Meet Beste Modus, One of Berlin’s Best House Crews

The creme of Berlin’s crop is rising to the top with a batch of killer DJ tool white labels. Check out their latest release here.

It feels safe to say that Berlin’s dance music scene is crowded, especially in tech/house-related fields. The occasion and topic for discussion in this article is—in my eyes at least—one of the city’s most successful and promising underground house crews, Beste Modus, a collective of East Berliners who gathered in the conference room at the Electronic Beats office in mid-November last year to chat.

Three of its five core members are seated at the table: Cinthie, Diego Krause, and Ed Herbst. Cinthie seems in some ways to be the matriarch of the group; the one two decades of experience as a DJ; the one who speaks the most during our conversation; the one who wrangled the others to form the collective and record label in the first place. Herbst has a quite, easygoing demeanor and the stoney approachability of a former backpack rap fan. Krause is, so far—and I hope this observation won’t chafe the others—the most successful of the bunch at garnering buzz about his immaculate productions. His tracks appear on a few other labels besides Beste Modus, including his own Unison Wax imprint and a 12” on the label run by globetrotting French DJ trio Apollonia.

A fourth member, a guy with a likeable jokester vibe and who DJs under the cheeky moniker stevn.aint.leavn, arrives 20 minutes late. (The fifth member is Albert Vogt, who wasn’t present at our interview.) By that time we’re discussing the attention the latest Beste Modus record has received on DJ charts and online record stores. BM04, like every release on the label, is a hand-stamped 12” that features a handful of solid, straightforward house grooves. This one in particular features one cut from each constituent of Beste Modus.

The tracks are accessible floor fillers that work within the established conventions of tech-influenced house production and maximize their rewards. Beste Modus is a team of native Berliners, and its music bears the unmistakable influence of its city’s homegrown brand of dance floor sonics, a mechanical and psychedelic groove with drums that smack harder than old-school American house tracks. Dub chords wash over spoken word vocals from a disembodied black male, boots-and-pants rhythms underpin undulating sub bass notes, and bongos ricochet off the crispest of high-end percussive clicks.

Their style is traditional but fluent and remarkably well-executed, which makes them a neat foil to the rising interest in local labels, artists, and crews who subvert the conventions of dance floor productions, many of which are run by and/or comprised of expatriate artists. While the Beste Modus producers don’t challenge existing structures, they’re extremely successful at constructing fuel for all-night parties, which is, of course, a challenging endeavor nonetheless.

Beste Modus’s own audience has grown with each new release. “For the first two records, we only pressed 300 copies,” Cinthie explains. “It was sold out in 48 hours. We pressed 800 copies of the third one, and now we’re pressing 1000.” Their next record, Beste Modus 05, is a split 12″ featuring Cinthie and Herbst, and it shelves next week—but you can hear it here first.

The label’s immediate success was a relief for Cinthie, who has been an active DJ and producer for nearly two decades (and once contributed to our EB Radio mix series). “I was with Keinemusik, and that didn’t work,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘I’m either going to quit now, or I’ll find someone I can work with.’ I wasn’t desperately looking for someone, but I met the boys and felt really comfortable and liked their music and attitude. So I just decided to pressing one record, and if I lost some money, then fuck it. For some reason, I was 100 percent, or 1000 percent convinced we were going to make it.”

“Cinthie had the idea to start the label,” Diego chimes in. “She met up with us and said, ‘OK, this is going to sound crazy, but I want to do a label, and I want to do it with you.’ We weren’t even playing vinyl by that time, but she was like, ‘And it’s going to be vinyl-only.’”

Prior to Cinthie’s proposition, Diego, Herbst, and Steven were hip-hop producers who originally met through their ties with the German arm of EMI. Diego racked up a few production credits on a few of the major label’s German rap CDs (he wouldn’t say which ones) and teamed up with Herbst on a project with a soul singer signed to EMI publishing. “I think Stevo was [the singer’s] intern,” Diego recalls.

“Ed, Stevo, and I made the transition from hip-hop to house together,” Herbst says. They started to explore Berlin’s club scene and discovered the seductions of house through extended and repeated visits to Watergate starting in 2009. “Over a few nights—or mornings—we fell in love with the music,” he recalls.

In 2012, they met Cinthie at a party at YAAM. “The party was super shit, so I don’t know why we stayed that long,” Diego explains wryly. “But when Cinthie came on at 9 in the morning, we were super surprised because, all of a sudden, someone was playing good music.”

