Cio D’Or’s Deep Dance Into Techno

Cio (“Kee-yo”) D’Or is one of techno's more exclusive women; a producer of a theatrically inclined sound that she keeps gracefully in check with the deepest subliminal tones, on the post side of minimal. 

With her second album, all in all which will be released May 19th by Spain’s techno-textural Semantica Records, DJBroadcast caught up with Cio after her Boiler Room Berlin premiere and her 2015 return to Berghain. Her literal dance into a respected experimental career has led to an increased fan base while Cio’s introspective eccentricity and tenacity are as infinite as the space in her elegant cinematic music productions.

The 2004 Hokus Pokus 12” debut, on the Cologne based Treibstoff label, immediately landed in the Groove Charts, with its punching bass fused together with smooth textures and jazz elements. But Cio’s reverence for the music environment dates back to a much earlier childhood expression.

After falling for the motion of dance at the age of four, Cio started dancing everywhere she could, whenever music was heard. Relentless for her love of movement, Cio in her adolescent years grew up riding horses competitively outside of the city near Hannover. From those years, she recalls: “I was the smallest, the skinniest, and I had the biggest horses… the wildest horses.”

- a young Cio and her small, wild horses

By 21, Cio started developing her own choreography, of which music compilations became a natural extension. “I did my own choreographies for dancing with another woman… this was the moment when I came into contact with Brian Eno, David Byrne… I did compilations for the modern dance performances.” This led Cio to Berlin to study modern dance [Graham Technics] at “Die Etage” from 1982-1985.

Pre-minimal Berlin of the 80s exposed the budding artist to an early culture of West Germany. “It was really cool. It was during the time of Einstürzende Neubauten [Germany’s avant-garde industrial band], and all those people. This was a great time. There was one night bus, the 19thE. It was driving at night from one side of Kudamm to the other side and all the night people were inside.”

Living in Neukölln on Boddinstrasse and earlier on Kreuzberg’s Bergmannstrasse, Cio’s focus shifted between her dedication to dance lessons, dancing for films (such as those by American filmmaker John Frankenheimer), shows (including André Heller’s “Sturz durch Träume”) and modelling for avant-garde productions. “I started with ambient compilations, later for models, and everybody wanted to have these tapes.”

Eventually Cio was invited to play her compilation style at local bars. Later on in Munich, “…one day somebody came out of the kitchen and said- “What are you doing here?? You can’t mix?” I looked to him, “Mix? Mixing, what is it?” And then a friend told me, “Okay Cio, I come to show it to you.” In two hours time, she was showed the essentials to mixing. Immediately after this she became a die-hard for the process.

“...Piano was the instrument that gave me silence...”

In 2001, Richard Bartz, of Kurbel Records known for producing the likes of Sven Väth and DJ Hell, invited Cio after hearing her play a techno set at a private party, during her first tour. She also received an invitation to play with Acid Maria from Munich’s electronic cult club, Ultraschall, which led to her residency there. “I had a residency, but I wanted to play only every two months to keep it fresh, it was not possible to find so many good records during this time.” Speaking with colleagues and record shopkeepers while browsing in Munich, Cio found herself asking, “I miss this or that sound in music.” It was at this very moment people began to tell me, “Yeah Cio, you have to make this kind of music yourself.”

Buying her first MPC-2000, she filled it with samples and field recordings inspired by trips to places such as the Sinai Peninsula, the depths of which echo throughout even her most recent productions. “I wanted to learn diving. And I had a beach for myself, totally silent, where there is only sand; you think it looks all the same, but when you really look - you can see the little flowers, and they’re getting so big…It has something like nothing is all, and all is nothing. It gives you a lot of room for your ideas. And underwater, mamma mia, all you hear is ‘bloop’, I like this wide endlessness.” For her, the music, starts with silence.

From 2004 to 2012 Cio continued to release EPs on significant labels such as Prologue, Karmarouge, Motoguzzi, Broque and Peter Van Hoesen's Time To Express; also collaborating closely with the like-minded architecture of space resonant producers Donato Dozzy, Gabriel Ananda and Paul Britschitsch.

Living in Cologne since her 2006 move, we ask if there’s any temptation to return to Berlin after her years in Munich.

“I was here in the 80s and it was another city back then. I wouldn't have time to sleep, to do music. And for doing music I need my silence. I think it’s the best for concentration and to also have a contrast. I go running, around my flat- there is a park. I have birds in the back.” The wide space of clarity fuelled her output and in 2009 Cio released her first full-length album Die Faser, on the hypnotic Prologue label, while enriching her tracks with sophisticated remixes by Donato Dozzy, Sleeparchive, Milton Bradley, Pendle Coven, Samuli Kemppi and Claudio PRC.

After several years of international touring, the release of the sympathetic Fukushima disaster EP Magnetfluss, the anticipated Prologue Night at Berghain in 2011, and 2012’s Ur - Uhr release on the dub flavoured Telrae label, Cio slipped into the silence for a much needed introspection.

As the dancer sits and speaks of the things that drive her, it’s evident that subtlety and sensitivity are her gracefully refined tactics that colour the identity of her musical releases. “Piano was the instrument that gave me silence,” she suggests of her meditation during the time away from the stage. “I now have at home some nice piano loops. They are just one and half, two minutes long, but they can run all day, and never stress me. This endlessness feeling, like from techno, but from piano.” She suggests that a future project involving these recordings will follow up. “Later. Now I do techno.”

In her studio she works with ProTools, Komplete, Reason and some “quality software pianos” for composing melodies or “no melodies”, with a special Fatar keyboard. She also has a keyboard for travelling and of course her own sampled recordings. “Reason was my number one sequencer and it is a really good programme, like a whole studio in its own as I am working on a lot of new techniques and special cabling using this programme. No one is talking about this little sequencer. It is fantastic for building up sounds! Everybody is talking about Ableton. I wish I had all the equipment inside Reason in real and analogue-life!” And there is no lack of attention to detail for the perfectionist, “…sometimes I’m working on one sound for so long, [so] that it sounds like analogue equipment! When I have an idea of a sound, until I hear it, I’m not satisfied.”

The recent all in all album distinguishes itself into three compiled themes under the ‘after and before’, ‘floor X’ and ‘yocta to yotta’ titles, and serves to represent the different identities of Cio, and the fully evolved versions of years of experimentation.

"...Sometimes I’m working on one sound for so long, [so] that it sounds like analogue equipment..."

With ‘after and before’ the cinematic side of techno pummels broken-beat with orchestral and theatrical melodies, cellos and pianos, inspired by Cio’s work with the composer Brigitta Muntendorf with whom she debuted her earlier PULSA:RE choreography project. “I was also thinking in film music,” Cio says.

‘floor x’ is harder, and the techno driving journey through “bleep and acid minimalism”, because “some things are more for the beginning , and then some are going.The final ‘yocta to yotta’ tracks, referring to the metric prefixes tied to the smallest or the biggest part of something; are full of Asian tinted serenades and warm radiating dub, resembling deep space or the deep oceanic; to be released as its own EP on May 18th 2015.

Back on tour, Cio wants to continue developing her family-like relationships with musical partners and collaborators. “I love to play where I’ve not played before because then you meet the people. I will play in Amsterdam, and I’ve never played there before, and then Weather Festival with a two-hour ambient set, and then I go to Volt Festival- and then the Goethe Institute.”

Warm, pensive, communicative and curious; Cio is much like her music, somewhere in the space that surrounds, and the space that reaches to infinity. With 13 EPs, two albums, four remixes and numerous DJ mixes, she has established herself in sound and movement careers that reinforce each other, as she dances across the future stage of techno.