Paramida once wryly referred to herself as “the most hated DJ in Berlin”, playing on her preference for balearic warmth and proto-trance in a city of ice-cool techno. However, her commitment to crate-digging outside the lines has paid off; she signed to tastemaking Berlin agency Ostgut Booking in 2019 and was anointed as a resident at the iconic Panorama Bar shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020. It’s safe to say the Persian-German DJ and producer, who was raised in Frankfurt, has made her mark on the place she has called home since 2010.
For the past seven years, she has she has been furthering her passion for kaleidoscopic dance music through her own label, Love on the Rocks, putting out bespoke releases by the likes of Italian DJ and producer Massimiliano Pagliara, Elles x Violet, Australia’s Fantastic Man, a reissue from German synth-pop trio Romie Singh as well as Alex Kassian's take on the 1993 psychedelic classic, 'State of Mind' by Peyote Dreams. She describes the label as a source of inspiration that mirrors her life.
Like so many of us, she used the free time afforded by the pandemic to turn her hand to something new, transferring her sparkly music tastes into production. Marking the 24th release for Love on the Rocks, her debut 12” ‘Dream Ritual’ arrived on the label in 2021, conjuring the plush, lysergic fantasies of her head-spinning DJ sets. Propelled by two singles, 'Space Time' — which samples SYT’s 1995 progressive trance track ‘Drift’ and ‘Sailor Moon’ — her second EP, ‘Moonrise VII', was released last month.
We caught up with Paramida to dig into the inspirations behind her productions, get her thoughts on blockchain, and hear about how to not run a record label…
You’ve had a busy summer of gigs! Has it been a shock to the system after the inertia of the pandemic?
“It’s good to be back! Once you’re in it again, it’s easier because you get used to it and you’re in the rhythm. But I think after the pandemic, getting into that rhythm again was quite tough to be honest. The travelling can be hell; last Sunday I played for Pride at the Laboratory in Berghain and the night before I was playing a festival on an island in the Baltic Sea and it was really difficult to get there. I had to fly and then drive for four hours. I literally arrived, plugged my USB-stick, played, left straight after. I had one hour of sleep in the hotel. I slept in the car and on the plane but that was all the sleep I got before going to Berghain and playing in the Lab. So it’s really tough, but like I said you get used to it. You just have to use every chance that you have to sleep. On the plane and in the car I always pass out immediately; I just close my eyes and sleep.”
Do you have any self-care rituals to counteract the intensity of touring?
“I do pilates, I get a massage, if I want I go and get a facial; I definitely treat myself in between.”
How do you prepare for a set?
“I’m not the kind of DJ that likes to play the same every time, of course there are certain tracks that will take and then those get replaced by different ones because you find new stuff. But I definitely do think about what to play for every gig, because every gig is different. It’s a different setting, different time or slot, so you need to adapt to that definitely. I always try and have a different track to open with, so I always put a lot of thought into what I’m going to open with. At Easter I was playing after Carl Craig and the room was just on fire then I decided to play a track by this incredibly talented producer by S.O.N.S. and he has this really beautiful track that starts really quiet and builds up amazingly. It would just be so easy to start after Carl Craig with like, ‘boom, boom, boom’, and keep it going, but I thought ‘I’m just going to make a clean cut and listen to what is going on and then build it up again’, and it went down amazingly. It was a really beautiful moment.”
You put out your first EP release in 2020. What inspired you to make the leap into production?
“I always thought I was more a DJ than a producer. I obviously had the label and I do a lot of A&R as well so then I realised that I was basically telling every producer that wanted to release on my label the same thing. I thought, ‘Why don’t I put the time into trying to make the sound that I want instead of guiding them?’. Because, you know, I don’t put out a lot of records, I do two a year, I keep it really special. I was already doing edits for myself to play and then I decided to take a couple of music production classes, just really loosely. I joined Ostgut, Berghain and then the pandemic hit and then I had so much time. So I really used that time to dig more into production and really put my energy into it [to see] what I could get out. I had never had so much time in my life. So, yeah, at the same time I took some private tutorials from producers that I really admire and learned to take the best from all of them and put it into my way of producing.”
