Clubbing was in its infancy when Berlin-born Monika Kruse began her first residency at the Babalu bar in Munich, where she grew up. Classically trained in piano from the age of four, Monika has always had a love of music and her early sets spanned hip hop, funk, soul and early deep and
vocal house. This new breed of electronic music seized Monika’s soul and imagination. Dance music was in its infancy and since there were few clubs where you could play techno she threw her own
parties in illegal venues ranging from World War II bunkers to trams to empty houses. Fortunately the police were a little behind the musical curve… “I had some funny experiences,” she recalls, “But nice ones! They stopped us once in a tram because they thought the smoke machine was a fire!” On
another occasion, they came and asked her to turn down the bass so the house they were playing in wouldn’t crumble. “Luckily, they didn’t have a clue about techno!”
Times changed, but the fire that drove Monika to find a space for music at any cost is still burning. As a nine-year-old she spent her pocket money on Chaka Khan and Eurythmics records; as a teenager she tuned into the revolutionary rhythm of house pioneers like Robert Owens and Frankie
Knuckles; in her twenties she worked at Chrysalis Records to fund her own record buying habit, moved back to Berlin, and played club gigs and illegal parties every weekend. Following that job she studied sociology for a few years until she discovered that she could learn more about people and
their social world through her job as a DJ than she ever would from a textbook. Finally, after seven years of juggling day and night she plunged into DJing full time.Almost 25 years later, Monika has gone further than she ever dared to hope. She crisscrosses the world igniting clubs and festivals, including getting this year off to a thrilling start with memorable gigs at Ultra Miami and Argentina and Timewarp. Wherever she plays, Monika’s unmistakable, passionate brand of dance music electrifies the crowd: “My ethos is ‘sweat with a smile,’” she says. “I give love to my audience and they give it back. LOVE – it’s the best thing in the world. My aim is to help people forget whatever is going on in their life and have a little holiday – just get lost in my music.”A typical few weeks sees her visit cities as diverse as Miami, Athens, Moscow, London and Geneva before heading to Berlin for her residency at Berghain/Panorama Bar.
She is also the founder of Terminal M records which celebrates its 15th anniversary next year – and marks 25 years as a DJ for Monika. She will be celebrating these momentous dates by hosting a stage at Amsterdam’s Edit Festival (31 May)featuring, among others, Nick Curly, Miss Kittin, Pig &
Dan, Andhim and Joey Daniel. Her other festival dates include Istanbul’s Minipax Festival, Ostend Beach Festival in Belgium, the UK’s Eastern Electrics, Sonus in Croatia and Lovefamily Park and Melt! in Germany. Plus she is running Terminal M nights at venues across Europe including The Egg in London and Rok in Lucerne. Monika also returns to Ibiza in 2014 to spin at some of Ibiza’s biggest nights: Music:On with Marco Carola, Carl Cox and Friends, Steve Lawler’s Viva Warriors, and the Zoo Project.
Monika – whose first piece of studio gear was a Roland 909 synth before they were ‘vintage’ – still makes time to produce. This spring she released the ‘Retox/Offshore’ EP – a collaboration with Gregor Tresher – under the GTMK moniker. Her ‘Natural High/Solistice’ EP – a collaboration with Pig
& Dan – is due later this month on Terminal M. Fans can also look forward to remixes of ‘Summer Drops’ by artists including Nicole Moudaber, Mendo, Uner and Egbert. Plus Monika’s remix of Kramnik’s ‘Schirzo’ out on Dilek Records.
Monika’s work extends beyond the dancefloor, too. In 2000 she founded a charity called No Historical Backspin to fight racism and homophobia. “It’s sad and ridiculous that in the 21st century people still get beat up – or in some countries even killed – for being gay, or get treated badly because of their skin colour, or gender, or because they’re a refugee” she says. “But it happens. Sharing and caring is the only way to make the world a safe place for everyone. It is important to show as a DJ that we respect everybody: no matter what their skin colour or sexual orientation. I hope to reach young people and change their negative opinions.” Money from No Historical Backspin gigs goes to Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, which supports victims of hate-crimes and campaigns against right-wing extremism. Her charity work, like her DJ sets and her productions, is an expression of Monika’s faith in
the transformative power of music. “It was my first love,” she says. “It was my best friend. It never let me down. In good times music was there and in bad times music was there.”