"In German, Spannung has two meanings. On the one hand it means voltage, and on the other hand it means tension," she explains, smiling. "I love this wordplay because tension can be either positive or negative. But it also reminds me of the job of a DJ – you're always under tension."
Spannung Records' sleek logo resembles the power cell in an electric circuit. She promotes the label through a new webshop with original designs, including an elegant unisex bomber jacket. As a techno artist, Lilly fully believes in rocking different shades of black.
Raised in Nuremberg, Germany, Lilly Palmer came of age in Berlin, exploring the techno scene. As a teenager, she was a metalhead until she began clubbing at 17.
"It was in Switzerland (that) I really fell in love with deep house especially," she says. Every week she had favorite tracks to share with friends, and one day they suggested she start DJing. In 2015 Lilly made her debut, releasing an EP Teaser on Natura Viva Records, including the sizzling track "Before Acid."
Lilly lives in the dance music mecca of Amsterdam with her boyfriend, DJ Egbert, and a Bengal cat named Dirk. While taking things slowly at home, she set time aside to learn kitesurfing. Despite a few faceplants, she gets back up and keeps flying.
Similar to making music, she overcame the challenges that come with developing new skills. "If you don't understand how to break or speed it up, sometimes I went faster, faster, faster and couldn't stop anymore and fell," She describes. "I hit the water, and yeah, you're a bit shocked at first, but then you're going to do it again." Lilly is determined to go with the flow, and as a DJ, she has a masterful control of the environment.
"I have this energetic side in me, and that took over," Lilly says, recalling her beginnings with deep house. "My sets are sometimes still melodic. Now I prefer hard techno even though a lot of people wouldn't consider my music as hard techno as there is in Berlin. There, it's much harder than what I do."
She isn't far removed from the early-career jitters. "I remember very clearly, the day I opened my Facebook 'Lilly Palmer' fan page. I was sitting in front of the laptop, and I was shivering." But once she launched, she was relieved with the support of friends and, eventually, new fans.
Coming up and getting support from friends within the scene was even more difficult than initially expected. In fact, she lost friends and wasn't immediately bolstered.
"As soon as I started, I kind of lost all of those male DJ friends I had before," who didn't seem to approve of her artistic debut. However, her worries faded with each sign of encouragement. Lilly jumped the hurdles of entering a male-dominated scene and saw the bright side of being a female DJ, "You get to reach a lot of people very fast because you're very unique."
And had she listened to every piece of advice, she wouldn't be a DJ with the traction she has today, so she knows not to take everything personally. Instead, curious and ready to explore the world, she would tell her younger self to "Keep going, go on with that."
Lilly Palmer's resilience and independence comes from a do-it-yourself mindset. She invested in her setup and skills to produce 15 live streams without relying on a big team during the pandemic. She beams, "I love that feeling - I feel really independent."
Online, Lilly Palmer DJs amidst gorgeous backdrops, including rooftop sunsets and the Eiffel Tower. The sounds are dark and industrial. ice-cold acid and scorching techno. A Lilly Palmer track wouldn't be complete without thrashing snares and chilling vocal samples.
Building anticipation is what Lilly Palmer does best, and fans are left shaking with excitement and satisfaction. Soon, Lilly hopes to have her visa to play in North America.
She wants to add more tracks and artists to the Spannung Records roster, valuing quality over quantity. Singles merit their own releases, and they have to be something she'd play in a Lilly Palmer set, she says. So she plans to keep building.
"If I came home from a gig and thought, wow that was the best ever, then something is wrong." Lilly explains, "It's in us artists that we always want to develop and always do better."
Interview by RYDEN
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