You cannot change the fact of where you come from, how you look, or which body you are born in. This all happens by accident. Today, Sophie Kübler aka Steve (German by accident) leaves the door a crack open to let us catch a glimpse of her world marked by sound, music, and stories she experienced over the past years. Sophie spent a significant time in Mexico where she founded the label and 360° agency “Endémico” in 2017. Shortly after, she created “NSNS magazine”, a collaborative content platform linked to the creative agency, before moving back to Germany. We are thrilled that Sophie has shared her unique story with us. So, lean back and enjoy this captivatingly honest and exclusive interview with Sophie, Steve (German by accident)!
What is music to you?
Music is my third chromosome. The thing is: since I study sound, I would make a distinction between music and sound considering two things. There are physics, natural and biological rules of sound that we can study and integrate into the different centuries of humanity and our evolution as species but that has been given to us through a higher power. So, music to me meanwhile after working with it for about 9 years really is a higher power that can manipulate, that can unite, that can divide, that can communicate, it is magic, it is deep, it reaches far, it is a myth, a science, the poetry of life in a wave. Then there is “the music” more into the direction of politics, philosophy, and ethics when we talk about artists, culture, the economy, the business side of things, marketing, management, events, law, etc. You can lose yourself in both areas - at least for me.
"I discover the world through music."
Why is music your passion?
Well, I discover the world through music. And by the world, I mean countries, people, perspectives, the planet, the universe but especially the world within me. I reach my potentials, I feel the maximum, I suffer the maximum. I love the extreme and music puts me there and lets me live my life in the potentiality it really has, it is infinite, music is infinite, I am infinite, my ideas, and my mind has infinite ideas as long as it is connected to music. Music and I are in a strong relationship that I will guard, nurture, always fight for, and never give up working on. My love for music, even when it gets tough - and believe me, it is getting really tough and really dark at some point - it is not just a passion it is an active decision to dedicate my life to it with all I have and ever will have, because it gives me back what I am looking for, the potentialities of life.
When did you realize that you wanted to dedicate your life to music?
Pew; I can’t answer that; it goes beyond music, I guess I was looking for something that answers me in life and music always gave me an answer. Sometimes a slap in the face, sometimes a kiss on the lips. I always found an answer through music that I haven’t received through a different medium. Words as well, yes, but they are also close to sound as it is a vibration of the medium air - but a different story. Yeah. I guess once I found out it answers me.
How did you come up with the name “Steve (German by accident)”?
What does this name stand for and what does it mean to you?
Uff, long story short: I decided to leave a project I had with this guy and he was not very happy with that decision and made it really hard for me to continue my work because he was pissed. So, I googled the top 5 names with the highest success rate and Steve came up. I made the same offer to him, one with the name Sophie where I never got an answer and another with the name Steve where the offer got accepted within 10 minutes. I never finalized this offer, and the story ends there, and Steve began to be explored. German by accident came up during a conversation. I got reduced many times to my German heritage in my work environment while I was living in Mexico and I hated it because I can’t change that fact where I come from, and how I look. I worked my ass off, as all other people in the music industry do, we live for this, day in day out. I included and it has nothing to do with where we come from, it’s a vision, it’s a drive, it’s a motivation to achieve something we chose to achieve. I will never forget when I got placed into this position as Project Manager in Boiler Room Latin America out of nowhere and the London Crew asked who I was and this person back then said: “No worries, she is German”, and kind of left it there also for the next three following years… What the f** does that mean, “she is German, no worries”? When it comes to the skillset of a person, what has that to do with their heritage? We are all different no matter if we are from one place, we are souls, the rest is a cultural burden we give ourselves, so I kept Steve (German by accident) as the way to express myself universally and I love it meanwhile. It was a long process to get there.
You are the founder of the label and 360° agency “Endémico“. How would you describe the label/ agency to somebody that has never heard of it?
