DJing: The Art of Discipline

International creative force, Anja Schneider, speaks to about maintaining a balance

Anja Schneider is a DJ, producer, radio broadcaster, label owner, mentor and mother. Anja founded iconic label mobilee in 2005, which she grew it in to one of the most influential brands in underground electronic music. 2017 saw the launch of her new imprint, Sous Music, and the release of nine-track album ‘SoMe’, which was crowned DJ Mag’s Album of the Month and described by Mixmag as: ‘a seamless, soulful blend of underground house and techno.’

Also check out Anja’s specially-curated playlist (see end of article), carefully selected to accompany her thoughts…

When I founded my first label and suddenly started out started to become a DJ outside of my radio career, I was still a raver at heart.

At this time, it was at the start of a passion for this art, and a crazy kind of lifestyle.

At the start of his movement, to play whilst partying hard with everyone in the crowd was almost seen as a must, a cool thing to be doing and everyone can remember googling that rare footage which appeared online from time to time of some of our favourite DJs collapsing doing something they shouldn’t be in front of fans or messing up their set live online. It was a new way to be in the club, without being physically there, and it could reach a larger audience than ever before.

The word ‘rare’ is the keyword here, maybe because with the huge inflation and value of social media and streamed footage, which was live and direct — a lot have things swiftly changed.

Not only social media is the main factor here, bigger festivals, fewer clubs, more pressure, more competition, a rapidly growing dj culture and the whole scene becoming more and more professional and heavily business orientated.

With it getting more professional, this also meaning growing with this movement was necessary for many artists, as we get older — it is imperative to stay current. To play a big role in this circus you have to be focused, and fit. These attributes were not possible given our raving lifestyle we had in the early days.

To be focused on your music and creative output whilst having regular life during the week, combined with a hectic travelling schedule — looking good and staying on top of your health isn’t the easiest of tasks. With my personal experience, it was a growing anxiety of not being able to deliver year after year. This is especially felt when I play smaller clubs, and the flurry hits me like a thunderstorm — if I played with a lot of respected colleagues it’s even harder. In the beginning of my career, I used to override this with drinking, and I think that most of us can say we rarely played a night sober.

Of course, this has lasted a long time, and it takes its toll on your body and even more your soul. My anxiety overwhelmed me during my normal mid-week life, and the only chance I had during this time was to change my behaviour, so that’s what I did.

I started sports and changed my eating habits, but most importantly I tried to control my alcohol consumption. Alcohol is the biggest trigger for everything else and became my biggest enemy. To control this and carry on with my dj touring lifestyle was a challenge. To become a mother, I believe was something that was very helpful to make me realise my priorities and responsibilities in life.

To change is NOT easy, you will be surrounded by all temptations on a weekly basis, encouraged by friends, enjoying good times and it just feels natural to have fun, and get a drink. Not only this, but it’s a lonely job — you miss your family on the road and have the biggest highs followed by some of the biggest lows. You have to be prepared for this, for it to happen and work.

Change your rider, drink water and learn to say the word ‘No’. It’s not easy but think about Monday morning back home with your family. Social pressure is huge in every sense these days, no matter what industry you work in. Stop comparing yourself to others, understand that only you can truly make a difference to anything in your life, and hangovers certainly don’t help a positive train of thought to develop.

I guess this is a lifestyle where discipline is not really a top priority, and it should be, maybe more than any other type of profession.

I learned to fail, many times. Its normal but should encourage you to learn lessons to finally reach your goals.

You can still be a fun person without a drink! Something society leads you to not believe. Clubs and festivals are just spaces where similar people all congregate and let loose. Understand this but also know that they can also be seen as a space for freedom, choice and socialising.

Embrace it but embrace it with some responsibility and you will no doubt have more longevity with your career, in turn be more focused, have a better quality of life outside of the weekend. I love it as much now as I did from day 1 but I just have a new way of handling every situation with more discipline.

Check out Anja’s playlist, specially curated for -

Laurent Garnier / Wake Up
Westbam fest Richard Butler / You Need The Drugs
Radio Slave / Eyes Wide Open
Schatrax / Mispent years
Paul Woolford / MDMA
Dettmann + Klock / Dawning
Humate / Love Stimulation
Underground Resistance — Living For The Night
Kate Bush / Running Up That hill
Superpicther / Heroin
Phuture / Your Only Friend
Moderat / bad Kingdom
Howling / Signs -Rodhead Mix