My daughter really gets into YouTube channels and stars that are very famous in her class. The other day she was saying ‘Oh mum, you're so boring because you're not even on YouTube.’ I was like ‘Oh ok. Hang on a second honey!’
IOM recently met with Cinthie, Berlin based DJ and producer, head of 803 Crystal Grooves, Beste Modus, Unison Wax, Beste Freunde and we_r house, Radio Fritz host, record store owner and proud parent. Let us catch our breath for a second. Apart from diving into her entrepreneurial activities, our discussion focuses on the binary contrast between Cinthie being a single mom and her former years throwing illegal parties in Berlin. She also touched upon her record store, Elevate, being an early adopter of Spotify, and the importance of sharing music on the internet.
How do you deal with time management while juggling all your projects?
Usually, I’m relaxing when I'm playing music on the weekend because it's the only time that I can really switch off my brain and be myself. I'm also a single mom, so it's quite tough dealing with the limited amount of time I have, but I'm a proper German, so I stay super organized with all my lists. My food list, what I'm buying, what I'm doing. It's quite fun being organized and it definitely helps.
You recently opened your record store, Elevate. What were some of your recent learning experiences with that side of the business?
We opened Elevate by mistake because there was a shop free next to my house and we were looking for a storage room for our labels. If you open a shop and only have 10 records, you quickly learn that you should probably have more, so we decided to open a proper record store. We’re not open every day, though. We open Saturdays, and every second week on Wednesdays we have a popup event that starts at 6 and ends at 10. We're adding more records every day, but it's not like a normal record store. We support our friends and their labels first. It's great because they usually give us their records first and they pay us what we sell and we don't have to pay for the records right away. It's no risk for both of us, and we can also support our friends which is really nice. There’s a lot of things to learn, especially with the tech and inventory side of the business. You learn and upgrade every day, and we’re taking baby steps.
Was opening a record store something you had planned early on?
Elevate was just another opportunity that fell into my lap. I used to work in a record store when I was younger, about 20 years ago, and it was like going back to my roots. Sometimes I think ‘Maybe I should just close it. It's too much’, but I just have to delegate more work to the rest of the crew. That's hard for me because I like doing things myself.
Most of my very close friends I’ve met are through the internet. I get lots of messages from people internationally. Without the internet, they wouldn’t have known about me and I wouldn’t have known about them
Are you a Solo Traveler?
I travel solo because I don't have a manager. Sometimes I bring my daughter now because she's almost 10 and it's really fun to travel with her.
When you bring your daughter along does she grasp what you do?
She knows what I'm doing and she kind of understands it. The other day she had a friend over, and at 10 years old, they only can imagine what I'm doing. ‘You’re always away on the weekend, but you’re just playing music.’ At the same time, my daughter really gets into YouTube channels and stars that are very famous in her class. The other day she was saying ‘Oh mum you're so boring because you're not even on YouTube.’ I was like ‘Oh ok. Hang on a second, honey’, and I showed her my Boiler Room from 2014 where I have half a million plays, and then she was like ‘Oh my god, mum, you're on YouTube!’ Since then I’m the superstar in the class. The children are like ‘Her mum is on YouTube! She’s so famous!’ It’s so funny. I think they kind of realise what I’m doing but of course, for them, it’s very hard to understand what I’m actually doing. But they always ask whether I’m famous, and I’m like ‘well, maybe!’.
Do you take your daughter to the studio?
I wish she wanted to come more often, but most of the time, she’s like ‘Mum, this is so boring.’ She had a Maschine lesson with Mike Huckaby though. What he’s teaching is rhythm, and it’s really interesting that he’s teaching the kids drums with their fingers. She liked it a lot, but I think she’s more into dancing.
How has the internet changed the way you buy and find music?
