PURE Guest.016 Erika
The delicate and dynamic sounds brewed from Detroit.
Erika is the daughter of a famed scientist and already running a well-known BBS from her bedroom by the time she was 13, Erika is no stranger to expressing her ideas through technology. In 1997 she was handed a TR-606 and has become an electronic musician of the highest order, focusing on analog synthesis, with live hardware sequencing that allows transformation over time and a deep depth of tone. Erika dreams on the cellular level, or perhaps of transdimensional intelligence moving through strange patterns on celestial objects, working towards a mysterious goal. Her connection to the dreamworld becomes concrete in her approach to music, simultaneously so solid and yet so ethereal.
Erika plays many roles in the music scenes, such as being a member of Ectomorph with BMG, helping to run the esteemed Detroit label Interdimensional Transmissions, DJing and making music with her pet machines, and giving mentorships and workshops about making live music on In Bloom of the Circle of Live platform. Her freeform streaming radio station "erika.net" was one of the very first iTunes presets, running 24x7 for 17 years from 1999 to 2016. Before that, Erika was very involved in WCBN-FM Ann Arbor, as a freeform and jazz DJ, and Program Director. She has stepped out from the shadows as a solo artist, with an album of ghostly electro "Hexagon Cloud" in 2013 and a string of live and DJ sets around the US that followed, with a new album coming in 2022.
When and why did you first start DJing?
In high school, I listened to and recorded late-night radio programs, and knew that I wanted to someday become a radio DJ. When I arrived at university, I immediately joined the student-run freeform radio station, WCBN, and began my radio training. Here, I discovered jazz and techno at the same time, with so many other kinds of music, and began doing overnight radio shows to explore all of these sounds. I taught myself to beatmatch, but was more interested in presenting a wide range of musical genres on the radio than I was in DJing for the club. It was 15 years later, after many years of doing live shows with Ectomorph, that I found my unique perspective on club music, got serious about playing records, and started to DJ out at parties.
Knowing your senior experience, can you share with us any changes you've witnessed in the scene during this time? How have you coped with these changes?
With a long view on the scene, I see the culture moving in waves and cycles. Every few years, people come to this music for the first time, create communities around it, adapt it and make it their own, with new perspectives created by new producers and DJs. I've seen see warm years and cold years, fast years and slow years, 4/4 years and electro years. Styles come back around with time, but changed and evolved, never quite the same as they were before. I love this constant evolution of sound, at its best a reflection of the communities it comes from while looking towards the future. I constantly seek new music and ideas, as sources of energy and inspiration for my own creative practice.
Technology is always changing too, which excites me, as it forces me to constantly learn and evolve, giving me new ways to express myself. I learned how to DJ with records, but now enjoy the flexibility I have by playing with thumb drives. I first played live on large old analog gears, but now I use a much more compact and adaptable setup. Change happens all the time, all around us, and keeps things interesting and moving forward.
You currently release mixes in the dance and ambient electronic, what do you hope to achieve with each of these types of mixes?
With each mix I make, I aim to express a different side of electronic music, whether it's ambient or dance or somewhere inbetween. This music takes many forms, and I find a different path through it on different days, with different moods, holding different intentions.
Would you like to use this occasion to introduce one of your album or track? What was the concept of it?
When lockdown began in March of 2020, it forced an extended period of stillness, so I made a live ambient recording in my home studio, and released it as The Filtered Sun. At the time, I was looking at books about microbial life and underwater ecosystems, and taking bike rides along the Detroit River to listen to the water. This live album is a reflection of these inspirations.
Apart from DJ, how would you define your role in the entire rave scene?
With so many years in the scene, I suppose I am a rave elder! :) I truly love to be in the middle of the floor, surrounded by speaker stacks, enveloped in sound, dancing to an amazing set... but I also like to make things happen, and to share my knowledge and experience with people. As part of Interdimensional Transmissions, we throw parties that feature visual and installation artists alongside the sound system and musical artists. Each of these events is a unique environment that lasts only for the length of the party, giving a very different experience from a normal club night, and I hope to show people how special an event can be. In the past year, I started teaching mentorship courses and workshops on In Bloom. It has been an amazing experience to share what I've learned and developed over many years of making music and touring, and I will continue teaching new workshops in April.
What artists or labels have pricked your ears recently? Could you share with us some of your favorite movies or artists?
I like to publish the playlists for my mixes on "buymusic.club," look here for picks! – https://buymusic.club/user/schnitzelmeow
Art is a major source of inspiration for me, so I keep art books around the studio. Some of what I've been looking at lately:
Berenice Abbott – Documenting Science
"The Five Hundred Arhats by Kano Kazunobu" exhibition book
Eric Broug – Islamic Geometric Design
Alfie Kungu – GapTooth
Franck André Jamme – Tantra Song
Ernst Haeckel – Art Forms From the Ocean
Abel Trybiarz – Rugs & Art
"Emma Kunz: Artist, Researcher, Healer"
I don't see many movies, but a couple of TV shows I like right now are:
Station Eleven (HBO)
Silent Sea (Netflix)
Bichord – Dimensione
Cosimo Damiano – Hypnos
Ko-Ta – Shiza (DJ Nobu Remix)
Archivist – Stone Eater (Claudio PRC Remix)
Adam Arthur – The Bard's Tale
Oscean – Spacion
Joachim Spieth – Dispersion (Dino Sabatini rework)
Peter Van Hoesen – Leaning
Marco Bailey – Grow
Farceb – Spectral Abduction
Artefakt – Tangent Space
Ecilo – Black Paradox
Ness – Orbital Debris
Einox – Operating
Emily Jeanne – The General Distress
Refracted – The View From Cal Companyó
Marco Shuttle – W.E.I.R.D.
Stanislav Tolkachev – Stockholm Syndrome
Crossing Avenue – Piromante
Priori – Winged (Donato Dozzy Remix)
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