T.O.P Interview: Alienata (Discos Atónicos)

Interview by Helena Markos

Photography by Teresa Espadafor

I met Alienata seven years ago, at a mini festival, somewhere in Spain. Alienata is the one of the few that holds the magic wand for the dance-floor, steadily maintaining quality and not blindly obeying to the trends.  Her sets are remarkably versatile, fearlessly swaying from ebm, acid, techno and electro to Chicago and Detroit sounds. A big music connoisseur and great manipulator of her exquisite wax selection.

Since then, Alienata has performed in some of the best venues and events across the globe and she established herself as one of the most important DJs in the city of Berlin. Currently, Alienata is  a proud ‘mum’ of her multi-faceted record label Discos Atónicos and a person who never stops developing and searching for meaningful sounds.

Today, Elena talks about herself, her label and the current situation caused by the virus COVID-19, including its immense impact on the community, as well as the need to reinvent ourselves and values.

Images captured back in January, in Barcelona, by the photographer Teresa Espadafor.

T.O.P: Hi Alienata! Welcome to our Tales of Psychofonia. First thing that comes to my mind is to ask you who is Elena?

Alienata: Hello and thanks for having me. Elena is a very strong woman who’s in the process of reinventing herself.

T.O.P: Describe your journey into the music scene so far. What are your first emerging emotions when you look back?

Alienata: Let’s just say I get 1000 emotions when I am thinking about it. It’s been a long road to get to where I am right now. Now I feel good and calm, but I’ve been through all kinds of torments & dramas since the blessed day I decided I wanted to devote myself to music. I clearly remember my first times playing in small bars and that magical feeling of communicating something through my records. I took it super seriously.

I firmly believed (and still do) in the “art of selection”. In those days I was quite introverted. I think I found through musical language the perfect way to be able to express myself.

T.O.P: You have been an important influential figure of Berlin’s modern music scene. In what ways has this city and its people influenced you?

Alienata: In this city I learned what is the sense of freedom at all levels. I’ve been fortunate to come across wonderful & creative souls with whom I’ve really bonded.

T.O.P: Is there any moment of your career that you consider as a milestone?

Alienata: Mmmm, actually…I don’t know what to say! Perhaps my biggest milestone so far is that I started my own record label. It was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I kind of didn’t feel ready. I thought about it, I re-thought, re-re-thought, I had a lot of ideas on my mind but I wasn’t sure if I could do it on my own. I’m very proud that I decided to take the step three years ago. It was a big deal.

T.O.P: You have participated in numerous raves across the globe, is there any specific place that you felt a great connection with and why?

Alienata: Yeah. There are many places where I’ve felt that great connection. I would say, apart from my dear Berlin, I always have good experiences in London, where I also have quite a few good friends. Good energy and musical chemistry. I also like Den Haag, I always had a wicked time there and I feel a total affinity, musically speaking. Bombay has also pleasantly surprised me both times I’ve been last year, excellent crowd!

T.O.P: Your sound is characterised by a unique obscure atmosphere, where acid, techno, electro and other genres daringly blend and create a special energy. What is your main drive when you create you DJ?

Alienata: I guess my main drive is “my mood”. I’m extremely moody and that affects a lot of the way I prepare my sets. There’s no theory involved, I just follow my instincts, who are well educated after half a lifetime surrounded by music of all kinds.

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T.O.P: What’s your opinion on the modern electronic music scene? Are there any major challenges you face, especially right now in the midst of a pandemic, that affecting is all? 

Alienata: I think with the whole situation we’re living through the COVID-19, a lot of things are going to change in our electronic music scene. At the moment, our precious spaces and beloved dance-floors are ‘cancelled’ and in danger of not being able to survive economically to the uncertainty reality we have. Promoters and agencies are having a hard time. Artists need to pay the bills but the shows are frozen and so are the pockets. And the sweaty crowd is forced to live at a social distance. We’re at a point where we need to support each other more than ever and strengthen community ties.

We need to change the rules of the game. Stop being so selfish, otherwise we will lose our freedom. As Aphex Twin quoted in a recent interview regarding to the “invisible manipulation” that we are experiencing in our COVID-19 present: “Do you know what rights you could lose next, can you guess?”.

T.O.P: Have you noticed any major changes on the dance-floor since you have started your career as a dj?

Alienata: Yeah. The first one and very important; The fucking phones on the dance-floor! Why!!!!? And the second one; let’s just say that since techno is a business, I feel musical quality, sadly,  is no longer necessary. I can summarise these major changes with the following dilemma: Art or Entertainment?

T.O.P: After many years of performances in different parts of the world, how do you feel about it now? How do you manage this balance with your personal and professional life, having to be in away…everywhere? (haha)

Alienata: Well…It could have been worse! I really love to travel and I usually enjoy the solitude of those moments. I’m still trying to figure out what’s the best way to find the right balance! During the week  I try to relax, sleep, eat well and above all, sleep. I think lack of sleep is the worst thing. Under this state, I work very slowly and confused. And I hate feeling this way!

T.O.P: Elena, you are also the woman behind the avant-garde label Discos Atónicos. What’s the main vision behind the label? Any upcoming releases you want to share with me?

Alienata: Yes I am a proud mumi. I just want to put out interesting & quality music. I don’t care so much about style if when I hear or discover a demo it captures my ears. If you take a look at the Discos Atónicos catalogue you will feel that each record is unique and special. That’s what matters to me.

Oh yes! I have a few releases ready! Next one is a wicked & heavy electro release from Bass Agenda affiliated w1b0, it will come out in may. After that I have an EP with Maesltrom & Louisahhh more ebm-ish orientated (super cool too!). I am also selecting the cuts of some V.A. that I want to release by the end of the year.

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T.O.P: Do you feel your Spanish roots play an important role and in what way? How does it feel playing for the Spanish crowd nowadays?

Alienata: Beyond the clichés, I do feel my blood is somehow Latina, I love drama, I love rumbas, I love party haha!. Spanish culture and character is passionate and warm, and that’s something that people everywhere like. But I don’t know whether or not it’s an important role in my case. Well…I started to play in Spain regularly again (after long time) just over a year ago! But yeah, I’ve always had a great time, I’d completely forgotten how dedicated the crowd was in Spain!

T.O.P: Which album or tune would you suggest as mind healer?

Alienata: Anything from Biosphere (I was just re-listening to his album called ‘The Petrified Forest’ from 2017 these days… so good!).