I love to go to the record store, but, let’s be honest, I’m quite busy. For me sometimes it's more convenient to go through an online store, or to Discogs. Back in the day, the record store had a social aspect. You could go and meet up with people who had the same taste in music and now I have the feeling that people are lonely. They sit in front of the computer, they don’t have real friends, and they are just trolling around. It’s a bit strange. But of course, if you want to find new music, especially now that Spotify is so big, it’s more convenient. What I don’t like is the way you have to present yourself. I’m doing great (I think) but I’m doing it because everyone else is. I want to show people my skills and not my face every day.
Do you feel like there’s an obligation to fans being on social media?
I love to communicate with fans. The other day I was chatting with someone who wants to start making music. They were objectively good looking, but instead of looking for a booking agency, they are currently talking with an influencer agency. I’m like ‘what the fuck? Aren’t you supposed to get skills first and then do all of that?' It’s crazy though. It’s not so much about skills anymore. It’s more about how you look, what you have, what you eat. It’s a bit strange, I would say. These days it’s more about how you can sell someone as a product, rather than letting their music speak for itself.
‘What is underground?’ I personally think I left the underground when I stopped throwing illegal parties in Berlin and started writing invoices for my gigs.
Do you think that social media and the way that the internet is connecting people is creating opportunities that wouldn’t have previously come about for artists?
Absolutely. Most of my very close friends I’ve met are through the internet. I get lots of messages from people internationally. Without the internet, they wouldn’t have known about me and I wouldn’t have known about them.
Do you think that things like Boiler Room sets are a kicking-off point for discovery across international markets?
My breakthrough started with my 2014 Boiler Room. I think now they’re doing too many for my taste, but back then they were coming out with a new video once a week. Everyone was waiting for them to release it and it was something special. The anticipation of who was playing Boiler Room next was big. For me, it was very important to have Boiler Room as a platform.
Apart from production in 2019, are there any particular milestones you have?
My goal is to release on a few bigger labels. I also want to pump up my radio show more and share it a bit more. In general, I want to share more music in 2019.
Is there a particular goal behind your Spotify playlists?
I want to share music I love, as well as other friends’ music. I think it’s a good platform because in the ‘so called’ underground scene, not many people are using it yet.
At the end of last year, everyone was sharing their stats from Spotify. I felt like a lot of people got pissed about that because it wasn’t ‘underground’, but I’m like, ‘come on guys, what is underground?’ I personally think I left the underground when I stopped throwing illegal parties in Berlin and started writing invoices for my gigs. The music might still be underground, but it’s a business. I set up a business and I have to write invoices for my gigs. I don’t think that’s necessarily underground. I have some underground labels, and although I’m only selling a few thousand copies every time, I feel like I’m limiting myself. It’s great with Spotify that you can’t necessarily download the tracks in the way you would traditionally download songs. It’s helpful when I’m on the train because I can’t bring a record player on board, so I put together my favourite tunes and can listen to it on the go.
We also can’t forget about other markets, like Brazil, who may not necessarily have thirty record stores nearby, like in Berlin. For them it’s really expensive to get records or buy turntables. For international markets, they have to pay a lot of tax and shipping, so why should I tell them that they’re not allowed to listen to my music? That’s why I love Spotify so much at the moment, because it’s very well set up to reach new people with my music. As a platform for the underground scene, it’s still quite new, so I’m happy that I’m an early adopter.
Sharing music is bringing people together. Some people hate sharing and want to keep their secret weapons for themselves because may have been digging for a while for their tracks, but I don’t have a problem with it. I was always sharing music when I was working in record stores. We would get new releases in and I would play them on the weekends. People would come up to me and ask me about the track names, and of course I would let them know and it would make them happy. Some DJs may be scared that if they share the track ID then someone else is going to buy the record and might play it as well! It’s not that it’s a bad thing and people are copying your whole set and pretending they are you. In short, I don’t mind and I’m happy to share the track IDs from any of my sets, because I want people to buy the record and support the artists.
Words: Stu Richards
Images: Marie Staggat