Click here to listen to the Carhartt WIP Radio Show featuring DJ Gigola.
It all points back to connection for DJ Gigola aka Paulina Schulze, whether it’s in dovetailing BPMs, advocating for her community, or understanding the link between meditation and the club experience. “As an artist, I'm mainly interested in making new connections between things, shifting the grid and finding a new context,” she says.
Growing up in Berlin, DJ Gigola was exposed to the city’s famed nightlife from an early age, her memory imprinted with visions of colorful Love Parade partygoers and weekend open-air sessions. Like many of her peers at the time, DJ Gigola was inspired to learn how to mix and make electronic music. “I never thought I’d become a professional DJ one day, especially growing up in Berlin,” she says. “I just focused on enjoying it and staying in the moment, instead of trying to turn it into a career.”
In spite of this, DJ Gigola began rising through the ranks of the local dance scene in 2016, playing renowned clubs like Griessmühle, Paloma Bar, OHM, and Wilde Renate. She became known for her eclectic, high-octane club sets, which featured everything from techno, house and percussive rhythms, to hit pop records. In the same year, she joined local artist collective and independent record label Live From Earth, run by a close-knit group of musicians and producers ike Nene H, horsegiirL, MCR-T, Bauernfeind, or Kev Koko.
DJ Gigola has released a string of EPs, remixes and collaborative projects, such as In The Mood, as well as Tender Trance and No Es Amor with fellow Live From Earth artist Kev Koko and Perra Inmunda, sealing her reputation as one of the most exciting new acts on the international circuit.
In anticipation of the release of her introspective dance album Fluid Meditations, out on February 3rd, DJ Gigola prepared a mix for Carhartt WIP Radio, which unlike her debut LP, features speedy Berlin techno, gabber, hardcore and trance, courtesy of a selection of Live From Earth Klub artists. Accompanying the show is an interview with the artist, who discusses how a recent leg injury led to a shift in perspective, the potential effects of ASMR on the dancefloor, and what her predictions are for the ‘sound of tomorrow.’
How did your 2023 begin and what does the next 12 months look like for you?
DJ Gigola: I broke my ankle during the beginning of December, so the very end of 2022 was centered on my injury, surgery and healing. At the start of 2023, I underwent my final surgery, and am now allowed to walk and stand on both legs again. This has put a lot into perspective for me. I want to focus on making time for myself, my body and its recovery over the next few months, and build my schedule around my physical wellbeing. This is something that sounds so obvious, but I love to experience new things and say “yes” to opportunities, so sometimes this paired with a busy schedule can push me to my physical limits. Musically, my album comes out in February and I am really excited for that. I also have lots of collaborations in the pipeline that I can’t wait to finalize and release.
You have been part of the Live From Earth collective since 2016. How did you become involved with them, and how did you end up being a DJ, PR manager and fashion designer within the group?
DJ Gigola: An old friend of mine was a DJ at Live From Earth and he really felt that I would vibe, musically and personally, with the collective. I got to meet everyone in the beginning of 2016 and the vibe was so positive. I used to be in a DJ duo with my close friend Anna, but she had to leave for her studies in New York. Around this time, I had to DJ alone at a Live From Earth party, and so DJ Gigola was born.
Live From Earth is a collective of friends that came together because we love a certain way of DIY and independence. So it’s natural for everyone in the group to work on everything. We all grew together as a label, where every new idea brought a new challenge, but we managed to power through. It’s why I’m involved in lots of different things within the label. There is not a certain role that is done by one person, it’s much more of a communal effort.
What is the philosophy behind the label and its name?
DJ Gigola: Live From Earth was initially founded by Elias [Hermann], Max [Rüting] and Lorenz [Wirth], as a way of live-documenting demonstrations, which explains the name. The three of them also met at an anti-Nazi demo. Shortly after, Max (who is a talented videographer and director) was asked by some musicians he knew to do their music videos. From there, the label grew into what it is today.
To play devil’s advocate, do you think there is still a need for labels in today’s music industry?
