I'm not exaggerating when we say that Helena Hauff is one of the most exciting things to have come out of Hamburg since the Beatles. She’s a fast-rising DJ who’s drawn to the murky, sleazier end of electro and disco and has a reputation for taking dancers on the proverbial “journey” in her sets. She hosts the Birds And Other Instruments night at Hamburg’s infamous Golden Pudel club, and is about to release a record on Werk Discs, the label run by Actress’s Darren Cunningham. Safe to say Helena’s “Actio Reactio” EP is not packed with peak-time bangers, but its combination of wheezing synths and mangled rhythms has a malevolent charm. As she’s quite the connoisseur, and since she’s DJing in London this Saturday at the Xenoglossy & Bleed party, we asked Helena to tell us about her five favourite electro tracks. But first we asked her some proper questions.
What is a typical day like for Helena Hauff?
Helena Hauff: Getting up at around 2 PM, coffee and fags, then playing around with my synthesisers for a little while, out for food, red wine and whiskey, more fags. Pretty fantastic life, huh?
Do you have a regular job outside music?
What would you like listeners to get from your music?
Something! That’d be nice. In the worst case a “Fuck, I hate that, it hurts my ears!” In the best, “Fuck, that’s great, I love it.” Nothing’s worse than a simple “Yeah, it’s alright.”
Did you find the move from DJing to producing to be natural?
It was quite a natural thing for me. But a great DJ is not necessarily a great producer and vice versa. It’s just really easy and quick to be both nowadays. You only need a computer for DJing and producing, no need to buy lots of records and synths. The result is, though sometimes it all comes together perfectly, quite often an amazing DJ releases boring records and a fantastic producer plays boring sets. I just wish more people were invited for their DJing and not only for the records they’ve released.
What is it about the electro sound that drives you crazy?
It’s so funky without being funk music! That electro beat just makes me wanna dance, really, and quite often it’s got that certain nastiness to it that I just love.
Would you say there’s a kind of purity to electro?
It’s a primitive music, it doesn’t need much to be cool, just a synthesiser and a drum machine. Electronome’s “Een Drumcomputer En Een Synthesizer 3” ––https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz3QNSha8r8 –– is a perfect electro track and the title says it all. I can’t say it any better way!
Which DJ set changed your life?
Probably the first time I saw a DJ spinning “dance music”. After that I wanted to become a DJ myself. That changed my life – it ruined my academic career! That was in Hamburg in a warehouse-type thing a couple of years before I finally started to DJ.
What makes a great DJ set, in your opinion?
Energy and surprises. DJs that push their records into each other instead of fiddling around.
Sounds like you’re a regular listener to the Intergalactic FM radio station?
OH YES. Those people just have a great taste in music and not only techno stuff, but soundtracks, wave, Italo… I’m interested in all sorts of music and my varied tastes are well satisfied there.
You’re playing in London on Saturday with Frak and Dungeon Acid – why should people come to see you all play?
You wanna get drunk on a Saturday night, don’t you? And what’s better than some acid music for losing your mind, dancing and sweating all that alcohol out?!
What are the ingredients for a great night at Birds and Other Instruments down at the Golden Pudel?
You just need some acid techno, some electro, wave, punk, all that stuff – and people willing to dance! Everybody goes bonkers, but so far no one died.
Do you have more releases planned?
The next release is going to be as Black Sites on PAN, a collaboration with F#x.
Annnnd finally, can you give us a rundown of your favourite electro tracks.
Drexciya – "Positron Island"