Ziúr is a Berlin-based producer of experimental club music who is not afraid to speak her mind — or shake things up.
“My testing ground [for my own music] is when I work at a venue and I do a sound check,” she explains. “If people freak out, then I know that it’s a good track.”
Ziúr, who first cut her teeth in an experimental noise punk band called ‘Sissters,’ takes pride in challenging audiences musically because at least being challenging creates a strong emotional response.
Her hair raising, speaker popping remix of “How You Like My Cut” by Peaches created a huge buzz in the underground music scene, paving the way for two EPs — Taiga, out now on Infinite Machine and Deeform, available on Object Ltd.
Aside from her mixes for outlets like Discwoman and Resident Advisor, both below the jump, Ziúr is also committed to gender activism. In 2015 she launched ‘BOO HOO’ with Joey Hansom, an inclusive club night that aims to have female identified and DJs of color on the bill with a core of friendly and accepting people ready to party.
In a world where anyone can be a DJ as long as they have access to Spotify, Ziúr’s sonic palette which somehow connects jazz and Beyoncé and Princess Nokia and noise punk, not to mention her technical wizardry, are a refreshing reminder of the artistry and labor of DJing. Her ability to mash-up, deconstruct and reconstruct sounds and songs you think you know put her in a league of her own.
We put the spotlight on Ziúr and talked about her musical influences, queerness and how she knows when a party is good.
You have two EPs under your belt and you’re currently working on your debut album. How would you describe it in one word?
How did you arrive at your DJ style?
i generally try to incorporate elements in my sets that are a bit off grid. i’m interested in figuring out the digital errors of the decks and playing with it. it’s fun to explore how to push boundaries and sort of ‘misuse’ the equipment in certain ways. then again all the little knobs on a mixer have a certain task, which is good to understand to being able to use it for your advantage. often i decide to not really ‘mix’ either, much rather use cues and hotcues a lot. i’m all in for harsh breaks and heavy dynamics. then also i started to play with 3 decks which opened a whole new world to me.
I know you live for Sade. Who are some of your other musical influences?
sade is a clear fav. i’m generally inspired by all sorts of music. could be jazz, black metal, rnb, weird noise, drum solos, this list is endless. music comes in all forms and shapes so it would be foolish to not be open to basically everything. clearly most of the music on this planet is still shit but i'm convinced that every genre could potentially offer something mind blowing. sometimes i do know somehow what not to listen to and it mostly makes sense to me in the end. it took me something like 3 years to figure out what lady gaga is all about and when i finally heard a song, i was assured i didn't miss anything.
Have you always been producing music?
i basically started right after adam ate that damn apple. no, just kidding.
i grew up playing in punk bands and just started using a computer as a workstation a few years ago after feeling a bit lost and misunderstood by the ‘punk scene’ and my surrounding. i generally always wanna keep moving so i started producing electronic music to discover new grounds and work in different ways. i think it’s very healthy to constantly try and challenge myself.
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Didn’t you have a restaurant at one point, too?
yep, that happened, too. next question, haha. i’m definitely in a much better place doing music.
Through your own BOO HOO party and the numerous other parties and festivals you work for and produce, you’re very much embedded in queer nightlife. What do you see as the value of queer nightlife? What’s the point?
exactly, what’s the point? haha.
i think it’s healthy for people trying to build ‘safer spaces’ (given that there are no safe spaces) for each other to feel understood and accepted. especially as knowing certain struggles myself, i can very much understand the urge to feel home in a certain scene but being pampered too much in your soap bubble can also make you very isolated and block the ability to think outside the box. i’m very sceptical with scenes in general but definitely feel more at home in some environments than others. when it comes down to it, i’m definitely much more into the idea working with a drag queen than any given business jerk.
What does queerness mean for you? Does it feel something like punk?
i think so. this term is such a blur to be honest. it seems like people use it as a modern word for gay but i personally think it is something wild and somewhat unidentifiable.
queer as much as punk, which by the way also gets understood in different ways by different people, for me has an outlaw character and stands for a celebration of ‘otherness’. i like how my version of ‘queer’ challenges certain norms and gives people freedom of expression.
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How do you know when a party is good?
when a party specifically gets promoted as a queer party you most probably won’t find me there. i don’t like being at events that are labelled in a certain direction. this always has something exclusive and i strive for inclusivity.
my perfect party is a mixed race, gender non confirmative environment with a whole lot of female identified people on the line up, a general understanding of respect and something that pushes the boundaries of how club nights are usually structured. furthermore it should be a place that has an open door policy for freaks. i definitely like environments where people can go crazy a little and are not gonna be judged for being whoever they are or wanna be perceived.
Is it important for you to create a space that showcases women-identified artists in dance music?
it is absolutely important to me as long as we’re stuck in a structure that caters to the white cis dude. seems like this shit is systematic so i believe it takes some radical positions to set a counterpart until we see this as normal.
People fucking love Berlin. You moved to the city ten years ago. Is it still as amazing as it was back then?
this is really hard for me to tell. the city changes but i am as well. of course within a time frame of ten years a lot of freedom has been limited in some ways but berlin is a vibrant city and has a huge history in underground culture that is not as easily wiped away.
What can we expect from Ziúr in the future?
i'm in the process of writing an album so i'm gonna try and find new ways of expressing myself to basically keep it fresh and interesting. otherwise i’m will tour a bunch, collaborate with people, keep being curious and never ever satisfied.