Nightclubber 203: Alessia Ceruti
If you’ve been in or around Berlin’s house and techno scene over the past few years, chances are Alessia Ceruti is a name you’re familiar with. Born in Italy, she now lives in Berlin (from where she runs the much-acclaimed 60waves record store alongside Brouqade boss Dana Ruh), and also works as a DJ and a label owner.
A woman who wears many different musical hats in the musical sphere, Ceruti’s story is one of ambition fuelled by music. The latest artist to step up for our podcast series, Ceruti is also a wicked DJ, and someone who naturally keeps her ear to the ground for brilliant sounds. Following an intense year where she was hospitalised during the summer, she’s now back at it and feeling more invigorated than ever. We caught up with her recently to discuss her journey in music, how her illness gave her a new lease of life and much more besides…
For those who don’t know, can you share the story behind the creation of 60waves, the record store in Berlin you run alongside Dana Ruh? What inspired you to open a record store, and what makes it unique?
We opened the store almost 5 years ago, at the time under the name KMA60 working as both a distribution and record store.
Last year we went through some changes that brought us to change the name to 60waves and became only a record store, but the location stayed the same.I think what makes it unique is that we didn't want to be only a record store, but we tried to offer different things like having art exhibitions from local artists, be an event space for different projects and ideas like in store sessions or pre-party before heading to a club. Also it was very important for us to style [the place], we wanted to stay clean and minimalist with our furniture inside and pay attention to details like our “infamous” DJ booth :)
60waves is not just a record store but also a community space. How do you foster a sense of community among your customers and fellow artists?
Our goal, besides selling records, has always been to provide to our community a place to share music, express ideas, meet people from the industry and network.
We wanted to make it also cosy to hang out with friends and have a coffee or drink while digging.
How did your journey in dance music begin, and what were the key moments that led you to become a DJ?
I come from a small city in the north of Italy called Bergamo. Everything started for me in 2006/2007. We used to have a small music scene but it was not enough for us. So my friends and I were driving almost every weekend to cities close to us like Milan, Turin, Verona, Riccione to name a few, to listen to our favourite artists at the time such as Ricardo Villalobos, Raresh, Alex Neri to name a few. I learned so much in those years, my first steps in electronic music discovering all different sounds, sharing the same passion with friends and people when social media was not existing yet at parties so it was a totally different experience. From there I started to collect records and understood that music was really something important for me beyond the party.
My dream since then was to become a DJ and to work in music one day. This dream became immediately my goal which brought me to discover and live also in different places like London, Ibiza and finally Berlin.
Living in Berlin full time is a unique experience. How has the city influenced your music and DJing style?
Berlin has given me so much both personally and on a musical level. It gave me the chance to develop my taste, to discover more music, meet artists, people from the industry and be more open minded.
The possibility to always get the chance to listen to some of the best dj and live sets in your favourite label nights, go home after and get even more inspired to find or make more music. This is definitely a plus and influenced my music taste for the better.
Talk to us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us. Can you give us some insights into the process behind it? Any specific themes or inspirations?
Lately I’ve been inspired and discovered so much music, from friends and from artists I respect so I tried to put something together and create a nice journey. I recorded it from home in a cosy afternoon vibe while it was snowing outside. Hope you will enjoy it!
Tell us about some of your favourite moments or experiences from DJing in Berlin. Any memorable gigs or collaborations that stand out?
I played in several clubs in Berlin through the years but my best moments so far are in Club der Visionaere. There you are really free to express yourself. It was the best school for me to learn how to do a proper warm up, for example. Also during the night or for some after hours vibes in the morning is always something unique and special.
60waves has become a hub for music enthusiasts.
How do you curate the selection in your record store, and what kind of atmosphere are you aiming to create for your customers?
We always try to offer all different genres with new and 2nd hand records, we don't like to stick to only one genre but be open minded to different sounds like we do when we djing actually. So that all customers can feel welcome in our store, from techno to electro, from house to minimal to UKG. Making peope feel good and welcome has always been our priority.
How do you approach selecting tracks for your sets? Is there a particular criterion or feeling you aim to convey through your music? Is it usually through your work at the store?
Depending on what time I play and which venue. It's essential for me to know my music and be ready to be open and flexible during the set. I like to have a bit of everything in my bag to be able to create a nice journey. I always try to find and dig for some music that spreads good vibes, happiness and makes people dance.
Do you shop elsewhere too? Is it important that you do?
Yes I do buy sometimes also from other online shops and when I have time it's also good for me to visit other record stores, meet other people and I like to dig especially through others second hand shelves.
Your sickness during the summer was a challenging time. How did that experience impact your perspective on life and your approach to music?
My life obviously has changed since the diagnosis, but I like to think that it has changed for the better. I have learned to really appreciate life, to never give up even in the most difficult time and to take care of myself more both physically and mentally.
I had to quit drinking and all other stuff, of course it is not easy working in this industry and being sober at parties but I understood that health is really the most important thing and I have to say I feel so much better now, both mentally and physically. Music keeps me busy and positive, It makes me forget about negative thoughts etc.
In what ways do you find solace or inspiration during difficult times, and how does it reflect in your music?
Music has always helped me so much in good and bad times. When I feel not good or too stressed, I love to listen to some melodic downtempo/ambient music. It helps me to calm down, reflect and move on. I find my peace with music; it's a unique feeling.
I remember during the summer, after i got out from hospital i couldn't listen to electronic music or anything loud, my ears were too sensitive but there was a moment when i came back in Berlin, i went through my records collection at home first time after two months and it made me so emotional because i felt i missed it so much and since then i thought “ok i can slowly be back play again soon”.
Balancing the responsibilities of running a record store and pursuing a career as a DJ can be demanding. How do you manage your time effectively?
The shop takes so much of my time and gives me so many responsibilities that sometimes I barely have time for my music and myself.
Balancing both jobs is not easy at all. But I’ve learned during the years to structure my day and my life better. For example, waking up early in the morning changed everything. I take time for myself like 10 minutes of meditation, some home work out, breakfast, shower and like this i have more time to plan my day and my work without stress.
I'm very grateful that I do what I love the most. So I can't complain!
As a DJ and record store owner, you have a unique position in the music community. How do you contribute to the growth and support of emerging artists?
There are many emerging artists in Berlin, we are happy to have a place where any artists can feel welcome sharing their music with us and possibly have the space to do an in store session to present their new releases for example and do network.
During the years we also gave opportunities for internships for the store to young local artists/DJs we met at the shop, who were also regular customers and we felt a good connection with them. Each of them also contributed to helping the brand grow.
Are there any specific artists or genres that you're currently excited about, and why?
Lately I've been playing and listening a lot to the latest ERIC OS album The Wandering Mind LP on Space Trace.
I personally find it one of the best albums of the year. You can find some electro/tech house tracks that could perfectly fit on the dancefloor as well as some cosmic downtempo vibes. It takes you on a nice journey from beginning till the end. Amazing!
Eversines is another artist which I love and respect. Whether it is techno, electro or tech house, every release from him is always on point!
Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for the coming year, both personally and professionally?
Now that I'm fully back after the break I had to take in the summer, i´ve started again to plan the future releases for my label Dreamers. The next one is already signed and I can't wait to share it with you all soon.
I’m also trying to take time for myself being in the studio and trying to make music. It's always something I've wanted to do so I think it is the right time now.
Check out 60waves online here