INTERVIEW Jennifer Cardini

It’s not easy to get hold of the globe-trotting Ms. Cardini, but Torture the Artist was lucky enough to catch the DJ/Producer/label(s)-owner as she recharges batteries in the Canary Islands. Though based in Berlin, the jetsetter has been on the road, reaching cities far and wide, and deep into the crevasses of the underground electronic music scene, for quite some time now, making strong impressions on and making an even stronger impression in every culture or style she ever steps foot into. Born in one of the smallest countries in the world (you probably would have never guessed), Jennifer has made quite a name for herself by means of translating her distinctive style and tasteful music selection through meaningful sets and two well-regarded labels, Correspondant and Dischi Autunno. What music enthusiasts want to hear and feel is a genuine, no frills conversation with one of the most inspiring and fearless figures in the industry. And that’s exactly what Jennifer Cardini had for us.

Torture the Artist: Hello Jennifer, how’s your day going? We know that you’re quite the globetrotter and have a very tight schedule, so please tell us where exactly you are at the moment and what you have planned out for the rest of the day.

Jennifer Cardini: It’s 6.39am here in Tenerife, and I’m finally on a break from touring. I’m having coffee whilst answering these questions and once I’m done, I’ll go back to concentrating on my holiday. For the next few days, it’s all about sleeping, hiking, swimming, eating fresh fish and making sure my batteries are fully recharged when I get back home.

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Picture by Christian Werner

Torture the Artist: When we come to think of it, you’re one of those artists who are never quite pinned down to any precise geographic location – proving our point of you as a globetrotter. Which town/city do you consider home as of now and where did you grow up?

Jennifer Cardini: I was born and grew up in Monaco – I bet no one has ever given this answer to this question before! After a short stay in Nice I left for Paris where I became resident of Rex and Pulp. Paris was my home for fifteen years, and it still feels like a home of some sort as my closest friends still live there. Ten years ago, I moved to Germany, first to Cologne and then to Berlin.

Berlin is where I live now and it definitely feels like home to me. This city always felt like ‘home’, even before I moved here. I visited regularly because of its strong bond to electronic music and the LGBTQI scene.

Sorry to disappoint you, but my life is boring.

Torture the Artist: We’re guessing there is no such thing as a typical Jennifer Cardini day; correct us if we’re wrong! What is your favorite way to start off the day and what is your favorite breakfast? Any particular type of music you like to put on to to jumpstart your daily activities?

Jennifer Cardini: Sorry to disappoint you, but my life is boring; I’m one of these ‘routine’ people. I go to bed early, wake up early, work a lot and do sports when I’m not too lazy or tired.

My favourite breakfast is eggs – any style – and a lot of black coffee. I love listening to the radio while starting my day, usually France Inter.

Torture the Artist: Which city – whether for business, travel or residence – has made the most impact on you? Is there a track of yours inspired by this experience?

Jennifer Cardini: Tokyo! There are no tracks of mine inspired by the city but the ideal soundtrack to my first visit in Japan was Arpanet’s album ‘Wireless Internet‘. I remember walking for hours in Tokyo, just listening to that album.

Torture the Artist: How did you first encounter electronic music, and what genre got you hooked and reeled in? At what age did you realise that you and music were in for a long-term commitment?

Jennifer Cardini: In 1991 an older friend of mine took me to a party called ‘Limelight’ in Cannes – inspired by the famous night in New York City. It’s hard to sum up in one answer the impact this night had on me; I was seventeen and for the first time in my full youth I didn’t feel out of place. The crowd was very diverse and queer, and there was a strong feeling of togetherness that I had missed as a gay kid growing up in the very bourgeois surrounding of my hometown Monaco.

A little later a friend gave me a cassette with Brand New Heavies on one side and Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Work on the other side. I listened to Aphex over and over, pressing on the rewind button of my auto reverse Sony Walkman until it broke.

After that came Artificial Intelligence, LFO, Underground Resistance and the Martian, James Stinson, Frankie Knuckles and his ‘Whistle Song‘; from that moment on, it never stopped being about music.

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Torture the Artist: You are a DJ / Producer / Label(s)-Owner among many other things; how do manage to juggle all that? What part of being an electronic music artist takes most of your time, and are you happy with that ratio?

