Oh, look how the tables turned! When Alissa Fink decided to switch up her testing tube station with a mixing desk and took on the stage name Acidfinky, she realized that a whole new world was right in front of her. Today, we want to introduce you to the young German-Algerian DJ and producer, who initially came to Berlin to study physics and dive deeper into the science sector. On top of pursuing her scientific career, however, she became the co-founder of BLVSH, a women-only collective striving for the diversification of the electronic music scene, and host of the radio show Twisting Knobs. Today, she makes great things happen within the realm of physics and the music industry.
What does music mean to you?
Music one of the most beautiful ways of sharing emotions. It’s universal, everyone can enjoy it, from the most skilled musician to the year-old baby moving his body when hearing his parents singing. I find that fascinating. I also use it to relieve my stress, I’m quite an anxious person, doing music helps me cope with that.
What defines good music for you?
What I would describe as good music is music that awakes something in the listener. It can be joy, sadness, nostalgia, and many more. Surprise is also quite important in my opinion, good music is unexpected, exciting! What I like a lot personally are percussions, they’re the component that usually speaks to me the most in a track. Combine them with some crispy sounds or « ear candy » and I’m the happiest person in the world.
When did you decide to dedicate your life to making music?
I am actually a physics student, so I initially planned to focus on science. I started doing music to pass time during the lockdown(s) and it unexpectedly became a big part of my life. I am really grateful for that, I discovered a whole new world and I cannot wait to learn more and more with time.
How did you come up with your stage name Acidfinky?
The name Acidfinky was kind of a joke at first. I think it was in 2016 or 2017, we decided to invent DJ names for my flatmate and I, we were not DJs, we just put some songs on the phone while spending time together at home. I was listening to a lot of acid techno back then so I went for acid combined my last name which is « Fink », so I became Acidfinky on Instagram. Four years later, when I finally started DJing, I just kept this name.
You are a co-founder of BLVSH. What is BLVSH and what was the main idea behind it?
BLVSH (pronounced |blʌʃ|) means blossoming, blooming, coming to life. It
was created for the exposure, peer
support, and promotion of new FLINTA* talents. Our collective is committed in contributing to a much-needed increase in the visibility of those new talents and their blossoming in a still male-dominated clubbing scene. There are a lot of similar collectives and projects, in Germany and all around the globe. We are all connected one way or another, it is an incredible feeling to see this blossoming of new artists everywhere, but we still have a lot of work to do!
Who is part of the collective?
Right now we are four people. Inverno, Naivblu, Hripsime, and me. We all met at the SPOON DJ workspace for women, trans and non-binary folks. We found a safe space there to learn new skills and connect with people who have a similar enthusiasm for music. Now it’s our turn to create new safe spaces and transmit the things we have learned when we were beginners.
You are also the host of Twisting Knobs. What topics does this programme deal with?
I chose the name Twisting Knobs for the obvious reason that DJs spend their time twisting knobs on the mixer, but also as an image for this expanding feminist music scene « twisting » the patriarchy with its music. So, naturally, the show is about music and feminism. I also use it as a platform to promote upcoming FLINTA* artists based in Berlin. We usually take part in a musical « challenge » together, for example, favorites of 2020.
What exactly are your tasks?
My show airs on THF radio. I can do what I want with it so I have to plan my guests, playlists, promote the show, etc. Since THF is a community radio, all the hosts also take part in making the radio grow one way or another. For my part, I am working in the social media group as well as in the «Digital Festival» group.
Do you also play your self-produced singles on this show?
I have been producing for a few months now but I have never played one of my tracks on the show. There are so many great productions from other artists that I want to share with the listener that I don’t even really think about playing something of mine.
Who are the usual interviewers and interviewees in this program?
I tend to invite FLINTA* DJs I have some connection with. A friend, or a friend from a friend, etc. I am still a bit too shy to invite someone I don’t know at all.
