This is Elen – Elen, rather than the more typical Elena – a somewhat unusual female name in Russian. “It was actually a mistake on my mother’s behalf that happened while she was young and still living in Russia,” Elen explains, “She’d read the book Hélène written by a French author and I was to be named after the book’s namesake main character. When we moved to Germany in the late Eighties, my name was incorrectly translated as ‘Elen’.”
Elen was born in what is now Kazakhstan, formerly a part of the USSR. Her family moved to Germany when she was just one year old. Their first destination was a residential accommodation in a small town, bordering the northern part of the Black Forest in the region near Stuttgart. “My family moved there with three children yet only one suitcase,” the young musician tells me. “They chose this destination because some of their relatives already lived there.”
Elen feels that she grew up between two cultures: “I’ve always picked the best out of both worlds” she explains, “I love Russian food.” Her enthusiasm for Russian cuisine leads onto her confessing that she could never imagine a vegan lifestyle. In keeping with other values associated with Russian traditions, Elen is grateful to still enjoy strong ties within her family. “I had a beautiful childhood,” as she continues to reminisce about the past she also says that as a musician too, she continues to love Russian music.
Elen lived in her German home town until she graduated from high school. “Suddenly I was at a crossroad” she tells me remembering the decisions on the table at the time. “On one hand I wanted to make music. On the other hand my parents wanted me to get a decent job.” As a consequence of these two potential life paths, at the time she began to work as a secretary in the School of Jazz and Rock School in Freiburg although after only a year, she knew that a ‘decent job’ wasn’t quite for her and that her heart was truly set on the pursuit of music.
With this determination to forge a career in music, she attended the Pop Academy in Mannheim where she went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree as a Singer/Songwriter three years later. In 2010, at age 24, she moved to the German capital. “Moving from a small German village to Berlin was an emancipation ! Especially when you’re into electronic music. Berlin is the mother of electronic music – I knew I had to move here!“
Today Elen is known across the Berlin music scene as Elenka – a German electronic-pop group produced by Robot Koch and Feeling Valencia. In addition to that she produces for singer Frau Malonda (Electronic chanson) and teams up as with her Techno Djane partner Linda as MRROR. Together they play at venues such as Ritter Butzke and Mensch Meier.
“I love Berlin,” Elen goes on “I love the ability of its residents to create great things out of little and simple means. Also as a musician, it is much easier to start a career; people are not getting in your way. Berlin is very open-minded.“