Jennifer Cardini: DJing is taking up most of my time, but it’s also what makes me the happiest. Of course, I can never have enough time to discover new music, for example, or to work on my own stuff – but for the moment I’m happy with the balance as it is. Running both labels is only possible because of Noura; she’s in charge of pretty much everything except for the A&R. I basically just choose the music; she is the boss!

I like it when my ‘job’ takes me out of clubs!

Torture the Artist: Besides music, what else are you involved in? What are your hobbies and interests, and are you still able to find time to enjoy them with your current lifestyle?

Jennifer Cardini: My profession is clearly music; I’ve been involved in different projects where I was responsible for the soundtrack, I’ve worked many years with fashion designer Roy Krejberg – both for his own brand and when he took over Kenzo – and I also participated in Xavier Veilhan’s beautiful project for the Venice Biennale. I like it when my ‘job’ takes me out of clubs!

I love a lot of things – I’m not sure I would call them hobbies though. I love art and try to see as much art as possible while travelling. I’m a foodie – I love to cook or go to places just try that special stuff out. I also love to read books and watch movies, but this is more challenging time-wise, as in the end music always wins.

Torture the Artist: You’ve been in the scene for more than a decade, and deservingly so. Which year in your career would you like to revisit and linger in a little while longer? How has that specific time period influenced your current artistic style and what was left for you to further explore?

Jennifer Cardini: I would love to have the chance to go back to 1994 and make sure I didn’t wear that same stupid ‘spiral’ tee-shirt that’s in all the pictures, wouldn’t I! But seriously, I’m not sure I would like to do that. I’m not very nostalgic – I’m really enjoying the here and now.

Torture the Artist: What are some of the greatest milestones of your career? Was there a particular time when you realized that Jennifer is not justJennifer Cardini anymore but Jennifer Cardini?

Jennifer Cardini: Haha, who should answer to that question, Jennifer not being just Jennifer Cardini or just Jennifer Cardini?

There is the public and the subjective way of looking at my life. From my point of view I have always just played music. Maybe lately the music that I play has become a bit more popular and more people are coming to listen. Of course I do like recognition, but let’s not exaggerate, there is only one version of me. I prefer encounters to milestone, some people did impact my life in a positive way, I’m thinking of DJ Sextoy and the Pulp connection or later Martin and Michael Mayer from Kompakt and of course Shonky.

I’m happy that I didn’t choose to call myself DJ Space.

Torture the Artist: Did you have any other DJ names that we might not know about?

Jennifer Cardini: No, thank god not! I’m happy that I didn’t choose to call myself DJ Space, DJ Yoda or The Exorcist or any ‘cool’ nineties nicknames. When I started to DJ the billing was DJ Jennifer (Monaco) then it changed to DJ Jennifer (Nice). I don’t recall when I added my family name but I’m happy I did!

Torture the Artist: Name a track of yours which you produced at your most vulnerable moment and one which you made when you were most inspired.

Jennifer Cardini: My remix for Cormac for the most vulnerable moment and my remix for Chloe for the most inspired.

All the music I’ve listened to since I was a child is synth based.

Torture the Artist: Who are among your greatest artistic influences? Could you name some artists that lured you into music? Is there any other style besides electronic music that inspire your creativity?

Jennifer Cardini: I was born in 1974, and my parents were mainly listening to Disco and Italo Disco so I grew up with synthesizers and almost all the music I’ve listened to since I was a child is synth based, even ABBA!

I’m sure I will forget a lot of great artists but the first ones that come to my mind are: Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie, Soft Cell, Kate Bush, Coil, David Byrne, Gudrun Gut, The Cure, The Residents, Throbbing Gristle, Kraftwerk, Anne Clark, Arthur Russell, Wolfgang Voigt, Laurie Anderson, Heinrich Mueller, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Mark Bell & LFO, DAF, Chris & Cosey, James Stinson, Roman Flügel, Patrick Cowley, Aphex Twin, Chic!

Torture the Artist: Describe one of your most memorable gigs and why it was extra special. Which track did you close with?

Jennifer Cardini: Hard to choose – ending with ‘Smalltown Boy‘ from Bronski Beat at Panorama Bar this summer was super special. It was such a great energy! I also really enjoyed playing Fusion Festival this year. It’s risky to describe those ‘memorable’ moments without sounding stupid or totally ruining them, don’t you think?

