When passion for computer coding leads to the doors of the iconic Panorama Bar, it can’t be a coincidence. It is rather about persistence, vision and intelligence. These qualities, Avalon Emerson has them all. Since she left the tech company she was working for as a software engineer in San Francisco to become full-time artist, she’s never stopped kicking the dance floors of the A-list underground clubs and festivals in Europe. Her energy is strong and reflects in the techno she makes: magnetic and cosmic, oscillating between emotional synths and rolling baselines.
If the mood is now about making new music projects locked down in her Berlin-based studio, Emerson will be soon back behind the desks. Headlining in Field Day London, Nuits Sonores Lyon, Dimensions Croatia, Coachella California and Oasis in Marrakech, it will be hard to not to catch her baseline during the summer time.
You’re not the only artist in the electronic music scene coming from a tech background who turned into music production and Djing. How and why did you make this transition happen? According to you, what are the skills that transcend both coding and music production?
I have made music and been intimately interested in computers and how they work in some capacity since I was a child. There wasn’t a conscious switch from one to the other. I still love both. But things got more serious for me with electronic music when I moved to Berlin from San Francisco. I left to quit the tech world there. I didn’t feel like I really belonged in that hyper-capitalist incubator start-up world.
On a timeline of four years only, you have proven your very unique techno skills on a worldwide scale. Icee Hot, Spring Theory, Shtum, Spectral Sound, and Whities are all labels that crushed on the Avalon Emerson’s sound and signed with you. What do you think triggered this attraction around your music so quickly?
It doesn’t seem that quick, I suppose. My first few records were just released by friends of mine in San Francisco, which felt very natural. In the beginning, I felt a bit of anxiety because my music didn’t quite fit into a style or a scene so much, but now I’ve realized that’s actually fantastic.
I would like to focus on One More Fluorescent Rush, one of you latest tracks released on Whites 013, and especially about the new visual aesthetic it brings out. For the first time, we really access your digital visual universe. Can you talk about the creative process behind the production of the video in collaboration with Hayden Martin?
I absolutely loved working with Hayden Martin, Josha Eiffel and Felix Silvestris, and I definitely want to collaborate with them again in the future. Also, on a very high level, the designer behind the general visual identity of the Whities label, Alex McCullough, was involved in the creative direction. Hayden and Alex worked on the treatment for the video to be shot in the Kew Gardens, and to weave in aspects of the 3D mesh grid and stock photography to get a beautiful melding of the organic and inorganic. We shot for a couple days, with each person bringing their own particular camera and editing techniques. I am so happy with how things turned out.
With the years, gigs have become a weekly thing – two dates per weekend minimum –, and touring as part of the equation too. In the last month, you’ve been travelling between Paris, Budapest, Boston, Canada, New York City, Utrecht, Nottingham and London. You never stop. How is it to deal with your personal life while leading such an epic pace?
It’s a challenge to be constantly ripped away from home for a few days every week. Being in airports constantly gives me a strange feeling of floating above cities and life. When I leave for the weekend, sometimes I just feel like a little salmon swimming down a stream. I’m quite social when I’m home though, and make time for dinners and hanging out with friends and family.
In January, you needed a break, double locked in your Berlin studio to work hard on your next music. What does inspire you the most /during these lone wolf music sessions?
This has been a really dark winter, I think. I feel like a lot of people have simply lost their damn minds – myself included. I’m working that into my music right now. Ups and downs, but mostly downs.
You’ve played many times at Panorama Bar / Berghain, known for its unique and historical genderless soul; you are actively part of the queer scene in Berlin and beyond. According to you, who are the main headthinkers, contemporary artists, spaces, performers that are innovating for more gender fluidity in the city?
I’d actually say it’s quite gendered, but I don’t think genderlessness is something to necessarily strive for. Blind heteronormativity and the patriarchal boundaries of the roles of genders, though, do need to go. Anyway, Berghain started as a club for gay men. I do love playing here and being a part of the queer history of the place, both as a DJ and a dancer.
We know your deep affection for Amsterdam’s nightlife institution De School, where you’ve been playing recently. It’s undeniable some clubs are on another level of sound quality of, crowd and atmosphere, making the DJ experience something truly unique. What’s for you the recipe behind the magic?
De School was born from some of the same people who did Trouw, its predecessor, which was also a club with a short and predetermined lifespan of five years. It’s difficult to put into specific words about the secret sauce of De School, but I’d say first and foremost, the people who are involved at every level are some of my favourite I’ve met in all of my dance music travels. I also love how they hold art exhibitions and special installations as well as club nights, and the restaurant is fantastic. Everything makes sense and is balanced, so the combination of all these different factors just works and makes it the special place that it is.
You’ve always been producing music for dance floors. Will 2018 be an overture towards new projects? What kind of music goals have you got on your to do list for the upcoming months to come?
Everything I’ve been doing is going toward a new project of my own right now, so I’m keeping my mind and creation aims open, so no, not just dance music.
Your last crush of 2017?
My dad let me take home his white American Stratocaster. I’ve been fawning over her for years.
Your first love of 2018?
I finally upgraded my studio computer, so she’s the love of my life right now.
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Bracelet with ring VIBE HARSLOEF, jacket ROUGE MARGAUX, trousers EATABLE OF MANY ORDERS.