With her bright, exuberant personality and predilection for infectious dance music polished to a pop sheen, you’d be forgiven for thinking of German DJ and electronic artist Perel (real name: Annegret Fiedler) as a carefree figure. Fiedler has spent the last several years as a mainstay of Berlin’s club scene, her signature, eclectic blend of house, pop and electronica setting her apart from the heavy techno beats which dominated Berlin for much of the 2010s.
But we’re barely 10 minutes into our interview before it becomes clear that things haven’t been easy for Fiedler. In the midst of recounting the previous two years — which, for her, consisted of long, lockdown walks around the Hollywood Hills with her boyfriend, and the intensity of relocating to New York during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests — Fiedler casually mentions that her pandemic stress was heightened due to internal upheaval at her label, the James Murphy-founded DFA Records. “I was still hoping that I could put out my second record on DFA. Then, all of a sudden, DFA shut down internally... and no one ever contacted me.”
DFA’s troubles are well-documented. After nearly two decades of releasing some of the most vibrant and beloved electronic music (including records by Planningtorock, The Rapture and co-founder James Murphy’s own band, LCD Soundsystem), by the start of 2019, DFA’s release schedule had begun to dry up. Finally, news got out that co-founder and day-to-day manager Jonathan Galkin had been ousted after a 20-year partnership, reportedly by Murphy “changing the locks” on their shared office.
While Fiedler retains a great deal of sympathy for Galkin (“Jonathan was struggling with his job over the last few years. I don’t want to put too much on him, because he’s suffered enough already”), she has much less sympathy for Murphy. “I know a lot of people love James Murphy, but he has a second face, and doesn’t care personally about artists on the label. Some people know that already, but some people don’t want to believe it — especially older journalists who have been in the business forever, and who love LCD Soundsystem.”