Stevo made the first contact with Cinthie by asking for a track ID. “We had a nice chat and exchanged email addresses,” she says. “I think Stevo told me that he produces and asked if he could send me tracks, and I said yeah. When I listened to them, and was like, ‘Damn, this is really good.’ I think that’s how we all met, then we met more often. He also sent me some tracks from Diego and Eddie and I was like ‘Whoa this is amazing.’”

So far, it seems like many agree with Cinthie. The constituents of Apollonia are among the crews’ admirers, and they included a track from Diego’s second Unison Wax 12” in their BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix and contacted him via Facebook. “The whole Apollonia thing is pretty huge,” he says. “I wrote back to Dan [Ghenacia] and he was super chill. I sent him some demo tracks and he replied six hours later to say, ‘OK, we’re going to pick these three tracks for an EP.” The record, Right About Now, is set to drop at any minute; the tracks recently premiered via Mixmag.

Diego’s success bodes well for the rest of the team, whose accessible approach to house production makes them attractive to international audiences. While there’s some scorn in the world of Berlin’s underground techno savants for Ibizan dance floors and big room clubs, and while “tech house” is often used as an insult therein, Beste Modus seems to have little interest in confining to a militantly alternative listenership or conforming to their expectations. For the most part, they’re humble with their ambitions. “I’m happy if I can pay for my vinyl addiction with my gigs,” Herbst says.

But if Beste Modus is keen to break out of its hometown and reach wider audiences, that goal seems within their reach.

“I want to play parties where I have the feeling that people appreciate my music,” Cinthie explains. “I play music, and I want to have the people rave and dance their ass off. If they do it in a small club in Berlin, I’m gonna do it. If they do it on Ibiza, I’ll do it.”

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DJ And Journalist Daniel Wang Explains The Appeal Of The Wild Cocktail D’Amore Parties

This is a flyer for Cocktail D’Amore, a Berlin party.

Saucy ads have become one of the staple features of the Cocktail D’Amore brand. The series’ in-house artist, a visual artist called GoldNSour, has produced one witty flyer for every Cocktail party that has occurred since the Italian DJ duo Discodromo founded the monthly gay bash with Berghain resident Boris in 2009. That’s about 60 suggestive promotional posters and GIFs of bondage bears (literally), peeing men, and kittens jumping around on a pair of turntables, plus about as many videos. One of the clips is embedded below, and you can see other clips he made for the party series here.

Additionally, there’s a handful of somewhat less-sexy (yet still provocative) designs that have appeared as artwork on the records the trio has released on its spinoff Cocktail D’Amore label. My favorites are the sweaty mustache from the imprint’s first sampler, and the deranged cartoon that Benedikt Rugar composed for its latest 12″, which is a compilation titled Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing.

CDA comp artwork 1

CDA comp 2

This most recent record features contributions from previous headliners, artists who have released on the label in the past, and a few new faces, including PAN signee (and frequent Electronic Beats contributor) Heatsick, Swedish beatmaker Dorisburg, and house/disco champion Massimiliano Pagliara.

“Cocktail is always a colourful party,” Heatsick told us. “Be it when you turn around and see an acquaintance getting pissed on in front of the bar, and reclining their head back in full ecstasy, or when a random naked guy runs around at 6 a.m.” But he’s quick to point out that overt displays of sexual activity aren’t the most important or exciting aspects about the gathering—Cocktail D’Amore stands out on the strength of its music selections. In addition to stellar appearances from some of the artists featured on the compilation, the party series has hosted marathon sets from New York legend Joe Clausell and many memorable mixes from its resident DJs.

CDA fetish flyer

Longtime DJ, producer, and label owner Daniel Wang also captured the party series’ special magic in an essay he wrote for Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing, which will be included as fold-out liner notes with the physical release.

Wang wrote one of the first and most poignant pieces about Berghain and its predecessor, Ostgut, back in 2004, when he covered the club’s opening night at its new location. His keen ability to recreate a party’s particular vibe and environment makes his text about Cocktail D’Amore incredibly powerful and compelling, and Discodromo has vested us with the honor of hosting it, unedited and in full, below. Mind the (sic)s.

CDA-stageimage 940

“For the past 7 years or so, I promised myself not to write ‘that novel about Berlin’.

Because when people say Berlin, they certainly don’t mean ‘Cabaret’, or GDR, or Christiane F. anymore. When people say Berlin now, they mean the present reality: post-Wall, techno along the Spree, cool breezy uninhibited metropolis, kebabs and Vietnamese noodles and ice cream on any corner for a few euros, if only you could move here too and have it so easy and go dancing every weekend at some crazy party until the sun rises and sets again. Or is Berlin ‘eine Wolke’, merely a cloud, as the old melody goes? Clouds look like different things in different people’s eyes.

