Demian Licht (photo credit Studio Baez) is a Mexican sound designer whose ambiental techcho EP trilogy Female Criminals has caught the attention of the underground, gaining a favorable review from Resident Advisor as a bold and energetic exploration of womanhood and the Berlin-based producer’s “dark impulses”. From her alias to her soundscapes, themes of light and darkness permeate Demian Licht’s work which also extends to audio-visual performances and light design. Music Traveler recently sat down with Luz to discuss trendsetting electronic music scenes, her influences outside of electronic music, and what 2021 has in store for her 2020 album Die Kraft.
How did you get into electronic music?
I first heard of the Chemical Brothers when I was 16. That triggered a love for electronic music that motivated me to study sound engineering in Mexico City.
And you soon after you started DJing?
Yeah, I started performing in Mexico, but I’ve never done sample based DJing. I’ve always been interested in production, which is the path I chose from the start.
You use Ableton Live for your performances?
I’ve used Ableton from the beginning. They supported me in 2012 to visit the company headquarters in Berlin. There I started to go to every year and make some shows and form friendships, playing at Berghain and Tresor and forming a relationship with the city.
It seems like the relationship has been a strong one!
Now my heart is fragmented between Mexico and Germany. Berlin is the best place in the world for an electronic music producer and the government is very involved in supporting the music scene, probably more so than any other place in the world. Their society places a value on creativity that other places simply don’t or aren’t in the position to give. You can make a living from making music and as part of a career that’s valued and respected.
So it’s not just about the techno scene?
It’s about the larger creative landscape. For example, I started dancing ballet before the lockdown and am currently fascinated by and engaged in Germany’s contemporary dance scene. As an extension of my label, I’m collaborating in multimedia, contemporary dance, and film, managing all kinds of projects that intersect with sound design.
In terms of the aesthetic of techno, I have the feeling it’s become too linear. Afterall, European audiences have been listening to techno for over 40 years now!
And outside of Germany?
3 years ago I had the opportunity to go to China and Japan.
Japan inspired me greatly. I speak basic Japanese and have long been fascinated by their culture. So although it’s no secret that they have the highest quality sound systems and amazing clubs, my fascination is about their ancestral japanese aesthetic that differentiates the way their art is produced.
China on the other hand was amazing because it was chaotic and energetic. China has an emerging scene that’s worth keeping your eye on. Beijing is similarly wonderful and full of chaos as Mexico City!
So you see parallels between China and Latin America?
In the next few years, I’m pretty sure that the next big scenes will come from outside of Europe. Because of all the travels and people I’ve met, I’m pretty sure it’s worth watching Africa, Latin America and even remote places in Asia when it comes to new trends in electronic music. For example, I had the opportunity to play Colombia two years ago. Over there I met the female collective NÓTT. They're a group of talented DJ promoters in Medellin and Bogotá doing something really energetic and important in electronic music culture.
Would you categorize yourself as a feminist?
I’m not attached to that label.
What I want is that we find more balance in society, which is something that should be achieved through inclusion. When men and women work equally we make the situation better and I feel that is the case for the creative communities I engage with. I respect men and have a male side and believe that all men also have a female side. I chose to work under the name Demian Licht, in part because it has no sex. It could be male or female. Some people think I am a man and come to my performances and are surprised to learn I am a woman. I love that!
But I can’t help but add that it’s more challenging for women in Mexico. There’s a lot of sexism here; not just descrimination, but radical sexism. Mexico holds one of the biggest femicide rates in the world and the highest in Latin America. For the moment, there’s still no equality in Mexico.
Do you have any projects taking place in Mexico at the moment?
I’m currently collaborating with a new media company called -Fragments And Forms - in Mexico City. We’ve designed a lighting installation which will synch with the live show of my album Die Kraft . I am currently working on the premiere of this project through a streamed event in Berlin, hopefully in the spring!
Are you listening to something at the moment that would surprise people?
I really enjoy the work of Mica Levi. She’s an English producer best known for the soundtrack for the film Under The Skin. I’m also a huge fan of rock performers like Queens of the Stone Age, Savages and the Dead Weather.