Jennifer Cardini doesn’t require an introduction. She’s been an integral part of the underground electronic dance scene since the nineties. She’s paid her dues on the DJ circuit, lugging record cases all over the world and if you ever needed proof of her prowess in the booth, it’s been documented in the past on labels like Kompakt. As a producer, she’s featured on the likes of Mobilee, and her own label Corresponadant, which itself is releasing a record a month today. Like I said, she doesn’t need an introduction, but she’s coming to Oslo, and after falling in love with the French DJs style last year during our “Into the Valley” pre-party, we’ve really been looking forward to inviting her back and couldn’t resist the temptation of calling her up to ask some questions about her DJing, her productions, the label, and André Bratten, but somehow we get sidetracked by food. It’s a Monday when I dial her up in her home in Cologne, and her buoyant French accent breaks through the receiver with, hello.
Hi Jennifer, how are you?
Like a Monday.
Were you playing over the weekend?
Yes, I was playing in Spain and if you don’t go to Madrid or Barcelona the situation for travelling in Spain can be such a nightmare as Iberia is not the most organised airline. You need to fly to Madrid and then you have to wait for hours to get on a little plane to fly to Gijon. But it was all worth it as the party was really nice.
It’s a shame about the travelling, because it’s such a lovely country.
Yes, totally! I went for a walk on the beach and it was beautiful but I have to say that I’m more an Italy girl than a Spain girl. Sorry (Laughs)
Do you go to Italy often?
Yes, Uh now you’ve got me on the subject of Spain vs. Italy. I actually don’t like Spanish food that much. I always find it’s really heavy, and you really need to know the good places, to find good food. For example when you go to Sonar, and you don’t know Barcelona, you’ll eat like shit the whole week. It’s all really greasy and In Italy you can eat almost anywhere and it’s way more delicate. But I’m half Italian so maybe that’s why, (Laughs)
We had this conversation with André Bratten, because we are really good friends. We made a list of best countries for food and Spain was not in my top ten.
I’d be interested to hear what André’s top ten was.
Well he tried to squeeze Norway in there, but I was like ‘hello dude’. I mean you’re very cute and we love you, but this is really not going to work.
Japan and Israel came first and then Italy and France and also Cambodian and Vietnamese food. I just came back from Japan when we had this conversation and I had the best dinner of my life, I nearly cried. It’s one of the best sushi places in Tokyo, but it was like 200 Euro per person, and that’s where I nearly cried (Laughs)
And speaking of André, how did you get to know each other?
I just bought the ‘Be a Man you Ant‘ album, and I was totally flushed by it. More by the tracks that were more electronica and slow compared to the dance floor hits that were Aegis and Be a Man you Ant. I wrote to him and told him I really liked the album and that I was running a label called Correspondant. We have this annual compilation and it’s a mixture between, artists from the Correspondant family and crushes that I have in the year, and for that reason I got in touch with him and was hoping he’d have a track for us. The communication came direct. We started exchanging emails and I booked him. And then it was love at first sight.
Trommer and Bass was such a big hit too.
Yes, I still play it. It’s one f those tracks: you know it’s a hit, but without all those tricky things of a hit. A hit can only be played for a certain amount of time and then it gets washed out. Trommer og Bass took like six months before Dixon, Harvey or Seth Troxler played it, from the release. It totally grew on the dance floors. I remember I played at this festival and everybody was playing the track suddenly, and it was in June and the compilation came out in March.
Have you heard Gode yet?
Yes, it’s brilliant. Everything he does is brilliant.
He’s incredibly talented.
And not only in a creative way, but also in a nerdy production way. When we got Trommer og Bass, I wrote to him and asked; ‘hey can we get a premastered version, because the version you sent has a compressor and limiter on it.’ He wrote back to me saying no it hasn’t, ‘that’s the premaster actually.’ The sound was so powerful; the sound was so big. I sent it to the sound guy that masters at kompakt and he wrote me back directly saying; ‘what the hell, who’s that’.
You’ll be following André with a dj set on Friday. Do you ever adapt your set to accommodate a live show?
Not really. Sometimes I plan a little bit of what I’m gonna do, and when I’m there it depends on how many people are there. I know André plays this type of Polygon Window kind of thing at the end of his set at the moment. I don’t play as hard, so I’m probably gonna start with an intro to try and change the vibe. I prepare a lot at home and I always think about other possibilities. There is what I like to do, and then if the setting is not perfect for that I adapt a little bit.
Are you still predominantly a vinyl DJ?
No. I do buy a lot of vinyl and I do go to a record store once a week and I encode a lot of stuff. I’m 42 now and I’ve played since I was twenty. I did carry vinyl around enough for a lifetime. I know people are having this vinyl over digital fight, but I find it so stupid. As a label we produce vinyl and always will, the idea that the only thing remaining is a mp3 on a cheap hard drive is too sad. Laurent Garnier plays digital; Barnt plays digital; Job Jobse plays digital. It doesn’t mean that they are less talented than before. Still I think it’s important to dig, because it gives your selection character, but I don’t believe it’s important to carry 25kgs of vinyl every weekend.
