Published on November 22nd, 2023 | by Dr. Jerry Doby0
Clara Cuvé Drives The Next Generation of Berlin’s Techno Scene
Clara Cuvé began her musical journey as a young classical pianist with a passion for collecting records. By her teen years, she turned that collection into high-octane dance sets, from Breakbeat to Jungle to Hardcore. She began her techno career in Munich with the label Stock5, then relocated to Berlin and became a resident at the renowned event series MESS at OHM, before embarking on a worldwide tour at clubs and festivals such as Awakenings, Melt!, Blackworks, EXHALE, Pollerwiesen, and Teletech.
Clara Cuvé finds a path from classical piano to techno
Clara Cuvé sat down for her first piano lesson at the age of four. In her family, a love of music was non-negotiable, but she could choose the instrument she wanted to play.
When she experienced the piano at that first lesson, Cuvé knew it was the instrument for her. “Even today, playing the piano gives me a feeling like nothing else,” she says. “When my fingers are on the keys, I am at peace.”
While Cuvé still begins every day by playing classical piano, her musical tastes have diverged. In her early teens, she listened as friends spun records and eventually joined in.
Today, Cuvé’s playlist is a wide-ranging mix of electronic dance music. “When I started, I did not want to be a DJ or go to clubs,” she remembers. “I really just wanted to play records. My friends saw my potential long before I did. Without asking, they put me on the line-up of their parties, and suddenly, my future in techno became clear.”
DJing quickly took priority. “My time in the DJ booth was more than a musical experience,” she remarks. “It was an opportunity to become the person I wanted to be. DJing enabled me to overcome crippling shyness and establish my own sense of confidence.”
As Cuvé’s passion for electronic dance music grew through gigs with Munich label Stock5 and her residency at Munich’s Rote Sonne, she increasingly traveled from her hometown to Berlin. “My friends and I were always going over to Berlin,” she recalls. “There wasn’t any comparable music scene in Munich at the time. Those trips convinced me to relocate permanently.”
While Cuvé admits all her forays into Berlin’s thriving nightlife were eventful, the first proved less successful. “I first attempted to enter the clubs in Berlin when I was only 14,” she remembers, “which, of course, meant I needed a fake ID. I was hauled out by the police the first time, but after one false start, my track record was 100%. I will admit that my poor parents definitely had to endure several extremely rebellious teenage years from me.”
After moving, Cuvé scored a job at a club in The Wardrobe. Suddenly, she had regular access to Berlin’s legendary DJs and a chance to perform for a Berlin crowd.
Nowadays, Cuvé is a fixture in Berlin’s best clubs, and is hard-pressed to pick a favorite. “Ohm is such a unique club,” she remarks. “When you’re in the DJ booth, you’re on the same level as the dance floor. You can forget what you’re doing and feel like you’re part of the crowd. I’ll always remember playing the closing set at the Hyperaktivist’s MESS party surrounded by my closest friends. The old Griessmühle is another club with fantastic energy, and the people who come to see me there are the best. I also really enjoy the new place, Revier Südost. No matter the club, it’s always a thrill to perform in Berlin, especially with good friends around.”
Clara Cuvé growing beyond Berlin
In addition to time in the DJ booth, Cuvé is producing her own music. In 2020, she released her debut song, “Control.” Her powerful vocal performance and hypnotic synth line equip this track with a raw, edgy sound.
Photographer Sven Marquardt recently partnered with Cuvé on a collaborative project in Berlin. Marquardt, a born East Berliner, has worked in the club culture as a doorkeeper of the Berghain for over two decades and is internationally revered for his iconic shots of Berlin’s DJs at work. He knows Berlin’s club scene like no one else and finds artists like Cuvé fascinating. In his mind, these artists represent a link between the city and one of its most intriguing subcultures.
Marquardt started taking photos of the local punk, new wave, and art scene in the 1980s. “I was young and trying to discover my own style,” he remembers. “The pictures I captured of East Berlin’s punk scene did not jive with DDR standards, but I saw a feeling of vitality in the club and wanted to preserve it.”
After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Marquardt felt the need for a change, so he temporarily put the camera aside and plunged into the developing culture on Berlin’s reunified dance floors. When he returned to his art decades later, he had become a fixture in the club scene.
Since returning to photography, Marquardt’s work has enjoyed dozens of international shows. Now, after photographing Cuvé, he labels her as part of the “Next Generation.”
The collaboration is bringing many exciting opportunities into Cuvé’s path. At this year’s London Fashion Week, Rick Owens invited her to play at the presentation of his collab with fashion brand Moncler. The following month, she started a new event series called “Sesh” together with friend and artist MCR-T.
Whatever lies ahead, Cuvé is determined to continue growing as a musician. “Creatively, I’m always evolving,” she concludes. “Lately, I’ve decided to revive my faster, tougher sound. You’ll hear a lot of my early influences, like Psytrance, Gabber, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Jungle, and Electro, in my sets again. I’m always either learning something new or breathing new life into old favorites.”