Driven by telling stories, passionate about DJing in bed; no one is doing techno quite like Bebetta.
Be better: the clue is in the name. None of us are perfect, there are always things we can improve, develop or reconsider. There are always new ideas to try. Like sampling old 1930s Bavarian oompah records, DJing in bed or…er… Selling animals on well known internet auction sites.
“I’m not actually selling any elephants!” laughs Bebetta from her Berlin studio. Quite right, too. It would take up too much time in an already stacked schedule for a start. Right now she’s in the middle of another festival-squeezed summer taking in all of Europe, Canada and beyond. Three weeks ago she and fellow rising techno talent Cioz dropped a warm and subtly warped Elephant On eBay three-tracker on Monaberry and this week she’s dropping a new remix of Paul Hazendonk on 90Watts. Busy. And that’s before we get to her recent Bebetta In Bed concept in which she broadcasts mix sessions – occasionally with DJ mates such as Super Flu and Cioz – from bed. Earlier this year she even took a bed to a club to DJ from.
Like we said, no one does techno quite like Bebetta who’s been on the steady rise since she began DJing in 2008 and entered the production game with one of the most bizarre and refreshingly fun records to come out of Berlin this decade. Which is where our story begins…
You came into the game old school vinyl DJ style, right?
Yes. To be honest I didn’t think it would actually get this far. I just love records and really enjoyed playing music I love. Not even in the club, just at home for myself or friends. Production certainly wasn’t on my mind but friends kept telling I should. As I was DJing I had a lot of friends producing and would spend time in their studios, watching what they were doing. I knew I had a lot to learn but also realised it was possible for me to do it too.
Then Herr Kapellmeister came along. What an entrance tune!
t was a cool little project! I had a lot of help from friends with the track and the video and had so much fun. The sample is from this 1930s record. I loved it when I heard it and knew you could do something maybe a bit silly with it. It got a lot of attention. For a first release I think it was a funny thing to do.
You did the artwork too, right? Was design your original career plan?
Yes it was. I’ve always been drawing and painting and designing things. I did a lot of friend’s flyers and artwork for example. So to be able to combine my art and my music has always been a big love for me. Any opportunity to do the artwork for my music is amazing.
Did you do the Elephant On eBay artwork?
No unfortunately not. Monaberry do their own artwork but I would have loved to!
Why elephants? Why eBay?
There are a lot of sounds on that record that remind me of elephants and I’m always painting them on my Instagram stories. I like combining a little fantasy with the reality and Instagram has been a fun way to do that. I’m not sure how eBay came into it now but we thought it was a fun idea. There’s even more of a story coming on a video very soon.
Stories are very important to you, right?
Stories are very important! Especially in a DJ set with different kinds of music, making waves and highs and lows and drama like a story. It’s the same with music, too. The elephant has a story. The man in Herr Kapellmeister is this little guy who came to life for me while I worked on the track and I needed to tell his story in the video. The same for Upper Cut with the little Bebetta character who runs and fights through parts of Berlin and Fusion Festival before meeting an end boss who you might recognise?
It was a lot of work to do, though. A lot more than we thought it would be so it took more time and came out a long time after the release. But it worked out very cool because it means not everything comes out at once. Again, there’s a story to unfold over time. Everything is too rushed and fast and we risk quality and appreciation when that happens. People the music, they play it for a month and then ciao, they don’t want to play that any more. So this is why it’s good to do things gradually. Put the music out. A few weeks later maybe a remix. A few weeks maybe a video. You keep the energy and the story going. This is why the Elephant On eBay video came a lot later than the music too.
How did you hook up with Cioz?
I was playing tracks of his and sending feedback to the labels so he got in touch to say thank you and hello. We spoke a while online and his friends were running a party in Bergamo (Italy) and they booked me so we became friends in real life. We approach production in a very similar way so we thought we’d do a session together. It worked super well so he comes over more regularly and wants to move to Berlin. He’s a very good DJ, too.
Yes I saw him DJing in bed with you. Mad concept if you don’t mind me saying? Beds are the best place ever. Mixing is one of life’s finest pleasures. But together?
It works! But maybe not in a club. We tried this on Bebetta In Bed #5 and the whole concept was so cool – the crowd all came in their pyjamas and it was very funny. But I played eight hours like this and it wasn’t very comfortable. It also gave a different energy to the crowd. It’s funny and cool to watch on video online but in the club it was strange.
Taking a bed to a club is quite strange.
Yes and I learnt that if the DJ’s sitting down, the crowd aren’t quite so energetic. I would get up and jump on the bed many times and the crowd would be a lot more energetic. DJs need to move with the people and give back that energy. I don’t know if I would do it again, but I thought it would be fun to try at an annual party I do in Bremen, my hometown. Decoration and themes were always a very big part of this for me with every party. It’s another way of creating a sense of fantasy and something special. So the bed and the pyjama theme was this year’s party and we did a lottery for someone to win the Bebetta bed afterwards.
I’m sure you’ve been asked this before but how did your name come about?
I’m always thinking I need to be better. Especially when I started DJing I was just playing records for myself at home. I didn’t think I could play on a stage in front of people. But a friend eventually persuaded me to play at her party so I called myself Bebetta Beta. Then after a year I felt okay I need to stop with the beta and just always Bebetta.
How can dance music be better?
We can always be better in so many ways! What I love about some techno parties are when you see everyone together. All races, colours, genders, ages, nationalities. Everybody together. I see it at a lot of parties now, a lot more than other scenes I’ve been involved in. No discrimination and openness. We are already doing this. We are already being better in this way.
How can we be even better though?
Be more honest maybe? There are weird things happening in the techno world. People getting records made and saying that they’ve made them. They are sitting in interviews telling the world how they made these records and you know they didn’t. It’s very fake and dishonest. When I’m not able to do something I collaborate with people who can and I hope people do this with me too. This is how we should work together and be better together.
Words: Dave Jenkins