Midi Deux: Thanks a lot for recording this gorgeous mix Emma, I was looking forward to that one. We asked you to record it a while ago, how did you manage to suddenly put something together?
White Lie: Hi Noemie! I think I got asked to record this mix back in October and decided to do it on vinyl as I was dropping CDJ’s almost completely at around that time. I’ve been trying to figure out “my sound” and how to represent that. I was thinking about it way too much, at some point I think I was pretty close to getting some sort of existential crisis about it (haha!) until I’ve finally realized that I don’t care much about having some sort of “musical identity”. So one night I just improvised by pulling out recent buys and older favorites from my record shelf, that’s why it’s a bit all over the place, but for me, it makes total sense. It was all about connecting a feeling and a sound to another. Then I recorded it at my friend’s house as my gear I have at home truly sucks.
“I’ve finally realized that I don’t care much about having some sort of “musical identity”"
Can you select one track of your podcast that means something special to you and explain why?
It got to be Find a Way by Dego & The 2000 Black Family. I stumbled over a record by Dego and Kaidi Tatham like 1,5 years ago and got mesmerized by that sound. I felt everything I like in music was happening at once. I ordered it right away and had a friend pick it up at HHV for me so I could bring it to Paris the day after to play it on the radio. I had just seen Alexander Nut play a week earlier and got super inspired by that eclectic way of playing. That record, EP 2 by Dego and Kaidi Tatham, came out on Nut‘s label Eglo Records 2015 I think. Anyway, I started to research Dego and found all these broken beat tracks with funk and disco elements, and a new world was opening to me in a way. I always keep an eye out after that kind of tunes in record shops and pick them up one by one, many of my mixes include at least one track similar to the one in this podcast, and they basically never leave my record bag.When I first met you a couple of years ago, you were playing hip-hop whereas this podcast features a lot of soul, disco and house.
Could you describe the White Lie journey between musical genres? Even though your selection is really broad, there seems to be a common thread in your musical taste, what is it that you like in music?
It’s all a huge coincidence. I arrived in Berlin straight out of Gothenburg mid-2014 and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I went to the clubs now and then and was shocked and confused by the music. I obviously didn’t know where to go, but in the beginning, it felt like everywhere I went there was a guy in a cap playing shit techno. It pissed me off. After 6 months of getting annoyed I told some friends about this angst at the clubs and how angry it got me, they agreed, and we decided to throw our own party where we’d play hip-hop and RnB as a reaction to all that dude-techno. High on confidence, we stepped into Normal Bar in Kreuzberg that had a club in the cellar and asked if we could throw a party. “Who’s playing?”, he asked. “We are”, we answered. “Well do you know how to?”, “100 percent”, we lied. I had never seen a mixer or any other DJ equipment up close until the night of that party. We burned CD’s with guilty pleasure-tracks, and my friend showed me where the play button is on the CDJ’s like 15 min before people arrived, I thought “how hard can it be?”. Weirdly, the party went really well and we got offered 5-6 gigs after that as a crew. Then I started playing by myself in bars around town. I was playing 90bpm hip-hop hour after hour, I called it “fair-trade hip-hop” because I was avoiding shit lyrics, all that gangsta crap that’s women-defensive and such. I didn’t take it seriously at all. I was a bit provoking about it even, especially if I bumped into male electronic DJs, but I was drawn to it. Eventually, I started realizing that it was the samples behind all those beats I was essentially after. I started buying records sometime in 2016 all casually but my heart wasn’t really in it, and at some point, I wanted to quit because it started to get a bit boring – I was sorta stuck and kept playing the same tracks. Around then I bumped into producer and DJ Inkswel who lived in Berlin for some time with his family. He said I shouldn’t quit, and sort of convinced me not to. He was really supportive of the gigs I was having and the music I selected. First times I met him I didn’t even know who he was, I was just thinking “oh, he knows a lot about DJing this one innit”. If it wasn’t for him I would probably have quit that summer, but before he moved back to Australia he gave me a fully packed record bag with all kinds of stuff but mainly hip-hop, a lot from the label he’s signed on, BBE, and some other stuff that I hadn’t heard before. After that it quickly grew into an obsession, and I started to collect hip-hop, funk, jazz, soul, and eventually disco, then house, electronic music in general, broken beat, world music …. – everything that appealed to me, everything that has soul. I play hip-hop very rarely these days, but it still happens.
“ in the beginning, it felt like everywhere I went there was a guy in a cap playing shit techno”
What was it in the first place that brought you behind the decks?
I never came to Berlin because I had some dream of doing anything music related. I wanted to write. DJing to me is storytelling, that’s the connection for me and that’s why I still don’t get a lot of that monotonous techno I guess – there’s no story, at least I’m not hearing it if that’s so. All of this grew very, very organically, I never had a plan to do any of this. I mean, I was DJing for 2 years before someone told me what Boiler Room is. I had no idea. First time someone asked me for a mixtape I asked what that was. I had no clue about anything, and I didn’t care much about any of those things. I just found a thrill in playing music that grew heavier on me over time, and I was lucky enough to find people and venues that let me come and play from the very start. I am just incredibly happy about the turn out and that I get to do this. This whole story tends to piss some people off from time to time though, which is quite entertaining to me.
