Anja Schneider: Maximum Mobilee

Publish date:

It's somewhere in the wee hours at Barcelona's Raum club, and Anja Schneider helms the turntables, grinning ear to ear. She has reason to smile: tonight's party, a pre-Sónar showcase for her Mobilee imprint, is packed wall-to-wall and going wild. The fledgling label is less than two years and two dozen releases old, and none of its artists are household names, even for die-hard techno insiders; nevertheless it's built its rep–as one of the bright lights of the new generation of "minimal"–into a pretty maximal buzz. While the minimal backlash may be swinging into action faster than you can say "skippy hi-hats," Schneider's banging track selection and lickety-split mixing moots the whole debate. Call it what you like; this is techno, the way it's always been, the way it's meant to be.

While Mobilee may still be in diapers, Schneider is no newcomer. In the '90s, she cut her teeth in various German marketing firms, brokering truces between lifestyle brands and the country's then-booming rave scene, and developed special features for Berlin's KISS FM and Fritz Loveradio. In 2000, she leapt out of the cubicle and into the radio announcer's booth, launching a Saturday night show on Fritz called "Dance Under the Blue Moon." The program has become the unofficial pre-party soundtrack for thousands of Berlin clubbers and proven Schneider to be quite the tastemaker, hosting artists like Guido Schneider, Luciano, Matt John, and Jennifer Cardini just as their careers were taking off.

From there, it was a short jump to club residencies at Watergate and WMF, and to Schneider launching her own label. (Her partner, Ralf Kollmann, handles marketing and promotional duties, but both stress that Mobilee is her baby, from its vision to her canny A&R decisions.) Despite the depths of her little black book, Schneider didn't rely on established names to build the label's profile; Mobilee was founded, and remains, as a platform for emerging talent.

You wouldn't expect such a restless personality to sit out the best part of the process, and she hasn't. In 2004 and 2005, abetted by Sebo K, Schneider recorded two tracks for PIAS; by Mobilee's third release, Schneider and Sebo K's "Rancho Relaxo" single, the duo had proved itself a formidable force. The monster track perfectly encapsulates Mobilee's approach, fusing nimble rhythms with stadium-sized rave sirens. With the label at 14 releases and counting, every one of them a snapshot of the vanguard of Berlin techno, Mobilee–living up to its name–keeps on moving.