For a person who once referred to herself as “Berlin’s most hated”, Paramida seems to be getting on just fine. As head honcho at the consistently excellent Love on the Rocks label, and as a selector with impeccable taste that persists in making people grin like happy fools on dancefloors the world over, she has crafted a musical identity that resolutely flips off the all-too-often self-absorbed and overbearingly “serious” dance music landscape.
It’s a bold identity that evolved upon her moving to Berlin some years ago, hosting and playing her regular Paradisco party in the Salon Zur Wilde Renate club, and working in the terrific OYE Records. Since, she has gone on to regularly play revered venues at home like Panorama Bar and Robert Johnson as well as playing myriad parties and festivals across Asia, North and South America and Australia.
With a fervent style of DJing that champions an “anything goes” ethos so long as it makes you dance, it’s not hard to hear what makes a Paramida party such a sought after experience. As the first half of 2018 rattles forward with tireless energy then, we caught up with her to find out how it’s all been going…
“It’s been pretty adventurous,” she says. “I did a tour in Asia and Australia and I was based in Vietnam during that. After that I went to Brazil and played a sick warehouse party. All the gigs were pretty fun, but my favourite ones this time were Saigon, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. They were all highlights! Each of them was pretty different, but each of them was really exciting and unique.”
With such a hectic schedule, it’s unsurprising that the most recent release on Love on the Rocks – which has EPs from Fantastic Man, Telephones, Khidja and more under its belt – was in May 2017. Now, however, the label is readying its next EP for release almost a year to the day since the last and this new, lush four-track collection from London’s Ghost Vision wears the typically mesmerising, Balearic, Italo and Eastern traditional qualities of the imprint’s catalogue comfortably, making it well worth the wait.
In any case, Paramida doesn’t see any problem with slowing down the release process in an industry that seems intent on oversaturating the market.
“I didn’t not put out a record for a year on purpose,” she explains. “The Ghost Vision release just happened to take that much time. It didn’t even feel a like a year to me, time went by fast. Every thing is bigger, faster, stronger. People think you have to put out one release after another – labels and artists. At the same time, everyone complains about the vinyl market being flooded with releases. I think everyone should just chill down. Quality takes time.”
In terms of quality, the 17 releases on Love on the Rocks to date are bursting with it; its distinct, Technicolor sound palette and magical mission statement standing in proud contrast to the dark, industrial techno styles that define so much of the German club music circuit. So where did Paramida discover her love for these sounds when so much of the music around her was nothing remotely like it?
“I think Robert Johnson was the first place that was more house oriented and established a scene for that in Frankfurt,” she says. “I don’t really think that Germany, or particularly Frankfurt have any relation to Balearic or Italo but I think I grabbed this sound during my musical development and just liked it. There used to be those parties called ‘Tropic Rhonda’ in a former strip club in Frankfurt. That’s where I heard Italo pioneer Beppe Loda for the first time at the age of 18 or 19. But all in all, I would not say that there is a scene that is big enough to be relevant for Balearic or Italo sounds here.”
"I actually always feel uncomfortable when I’m at a party where everyone is jerking off to how cool they are...”
One of the key tenets of Love on the Rocks and the sets Paramida plays is an unabashed sense of humour and the looseness that disregards the frankly insufferable obsession with coolness and indifference that can be found at all too many parties and club nights. It’s something that she is vocal about opposing…
“I actually always feel uncomfortable when I’m at a party where everyone is jerking off to how cool they are,” she says. “Who you are, what you wear, who you know always seems to matter more than the music, the vibe – that you also create yourself! I love it when people go to a party and complain it’s boring… They are actually part of it being boring!”
Never boring, and delightfully contentious, Paramida’s sets have previously been compared to dancing to a lengthy rendition of the ‘Macarena’, and you would be lying to yourself if you said such a thing wouldn’t absolutely go off in the right setting…
“I once managed to play Jennifer Lopez ‘Waiting for Tonight’ on New Years Eve,” she remembers. “And I was lucky, because it was the right moment to play it, I mixed it into a percussive song and it was just dope. People were shocked and surprised in a positive way. The next day I got a message from someone asking what edit of Waiting for tonight it was…I played the original.”
“And here’s the thing,” she adds. “There is no song you can’t play. You can play any song. You just have to play it in the right moment and you, the DJ, create the right moment or lead to that moment. That’s what I love about DJing.”
With absolute devotion to music that spreads far outside the dancefloor, has it been hard to balance the act of listening to music for pleasure and for work?
“There was a time in my life, approximately three years ago, where I used to work in a record store, run a label, work in a club and DJ every weekend,” she says. “That was the moment I realized I wasn’t listening to any music in private anymore. That was a turning point and I decided to quit the record store and my job in a club to have more time for myself and my hobby again.
“The thing is I’ve turned my hobby, my biggest passion into my work,” she adds “Most people have their hobby or passion and their job. It’s two separated things, but in my life there was no border anymore and I had to find my way to handle it workwise and for my own private enjoyment.”
So what has she been listening to lately?
“There’s a lot I like to listen to, to be honest and it totally depends on my mood,” she says. “The last thing I listened to was the ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ by Khruangbin, a very cool psychedelic rock, Thai funk band.”
Paramida’s relationship with Berlin, where she lived in for so long, must be considered then, given her frustration and discomfort with so much of what makes it the “cool” European clubbing city. While obviously not without its merits and positives, it’s vital, she says, that you don’t get lost in the hivemind identity of the place and, instead, stay true to your own…
“I’ve had my ups and downs with Berlin,” she admits. “And there is a lot I don’t like about it… but then there are also things I like about it. Some of my best friends live there and that makes the city special. It’s an unconventional city in a way, but then it is also full of ‘unspoken’ rules – You need to be like this or that to get into a club or be cool or whatever.
“And here comes what I like about Frankfurt or Robert Johnson for instance: If it’s a really cool party, you got all kinds of people partying together: The hipsters, the art students, the business guys in their suits, the macho hip-hop bros all at the same party raving. And I miss this diversity in Berlin. Internationally it is diverse, but people seem to follow the same dull hypes, musically and fashionwise.”
Could she ever go back, then?
“I still think one day, I will return to Berlin and stay an entire summer just to have fun,” she says. “But that’s it. It’s not the city I want live in.”
Is she still the city’s most hated?
“I don’t know. Maybe you should go ask the Berghain door.”
For her DJ Mag Podcast, Paramida has served up an hour of typically joyous sounds to accompany a lounge in a sunny park, a dance around your kitchen, or whatever the heck else you might be doing. Enjoy responsibly.