A staple in Berlin’s underground house and techno scene, Cinthie is someone all the heads know. Currently on an absolute hot streak, for two summers we’ve seen a few of her tunes act as the soundtrack to a variety of dancefloors, rinsed by the biggest DJs in the world. Most recently, her remix of “Call Of The Wild” by Detroit Swindle has been making the rounds to radio and to stages worldwide, and now that her daughter is headed back to school for the summer, you can expect Cinthie to put her newfound free time to good use. We caught up with Cinthie for a look into her history as a DJ and producer and to get the lowdown on how she’s become one of the most respected artists on the circuit today.
Walk us through your career as a DJ. Had you reached similar heights in the 90s or is this international recognition new for you?
I started Djing around 1996 but just at home and at the same time I got asked to work in my favorite record store. One year later they organized my first gig at the local club close to Frankfurt where I lived back then with my parents. They took me as a resident immediately and in the years after I played almost every weekend there and opened up for a lot of bigger artists. One of them asked me if i m also working my own tracks. I just started to produce in 1999 and send him a few things around 2000 i think, which he immediately signed to his label Electric Kingdom. The label was based in Berlin and they also organized parties such as Love Parade or Mayday in Dortmund. I went on two big tours with them when my first records came out and this brought me to a lot of different countries including Japan. But since I was so young, only 20 and I was still at university I never really aimed to be a full time DJ. for me it was more like a hobby because I loved playing records and making mix tapes for my friends. I also left the label around 2003.
I played then mostly in Berlin and threw illegal parties and build a nice standing as a Berlin local. Before I had my daughter in 2009, i was part of the Keinemusik crew for a bit but decided it wasn’t the right time for me. The right time came around 2011 when I met the rest of the Beste Modus crew at a party ( Diego Krause, Albert Voigt, Ed Herbst and stern.aint.leavn ). It clicked instantly and we went to a lot of parties together and a few weeks later they started sending me tracks. I knew I had to do something with the boys and get the music out. That’s when we started Beste Modus and since then I finally had my own baby which was worth to put all my power in. It even became so much that i had to quit my beloved job at Ableton in 2014 to concentrate fully on djing, producing and running the labels and raise my beautiful daughter. We have also added Unison Wax and Beste Freunde to the label roster. The rest is history.
Did you make a conscious effort to adapt to working as an artist in today’s underground electronic scene?
Yes, there was this point in my career , i think around 2014, when i could really feel there is something cooking hence i said to myself, ok, you never planned to make a living out of this but now is the time to at least try. Otherwise I would maybe regret it in some years. I luckily had enough savings on the side and just did it. Giving a 100 percent for the music and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve never felt more free and happy.
What did those changes look like? What was the most impactful change?
First of all i quit my job to have more time for the labels. But the most impactful change was spending most of my time in the studio. My tracks were ok but I had the feeling they could have been more bang on and much much better. Everything else was already top. Labels selling more than well, having a lot of gigs, my radio show etc but I had the feeling I needed to improve and fasten up my productions skills. My friend Christoph from Berlin Acoustics planned my studio and helped me building absorbers to have the best sound in my room. Also I switched from only working with Ableton and plug ins to using more analog gear. I can say I was and I still am really obsessed with going to the studio almost every day when I’m at home. I usually bring my daughter to school at 8 and then i go straight to the studio until 3 or 4, trying to improve my skills and take on any advice from friends and tutorials I could get. And now I feel like my tracks got so much better and I’m also seen as a great producer. Hard work really pays off!
When did you notice that people were again paying attention to your artistry?
I think it pretty much started after playing my first Boiler Room in 2014. Boiler room only had their once a week party in Berlin at Stattbad and it was really special. You knew if you would get booked for Boiler Room at that time, your career could really pick up from there. And it totally did. I reached more than 1 million plays on the Boiler Room website and more than half a million on Youtube, which was for a small or almost unknown artist really really good. Besides gaining lots of new fans and friends writing me, that they loved the set, I also got a lot of messages from bigger artists, saying that they absolutely loved it and have been digging a lot of the tracks. Made me really proud and happy. And now since I’m spending more time producing music and releasing it on my very own label 803 Crystal Groove, it put me on a whole different level. I get requests to release on all of my dreams labels, remix or work with some artists I could only have dreamed of some years ago. I really had to rewrite my tiny and secret little life time goals list twice this year. It’s amazing. I almost have to be careful to not do too much stuff as I don’t want the Cinthie overkill to come to soon.
When that realization hit, what actions did you set in place to get to where you are today?
Unfortunately I needed to do a lot of changes last year to make sure I’m working with the best team. Changing my booking agency, changing my distributor, finding our record store by accident, starting my very own label 803 Crystal Grooves and trying to stay as cool and hard working as I was before. I also always try to be reliable and deliver remixes or mixes in time and be easy to work with.
You’re a DJ, a producer, a label owner, a shop owner, a carpenter, and a studio architect. How do you balance all of your projects?
Unfortunately I m not a carpenter and a studio architect. I wish I was because then my new studio would already be ready. But yeah, these days it’S tough to handle all the things plus not to forget that I’m a single mom. But I’ve always been very good in time management and try not to waste time or just get wasted at the weekends plus a good daily schedule is key to success.
You’ve been vocal about the impact of social media on the rise of certain DJs. Talk to me about what makes social media good, and how it’s helped you in your rise.
Social media can definitely have it s advantages. I try to use it to mostly share my music and be positiv about everything and not overdo it. Works pretty well so far and it also really depends on what you want to be seen as on social media. I decided for my self that i only want to be seen as an extremely hard working and independent musician that worked his butt off to be where I am today and I did it all by myself. It might have taken me a bit longer than others but everything is growing in an absolute healthy way, so hopefully it will last for a long time.
What’s next for you, and what excites you about the year ahead?
First and foremost I will finish my 3 weeks tour through Australia and New Zealand, then back home and spending the rest of July with my daughter for her holidays and take things a bit more easy. We are heading straight into the so called summer break or summer hole, so lots of time to prepare stuff at the back end ( yes yes my software developer skills are always coming through). Unfortunately I will have to make more changes when I’m back home but overall I have a lot of very exciting stuff to work on. Unfortunately so far it’s still a bit of a secret but it has to do with making music and music and even more music.
Interview by Ryan C.