As it says, it is 360 so we do bookings, management, PR, events, collaborations, brand collabs. It really depends, the agency has a global reach in the backend and works with people all around the world for different kinds of purposes in the realm of the arts. From exhibitions to releases, to events in clubs (pre-pandemic) to radio slots, to bookings, to fine dining experiences for artists, project management, our own productions.
What was the main intention behind the creation of Endémico?
Well, how the name already says, Endémico means endemic, native, local. It was born in Mexico in 2017 to work with Latin American artists only and basically rooted there. We have expanded our work field throughout 2020 into Europe and broader projects but have the focus to connect the dots between Latin America and the world through our works. The pandemic turned everything upside down and I do not want to change the mission nor the vision, so I also had to accept certain things that I have no power over and need to be patient with pursuing that vision and mission. But it remains the same, we are and will be active mainly in the US and Latin America and keep on expanding our global networks, ideas, and possibilities for the artists, partners, and projects we work with.
Under the umbrella of the creative agency Endémico, you also established “NSNS magazine”. What is the main intention of the magazine?
NSNS is the outlet to bring together a variety of ideas, topics, people that I meet along my way. I have a few people in the back that work with me on editing the texts for example and that help me to do some operative things in Mexico City while I am in Germany. It is a young project that I wanted to do as an initiative to basically make use of the fact that I have access to artists, media, and other places in the world of music through the global network I built with Endémico. It has been a really heavy start as I never did a magazine before and the amount of work, decisions, and cultural responsibility that comes with it is immense, damn. I salute everyone that runs a magazine. So, the intention of NSNS is to report, write, dialog, express, show, share, to dive into, to explore, to uncover stories with people, territories, bits, and pieces of the world and bring it into our context and their own, to give a space, make use of it, basically. Mainly, along with the topic human conditions as arts and how it comes to the surface is not always been talked about honestly. I miss the hard facts and the realities people are coming from when we talk about music, artists, and all that, so I focus on asking questions that haven’t been asked yet and that dive a bit into the world of someone, a topic, a place, etc. Of course, I hope one day to make a living of it and make money to pay people and myself good amounts for their amazing works. Right now, I have to do extra shifts and finance it myself which gives me a certain freedom. So that freedom is what I am exploring right now with the people that want to work with me and that I ask as well to work with me. A dream to be honest.
"It is me that uses every second of my life to dialog with the world I surround myself with and again my relationship with music and sound."
How does the magazine pursue this intention?
Well, I read a ton of stuff, I listen to a lot of podcasts, from there I write down questions, I read magazines, I talk with a lot of people all the time. It comes naturally. People show me their work, I save a lot of findings on Instagram. It is me that uses every second of my life to dialog with the world I surround myself with and again my relationship with music and sound. We communicate all the time and that ends up becoming questions or an interest in people or their work. I spend hours and days on one interview. A lot of time basically to really get to something. I love that.
Which main topics are being covered in the magazine?
People, stories, worlds, ways how people create, works, ideas, more in the deeper sense of creating and doing the music of course. But this is just the beginning. I have been doing NSNS since April 2020 so there is a whole ocean to discover. It will be a lifelong journey.
What has been your experience in the music industry so far - have you ever been treated differently because of your gender?
Yes. But this is a personal experience and I think in general this has a lot to do with the education of the individual. The older I become the more I realize different meanings of past situations. So yes, people stare at my ass, my tits, try to sleep with me, use me as an accessory at dinners with business partners, I had all kinds of situations where my gender played a role. I had to build boundaries and a certain self-confidence and trust into my actual capabilities to do the job I want to do and to be taken seriously with the way I feel comfortable to look and how I want to dress.
Do you think that we will see a time where there is rational cultural and gender equality in music?
I can’t really answer that. Music is too wide, too many people, too many stories we don’t know about, a lot of personal stuff, a lot of emotions, a lot of history. I would say we as individuals have to make the effort to think for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. Like, do I want to sacrifice this and that to get this or that, we never know what the intention or life baggage of a person is, in electronic music we don’t have as many rights as an employee like the big corps. There are so many attributes that need to be taken into account. And also, this goes really beyond music. This is education from childhood on how to treat people well but yeah, I don’t know if I can answer that question in such a short time and with the knowledge I have.