Four or five gay boys whom i know might be preparing their own version of the Novel About Berlin which would, of course, be a guaranteed hit. There’s an Italian famous for his literary translations, and another less famous one who lives next-door to me; there are a few well-qualified Brits who just can’t seem to get it together, probably because they drink too much; there’s a handsome lanky boy from Sao Paulo studying philosophy at Humboldt. But i, both the Asian and the American, the outsider-insider, haven’t cashed in my chips yet.

I didn’t want to write about this so-called hedonistic utopian Berlin club scene any more because i didn’t want another person between the ages of 18 and 45 reading all this hype and moving here, only to get lost in the masses which have already swelled out of control, making it impossible for my friends to find a really cheap apartment ever again. Oops, that happened already.. e non é stata colpa mia.

CDA party 1

Only if Giovanni hadn’t asked me to put a footnote inside the lining of this CD compilation for Cocktail d’Amore.

Gio with that beard and beautifully symmetrical cranium, with his voice of a California pot-head, although he actually comes from a little town in northern Italy. And Giacomo and Boris, his DJ partners in crime, whose collective past lives in Milan, Bologna, New York and some other strange places are surely the source of karma of their present disco reincarnation.

I’ve often asked myself why i miss Berlin whenever i have to fly away. Before my grandmother died last year at the age of 96, i’d go spend 8 or 9 days with her pent up inside a bland apartment for seniors, surrounded by the clean, sterile streets and shopping centers of suburban California. It was not a duty; it was out of pure affection. But i remember most clearly that urge each time i came home from SFO via LHR or FRA to TXL—running back into the smoky, sweaty, neon-lit bars and discos just to feel alive again—just to know that it will be a while yet until physical desire and rhythm are extinguished in my own body.

Whenever i’m not in Berlin (which is where you yourself, reading this text, probably are right now), the one party I miss attending most of all is Cocktail d’Amore. Some natives will surely protest: what about those afternoons in the garden at Homopatik, or Berghain’s never-ending Sundays, or that sleazy basement in Ficken 3000? They can all be sexy, i don’t disagree. Each person finds his own garden in this city.

But as the name so appropriately suggests, mixing up a proper drink to last you through these long nights is a delicate and peculiar task indeed.

How Cocktail d’Amore has managed to sustain its demographics so well and for so long is a mystery, but perhaps the answer is Love.

As Andrew Holleran (who surely would not rank below Isherwood among the Literary Saints of the Urban Homosexual) once wrote, to go the disco in 1975 was to enter a Democracy of Desire. And so it still is, here. Our friend Pindar, who designs visuals for the party, even projected excerpts from Holleran onto the walls all night when Cocktail briefly took place in a gigantic abandoned brewery deep in the middle of Neukölln.

The US-American paradigm of pornographic bodily conformity, perhaps the basis of mainstream gay life there and on the international ‘circuit’ at large, serves the curious function of obliterating the immigrant past of a nation whose grandparents had humbler European origins pre-dating the era of the tacky, self-hating WASP-wannabe fascism of Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie and Fitch. I think it is the genuineness of people in Berlin who are still in touch with their European roots which touches me. Perhaps being at Cocktail feels like joining the United Lovers’ League of Europe – that is what keeps pulling me back. Women are present too, the boys certainly welcome their presence. Not politely dressed female hipsters, i mean those fierce girls with tattoos wearing thread-bare leotards and Carneval beads, that handsome lesbian grrl with her chest as bare as any boy’s dancing up a storm in the month of March—i was applauding! But if you’ve ever read ‘Dancer From The Dance’, you know the hardcore tit-shakers. Those boys who live not merely for the party, but inside of it.

CDA party 2

I am speaking far too generally. Every club in Berlin is United Nations now, and that is also what makes this city feel like a Beacon of Hope. Shouldn’t we humans all be dancing and sleeping together in one big endless happy orgy? But i don’t actually want to sleep with EVERY body. I am selfish, but i am also honest. Every time i enter the darkness of Cocktail d’Amore, I do look for certain eyes which will greet mine in return. I look forward to that moody German boy at the door, for when he smiles briefly, his blue-hazel eyes light up like sunshine in the Berlin winters. Those two lanky French boys in whose laughter i never fail to smell the joy of wine, cheese, and a pair of sweaty worn-out sneakers. That Italian who was still so young when he first arrived here, his Greek-statue brows and lips adorned by eyes like aquamarine jewels—he could only escape to a city like this one, for we know that, in the conservative province in which he grewup, he stuck out like a swan among sparrows. I want to see those two bearded boys who married last spring and who always hold each other while grinding their hips in synchronicity. If only all married people could keep on dancing like they do! I want to see certain scruffy Spaniards with their dark hair and bright eyes and nonsensical tattoos, and certain slightly vain German boys displaying their pale hard muscles fed on so much meat and beer. I’ve hardly ever spoken to some of them. We only acknowledge each other’s presence, but there is no need to seek more than that.