Torture the Artist: In 2011 you added Label Owner to your repertoire with the launch of Correspondant. How did the idea of founding your own label come about, and what pushed you to go this route?

Jennifer Cardini: I always wanted to run a label. I had an attempt early-2000, but I was just too busy to go through with it. My career took off internationally and I was heavily raving at the time – I just wasn’t focused enough. In 2011 I moved to Cologne, made a couple of life changes and decided to try again. I named the label after my long time residency at legendary Parisian venue Rex Club. Happy I did!

Torture the Artist: Correspondant has been home to many talented artists – some who were able to break ground through the label – did you intend for it to play that part? Which of its artist/s really took you by surprise and impressed you?

Jennifer Cardini: I’m impressed by all of them. Personally, I’m terrified to show my own work, so for me when an artist sends a demo it’s always an act of courage to me. Creating something personal and putting it out there – this will always impress me a lot. Some of the artists that I signed in the beginning of their career, like Red Axes, I knew from the first listen that they would become big.

I like ‘Genre Hopping’ – that’s the essence of DJ-ing to me.

Torture the Artist: For those who have not been to any of your gigs, would you say that the Correspondant compilations give a little bit of a taste of your set? Do you try to veer away from having a sound/style that too closely resembles the label?

Jennifer Cardini: Yes, but not exclusively, as I play all kinds of different stuff in a two-hour set. I like ‘Genre Hopping’ – that’s the essence of DJ-ing to me.

Torture the Artist: When did you decide to branch out to Dischi Autunno? Clearly the two labels have distinct characteristics – is that a reflection of two different sides of Jennifer Cardini as an artist? Or perhaps as an individual?

Jennifer Cardini: We started Dischi when we received Dollkraut’s beautiful album; clearly this was not for Correspondant as the label was taking a more dancefloor-orientated direction, but I couldn’t help but to release it. I like to think that both are complementary of each other.

Torture the Artist: Do you find one label more challenging to run and keep up than the other? Which would you like to focus more on in the following months?

Jennifer Cardini: Dischi is more challenging to run because it’s new – it needs a bit more attention. We will release more music on Dischi in 2019 but this should not affect Correspondant’s release schedule in any way. Both labels will receive equal love and attention and I’m super excited for 2019 – we have so much good music ahead!

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Picture by Christian Werner

Torture the Artist: What’s a track that you’re dying to remix at the moment? And what’s another DJ you’d love to B2B with for the first time?

Jennifer Cardini: I would love to play back to back with David Vunk! I love him, especially when he plays stuff like Alisha’s ‘All Night Passion‘. HOT!

Torture the Artist: We’ve been seeing you in the hottest clubs, and even in the playa! Over the past year which venue did you connect with on a deeper level, and how did it impact your artistic style?

Jennifer Cardini: Panorama Bar and Robert Johnson are my favorites – in my opinion both clubs made me a better DJ. There are no limits to what you can play there once you have the crowd with you. Anything is possible! Those venues challenged me to step out of my peak time selection. I’ve been playing Panorama Bar more regularly since I moved to Berlin and it’s getting better and better every time.

You should never think ‘it was better before’ but adjust to how it is now.

Torture the Artist: You’ve had a very successful career and the momentum hasn’t ever run dry – how do you find inspiration even through dry spells?

Jennifer Cardini: Like most artists, my career has had ups and downs. The lows are of course hard on your self-confidence and it can be frightening when you have no plan B which most artists don’t really have. The only thing you can do when things don’t go well is to keep on working, stick to yourself but also stay open minded and don’t be scared to take risks. You should never think ‘it was better before’ but adjust to how it is now. Things always change.

Torture the Artist: Is there something you regret not doing, being so well invested in your career?

Jennifer Cardini: There are plenty of things that I haven’t done which I still want to do, but there is plenty of time – so I don’t have any regrets yet.

Torture the Artist: What are some goals you plan to accomplish this coming year? Any particular aspect of your life or career that you plan to give more of yourself to?

Jennifer Cardini: More music. <smiles>

Torture the Artist: Thank you for taking your time Jennifer.

Interview by Marie J Floro