In 2017 Anja Schneider made the bold decision to part ways with her label, Mobilee. Citing differences in the vision for the label, between her and the label manager Ralf Kollmann, Anja Schneider separated from the label of her creation as if compelled by a mere natural impulse.
“It’s a bit like a marriage or a long-term relationship”, she said in XLR8R’s real talk last year . “You go in different directions and this happened with Ralf Kollmann, … and I. We just wanted different things.”
Emboldened by her belief that “techno (was) becoming more and more business-oriented” and that Mobilee was unable to hold on to the original ideals that started the label, Anja Schneider’s remarkable moved showed an incredible resolve. Putting her “passion” for the music above a material wealth or success of her label, Anja Schneider did what few would do her in her position today.
Apart from being born in Bergisch Gladbach, very little is known about Anja Schneider’s early life. She divulges little from her personal past and present to nosy interviewers and proffers only professional achievements in her biography.
We know however that her musical career begins in 1994 and culminates to a move to Berlin where she immediately found a job at a little known radio station called Kiss FM. Working with the likes if Ellen Allien, Schneider went from producer, to radio host, to club DJ in a way that “was all quite natural and organic” she told Skiddle magazine in 2015. She came into Djing from an “old school thing”, playing the length of a track and then telling the people about it over the course of a radio show that would be programmed “to have half an hour hip hop, half an hour indie, rock (and) techno.”
Her first experiences at mixing came from DJing at radio parties, a trial by fire education where she “played in some of the worst discotheques you can ever imagine, with lazer lights and so on.” Going from those radio parties to the techno club was another smooth transition for Schneider and after a short course in beat matching from a friend it was: “hey, you’ve got a club gig”. She learnt her trade through the job to a point today where she feels “more confident with a night and how I build up” because of those early experiences.
Anja Schneider went from Kiss FM to the newly established Fritz FM in 2000 where she established the “Dance Under The Blue Moon“ that ran for an incredible 17 years, with a substantial and considered electronic music profile. And although radio will always be her “first love” , it was however as a club DJ that the name Anja Schneider would be etched into modern electronic music history.
It started with Mobillee in 2005 first as a label and then as a DJ agency. “When we started the label we had no idea of what it was going to be like”, she told Skiddle.
“(W)e didn’t know we were going to be here in 10 years, we just wanted to release music, use my name and help other people and build a collective. Of course then everything changed. Vinyl sales were going down, so we had to move on and build up our own booking agency to survive and create something new.”
Did she at any point realise then that she might be parting ways with the Mobilee in the future? “It is something you don’t expect” she told Deep House Amsterdam. Where everything just happened ”organically” around the label and they had all been friends first, they eventually “lost this original relationship somehow” to a point where Schneider “was not feeling it anymore.”
While at Mobilee Anja Schneider had gone from facilitator to artist. Collaborating through most of those initial releases, by the time her debut album,Beyond the Valley came out in 2008 she had cemented a career as a bonafide solo artist. Her sound slipped effortlessly into the Mobilee catalogue with a the purview from the DJ booth. Minimalist textures tied into progressive, repetitive structures, often featured subtle, delicate touches; a melody or a percussive sample. In 2011 Schneider felt the best example of her work up to that point came in the form of Hello Boy when she told The Ransom Note, “I had the biggest release in my life, which has changed it completely and launched it into a new dimension.”
Anja Schneider had cultivated a distinct sound as an artist, that was very congruous to her sound in the booth. She became a noted presence on the DJ circuit with this individual sound as that career kept going from strength to strength merely on her prowess in the booth. At Mobilee she continued to release music that best fitted the 12” format and her musical pursuits both as a DJ and a producer, but as she started work on her sophomore album, she “didn’t want all the pressures associated with the release as I just wanted to do everything the way I wanted’, she told Deep House Amsterdam.
“Another major motivating factor behind my decision to leave Mobilee was the desire to make my own decisions, rather than always thinking of the collective and teamwork” Schneider said in her Real Talk piece for XLR8R as to drive that point home.
This culminated in Sous music, a new imprint, that was “very personal” to her. The label takes its name from her mother’s maiden name, with the album simply titled SoMe, cementing the individualist artistic pursuit behind the new label. It’s Schneider doing what she’s best at and like her debut album, SoMe is an album of dance floor singles with a concise theme running through it, made specifically for the album format. Combining vocals, polyrhythmic percussion with an unwavering 4/4 beat, Anja Schneider’s presence is all over this record.
Unlike other artists that embark on the next phase of their careers, Anja Schneider never lost touch with her own creative identity, and in fact in her next phase she’s only reaffirmed what she had been doing all along. Starting a new label with Mobilee’s success still very much apparent Anja Schneider has only gone on to reinforce her musical approach both in the studio and subsequently in the booth in this next chapter of her already successful musical career.
*Anja Schneider plays Frædag tonight.