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Kat Richter

Vinyl DJ, Kat Kat Tat

Vinyl DJ, event organizer and multi-disciplinary artist, we have the pleasure to introduce you to Berlin based Kat Richter, or DJ Kat Kat Tat. Kat fuses several elements from music to fine art into various artistic formats creating a playful, free-spirited quirky approach. As a DJ, musician and event organizer, she enjoys celebrating, elevating moments, and "being in touch while getting lost". Freedom of expression, connective elements and innovative sounds are the underlying motives of her work. She also teaches FLINTA people how to DJ; which stands for Female, Lesbian, Intersex, Trans and Agender (FLINTA).

When she'd not plotting her next gig, or pulling records to inspire her, Kat loves up-cycling, experimenting with her rave fashion, and spending time with plants and animals, she has two guinea pigs. She also says: "I love meta physics, humor, Falafel and friendly funky humans anywhere. I love getting to know place on a shoestring. I love being humble and feeling spiritually rich in the sense that each day can be senses deeply. With a nice cry, a thoughtful talk, a good walk."

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

First of all, I am not part of any "industry". Industry implies capitalization of creative skills in order to produce a product which is marketable, and this, with my personalized vision of my artistic existence, does not sit right as I would like to liberate myself and others from pre-produced, standardized ideas of how we have to exist and present ourselves. I would rather play records to my friends than selling myself.

My motivation was the music, as I stumbled into my first raves thanks to a friend who had some Helter Skelter Happy Hardcore tapes which made me shiver with delight. I had spent all my nerdy teenager years recording the UK and US Top 40 on tape looking for dance tracks so it felt like I finally found something that made me vibe, it certainly wasn't mainstream. Speeded up pianos and cute voices were the set off, and by chance I ended up studying in Leicester where I found a lot of happy hardcore in thrift stores. I ended up going to Jungle and DrumnBass events every night of the weekend and branched out into house and techno, also working as a club dancer and party reviewer.

After my studies I lived in London for a while and was fascinated by pirate radio and listened to a lot of 2Step. Eventually, I moved back in Germany and became part of a techno magazine's editorial. I worked for Raveline for ten years, also in my freelance years in Argentina, covering all the left field spectrum of electronic music. The promo records I reviewed were the foundation of me DJing; it took me years to save up for Technics 1210s, and I worked overtime so I hardly touched the decks. This changed when I relocated to Buenos Aires where I would spend three years dedicated to music making, photography and spinning. I eventually worked for a cultural mag there and we started organizing underground events which grew very popular.

I ended up back in my native Berlin nine years later only to start anew from scratch, but was somehow persistent enough to never stop playing vinyl and doing what I had to do; my own events and curated lineups; there was no red carpet and millions of other DJs and producers. The whole concept of underground culture is a deeply ingrained DNA structure of humans all getting pro-active to collectively make music, art, events, and eventually changes in society. The queer and safety and awareness conscious approach to nightlife is all born in our rich subculture, and I am very proud to be able to be part and witness all of this. Culture is coming from the rich influence we as neuronal structure have oscillating with each other on a nightly basis. I love dancing and intertwining, thus basing our human existences on real experience. Music and Doing has transformed me and made me see many places I never knew existed. I am deeply awed by this process of exploration.

What is a day in the life like?

My day starts on social media as a lot of scene-related issues pop up there. I feel we are this tight-knit interconnected neuronal tissue online, and offline, we materialize to be "in action". We capture our essences and put it back up on social media, as if to recreate artistic life as we perceive it. Being an artist in my case means also being aware and on top of some micro developments like feminism, especially related to music making. I like to share topics related to political issues, art, nightlife, LTBGQ+ rights, migration, global activism, and personal observations via photography.

Next up is sourcing new releases, labels, events and other artists, and then focusing on doing my own work, be it writing, editing mixes, organizing my gigs. I don't have a booker or agent as I eventually want to set up a collective agency myself. I learned that if I place more importance on my own artistic development, I get nicer results. It is somehow fruitful and fulfilling to focus on myself too, not only for others. I create a lot of opportunities for underrepresented identities in nightlife, and its not about expecting something back, I just love to see people I love shine and do their thing. I wish more people would handle things that way instead of gatekeeping.