“I just found a thrill in playing music that grew heavier on me over time”
What does your actually moniker stand for?
White Lie… well, it was all a joke for a long time, I was just fucking around. Some booker told me I need a DJ-name. I was playing only hip-hop so I made this parody of the German pop band “Whitest Boy Alive” and called myself “whitest female hip-hop DJ alive”. It was a little tagline under my moniker for the first year or two. White Lie got to be the shortcut, Lie squeezed in there because I kept telling people I knew how to DJ, pulled a whole bunch of white lies I have to admit, just because I wanted to play and then I learned by doing. And now the moniker is just there, I am not even sure if I think the background-story is funny anymore, nor the name itself, but it is how it is now and people seem to remember it, haha.
“I wanted to play and then I learned by doing.”
You’re playing pretty much every weekend in Berlin so I guess you must have been collecting a lot of music. What are your digging habits? How do you find tracks and records?
I’m just always scouting music. I go out as much as I can when not playing, check what DJs I like are selecting, browsing Discogs, listen to radio shows that interest me, by taking a little lap on Spotify and YouTube, and then I take it from there. But mainly I go visit record shops since that came into my life, it takes me a second to know if I like a track or not so it’s all impulse. And in my head, I’m constantly building a red thread in between the tracks and records I find. Almost like they’re colors. It’s like puzzling.
“I’m constantly building a red thread in between the tracks and records I find. Almost like they’re colors. It’s like puzzling.”
You’re also regularly coming to Paris. What’s your connection with France?
None, really. Or at least I had none. I just went to Paris at some point and hanged out for a bit and 2 years later I decided to go back for a visit. My French friend Camille that I got to know here in Berlin told me to send in a mix (at that point I knew what that was!) to newly founded Hotel Radio Paris so I played a live set from the station during that stay. That mix got showed to Rinse France via a friend, and then he also told Le Mellotron that “this new girl” was playing those two radio stations, so during my next visit in Paris I got to play at all three. That was the end of 2016, and since then I’ve been going back quite a lot to do radio shows and gigs. In general, it’s just something about that city, and I am really happy about having friends and connections there now.
Aside from playing out, you have some experience in promoting as well. This week sees the first edition of a new party you’re organizing, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I’ve been “promoting” quite a few smaller things around town, and organized DJs together to play here and there, but what’s happening this Saturday is something else. I wanted to do a party at Sameheads
for quite some time, but couldn’t find the right constellation so it took me a while to come up with the concept. I wanted it to be a disco-orientated one as that’s the genre that gets me going but had no idea about how to budget stuff and such. I had a first meeting with Nathan Dukes, one of the founders, and he helped me figure things out, he suggested bringing someone from out of town as that’s usually what they want to do, and eventually we nailed down a date. It’s been a lot of promotion around disco DJ’s coming to town referred to as “legends” and similar, but almost all of them are men. For me, the feminist aspect in how to organize things in this industry has always been especially important to me, so booking a woman was the only thing I wanted to do. I had been following Louise Chen for quite a while, she was one of few female DJs that I could find that was playing similar kind of music that I am into. I had met her once when she played before me at Le Mellotron
in Paris. She was playing at Concrete the day after and said, smiling, “next time we’ll play there together!”. This was in December last year and sharing the bill with her at a club seemed very far away. But when I got my date at Sameheads she was the first one that came to mind. I sent her a message pitching the concept just to check if bringing vinyl over and playing mainly disco for an all-nighter was interesting to her. I was so nervous about taking these steps, and I’m usually not like that, but it definitely felt like I was moving out of my comfort zone. The day after she replied that “your party seems like an absolute dream and I’d be honored to come and play”, I was thinking “ok let’s do this, it’s gonna be the best party ever”. It’s only me and her on the line up, that’s how I wanted it. To really be able to express ourselves, and mainly to create a safe place to have a great time. It’s all about prestigeless fun, movement, and following impulses. I want to create the same feeling in the booth as on the dancefloor. Heads the name, it’s called Dear Dancers Disco Club
– it’s hard to miss what it is about. It’s a vinyl only thing because playing disco and beyond doesn’t really make sense to me in a digital constellation. This party is for the dancers, about seeing them, being them. It’s not a weird performance for all those dudes hanging around the booth Shazamming. I’m sure they’ll find other parties.
“It’s not a weird performance for all those dudes hanging around the booth Shazamming.”
Are there any other things that you are looking forward to?
I’m hoping to do more parties as the one above, it’s such a blessing to organize the perfect night like that. I truly believe it is going to be the great vibes on Saturday. I have some gigs I’m excited about over the spring here in town and in Bucharest. I am heading to Paris again in June and play in Cannes this summer. But mainly I have quite a few residencies and recurring slots at cute places here in Berlin, so I will focus on those and keep digging deeper into this whole world of music that is constantly expanding for me. All I wanna do is talk about music and feelings, I am sort of building my whole life around that, haha. For me, it’s just all about feeling something and having fun. A lot of people seem to lack the ability of those, I’ve seen. I would also really like to play some festival, big or small, this summer - so if anyone likes the podcast, reads this, and could make that happen, shoot me an email!
Big thanks to you Noëmie and Midi Deux for publishing this mix!