Interview by Helena Markos
Exclusive photography by Teresa Espadafor
REKA, Spanish in origin, Berlin-based artist and DJ, has repeatedly attracted our attention, during the last couple of years. Due to her strong presence, she has slowly and steadily established herself amongst the most competent DJs and artists of the scene. REKA is a woman who responds to her surroundings and emerging challenges of our times, by staying loyal to her values, always armed with an uncompromising attitude.
REKA has been responsible for numerous nights, all over the world, at some of the most “sacred” dance-floors, such as; Berghain, KHIDI and the iconic Tresor. If you are lucky to listen to her sets, you will witness her almost “shamanistic” ability to create the right atmosphere and vibe through DJ sets, filled with unique and fearless dark sounds. Few months ago, REKA has also performed for our night in Bristol and she has marked us with her interesting views, warm character and matchless taste in music.
An artist who is not scared to question the social media limbo we live in. Today, she comments about the power of our choices and raises her concern about the future of art. A woman whose voice needs to be heard, even if she might find it daunting doing so, by using the modern methods. She has a powerful, almost mesmerising energy, that could inspire anyone who meet her.
REKA, as producer, has recently started showing us some of her badass productions, letting us crave the upcoming ones. After her huge debut on Phase Fatale’s BITE, she announces two new releases for this year.
This interview happened in a very busy end of Summer, straight after REKA’s polished boiler room session at KHIDI. A meaningful content, accompanied by the exquisite art of our photographer Teresa Espadafor (Barcelona), who magically captured REKA’s enchanting aura, with her analogue camera. Undoubtedly, this could be much longer, as Rebeca is a very interesting person to talk to. We invite you to dwell into the magic…
T.O.P: Hi Rebeca, we are very happy to have you on Tales of Psychofonia and thank you for dedicating time to answer to my questions. First of all, I would like to ask you how would you describe your music journey so far and what are your near future aspirations?
REKA: My music journey has been one of many turns, ups downs, and even breaks. Some voluntary, others imposed by circumstances but I think this is not uncommon for musicians and for basically everybody who has been around for a while. My short term aspirations in music are just being able to focus on the studio and getting all these ideas I have in my head out and pressed into records.
T.O.P: Looking back to your first days as a DJ, is there any specific person, moment or experience that you feel they have played a significant role for you and your work?
REKA: I started djing with my best friend as part of a female duo, le Chic. We played very cool underground music and as we were both connected to the visual world we were set to having an impactful image different from what a Dj should look like which back in the day was pretty standardized.
There were some occasions where we were booked at fancy or just normal clubs where the audience didn’t seem to understand our music completely and we were advised not playing too dark which was quite disappointing and stressful. The last straw was when we signed a contract for a tour with Coca-Cola, 35 dates all over Spain. That ended up with us being kicked out from some Dj booths.
At one point it was arranged that we would just play 3 “easy” songs we had for 15 min as a little performance (I guess that´s what Paris Hilton does at her shows) and sometimes they just displayed our pictures in the venue and we didn’t even show up. We were paid a crazy amount of money but that was definitely not the type of Dj I wanted to be. We decided to quit the duo. I was craving to play weird and dark stuff and wanted to do it with another name, start from scratch, so I left my agency and started solo as REKA using no more than my music, simple pictures of me only when necessary and very few contacts or colleagues sharing same vision in music and artistic expression. Fast forward some years and after many difficulties and thanks to the growing scene and more open audience in the last years, I am finally where I wanted to be.
T.O.P: When it comes to music production, would you say that you are an introvert kind of person or more of a relationships-focused one?
REKA: I would define myself as an ambivert person, so I can feel either like an extrovert or an introvert depending on the situation and context and that totally translates when working in the studio. On one hand, I really enjoy taking the time to experiment and creating my sounds from scratch, and that’s something more likely to happen when you are on your own. The bond with what you are creating is also much stronger. On the other hand, I’m also very comfortable with working with others as well. It’s fun to hang out and you always learn something new. I also love how fast everything goes because you make decisions together which you actually stick to avoiding changing things over and over again, touching where you should touch no more or creating five versions of the same track, which I tend to do quite often.
T.O.P: In a post – rave era, what do you feel are the biggest challenges that DJs and artists face?
REKA: I guess the challenges might be different for each one of us, depending on personality. In my case is undoubtedly social media. I think it is good to be connected to your audience and friends and acquaintances but this has become too much. Not only you have to invest time that I would prefer to have for something else but to me it is very frustrating and depressing seeing how narcissism, lack of humbleness and sometimes just plain stupidity are taking you further than doing something of real value, extra points if you sexualize yourself. Quality is not important anymore, it’s only about popularity, but popularity built from nothing, sitting on shitty values or no values at all. I wonder what will happen to the artistry and to us as a society being forged by incentives of this kind?
