Emerging artist from the French Techno scene, Angel Karel has built her reputation with high-technical DJ sets : her dark and industrial universe is regularly bringing dancers into an hypnotic trance, that’s why Angel Karel is frequently booked to close parties, with her EBM, industrial and Rythmic Noise techno music.
Can you tell us more about your [NO GENDER] party?
[NO GENDER] techno party is a LGBTQIA+ activist event organized in Lyon by TFIF [The Future Is Female]. I’m the founder and artistic director for 3 years now for the empowers techno queer feminists organization. We celebrated the 10th edition last January with a special PORN EDITION. [NO GENDER] takes place in a room called KAO, which brings together the liberated souls who are looking for an alternative techno experience that breaks codes, in a “safe” space, to experience the thousand possibilities offered by the night, thus sharpening each of their senses to the rhythm of a brutal and bodily techno. The DJ’s that I program are only women (Stephanie Sykes, Ireen Amnes, Luna Vassarotti, Sentimental Rave…). Thanks to the queer, dark, fetish and trash aesthetics, and with queer versatile performers who have the total freedom of presence on stage for their show (for example the Maison Saint Donjon collective with Sin Eden or the shibari/ bondage), the atmosphere is totally intense and particular.
How was the porn edition? Have people gotten into the “vibe”?
At the last [NO GENDER] PORN EDITION, people really played the game and had the craziest ideas. That night, there were on stage ultra-sexual and visual performances, it was extremely hot and trash! Everyone felt free to be who they are in this totally scandalous space of pleasure. In front of me, behind the cage that surrounded me, I could see those people in a trance, without limit, totally scandalous. There was a guy clinging to the cage surrounded by two beautiful creatures, kissing each other in a mixture of passion and desire, not far from the darkroom. This trio was only one person on the dance floor… It was very intense, I let you imagine the atmosphere of the whole room.
As a person who is involved into techno, do you think that being a woman in this scene is difficult?
I think it’ s important to be able to express ourself freely through our art, our desires, our perception or our vision without worrying about the previously imposed social norms. Those norms are only predefined social constructions that must be reversed, as if there were a kind of unjustified hierarchy according to sex. Every day, we must impose our position as a genderless individual. Diversity is the spice of life which pushes us forward when life delivers chaos.
Is there a political message that you want to spread through your projects?
My last album “Pain For Pleasure” composed of 6 tracks is going to be released on July the 7 on the label Instruments Of Discipline. This album is inspired by the unique dark and non-conformist [NO GENDER]’s parties atmosphere. Through my new album, several stories are told. The «Kinbaku» experience, about shibari, a traditional Japanese technique based on the art of sex binding or not, the ropes pass in order to block the body, by attaching the feet close to the hands to prevent the person from moving. We break down walls and fears once our mind is open to accept sex as a fun and healthy way of expression. Pain, or even the threat of pain, can release a rush of endorphins into our bodies, that inspired me for the song “Has Received Pain For Pleasure”. Then, “No Holds Barred” is an anthem to the joy of freedom of speech for everyone, a little bit as the song “Female Naked” driven by the spread of female empowerment, assertion and achievement. I also decided to choose two activist producers from the local Lyon scene, Istigkeit & H880 because according to me, it is important to defend and to open this talented scene to the world.
What are your influences?
At the beginning, I listened a lot of Detroit’s techno, with bands like “Drexciya” but also the famous German band “Kraftwerk” with their sense of melody and their singular aesthetics. Younger I spent hours analyzing and understanding how they managed this, to transcend natural barriers, to create a rigid rhythmic line, minimalist and repetitive that became hyper groovy. It was futuristic. Currently, I listen a lot of post-punk bands like the English band “Savages” from London, driven by power and vulnerability in equal measure. The singer Jehnny Beth explores the nuanced shades of love, feminist, lust, failure, fear and rage, a cacophony of emotions matched. Her latest album « TO LOVE IS TO LIVE » is amazing!
Do you prefer digital or analog musical instruments?
I use both to compose my music. I think that digital and analog musical instruments are complementary and inseparable, it is a way to explore all possibilities in one common sense. In the song “No Hold Barred”, I used a vocal sample of a woman who screams and transcends her emotion during a sexual act in an acoustic delirium of intense enjoyment. All the elements are mixed to form one, it is an abstract and organic way to create a track.
Can you refer us some artists from the scene that you admire?
I admire a lot of female artists, but I can refer you two of them. Ellen Allien, an activist artist who knew how to assert herself and change the codes from the beginning, at the head of the label “Bpitch Control” which revealed many international artists. She hosted in 1994 an electronic music show on “Kiss FM” for which she made interviews and live broadcasts of the techno events from the famous Berliner “Tresor” club. With this show called “Project Love Parade”, she opened the first breach. The second artist I admire is Paula Temple. She launched her label “Noise Manifesto”, supported by an objective of dismantling the structural hierarchies of music by producing trans, woman, non-male, non-conforming or queer artists. Those two women are vital forces that advance techno, amazing women.