An interview with Jennifer Cardini

From igniting her career at Pulp to being involved with venues such as Rex club, Panorama bar, Sub Club and Fabric to name a few; it’s obvious to see that Jennifer Cardini has built up a grand reputation for herself with over fifteen years in the industry.

Best known for her label Correspondant which she started back in 2011, Jennifer also started Dischi Autunno last year– which veers away from Correspondant’s club-oriented sounds into rock, indie, ambient, prog and experimental music “directed to the home listening experience”. She is a genuine tastemaker with a broad knowledge of music who is based in Berlin, where she moved from Paris a few years ago, and where I caught her doing her regular food shop to ask some questions.

Hi Jennifer thanks for taking a call with me from Germany today, what have you been up to recently; any exciting stuff?

“I’ve been working on our new Correspondant compilation number six, that is due in September, so I’ve spent most of my days finishing the selection and putting the track list together. Then we also had some things we’ve been working on for my other label called Dischi Atunno; we are finalising an album and the first EP that is an extract of that album. Then I have been travelling a lot. So basically, that’s what I’m doing at the moment, travelling listening to music, travelling; listening to music.”

I read in a recent interview that you moved to Berlin a few summers ago, how have you settled in since being there?

“I moved to Berlin two years ago now, like exactly at the end of the month. It has been wonderful I mean I really love that city. Of course, I love it better in summer time than winter because winter can be quite long and not too much light. But I’m lucky enough to travel a lot, it’s okay to cope with it. But no, I really love that city, I’ve always loved it; it has a very strong energy and the night life is amazing, the cultural life is amazing. I mean, not so much more I can say I had a crush on that city fifteen years ago when I went there for the first time.”

What about some of your favourite spots in the city?

“For food? I really love a Japanese restaurant called Omoni and Zenkishi is also really nice.”

“Then For clubbing well I love Panorama Bar I mean that’s no secret; it’s my favourite one, ://about blank is also really good. There’s so many places and their all musically different and the crowd also is different. I mean you have quite a variety of choice when you live in Berlin when it comes to going out, so it’s hard just to name one; but of course, I seem very attached to Panorama Bar probably because I played for the opening nearly fifteen years ago that created a bond, I think. The staff there too, I like the people that work there.”

Are you missing anything about Paris?

“Well sometimes the food, and sometimes the shopping; especially the food shopping. I find German supermarkets highly depressing, we have so much more things in Paris like fruits and vegetables, I miss this… I miss the grocery shopping from Paris. It’s not like French style you don’t have like three brands of yogurt, you have like fifty five. I miss sometimes the French bakeries, but I go there often, most of all what I miss about Paris are my friends because I lived there for very long, so I have a lot of friends there. The queer scene is also really good in Paris. I go there often so I don’t really have time to miss anything and I also bring back stuff, like French olive oil, French books, French cheese so that’s fine.”

Would you say that by also living in Paris, and being within the music scene there; has this influenced you as a producer or DJ during your career?

“I think all the places you go to have an impact on you, I mean I was influenced by Dutch electro. I think everywhere you go you always bring back something with you, it’s hard to pin a specific place. But I mean the nightlife in Paris is very rich and very international, so I don’t know if there is something. I was not influenced by the French touch, that was never my thing so much. I was already a little bit more German in my taste. I take a little bit from all the places I visit to be honest.”

What do you think it is about your selection abilities that gave you your big break as a professional DJ?

“Well I think that it’s the fact that I always listen to everything, I like house, I like techno, I like electro. I think that I mix this up together, so it’s never only one genre; just a little bit of everything. A friend of mine told me because when I was younger I used to rave a lot and a friend told me once that I play housey stuff with the energy of techno. I think that describes the most what is my thing. I play house or electro house in a dance or very ravey way somehow. I don’t leave the records too long, there is a flow thing; maybe this. It’s always hard to describe yourself, I think it’s easier to ask other people.”

With being both a producer and DJ, have you ever felt any pressure to produce more than you have?

“Yes, I’m feeling pressured… like a three hundred and sixty degree constant pressure. By my friends, by everybody, but no I’m not… I don’t know I tour a lot… I need peace to…I think creativity needs space and when you tour a lot you don’t really have so much space; you’re travelling constantly. I’m not so good at working on planes and trains, I like to be at home where I have my stuff. So despite the pressure; I mean I would really like to do it more but at the moment I play so much, it’s really challenging to be creative. You also get tired when you travel a lot, I think it also affects your creativity as a producer. I don’t know maybe later when I don’t play as much”

How would you usually prepare for a set? Will you approach studio 338 any differently to previous sets?

“Well it’s an afternoon gig, right? I mean for my taste I don’t like to play so dark when that’s the case. I make a selection of all the music I want to play, but then I also try not to stick to it too much, you know what I mean? You never know how it’s going to be there, I think the most important thing is to know everything you have with you; and then you adapt to the situation. If you prepare too much, which I tend to do before a lot; then your kind of stuck in one direction. I do different playlists, with like more housey stuff, more techno stuff, more 90’s stuff. Then I try to really know what I have in each playlist, then I see how the vibe is there as well.”

