Lose your heart, soul and dignity with the power duo of the underworld.
There’s a memorable moment in Martyna Maja’s most recent Boiler Room session where in-between her signature severe BPM, the voice of Arthur Brown, recorded in 1968, piercingly proclaims: “I am the god of hellfire!” Well, now that 2020 is approaching and we’re slowly starting to comprehend that the last leftovers of our future are—ffs—female, let’s take a collective moment to let that set sink in and rehash our goddesses. As for the deities and/or demons of techno, we can high-handedly say that 2019 was the year of VTSS (real name mentioned above) and SPFDJ (real name Lina Jonsson). In the past year, dark dancefloors around the world have stompingly embraced these hard-hitting selectors, who—you couldn’t have missed it—also happen to be close partners in crime. And so Glamcult figured, why profile a single artist when you can kill two DJs with one stone?
An introduction is somewhat redundant here, but let’s reminisce on a few fun facts. Respectively Swedish and Polish but based in Berlin when they’re not on the road, SPFDJ and VTSS have made their way from underground residencies at Herrensauna and Brutaz to become big-crowd favourites at festivals such as Dekmantel and Dimensions. It’s with a killer VTSS production that SPFDJ launched her label, Intrepid Skin, in 2018. The two recently played the first in a string of B2B sets at Säule [Berghain]. Their straightforward Instagram game is undoubtedly better than (y)ours; expressing a deep-rooted love for socks in slides, for not giving a fuck about techno purism and/or sexism, and—before we forget—for high-velocity electronic music and each other. In short: hearing Lina, Martyna, or Lina and Martyna, take over a club comes at the risk of losing your heart, your soul and your dignity. Now please give it up for to the self-proclaimed “housewives of Neukölln” (and see you in hell, babes).
SPFDJ: sweater Julia Seemann, boots 032c x Buffalo
VTSS: top Julia Seemann, trousers Off-White
Ladies! While reading your previous interviews we found out there’s very few in which the other isn’t mentioned. [Both laugh] That obviously has to do with you working together label/release-wise, but also with the two of you being friends, fangirls, and partners in crime… Let’s go back to the start: how did the two of you meet and, more importantly, connect?
SPFDJ: We met at a Brutaz party on New Year’s Eve two years ago. Three years ago? Two years ago? I was playing and Martyna was playing after—and we ended up at an afterparty where Martyna was controlling the music for basically all of the afterparty.
VTSS: I lost my voice so I was just putting on music.
So, the two of you didn’t talk?
VTSS: I nodded.
SPFDJ: I was just very impressed by the music she was playing. It was a lot of trance.
VTSS: I want to go back to the party earlier. Lina played and it was literally the first time in my life I saw someone play, musically, something so close to what I was playing. I was still living in Poland then and there was no one like that around my club circle.
It was the music that connected the two of you.
SPFDJ: Yeah, for sure. Martyna was still living in Warsaw back then….
VTSS: …and Lina was in Berlin. [Both laugh]
VTSS: We’re answering to each other now. I moved to Berlin about a year ago.
Jumping from that first encounter to today, you very recently played back-to-back for the first time. How did that go? Wish we could’ve been there!
VTSS: It was legendary! No, I think it went really well… I was really tired and had a really rough month. We couldn’t really enjoy the party as much and I had a morning flight. But I heard the club was full at midnight and they wouldn’t let anybody in.
That’s a good sign.
SPFDJ: I thought it went better than expected, actually, because I was a bit nervous, playing with Martyna. I was feeling a little bit… shit.
You hadn’t played B2B before, why now?
SPFDJ: It had been in the talks for a while.
VTSS: We wanted to do this in a special place. Säule is our favourite club in Berlin, so we wanted to wait to make it happen there.
You obviously work together and spend a lot of time together. Do you consider each other a good or bad influence on one another?
SPFDJ: I think I’m a bad influence on Martyna and Martyna is a good influence on me. [Laughs] She’s the angel after all.
VTSS: Once, I think around six months ago, we were at this party and they were doing some naughty stuff. So I gave Lina this mum look: “No!” Then Lina said I should start a label and call it, “Mum says no!”.
