At home with one of Berlin’s finest DJs.
It’s summer in Berlin, which means it’s pouring with rain. As Steffi offers us shelter from the elements, welcoming us into her spacious flat on the top floor of an altbau in Kreuzberg, a steady afternoon storm beats against the windows. The effect makes her record room seem cozy, a true sanctuary, with neat shelves of records piled almost to the ceiling.
At a first glance, it looks heavily curated, expertly pruned, the rock-solid collection of someone who has poured years and years into their passion for music. “For the first time in my life, I recently sold some stuff, which was really difficult,” explains the Dutch-born, Berlin-based DJ, as she gives us a detailed tour, section by section, genre by genre. “There are things that were either too damaged, or I’m ready to let go of it, which took 20 years.” She laughs and sighs at the same time.
When asked if there are records she would never part with, she jumps towards a shelf near the middle almost immediately: “Oh, yeah! This is all early Warp experimental stuff, that I would never think of losing — and this is electro I would never part with either.” And like that she’s off, pulling out old new wave records from childhood, Italo disco numbers (all pre-1984, she explains) and of course, a veritable treasure trove of electro, her genre of choice. It’s truly bewildering to see someone so encyclopaedic in their knowledge of specific music — you have the immediate impression that Steffi’s love for electronic music shifts from wildly passionate to clinically academic in the blink of an eye.
Which makes sense: Steffi is one of Berlin’s most well-known DJs, with her monthly residency at Panorama Bar now all but an institution unto itself. Last month, she put out an already super-acclaimed Fabric mix, and in September, she’s releasing her sixth studio album, World of the Waking State, a subdued and sophisticated collection of hypnotic techno that melds together the most compelling aspects of her career to date.
With so much going on, it’s easy to imagine record collecting taking a back seat to all of her other endeavours, but a few inconspicuous piles of vinyl on the floor suggest that for Steffi, her collection is always a work in progress. Several times during our conversation, she describes “bumping into” certain records on her journeys — not buying, not borrowing, but bumping into them, as if they were casual acquaintances that suddenly enthralled her with their charms. As the rain finally relented, we sat down to discuss her beginnings in the south of Holland, her favourite records shops, and how she stays fresh and engaged in the international DJ scene after over 20 years in the game.
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