“That Certainly Always Leads to Change.” — Interview with Tama Sumo

Tama Sumo. Illustration: © by UNTLD. 2009

Tama Sumo. Illustration: © by UNTLD. 2009

Emotional. Rough. Funky. Dirty. All applies to a DJ set of Tama Sumo. Her real name is Kerstin Egert, she is the most cheerful and positive person you can meet in the club, both behind the turntables and on the dancefloor. She is celebrating every single track she is playing and the other way round when she finds herself dancing to the tunes of any other good DJ. It’s always nice to be around her, Kerstin’s happiness is simply infectious. Better known to the scene in the last years through her residency at the Panorama Bar (part of Berghain) in Berlin, the club that is still the most talked about these days. Internationally regarded as “the mother of all clubs” … Though she is little known for producing music. Together with Prosumer she put out two records until today, one on OstGut Ton and recently the split 12″ for the “Phantasma” series Diamonds & Pearls Music (with a Marcel Dettmann track on the flipside). But finally she did this mix CD for OstGut Ton that has been released some weeks ago, “Panorama Bar #02”, the follow-up of Cassy’s mix in 2006. Kerstin aka Tama Sumo will be known by a lot more people soon and I bet she is already traveling the globe to get the possibility to share her love and passion for music, especially Housemusic, with the dancing community and the people beyond. She has a lot to give!

After attending one of Tama’s last DJ sets at Panorama Bar, I just had a question about her new release. We then sent some mails back and forth and ended up talking about implementing the challenging project of a mix CD, making music with Achim Brandenburg (Prosumer) and what is moving her at the moment. There is only one thing I don’t really get about the CD: the idea about the cover photo, because she is looking slightly too severe and sad. What this is about, I will ask her the next time. But first read this short interview …

Many DJ-mixes are available at this time, with all podcasts and internet radio. A mix CD is even more carved in stone. What is so special for you about this CD?
What is special about this CD … that I have taken a lot of time to turn it into something very personal. I work very intuitively, from the gut and I like to drift specificly. For weeks I started listening to music a lot, even more than usual. Thus, a more concrete picture emerged, in which direction it should go. After some time I was able to identify clearly what this mix should fulfill: of course I wanted both present myself as a DJ as well as the Panorama Bar or my feeling for this club. The mix should also be audible in a context outside of the club.
The basic direction: „emotional, rough, funky and dirty“ with a strong tension and showing my various facets. And all in 80 minutes. It was very important to me that only tracks from producers or labels are included, that are affecting and inspiring me, whether for years or only for months.

And what is your personal story behind this mix?
Oh, there are hidden some of them, for example, like the one with the Oliverwhofactory. I think their productions are simply wonderful and I really wanted to have a track from them on the CD. Unfortunately, although an intensive search by OstGut Ton and me for weeks, we failed to make contact with them. Actually, I had given up and planned without Oliverwhofactory, when suddenly one day before I wanted to record the mix, Hardwax came up with the contact of the two guys from Detroit. Then, of course, everything had to be done incredibly quickly and I can still hardly believe it. I‘m so happy that it worked out. But of course there are more personal stories with every other track …

How difficult was the decision with the first track?
I bet you had a few to choose from …

Exactly! It even began, with the principle issue, should it rather be an ambient beginning without rhythmic elements, or should it be outright straight to the floor. I‘ve tried a lot – of rather abstract electronica productions to old soul music. Finally, after thinking about it a lot, I decided on the track from Tin Man. First, I admire him as a producer very much. The voice, the gentle pop appeal and the melancholy of the piece, it thrilled me during the production phase, it‘s just great. I also liked the fact that after this track a lot is possible, the track still leaves a lot open in where and what direction the mix can go.

You have recently done a new track with Prosumer. It has been released for the DNP 12“-series „Phantasma“. What is it like to make music with Achim? Are there any plans for your own productions, or do you like it more being in a „small band“?
Making music with Achim is very enchanting and a lot of fun. When it comes to the issue of producing, Achim has a decisive influence of overcoming my inhibitions with it. It has made me curious. We balance our fun and focus which are both extremely important for me while working.
I can imagine making my own productions, but I have no concrete plan. Maybe I‘ll try it the upcoming year. This would, however, not replace the work with Achim – this is simply too much fun and I don‘t want to give that up.

Two contrary designs, one beat … Left: Ostgut Ton / Right: Diamonds & Pearls Music

Two contrary designs, one beat … Left: Ostgut Ton / Right: Diamonds & Pearls Music

What has changed for you essentially since „no label no release“ disappeared behind your DJ name?
Since my first release in cooperation with Prosumer and the disappearance of the „no label no release“ status my attitude towards producing music has changed. I still have a lot respect for it, but at the same time I have a desire to work more in the studio and try different things. The way I am listening to music now has changed; which aspects I involve, how I judge music and what is important to it. I think, through my studio experiences, I am much more aware now of how someone has implemented an idea. Nevertheless, I hope that I judge music mainly with my heart and a good booty shake than with my head. Added to all this I am simply crazy happy to be part of the Ostgut ton label, and also a little proud. My DJ bookings outside of Berlin in the last two years have increased – which i‘m sure my track releases and the Panorama CD have helped lots.

The club Panorama/Berghain are known on the world stage and have their history. But what will change the next time you grace this club as an artist? What new directiosn could we see or hear?
Oh, I‘m not sure… For me creativity is working very intuitive and never according to a plan. I continue to try to be open and allow inspiration from the world around , and from people who are important to me. That certainly always leads to change. And I‘m curious to what.

What inspires you now to the most, what is your general interest?
I was most inspired by friends and girlfriends. They are in my imediate environment andhave a more than average interest in music and we all share our music influences a lot. This is extremely inspiring. In addition, I have the good fortune to be sent by my booking girls around the world and the impressions that I get in different places leave there mark on me.

What was the best decision, or perhaps the hardest you have ever made?
To give up my full time position and work fully as a DJ and producer. I gave this decision a lot of thought because I wanted to have more time for music and I felt like I was splitting myself in two. On the other hand, I also had a fear of financial insecurity, and I was afraid I would lose the pleasure of DJing, if I was to turn my hobby into a profession. Eventually I chose music, my passion and luckily, everything worked out great – I always have fun DJing and I can now concentrate properly on music and lose myself in this world. I am very, very happy I have taken this path.

Text and Interview by J. Grabowski, November 2009

Tama Sumo: Panorama Bar #02 — all single tracks here
Tama Sumo & Prosumer: Alien Mutts on DNP Music
Tama and Prosumer mixing it up on the TOTHEBONE Radio

Alongside the CD, OstGut Ton released two 12″es with tracks by the likes of Levon Vincent or Lerosa that had been exclusive to this mix. Here and here!

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1 Response to ““That Certainly Always Leads to Change.” — Interview with Tama Sumo”

  1. 1 tiddlerz

    what you say about her being so nice and friendly is so true!
    zero attitude.

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