Hailing from Leipzig Janthe’s made her way into the electronic scene only a few years back but now belongs to a group of aspiring (female) artists and collectives, which advocate for a visibility of females and under-represented people within the scene and possibly becoming representatives for a more equal and fair approach and access to the scene with all its different technical and cultural facets. It can’t be denied that Janthe’s day job tasks in the field of political education and on the contrary her musical commitment coincide and complement each other at the one point or the other just like electronic music or rather the scene itself has always had a political direction in its apolitically entity, even when latter has changed over the years – partly. With Torture the Artists Janthe discusses several ways of changes within the local scene of Leipzig, including the creation of venues for initially mentioned groups to follow musical ambitions among other things regarding the subject and also deviating from it in order to provide personal information how she first encountered the scene and started her musical career.
Torture the Artist: Hello Janthe, where do we catch up with you at the moment and what’s your day been like?
Janthe: Hey hey <smiles> I’m sitting at my desk right now and the day has just started. I’m still a bit tired and have just finished my second cup of coffee and already think about having my third cup before noon haha. All in all, I’m in a good mood and looking forward to the interview.
Torture the Artist: I suppose you are not a morning person? What’s the best time for you to give your creativity full scope?
Janthe: Although I’m tired, I’m actually a total morning person. I find it rather difficult to be creative in the evening. That’s why I’m probably most creative at midday, when the tiredness is over.
Torture the Artist: You’re currently based in Leipzig, is this the city/ scene where you first encountered electronic music, or where and how did you get involved?
Janthe: I had my first contact with the electronic music scene during my teenage years in a small town near Berlin. Besides smaller parties and festivals in the area, there was a Jugendclub (editor’s note: a club for teenagers) that we visited regularly. A few of my male friends learned to DJ there. But I didn’t really try my hand at learning how to DJ at that time.
When I moved to Leipzig, I quickly got to know a lot of people who were actively shaping and being part of the electronic music scene in the city. That led to me becoming more active myself. At that time, I founded a small collective called Chelsea Hotel together with friends and we started organizing parties in off-locations. That’s when I learned how to DJ myself and had a great environment and friends who supported me along the way. At the same time, the feminist network Feat. Fem was founded in Leipzig. At the first meetings I got to know a lot of great women who also accompanied, inspired and encouraged me on my way.
Torture the Artist: What’s the track(s) that you connect with your entry into the scene and where did you come across them?
Janthe: One track that immediately comes to my mind is Acid Nord by Johanna Knutsson and Hans Berg. I played this track at my first performance at Institut für Zukunft, I think as the closing track, and I would still play it today. I love the Acid line, the slightly melancholic or dark and trippy atmosphere as well as the energy of the song.
Torture the Artist: Do or did you have a role model that you’ve looked up to and whose way into the scene you find noteworthy or maybe even exemplary to some extent?
Janthe: I never really had any role models in my life. But when I came across D.Tiffany and Roza Terenzi, I was very inspired by their way of DJing and producing since I think it’s a very refreshing and special way of making music. Both of them are still two of my favorite producers and DJs. During the past year, Paramida was also an artist who inspired me a lot. I love the releases on her label Love On The Rocks, as well as her own productions and sets.
Torture the Artist: Since you are involved in several projects like Chelsea Hotel, feat. Fem and G-Edit that support and help (female) artists to establish themselves in the electronic music scene. How do you feel the role of women as well as queer artists have changed and developed lately? Where do you still think readjustments are necessary and ultimately where do you see yourself stepping up making that difference and change?
Janthe: I think that the visibility of female and queer DJs and the awareness on these topics have definitely changed within the club scene in recent years. However, the problem of representation still exists and there is still a lot to do. In this case, however, I can only speak for Germany or for Leipzig, in an international comparison it is difficult for me to make a statement – I simply don’t have the necessary insights into the scene for that.
In Leipzig, there is definitely an awareness concerning issues like diversity, discrimination and equality within the alternative club culture. In recent years, it has therefore been possible to observe that FLINTA DJs have become more visible in Leipzig. Among other things, this is also due to structures like the DJ rehearsal room for FLINTAs at Conne Island. You can use this room and the provided DJ equipment for free. Of course, that breaks down barriers and creates low-threshold access. There are also many feminist DJ collectives, panel discussions on gender-reflective perspectives on club culture, DJ workshops or mentoring programs that are specifically aimed at FLINTAs. All this has contributed to more and more female and queer people learning to DJ and lineups becoming more diverse.
I believe that the aspect of promoting young talents and creating role models is very important in this. When I hear someone outside of Leipzig saying that there would be no or hardly any local female DJs, then in some cases this may simply be convenience, ignorance or laziness, in some cases it might be an objective fact. But then I ask myself at the same time: what is being done concretely to promote young talent and to change the situation? Do established DJs share their skills with newcomers? Are spaces opened or created, stages and platforms offered?
Besides DJing, there are also other parts of club culture that should be made more diverse in order to bring in different perspectives and promote diversity. For example, in the areas of booking, security, promoting or event technology. These domains are also usually male-dominated.
In general, I would also be happy if male artists were asked these questions. Where do they see the problems in the scene? And what do they think can be done to achieve more equality? What role do they play and what solutions do they propose? This would perhaps contribute a little to more men taking up the topic, questioning positions and self-evident facts and not simply taking themselves out of it just because it doesn’t concern them.
Torture the Artist: In an interview you gave for frohfroh.de it was said that you follow the female* Ableton User Group at IfZ (Institut für Zukunft in Leipzig) closely. Are those projects needed in order to have more electronic music produced from female artists as for now it’s mostly male music being played by female DJs? What would be a way or another way to have more females involved in productions or the production process? Where do you see challenges and how can they be overcome?
