Known for her vibrant sets and ingenious music selection, one finds Paramida rather out of her element, but though she isn’t crate digging or ravishing sonic technicolor all over black-clad Berlin clubbers, the Love On The Rocks label head, Rinse FM radio show host and Panorama Bar resident seems to be doing just fine. As a DJ who always knew what to play when to play it, the Berliner, currently based Portugal, has played her pandemic cards right, spending the time she rarely has when she juggled many hats – and vinyl, listening to music through the worst of it, and perhaps even gave a second thought to production?! It’s safe to say that Paramida will leave her mark in this field as she has with everything she’s dedicated herself to. It’s a mixture of her strong will and being passionate about what she does without thinking or having a plan b. This all-or-nothing attitude has brought her the status of a credible artist, who’s settling for nothing less but reaching perfection with what she does, what she plays, what she touches. Having started her DJ-career as early as in the tens of this millennium the confident artist surely gained some selector-skills when working at renowned OYE Records before taking over the scene’s nightlife around the globe. Torture the Artist checks up on Paramida and chats about sets, possible musical inflluences on her style a well as habits, music, the label, discotheques, the past, present and the oh, uncertain future.
I never had so much time in my life.
Torture the Artist: Hi Paramida. Where can we find you today?
Paramida: Hello! I’m currently in Portugal.
Torture the Artist: Corona aside, what was the highlight of your 2020? As an avid and seasoned jockey, how did you cope with life sans gigs?
Paramida: My highlight of 2020 was getting my kitten Anitya. She has been bringing me a lot of joy. Also, I never had so much time in my life. So that’s been quite a gift and I’ve been trying to make the most out of it.
Torture the Artist: Has the pandemic changed your musical preference at all? Did you discover a taste for a whole new genre?
Paramida: That’s clearly a no.
Torture the Artist: Is there a particular jam/playlist that got you through the worst of it?
Paramida: I listened to a lot of Jose Padilla and Larry Levan mixes.
Torture the Artist: Any mix you can recommend?
Paramida: Definitely Jose Padilla’s BBC Essential Mix and Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage mixes on Youtube.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of those two artists, are they the reason you have this dreamy Balearic vibe which you partly combine with New York House, or where does this influence in your sets come from?
Paramida: <laughs> Could be.
Torture the Artist: Before you moved to Berlin you had lived in the Rhine-Main-Area and maybe experienced the last really good years, the noughties, of clubbing in the region, as most clubs that once stood out or were well-known, e.g. Monza Club, Hafen 2, Vinylbar or even Cocoon Club had to close their doors for good. How were you rooted in the region’s nightlife and where and how did you spend your nights?
Paramida: Mentioning the Vinylbar sounds crazy to me. Maybe the cool parties were before my time, but all I remember are spooky Hell’s Angels bouncers and a weird vibe. I have to go back a little bit, because I actually discovered the endless world of nightlife and electronic music in Berlin during my teenage years while I was actually living abroad. When I came back to Germany I ended up in the Rhine-Main-Area. But soon I discovered that there was also a little “outsider” world with clubs and music as well. It was and will never be like in Berlin though. I think what I loved about Berlin, was that – at least back then – no one cared who you were, where you came from and what you were wearing. These things have changed now in Berlin. Everyone scans what you are wearing and it’s all about who you are and who you know. Anyway, this kind of freedom never existed in the Rhine-Main-Area. And even though there was a little glimpse of freedom I was looking for in nightlife, I was always the weirdo. In Frankfurt you have to be cool to be part of the game or the scene. I wasn’t cool. I was loud and different. I was actually being bullied a lot in nightlife and at parties. Anyway, I’ve been to all the clubs you’ve mentioned above. My favorite was always Robert Johnson and especially the nights that weren’t busy were the most magical ones.
Torture the Artist: Are you ‘hard-drinking’ and what’s the beverage of your choice?
Paramida: Honestly, I don’t or hardly drink at all.
Torture the Artist: As you mentioned that you listened to (a lot) of Larry Levan and Jose Padilla’s mixes, did the Chocolat-parties by Heiko M/S/O, Johnny Love and Alexander Antonakis musically play a role for you or what was an event/ party from your Hessian (party) days that left an impact on you, and why?
