Anja Schneider is the Mobilee records founder, broadcaster, internationally renowned DJ and producer once labeled a “perpetual motion machine”, and one of the hardest working individuals in the business.
Anja just released a new EP called ‘Hey’, is showcasing her Mobilee imprint at this year’s ADE and is busy as a bee combining all required skills to manage her self-created emporium. We asked Anja several questions about the start of her career, the Mobilee label and how she manages to combine all her activities within this demanding business.
You started, as far as we know, your musical career as a radio host, what was your intention and motivation to broadcast a radio show?
Music was already a major motivation and passion in my life, and at the time it seemed the perfect outlet and opportunity for me to share my new discoveries with everyone else. We didn’t have Soundcloud, Spotify etc. back in the day, so radio and parties were really the only places you could discover new sounds and artists. It was exciting; you had to wait until the weekend to hear new things. Now everything is so instant, we were all a lot more patient then – you had to be!
How did you get in touch with electronic music before you started your radio show?
I have always liked music from an early age. I am a child of the electronic era growing up in Germany with Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and all the great music from the ’80s and ’90s – it could only really go one way! But I’m not just into dance music; I like everything from Johnny Cash to Kings Of Convenience to Nine Inch Nails to Debussy.
Did you dream of a DJ career before you started the radio show or did the ambition to play as a DJ arose later on?
Djing came later after I’d been at Fritz radio and started my label Mobilee. I realized I had access to all this amazing new music, and I wanted to share it in a different way. I had to practice, and played at small parties to find my feet. I was very lucky, more and more people asked me to play for them, so it was more of a natural step than a dream.
In an interview, you told that you were quite frightened to perform as a DJ, and you were looking up to the already established DJ’s that were playing around that time. What was causing this feeling and how did you overcome or manage it?
I’m not sure anyone overcomes their nerves as a performer, this is part of it and looking to one’s peers is only natural. I am always a little nervous before I start; mainly because I want it to be the best I can for the people, and for them to have an amazing and memorable time. It’s all about the dance floor and the people for me, without it, there is no party, so there’s a responsibility to find the music to create the best vibe, and that’s a little nerve wracking at first! But you find your way and then you are able to really enjoy it, it’s an incredible feeling to be part of this.
You’re defined as a hard-working personality within this scene. What specific skills are required nowadays to manage a flourishing business in the electronic music scene?
Feet firmly on the ground, a sense of humor, hard work, open to new experiences and ideas, a supportive team and good friends around you.
When did you make the decision to start your own label together with Ralf Kollmann and what was the idea behind the initial start?
After I had been at the radio station, a friend came up with the idea and said; with all this access to music you should start your own label. Ralf was already a close friend, and I knew he had an amazing head for business and marketing and it seemed the perfect fit. We work very well together and have the same passion for music and vision for the label.
The Mobilee label was, in our opinion, professionally positioned in a way that you see within professional marketing agencies. Do you have a marketing background and did you invest a lot of time into the process before you started the actual label?
Not at all – I was totally new to it. Ralf already had the experience. I am touched you think we are such a professional looking outfit! We do like to keep the Mobilee brand true to itself and we pride ourselves on making everything fit together with our ongoing vision for the label. We now have our Mobilee session parties all around the world, the rooftop series including our legendary Off-Sonar parties at Hotel Diagonal in Barcelona and we have many ideas for the label going into the future.
Running a record company nowadays is a tough job which consumes a lot of time. You’re playing as a DJ and also have big responsibilities as a mother. How do you combine all these responsibilities?
Firstly, you need to have a very good team at the office and around you at home. I have amazing friends, family and the Mobilee team. I am a mother now, and my son comes before everything, so when I have to play at the weekends all the logistics involved have to be organized to the finest detail. I also have to juggle with my time in the office at the label, working in the studio on my remixes and my album, (don’t ask) and then if I’m really lucky, I have a little time for a quick dinner with friends. Good time management and a cool head are paramount if you want it all to work.
What was your mindset in the period that you started to think about the imprint and what kind of mindset is required to success at previous set out goals?
You need a good team and your own vision. It is important to be flexible and to be able to adapt to new situations. The music scene and industry is changing very fast. You should embrace new technologies and new opportunities and always look forward. Just be a nice human being and respect everybody! Stay grounded.
What advice would you give to young and talented people that planning to set up a business within this electronic music scene?
It is hard and already quite different now with everything happening online. For me, the passion for what you’re doing has to be unwavering, you need great people around you to support the vision, and fundamentally you need to have good music. The practical stuff can fall into place, but if you don’t have a good plan and good music then there’s not a lot of point. New and interesting music, support of friends and feet firmly on the ground. Good luck!