In my research I saw that it was when Dollkraut came to you with “Holy Ghost People”, that’s when it became apparent that you needed to start up your second label Dischi Autunno. Could you tell us about what it was specifically about that release that ignited the launch of the label?

“It needed space, and time. It needed a different kind of love somehow, with Correspondant we are very energic; we have one release per month and for albums you need time in-between albums, you can’t release one album per month it’s too much. Especially that we are only two, so when Pascal sent us the album we already had quite a rhythm with Correspondant and I just felt that it needed another… it needed its own space. It cannot be stuck in the middle of dance floor EP’s, it needed its own outlet.”

We saw a big release on Correspondant last month from Maceo Plex & Maars, could you tell us a bit about that and any releases we could see in the future from either labels?

“Well the Maceo Plex track, I’ve heard it a hundred times before Eric sent it. He played it every time we played together and every time I was like this track is so good. I’m talking about the disco version, the one that is called disco. It was like, there is something really powerful about it and its also right up what I like about Eric and what I like to play as a DJ so, I was kind of stalking the track for a while; every time he was playing it. I was really happy when he sent it, it’s a great honour to have such a great producer on our label. Eric is very unique with the sound that he has, it’s always so massive, you know? It’s a great release and the Man Power release has released now; the new EP its really beautiful. Especially the long track with XEN, it’s really really beautiful. Hubris, I really love Hubris. It’s a very different and versatile EP from Man Power that shows different sides of him and one of my favourite releases from him. Then next month we have Terr, with Women from Barcelona and she did two really good dance floor tracks. Krystal Klear made a stunning remix of Neuromancer, and then we will see Kiwi in August and finally the compilation in September.”

Could you tell us about the start-up of Correspondant in 2011, and how do you feel the label has evolved since then to now?

“I think there is still a similarity, there is still a sound even though we release really different stuff. Like for example Massimiliano Pagliara was totally different to Maceo Plex and its totally different from the new Man Power and its totally different from Red Axes. We don’t really have one thing, or one sound that we stick to. It’s a little bit like my DJ sets, you know; its house, techno, electro and also slow stuff. So, I think that this hasn’t changed there is still this large spectrum that is covered, but what I find sometimes when I listen to some old releases is that there is something linking them all together. Most of the time quite atmospheric and quite cinematographic I would say.

But no, I see the label changing, evolving. Some artists they stay, some artists they don’t; they’ve just did one release with us. I don’t know, I mean from my side of the street I’m very happy with the development of it. I’m proud of every release we did, some worked; some didn’t. Sometimes the ones that didn’t were the ones that I liked the most, so it’s very interesting work, it’s a very interesting thing to see. Like now its seven years so; it’s quite amazing. I have the feeling its better and better, but then also I’m not objective it’s my label I like it. It’s hard for me to say but, I’m still as passionate about running it as I was seven years ago that’s for sure.”

I see that you are often booked for Panorama Bar in Berlin, could you tell us a bit about your experience playing there?

“Well I mean I have the feeling that every time I play there, it makes me a better DJ and that’s a very special relation. Because I play there more often than before, then also I can play those special records; that you play at Panorama Bar. Well then you need more of them, when you play more often. Then you need to dig more, you need to search more. I don’t know I’m feeling more and more comfortable, it’s just a great place where you can just start at 90BPM and nobody will leave the floor. That’s something that I miss sometimes in other places like for example France, sometimes it can be a bit more challenging. People are there, and they want their entertainment now, even if you play three hours, sometimes it’s difficult to start with a different flow than the DJ before. But it’s a great place to DJ, obviously it’s one of my favourites and also the one that makes me the most nervous. I always want to do really good there, I’m getting pretty mental I think if you ask my wife.”

With all your years of experience being a DJ, what others have you looked up to during this time? (This could either be technically or by track selection).

“Oh, a lot. Laurent Garnier, Roman flügel, Michael Mayer. I don’t know there’s so many DJs I love. Ata from Robert Johnson, Miss Kittin is a fantastic DJ as well; she’s always so precise. I also love Motor City Drum Ensemble, he’s just so good. I-F as well, I mean there really is a lot of really good DJs. Also, Marc Piñol, I don’t know if you know him he’s one of the guys from C.P.I who are this band Hugo and him; they release music on Hivern. John Talabot is also amazing, it’s hard to choose; I hear a lot of really great DJ’s. I love Job Jobse and Gerd Janson; I think maybe we stop the list there.”

Having played in London many times before and thrown a party with Correspondant at Fabric, how do you feel about the music scene in London compared to other cities? (Venues, crowds, other artists, promoters)

“Last time I played in London was Corsica Studio and it was really cool, apart from that I have to say I haven’t been in the city for a while. Fabric, I love to play there but it’s quite intense. I have to see, I haven’t been to London so often lately. I used to play regularly at Fabric which I really enjoyed but that was quite a while ago, I’ve played in other places in England but London not lately. I’ve played for Flux already and they have nice crowds and was a lot of fun. I played with Fort Romeau it was really cool, super nice party.”

Lastly, what can we expect to see from you for the rest of 2018? Have you got any projects, releases, key gigs?

“I’m very focused on the label to be honest and my A&R work for it. So that’s pretty much it. I’m nearly done for the bookings of 2018 for the label, so maybe I will come back with something for 2019.”