Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

Electro Feminisms: Monika Enterprise

After talking about about the means of production in electronic music, today I want to spotlight something the Berlin label Monika Enterprise. Founded by a woman, Gudrun Gut, Monika bucks the usual trend of women-as-exception, with a strong female roster and a regular spotlight on new artists in its 4 Women No Cry, which brings together four women from four different countries.

The general vibe of the label is quirky electropop, indietronica, IDM, and minimal techno. You get a sense of some of the humour behind it when you realise that the titular Monika was in fact a suicidal fish of Gudrun Gut's...Obviously!

Monika's best known artist is probably Barbara Morgenstern, whose 2006 single "The Operator" got a bit of buzz in Pitchfork-type circles. Morgenstern combines programmed drums and synths with her own piano and vocals in German to create a distinctive sound. I don't speak German and can't find any translations of the lyrics, but from the video and the English chorus I gather the subject of "The Operator" is technology. "Reset my options" strikes me as a fairly feminist urge in a technologised world.

While The Grass Is Greener (the album "The Operator" is taken from) is a wonderful album, my favourite song of hers is "Aus Heiterem Himmel," from 2003's Nichts Muss.

Label-head Gudrun Gut is no slouch in the studio herself, with a quarter century of work in Berlin's music scene, though it wasn't until 2007 that she finally got around to putting out a full record, titled fittingly, I Put A Record On . "Move Me" is the first track on that album, and it seems to replay male minimal techno artists like The Field's microsample-and-delay technique only to displace it into something rather more off-kilter. As a production strategy, it feels like a parodic imitation in order to voice something quite different to The Field's anaethesised loops (personally I listen to Kompakt records on planes, the steady pulse seems to fit the air-conditioned not-space of travel and airports really well).

The sample is, I think, a marching band or accordion, but it's really hard to tell with only fragments used. And then, over the top, Gudrun herself gives a half-sung, half-spoken vocal: "I fall to pieces like a Patsy Cline song." It's cryptic, but this song feels dysphoric to me, sick. Articulating her dis-ease, the chorus demands, off-key, "move me." And it does.

There's plenty of other great artists on Monika, so if you like these songs, do check them out.

Enjoy reading this article? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today!

Subscribe to Bitch

Comments

2 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I am pretty sure you can read

I am pretty sure you can read my mind because I have been looking everywhere for cool German electronica female musicians to practice my German!
<3 thanks!

Barbara Morgenstern and Gudrun Gut released new albums in 2012