DJ & Producer Erta Ale on Eating, Breathing and Sleeping Creativity

House and techno DJ Erta Ale joined us for a stellar live composition workshop, demonstrating a combination of analog gear and live digital effects to our Electronic Music Production & Performance students. We ask him what fuels his creativity.

The moment of truth. When a painter makes their first strokes on canvas; when a new rocket is T-minus ten seconds to lift-off; when a DJ cues up a record with no certainty it’ll fit the rest. Time stands still, every forehead-droplet a well of intense anticipation, melting into fear. A fork in the road to a multiverse: success, failure or total disaster.

If you’re ever looking for Erta Ale, chances are you’ll find him in this moment – tucked inside any one of Berlin’s most popular clubs. It’s a place the house and techno DJ and producer, live performer and label owner, is perpetually searching for – revelling in, in fact – for the thrill of spontaneity it delivers.

Seeing vinyl, like any other musical instrument, as a means to surprise himself and his audience in both good and bad ways, it is the journey, not total beauty or perfection, that moves his DJ sets. As he writes in his SoundCloud bio, “playing is taking the fucking risk.”

Erta Ale has been based in Berlin for a decade, his sound feeding off the emotional ruin, renovation, dynamic energy and ecstasy of the city and its people. Dedicated to the craft of vinyl with infectious personality, he describes his warm, propelling and researched touch as a “tight hug made of sound.” It’s a hug that couldn’t be more fitting for his residency at the infamously intimate KitKat, as well as the likes of Tresor, Sisyphos, Wilde Renate – you name it.

Following the recent release of his upbeat EP Sometimes Happens, Erta Ale joined us at Catalyst for a stellar live composition workshop, demonstrating a combination of analog gear and live digital effects. He even recorded some of his performance (below).

DJ and producer Kevin Davies, one of our attending students, described the experience: “He did a really good job of explaining the components of a live set as ‘Global,’ ‘Middle,’ and ‘Local.’ He also had a really nice tech setup where each element clearly served a purpose and there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of gear. I think it was good for everyone to see and remember that less is more. Finally, his live show was absolutely brilliant and he created some truly amazing sounds and rhythms seemingly out of nothing. Loved it.”

Keen to get to know Erta Ale – real name Fabrizio Nocci – even more, we caught up with him after the session to ask him what is the one thing that fuels his creativity.

My One Thing

Erta Ale

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“There are two things that fuel my creativity: listening to a lot of music and writing a lot of music. For me, in this part of my life, it’s more about doing than thinking; it’s about being active. I want to stimulate my creativity by making and listening to a lot of different music every single day – music as food and as physical exercise...”

A live composition workshop with DJ and producer Erta Ale at Catalyst Berlin

“...I want to develop my creative skills in an organic and natural way, and in this sense, creating music has to become a natural activity like eating, breathing, sleeping and, of course, dancing.”

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Learn about the one thing that fuels our students’ creativity.