Lena Willikens

Interview by Will Martin
Photos shot by David Brandon Geeting in New York, USA

Lena Willikens is no stranger to curiosity: since joining Mathias Aguayo’s Cómeme imprint and following a much lauded long-term residency at singular Dusseldorf venue Salon des Amateurs, Willikens has gone on to expand her own brand of dancefloor-not-dancefloor weirdness to audiences worldwide. Ahead of her appearance at Lente Kabinet at the end of May, we sat down with Lena during her busy US tour schedule to talk nostalgia, spirituality, paradise, and dolls with the abilities to see four dimensions.

Lena W 3 by David Brandon Geeting

Are there any items from your childhood that are particularly dear to you?

Maybe my first glasses. They are totally broken, but I can’t throw them away. I don’t collect anything. Collecting records is definitely enough!

Say you were to collect, if you had a museum, what would be on display?

It would have to be more of a studiolo than a museum, a place to contemplate and get inspired. My studiolo would be full of weird stuff: a delicate selection of obscure instruments, records, books, posters, perfumes, cover artwork, costumes and carpets.

A contemplative paradise? Do you see paradise in reality?

Everything is connected and humans are only little tiny parts of something massive, everything is constantly moving and changing. That’s how I (so far) understood quantum physics. I don’t think paradise, nor hell, is reality. The constant flow is reality. Utopia is something different, it exists in some people’s minds and it can be helpful to keep on producing art, music or whatever. I believe in personal spirituality, but as soon as there are rules, I’m out! I hate any kind of religion.

Lena W 2 by David Brandon Geeting

What was the idea behind the name ‘Sentimental Flashback’?

With Sentimental Flashback, I choose an open format. I can put everything in. You can be sentimental about something that happened one minute ago, or years ago. It is a really personal thing, depending on my mood, and for me every month there’s a good reason to sort through my records, remove the dust, and to show my thankfulness to people who inspire me. And of course it’s a great chance to share the music I love with my sentimental crowd!

How does nostalgia influence the way you work and the decisions you make?

I don’t consider myself as a nostalgic person. Nostalgia has this conservative subtext – by saying the “old times were better,” you know? I don’t like it! I’m a sentimental person. I get easily touched by listening to the people’s stories, or watching the news, and of course, enjoying good music. Emotions rule my life, and there isn’t much I can do about it. I just need to take care that I don’t get seasick from time to time…

Let’s talk briefly about Cómeme: all the artists on the label have somewhat of a singular vision as far as their music is concerned.

Years ago, when I moved to Cologne, I got to know Christian S and Korkut Elbay. They organized the best parties in town. We started to play together in Cologne and at Salon Des Amateurs in Düsseldorf. And that’s how I got to know Matias Aguayo. He invited me to play at several Cómeme label parties and when Avril Ceballos (the label manager) started Radio Cómeme, she asked me if I want to be part of it. I started with my monthly radio show ‘Sentimental Flashback’. We just all keep on doing the stuff we want to do. Cómeme keeps on growing. New talents like Borusiade are joining the crew and the Cómeme booking agency just added the Salon Des Amateurs Showcases (Tolouse Low Trax, Wolf Müller, The Durian Brothers and me) to the roster.

You play Lente Kabinet at the end of May. Say every artist playing at the festival has their own doll in a sort of Cabinet of Curiosities, what would yours look like? What would it wear and say? Would it have any powers?

It’s my little magic mushroom kobold – it has warped legs, thick eyebrows and beautiful silver shining trousers. It says: “Leeeeave your bodiiiies!” and it has the power to make you able to see four dimensions.

Lena W 1 by David Brandon Geeting

Lena Willikens performs at Lente Kabinet 2015 at Het Twiske on 30 May. For more information and tickets visit