Upfront: She’s Drunk

David Monnin aka She’s Drunk, finds it seemingly impossible to stick to one style of music. Since debuting on Leonizer Records in 2013, the French-born Berlin-based producer and DJ has risen in the German capital’s club scene, pioneering an idiosyncratic sound that doesn’t give way to the dominant outside pressures that demand artists adhere to the constraints of genre. Succeeding his 2015 Physical EP on Liminal Sounds, the Through My Speakers affiliate has continued to construct tracks that reflect his rebellious approach to production, in which he merges dancehall, hip-hop, grime, Jersey Club, and jungle. With twenty years of DJing, six EPs and a string of illegal raves behind him, She’s Drunk is now focusing on refining his process to further engage the fortuitous aspects related to producing electronic music. Following the drop of his The Thunder / Plastic Drums record with Nobel and more recent Lush EP, She’s Drunk details his deliverance from deliberation.

“I find it incredibly freeing to surrender to the unknown, to not know what you’re sometimes doing and let go of the urge to control.”

In the early 2000s, you first encountered electronic music through attending a series of notorious parties that were being thrown during the peak of France’s illegal rave scene. How were you introduced to that world?

There were a few collectives that emerged in France during the early 2000s, around the time that the Spiral Tribe and other sound systems were exiled from the UK after their extensive battle with local police. At this time, In France, there were no rave regulations which amplified the scene and allowed for total freedom. Just in my region, which is pretty small, 4-5 sound systems operating and every weekend you could go to 2 or 3 different raves in the countryside.

Besides the mainstream nights that were happening at discotheques (we were not calling them clubs back then), these countryside raves were the only alternative. One weekend, some friends that were a few years older than me brought me along to one that was happening in an old castle-like forte that was half underground and located an hour away from my hometown. Upon arrival, we entered an underground tunnel and followed the rumbling bass to an enormous room full of people dancing relentlessly. I started searching for the source of the music, and immediately I became hypnotised by the two DJs that were spinning records.

What was the most memorable party that took place over those eight remarkable years?

For one party, in particular, we decided to choose an alias for the sound system, but we unknowingly chose a name that was from a system which was already existing in the south of France, a pretty renowned sound system. Some people put the flyer online, and we ended up having over 2,000 people come from all over Europe when we only prepared for 300-400 locals. I remember sitting on top of a hill watching the cars roll in. We were checking the car registration plates: South of France, Belgium, Switzerland. At some point during the night, people realised the party mix up. Word spread, and they thought that we’d lied to create hype and began threatening us. The cops came at 5 AM: not just one car of cops though, they came in four or five trucks filled with officers, who were wearing all black riot gear and started treating the ravers pretty aggressively. The mayor of the village was eventually called, and it resulted in a crazy negotiation between everyone involved.

And from that very first moment of rave catharsis, you decided that you wanted to start DJing and throwing parties? How did you navigate your interest in these scenes while living in such an isolated area?

I started to buy more records and my first proper turntables and moved to a bigger city. Every second day I would go to record stores and dig through what was new in techno, hardcore, ragga jungle, drum and bass, and breakcore. I was really into all that extreme stuff. I got together with two friends, and we began renting a sound system so that we could throw parties on my father’s farm in the summer. We had access to fields and forests hidden deep in the countryside. It was always a game with the authorities to find a place where the sound wasn’t resonating. We found a secluded spot on the farm at the bottom of a small valley where no one was living. No neighbours were disturbed. We did this for around eight years. We were not so involved in the scene at the beginning, so a couple of times, I was the only DJ. I would spin all night from 10 PM to 10 AM. And I didn’t have many records at that time, maybe one hundred or so. So sometimes I was playing the same tracks three times in one night, not that anyone seemed to care.

What was the most memorable party that took place over those eight remarkable years?

For one party, in particular, we decided to choose an alias for the sound system, but we unknowingly chose a name that was from a system which was already existing in the south of France, a pretty renowned sound system. Some people put the flyer online, and we ended up having over 2,000 people come from all over Europe when we only prepared for 300-400 locals. I remember sitting on top of a hill watching the cars roll in. We were checking the car registration plates: South of France, Belgium, Switzerland. At some point during the night, people realised the party mix up. Word spread, and they thought that we’d lied to create hype and began threatening us. The cops came at 5 AM: not just one car of cops though, they came in four or five trucks filled with officers, who were wearing all black riot gear and started treating the ravers pretty aggressively. The mayor of the village was eventually called, and it resulted in a crazy negotiation between everyone involved.