The past year has been crazy for both of you. You’re literally all over and there’s no way we can keep up. With that kind of a schedule, how do you stay sane?
SPFDJ: I don’t know about us and sane… [Laughs]
For both of you, what was the moment you thought: “Wow, this DJ thing is actually blowing up?”
VTSS: My US agent actually asked me the same ques- tion recently when I told her I was feeling incredibly busy and tired. There is barely a moment to take a break and realize what’s happening on a schedule like that. You sleep on Mondays, then there’s press to do on Tuesdays—like today…
SPFDJ: It’s Monday.
VTSS: Oh, Monday, excuse me! It’s my last weekday. [Laughs] There’s no time to realize things and I think that’s actually good. If you realize it too much, that causes anxiety and you might become overwhelmed by it. You overthink it.
SPFDJ: I don’t know if it has fully hit me yet. People have given me comments when I’m speaking to them. For instance, a guy told me I was “the nicest famous DJ he’d met”. And I just thought, “Famous DJ? What?”
Well, all things are relative, but we can say you’ve had your big break.
VTSS: I guess it’s happening as we speak! I can’t really say it was one moment. We were working so hard before anyone knew we were working so hard.
Do you find it hard to focus on music production when you’re DJing so much?
VTSS: Yeah, it’s been really challenging to me—especially when you play two or three gigs every week. You don’t really have the time or state of mind you need to be creative, to put your heart into it. You know, people and their expectations can fuck you over. I’m trying to now manage my schedule a bit more so I don’t end up being tired all the time.
VTSS: all clothes and accessories artist’s own (duh)
SPFDJ: jacket Our Legacy, top Ganni, jeans Balenciaga
OK, the next question is actually very important—perhaps even defining for this interview. Tell us about this “housewives of Neukölln” thing.
VTSS: This is a good one! I think we were hanging out with our friend Rowan [aka Randomer]. We were kind of going through life… well, we were moving out Lina from her ex. I think I lost my card—again—and Lina was shouting at me. Then Rowan was like: “Damn, girls, you should have a TV show.” And we said: “How would we name that?” I immediately said: “Housewives of Neukölln”! It was just so perfect. We’re sort of living the same lives. Our career is happening at the same time, and I got out of a relationship soon after she got out of hers. I feel like she subconsciously sabotaged my relationship! [Laughs]
Oh, there’s the bad influence!
VTSS: Then I moved in with her and it was an exciting moment. So now it’s Housewives of Neukölln.
Who would do the soundtrack to your show?
VTSS: Lina’s label! Intrepid Skin.
SPFDJ: I feel like it has to be more silly and dramatic, though. Maybe… “Horse”?
VTSS: [Laughs] There’s this track, “Horse“, by Salvatore Ganacci, and he’s the biggest EDM troll who does the most ridiculous shit on stage. He made this track and it’s sort of in-between EDM and techno.
Have you ever played this track?
VTSS: Yeah, we both have… [Laughs]
Aside from music, what’s the one thing you connect over and talk about the most?
SPFDJ: I’m not sure we have anything else to talk about. [Laughs] Lately we’re really into the Polish-Swedish connection. For some reason I tend to really like and hang out with Polish people and Martyna really likes Swedish people.
VTSS: Scandinavian people, in general… You know, everything sort of seems meant to be on so many lev- els, even our DJ names. People ask Lina all the time if SPDFJ comes from “speedy fucking DJ”, which it doesn’t, and I’m being asked all the time if VTSS comes from “Vitesse”, which is “speed” in French.
Before this interview we tried to see how well the names connect… “VTSSSPFDJ” works best.
SPFDJ: Well, maybe it should just be VELOCITY.
There you go, there the name of your “Housewives of Neukölln” world tour.
VTSS: Also, “Housewives of Neukölln” has such a good abbreviation. You can say it like: “Honnnnn! Honey!”
It sounds like you really thought about this.
SPFDJ: You know, it just came to us.
Something both of you do very well and naturally is communicating online. You don’t seem to take yourselves too seriously but you have a strong point of view. But on a more serious note, that’s also something that’s caused backlash and misogynist bullshit at times, for example, with people trying to police your content. How do you deal with that negativity?