After all those years also teaching people I meet a lot of alumni and hearing about their progress after their initiation, it just makes me happy. Also, I have issues where I feel I don't do enough or get anywhere, but the solution is to just not lose the inspiration, and get over it. I usually tour on the weekends, so my week is all structuring and scheduling. Next year I want to get back into studio habits. No matter where I go I always try to go to record shops and pick up some vinyl, so weekends is really where it all happens, music, dancing, discovering people and places. I love it.

In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you've worked on?

I think all the things I work on are my favorites, I am very jumpy and it really challenges me to stay focussed. Over the years I have amassed a huge number of recordings of my gigs and I would just love to have more time, also to sample stuff. I love Patrick Cowley who made synthesizer music soundtracks for gay porn in the 80s, so to be able to make it as well now, is very exciting for me. I DJ'd in sex streams during the pandemic (to play music while others performed), I also found this really inspiring.

I am more a nerd than a player so its great that music opens new panoramas where other people live their fantasies, too, with their respective art. Bringing visuals and sound together is a big challenge for me. In the pandemic, I also made the sound for a theater play which deals with human rights violations, so very very deeply moving to make sound for the important messages the actors put across. I am very grateful, the theater opened new ways for me to play and tour, I don't have to be up all night when we perform.

I also wrote a lot of concepts for funding during the pandemic that were successful so I made a podcast series about female producers, which was a great mental exercise, and managed to secure funding for event cycles that foster an artistic community. I worked for a sound system provider company for a bit and have a lot of interest in the physics of sound. I also started playing hard fast techno during the pandemic and had the change to present an all vinyl techno set on a big stage recently which was a great feeling because I feel I have grown as a DJ. My dream is to be an old people's home DJ when I am 90.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

The most difficult for me was to see that all I do serves a greater purpose with my own growth and mental health and well-being, if things go well or not. I have seen moments of stagnation when I was experiencing self-doubt, and this happened because I experienced conflict in my private life. It was a traumatizing family situation which I had to work through for years, and whilst things do not always resolve themselves because this is beyond our control, I managed to acquire a set of tools of how to put boundaries and focus on my own well-being.

It has helped me so much to become more secure and stable in what I do. We all have different settings and privileges maybe even, so this is something to start with, a set of skills, or maybe some traits that can help to be resilient, and persistent, and not lose faith, in humanity or just oneself. Its nice to focus from the inside world to the outer and then after this process of resetting, introspective moments can be a good starting point for expanding one's horizon again. I get sidetracked very easily and want to do a million things at once, but then they don't get done. Or that's what I thought. Then I realized that I can be the "reformat hard drive kind of person" who does a million micro bits a second. it seems slow and unmanageable but it isn't always. Miraculously, its all done perfectly the moment I have to set off to a gig. I learned to let go of slating myself and enjoy the whirlwind of knowing, doing, moving a million things at once. I am incredibly busy because of that method, but it seems that it favors my way of being.

As a kid I was always told off for being creative and drawing in class, it took me half of my life to shake off the shackles of stiffening humans who control others by telling them off for "doing things wrong". The most difficult thing in life is when you let these inner voices take control over you. They are internalized and its not you, its some dissatisfied asshole from the past who heightened their self esteem by lowering others. It's a librating moment to realize that and put them in their place.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

...talk to people, who are open, about the things that move them, about music, about the universe. Talk to the whole spectrum, we all hold wisdom. 

