Dana Ruh: life, career and future plans of a multi-tasking artist
In occasion of Dana’s latest podcast for Trommel, we sat down with her for a lovely chat around music, career, life and our beloved city of Berlin.
We see yourself with a very long-standing tradition both as a DJ and as a producer, an impressive career behind and a lot of plans for present and near future. But let’s start at the beginning: how you first got into music, and how it became your profession?
I got into music really early. My Mother had a big record collection so I was listening to records of all genres all the time. I started to discover electronic music in my hometown of Gera, where a lot of parties happened during the 90s. I wanted to find the records that I heard during that time so this is how I started to buy records – just to collect.
During that time I had a really nice collection of records but I was also studying. I worked for a TV production company and was working 12-hours a day. I was thinking this cannot be my life so I started to look for something else that gave me a life balance. In 2004/5 I started to play my records. A few years passed and after getting into production I quit my job because I wanted to give 100% to music. That was 2011, it all came quite naturally.
The music world is now completely different, what difficulties have you faced over time?
Of course, it was different back then but with more technology comes more possibilities. The big change arrived with the internet and social media, etc. Now you can create images, marketing plans and nobody really knows anything about you, your history or your way. Now everybody is writing messages etc, there is nearly no phone calls or discussions. Everything is happening on WhatsApp.
But of course, there were also positive points to how it was. It was just harder to get your music or your mixes or to connect with people but I never saw it as difficult. I believe when you work hard you will get somewhere.
At some point, Cocoon arrived, a family which you still represent. Can you describe its evolution from inside as well as the role it has on your career?
I have been with Cocoon since 2014, so I was not really part of the evolution but what I can see now is that Cocoon never stands still. There is always something happening. I like that they give new talent a chance and support them. For me, it was a chance to play bigger events, which is challenging. Of course, Sven is also the motor, an innovator; he has a vision. He is always up for taking risks, and is not afraid of change – this is something I find really impressive.
Are you excited about the new Pacha Ibiza residency?
When I heard the plans of Pacha, I was not very keen on the idea. I’ve had never been to Pacha – for me it stood for VIP and table business. After some talks, I began to understand the idea more and to be honest most of the clubs on the island are doing this VIP stuff. Amnesia has it but it is just not so obvious as it is upstairs.
It is now a new Pacha with a new sound system and they have improved the second room, which is now for 300 people or so. I find it really interesting because you can be more open-minded with the booking and don’t need to bring headliners for this. I’ve seen it now and played in the room and I can say I had a very good time. I’m excited for the next ones and the summer ahead.
Berlin was and probably still is the place to be for electronic music for several reasons: it is a fertile ground for clubbing and has a strong community of people working music industry. Can you give us your point of view and tell us more about your relationship with the city, and it has changed/evolved?
Yes, Berlin is changing all the time and I guess it has to be like that no matter whether I like it or not. A lot of things I don’t like. The development of the city regarding and how many new houses they have built is ridiculous. And the development of the prices too. It’s still affordable but you can see already the tendency.
Google is coming to Kreuzberg with its Google Campus and again prices rise. Of course, it also pushes away the creatives, the art and this has already happened a lot. I am worried about that because it is a major part of Berlin and it makes the city so inspiring. Berlin will be always very important for our scene, there is a strong network there and more people come that can contribute but also its full of DJs everybody would like to have a part of the cake which leads to more competition somehow. But as said, Berlin will be always a very special city.
You are often on tour. How do you manage to spend time playing, producing, digging, managing the labels as well as private and everyday life?
Well, that’s easy to answer. Music is my life and I do this all full of love for it so I make time to do all. Plus, I have a great bunch of friends around me to help!
Brouqade and Cave Recordings are two of your creatures. The first one has often launched new and interesting names that years later became established DJs and producers, and is an institution among the Berlin-based labels. Cave instead, seems to be the place for your latest and more personal production, with a frequency of more or less one per year. Can you explain a bit more about the rationale behind the labels, and their goals?
Brouqade is 10 years old now and is a platform for new talent and friends. The label itself is open-minded and has never had a certain direction. It is more for stripped back music, we do 4 or 5 releases a year. Brouqade is more focused on other artists while Cave is my own playground. I do one release a year. I like it like it this, so there are no plans to do more.
With Brouqade I would like to continue what we have done for the last year or so. I am looking for artists that have a very artistic approach, who are not just music producers. The goal is to put out quality music but also grow it even stronger as a regular platform for artists. We have another release from Formas coming up and there will be new music from new artists. I will return in some form of collaboration but for now, lots of things are still up in the air. It’s an exciting time.
Can you tell us about your vinyl collection? How it started, how big it is, which are the records you are most attached to?
My Collection has built up over the years. I started to collect records in the 90s. Some I have twice or three times, just to make sure I have them. I have never counted but it is big enough that is for sure. The records I am the most attached too are the records I started with. DJ Sneak, Moodyman and some Harthouse Records.
Can you name few colleagues you admire and who inspired you?
I am inspired by artists that stay true to themselves and don’t follow hype and trends. The ones that create constantly and live their artist life 100%. Thank God I have a lot of friends around me that follow the same ethos and they all inspire me.
Last, any advice to young DJs that wants to start their career?
WORK HARD! Don’t think you made it…you always have to deliver. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Always be willing to learn and if you fail don’t give up. That all might sound cliche but this is my ethos I live after…
Listen to Dana’s latest exclusive podcast for Trommel