Paramida: I’ve never been to a Chocolat party but I can say that Heiko was a great human and DJ. There was a party called “Tropic Rhonda” by Philipp Berg & Sergio at Pik Dame (Editor’s note: Pik Dame was a club located in the so called Bahnhofsviertel in Frankfurt). I heard DJs like Beppe Loda or Vladimir Ivkovic for the first time there. The musical freedom inspired me a lot.
Torture the Artist: Why did you leave the Rhine-Main-Area for Berlin? Was Berlin’s freedom calling you?
Paramida: Yes, absolutely. Frankfurt is so conservative, there are a lot of unspoken rules. You have to work your way up within the scene or its hierarchy. I was never going to have a future there. So, literally the first thing I did straight after high school, I packed two suitcases and all my records and moved to Berlin and then I just dove straight into nightlife and the scene. I was very straight forward and determined, I didn’t overthink anything too much and just went for it. Within the first few months I got a job in a record store (Editor’s note: OYE Records) and I was playing regular gigs.
Torture the Artist: Quite some people who once worked at the bar of a club end up becoming DJs – not trying to analyze a pattern here – but is taking the hurdle to become a DJ easier when already working in the club-context and how did it work for you?
Paramida: Could be, but of course it depends. I don’t think every bartender wants to be a DJ and I don’t think DJs want to be bartenders necessarily. Clubs and nightlife consist of a community.
If you are sick of something or you don’t like something, just be the example you would want to see.
Torture the Artist: Back then, meaning the first decade and also a few years of the second one of the millennium, women in general did not have too many role models (as just too few women were on the line-up of clubs) in the scene, least to say the impression was that men sneered at women who were or wanted to become DJs. Has this ever played a role for your and your (musical) ambitions and how do you assess your role?
Paramida: Gender never played a role for me, but apparently it did play a role for a lot of other people that met me. I do believe that I have a different approach to music. Call it sensual, cheesy, melodic, whatever, I do believe it thrives with a certain female energy. But that’s just who I am and what I do as an artist. I generally believe that if you are sick of something or you don’t like something, just be the example you would want to see.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of examples, you still won’t produce or has your perspective on that changed with the spare solitude?
Paramida: It has changed indeed. There was a turning point, when I realized that no one is actually making the music I would actually like to put out.
Torture the Artist: Love On The Rocks thrives on technicolor, its wide color palette sets it apart from the underground norms, does this reflect your personal outlook on life?
Paramida: I guess it does. My label mirrors pretty much my life.
Torture the Artist: ‘Those who don’t believe in magic would never find it” – Love On The Rocks’ motto, a Dahlian raison d’etre. Do you believe in magic and have you found it?
Paramida: There’s no such thing as finding the magic and with that your search ends. Your search ends when you’re dead, at least on a physical and human conscious level. Until then it’s a journey and it’s up to you on how you see and approach life.
Torture the Artist: Doing music full time, as livelihood and hobby – did you always dream about this? Would young Paramida approve of this lifestyle?
Paramida: I think what young Paramida would approve of is to go for what you really want in life, no matter what other people or society expects from you. Don’t try to fit in. Don’t listen to anybody.
I’ve always chosen freedom.
Torture the Artist: Was it a struggle getting here?
Paramida: I guess you got to take some risks in life. You can choose between security and freedom. I’ve always chosen freedom. If you are free, anything can happen to you. Good and bad. But no risk, no fun.
You have to make space for new things to come into your life.
Torture the Artist: In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made do it?
Paramida: I think plenty. I quit university to focus on DJing, so I never had a back up plan or a degree in something I could rely on. I gave up my first residency and my job in a record store without having an idea what my next move was going to be. But sometimes you have to make space for new things to come into your life.
Torture the Artist: We’ve read your interviews and are really fascinated about your artistry but what we find even more enigmatic is your genuine persona. Can you share something about yourself we probably don’t know about – a skill, a habit, an interest, a double life?
Paramida: Most people and places are not hygienic/clean enough for me.
Torture the Artist: How do you cope with that, e.g. if a place you stay or play at does not fulfill your hygenic standards and do you tell people?