How are your DJ sets and productions connected?
“They’re different in a way, but also not. I read a really funny quote, it was a review about my last EP, and the guy wrote about how it sounds like a DJ set of mine, which is so true because I sample the records that I play, that’s where I get my inspiration from. I dig a lot, I buy a lot of old records, and then obviously I rip them and then I edit them for my DJ sets and then obviously I sample them for my productions. So if you have a bunch of samples that sound really cool and you put them together… you know if you have an idea of something that inspires you it happens quite quickly. But if I were to force myself to sit down and be like ‘I have to make a track now’, I don’t know how good the result would be.”
Where do you draw inspiration from for your productions?
“My records make me understand producing better, especially when it comes to arrangement. It’s super easy to create a good loop or groove but then the hardest thing is to arrange it and I take a lot of inspiration from a lot of the stuff that I play from the early ‘90s. And everything is really raw… But I think that’s also the key with my productions; I don’t want to overproduce it and I like to keep it raw. But if I really wanna finish a track, for example, I look at tracks that I really like and I look at how they were arranged.”
You launched your own label in 2014. Did you have a clear vision of how you wanted it to turn out?
“Not musically really, to be honest. I was working back then at a record store and we would get swamped with new music every week and for me everything that was coming out was kind of mediocre, so I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I start a label’, and do something different. I had no idea what I was doing back then, I just asked a bunch of friends to send me music and then it just took its weight. I’ve never seen it as a business or anything. It’s always been like a mirror of my life inspiring me.”
Do you have any tips for someone wanting to start their own label?
“First of all, don’t listen to anybody! That’s the most important thing. Because everyone will try to tell you how it has to be done. What I learned is, the thing that worked for me was to do the exact opposite of what everyone was doing. And the other thing is, I think everyone should do everything themselves. The biggest lesson that I learned, because when I started, I started with a press and distribution deal… but now I produce everything myself and I distribute everything myself and it was the best decision of my life. So if I could give anyone advice, I would tell them to do everything yourself; have full control of everything from the design to the music to the money. Everything.”
You worked on an NFT drop with Tamago last year. How did that come about and what was the idea behind it?
“I’ve been wanting to do an NFT for a while and last year, when the whole NFT thing dropped, I was very intrigued so I messaged Clarian because I thought it was really interesting. He started this music streaming website based on blockchain [Tamago] and he invited me to do the first NFT with them, so I was like, ‘Why not?’ The idea was to put up an exclusive track on the website for auction and then we bundled a few things with it, like a dubplate of my upcoming EP with that exclusive track, guest list to all of our Love on the Rocks events…”
What was the reaction like?
“We had the auction going for a week and then I got two really good private offers. Because of those two private offers, we cancelled the auctions and I went with one of the offers.”
In your opinion, what are the advantages of using blockchain in music?
“I think it’s a bit of a pity that the music scene is so hesitant because the future is in blockchain and there are so many incredible things about blockchain. That’s the reason I decided to do it on that platform. Let’s compare a website like Tamago with Spotify… Everything is so transparent; you get to set the royalties, you know how much will be paid, there is no fixed rate or algorithm, then also you have full control over the distribution. You decide everything and then, of course, everything is immediate, you don’t have to chase or wait to get paid. And I think these are really interesting things compared to the big streaming websites.”
What is the most exciting evolution in the Web3 space?
“I definitely think that blockchain is one of the best things that happened there, so I think that in itself is already really exciting.”
What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
“I have an idea for my next EP as I wanted my first three EPs to be a trilogy. I haven’t really worked it out, but the crazy thing is that at the same time I’ve been getting all these remix requests, which is amazing. So I definitely have to finish them up in the next few weeks and then hopefully get to work on my next EP.”
Paramida's Moonrise VII EP is out now