SPFDJ talks about the importance of sex positivism, her hardcore techno lifestyle, and her thoughts on anal. On her journey she continues to prove her critics wrong, or actually, they are pretty good at invalidating themselves.
By Amanda Sandström Beijer
Photos: Rachel Colless
Her friend and colleague Hector Oaks describes SPFDJ on Resident Advisor with the words: “Her Insta was deleted for nudity and offensive content. Plays techno dystopia, gabber kicks looking angry but classy. May get with the staff, drink other artists beers, regrets it when she wakes up but forgets it when she steps up. Book at own risk."
Together with that mentioned above, many people would agree that these two techno DJs are taking the 'rock star dream’ to a new level with their lifestyle. To Lina Jonsson it’s just normal to sleep 20 minutes here and there, totalling three hours during weekends, due to prioritizing a good party. The busy lifestyle with lots of partying did come to a halt during the pandemic, as it did for everybody else. Lina says that she’s not the same person that she was before the Covid outbreak.
With comfortable eye contact, Lina is somebody you immediately get a feel for, as being smart, secure, and fearless. The first mentioned is backed up by her personal history since she’s a physicist who studied astrophysics in Leeds and later in Potsdam. Some people probably even expected her to become an astronaut rather than a DJ.
“Since that was my big interest, it’s really weird when people talk about wanting to become an accountant or work with PR. In my world it’s been more natural wanting to study space, or even go there myself.”
She did play the keyboard when growing up, although her introduction to electronic music was much later through one of her best friends at the university.
“He was a legend. He had his own big YouTube channel where he posted UK Bass music, and he sent me lots of fresh music. I also heard it out at parties, and suddenly I was stuck and spent all my time with electronic music. I used to even hang out in the chat at Boiler Room back in the days when it was new,” Lina laughs, continuing, “I was a big nerd. I guess I still am. When I like something, I dive deep and don’t do anything else. Right now, for example, I’m all about psychology.”
It makes total sense that Lina came to settle in Berlin in order to study, as she was offered a doctoral position in Potsdam. Although partying hasn’t been de-prioritized and you can kill two birds with one stone…
“When it comes to astrophysics, there were better alternatives for me. But then, here I could live in Berlin. When I’ve visited the city to party in the past, I’ve always felt at home here.”
The ‘rock star lifestyle rumor’ did not happen by coincidence. Although, today her priorities have changed, as her interest in psychology got ignited and she started to go through her own family history with a new lens, and deal with past traumas.
“I realised that I was keeping myself busy to avoid dealing with stuff, and partying is a great tool if you want to distract yourself from your baggage. I have suffered a lot from depression and mental illness, and I guess you find your own ways to deal with it. That’s also why I loved Berlin and felt at home here. I didn’t exactly stand out from the crowd for wanting to party a lot here.”
“It can be both good and bad. Sometimes it’s probably a bit too easy to find a party here. It can be a trap where you lose track of your own problems because there are always other people more fucked up.”
“Thankfully now I’ve come to realize that I’ve been running away from problems, and instead I’ve chosen to actually deal with them.”
Being a Swede from a small village in the north, she left in order to get away from a judgmental atmosphere that you tend to find in those places.
I am more drawn to a wide range of characters, such as we have in Berlin.
“In many ways you’re not judged here by anyone, people do their own thing. I haven’t lived in Stockholm or such, but I get a feeling that people there are judgmental too, and everyone dresses the same. It’s pretty boring. I am more drawn to a place with a wide range of characters, like we have in Berlin.”
“I don’t really do small talk either, and here I have my crowd and we just skip that part and go right into depth.”
Even if Lina’s life pace is a lot calmer now, you get a feeling that she’s comfortable with having a lot on her hands and does everything in her own time.
“I guess that’s also a reason why I like it here, there’s always a lot to do, but everyone is walking slowly in the streets, and they don’t rush. The same goes for the subway, well sure it can be annoying if you yourself are in a hurry and people are just standing motionless in the middle of the escalator. It’s so different from London where you really feel the effect of capitalism on people, and they run everywhere in the subways. Here it’s alright to have a beer by yourself on a bench, or walk with it at 9am on a Tuesday morning, people won’t see that as a reason for considering you a drunk or a miserable person,” she says, continuing, “The weekdays can stand still, yet the weekends can also be chaotic, it’s up to you what you choose.”
“Then the worst part with Berlin is probably that it can be easy to get stuck. Especially if you have a penchant for escapism. It can be hard to seek help for problems in other ways since it’s so normalized here to distract oneself.”
