Monika Kruse was born 1971 in Berlin, but grew up in Bavaria’s capital Munich. Her passion and love for music came at the age of four when she started taking piano lessons. A love that would never leave her and that she expressed in these simple words: “Music just makes me happy”.
Monika started her DJ carrier 1991 in Munich while she was studying sociology and working for a well-known record label as a product manager. Funk, Hip Hop and House influenced her early DJ sets. Her great talent and sensible musical feeling to choose the best record at the right time and to create an amazing and fantastic party vibe brought her fast recognition and national bookings outside of Munich. She now shares with us here at MEOKO a little bit more about her work…
It’s a pleasure to have the chance to ask you a few questions Monika. Are you working on any music at the moment or are you just touring?
Just this week there is the release on my label Terminal M of my new EP: Natural High and Soulstice which I produced just after the Time Warp festival together with my colleagues Pig and Dan. Besides that I am almost only touring the whole summer. It is hard to hit the studio, because I am always abroad. Just now I will not be back in Berlin for 4 weeks.
You studied sociology, but had played piano since an early age. What led you into DJing? How did you get started? Does your musical knowledge help in making music?
Since I was a little child, I was addicted to music. Always taping radio sessions, sitting in front of the HiFi of my parents. And when I got my first pocket money I bought my first record. Since then I collected records, I was always on the search to find exotic releases, and the new hot shit. So when I left school I had a pretty good vinyl collection already. My former boyfriend told me I should become a DJ, but I was too shy. At that time there were no girls out there as well. But he pushed me into cold water one day he came and said there is a new bar and they are looking for DJs. You play next friday! That is how I got into it 24 years ago. I played funk, soul and deep house. Got addicted to it. So I throw my own parties on a lot of illegal parties, and then I got a residency at the new and outstanding club called Ultraschall in Munich.
From your funky first solo album ‘Change of Perception’, ‘Morgana’ is the track that stands out for us. What is the story behind the video? It looks very much like the old traditional Disney animation…
Yes indeed. The video is inspired by the old cartoons of Walt Disney plus a little bit by Itchy and Scratchy (The Simpsons). When it comes to the cooking part hahaha.. . It definitely has a funny meaning playing with all the stereotypes.
In terms of production, what are your methods? What tools do you use? What kind of equipment do you like or do you prefer to do it all digitally? How does an idea develop into physical tune? What is your process?
Sometimes I make I little layout on Ableton. But normally when I go into studio I only have a mood and an idea where the track would go. Harder, softer, melodic or monotone. During looking for sounds and pattern the track gets in a specific direction. I mostly use Logic and digital equipment, but I have some old hardware gear at home as well. Plus when I go to studios of other producers it is always fun to turn the buttons on the real gear, than with a mouse. But of course the hardware must fit to the track I want to do.
What is it like managing two record companies: Terminal M and Electric Avenue Records? Is there a different theme if you were to compare them?
Electric Avenue is sleeping right now. Terminal M used to be more a peaktime pure techno label, so Electric Avenue was the little softer sister. But nowadays since a few years the sound of Terminal M became more laid back as well the same as my DJ sets. So now I concentrate only on terminal M.
You are also the founder of the charity organisation No Historical Backspin. What prompted you to create this, if anything? What have you achieved through this? What is the aim?
I started in 2000 with my project No Historical Backspin as some foreigners and even DJs were the target of racist violence. In my inner circle of friends it happens as well that they were beaten due and victims of racist motivated violence. I thought we as the DJs have to do something as we are more connected with the teenagers every day and they listen to us more than to a 70-year old politician. If we clearly put a statement against racism I hope we can change some peoples minds. At the parties I collect money for the victims. Over the last 14 years we have done more than 20 events with over 100 DJs and collected 70,000 euro for the Cura fund that helps victims of racist motivated crimes.
You’re playing Eastern Electrics Festival this coming August, have you played there before?
The last festivals I played in the UK was Global Gathering and SW4, but never Eastern Electrics Festival. I really am looking forward to it.
Would you say you enjoy playing festivals more than clubs? What are the differences for you?
I like them both. On festivals you have a bigger audience and mostly shorter set times. The energy is different of course it is great if you see thousands of arms up high, but I love longer sets for a little audience as well. Then it becomes more like a family and I can send them on a trip. I love both and don’t want to miss anything not festivals, not club gigs.
It’s really impressive how you run so many things on your own… how do you manage everything with your heavy gig schedule?
Well, I TRY to manage it. I am always behind with emails… and my to do list never stops.
What is your favourite place to play at home? And away from home?
Berghain / Panorama Bar is my living room in Berlin and I am happy that I play there regularly. Besides home there are so many nice places. It is hard to choose only one.
Now imagine this scenario… you’re playing at a festival on an island you haven’t been to before, when suddenly a strange tribe approaches. Do you stop playing and run to save your life or do you continue playing in the hope that they will also dance to your music?
That is a funny question. I would send them a smile and try to make them dance.
If you chose to continue playing (no matter if they began dancing or not) which three tracks would you play for the newcomers?