In what way do you feel your role in the DJ and producer sector is different, or not different, from that of male colleagues?
I haven’t been in the sector for that long. What I have noticed over the last few months is that FLINTA* artists seem to share opportunities with each other much more than their male colleagues. I always saw the electronic music scene as something based a lot on ego, « being cool » and even selfish sometimes. This, however, is not the case for us. All the people I have met from other collectives have always been extremely supportive and invested in making a change. This motivates me daily, I never thought I could take part in so many great projects through DJing and producing. It is also very refreshing to see so many talented people determined to support others and build networks.
Where do you find musical inspiration? Are there any musical role models that inspired you or influenced you the most?
When I lack inspiration, I usually watch documentaries about the roots of music. I get a huge inspirational boost when I do that, it also reminds me where the music I play comes from. Sometimes I will also stumble upon a track or an album by an artist which gives me a proper slap in the face and awakens something that was already in me but not exploited yet. For example « A Touch Of » from Piezo, it’s an IDM-induced leftfield downtempo track from 2019 with beautifully done glitchy sounds and ambient sonorities. I discovered it a few weeks ago, I was immediately put in a state of extreme serenity like everything is going to be fine. I really needed it, since we are living
in such bizarre times. There are so many DJs and producers I have a deep admiration for. DjRUM for his incredible turntablism skills, Sherelle for her energy behind the decks, Sully for his manipulation of breaks, Roza Terenzi for the poetry she has in her tracks, Beatrice Dillon for her level of production… The list could go on and on. They all have a unique style and sound, it stuns me every time
What has been your experience in the music industry so far - have you ever been treated differently because of your gender?
I cannot speak for the industry since I am not really in it. What I have witnessed a lot during the last few years was not being taken seriously when talking about music with men, being mansplained on how to mix, or being « tested » on my knowledge (what labels I know for example). It’s just annoying, they give me the feeling that I have to prove myself to them. Also, it has become quite common for people from under-represented groups (based on their gender, skin color…) to be asked to take part in some projects in order to make the label, party or whatever look better. There is a word for that, tokenism, it puts the artist in a tricky position. Should they accept and support this way of booking or refuse a potentially vital paycheck?
What does equality mean to you?
Equality for me is having the same chances. More concretely, in the electronic music scene, it means having the same chances of being booked for a gig, getting the same pay like everyone else, going to a show without being harassed or assaulted, being taken seriously, and getting the same visibility as everyone else.
As an artist do you see yourself as responsible to stand up for equal rights and equality?
Artists’ political and social responsibilities have always been a big topic, should an artist always be political in one way or another? I studied in a privileged place, therefore I came across great opportunities and met a lot of people who introduced me to DJing and producing. Turntables and producing equipment are not cheap, I am highly aware of that. So for my part, I definitely feel like I have a responsibility towards making the scene more accessible and inclusive. At BLVSH, we work a lot on equality between genders in the scene, but there is still so much to do. I personally still have a lot to learn about racism and sexism (of any kind), as well as how to make the scene more accessible to people with disabilities.
What do you wish for the future of the music industry?
I have a lot of hopes for the future. My biggest wish would be to have an industry free of sexual abuse and harassment.
What tips would you give to aspiring female artists?
If you are scared to start doing music because you feel « too old », please start anyway! I used to always feel inferior to my friends who know how to play an instrument, especially when hearing people say that DJs should learn how to play the piano first in order to « understand » music. Don’t get me wrong, it is always a good idea to learn how to play an instrument and I have high admiration for people who play the violin or the guitar. But fact is, I did not get the chance to do that when I was younger. Thinking that one needs to know how to play an instrument since childhood is classist. It took me a while to understand that and not feel ashamed anymore. I started at 23 years old, my life has completely changed since then and I am incredibly grateful for that. Doing music opened a whole new world for me, I do not want to sound too cheesy, but it really felt like I discovered a color I have never seen before. I just want other people to get the same chance.