Janthe: Yes, projects like the female Ableton User Group are definitely useful for promoting young talent, because there is a safer space for creative exchange and feedback here. Creating spaces and structures that contribute to exchange, networking and sharing of knowledge is therefore generally useful in order to form alliances and to make contacts, but it’s also difficult to establish these kind of structures because they are often run on a voluntary basis.
Of course, there are obstacles that apply to all people who want to start producing: high expenses or low time capacities can make it difficult for everyone to get started. One solution could be to create a public space similar to the rehearsal room at Conne Island, which is aimed at people who want to learn to produce and where a certain basic stock of equipment is already available. This could facilitate access to this field. However, creating such a space also requires a lot of time for organization and support, as well as funding to provide equipment.
In addition, the visibility of female role models is again an essential aspect. The socialization of girls also plays a decisive role here. It is often suggested to girls that technology is only something for boys. These old gender roles and social expectations that are placed on girls – and which you also encounter again and again as an adult woman – can then lead to girls identifying less with a technically oriented field. However, if there were more visible female role models here, then this could contribute to girls and women becoming active themselves in male-dominated fields.
Torture the Artist: You also said that “all white male line-ups are not up-to-date anymore“, to what extent are counter projects like all female line-ups the solution for the still by white-cis-men dominated scene? Do you think an extreme has to be met with another extreme in order to create a balance and cause awareness for the shortcoming of diversity?
Janthe: All female line-ups can be a good way and a tool to create visibility and empowerment for female DJs and to generate awareness and exchange on that topic. However, I believe that all female line-ups are not the solution to the problem and have more of a short-term effect. These issues of participation and equality have to be negotiated in longer terms in all club-specific topics but foremost in society in general and are not limited to an isolated field. This also involves questions of socialization, historically evolved gender roles and power relations. Change is a long process and hopefully time will show that something really does change permanently.
Torture the Artist: Over the past year some of your own productions have seen the light of day, only single tracks so far though. Was it clear from the outset that you did not only want to DJ but also release your own music or was it a process that you underwent?
Janthe: When I started DJing four years ago, I didn’t think about producing music myself. I thought that I simply didn’t have the musical knowledge and creativity to do so. The desire or the idea then slowly developed over time. At the time, I was intensively discussing this topic with a friend who is a producer herself, and I was often bothered by the fact that there is such a great imbalance in terms of gender ratio in the field of electronic music production. At some point I thought to myself: Wait a minute, why don’t you just produce yourself? I got the trial version of Ableton, had the program explained to me and just got started.
Torture the Artist: Ideally and personally, what would a line-up look like and who would be on it, so that you visited the event?
Janthe: For me, a well-curated line-up of course consists of artists whose sound I really do love. I also like it when a line-up includes both established artists and newcomers and follows a 50/50 booking. I’m also always happy when my friends are represented on a line-up so I can support them in the front row.
Torture the Artist: Let’s roll out the red carpet to give credits, who would what be, give us same names.
Janthe: Besides the DJs and producers already mentioned, Adam Pits, Spray, Youandewan, THC and Sedef Adasi are among my favourite DJs at the moment. My all-time favs from Leipzig include DJ Balaton, Naitwa, I$A, the complete G-Edit Gang anyway, ttyfal, Scherbert, Hannie Phi, Cyan85, AGY3NA and Marie Montexier, just to name a few. I think I could go on for a while.
Torture the Artist: That’s fair enough. As mentioned before, so far you have only released single tracks, were those a cautious approach to an EP, which we can expect shortly?
Janthe: Producing an EP would definitely be a dream of mine for the future. Unfortunately, I often don’t have the time to produce music on a regular basis besides my daytime job. That’s why it sometimes takes a while until I get into a creative process or a track is finished. But time is an incredibly important factor for being creative and for musical development. So producing my own EP is something I would really like to do at some point, but it could take a while. <laughs>
Torture the Artist: First off, what is your day time job and secondly, do you want to go all-in for the music at some point or do you enjoy being active in a day- and night-job?
Janthe: I work in the field of political education. However, the question is difficult for me to answer. I like the balance between the two activities and I don’t want to miss anything because I really like doing both.
Torture the Artist: What’s a musical extravaganza you’d pay for if you were rich?
Janthe: In fact, I would be very happy with a proper DJ setup: a good 4-channel mixer, two CDJs and two Technics. That already costs a fortune altogether.
Torture the Artist: If I told you to do it the Janthe-way, what would this way look like?
Janthe: Musically-wise it’s definitely Acid all the way, very bouncy and energetic, 90s infused club sets with a lot of trippy moments. At home and in my podcasts, on the other hand, I often choose calmer, more break-esque tracks, because that also corresponds more with the music I like listening to at home. My transitions are always quite long compared to other DJs, because I like to create new atmospheres between the tracks and it always makes me very happy when two tracks fit together so well that you could let them run together forever.
Torture the Artist: Lastly, you are responsible for the latest art:cast (mix), when or how is it best-listened to and what’s the journey you want to take the listeners on?
Janthe: The mix starts with an ambient track, then builds up continuously through energetic, uplifting 90s inspired house and ends smoothly with a trippy, trancy atmosphere. The mix represents my club sound very well and now that summer is slowly but surely coming to an end, it reminds me a lot of warmer days. I can think of several situations where the mix would fit well: before you go out partying, when you come back from partying or just on a sunny day on your way to somewhere.
Words by Holger Breuer
Pictures by Sam Müller