Unfortunately, this is not happening only in the artistic realm. I am very conflicted about seeing all sorts of women posting sexy or even some very sexual pictures for no reason. On one hand I find it very annoying, degrading and cheap in the worst cases but on the other hand, I think everyone is free to do whatever they want with their bodies. If that makes them feel better, get the attention they need and like to be admired that way, why not? Female bodies have been an inspiration in art and a source of visual delight since ancient times and I am the first one in enjoying the beauty.
Actresses and singers have always being portrayed this way and we have all been infatuated with them for their appearance aside from their talent. Why would it be different from the rest of us? Why shouldn’t we use it to our advantage when we know things would be easier? Why does that feel so wrong to many of us? This is a constant debate going on in the back of my head, for which I personally don’t have a clear answer.
T.O.P: The recent years we have experienced some really powerful female presence in the electronic music scene. Through your long experience, would you say that there is a huge change happening and if yes what are the challenges related to it?
REKA: Yes, definitely a huge change. When I started djing, being a female had somehow a downside to it. People would be extremely critical of you and would talk shit and troll you without even knowing you, just because you got to play and they didn’t.
Fortunately, things have changed dramatically. Not only everyone acknowledges and enjoys the power and charm of a female artist who can obviously deliver equally than males but I find it is way easier to get successful, especially being good on social media. The struggle seems to be now for those of us who are not so comfortable with this new way of doing things. I feel we are at a disadvantage not playing the game while at the same feeling internal conflict in doing so. I wonder if men feel that way too. Maybe it is their turn to be in a disadvantage! 😉
T.O.P:…It does seem that we are all in this collective limbo and it is a huge challenge to “survive”… Do you feel it is possible to find a balance after all and in what way? Or that we just need to accept this conflict and focus on our values, trying to make mindful decisions?
REKA: Yes, exactly, I think it has reached a point where we feel like we have to participate in the game in order to not get buried among the always increasing amount of artists out there. I have been, like many others, already trying to adapt little by little, showing a bit more of myself here and there but the boundaries are now being pushed too far for my taste.
I never liked using sex as a way to “sell” or get attention. I find it too primal and easy but that is just my opinion and everyone on this planet is totally free to do whatever they want with their bodies and image.
I think that we should focus on our values and respect our personality and just ask ourselves how far we want to go and how we want the world to see us. Between not posting pictures of yourself at all to continuously posting selfies and naked or erotic pictures there is a whole range of different “shades of grays”; choose yours. Conflict will be always there in one way or another with more or less intensity and balance will be continuously challenged but I think this is also part of evolution and life itself.
I just wish people spent less time scrolling through or showing flesh and more caring about important stuff.
T.O.P: Living in Berlin, in the heart of the European continent, where there is an explosive combination of different cultures and a burst of creativity, in what ways has this place influenced you?
REKA: I clearly owe to Berlin that it has allowed me to be 100% me without filters. Here I found a more open audience and promoters with a wider taste allowing me to play without any restrictions. What is also extremely valuable and comforting is the number of talented artists with your same musical taste. I found my home musically and feel super grateful for that.
T.O.P: Last year, your incredibly powerful debut EP on Phase Fatale’s BITE has given us a very representative idea of who REKA is. A rather spiritual door to the seekers of quality music, that let us crave more of your sound. Are there any upcoming releases/ collaborations to announce?
REKA: Thanks for the nice compliment! Yes, I have an EP I made with Imperial Black Unit (comes with a surprise) that will be released at the end of October on Fleisch Records and another collaboration going on with Beyond (Urban Legend), which I believe will be released in December. Meanwhile, I am planning on working on an album.
T.O.P: We consider dark electronic music a gateway to our inner world and suppressed wishes, which we choose to ignore. Your music as expressed both in your dj sets and tracks, has something deeply mystical and insightful. Is there any message you convey through them?
REKA: I don’t think I suppress my wishes but the opposite, I try to make them a priority. To be honest, though I always had so many messages I hoped to deliver as an artist, it never felt like I was doing so, my inspiration and focus remained on the sensorial and aesthetic sense of the music. The release with Imperial Black Unit, on the other hand, does present a social/political stance. I know they also care about those issues so while working on the music I felt very inspired to write some lyrics with meaning and I am thrilled it finally happened.
T.O.P: In what ways your cultural identity and roots influence you in your expression?
REKA: The truth is that I have never felt any roots or cultural identity influence on me, I always felt more attracted to everything that was different, new or not established as the norm and also never felt like I really belonged anywhere either.
T.O.P: Who is Rebeca outside the venues, in her every day life?
REKA: I am actually the opposite of what anyone would guess! I love getting up early and starting the day with meditation and alternating yoga with work-outs or running when it suits the schedule. I go on and work on the different tasks needed to be a DJ/producer these days which unfortunately is not only music. After the working hours one of my favourite activities is catching up with friends while enjoying good food and a glass of wine, but I also like to spend many evenings at home reading about the infinite topics that interest me (too many, seriously) watching documentaries, talks or movies. I’m normally in bed before midnight, not a night owl at all!
T.O.P: Thanks REKA!