Anja Schneider, producer, radio broadcaster, label boss and one of the driving creative forces in the DJ industry, returns to Tokyo as a special guest performer at Vision’s New Years’ Eve Party.
An integral figure in the techno scene for more than two decades, in 2017, Anja stepped down from Mobilee, the iconic label she founded in 2005. In its place, she initiated a new personal project called Sous Music, and released her critically acclaimed, nine-track album “SoMe,” named album of the month by DJ Mag.
The newfound musical freedom helped the long-time Berlin resident go back to her roots and origins. The artist referred to as a “perpetual motion machine” has mentored countless DJs and her constant gigging sees her zig zag across the world each week.
Since her first performance in Tokyo a little more than a decade ago, Schneider has kept coming back to keep clubbers dancing to positive vibes. Before Schneider helps Tokyoites ring in 2020, she answered a few questions for TW.
What was your first impression of Tokyo?
I fell in love with the city on my first visit. The kindness of the people is something which is not found in many cities. Everyone is so polite. It’s nice to never feel uncomfortable when traveling alone. Of course, the wild fashion, is something I have a common passion for, and generally the overall atmosphere of such a place, it’s so different from anything you can ever experience in Europe.
Where will we find you during your down time in Tokyo?
Mostly eating, which I am sure everyone says when they come here, but everyone hears about the restaurants and the Japanese cuisine, and everyone wants to try the best and most authentic. I have been a long-time foodie, so to come here and be able to explore with things I have never tasted before, is special and unforgettable. Every time I come I find something new, so I wonder what will be next on this trip.
We hear you are a fan of Japanese fashion. What is it you like about the Japanese aesthetic, and what brands do you enjoy recommending to friends back home?
I am a fashion lover, and also love to support smaller brands too. Many of those I love are from Japan. The minimalism of your fashion is just perfect, it’s so clean yet isn’t scared to experiment with shape. I love the courage in their designs, which often have an element of craziness yet are totally functional. I am happy for you guys to let me know about any insider shops and designers that I shouldn’t miss when I am here. (Ed. note – check out the TW Style Radar)
How does Tokyo’s club/EDM scene compare to that of other international cities in which you have performed?
Tokyo is quite a full-on experience, on a night out in general, not just when I am talking about a club. They love to go out, and out all night from dinner, to bars and then to the clubs. Japanese clubbers always seem to be very positive, creating a happy vibe at all the venues. An amazing energy is found in the clubs here, it’s hard to explain if you haven’t been here and experienced it for yourself.
We recently interviewed Japanese DJ Risa Taniguchi shortly after her performance at Watergate in Berlin. Are there any Japanese DJs that impress you? What is the international reputation of Japanese DJs?
I can imagine that being a DJ in Japan is hard to gain traction abroad, of course, Japan has its own culture bubble and leaving this to become well known in the EU is hard, so anyone who has done so, are truly amazing. I knew a few of the internationally known Japanese artists, and their reputation has always been respected by everyone. Coming to Berlin and playing at Watergate for the first time was probably a slightly eye-opening experience for Risa, too. I am looking forward to meeting her on New Year’s Eve as she is also playing with us at Vision.
Please tell us about your new label, Sous Music. How is it different from Mobilee?
Sous is a personal project for me and acts as my playground too, which allows total freedom, musically speaking. It was very important for me to find my origins and get back to my creative musical roots. Mobilee was the best, and I had the most memorable and valuable time there, however, although it was my baby, I felt it got too big and that I lost myself a little along the way. It became more of a business than about just music, but that’s what often happens when things grow, expand and succeed. However, it was time for me to move on, and Sous was born. I have never been happier with how it’s gone so far.
Why did you name the label after your mother, and at this point in your career, why is that connection to family so important?
Family is so important and the reason why we are like we are. It’s our roots and most the reason for why we behave the way we do. I liked the name always, and it’s also like a synonym for So Us. You, I, your friends and more are everywhere, and we are all the same and equal.
How does your latest album SoMe reflect your new-found creative freedom following the launch of Sous Music?
Well, I had this album in the planning and I needed a new platform to release it. When I started the label, it was all about me having more freedom, so this was why I planned to release it on Sous. Of course, to many it may seem that it’s not that different from my other music, but to be able to forget about pressure of making something to fit a specific sound or label was amazing, a very good and cleansing kind of process.
What can people expect at your performance at Vision on New Years’ Eve?
Well it’s always hard to say in advance, as you never know the crowd and I am a very intuitive person, I like to check the atmosphere and energy first, and then I kind of know how to open, and where maybe to take my set. I am really excited I know that! This is such a big night to be playing in Tokyo, so I am sure it will be memorable.
What are your resolutions for 2020?
I never make big plans for New Year’s resolutions, but I constantly try and be a better human being year-round. Never forget to be respectful to both other people and our environment. I think to learn to live with open eyes means you can learn more than you can imagine each day.
Words by Nick Narigon & Lyn Tsuchiya