In a recent interview mobilee founder Anja Schneider was asked what type of person she’s liked to be remembered as, and she responded with “a fair and authentic one”, before lapsing into her trademark cheeky-but-honest humour to say she wanted her legacy to be of a “passionate wonderful beauty, who was always young and funny”.
It may have been a final question at the end of a minor interview, but the answer gives crucial insight into so much of what drives Schneider and makes her tick; from her inspiring, instinct-driven DJ sets where the magnetic artist is having every bit as much fun as the dancefloor, to the label and accompanying agency, where a savvy head for business is mixed with a sharp intuition of how best to develop mobilee and its stable of artists, Schneider approaches it all with a distinct sense of passion, vision and energy.
Indeed anyone with even a beginner’s knowledge of mobilee will sense the crew as often more akin to a family such is the close-knit, free-spirited vibe Schneider has fostered among the stable of artists and collective of people working under the label, agency and studios at their headquarters in the Berlin suburb of Mitte.
While always available as a hands-on mentor, she’s equally insistent that each artist on her roster — whether it be live artists Rodriguez Jr. and AND.ID, or the likes of DJ/production talent Lee Van Dowski, Re.You, Ray Okpara, Gel Abril and recent additions to the collective Customer and Kevin Over — develop their careers as they see fit.
Beginning her career as a radio programmer before going on to host her own show Dance Under The Blue Moon on Berlin’s Fritz Radio since 2000, Schneider is responsible for the city’s longest running underground dance music radio show. Broadcasting every Saturday from 10 pm, it has introduced generations of Berliners to electronic music.
It was from these simple beginnings that sprung mobilee — a distributor suggesting Schneider start up a label to support all the demos she was receiving as a radio host, and as such mobilee was birthed in 2005, with a booking agency arm to follow in 2007.
Of all skills, Schneider’s ear for unearthing and supporting hot new talent has reined supreme. A scan through the back catalogues of mobilee and its sister imprint Leena and you’ll see the likes of Maya Jane Coles (who returned with another EP in 2014, a follow up to 2011’s Beat Faster), Solomun, Shonky, H.O.S.H., Nicole Moudaber and Pan-Pot all alumni of Schneider’s labels, well before the artists were the household rave names they are today.
In an industry where so many others have fallen by the wayside, mobilee has remained a symbol for quality. Even if you’re not a collector of their back catalogue, any clued-up dance music fan would be aware of the unbeatable vibes that come about when the crew get together to party — regardless of whether it’s a label showcase at Watergate or one of their legendary rooftop events at Hotel Silken Diagonal in Barcelona. Special things happen. Sometimes even spontaneous group tumbles in swimming pools.
Juggling the responsibilities of touring every weekend, with running a label and agency, plus a weekly radio show, alongside that of being a mother, studio time is a rare but auspicious occasion for Schneider; but when the stars align, the results are memorable.
Follow her productions over the years and you can see and distinct pattern emerging; one of storytelling. On her critically acclaimed 2008 album debut Beyond The Valley, Schneider describes the title as representing a “place where your parents told you not to go play as a child… it’s dangerous and anarchic. All the creatures that have been chased out of the village have gone there to hide”.
What has followed are on-point productions imbued with plenty of heart and narrative from the exquisite Something That’s For Life featuring Cari Golden on vocal, Hello Boy! and Rio a nod to the new addition in her life, to tracks such Dubmission — her ode to the famous E-Werk club night that shaped her nascent raver days and recent EPs Soul Traveler and Rain, acclaimed as some of the finest work of her career.
Outside of her output for mobilee, she has released originals and remixes on respected imprint such as PIAS, Crosstown Rebels, Diynamic, Dessous, Connaisseur Recordings, Get Physical, Soma, MOOD Records, Pets Recordings and Moon Harbour.
Schneider’s craft as a selector is just as thoughtful and inspired as her productions. Case in point, her maiden Essential Mix in 2014. The two hours sessions saw the Berliner mixing fresh unreleased cuts with beautiful tracks from Saint Etienne and Matom that challenged the house and techno paradigm, before finishing with one of the artist’s all-time favourites, Kraftwerk’s Computer Love. For the sage music heads, it was undoubtedly one of the finest Essential Mixes of the year.
Once famously dubbed a “perpetual motion machine”, Schneider’s non-stop energy and work ethic is near legendary. Continually seeking to push herself creatively in the studio, growing and maintaining an inspired roster of artists at mobilee, all the while touring the world week in, week out.