From Dust till dawn
Berlin’s indie-techno queen rules her days and your nights.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published Time Out Chicago magazine | 05.20.10
“I travel a lot, I’m surrounded by craziness, sometimes I take drugs, I handle a lot of business shit,” Ellen Allien says in a thick German accent. For Allien, born Ellen Fraatz—affectionately dubbed the queen of Berlin’s techno scene—that “business shit” includes her work as DJ, label owner, musician, dancer and fashion designer. Her label, BPitch Control, handles some of the best electronic-music artists today, including Apparat, Modeselektor and Chicago’s Telefon Tel Aviv. Fraatz’s own work exudes soulfulness, a rare commodity in the techno world. The dancing and the design are passion projects.
Amid all the chaos, the 41-year-old maintains a profound sense of calm. “BPitch Control has arrived at a very high level as a company, a very peaceful level,” she says, “and the same is true for me as a person.”
That enlightened attitude is at the heart of Fraatz’s latest album, Dust. The expansive album displays her comfort working in myriad styles, including minimal techno, house and cinematic indie electronica. Added sophistication comes from an overarching narrative that touches on the trials of Fraatz’s hectic life, as well as the blurring of day and night that comes from being a 24-hour party person.
The beautifully melancholy indie-dance number “Sun the Rain,” which nicely sums up the album, concerns climbing, falling down and getting back up again, and how having loved ones takes the pain away. “When you take my hand / Life feels so easy,” she sings. Fraatz tells us by phone, “It’s really about day life and nightlife, because I can do both well. I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I’ve found a really good way to not get lost in this world.”