One on one with German techno luminary – Ann Clue [Interview + Exclusive Mix]
I’m definitely a musician at heart. Neither a DJ – nor a typical producer.
With a tour schedule that can go toe-to-toe with nearly anyone’s in the industry and a nuanced, yet gritty sound that’s all her own, it’s safe to say that Ann Clue is one of the unsung heroes of the thriving European techno scene. The German musician came up through the same minimal techno ranks as the surging Boris Brejcha, joining efforts on collaborative tracks like “Road Trip” and becoming a mainstay within the tight-knit Fckng Serious crew. In recent years, however, Clue hasn’t necessarily broken from the pack, but has certainly been defining herself as her own artist in the midst of a vivifying artistic evolution.
Although she’s typically one to let her music do the talking, Dancing Astronaut had the honor of not only chatting with Ann in anticipation of her upcoming set at Sea You Festival, but taking a deep dive with her into the mystical German techno scene, her growth as an artist, and life lessons learned along the way. Read the full interview below.
Germany’s techno scene is known to be like no other in the world, what is it that makes the club scene there so unique?
That’s a really good question. And my answer would be – it’s definitely not as unique as everyone thinks. It is way overestimated. My experience is that this might be right if you look at Berlin – but I would not include the rest of Germany. About the underground techno scene in Berlin – yes thats right – its quite special. I think it’s because germans have a dark soul and history and we tend to compensate a lot in hidden spaces – where we can lose control and let go of all the darkness. I think that’s what you feel with techno – especially the type that has its highest peak now. Its dark, rough, fast paced, hard and chaotic.
Is there anything that you think the rest of the world could learn from German club culture?
This underground culture shows the darkest side of our souls and nature, which needs to be embraced like the bright side, but we are often afraid to show it or let it come through. Humans often think they have to hide their dark side because its not so pretty. But the whole world is about Yin and Yang – the Yin (dark) side needs a lot more attention in order to let go of fear and anxiety. And to see the beauty in it. Its ok to have both sides – not everything is beautiful from the outside – beauty is also or most to be found on the inside. For example – I remember well my first gig in New York – where I played at Output – everyone told me that this such an amazing underground venue and it will be super cool. There I realized that underground is really a matter of perspective. And I noticed that one thing is true about the Germany underground club culture – at least is has been – it’s often more about the music. About connections to other people and not to scratch only on the surface of the world but go deep down under.
Aside from the Fckng Serious crew, which artists are helping to define German techno in 2020?
Thats always a matter of taste of course, but I truly admire the old guard – like Len Faki, Stephan Bodzin (no techno for me though!), Chris Liebing, Pan Pot, Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Ellen Allien but of course many “newcomers” like Fjaak, Kobosil, or Helena Hauff. And I also realized that there is so many people from all over the world that live in Germany and do music there – so they are also or better a big part of the Germany techno scene.
You’ve been close with Boris for many years, what can you tell us about him that he might not be willing to share about himself?
Haha sneak peak. Well I could talk hours about Boris as he is such an interesting person. But to point out something very special about him, let me think… He is such a great example for someone who chased his dream no matter what everyone else said or did. And believe me – the road he chose was one of the hardest ones! Cause he didn’t take any short cut. He chose the to be consistent. His music was unique from the beginning on and many people said he should do something more popular in order to succeed. As he is such a great versatile musician – he could have been famous already 10 years ago with Trance music or Pop or whatever – he can literally produces everything you can imagine. He is a fckng machine in produciton. But he decided to create his own music and invested all time and effort just for the fact to make himself happy, not others. When I met him, he had no money, nothing but his dreams, a lot of ambition and a big heart. Now he is one of the most successful producers in the world and I believe that he will always be, until he decides that he wants to retire.
Would you describe yourself as more of a DJ or a producer at heart?
I’m definitely a musician at heart. Neither a DJ – nor a typical producer. I’ve been doing music my whole life, since I’m a child.I always wanted to do music. But where I was born it was clear that music is not a job – just a hobby. So it took me a lot of time until I decided to give it a try and make my dreams come true. I’m so happy I did :)
What are some of your passions outside of music? Do you still have the time and energy to pursue them?
