Kristin Velvet is a name many outside of Germany will be unfamiliar with. She’s a DJ and producer that ascribes to the “my music does the talking” mantra, not out of some bizarre entitlement or even shyness, but simply because her music really does say a great deal about her. Label head at the amazing Arms & Legs Records, Kristin steers her house music ship through some pretty murky waters bringing her happy, fun vibe to those that need it most. No stranger to the DJ booth, she can regularly be found in her native Berlin, a city with a voracious appetite for new music.
UK Editor Simon Huxtable sat down with Kristin to discuss Berlin life, record labels and more.
Hi Kristin, thanks for finding the time to chat, it’s been a busy year for you huh?!
Thanks for having me, Simon! Yes, we’ve had a pretty busy and exciting start to the year releasing remixes from legendary producers including 808 State, Paul Johnson, Robert Armani, Crazy P, Nick Holder, Terry Lee Brown Jnr, Bushwacka! and DJ W!LD. Then had some memorable label nights with those artists too, so yeah, all of that keeps me out of trouble for a bit. I go over to France a couple of times to play too which was amazing, I adore that country!
Can you tell us a little about your life before the label and the DJing? What was the teenaged Kristin interested in?
Haha! Wow, the teenage years, that was a very different time! I grew up on an isolated farm in outback Australia. At the age of 11, I went away to an all-girls boarding school. As far as music goes I was pretty into AC/DC, John Mellencamp, Garth Brooks and Bruce Springsteen. I can remember doing line-dancing routines in the dormitory before breakfast, I was a proper boot scootin’ cowgirl! Needless to say, I had no concept of what a club was. That all changed when I moved to Sydney for University. I didn’t start DJing until I moved to Tokyo after graduating. It was a great time.
How long have you lived in Berlin and why did you move there?
I’ve lived here for 3 and half years and would say it just keeps getting better. Since I arrived the city has grown on me a little bit each day as I’ve adjusted to its unique pace and priorities. Prior to Berlin I was living in Sydney and had a dream job label managing Domino Records, which was very difficult to leave, but I felt it was time for a new adventure, a new challenge.
Tell us about some of your favourite clubs. We all know Berghain and Panorama Bar, but Berlin has a wealth of small independent places too…
I’m not going to lie – Panorama Bar is still my favourite. I love going there alone, during the day and dancing up a storm in my corner, absolute paradise! Each to their own, though, there’s really something here for everyone depending on your taste.
In the intro, I mentioned you performed an all night b2b with Harry Axt recently in Farbfernseher. How did the night go and what was it like bouncing off another world class DJ?
Farbfernseher is always fun, it’s like playing at a cool friend’s house party. We didn’t play back to back, though – just took it turns, which worked well for me. I’m yet to master the art of dancing behind the decks; I’m a bit too enthusiastic which can prove awkward in a small booth like Farbfernseher!
Haven’t you remixed one of Harry’s tracks? How was that experience?
Yes, I did a remix of Der Papageientaucher just recently. I would remix his whole back catalogue if he would let me! Harry’s tracks all have such great elements, which makes it an absolute treat to remix.
Have you anything new coming out soon?
Indeed I do, the above-mentioned remix… and an original track called ‘Roulette’. They will be released together as an EP on Arms & Legs in late November. Can’t wait!
Let’s move on to your pride and joy, Arms & Legs Records. How long has the label been active and what was the vision you had for the imprint?
Arms & Legs was born back in 2011 by label boss-men Daniel Steinberg and Nils Ohrmann. It was created primarily as a platform for us to release our own music – what, when and how we would like to release it. The creative process can be much more fun and fulfilling when you’re not dependent on another label’s tastes and timelines. It’s also great to be able to release music we love from artists we admire such as the recent EP from Madrid-based producer Prompt.
Given what you now know about running a label, what would have been the best advice someone could have told you at the start?
Don’t be afraid to ask. I’m still learning this one myself, I’d really be much happier if everyone could just read my mind and act accordingly! But as a wise friend recently told me – if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no anyway, so what do you have to lose?
That’s true. Let’s move to your mix, it’s astounding! We were all out of our seats in the office when I put it on recently. You’ve managed to very skillfully balance the old with the new and there’s some serious classics in there. Can you tell us your thoughts when you put it together?
Haha thank you, I’m glad it got you moving! Once I decided on the first track, it’s just whatever works from there and the mix builds itself organically with my mood. I recorded the mix live, using my CDJ 800s and a Pioneer DMJ-700 mixer.
There are some serious classics in there… But they’re not classics to me like they would be perhaps to someone like you Simon, I didn’t get to experience them the first time around so they’re still quite fresh. I still have so much catching up to do thanks to all those lost years in the Australian outback listening to AC/DC and Garth Brooks!
Hahaha! Kristin, it’s been wonderful to meet and chat. We wish you every success in the future. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you Simon, it’s been a pleasure! Berliners you can catch me playing next at Nils Ohrmann’s new (already legendary) monthly after hour ‘Shake the Gate’ at Golden Gate on Sunday November 6 along with Oliver Dollar, Jamie Anderson & Nils himself, bring on the day rave!
01// Armand Van Helden – Donkey
02// Harry Axt – Der Papageientaucher (Kristin Velvet remix)
03// Kollektive Turmstrasse – Sorry I’m Late (Pig & Dan remix)
04// Carl Craig – At Les (Christian Smith’s Hypnotica remix)
05// Ian Pooley – Celtic Cross (Len Faki remix)
06// Blaze feat. Palmer Brown – My Beat
07// Jaydee – Plastic Dreams (Shadow Child remix)
08// Todd Edwards – Shall Go
09// Planet Soul – Set You Free
10// Awesome 3 – Don’t Go (Kicks Like A Mule mix)
11// R Damski – Lord
12// Tuff City Kids – Breacher
13// Booka Shade – Teenage Spaceman
14// Efdemin – Acid Bells (Martyn Bittersweet Remix)
Photo Credits: Giovanni Domince