It was a really hot summer in 2009 and I was recording sounds inside Berghain, I made them a sound library of their club for the residents to use to make techno with. I invited everyone to come and listen to the sounds I had been recording and that’s when I first met Len. He asked me if I wanted a ride home and before I knew it we were sitting in a very nice car listening to Shirley Bassey. I knew I had an instant friendship in the making.
Some years and albums and journeys later, I receive an email from Len asking if I would be interested to remix his song ‘Robot Evolution’. My heart said: YES!
The thing is, I’m not a remixer, I’m a song writer. I can push some beats and textures around, but that wouldn’t be me being true to myself. Instead I decided to write an answer track, I asked Len to record some of his vocals, to turn it into a male robot living inside the beat, and instead I wrote a lead vocal part for myself.
For me, music is based on memories, stories, life itself. I thought back to my Star Trek Deep Space Nine days, about artificial intelligence, and imagined a robot witnessing a man fall for her. Wanting to know what love is, she tries to imitate what he does. She wants so dearly to know what it means to love. ‘I wanted to feel the way, to share the same, your hands touch life like I want to know the pain..’
On the technical side, the gear I used: Earthworks SRV40V mic, Eventide FX, Arturia synths and KeyLab keyboard controller, Studio Logic pre amp, RME Fireface UFX II, Genelec 8050 monitors, and Len did some additional mixing on the parts too.
I think I started about 5 different versions. I’m a mum now, a studio hobbit, I live near a forest and I take inspiration from the sky at night, the fish in the river I swim with. I kept feeling blocked by this ‘techno’ thing, this ‘remix’ thing. Like I felt there was something I was supposed to conform to, I just didn’t fully understand what that was. I pushed myself and pushed myself, keep going, keep exploring, keep editing. This crazy explosion of energy burst out of me and into the music as the middle break. I honestly can’t tell you how I did that, except to say it was hours of feeling unsatisfied and sitting over my laptop telling myself.. this is shit.. do it again.. this is still not it.. do it again. I sent a couple of versions I was happy with to Len and his label manager Philipp and through a really nourishing and loving way, we all some how arrived at this point with a version we loved.
And that is the story of how a girl like me remixed a guy like Len.
Buy the Robot Evolution Remixes EP here.
Emika is performing at Tech Open Air at Funkhaus Berlin on July 3rd.
Words: Ema Jolly (Emika)
Featured Image: Ben Orten