I’m a super curious person and I would define myself as a scanner personality. I love so many things and I love to learn whatever I find myself not knowing. So first of all I love being an entrepreneur – I like to learn and figure out how business works – as well as networking.
I spend a lot of time figuring out new ways of process optimization in my companies and leadership. I’m also a huge fan of technical stuff so I always try out the newest gadgets and test new software or hardware.But my biggest passion beside music is sports and personal development. I’m a big fan of Ashtanga Yoga and I do it every morning before I do anything else. Plus – everyday I try to learn something new. I want to be able to be 1% better than the day before – so I read about techniques and wisdom that help me to be a better version of myself in order to help the world around me to become better too.
Do you remember what an 8-10 year old Ann Clue want to be when she grew up? What would she think about what you’re doing now?
I always wanted to be a musician, but I was told at early age – that this is not a job. So then I wanted to be an astronaut. But my eyes were too bad – I’m short sighted. I remember that one of my last dreams was to become the chancellor of Germany :) I was sitting in front of the TV when I was around 5 and my mom talked about the chancellor that day. It was gossip and I thought I could do it better. I wanted to change the world. At least our country :) If I would meet my 8 year old me now – she sure would be super surprised and also very happy to see me traveling the world and doing what I love. My biggest dreams came already true and I’m so grateful about that.
What is the one release of yours that you’re most proud of. Why?
Sorry I have two! “Roadtrip” and “Trip” – these 2 tracks changed my life! The way both tracks have arisen is very deep. Boris and I produced “Roadtrip” at the end of our relationship – like the beginning of our friendship – but the end of our adventure as a couple. Being together for 7 years 24/7, traveling the world together was the reason that my whole life changed. And if you listen to “Roadtrip” – you hear and feel the sadness of something great ended and the happiness and excitement about something new to begin. It’s truly something special and will always be. And “Trip” was the first track I produced by myself and really like to play. The moment it was done I knew it would a dancefloor killer and it still is. It was a great achievement for me to realize what I’m capable of and “Trip” helped me to define myself as a solo artist – not only the woman in the shadow of Boris.
You’ve accomplished a ton, and are lucky to be doing it alongside people that you’re close with… what are some of your goals from here, short or long term?
Most of my biggest dream already came or [would’ve] become true the next month. I’d be playing at festivals likes Awakenings, Time Warp, Exit, EDC Las Vegas, and Sonus and you could say I could not ask for more than that. But as I’m constantly trying to grow, I have a lot of more dreams to follow. While I’m writing this interview I’m about to go on a journey to Bali where I have 3 weeks to work on my first album. This will be one of the most beautiful adventures I’ve ever been on. As I totally rely on myself and my creativity. I’m so excited what comes out and how it will sound.Festival wise I wish that next year I’m going to play at Coachella, this would nearly complete my bucket list on played Festivals. I also want to dig deeper into a live performance and I’m working on a special live show for 2021 – something like an Alice in Wonderland experience. Visual and music wise something that makes people happy and make them feel good. God I could talk hours about dreams :)
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to be asked about but haven’t?
I wish someone would ask – ‘What have you learned in life so far and what do you want to share with the others?’
‘Cause it might help others as it helped me. Whatever you do in life, make sure it makes you happy. And don’t think there is this one job or that one thing that makes you happy. Humans tend to search for happiness outside their self – in job, in money, in things they buy, the cars they drive or in relationships. The truth is – no one and nothing can ever make you happy. You have to take care of that yourself. So don’t compare yourself with others on Instagram or Facebook. Love yourself from today on, with all the good and the bad things, cherish your past and let go what and who does not serve you. Life is too short to run after people and things you don’t have right now – be grateful for what you have now, while you pursue your goals.
I love your signature use of vocal samples in your tracks, are any of them your voice? Would you ever be willing to use my voice for a sample?
Thank you :) I usually use my voice – sometimes I use vocals when my mic doesn’t record properly :) And sure, send me your vocal and let’s do something with it.
Thanks so much for your time Ann!
Catch Ann Clue’s minimal club sound at Sea You Festival, which takes place July 18 and 19.