A post-lockdown catch up with the Colombia-born, Berlin-based DJ, producer, and label owner
It’s a sunny July afternoon, and I find Dani Ramos outside of Kreuzberg’s Marheineke Markthalle with her daughter, Zulu, sipping on a cappuccino. The fresh-faced DJ, producer, and label owner wears a beaming smile; she’s one of those people who instantly makes you feel at ease. Hailing from Cali, Colombia’s capital of Salsa, and based in Berlin since 2014, the mother of two lives nearby; for now, she mostly splits her time between Lacroix Studio, her recording studio, and child care.
Dani’s work spans producing and playing her own music, collaborations with other artists, and even film stints – the 33-year-old’s portfolio includes tracks for TV openers, documentaries, and movie productions. Dani’s style shifts between bouncy and minimal house; she even integrates salsa into her sets. Pre-lockdown, she often played Berlin venues such as Watergate. “I’m not religious, but Panorama Bar is my church,” she chuckles.
Music has always been in Dani’s life, from playing the violin as a child to performing in the school theatre. “I blame my mother for becoming a DJ,” she laughs. “We lived quite far out in the countryside, so, every day, I would take the bus to school for one and a half hours and back. What else would I do besides listen to music?” She started going to electronic music parties when she was 18, making friends with DJs who inspired her to become one herself – soon, she played all over the country, including Medellín, Bogota, and Cartagena.
At 23, she opened for Luciano, the DJ and producer whose blend of house and techno has advanced the scene in Latin America for decades. “It completely changed my perspective of music. I had thought of DJ’ing as more of a hobby while I was studying graphic design – [Luciano] motivated me to take it more seriously.” (Dani and Luciano have reunited many a time since – this year, they are releasing a remix together.) Support acts for DJ powerhouses like Seth Troxler, Guti, Clive Henry, and Ryan Crosson, and gigs the world over followed suit. “Then she was born,” Dani says with a smile, motioning to Zulu. Dani’s son, Mael, who is four, is back home with her partner, Guti.
Why Berlin in the first place, I ask? “I came here with my kids’ father to study music production. I just loved it here, so we stayed, I studied audio engineering at SAE Institute, sold my beloved car, and bought the studio,” she recalls. For Dani, being creative brings her the most joy. “I love it when I lose track of time, when it’s been five hours and I still feel transported to another place. It doesn’t even feel like work,” she says.
2020 was supposed to be a big year for her, including opening Ricardo Villalobos’ Colombia show in March. “It was painful to cancel,” she sighs, her face brightening up again quickly: “I made a lot of music during the pandemic, though; it was a good moment to be grounded. Many DJs lack the patience to spend that much time at the studio – thankfully, my kids have shown me what patience is.” She works for at least four hours a day. During the lockdown, she admits, this was particularly challenging. “I have a responsibility as a mother. I want my kids to grow up well, so I have to be very organised. I’m still taking my time; hopefully, there will be a point when I put all of my energy into [music]. I love recording new artists, even German rappers, jazz players – we always host lots of different people.” As things are finally picking up – Dani recently played in Ibiza, her favourite European destination – this time also gave birth to her new house music label, Música Cachonda, which “translates to playful music with a sensual twist.”
To Dani, the beauty of electronic music is its diverse community: “On the dance floor, you just dance with whoever is next to you, and you don’t care.” Inherently bubbly and open-minded, she is not only her own agent in a scene that depends on connections but genuinely loves meeting people and hearing their stories. She smirks when thinking about her love of socialising. The day after our interview, Dani leaves for a silent retreat in Latvia. “Ten days off-grid, no talking, no phone, I can’t even take notes,” she says as we’re sheltering from a sudden rain shower. Two weeks later, over email, she raves about her Vipanassa experience and being alone with her mind – she feels rejuvenated, ready to immerse herself again in passion projects fully.
Daniela Ramos is a Colombian DJ, producer, and label owner based in Berlin. She is the host of our new interview format, #MyMusicMyJourney, which will launch this summer. You can follow Dani’s journey on her Instagram.