Keyi Magazine has brought together over four hours of bleeding-edge Berlin productions in a compilation – and accompanying live event – organizing artists around hunger, poverty, and conflict. We get to premiere a bracing scorcher from producer Ireen Amnes to set the mood.
Every force in the music scene and larger media sphere pushes artists toward individual gain. So thinking on a collective level is itself a form of protest. Keyi is an independent studio and magazine (online and in print) and friends of ours. For this compilation and live event, they offer Sonic Reflections – and rally aid behind two groups. From Syria, there’s The White Helmets, a volunteer effort named after their protective headgear and formed of “bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, and students.” This group was already providing aid in regions where international assistance had collapsed, and then the earthquake hit earlier this year. They’ve kept active even as the regime has tried to target and discredit them. From here in Germany, there’s Welthungerhilfe, a legendary independent NGO working on projects internationally.
Just pulling together musical support for one another is itself vital, too, especially as the creative community faces such challenges. And there are some 44 tracks from folks like Poly Chain, Ancient Methods, Ellen Allien, Chloe Lula, Curses, Maedon, Project Gestalten, Umwelt, Tigerhead, and a whole lot more. (I’m also on there with a cut, which you’ll get to hear later.) And if you are in Berlin, see below for the live event in Berghain Kantine; the preorder nets you the full compilation with your ticket.
For our premiere, we get to catch Ireen Amnes’ shadowy high-speed techno, with growling synth leads and guttural percussion, amidst dreamy, mesmerizing pad melody and sweeps of air and echo. It’s a beautifully anxious, rapid-paced dancefloor brew, crying out of the murk and muck. It’s another key cut from a leading voice in this music right now; apart from a steady stream of potent productions, Ireen is an organizer of London’s Under My Feet label and event series.
I got to talk to Ireen about her work – and a just-released EP in collaboration with Chloe Lula (who also features on the compilation with a terrific track). Do check that EP; it’s full of smart, powerful, basement-friendly machine bangers and a fast techno highlight for 2023, due out on July 7.
CDM: The track for the compilation takes us to a particular sound world. What are you using to produce, or how did you approach that?
My approach to most of my productions starts often with a live jam before hitting the multi-track record. This particular track was a fun exploration into higher tempos and acid-y sounds which I normally don’t use in my records.
What’s the one instrument (hardware, plug-in whatever) you use most?
I go through periods, I would get obsessed with one instrument for a few months and then never touch it again for a long while, however, the ones that are always present in all of my music are the Roland Juno-6 and the Access Virus C.
Can you tell us a little about your release with Chloe on Tresor Records? As I understand it this really grew out of years of playing together and knowing each other – how did that relationship come across in that album?
Yes, Tresor.356! Chloe and I have been supporting each other’s artistic and personal growth for many years. Sharing a sleeve on such an influential and legendary label as Tresor definitely represented just another step and experience to add to the journal of our relationship. Sonically speaking the tracks are very different but they are, in my opinion, the reflection of who we are as individuals which somehow works if we look at the bigger picture.
When do you feel most inspired musically; what sort of conditions make you feel most free? Or what do you do when you feel the opposite of that?
This is a good question; it took me a while to formulate an answer. I would say that my inspiration comes from my everyday life and my emotions, rather than listening to other people’s music. I go through very extreme emotional states and I usually try to make the most of these exact moments to write a piece and let go. After these moments usually my brain resets and then I switch my focus to learning something new which I would apply to the following creative wave.
I think we’re both glad to collaborate with Keyi in that they’re an independent operation which feels rare these days. You’ve built a lot in your own career that way, running events, and assembling folks around you. Words like “scene” can be really awkward and meaningless but – is there anything that makes you optimistic or excited about people you’re working with or connecting with as you play?
There are so many things that I dislike about the music scene which could alienate me, but in one way or another, it’s definitely through music that I have met my closest friends. I believe artists have a particular view of the world and response to emotions and life events. Being part of a collective or a so-called ‘scene’, makes people feel understood and gives them a feeling of belonging. What makes me excited is the concept of sharing and learning from each other. For example, I often get caught up in conversations for hours which results in new discoveries, exploring, and sharing ideas that perhaps I had never thought of before.
Check the full Keyi compilation – preorders now:
Plus the live event at Kantine am Berghain – the intimate space in the shadow of the power station – comes up Thursday the 29th. The live event, like the comp, has all proceeds going to charity. I’m playing some high-voltage, groovy improvisation alongside live sets by Guiddo & Piro and Skelesys, plus DJ sets by Keyi’s own dynamic duo Berlin Bunny and Eyesdice.
Your ticket also gets you a download code for the full compilation, so grab the music this way and come say hi if you’re in town!
Keyi Magazine charity event [Resident Advisor / tickets]
Feature image: Anna Cano.