1. It’s always best to start at the beginning, so where does the story of a female German music producer, label owner and DJ kick off from Gera to Berlin and beyond?
Dana Ruh: Well, that's a long story! My hometown had a very good scene at this time, so I went out to parties and fell in love with the music. Then I started to look for the music I heard at the parties and that's when I bought my first records around 1995. Not with the goal to DJ, just as a collector! But then some guys hooked me up with a mixer and that's when I started to mix. It was [my] last year in School and I had to focus on that (mama told me ;-)) [I was] still collecting records but i [didn't have] enough money to really start it. I was also part of a band – a rock band, to stay in touch with music. Then I had a job in a bank, trading stock warrants. Then I [went] to Berlin for another job [at] a TV production company and produced for MTV Germany. At this time, I came back to DJing and the thing kicked off. Three years ago I had the feeling it's better to decide what to do... and I decided to do music 100%. That's the short version of the story!
2. What inspired your first music production and how did you create it? What are some of your favorite tools to use in the production of your music?
DR: My first music production [came about because] I just wanted to try out a lot of things! I just wanted to explore the inspiration I get from my life, my friends... not just necessarily from other music. When I started to create music, a more minimalistic sound was [popular] and that influenced [me]. I didn’t know who I was or where I wanted to be, you know? Now things have changed a bit.
My favorite tools? I'm really basic in music production but I have a couple of things and I like to use them to the max! My favorite tools are definitely the Virus Synth, the Jomox Drum Machine and I use Komplete from Native Instruments a lot. I have a Roland Synth and that’s it. Some other things are there but they are not essential to me.
3. Let’s discuss your work...in the early days mostly straight ahead techno until your 2012 EP TO ME, that seems to move your style over the 3 tracks from tech to deep house tech. Was that intentional and do you find yourself able to FEEL better with a deeper house expression?
DR: Very interesting question :-)! I also worked for other people producing music and at this time in 2012, I can say I was quite confused music-wise. I could do everything – techno, house, whatever but I couldn't say who I was. Those tracks they just happened without any intention. I had a lot of thoughts going on, my brain was spinning what should I do? What would fit to this and that? These tracks just came out as I let go [of] all my thoughts. I love music with soul and yes, I think I found a way to really express my feelings and it seems to be deep house. I just don’t want to think anymore about music, I wanna communicate with music!
4. I love “Train Ride To You” on the debut album – its retro synth elements are a surprisingly good mix with that sexy soul groove that’s tailor-made for dancers. Can you discuss how that came about? What is the most important thing you want listeners to enjoy about NATURALLY?
DR: Hmmm, this track just happened. I remember [the] feeling I had inside – I was very emotional. I like to bring emotion together with dance elements and I had a Nord Synth at this time and I loved this one synth sound. I found it touching so I just put it all together with no real plan in mind. This track is just about feeling for me. [From NATURALLY, I want listeners to] hear me in the tracks. No track I did for a reason; every one is a mirror of me in a certain situation – a true situation. The whole album is not a planned album it came out naturally and Ed [at Underground Quality] realized and felt it!
5. Why did you select Jus-Ed and his Underground Quality to release your debut album?
DR: Like you said, there was a change in my style because I was still discovering myself music-wise. I was quite happy with [the results] and of course I wanted to share it. I was curious if other people would feel it too. I had all this music and people think a lot in boxes. Since I ordered records from UQ already, I just thought why not send it to Ed? He knows so much about music and he could be the person that gives it a listen without thinking in boxes! I just had a feeling that I wanted to send it to him, so I did. I never expected it to become an album and I never expected Ed‘s [positive] reaction. The complete thing is something that I did just out of my feelings :-)) Thank God I was able to do that because I usually over-think things!
BONUS :: What’s coming up for you (tour dates, releases, announcements) in early 2014 that your fans can get in on?
DR: The next thing I'm so looking forward to is the UQ Label night at Panorama Bar in Berlin. I will play with all these amazing artists... Ed, Owen, Melchior, Doc Jones. Very excited. I will be back in Ibiza this season, playing with my friends from the Zoo Project and I will play regularly in Berlin at Club der Visionäre over the summer. No new releases are planned though. I just want to give the album enough space!
Want more? Get it at Underground Quality and put it in your box right away!
At its best Ruh's debut full-length NATURALLY (UQ), is an easy-listening exploration of sound that works well in the backdrop of life. But taste-making listeners will also appreciate producer Dana Ruh's ability to marry classic soul house sounds with cutting-edge music production techniques, to create a uniquely funky hybrid that begs deeper – and repeated listens. For these 5-Qs, we meet this clever emerging talent to learn how a former rock band musician and stock trader, still managed to find her soul and deliver one of 2014's best projects.