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Artist Feature: Helena Hauff - Tresor

Click here to listen to the Carhartt WIP Radio Show featuring Helena Hauff.

This month, we’re celebrating the Carhartt WIP x Tresor collaboration, highlighting the historic Berlin and Detroit techno axis, also known as 030/313.

As such, we’re welcoming the outstanding Hamburg-based producer and DJ Helena Hauff for June’s edition of Carhartt WIP Radio. Hauff, who has a background in fine arts, physics, and systematic music science, came up in Hamburg’s local music scene, establishing her night Birds and Other Instruments at the much-lauded Golden Pudel Club. She has been a stalwart of gritty, hard-edged electro-techno ever since, releasing her debut EP Actio Reactio in 2013 on Werkdiscs, followed by her LP Discreet Desires in 2015.

Hauff uses a strictly-analog setup, both during her sets and at her home studio, which is filled with vintage machines and DIY tech, reflecting the same machine ‘hacking’ attitudes of Detroit’s Belleville Three – Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson – also known as the pioneers of techno music.

In honor of Detroit’s influence on Hauff’s work, and the gap bridged between Europe and the US via Tresor Records, the artist has created a mix documenting Tresor’s legacy, both as a club and record label, and its link to the roots of techno.

Pulsing with wild melodies and rapid kicks, Hauff’s mix was recorded using all vinyl, and features iconic tracks such as “Klang Der Familie” by 3 PHASE and “Mind Sensations” by System 01, plus classics from Drexciya, Joey Beltram and the late Silent Servant, as well as records from newcomers like UFO95. In a short accompanying interview, Hauff discusses her most memorable nights at Tresor, Detroit’s impact on her music, and upcoming projects in the pipeline.

Before becoming a producer and DJ, had you been to Tresor or heard about the club in your youth?

Helena Hauff: I watched documentaries about it and Berlin club culture, but I never went before playing there. I grew up in Hamburg so I never went clubbing in Berlin before becoming a DJ. It was all really local for me. I’m pretty lucky to have had such a major step in a DJ's career happen just like that.

Now that you’ve played the club many times, what is it about Tresor that makes it so special to you?

Helena Hauff: I remember playing live with Hypnobeat at Atonal. I think that was my first Tresor experience. I'd played Ohm a couple of times and went to Atonal as a punter before, but had never played at an actual Tresor night. Also, a morning with Sunil Sharpe downstairs at Tresor is something that I vividly remember – that was one of my favorite nights.

Tresor, as a club and label, has been fundamental in forging the bond between Berlin and Detroit. Did this axis have an influence on you as an artist, and do you feel it is still strong today?

Helena Hauff: Detroit electronic music was incredibly influential to me. I was obsessed with everything that came out of Detroit. As soon as I started DJing, I felt that it was important to know where this music that I had fallen in love with came from – there are obviously strong roots in Black Detroit communities. For me, it was all about the pioneers and key figures in the field of techno and electro, and I idolized people like Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Moodymann, Theo Parrish, DJ Stingray 313, Gerald Donald, and James Stinson. And that's how I discovered Tresor as a record label.

The mix you created for the show features edits of Tresor hits like “Der Klang der Familie (F.U.S.E. Mix)” and “Mind Sensations (Voov / System 01 Mix)”. What was your process for selecting and recording the tracks for the show?

Helena Hauff: I recorded it at home with just two turntables and a mixer. I went through my record collection and picked out all my Tresor records. The “Der Klang der Familie” track is on a compilation I bought 15 years ago at Zardoz Records in Hamburg. I actually remember the moment, which is really rare as I buy so many records. But I also took the opportunity to go through Tresor's back catalog and find old releases that I'd never heard or didn't have on vinyl, and bought a lot on Discogs. Then I played around with what I had and the result is the mix.

What projects or plans do you currently have in the pipeline?

Helena Hauff: A really busy summer schedule, I love summer time and all the outdoor festivals. I’m also working on a couple of projects with my friends F#x, Children of Leir, and L.F.T, plus a few releases planned for my own label Return to Disorder. We just released Magda Rot, Luke Eargoggle and Dataintrång, and next up is Marco Bruno.