They say dynamite comes in small packages, and words couldn’t resonate more with Daniela La Luz as she peacefully rolls a thin cigarette with her slender fingers. She leans back in her office chair in her apartment that also counts as her music studio in Treptower Park, Berlin, and takes a drag of her smoke whilst she easily starts a conversation. Her voice is calm and collected. Leaning back in her black office chair, her thin metal-framed glasses gently placed on her petite nose, she begins by telling us her background and where she comes from. “I’m from Munich,” she quickly says, “I have one sister, a Polish mom and a German dad, so I’m an in-betweener.” This mix of nationalities and culture has definitely influenced her approach and thought-processes to many things she does and her life around her. “I’m into history and I love movies, but of course, my first love is music” she firmly states with a gleaming smile on her face.
Her straight, blonde bob hair surrounds her youthful face as she begins to explain that she feels as if she is living the life of a 60 year old. This is mainly due to her life experiences, which she compares to many people she knows. “I was really sick when I was a child, from when I was 6 years old until I was 17, and I spent most of my time in hospital in Munich as I suffer from rheumatism” she says, while she twirls her lighter between her index and middle finger, “I had to get up at 6:30 to take my pills so I didn’t have the steady, cool school life that many had around me”. Don’t let the health issues fool you though. Daniela is driven and works like and athlete who is competing for a gold medal at the Olympics, yet the competition is always with herself and ensuring she is better than the person and artist she was yesterday. Never forgetting her warmth and kind demeanour, with a big and welcoming heart, Daniela works as a music producer and entrepreneur for her management and booking agency, Parallels. She has carved a name for herself within the Berlin electronic music scene and with a trail of accolades to support such claims.
With a rebel edge, her upbringing and childhood experiences have definitely influenced her current state of mind and life. “I think because of how I grew up, with being sick and having to wake up every day to take medication, I now have trouble with patterns. It’s affected me in the way that I have trouble sleeping and I work until I am very tired, and sometimes I work so long on my music that I almost fall off my chair” she explain, taking off her jersey in her warm and cozy apartment, to reveal her slender body sinking into the black office chair. “I think this kind of obsession maybe reflects from the past that I didn’t have the chance to build a relationship, a healthy relationship, with my body because I couldn’t feel my body most of the time due to all of the medication” she explains.
Such life experiences can either make or break someone, but this ‘lonesome fighter’ as she would call herself, has given her the opportunity to venture into the industry of music and persist in fighting to make a name as a music producer in such as saturated market like Berlin. The music industry is saturated with up-and-coming talent and especially for opportunists. Putting her cigarette out into the ashtray she leans back and starts to pet her cat that jumps onto the dining room table, “music is very important to me. I know that in a lot of biographies you read you hear artists say the same thing, but I mean, for me, it was when I was 3 years old and sitting at my dad’s piano that’s when I knew that this is what I wanted to do” she passionately says with a grin on her face. Call it a ‘calling’ of sorts, but this doesn’t mean that she ventured into the world of music easily. With her keen yet perfectionist approach, her projects have changed over time, much like the Berlin music scene.
Changes are not often easily tracked, and the same goes for Daniela’s musical style. “You’ve got Berghain, Panorama, Watergate, About Blank, Sisyphos, just to name a few of the game players. What has changed though is that there is a bit more openness towards certain styles of music, maybe let’s call the 90s hype,” she explains. This openness is definitely felt within her home and personality. When it comes to past experiences, including playing in bands for about 6-7 years, it was then she realised that she needed to concentrate on herself, “It was like I was driving with the handbrake up” she explains whilst leaning forward and starting to reach for her thin rolling paper set out on the blue and white checkered table cloth before her.
While working in such a male-dominated industry, her approach to her work has not always been easy. Understanding her role and space within the Berlin music scene was a sort of aha-moment when she read an article about Björk and her challenges working as a woman within electronic music industry. The article Daniela is pertaining was featured in The Guardian in 2008, entitled Why Björk is right to stand up for female producers. The content touches on pertinent points of the challenges women experience working in the music industry. Many times, as a female producer, work is often not credited to the woman but to her male colleagues. It seems that, in order for a woman to sell an idea to her male bandmates/colleagues, she has to repeat the idea over and over again. If the requests continue to be ignored, which is most likely the case, she will have to sell the idea as if it belonged to a man in the first place. A type of mental gaslighting of sorts. “The thing is that common perception is always drawn to the fact of how sharp your senses are,” explains Daniela, “if your sense are not sharp enough, certain things you will let happen sometimes. I guess this is why being self-reflective is so important, so that article was so important to me. It made me realise how important feminism because two weeks later, after reading it, many things happened that made me go ‘what the f*ck is going on here!?”
It can be said that Daniela, while skinny and soft, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Her major turning point in her career happened back in the days of MySpace where she met record label owner and industry professional, Marcus Romero from Brave New Beats, he wasn’t available for comment. “It was after I quit my second band, The Holy Fucks” she says, “I went solo and uploaded some tracks on MySpace and this guy wrote me and was like ‘wow, such crazy music, you want to do a release?” Marcus knows a lot about the music business, especially when it comes to the minimal electronic scene in South America. Opportunity struck when he put Daniela’s tracks on a compilation CD and fast forward a few days later, she was informed that out of 1 400 tracks, hers was the one that was chosen for the top 6 for the and she would be going to Paris for the Qwertz Electronic Music Awards, nominated for the Dancefloor Award. Fast forward to 15 hour bus trip later, she was in Paris brushing shoulders with the likes of avant-garde artists like Laurie Anderson. “I didn’t realise what a big deal it was” says Daniela bashfully, with her high-cheek bones blushing and contrasting her blonde hair. “It was in 2010 and in this huge gala, in this big concert hall, then they go and call out my name!” Daniela exclaims, “I was like ‘my God!’ I can’t believe this, especially when you were a personal who was never so self-assured.” A great victory for her career seeing as Björk had won the award a few years prior in 2007. Self-confidence would be the only thing to gain once your work has been categorised alongside your icons, mentors and musical heroes.
As they say, big hearts are the ones that suffer the most, but with her beaming and loving heart, glowing warmth as does her cozy home, Daniela has maintained to keep her thick skin in tact. She knows what she wants and is aware of it. Over the years she’s started to mature with her sound and approach to projects, going into avenues that she hasn’t ventured before in her music “I’ve got 15 new tracks waiting to find a new home with people who understand and cherish the creative process behind it” she says, rolling another cigarette. “I’m currently sitting on over 400 demos that I need to send out, but I suck at the self-management & PR side of things as it’s a 24-hour job” she explains.“Currently my work is very club oriented — which I love, don’t get me wrong — but I feel this other side of Daniela must come out now!,” she says with a smile, whilst hearing the faintest click of her lighter as she lights her cigarette, pulling on it smoothly. That’s when you realise, she’s totally got this!
Image credits: Musicto.com