Interview: Mel Pressler of Her Damit

Her Damit brings Techno lovers from across Europe to an abandoned bunker near Berlin, where industrial backdrops and dense woods make up the setting for this unique festival. Each year, the line up features a combination of local favourites and international names and, whilst it’s constantly expanding, Her Damit’s organisers claim that preserving the festival’s intimate feel is more important to them than making money through ticket sales, so they deliberately limit  the number of visitors. I asked Mel Pressler, one of the organisers, a few more questions – read on to see what she had to say.
 

HD2017_Ben_FilhoPhoto: Ben Filho


Describe Her Damit in a nutshell

The main focus is the music, followed by the light and visual effects, and the sound concept. Decoration only plays a minor supporting role for a good reason; as we always pick very unusual locations, we don’t want to cover up what they have to offer, but instead embrace it. For this reason, the lighting plays a huge role.


What does the name mean?

In the previous project, we had played with that expression in our PR (in English it would mean something like “bring it on”) over and over again. I always found it very powerful and applicable in many ways, and I liked it very much. To give my new festival this name also comes down to nostalgia, as I am a very emotional person, and it took me a very long time to get over being sad about the failure of the former project; maybe some part of me didn’t want to let go of it at that moment. However, the expression also fits perfectly to what I would like to express – I connect the name “Her Damit” with pure energy.


What provoked you to start the festival in the first place?

One could say that Her Damit is a personal continuation of another failed project with friends. It took place in Prora and, when we discovered the location a few years back, we shared a vision of a festival. We spent nearly two years with the planning and organisation, and eventually completed it. It took all our heart, soul, strength, and passion. Unfortunately, our cooperation did not function very well. When it was over, we were faced with the shards of our shared vision and also our friendship. This weighed very heavily on me—in many ways. I wanted to quit it all, never do a festival again, and leave everything behind me. However, luckily there were people close to me who pushed and motivated me so much that I pulled myself together and gathered my remaining energy once more, continuing this journey on my own. I shaped a new concept based on my very own vision and that is how Her Damit was born. Above all, I am very ambitious to break new musical ground in the German festival scene.


Her Damit caught my attention as I’m a Techno fanatic! Naturally, Germany is home to thousands of talented Techno DJs- how do you go about picking a select few for the festival?

In terms of bookings, it is a constant tightrope because everything should be perfectly balanced out: House and Techno, a mix of well-known DJs and new, up-and-coming ones. In general, I’m not only interested in booking big names,  and would prefer to go for variety. The lineups are based on an idea, some sort of a musical story I want to tell our visitors  during their timr at Her Damit. Concerning the artists, is very important to me that they understand their craft and have a “rave heart” at the right spot. Artists who have their very own fingerprint and style always impress me a lot.

 

HD2017_2_Musikdurstig_Marius Knieling

Photo: Marius Knieling

Could you tell us a bit more about the festival location, Freudenberg, and why you choose to host it there?

Not far from Berlin, we found a former bunker complex from the GDR times that seemed perfect for us. So we moved from the island of Rugia to Freudenberg, into “exile.” The local community and the residents of Freudenberg greeted us with open arms and what began as this “exile” location has now become our home. However, like with every move, changes came with it so it was inevitable that the festival would change, but we have adapted to the new surroundings. The bunker complex in Freudenberg reminds me very much of old rave times, hence I’m always saying that last year’s “Her Damit im Exil” was an homage to ’90’s rave culture. There was a very stripped-down concept behind it.


Besides the music, what else would make this a worthwhile trip for those coming from beyond Berlin?

You have to discover and explore Her Damit; it’s totally off the grid. The journey there is an experience in itself, as it’s very trippy, and the location is also worth a visit. Sure you can go to good clubs in Berlin every weekend, but our festival is only once a year, and from year to year, things are developing and improving. We do more than our very best to keep things muy exciting and fresh.

For more interviews with festival organisers, follow my series “Tell me about your festival” on Medium.

Composed by: Milly Day
Feature photo: Sophie Pröttel