Paramida: Not having to deal with people and places. Regarding clubs, I don’t understand why an underground club has to be so filthy. I love clean clubs and a toilet behind the DJ booth. That’s how it always should be. There’s this huge hype about building a club out of trash like in Berlin, I love to call those clubs “Sperrmüll-Clubs”. Peeing everywhere else in those venues, but the toilets, would be probably the safest. Which makes it kind of gross.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of the people who are responsible for the music in clubs, do you sometimes feel like being a DJ or someone in the music industry just takes over your life in general?
Paramida: I can’t answer this question in a general way. On a personal level, it has in many ways. Which can be a blessing or a nightmare. Depends on the terms you have with the industry.
Torture the Artist: You’ve had a love/hate relationship with Berlin, or the other way around, ‘Berlin’s Most Hated.’ At this point where do you stand in this quagmire, have you come to terms with the city after years of gracing a few of its decks?
Paramida: It’s hard to judge right now as Berlin right now is not the Berlin everyone knows. But nowhere or very few places in the world are probably the same right now. I don’t know how my relationship with Berlin is going to be in the future, but I was actually in a good place with the city.
My sets can also be different than what people expect me to play.
Torture the Artist: We remember you saying: ‘There is no song you can’t play. You can play any song. You just have to play it in the right moment and you, the DJ, create the right moment or lead to that moment.’ You’ve played JLO, and your sets were once described as a long macarena, you know what to play when to play it. We’ve seen many off sets and can say not everyone has this talent. How do you gear up for a gig?
Paramida: I haven’t geared up for a gig in a very long time. It really depends on where I play, the time slot, the setting and so many other factors. My sets can also be different than what people expect me to play. But I always try to keep it fun.
Sometimes I just push through to teach and preach.
Torture the Artist: With a high profile an audience might have certain expectations probably also regarding the music being played, what do you do if you feel you are not fully connecting with your crowd?
Paramida: It really depends. Sometimes I just push through to teach and preach. Sometimes I switch to what they want first in order to connect and play then what I actually want to play. Ideally, I don’t have to do any of that and we all go with the flow together.
Torture the Artist: You’ve probably played a thousand, and enjoyed some more than others. But usually, what’s your favorite part of a night?
Paramida: My favorite part of the night is the opening. When I’m the first one to play the first song of the night and no one is there yet. Whether it’s at Robert Johnson or Panorama Bar, there’s always something magical about playing the first song in an empty club.
Torture the Artist: Does playing brains behind a record label help with track selections or is it mainly the thousands of hours spent in clubs both as a DJ and dancer that do?
Paramida: The latter I would say.
Torture the Artist: What made you decide to start Love on the Rocks in the first place?
Paramida: I never thought about it, I just did it.
Torture the Artist: If you have to choose, what is/are your favorite Love On The Rocks releases? What would you remix if you really had to?
Paramida: I love all of them, but some I have a special connection with. The DJ Steve one (Who The F*ck Is DJ Steve?), the Romie Singh reissue (Cry Freedom), Ghost Vision’s Shakuhachi and the upcoming Peyote Dreams State Of Mind (Slack Mix) reissue have one thing in common: If my life had a soundtrack, all those would be part of it, that’s for sure.
Torture the Artist: What else can we expect from Paramida and Love On The Rocks for the rest of 2021?
Paramida: This one is hard to answer, considering the world is upside down and no one knows what is going to happen.
I would like to pretend I had a plan, but I actually don’t.
Torture the Artist: So the pandemic has an impact on your releasing-schedule or do you hold some releases back for the time when clubs will be open again?
Paramida: I would like to pretend I had a plan, but I actually don’t.
Torture the Artist: Once clubbing resumes, what’s your first stop?
Paramida: I wish I knew.
Torture the Artist: What’s your current top10 (for the dance floor and/ or around)?
Paramida: Here we go in no particular order:
- Edwart Norton – Crimson Legacy
- Professor Balthasar – Twilo
- Plush Managements Inc – Magic Plush
- D.A.B. – Transmission EP
- Kepler – Retro Future EP
- Eden Burns – Moeraki Groove
- Bolam – Suspended Animation EP
- fabric pres. Octo Octa & Eris Drew
- Nu Yorican Soul – The Nervous Track
- Aroop Roy – Hustle Do Brasil
Torture the Artist: What’s a super power you wish you had?
Interview by Marie J. Floro and Holger Breuer
Pictures by Kieran Behan