“I know nothing about music,” claims Nadine Moser as she stirs her coffee. We’re at her flat in the Berlin borough of Neukölln on a rainy night in November.
I wait for her to clarify. Resom, as she’s more commonly known, is a respected resident at the city’s seminal ://about blank club and a DJ of over 15 years. It’s probably safe to assume she knows a great deal about music.
“That’s how I feel when I listen to music sometimes,” she continues, taking drags on a cigarette and speaking in a tone that is part self- deprecating, but partly serious. “I’m always learning. That’s actually my challenge, working on myself, finding sound, exploring, getting confused.”
Moser smiles almost involuntarily when she talks about the club that’s been her home for so many years. ://about blank was one of the reasons she moved to Berlin from Leipzig in 2011, and she continues to DJ there regularly as one of its residents. For the past seven years, Moser has started and ended the year with a gig there, and she’s been involved in the club’s happenings at every level: DJing, hosting workshops, and booking its infamous Blank Generation parties for a couple seasons.
“The first thing you really have to know about ://about blank is that it’s full of respect for each other,” she tells me. “We were the first club in Berlin which tried to have more women DJs included, more trans people. That was not normal at the time, you know? It’s a collective, the people in the club, whether that’s DJs, producers, staff… They teach each other, they make opportunities for each other. It’s not always about hierarchies and money and whatever else. It’s about the surroundings, the atmosphere, the movement, the community.”
"Techno is a family. You stick together in good times and in bad times. I still live that"
This feeling of community has always been important for Moser. Musically, she was raised in a tightknit group of artists in Leipzig, the city she moved to at 18-years-old for school and ended up staying for another 15. Living in an artist housing project with three other DJs among them, it was here that Moser fell in love with DJing, digging, and exchanging music. She became part of a music collective called homoelektrik and founded a workshop series known as Do It Herself.
Do It Herself was a project we came up with based off another similar initiative in Potsdam called electricdress,” Moser explains, “I really enjoyed that community and that idea of working together, so we got funding for a similar idea and organised some workshops and discussions. We had a booking workshop, Ableton workshops, three different kinds of DJ workshops, music and law courses, light and sound courses, production — all within the DIY scene. It was important for us that the courses were not taught by a professional, we wanted to support people putting out their own knowledge, from them to us.”
Moser uses the word ‘habitus’ to describe the kinds of social episodes that shape an individual’s self, the past cultural experiences that influence one’s position in the present. Techno, for Moser, is and has always been more than just a genre of music. “It’s a family,” she argues. “You stick together in good times and in bad times. I still live that and I still feel that.”
Today, Moser’s work continues in Berlin. She has a show on Berlin Community Radio, and she runs a discussion series called Amplified Kitchen that takes place in the garden at ://about blank. She’s also gotten involved at Mint – a collective for women in electronic music which teaches DJ workshops. I ask whether Moser is trying to become a kind of mentor figure for young artists, perhaps the kind of role model that wasn’t available when she was first getting involved with electronic music. “Maybe…” she says, pausing for a while. “Of course, yes. Nobody really taught me.”
As Resom, Moser’s DJ sets are renowned for their eclecticism, bouncing from driving techno to euphoric house and everywhere in between with fluidity. Her musical interests are even more broad: right now she’s favouring breakbeat, she has a soft spot for Motown and disco cuts. She likes German punk rock, too. “One of the first DJ sets I played in public was a complete catastrophe. People were shocked. I was mixing punk rock with Autechre, for example — this was in 1999 and people were like, ‘Are you completely insane?’” She laughs at the thought, shrugging, “I just liked the sound. I would have loved to have someone who helped me in those moments.”
But it would be inaccurate to claim that Moser was completely without mentors during her formative years. She credits the homoelektrik crew, the artists she lived with in the housing project in Leipzig as well as Alex Solman – the illustrator of Hamburg club Golden Pudel’s beloved flyer art – as sources of influence. She also rattles off a list of artists whose productions and DJ sets inspire her: Ben UFO, Bristol’s Chris Farrell, Finn Johansen and the rest of the staff at Berlin’s Hard Wax record shop. “They push me,” she explains. “These artists, their sets always click with a special emotion in me. I had one experience with a Finn Johansen mix that I was listening while travelling to a DJ gig. It was when I’d broken up with my boyfriend at the time, I couldn’t stop crying, each track was as splendid as the one before.”
“Music is the universal language,” Moser insists, lighting another cigarette. “It’s about togetherness. It’s so important as an artist to have a crew, to have places like ://about blank that can be like a family for you. We’re all in this together, we need to focus more on the things we have in common than the things that divide us. Lately, people have started to see me as this big DJ, travelling and touring and playing gigs. But it’s not like that for me, I don’t feel like that. I’m still part of the community. I still feel like Nadine.”