An interview with Ellen Allien

Ellen LISm

When we were first devouring the contents of LISm, the latest LP from BPitch Control’s esteemed bosswoman, it’s safe to say our ears were rather excited by what they heard. So much so, in fact, that even now, some four months later (or thereabouts), we’re still utterly bewitched by its tones.

Transcending what most people associate with Ellen Allien- the label manager, producer, and DJ in question- the album itself is a million miles from techno and its various offshoots, and whilst it mildly resembles an organic house compound on fleeting occasions, is generally uninterested with anything you might call dance per se. Nevertheless, it’s was an impressive work that took us through a variety of styles and genres, re-read with synths and gadgetry- creating a 50-minute long electronic arrangement that has all the structural restraint of freeform jazz.

This was then followed in early April by Where The Wind Blows, the next in a long line of critically acclaimed BPitch Control label compilations. Showcasing work from some promising new talent, alongside more established music makers, not to mention the main lady herself, it doesn’t really sound like LISm, at all, except in its desire to venture into seemingly un, or barely trodden paths. Another offering solely aimed at adventurous listeners, considering this double header of office favourites we thought it best to ask her in for a few questions. This is what she had to say.



We’ve enjoyed your most recent album, LISm. It’s unique to say the least. Can you tell us why you wanted to make a continuous piece of music with so many different styles audible?

For years my dream was to make a soundtrack. The choreographer Alexandre Roccoli luckily asked me one day to produce the music for his dance performance Drama Permusica. The piece was shown once at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. The soundtrack was saved on my hard disc for more then one year. Then, when I came back to the grey and cold of Berlin after my summer stay in Ibiza, I felt the need to make music.

I listened to the soundtrack again, and filtered out the best parts before going to the studio with Bruno Pronsato, where we recorded my vocals and new parts to create a new project, LISm. We had a lot of fun in the studio, the creative process was free of the barriers and structure I was used to working within before. For LISm I created music that touches me and makes me happy as an artist.

In terms of the ‘LISm journey’, how did you plan which genres and styles to include on the finished LP?

I wasn’t thinking about any genres or styles whilst making this soundtrack. It all came spontaneously, the process was more like an experiment of mixing electronic and analogue recordings with minimal vocals; Ellen Allien style.

Structure wise, the record can be divided into several sections… how difficult was it to make those work together as a continuous piece of music?

None of it was difficult, it all just flowed really. The transitions came through my feelings  as to when a sound should appear or disappear. It was a very free and creative process… It was fantastic for me to arrange and  make music like this and in that way.


A new BPitch compilation also arrived relatively recently . You spent a year deciding which tunes made it onto the finished package, did you already have an idea of what the whole thing should sound like?

This is a soundtrack, I didn’t  care if it was something to dance or listen to, it was made on a gut level. We will see how the next album turns out, one thing that’s very important for me is expressing my feelings. The compilation is called Where the Wind Blows. We actually worked for two years on the tracklist, with the intention of Bpitch Control presenting existing and new artists slated to release albums in the future, like Joy Wellboy for example, Douglas Greed  and Eating Snow. It’s the same thing we’ve been doing since BPtich was founded 14 years ago.”

How difficult was the process of selecting which tracks to include, and how important is ensuring the BPitch compilations are as varied as they are?

We did not have enough space to put all the tracks and songs I wanted to present,and I’m always searching for artists with a strong character, because I think music needs that strength.

Finally then, what else is coming up in terms of your DJ bookings, and the label in general?

At the moment I’m staying in Ibiza because of my CircoLoco residency at DC10. The sea and the island give me a lot of energy and my DJ sets are exciting here. We just put out a beautiful Safety Scissors album too, and then the new band Joy Wellboy’s release is coming, plus some more singles. I’m also really looking forward to our label night at Berghain-Panorama Bar in Berlin.


Click here full details of Ellen’s escapades, and all things BPitch.