Key Clef: Charting the Techno Transcendence from Rome’s Underground to Berlin’s Berghain

Key Clef: Charting the Techno Transcendence from Rome’s Underground to Berlin’s Berghain

February 15, 2024 Off By Editor

Interview Mattew Musa

Editing, Introduction, Design Mike Mannix

In the pulsating heart of the global techno scene, Key Clef emerges as a beacon of innovation and authenticity.

In a candid exchange with IUM this trailblazing artist delves into her sonic odyssey, tracing the path from the raw energy of Rome’s illicit raves to the hallowed halls of Berlin’s Berghain.

With the launch of her label, Ipnotica Erotica Records, Key Clef not only champions a provocative blend of sounds but also encapsulates the spirit of techno as a form of radical self-expression and liberation.

As we navigate through her narrative, Key Clef offers an introspective look into her influences, the metamorphosis of her craft amidst the pandemic, and her aspirations to resonate with audiences far beyond the dance floor. This feature is an homage to the relentless pursuit of musical purity and the unyielding power of the underground.


MM: Hey how did you approach the global music scene? When did you start your journey?

KC: Hi Matthew! Thank you for the invitation; I’m glad to answer your questions. I started my journey very young by getting my first machine, the Korg Electribe ER1.

I was originally playing at illegal parties, and after a few releases, I got into the Roman club scene too.

At the time, there were places like the Animal Social Club and Rialto, and many others that no longer exist. For 3 years, I was a resident for Ex Dogana together with the LSWHR organisation, and then I realised that I had reached my maximum in that city and I wanted to grow.

I moved to Berlin at the end of 2016 to start a bit from scratch because I had never played outside Italy. It was not difficult to start playing in Berlin as well, and it was a really good challenge.

That’s why nowadays I still think that moving was the best thing I could do for myself and my artistic path, seeing and experiencing even that last remnant of a scene that is transforming.

With the advent of booking agencies, the work in the last years has started to change, and I have to thank those who worked with me during the pandemic because they were crucial at a very difficult time.

Berghain was obviously a big boost that made me more internationally known and led me to play much more around the world in the last year

Key Clef Photographer: Ludovica Anzaldi

MM: Did you start DJing first or producing? What will Ipnotica Erotica Records deliver to the global scene? What is the mission of your own label?

KC: I started first with live sets, then with production, and lastly with DJing at the age of 25, after many years of live shows.

That was the moment when I decided to build a career around my passion and to make something in order not to have to take apart my whole studio every week for gigs

Of course, I found another addiction in mixing and digging. The name of my label came about when, during an after-party, my friends asked me what Techno must be for me. When I answered with these adjectives, I decided that I would like to have a channel to convey my message and the aesthetic of electronic music.

For me, Ipnotica Erotica is a provocation of styles and free expression. It is delivering the maximum intimate artistic expression of musicians. It is for those who experience music as a channel of communication and liberation.

It is not about following the market or a specific genre but about the pure essence of music, about detaching away from our reality for a moment, reconnecting with ourselves, thinking, dreaming, and traveling inwardly

MM: You are a resident at Berghain Panorama Bar. What do you think about this club?

KC: It’s the best club I know for partying. It is a mainstay of the scene and a safe haven for dancing.

When you play there, it’s a different place than any other; it has a significant energy charge

I learned a lot of things from that venue; they chose me in my first period of real awareness as a DJ, and this for me was an opportunity for great personal growth. I have special memories there as a customer and as an artist.

Like all clubs after the pandemic, Berghain has undergone some changes, especially with the public. The scene is changing in its expansion.

When I entered Berghain like 10 years ago, it made me breathe the same freedom as the Raves, a very unique and special energy!

The closing was the most beautiful part; you never knew how long it would last. I loved just sitting in the back of the dance floor, listening to the music, and watching the crowd, making my anthropological study.

MM: Would you like to come to play in Dublin? Probably at our party?

KC: Sure, I would love to. I’ve never been in Dublin!

MM: What artists influence you the most? Any favorite labels?

KC: For a long time, Detroit Electro has been a big influence on me after discovering Model 500, J. Atkins, Drexciya, and all the others that followed. When I started producing with Ableton (around 20 years old), I was very influenced by the whole Ed Bangers current (where my favorites were Quentin Dupieux and Sebastian), but my roots stay with the rave sound systems.

Key Clef Photographer: Ludovica Anzaldi

Many influences over the years have been momentary and have not always influenced me either on production and mixing. Just Tribe cyclically comes back into my repertoire.

When I make music, I definitely draw unconsciously from all my experiences, but I always try to keep my mind as free as possible by thinking solely about the sound and not aiming for a genre

MM: Favorite record you will never be sad to hear? Even if you’re going to listen 1000 times!

KC: Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92, all tracks. I know it may be clichéd, but I’ve been listening to it since I was a teen, and I still haven’t tired of it, either at home or on the dance floor.

It always balances my emotional state in times of stress

MM: What software do you like to use for your production? And which drum machine or modular synth?

KC: I mostly use the TR-808, MS20, and my Modular System. Effects are essential to create my own timbre. One of the most important effects for me is the Deco Strymon, with which I also build the groove thanks to its timeline delay.

I work a lot in recording and just a bit on post-production. I use Ableton Live, which was my first approach to digital and with which I also used for many years for live sets, before returning to the full analog mood.

MM: Any releases coming in the next few months? And any collaborations, gigs?

KC: Yes, there are a few releases planned for 2024, also for Ipnotica Erotica. Lately, I have also started to release monthly small collections of rehearsal recordings of my live sets, which also help me to reorganise my projects folder honestly. Coming out soon, there will also be a sample pack for ACXS.

MM: Best of luck with everything, Key Clef. It’s a pleasure for us to have had a chat with you. Hope to see you soon on the dance floor or at a Dublin gig, we never know. Best of luck again!

KC: Sure! Thanks for the invitation again 🙂 I wish you the best too!