Camila Milieme aka The Lady Machine has been making music for the last two decades. Since making the move from her home in Brazil, she has lived in Amsterdam, the UK and is now based permanently in Berlin, where she has been making waves in the techno scene.
We caught up with Camila to talk about her recent signing to Triangle, how traveling the world has shaped her music and to learn more more about her vinyl-only record label Unterwegs Records.
Could you tell us a little about your journey into music production, how you first got into making music and what led to where you are now?
My first contact with music production was in 2003. Initially, I did a course on how to use Cakewalk and Soundforge at the same time my DJ career flourished quite rapidly, which made it hard to continue learning.
A few years later I joined an electronic music production short course when I moved to Amsterdam, but didn’t think that was enough time spent studying for me.
I wanted to go into more depth, especially using hardware and mixing consoles. Possibly related to the fact that I am a vinyl DJ.
By that time I was determined to have a break from my career to dedicate myself to properly learning production. I relocated to the UK and joined dBs for a degree in Music Production & Sound Engineering, which gave me a greater knowledge into what I am doing at the moment.
How did you find out about dBs Music and why did you choose to study with us?
It was when I moved to the UK many years ago. I found out about dBs through Chris Littlewood, one of lectures in the Bristol campus. I visited the dBs facilities a few times previously before joining and really enjoyed the vibe there. That made me want to join and pursue a degree.
Congratulations on joining the roster for Triangle Agency. How does it feel to become part of that family?
Thank you. I am very happy about joining Triangle!
Considering your prevalence as an artist, you must have been approached by agencies before. What was it about Triangle that stood out to you?
Their work method is great. We met a couple of times to discuss potentially working together and I clicked with their work ethics. They are diligent and conscious regarding their artists, which is exactly what I looked for in an agent.
To me, the fact that they understand where I am coming from along with believing in my potential growth as an artist is the icing on the cake. And of course, they have a great roster of artists which I have been following ever since I started my career.
You’re originally from Rio De Janeiro, but currently based in Berlin. Before that you worked in Amsterdam and lived in the UK when you studied at dBs. What was that prompted the move and attracted you to Europe?
Relocating to Europe seemed attractive because the techno scene here was stronger than in Brazil. I slowly started to come more and more often to Europe for gigs around various countries until I decided to do the complete move which took me a few years. Adding other personal life stories and it made my relocation here inevitable.
Having lived in so many different places, how do you feel that has translated into the music you create?
I believe multiculturalism has definitely widened my spectrum in terms of creativity and knowledge.
A lot of the time it has opened my eyes to how important it was to experiment and implement different ideas together. Although, it wasn’t until I moved to Berlin that I realised what really worked for me.
Moving to Berlin has played a major role in defining how I wanted to express myself sonically.
I always had a strong connection with Berlin since I first visited in 2002 because of their history of techno culture, so in a way I think I just revisited those first influences in my own perspective.
You’re the resident DJ for Pornceptual. How did that gig first come about?
It was shortly after I moved to Berlin. I met the Pornceptual crew through a mutual friend who recommended me to DJ at their event.
While fetish parties and sex clubs is pretty standard for Berlin, it’s not the same in the UK. Is DJing a night for Pornceptual very different from a regular club night?
Yes, absolutely! Pornceptual promotes pornography as queer, diverse and inclusive. It is not the ordinary party you will find everywhere because they offer a different experience for a party goer. It is a space for freedom, but also a safe social space with strict guidelines to be followed inside the party.
It’s very unique and I feel lucky to be a resident for them. Playing there is special because it is such a unique event and the energy is always soaring.
You also own and run Unterwegs Records. What originally sparked the desire to start your own label?
I always wanted to start my own label since I lived in Brazil, but it was a really difficult task to do that 15 years ago. The vinyl industry there never really existed and importing vinyl into the country was extremely expensive, we had to pay very high taxes at the time. During the time I moved to Europe the vinyl industry was going in a downwards spiral and I consequently lost interest in this idea for multiple reasons.
Once I relocated to Berlin and started to play gigs again, this desire seemed to have found the right place and time to materialise. The vinyl industry is doing much better now than 10 years ago, plus there was really good music being made by breakthrough artists. I merged this idea in partnership with Decka, a Bristolian producer that also relocated to Berlin and wanted a platform to outlet his own music.
Starting a label is a common desire for a lot of our students, but it’s no easy task. What would you say is the most important thing to be aware of before starting your own?
Having patience and a clear vision of what you want to do, not worrying about how long it takes. Love what you want to do. Running a label can be hard, especially if it is on vinyl - be prepared to invest a lot of money and time into it.
The industry is tough for independent labels to break through and it might take a while until you see any results, but I still believe it is a great way to get exposure and build a unique following. Just keep going!
There’s a lot of emphasis on ‘making it’ in the music industry, yet you’ve enjoyed a variety of successes in your 20 years on the scene. What does ‘making it’ look like to you?
I think 'making it' looks more like an accomplished journey to me. One that took me 20 years to be where I am right now and to continue looking forward to more. It’s celebrating achievements, those little steps throughout this long path of ups and downs. It is pretty much impossible to be at the top or remain relevant all the time. Knowing when it’s time to step down is a wise move.
How did your time at dBs Music help push you creatively and continue to grow in the industry?
During my time at dBs I was in contact with many musicians that produced different genres of music. That forced me to try different ideas and methods of making music. It was really important because this required me to experiment with other ideas.
I think trying out things that I have not done before really helped to push my creativity further, even if this would not be applied after learning. I found the group assignments especially helpful since I had to learn how to work with my peers and also learn from them.
If you could only share one piece of advice with someone pursuing a career in the music industry, what would it be?
Master your craft and have a clear vision of what you want to do. These two things go hand in hand in an artist's background for them to succeed. Love what you do, forget trends and follow your intuition. Don't listen to anyone, be yourself and nobody else. It's a long road full of ups and downs that we learn through experience.
What’s next in the pipeline for you?
I am working on several projects at the moment for different labels and also working on a new record for my own too. I can’t really say it all now out loud, but there’s some very cool stuff coming later this year.