DJ Gigola: I don’t know if there is still a need nowadays. What I do know is that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Live From Earth. An important quality that a label can bring is a genuine support of its artists throughout the good and bad times. It’s crucial in growing an artist’s talent, professionalism and career path, organically and sustainably. I always enjoyed being able to discuss my concerns and choices with my good friends at my label. It gave me strength because I had their support, which is something I wish for every young artist to have.
How does Live From Earth Klub go about finding new artists?
DJ Gigola: This is also quite collective-based. Usually, it will be that someone from the team knows someone else, or got in touch with an artist that they find talented and interesting. This artist and their work are then shown to the team, and we get in touch. Since there’s a big communal aspect to what we do, it’s also important that we vibe with the new talent and that their ideas align with the label’s vision – so everybody has a say in it.
What does a track or artist need to have in order for you to want to work with them?
DJ Gigola: It’s hard to reduce it to a certain sound. At LFE, we always value the authenticity of an artist, the originality of their music and their personal identity over a certain genre. It’s the full impression someone makes that influences our decision to support them. We try to support the artist’s ideas and their individual artistic choices fully.
What future projects is the label working on?
DJ Gigola: This is the year of album releases: there are at least four in the pipeline (including mine). There are also other beautiful releases lined up and we will be doing more LFEK tours.
As you’re part of a label that has a very distinct visual identity, how much would you say that visuals influence your music and DJing?
DJ Gigola: The label values our graphic designer the same way we value our music producers, directors or VJs. This has built a strong visual output over the past years, informed by a beautiful circle of creative minds. Personally, I go with the flow when it comes to music. It's hard to dissect my influences, but my musical focus lies in rhythm and recontextualization. I do, however, enjoy thinking beyond the track: the design of an EP cover, the fonts that can add another dimension to my creative language, and the extra visuals around a release. These can explore and support the initial message of the music in a multi-dimensional way.
You’ve spoken before about some of your first musical memories, like seeing the Love Parade in your hometown of Berlin. And now, you’re one of the most exciting DJs to play both in Berlin and internationally. Do you feel like you’ve come full circle?
DJ Gigola: It honestly makes me smile. I’ve always enjoyed playing music and dancing, but I never thought I’d become a professional DJ one day, especially growing up in Berlin. I just focused on enjoying it and staying in the moment, instead of trying to turn it into a career. Now, I feel grateful that my dedication to music and my community have led me to where I am right now. That I have the privilege to tour the world and create music.
I have always valued the electronic music scene for giving me a place to escape, to make experiences and meet like-minded people. So the other full circle moment is that nowadays through DJing, I can provide the same experiences that I had as a young adult to the next generation.
How rewarding do you think it was to be in Berlin, a city renowned for its dance and nightlife scene, when your interest in electronic music began?
DJ Gigola: When I was a teenager, I just enjoyed what was there. Every weekday, there would be a different party at a different club or open airs at the weekend. I was young and curious, and Berlin had many spaces to offer. Now that I've played other cities, I understand the privilege we had when we were younger, and the privilege Berlin still offers for nightlife escapism. There are only a few places in the world where the clubs stay open as long as they want to, where entry fees are affordable, and where there is such a huge range of spaces and excellent line-ups. Berlin has it all, and my friends and I wouldn’t have become the people we are today without our ‘Berlin experience.’ However, I think that the influence of music lies beyond a city’s nightlife infrastructure. People connect through music in smaller towns with less access to nightlife. So, I believe growing up in Berlin had an important role but overall, it’s music that connects people and creates communities.
In your early club days, minimal was in vogue and labels like Perlon, Mobilee, Freude am Tanzen, or M-nus in fashion. Did this style influence the way you DJ and create music?
DJ Gigola: Not in particular. I just generally love a good groove, rhythm, and a reductionist approach towards music - this is something that caught my attention when I was going out during the “Miminal music times” and which made me fall in love with the nightlife then. However, this approach is very versatile and can be found in and applied to various genres like hip-hop or funk e.g.. Personally, I feel this has always been one of the integral parts of my musical scope.
Your selections are usually very eclectic. How much does this reflect your own tastes?