After moving to Berlin in 2010, you were exposed to a new range of bass-centric styles spanning grime, Jersey Club and Juke. These sounds, which dominated certain parts of the city’s scene at that time, began influencing your production and eventually birthed the She’s Drunk project. How did you discover your sound?

To be honest, I didn’t know so much about those styles of music before, besides a bit of big-name grime. It’s tough finding places to go out when you move to a new city. I hated minimal techno and started wondering if anything else existed in Berlin. Around nine years ago, not long after I’d moved to Berlin, I went to a few parties where Sarah Farina happened to be playing, and after I saw her a few times, I made a habit of attending every party she was DJing. That’s how I got into those genres, through what she was playing — bass music in general. I fell in love with that scene. At some point, we started chatting and became good friends, and she introduced me to the rest of the Through My Speakers collective. They were pushing me a lot and encouraging me to release something with them, which ended up being my Subclubsciously EP that came out last year and included the track Amadoda on which South African MC Sho Madjozi spits fast-paced tongue-in-cheek verses in both English and Tsonga. I am very grateful that I met them. The friendship and level of support that they’ve provided me with are unfathomable.

The result of your production is a genreless blend of high-octane club cuts that simultaneously fuse and diverge. How do you locate and create new sounds to enhance your tracks?

Often, I encounter sounds that intrigue me through my daily routine. If I find a sound that absorbs me I will capture it, save it and then process it until the origin of the sample can’t be traced by either pitching it up or down or adding some filters and delay. I like this process of starting with a waveform and turning it into something completely abstract. During the production process for the Lush EP, I was wading through my soundbank, trying to find suitable percussive elements. I was searching for a long time and couldn’t find anything. At the same time, I was drinking a coffee with the spoon still in the cup. As I was drinking it and thinking I noticed the noise that the spoon was making, so I put a mic in place and recorded the spoon hitting the cup and then manipulated the sample to transform it into something entirely different.

You aim to embrace production mishaps. A process that you call ‘The Art of the Accident’. How and why do you do this?

I find it incredibly freeing to surrender to the unknown, to not know what you’re sometimes doing and let go of the urge to control. Through these accidents, the track ends up being something you wouldn’t have created otherwise. This experimentation can involve anything from messing with the midi clips or come down to how I group particular effects. Other times, I’ll manipulate an acapella through the use of an arpeggiator and add some delay. Throughout this process, I try to make changes continuously, without consideration or deliberation. It’s about resampling, processing with a multitude of effects and experimenting with texture until you’re at a point where the original sound is unrecognisable. That is my little pleasure: to work with randomness via accidents. I wish that software companies would keep this process in mind by including extra features which allow you to dig a bit deeper into the never-ending possibilities of programs.

Only July 12 you released a two-track EP titled Lush via Daniel Haaksman’s label Man Recordings. How would you say that your sound has developed from your initial releases on Leonizer Records compared to where you’re at now?

Now, I try to make music for myself, and if people like it, then that’s great. A lot of producers, myself included, are trapped in this mentality that others will only deem something to be good enough if it fits into a club setting. I hit a point where I even wondered if I should add more melodies just so that more people would listen to my music. I think a lot of people unknowingly try to please other people through their production. Something that changed in the last few months was that I decided to reconnect with harmonies and melodies and create work on projects that are not only club focused and can also be enjoyed in a home setting.

On the Lush EP, I let myself fall into a natural flow and tried to avoid focusing on certain aspects. I made both the tracks quite quickly and didn’t spend months reworking and over analysing the project. I think it’s still quite melodic. I realised recently that in my small discography, the best music that I produced included the tracks that I had made in a maximum of 2-3 hours, working nonstop. Producing in a shorter period allowed me to maintain the same energy and motivation. You can tell when months have been spent obsessing over a release. It loses its magic. I can definitely tell, at least in my music, what was over-analysed and what was generated organically. The first track on the new EP tilted Bae is very much an explosion of effects, synths and harmonies, which is a good balance with Hayatna, that is more of a club tool featuring the mesmerising Arabic vocals of the Berlin-based Eritrean MC Outsider.