Techno Tuesdays: La Fleur on the necessity of being true to oneself
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Destiny can’t be avoided, and La Fleur‘s was to be in dance music. In a moment of clarity during a sabbatical from her pharmacy job, the Swedish export realized her life’s calling was to be on the dance-floor making people move ecstatically along with the music she purveys. Once realizing this was where she meant to be, everything fell into place. Her seminal Flowerhead EP kicked off her label, Power Plant, off on a strong note, and she solidified her stance as a high caliber DJ with a long-term residency at celebrated Berlin club, Watergate.
Years of dedication to her craft have culminated in steep growth in recent times. Since 2017, the burgeoning artist has signed onto Truesoul with Exhaust, made her Essential Mix debut, and played alongside Laurent Garnier. One can’t forget her anthemic collaboration with Sasha, Förbindelse (download it here) of course; not many producers can say they’ve returned to Last Night On Earth with a cosign from the label owner himself. La Fleur is certainly looking at more good on the horizon. We had the chance to sit with La Fleur right before the holidays set in to talk to her about profound connection with music, Berlin life, working with Sasha, and what’s ahead.
You’ve been living in Berlin for around a decade or so, correct? How has the scene there changed or stayed the same?
Yes, time flies when you’re having fun! The scene definitely has changed a lot during the 12 years I’ve been in Berlin. When I arrived in 2007 the minimal techno scene was still very strong and that was what most were playing in the clubs. Then in time with more and more tourists coming to the city, things have changed. I would put this down to a few factors including the wave of ‘housier’ sounds around 2011, more people moving to the city, many of whom arriving to pursue a musical dream. All these things have contributed to the city becoming more varied sound-wise I would say. There are so many clubs in Berlin now, and there are a lot of them which I haven’t had the chance to visit yet. The scene has become bigger and more varied I would say.
Would you consider living in a city other than Berlin with a strong club scene, such as Buenos Aires, Barcelona, London, etc? Or, is Berlin the best match for your personality and music?
I’d definitely consider this — Barcelona and London are both cities I’ve thought about living in. I want to feel in love with and be inspired by the city in live in, which was part of the reason I moved to Berlin. The choice of city doesn’t necessarily have to do with the music scene there. I come from Sweden, and lived in Stockholm before I moved to Berlin. A lot of good music is coming from Sweden, but the scene is not big. I am actually thinking about moving back to Sweden, although the scene isn’t as big as the cities you mentioned, I still would feel inspired there, and that’s the most important for me.
We’ve heard that bad music makes you feel sick – can you expand on this? What makes a song “bad” for you? Do you get nauseous when you hear it? And, does this extra sense help your own music in a way, ie you get the sick feeling if you feel your own production is subpar?
I am very sensitive to sounds and I feel a lot when it comes to music. I wouldn’t necessarily define it as bad music, just music that maybe I don’t fancy or don’t connect to it. First of all, it’s hard for me to work to music (unless I’m the one playing it in a DJ set of course, haha) because I have trouble focusing on the other tasks at hand, as it’s always calling my attention.
I have this very strong memory when I was playing an Open Air a few years ago. There was this certain style of house and techno that was really popular at the time, which I could enjoy when other DJs were playing it. I decided to buy a few of those tracks and play them out to try them in my sets. Although the crowd enjoyed them, I didn’t feel good playing them as I wasn’t staying true to myself and that never feels good. Afterwards hearing those tracks gave me this feeling of illness in my body. It might sound dramatic, but I think it’s just a normal reaction to when we do things that aren’t true to us – both creatively and in life generally.
So maybe it’s not the music itself, but the experience of not believing in yourself and backing your own instinct – whether it be a few tunes at an Open Air or doing things that compromise who you are and harm your creative soul.
I am also very sensitive when music I don’t like is played in confined spaces like a shop or taxi. It makes me uncomfortable and I need to leave the store or ask the drive to turn it off.