What does equality mean to you?
The right to a life and death in dignity.
"Equality somehow also ties into positions that we are giving us or mentally placing us …"
Regarding your profession, do you see yourself as responsible for standing up for equality?
I see my responsibility in treating people equally as Sophie, not just in my profession. But I do not make the distinction like this. We all have a responsibility as purely neighbors that share the same planet so yes, of course, myself as well. I have a responsibility to practice and live equality every single day. So, equality somehow also ties into positions that we are giving us or mentally placing us … With more cash, you have more opportunities yes, but are you being better because of that? I don’t think so… You are made of the same biological attributes. XY/XX or whatever bio-constellation of chromosomes you get in your development as a cell, blood, bones, so that is where equality starts: in your head, it is everywhere, all the time, every single day. It is respect for your neighbor and for your neighbors. I see it as the right to live as much as I can and also demand, and the strength and skills he/she/they have to share with the world to make it a nice and special place.
What, if anything, would you change about how the music industry is run today?
This might be a bit of an individual question as we have different perspectives and come from different places. I can’t tell because every end is a new beginning so there will be a lot of new stuff coming up that I don’t know about because I still live in the middle of this pandemic as much as probably you do, and I haven’t had much time to really think about this as I needed to secure my living and find a job and purpose in life after my career crashed. I would definitely say people’s education how to treat others along the food chain in this business, mental health, rights for employees and how we can secure safe workspaces in a self-cannibalizing work environment without much safety, old generation vs new generation, rights for workers in the industry, all the digital data collection, asking where does this go and who does it serve. I would have to dive deeper into this in order to give a proper answer. I do think that there are men out there that should not be in the position they inherit because of a power game that damages the “food chain” for no other reason than ego, yes, so it would be great to look into this. There have been some brave female colleagues at the beginning of the pandemic that made a step forward and said that some things were wrong but again I think as we are still in the middle of everything it is hard to look into the “system “at least for me at this point because I struggled with mental health issues after I had to let go of the status quo and build a new one. The landscape today is a polypoly, the big ones survived and will have a lot of power once the circulation of money and businesses works again but how the structures are, it has gotten tighter. Better, I doubt it, different, yes, but it is invisible at the moment, isolated from conversations because we can’t be as close as we used to be before. The 1,5m rule also applies to the actual business landscape.
What advice would you give to (aspiring) female artists who want to get into, or are new to the business?
Find your source. Fail once a day then you learn once a day. The reality is, this is a business many people want to be involved in but underestimate the work behind it. You have to dedicate yourself to this because money and people are moving fast. Understand how you want to live in this and then look for the job that fits you because there are plenty of other ways to be involved in music, but you shouldn’t destroy yourself, there are too many alternatives opposed to self-destruction. Festivals, music, clubs, DJ-ing is a tiny fraction of the actual landscape. There are a lot of places for people, think about what you want, not about what is trendy right now… You get older and one day you want security. And with that, I mean you want to retire one day I guess, and eat the fruits you have planted… This is your life, and you want to enjoy it not go to bed every single night thinking: am I doing the right thing, did I say it right, should I do this, what if … another thing is that the world is really big even though we think it has the size of our Instagram account and people we see there, no. If someone says no, go to the next and let them give feedback. Never be afraid of feedback. It is the way to let yourself grow because in the end you want to sell your work to the public (as a musician) or to an agency or whatever and want people to listen to it. How do you know when you talk to just one source? We all have different ideas, wishes, and tastes. You mostly find all answers in yourself when it comes to you.
Thank you for the interview!
music is her passion is the magazine of music is her passion society e.V. The Berlin-based music is her passion society e.V. is a non-profit association supported by membership fees, subsidies, and donations. All the content you can see here is the result of the purely voluntary and passionate commitment of all members to equality empowerment in music.