Longtime Berlin anarcho-feminist Hanin Elias came to international attention as a singer with Alec Empire’s Atari Teenage Riot, stage diving around the world while hitting machos with her mic. But she left ATR and Berlin for Polynesian paradise. Now back in Berlin with a new album, Get It Back (Rustblade), she celebrates our ninth birthday at Monster Ronson’s on June 24.
You were a core member of Atari Teenage Riot, yet your contribution to their new album, Is this Hyperreal? (DHR), wasn’t used.
I read somewhere that I “lost my screaming voice,” which isn’t true; my new album will prove that. So they didn’t want to use my vocals – Alec always knew how to push my buttons and got a kick out of making enemies. I was 10 years in the band and we have gone into different directions – we argued a lot and became sick of one another. Others in the band were quieter.
What was your contribution to ATR?
My anger, my rage, my soul. I was wild on stage, but I knew I couldn’t do that forever – when you put out anger, it makes you aggressive. I was an anarchist. [The late] Carl [Crack] was difficult with psychotic moments, and we didn’t get along. Alec was a control freak. Our personalities made the band so dynamic. Most people still think I am in the band, but I am not, and it’s not my fault. I, personally, didn’t want to be owned by contracts which I think destroyed the band. The music’s anarchistic message became a marketing idea only. I want to make this clear: I don’t want to talk about the band, because it’s like talking about an ex-husband.
You recently DJed alongside Asia Argento, leading to collaboration.
We met in Rome – I was playing all my usual stuff while she was chaotically playing 1990s stuff: Nirvana, Metallica – stuff that Italians go crazy for. But our stuff morphed well and we clicked straight away. I wrote a song about a friendship between two girls. Asia heard it and wanted to sing it, and so we recorded it. I find her a very inspiring woman and the song is about two chicks relating to one another in that way.
Does Get It Back reflect your Tahitian exile?
I put aside my ego to live on an isolated island and felt like a stranger on this breathtaking island with green lagoons and blue skies. I gave myself to nature while I was there: I planted potatoes and fruit trees and went fishing. But I didn’t want to be the doll in paradise, and I missed the city life and working in the studio. I am very happy to be living in a city and have a social life again. Since February this album has been fast, spontaneously coming together.
.HBC will be my fist live gig since my return and I hope to have Mutfak play with me, Beatbox Eliot and DJ Gancho [also scheduled: DJ Maxximus, You’re Only Massive and others]. The new CD is very euphoric, danceable and political. Compared to my previous stuff, it has a different energy to it – nothing destructive. I had to put it out. I couldn’t wait any longer.