Since this is something that Lina explains she has been good at doing herself, and the normal tour life is getting more present every day, she can’t say how that’s working out for her yet.
“Well, let’s see how it goes. I’m a bit nervous about it myself to be honest since it’s been over a year since I lived that hectic lifestyle.”
In Berlin, Lina is connected to Trésors Herrensauna. A gig she got through her friend sending them her mix. After being booked on the day before New Year’s Eve 2016, she became a regular.
It’s a form of rebellion against the ways that female sexuality is being suppressed, something that has made me quite angry
Another thing we bet you know about Lina is that she’s not exactly a prude. Following her on Social Media you see her posts about anal sex, butt plugs and other sex toys – something her audience goes along with. This is not new, but evolved from Linas sexual explicitness, long before becoming a recognized DJ. Going pretty much naked to Berghain was not unfamiliar.
“It’s a form of rebellion against the ways that female sexuality is being suppressed, something that has made me quite angry. But then of course the butt plug thing and all, go hand in hand with the hardness of the music I play. I probably wouldn’t have screamed as much about anal sex as I do, if I played piano. It reflects part of my severity.”
But again, all this slut shaming is so tiring. Therefore, speaking about, and being, sex positive, and yet be taken seriously as a woman, is something that still needs to be fought for.
“But again, all this slut shaming is so tiring. Therefore, speaking about, and being sex-positive, and yet be taken seriously as a woman, is something that still needs to be fought for. One person criticized me on Twitter saying that I was embarrassing for shouting about anal sex every chance I got, and compared me to a 13-year-old boy in the back of the class shouting profanities, which is ironic – as he just proved why I need to do it, without realizing it. He wouldn’t compare me to a 13-year-old girl – and that says a lot about how girls are being limited in a way that boys aren’t.”
“Some people also suggest that I use my sexuality to get followers, and again – they all keep proving my point. If they only knew that I actually lose followers every time I post anything about sex. It’s interesting to believe that someone would get gigs for posting about sex. It just makes me so sad to realize what a big problem this still is.”
“Another thing that I’ve talked about with my male friends who work within the music scene, is that they can find hook-ups for the night after their set – and that’s just rock n’roll. Meanwhile when a woman does it, she’s considered to be unprofessional.”
With or without being affected in various ways within the male-dominated scene, Lina has also struggled to feel worthy of the success she’s got.
“There are so many extremely talented DJs out there that don’t get the same kind of gigs that I do and feeling deserving of them is something that I’ve worked on. This doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence in my skill, but I see many talents go unnoticed. I’m good at what I do but I’ve also been lucky.”
Another problematic thing, besides feeling unworthy, can be to be overly influenced by others, losing touch with what actually is your own quality and niche.
You need to find your own uniqueness, and build on that
“Finding your niche and what you’re good at is very important when you start off, and during the whole journey, as well. This is what makes you stand out from the crowd. Since there’s so much competition, you need to find your own uniqueness, and build on that. Copying someone else will only make you a worse DJ since your way of doing it already comes from an authentic place and as a copycat you are only playing to other people’s strengths.”
SPFDJ’s label Intrepid Skin has signed many new DJs. Spotting someone else’s skill is something that can be a lot easier than spotting and approving of your own productions.
“I started Intrepid Skin partly with the intention to eventually release my own music without having to wait for anybody else’s approval. It was cocky of me though (she laughs) as I’ve realised how much harder it is to judge your own music and sometimes you need that unbiased filter of another label manager. It’s also been difficult not having audiences to test the music on.”
“The processes of producing and DJing are very different. When I DJ I’m tapping into intuition and feeling that I built up from years of being on the dance floor myself before I started to DJ.”
“Finally it is important that within any aesthetic field you need to be careful about listening to what others have to say about you but also to think twice about who you ask for feedback. Even record labels and big producers, as their words aren’t some absolute truth, unless maybe their suggestions are something technical. Often it can be better to just listen to what feels right for you and where you have a flow. Don’t get confused by other people’s opinions because then you may just end up sounding like a wannabe version of them.”
10 QUICK ONES
Tallin or Mallorca?
2 L cheap wine or a rare IPA?
Sex party or Masquerade?
New Age or Satanism?
PornHub or Lustery?
Vabali or Hasenheide rave?
Never been to either. But probably Vabali.
Money or sex?
Real housewives of Beverly Hills or Harry Potter?
Real Housewives of BH
Camping or 5 star hotel?
5 star hotel
Whitney Houston or Ozzy Osbourne?
German kneipe or Soho House?