FREEDOM THROUGH LIMITATIONS
TECHNO TIME WITH HELENA HAUFF
Techno has become the soundtrack to our lives here at Ascension. It is the epicenter from which we draw inspiration to share our aesthetic and realize convictions that our unconventional. It represents the ultimate level of freedom we can achieve given the restraints imposed by society and most importantly those incurred by each of our selves. Considering the pedestal we have propelled techno upon, it is difficult to escape its realms and see what else is out there. Furthermore, It has become clear that more important than the search for freedom, is the ability to capitalize upon our limitations. It took stumbling upon Hamburg based DJ and Producer Helena Hauff to reinforce such a notion. We caught up with Helena before her gig at La Machine du Moulin Rouge on Friday March 14th alongside Raphael Fragil and Didier Allyne, where her experimental approach to techno will be sure to influence the way we approach and view today’s established music scenes.
Helena is a resident at Hamburg’s Golden Pudel, a nightclub located next to a fish market on the docks of one of Europe’s largest ports. The Golden Pudel is unlike most Parisian nightclubs in that the experience and environment of the venue defines the music being played, and not the other way around. The notion of going to a nightclub and not knowing or particularly caring about what to expect seems rather uncanny and propelled us to learn more about her style and execution. We quickly discovered that Hauff’s approach to connecting with the dancefloor is driven primarily by tones rather than genres when she says “I guess I don’t really think in genres. I just try to keep up the energy on the dance floor and if techno is needed to do so I play a techno record”. Her thinking explains her reputation for banging out eclectic all vinyl sets and creates a level of interaction between her and dancers that is unforeseeable.
One thing we can be certain of, is that Hauff is sure to deliver a set that is full of raw analog hardware sounds ranging from acid, electro, minimal wave to techno. Unlike many DJs who describe music as being ever-present in their homes, Hauff grew up rather disengaged from this world and its technological advances. We were curious to know if she still purposely isolates herself from certain technologies within electronic music given that she continues to produces in a single take, using hardware and does not arrange her tracks. For Helena, “The new must have bit of kit doesn't really interest me. I work in a very limited way and still the possibilities are endless. I think the most important thing is that you learn your instrument and I found my own way of working with the things available to me. If I have the feeling of reaching a dead end I go and buy a new piece of kit, just what I think is needed and that's regardless of what other people might think. I think you can't develop a unique sound if you just follow the rules.”
It is not a surprise that Hauff’s first debut EP titled “Actio Reactio” was released on Actress’ Werkdiscs. Her emphasis on sounds that are dark and rough are fitting to the label. The EP emits feelings of nostalgia, almost placing one in Chicago during the late 80s. Hauff reckoned it “sounds more like the DIY underground scene in Europe during the early 80's! I didn't realize that until James Dean Brown got in contact with me. He started a project named Hypnobeat in 1983 and it sounds very similar to Actio Reactio. We started playing live together last year!” We also felt that the 3 track EP does not deviate from tracks one might hear during her sets. “Possibly”, she said, “I know exactly what I want my music to sound like and that certain sound aesthetic is what I like about other releases (the stuff I play) as well. I would never release something that I wouldn't be DJing and/or buying myself, even if it was something many other people might like and buy. There are certain sounds I just don't like and you'll never find them in my productions/ Dj-sets”!
Hauff’s new release is out on Panzerkreuz and is titled Return to Disorder. She is currently working on something special for Werkdiscs and there will be much more to come from this vinyl and analog junkie. Do not miss her set at the Moulin Rouge this Friday March 14th. She carries the Golden Pudel in her heart everywhere she goes and will be sure to share that with us in the Chaufferie. We concluded our interview with Helena by asking her to tell us what attracts her most about Acid techno and Acid House, two constants in the Ascension family and she left us with the following.
“The 303 was the first synth I bought. And I remember people telling me it was a waste of money, cause it's so limited and I'm gonna get bored of it soon, bullshit! Firstly, limitation is a good thing! Secondly, you can do so much with it - it's ridiculous! I love the raw power of Acid Techno, it's primitiveness, and it’s intransigency! You don't need a 303 to make Acid, but I've got one and I love it. There are a lot of amazing Acid tracks, but these two are good examples for what I love about that genre:”