There are certain artists who leave an impression even relatively early on in their careers. Cera Khin’s first recorded output may have only just materialized, but it builds on an intriguing web of radio shows and mixes that point to a sonic instinct that demands your attention. That’s not to say what she does is particularly showy or boisterous – in fact quite the opposite. There’s an understated meditative vibe that hovers over her selections, and of course now that vibe has been crystalised on Guided Meditation, a collaborative release with Young Echo affiliate Ossia that heralds the start of her new label LazyTapes. As well as channeling a new kind of twist on the principles of dub, there’s always a sense of mischief lurking in her style that manifests in flashes of irreverent sampling or dirty, degraded sonics. In short, her music has bite to match its brains.
Raised in Tunisia and with Italian roots, Khin now finds herself in Berlin, where she transmits her regular Noods radio show as well as delivering mixes for like-minded heads ranging from Zuli to Hodge, not to mention appearing on Red Light Radio and the excellent Lullabies For Insomniacs series. She’s also increasingly busy in the dance, bringing her wayward style to all manner of parties across Europe and beyond. With LazyTapes underway, there are exciting plans in the pipeline.
How did your musical journey begin? Were there any sounds you were drawn towards that are relevant to what you’re doing now?
My Dad used to collect records, cassettes and CDs back in the day, from jazz to Egyptian, African, Eastern music to French classics. I was digging through his collection when I was a child/teen and was always curious to know where the music came from. When I started using the internet I’d spend hours digging and searching for new and old music online.
My love for varied genres of music might not always make it an easy task to form comprehensive layers in my mixes or radio shows, but I hope to create something more expansive and rewarding by encompassing a range of styles. Throughout my monthly shows on Noods Radio, the listener is immersed through sounds and taken in an intergalactic musical voyage from past to present to future, crossing the boundaries of time and connecting the dots between between all these sonic utopias. Through the show I’ve had the honor to invite many artists I love musically like Christoph De Babalon, Peder Mannerfelt, Machine Woman, Lurka and Berceuse Heroique to guest mix.
At present it seems like the two pivotal cities in your musical sphere are Berlin and Bristol. What drew you to Berlin particularly?
I finished my masters in marketing at uni, and I wanted to experience new things so I decided to move to Germany. Berlin seemed like an inspiring city with its history and its big musical and artistic scene, so I knew I was making the right move. I moved to Berlin almost five years ago. Time goes so fast here and it seems like the city never loses its excitement.
How did you forge a connection with Bristol and Ossia / the Young Echo crew?
I met Ossia for the first time at a club in Berlin called OHM. The first tune he dropped was an obscure Moroccan record and I couldn’t stop myself from asking him for the ID. I guess this was the first time I heard a North African tune in a club context, so I was very intrigued. Since then we kept in touch and shared loads of music, and we discovered our love for all these varied genres…
I’ve only played in Bristol twice so far. Once for the Young Echo crew in full effect - Ossia, Kahn, Neek, Jabu along with Demdike Stare. The other time I played at one of the infamous Slack Alice nights and I hope to get the chance to play in Bristol again soon. I love Bristol because it reminds me a lot of the Berlin spirit, but people seem warmer and more welcoming there. It feels like a village overloaded with music nerds, if I may say so.
Your sonic remit is wide ranging to say the least - your radio shows and mixes draw on a lot of experimental sounds from different areas (geographically and stylistically). Why is that?
Music in a traditional sense has a lot of influence on me while producing a tune or recording a mix or whatever. I identify patterns from a lot of the music I grew up around, but I’m also aware that another listener could only get fragments of those patterns unless they’ve experienced a similar musical journey. Sometimes I can clearly hear dub and reggae, jazz, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Japanese, musique concrete, hip hop, and other genres in the same fragment within a mix or track. I guess that these subtle collage elements from my mixes and tunes pop up from the subconscious library where I store all this information.
Do you think we live in buoyant times for genre-less creative expression in music? Do you think there are positives and negatives about this idea?
This is a deep subject - I guess I could talk about it forever and ever. It’s down to individual choice, and some people choose the straight path. They decide to focus on one genre or two, maybe excelling and perfecting it. Some people like adventures and taking risks, and they get bored really easily by monotonous sonic textures. Maybe these people are aware that nothing is perfect and that perfection is just a utopian subject, and that beauty can be also present in imperfection. But what matters in the end is it’s just your choice and we should all respect it.
You're described in your biography as being “bored of mindless club attitude”, but do you still have different ideas about music for a club as opposed to listening at home?
There is no difference at all, it all depends on your mood, your vibe, your preference on that day. Maybe one day I feel more like playing bangers and rave. Some other days I feel like playing weird shit. It doesn’t really matter…
The launch of LazyTapes also represents the first definitive evidence of your studio / production work. What was the overall idea for this Guided Meditation release?
I had a lucid dream where I launched a label and called it LazyTapes – maybe this idea was always hidden in my subconscious and that dream just triggered my urge to make a label? I woke up excited. The dream felt so real and I decided to do my best to achieve it.
I had already made a more-than-suitable piece of music for the cause with Ossia, who was helping me with distribution for the label, and it was then decided that the half-speed YouTube ripping, anti-ambient musique concrete twist up Guided Meditation and its slurred take on internet meditation would make a good start for the first of the Lazy transmissions.
It felt like a cassette release would be a good start for a young label, but of course some vinyl releases will come as well in the near future.
What was the experience in the studio with Ossia like?
We definitely have the same idea of how music should sound – basically we’ve got the same taste, but we’re also able to show each other things we haven’t heard before, and the process of finding common ground whilst bringing our own unique sides into it is probably where the combined inspiration comes from. This shared taste and vision is a rare thing. I can definitely say that it is fun making music together!
With things off to such a promising start, what can we expect to hear from you in the future?
The second of the LazyTapes transmissions will be coming out at the end of this year. A few months ago, I had the honour of inviting Christoph De Babalon to guest mix on my show on Noods radio. It's fair to say that this effort alone deserved more gratification than a simple upload for streaming purposes, and this quickly became clear when listening to the show while it was running on the airwaves.
For this reason, we decided to keep this show exclusive to that one-time airing, and to this very cassette. To accompany Christoph’s mix, I decided to counteract his performance with a unique mix of favourites from my record collection. I’m really excited about this one, and I’m looking forward to sharing the next cat-based artwork from Patch Keyes too.
To accompany the interview, Cera took the time to pick out three tracks that resonate with her, from up to the minute club smashing business to a dread-filled mid-90s ambient excursion.
- Errorsmith - I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable
From the album Superlative Fatigue (Pan).
I’m really into the sense of humor in Errorsmith’s music. It’s pure fun and good vibes. This tune is definitely a banger on the dancefloor!
- Christoph De Babalon – Opium
From the album If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It (Digital Hardcore).
This my best tip for a late night listening session, still sounding fresh like it was made yesterday.
- AYYA - Second Mistake
From the compilation Mono No Aware (Pan).
I can listen to this loop forever.