By Maria Bungau
With the constant pressure on DJs to play, produce and self promote, there should be more emphasis on what they can deliver to the crowd. It should always be a new and different experience and few can do this better than REKA. The Berlin-based artist always takes the crowd on a mesmerizing journey through her perfect selection of tracks and moods. I know I can expect her to play a great mix of acid, electro, wave and techno, yet her mixes remain eclectic and are never predictable, and this was clearly noticeable last week when she played Berghain for the first time.
Today we present REKA's New Bvtalism No. 129 which also includes stunning photos of the artist in a photoshoot by Sven Marquardt x Obscur. Her love for bikes, a passion she's had since she was 16 and which continues to this day, is combined with a glimpse of her present, a sleek, almost minimalist fashion style embodied by the custom made leather suit designed by Richard Söderberg, the Swedish designer behind one of our favorite brands, who also customized the bike REKA is seen riding.
The Brvtalist: For those who are not aware of your background, before DJjing, you studied genetics. Why did you pursue that path and what made you change towards music and DJing? Do genetics and science, in general, still play a role in your life, even if just as a means to fuel your inspiration and creativity?
REKA: I have always been equally attracted to both, science and arts. Despite my strong artistic inclinations as a child especially my passion for music, I also dreamt about being a scientist and making an important discovery that would serve humanity or the planet in some way. I also considered becoming an architect or engineer, but what I really loved to study was the fascinating complexity of living organisms and especially humans. I was really excited about what opportunities genetic engineering could bring to the cure of fatal diseases like cancer and, on top of that, it just sounded so futuristic and so cool! It was also the specialty where it was the most difficult to be accepted, so that also turned me on to be honest.
Science degrees are pretty tough in Spain, incredibly demanding. My mom passed away when I was 21 and I had to take care of the family business without knowing anything about businesses, so I decided to study finances and accounting on the side. I feel really proud of how I managed everything, but that came with a cost, I burnt out. At one point I decided to take a break and have a more relaxed life with more free time for creative endeavors which were totally put aside during all these years. So I switched to Graphic Design school and bought turntables with the only intention of learning how to dj just for fun. Then quickly got very cool offers that I could not ignore, and before I realized, I was already a professional DJ.
I am still very interested in scientific advances of course. Unfortunately, and I realized this after years passed, my scientific background has not helped me too much with my musical career. Learning production has been extremely slow and painful as I couldn´t stand tweaking buttons without knowing what was happening to the sound wave. I wanted to know everything, even from a physics perspective. At one point I found myself reading very heavy books about synthesis theory at a level that was just not necessary at all and that was just keeping me from making any music and left me with so many unanswered questions. The saddest part is that I have forgotten so much of all that I learnt.
TB: Back when you were living in Madrid, you co-founded LeChic club, joined the International Deejay Gigolos crew, and released a mix-CD called "leMix" which featured, among many others, DJ Hell and Drexciya. Would you say that all these influenced you and contributed to where you are today as a DJ?
R: I would not say that I was very influenced by all that, but all that happened cause I was who I was, musically and personally. After a few years it reached a point where I was no more in alignment, musically, artistically and personally, so l decided to break from all that, changed my artist name and started my solo career from scratch. Of course, I am very grateful for this period, I learned a lot, and have many amazing memories.
TB: You're a resident at Berlin's Tresor. When did your residency start and how did it all happen?
R: It was my old booker from Gigolo, Norman, who introduced me to Diana, Tresor´s booker. She invited me to play one night, then invited me again and eventually offered me the residency.
TB: In the past you've organized some W.A.V.E.S. events at Ohm in Berlin, where you invited Alienata, Silent Servant, Violet Poison and P.R.I.M.A.R.Y. among many others. What is the concept behind this event and what are your plans regarding the future of W.A.V.E.S.?
R: The concept was for me and my guests to be able to play music I could not play in my gigs, so any genre, any BPM, all those weird b-sides, without the pressure of “making people dance”. I would do the opening focusing in the very slow tempos from 80 to 115 max. As a rule, I really craved playing slow. Few years ago, it was not that easy to find these adventurous vibes in a club, it was all very techno oriented.
My idea is to continue with the parties this year, but it is a bit demanding since I take care of everything, flyer design, promotion, bookings and so on. Also it is getting more difficult to coordinate my calendar with OHM, as it is now in very high demand.
TB: Your Instagram's aesthetic and your overall style hint at a certain penchant for art. What else inspires you from the world of art besides music?
R: Anything visual really, from paintings or architecture, to interior design or photography. It's not only inspiration, I literally find pleasure looking at attractive things/images as it stimulates something in my brain, it makes me feel good.
TB: Could you share with us some DJs/artists who caught your attention lately that you'd recommend we follow?
R: There are so many new talented artists out there, it's crazy. Lately, I am enjoying very much playing tracks from Lapse of Reason, Imperial Black Unit or Unconscious, they sound fresh and very strong on the dance floor. I always include them in my sets since few months ago. As for DJs, I really respect Bellatrix? for his astounding only vinyl set at one of my New Faces parties in Tresor. I also enjoyed Vivian Koch´s set when she was playing before me in Jena, also with vinyl. I know this is already a very stale debate, and would agree that what is the most important is the music selection and a plus for the technical skills (the better these are the better the whole package is), but I can't help to feel more respect for those who take the time and effort to learn how to play the hard way.
TB: What are your goals for 2018 and is there anything exciting you can share with us regarding future plans?
R: My main goal for 2018 is getting serious with my productions and deliver music to some cool labels once and for all. There is actually one release scheduled for early autumn, but I can't say where. Meanwhile, there are some cool gigs in the air and touring in United States and some exotic places in Asia, where I haven’t been yet, so I am very excited.
Thank you to REKA for taking the time to speak with us and if you've never caught one of her sets we highly recommend you do.