SPFDJ: For me, it actually kind of feeds me. I’m happy that people have started talking about this issue; the dialogue will eventually lead to some change.
VTSS: I don’t know… I’ve been hurt by social media in the past; I was really bullied and blackmailed, which caused me to be depressed for ten months. I’m a bit more careful and obviously I’ve grown to become dead inside now, but I know my limits, which are bit stronger than Lina’s. She can be a bit more edgy and I’m trying to watch myself a bit more because of my past experiences.
SPFDJ: I’m happy to post more out-there stuff and try to make people realize I should be able to do that and still get taken seriously. People should still judge me for the music—not for my social media content. I’ve actually gotten comments from people saying I should focus less on social media and practice more. I find that quite laughable; how do they know how I spend my time? Maybe I take my social media time out of my sleep time or social time… how are they expecting me to spend 100% of my time DJing and practicing?
Those same comments would probably not be left for an equally as successful male DJs because… they don’t ever seem to do anything wrong? It’s not your responsibility to keep that conversation going, but it’s great that you do.
SPFDJ: I hadn’t actually received much feedback for my work until I posted a picture of my butt. Then, suddenly, people were commenting badly about my music under the butt picture! So, where were you before the butt picture? Why weren’t you giving me critique on my music then? I guess people see me in a different light because I posted a picture of my butt?
SPFDJ: sweater Julia Seemann, boots 032c x Buffalo
VTSS: top Julia Seemann, trousers Off-White, slides artist’s own
What we love, Lina, is that when you get negative feedback you don’t leave it at that and let it blow over. You actually clap back even harder.
SPFDJ: Ha, thank you.
Let’s say you curated a VELOCITY festival or weekender together. Which DJs or artists are definitely going to be on the line-up?
VTSS: As a Neukölln tribute, we have to have the ultimate “house husbands of Neukölln”: Somewhen and Kobosil.
SPFDJ: Yes, they are actually from Neukölln.
VTSS: We’re surrounded by so many talented friends. My last Boiler Room happened three days ago and most of the music, unreleased tracks, came from my friends. So, it would probably be just our friends playing…
SPFDJ: We’d invite people who also like drama and don’t take themselves too seriously. Varg would be there. Héctor Oaks would be there for sure. Randomer, of course. And, of course, my Herrensauna sisters have to be there.
Can we please make this festival happen?
VTSS: Let’s find a Neukölln location.
SPFDJ: Yeah, like an old gym.
VTSS: From Lina’s window you can see this cemetery… maybe the graveyard could work?
Sounds doable. Do you think clubbing or nightlife can contain a spiritual or supernatural dimension?
SPFDJ: I definitely feel there are magical moments in the club. But I also have an MA in Astrophysics and I don’t really give much credit to paranormal things. Maybe I’m not the right person to answer this question! [Laughs]
VTSS: Does that make me the right person? Well, I’m pretty dead inside, too… What did you call me again, Lina? I’m an alien.
Martyna, you used a photo of Lina’s stitched-up leg for one of your EP covers and we can’t imagine a more symbolic signature of your collaboration. Is there any way in which you haven’t worked together yet, that’s still to come?
VTSS: A make-up line? Neukölln eye shadow, which would be trashy blue or something. [Laughs]
SPFDJ: I’ve been mentioning before, wanting to do a jewellery line that is functional for holding your earplugs so you don’t lose them and turn this black string that attaches them into a cool necklace. Wait, what if someone is going to steal this idea now?
You have to start producing this before Glamcult comes out.
SPFDJ: Well, I just need some connections to jewellery designers.
Can we add an open call to the bottom of this interview?
SPFDJ: Yes. Send us your application!
VTSS: top Our Legacy, trousers artist’s own, slides artist’s own
VTSS: top Our Legacy, trousers artist’s own
This Glamcult-exclusive feature originally appeared in the (PARA)NORMAL issue.
Words and casting: Leendert Sonnevelt
Photography: Eoin Moylan
Styling: Rudolfs Packevics—collectiveinterest
Hair and make-up: Janina Zais
Photography assistants: Lea Pech and Manu Soria
Special thanks to The Store Berlin and Modern Matters
VTSS plays SPIELRAUM’s weekender this Saturday night.