DJ Gigola: I always look for captivating grooves and for a little bit of fun. Above that, I love to try things out and recontextualize elements to create something new. These things influence my DJ and production style the most and can seem very eclectic.
How important do you think social media is for a musician?
DJ Gigola: I think it’s a very powerful tool because it enables an artist to connect to their audience and vice versa. I believe that making music will always be the most important asset when it comes to cultivating your audience, followed by mixing, touring, and finally social media. Social media gives me the chance to comment on my own music or tour, and connect with the audience that my music and touring has created. There is a beauty in that, because you can add dimension to the person that made the music. However, without my music or mixing, there would be no audience, so my main focus will forever be on my musical output and the quality of my DJ sets.
Your debut solo album Fluid Meditations comes out soon. What were your main inspirations and aims for it?
DJ Gigola: As an artist, I'm mainly interested in making new connections between things, shifting the grid and finding a new context. These hybrid moments arise naturally while I'm DJing – exactly when one song mixes into another and a new one spontaneously emerges from both. That's what I love about mixing live and also what I look for in music production.
For Fluid Meditations, I wanted to make a statement on what I see happening around me. I work in a field that is about escapism, being offline and getting loose. These longings have become amplified by the increasing presence of online life and globalization. Outside of the club experience, I'm seeing a turn towards craft, meditation, and nature – reactions to internet sharing and environmental destruction. For my album, I wanted to expand this idea of nighttime escapism with meditation and other relaxation practices like ASMR. This is partly because these fascinate me, but also because I wanted to see what their effects are in the club.
For me, dancing is a form of meditation and, by and large, escapism. The rhythm in dancing is the music and in meditation it is the breathing. If you talk about yoga, the asanas and breathing inform the synchronized movement of those involved – similarly to synchronized dancing in the club. Both activities involve a group experience in which the self can expand, forget, and find itself anew. From my context of experience, I wanted to see how far both could be musically combined. I wanted to focus the guided meditation in my album on arriving in the moment and in one's own body, connecting with the environment from this arrival, then dissolving, finding oneself anew and finding strength in that. This is the common thread of the album from beginning to end and to me, is ‘clubbing’ in a nutshell.
When DJing, I often see that these rituals tend to be disturbed by constant mobile phone scrolling, filming, photography, and online sharing. Proving "I was there" has become more important than actually being there. This has an impact on the club night’s potential, on the group dynamics within and the letting-go moments. I believe that these moments are essential and must be preserved at all costs, in order to allow people to relax and have real, interpersonal contact, because these moments create identity. It is all a very personal approach and now I’m just curious to see how other people feel about it. Since the idea of the album is quite personal, Fluid Meditations was a solo production. I did the composition, production, lyrics, and vocals, as well as the creative direction for its visual identity.
How did you go about selecting tracks for your Carhartt WIP Radio show?
DJ Gigola: I went through the LFEK catalog from the past four years, and used songs which offered an insight into how an all-LFEK-mix would sound. It represents some of my favorite collaborators. The mix is high energy and influenced by a lot of hardcore and gabber parties back in 2016-17.
If you were to predict the ‘sound of tomorrow’, what would it be?
DJ Gigola: I would say regarding upcoming trends there will be two ends: one very reductionist approach towards sound, very minimal but probably higher tempo range. The other would be a hyper-fusion sound, like an ultra-mashup of consumerist pop.
What’s something you’ve learned through music that has helped you in life (and vice versa)?
DJ Gigola: That we are all connected to each other.
What are your hobbies besides music?
DJ Gigola: Books, pottery and body movement.
When do you feel most at peace?
DJ Gigola: Being around the people I love and where I feel loved.
What was the last book you read?
DJ Gigola: Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing.
What are your favorite accounts on Instagram currently?
DJ Gigola: Oh, it always changes but it’s mostly meme accounts. Recently, I’ve been loving @sveamaus’ content a lot.
What is something you have always wanted to try that you haven’t done yet?
DJ Gigola: I would love to learn how to scuba dive. I would also love to see Antarctica one day.
Complete this sentence: “The world would be a better place if only…”
DJ Gigola: People found better ways to communicate.
Live From Earth Klub discography