Music has always been a big part of my life and for as long as I can remember, I have always connected a lot of feelings to music. When I love a track, I want to play it on repeat a million times. Music gets underneath my skin mostly in a good way. That’s why I started recording mixtapes for my friends, why I sat next to the stereo and chose the music at house parties and why later on, I wanted to become a DJ, so I could choose the music I like.
Prior to making house/techno, you played the flute and the piano. Do you feel your classical training has influenced the type of dance music you’re into, or your methodology? How so, if so?
Yes, I think part of it, playing melodic and melodies on the piano and flute. I really appreciate and dig good basslines and nice synth lines in productions. I think it also comes from my many dance classes in classical ballet, the softness and the flow in the music and dance, but still with a lot of power. So yes, definitely it somehow has shaped my taste, at least the love of a four-to-the-floor beat. I love to dance, and when I discovered dance music, I knew it would be special to me.
You’ve been working really hard on developing and growing your label Power Plant over the years. What are some of the proudest accomplishments you’ve seen for your brand?
First of all, I am proud of starting the label in the first place although most of my colleagues recommended me not to, due to all the work I’d need to put in for no return. But that didn’t put me off, I wasn’t afraid of hard work and wasn’t going to do the label to earn money, rather I wanted it solely to have the creative freedom and a breeding ground for different creative projects I wanted to pursue.
The first EP Flowerhead was a key moment! I really liked the tracks for that first vinyl-only release and since no other label were interested in releasing them, I decided it was a good time for me to start my own label. The amazing artworks I secured for the cover slicks is something that has a lot of meaning to me. They were done by painters and illustrators such as Olaf Hajek, Hans Arnold and Dan Hillier. Another special moment was when I helped curate and exhibit Hans Arnold’s work at a gallery in Stockholm as part of the release party. And of course, the fashion capsule collection Power Plant Elements. Now I’m hoping to start a new era for the label in 2019, with a fresh look and focus.
Outside of music, you also help in fashion design for your Power Plant Elements capsules, and you’re raising your daughter! How do you balance family life with all of your different work projects? Any tips for time management to others who might be in similar positions?
I love my work and it is a big part of my life, so I think that makes it easier. Becoming a mother, I wanted in a way, to work even harder for her and for her future. I would recommend you to be organised, ask for help when you need it and build a team around you for support. I have big support from my partner, without him I wouldn’t been able to do it like I do, so I am very thankful for that. Also, to be able to take time off and spend it with your loved ones is the most important thing and will keep you sane.
You’re just coming off a collaboration with Sasha; a seemingly natural path based off your past release on Last Night On Earth. What led you two to work together initially, and how did the collaboration manifest itself?
Back in 2014 I saw that Sasha was supporting my music a lot and it made me very happy as I always viewed him as an iconic artist with very good taste haha. I reached out to him to ask if he would be interested in an EP from me on his newly launched label LNOE and from that came his suggestion we do a collaboration together. So, we started the collaborate, but since it took quite some time, I first released my Orbit EP in 2015. And finally, now life and music has aligned and we could finish the Förbindelse track. It was the first of quite a few tracks sent back and forth that really felt it had something in it for the both of us, and we finished it pretty quickly. Förbindelse” means “connection” in Swedish.
Outside your own label and Last Night On Earth, what other labels are really checking your boxes musically right now?
There are a lot of good labels out there, for me Kompakt always releases good quality music and Crosstown Rebels always delivers as I think Damian has a very good ear. Other interesting labels that I always keep an eye on coming from Sweden are Aniara Recording, BOSS musik, Studio Barnhus and UFO Recordings.
Also, which new artists are you feeling excited about at the moment and why?
Justin Massei and Johanna Knutsson are artists that well deserve attention for being hard working, creative and offering something a bit extra.
Finally, the usual: what’s on the horizon for La Fleur?
I’m super excited to present a new release on my Power Plant label after a little break in 2018 from releasing music on the imprint. I have an original EP of my own work coming mid-year. I have a remix for Damian Lazarus on Crosstown Rebels coming out, as well as a single on Kompakt in Spring. Next year looks super exciting already, so I’m looking forward to what the future brings.