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Ellen Allien – When music turns physical

Playful Magazine’s Editor in Chief went on a date with Berlin’s queen of techno.

By: Amanda Sandström Beijer

Photos: Stini Röhrs

The first new person I met in a very long time is Ellen. We were supposed to go for a walk, but it’s the one day that is rainy so we decide to meet at the office. She enters with a black rain jacket with yellow neon details and a brightly awake face. Greeting me without showing any concerns for the social distancing that we’ve gotten used to by now.

”Since the clubs are closed my days are completely different now, especially my Sundays”

Playful had a chat with her for the web-project we did – ”Corona Diaries” – where she mentioned that this period has made her see Berlin in a new light.

”Since the clubs are closed my days are completely different now, especially my Sundays”, she laughs and continues;

”I’ve done streaming though, since I love sharing music and it’s a physical need. But normally I come back home completely dead after a gig and lay down on my bed. Now I bike on Sundays. I’ve bought a new bike since my last one wasn’t outside anymore”, she jokes;

”I have this route that I really like in the city, and I always do the same one. I really enjoy Berlin with less cars. I feel it gives more freedom to the city. Even though people are staying meters away from me and that’s a bit weird. But well, I guess it’s normal since the media is handling this situation in their own way, and since it’s a ’rule’. But actually I don’t know if it’s such a good rule. We’ll see when the vaccine comes, I don’t really know what they want us to do, but I’m not the person that would take any vaccine.”


Ellen relaxes on her chair with her feet elevated - you can tell she’s used to a hectic lifestyle by now and knows how to be in the moment and in charge of her own time so that it doesn’t consume her.

”I need to be very strict with taking time off for myself sometimes. Because there’s always something to do. But now since we’ve been staying at home I’ve gotten even more connected to my mum, sister and my nephew and I feel very close to them. The same goes with my flatmate who’s working from home, and our relationship has changed. We’ve started cooking together and look at new recipes all the time. We’ve also been doing ’home gym’ nearly every day while listening to streams or podcasts by other DJ’s, and that’s been so much fun and more effective than going to a gym, so that’s on the good side of the situation.”

”But at the same time, I have a lover overseas and not knowing when we’ll be able to see each other again is tough. This person is working for festivals in the USA and all jobs are gone now, so it’s problematic in so many ways.”

”Music is not about money, it gives so much"

Many artists and creative people have shown that they’re not going to just sit and wait for it to be over, but have taken time to give of their work and spread positivity to help us feel united and keep a positive mindset. One of them is Ellen.

”Music is not about money, it gives so much. I wanna share something and spread positive vibes. The first streaming I did on Instagram or Facebook I did because I felt very depressed, and since I know I’m a person who’s often very happy I wondered how bad others must have felt then. I was lying in my bed and saw a live stream from Addison Groove and it was incredible, I realized how much music gives. There’s also this old couple playing classic music every weekend on the route where I’m biking, and people are sitting all around them listening to it.”

Ellen’s new album that she started recording last year before she went on holidays, (Released on June 12th) is also very accurate for this situation.

”Mixing music and the whole creative process gives me so much. It’s very physical”, she says and continues;

”In one of the tracks, I’m saying ”Covid19 - Bitch”, she laughs. ”So I let my drama’s out in the music.”

The track is on on a compilation of ”The Third Room” – a group of promoters from Essen who works with creating a space of cultural exchange by combining musical styles and going beyond limits.

”They organize the best techno events in very industrial locations” Ellen says.

Going her own way and never compromising is what brought her to where she is today, and of course, her love for the music.

”It is very important for me to feel free. I need to feel free, no matter what is said by the government and society. I feel manipulated by what we get told to do. Also I feel that we’re ’puppets of the pharmacy’ in the end, it’s pretty much slavery for the pharmacy. But you’ll find me at the next demonstration, they have to understand that we’re not so easy to manipulate. Many of the tracks in the new EP is about this kind of situations, who we can trust and things like that.”


Although this might sound political, Ellen doesn’t want her music to be political, but rather a way to release thoughts. She finds key words and plays around them. But of course there are thoughts behind the keywords.

”Believing in rainbows and music doesn't mean that I trust capitalism. Yesterday I talked with my mom and my nephew about what’s behind all of this, like who’s going to profit from it. It feels like some people want to push the paranoia.”

Ellen highlights that our lives are right now, and if we are digging ourselves into the scarcity mindset we might as well not live at all.

"We have to try and get out of this and enjoy. Be playful”

”Everything changes so quickly and nothing is constant. We have to enjoy our lives and understand that nothing will remain the same forever. Appreciate what we have. Be careful and stay awake, but don’t forget to enjoy your life every day. I understand that it’s not easy. Many people are depressed, but we’ll come out of this much stronger. We have to try and get out of this and enjoy. Be playful”, she laughs.

It seems that this time has unified Berlin even more, and even though this summer isn’t going to be the same we know that things are changing quickly. Some of Ellen’s best memories are from this season in previous years, when Berlin takes on the aspect of summer town. Ellen goes back to when Griesemule opened up its garden where she played on May 1st.

”t’s a very important day for me and it’s such a unique day here in Berlin. It’s funny that it never rains, it’s like the first days of summer. Last year I just got back to Berlin and I was so thankful