Every single person is different and their starting point might be different, but let's just say we all start from scratch and build our own blueprint of reality. When I was twelve I only knew mainstream music outlets and nothing really resonated with me, I felt inferior to others who had a musical taste and knew what they liked. I was full of shame and bought a movie soundtrack on my own and already knew it was nothing I could really be into. I was raised on synthesizer music and other stuff that went straight into my brain when I was three years old and I remember seeing the music, because I could not express what it invoked in me in words. I also remember sitting quietly in my room playing vinyl as a child. I was always driven by harmony and rhythm, and after the most awkward student disco moments at indie rock nights. I finally found some raves, I was in heaven, music was bliss for me from that onwards, my body learned how to dance and I could not stop ever since.

Honestly, music making and DJing also has something transformative. I can have a very bad week and then get into doing music, and its like yoga, it has an instant effect on oneself; being put in touch with one's inner self shows you how you are. I never stopped despite the fact it was so incredibly hard to teach myself, it had to do with my sensitivity toward the music and technique, the more you focus, the deeper you dive, it never stops. I also kindly remind myself not to compare myself cos we are all unique, each soul walks through a different setting, no matter how streamlined all those "careers" seem.

I interviewed around 500 people in my ten yers as an editor, and was astounded to have them tell me so little about real inspiration and struggle, and now I know why this was, all these people were already put through years of rat race in the "industry" and had little to say, only the "right things". I always managed to open them up and talk about the real things. .I still do that. I often say at events: "Lets not banter, lets talk real things", I just love real human interaction. So yeah that's my advice, talk to people, who are open, about the things that move them, about music, about the universe. Talk to the whole spectrum, we all hold wisdom.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

Yes, I set off with my 50 pence Happy Hardcore (worth much more these days) from the bins in the thrift stores, and now my house is full. I see these record traders as part of the community. Where there is vinyl, there is life. You can ask about the local scene, pick up flyers and meet other diggers. No matter where I go I always spend around 10-50 percent of my DJ fee on new vinyl because some places and spaces inspire me to go deeper into a sound spectrum of a certain era or velocity. I have the highest regards for artists who make those special sounds, they are ahead of the time. They make something, then it finds its way to a label, the label waits In line at the pressing plant, then it goes into distribution, often unnoticed, and then it hits a super nerve two years down the line. That's visionary, that's human connection. Its not a trend, its a feeling, and if you live it, you know.

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.

I am excited to see new things, and love how everything is everything all at once. I love there is more diversity. When I came back to Berlin I started doing stuff with Susanne Kirchmayr aka Electric Indigo and we found, by counting numbers, that only nine percent were female identifying DJs in lineups. Since then the numbers have grown to twenty five percent, in underground leftist communitarian run clubs, its sometimes even egalitarian. People now are beyond the stance that women are second class. They are at the forefront of new development, and have always been. I am excited about a world which will be inclusive to all talent, no matter which part of the planet people are from or whichever gender. I just want positive new developments and they will happen the more we mingle and intertwine. I love fluidity and not knowing barriers.

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry? 

My first hero was Green Velvet, who I met and told me his life story in an interview, a real life encounter which helped me, the young writer, to develop an artistic identity and not just be a statist in my one life. He came to me in a dream. I was on stage behind him DJing. He turned around and told me: "That's how it feels." Then my heart opened and all this loving universal energy streamed out into the crowd and it was the most incredible thing I felt up to date, and I will never forget that.

I also saw another idol of mine, Fraser Clark, after his death, in a dream. He was behind a party collective in London doing some events called The Parallel Youniversity, which lasted 48 hours and you could live in the party during that time, sleeping there or go and take a bath in a hot tub. All under London bridge. He was a Zippy, a hippie that used technology. He also came to me in a dream and told me to live up to that legacy. Twenty years later I make 24 hour raves in Berlin. Still some space to grow here though and find more people who show me tiny fragments of their inner light that makes them shine.

Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you're listening to: 

My fave genre is frequencies, special ones that open the deeper consciousness. I have been witnessing them in music, and I love to heighten our perception and connection while we dance in a Katharsis with ourselves and others, immersing ourselves on the floor. I noticed that some are mind-numbing, too, so changes are that you have been exposed to bad music in electronic club context if some kind of techno, house, what not, does not speak to you.

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