I ask, because when you pack vinyl it also limits the direction a night like this can go I assume?
Yes, and many times my bag got lost. I remember days when I was in my hotel room burning CDs because my records never arrived. I had to download everything I had in my record case by memory. Burning CDs for 5 or 6 hours; that’s something you don’t want to go through.
Well that’s why technology advances in the first place, to make things easier for us, right?
Yes, and I had huge back problems and they’re all gone now. I would go to a set with one of those big metal record cases without wheels; you know the ones we had in the nineties. I was carrying two of those.
Didn’t you have the luxury of the guard carrying your cases for you?
No. That goes with the position of woman in the electronic scene. (Laughs). I had to carry them alone. Sometimes it was really crazy, and I would pick them up from the belt, and go out to the lobby of the airport, and the promoter would greet me, but he would never offer to carry my cases. I would walk to the car, and would think; is there a moment he’s gonna offer to carry my cases? (Laughs)
I carried them for a while, so I’m really happy now when I can carry three USB sticks, a computer, and an external drive as a backup in case something happens.
While we were trying to set up this Interview, your manager mentioned that you were currently in the studio. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m trying to finish remixes, but the problem is that the label is taking up a lot of space in the time that I have in the week. So it’s going really slowly. Right now I’m trying to finish a remix for some artists for the label. I won’t tell for whom, because if it doesn’t happen, it sounds a little bit stupid. (Laughs) I’m also just playing around to see if something happens that I eventually want to bring out. I always consider myself more of a DJ than a producer. I know I want to make music more than I did before. Before I was really focussed on the DJ part, but I don’t want to stress with that.
You mention that your work a lot with the label. Does it distract a lot from making music, when you have to check emails and that type of thing?
Yes, that’s why it’s so very difficult to make music. I have a very good label manager and we are getting on a better rhythm that would allow me to shut down all communication for two days. We produce one record a month, and that’s quite a rhythm, but we don’t live in the same city, so that always makes things difficult.
Are you still based in Cologne?
Yes, but we are leaving in July. To Berlin.
Is that for accessibility?
Yes, because the label manager is there and the booking agency is based there. And I also have a lot of friends there. More than I do in Cologne. My wife and I just want to move. The social life is much more interesting there. When I was living in Paris, I was very involved in the queer scene and, without any disrespect; the queer scene in Cologne is terrible (laughs). So I’m also looking forward to taking a bigger part in the Berlin queer nightlife.
Getting back to being a label boss. How has it influenced your music and your sets?
I think it made me a better DJ, because you learn to listen to the music differently. I can feel that in my selection. It’s getting more into a direction that’s weirder. I actually have a selection now called weirdo, because I can’t really classify it. It’s House, but it’s not House; it’s Techno, but it’s not Techno. That comes from the label. Most of the things in there are things from my label, or things from Discodromo records or things from Optimo, which are leftfield and Techno at the same time. This has really shaped by my work at the label.
Do look for something that could both work on the dance floor and work on playing a record at home, for instance?
Yes, some tracks can cover both, and I actually like those. You know, on a big sound system it will totally destroy the dance floor, but at home it’s not aggressing you. That’s the case with the Mr TC release of Optimo tracks. It has this indie mood to it, which is quite suitable for home, but the bass is quite massive so it’s also quite danceable.
Almost like André Bratten’s music.
It’s funny that you mention your taste in music, because recently I saw one journalist describe your sets as experimental Techno. Do you care to weigh in on that?
The description of my sets in the last twenty years is quite weird. First of all, I got this big sticker on my back which was minimal or Tech House, because of releasing music on Mobilee and releasing music on Crosstown Rebels, and everybody forgot that as a DJ I’m more of a Clone girl. This sticker on my back followed me for many years. I play so many different things. I play Chicago house classics. I play left field stuff. I’m not such a big fan of trying to pencil what genre will fit. I can play slow stuff’ I like some Berghain stuff; and I also like MCDE. In a two or three hour set I like to jump from one to the other. It can really go from Techno to House, from House to the weirdo folder.
Can you give us an example and give us a little preview of your set at Jæger on Friday?
I got some remixes from Lena Willikens that she did for Golf Channel. The track is really making me crazy.
…She was at Jæger last weekend actually.
Yes, I know. I really like her. We are starting a party together called nicotine, because we both like to smoke a lot….
I also finished a compilation that would be finished in June so I guess probably some Correspondant stuff like the new Man Power, and a new Vox Low. I also got a as promo a new Digitalis and there is a fantastic remix with Roman Flügel who is also one of my favourite producers and remixers, so that might also make it’s way to Jæger. Also Benedikt Frey who is producing outstanding stuff at the moment and a lot of stuff from Dark Entries probably.
Maybe we should not give too much away, and leave some surprises for the audience on Friday…
I’m really looking forward to coming to Jæger and hanging out, and this is my last gig before I finally go on holiday, so I’m really going to enjoy it.
Excellent, we’ll try our best to get you into that holiday mood.