh she makes mistakes, what is she doing?’ But when you play with vinyl, sometimes that can happen. I like this risk because, for me, DJing is not the perfect set. It's a moment, it's creativity—what you want to do in that moment. I think that's a good DJ set. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Her approach, to DJing and to the music scene around her, is “alien,” but in a refreshing way. She performs because it's her passion, because she's happy to be there, because she wants to connect with the music and her fans.

Ellen Allien’s set at Movement was truly special and a major highlight. We look forward to welcoming her back to Detroit, hopefully soon!