After kissing hello with any 4 or 5 or 10 of these compatriots, my neck and arms are smeared with their scents—musk, smoke, sandalwood, ambergris, pure sex secreted without intention. I am unspeakably happy every time i see these friends in their natural state of movement and desire, in their beauty and most of all in their imperfection, just as they are pleased to see me, imperfect, delighted by their presence. It is more like a family living room than any other environment i can think of, because there is a sense of familiarity and communality which has somehow remained undiluted by tourism, hipster-ism, or the need to earn money. It is held together by an unspoken passion, not merely by sex. Sure, you see an occasional blowjob in the basement or even on the dancefloor at 10 am, and we try not to look on—there are enough other distractions, luckily, such as the rainbow-like LED constellations installed by Emil and his loyal 50% German, 50% French team of 100% heterosexual technicians. Their comfortable co-existence with this nocturnal tribe would be a miracle of symbiosis in other countries; here, it is simply a natural condition.

But most of all, a public blow job means nothing here because the pleasure of motion is so much greater.

I love the way the music flows at Cocktail, without too much drama and personal statement, leaving so much aural space for the bodies on the dancefloor to do what they will. That sounds like Alistair Crowley: pagan rituals, worshipping the Beast, all that. No gospel choirs, no gimmicky digital noises, but rather a continuous stream of rhythm and bass—and this is no accident, because the Discodromo duo plays so much from physical instinct, with their fingers always on the pitch control, never too fast or too slow. Thus the clock stands still—and thus day remains night, and no one ever notices. Too much expression can end up turning into a chaotic soup; simplicity in aural and visual stimuli are an underrated virtue, one which is always respected here. I stay on the dancefloor at Cocktail, simply floating on these rhythms and this soft emotion, and stop wondering or worrying when it is ever supposed to end. It doesn’t end. So here is a love letter to my favourite Cocktail: grazie, ragazzi. Cincin—Prost—and Kampai! Let’s dance and enjoy the music. E tutta quella gente fuori di testa…

– Daniel Wang, May 2014

You can pre-order the vinyl version of Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing on Cocktail D’Amore’s Bandcamp page. The next Cocktail D’Amore party takes place on Decmeber 6.

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EB Premiere: Karin Park’s “Shine” (Hannah Wants & Chris Lorenzo Remix)

When Swedish pop star/actress/Eurovision songwriter Karin Park opened last year’s barnstorming Prague edition of Electronic Beats festival (video here), we were struck by her strain of sub-zero synth pop and, it has to be said, adroit handling of keytar. The news of her forthcoming single “Shine” therefore brightened up a pretty mundane day in February—particularly as it’s set to come packaged with a batch of ‘floor-primed remixes, including previous Mix of the Day stars Let the Machines Do the Work and Lovegrove. We’ve landed the pick of the crop right here in today’s exclusive premiere courtesy of upcoming Brit producer Hannah Wants and fellow Brummie Chris Lorenzo, whose slightly mussed up and bassy house productions have hitherto found a home of the ever-idiosycratic San Franciso label Dirty Bird. Check the elegantly restrained rework below.

 

Karin-Park-Electronic-Beats

 

Karin Park’s “Shine” is released on 24th Feb via State Of The Eye Recordings.

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EB Video Premiere: Daniel Bortz’s “Spend the Night”

While traditional dance music hubs like London or Berlin are known for their ability to foster fast-evolving scenes that push music forward, they’re also prey to the fickle oscillations of fashion. Daniel Bortz is based in Augsburg, Bavaria, and a key inspiration for his music is the very idea that he isn’t playing to the trend conscious crowds of the city. Instead, he’s drawn to records which are direct, stripped back and guaranteed to move people in the club, whether that’s one of his own restrained house tracks, a Whitney Houston number or one of his own built-for-purpose bootlegs. The most famous of the latter category being his “Limit to Your Love” reworking—a limited release on Keinemusik which is still in high demand. In today’s exclusive EB Video Premiere, we’re featuring his latest single, the twilit house number “Spend the Night” taken from his forthcoming debut Patchwork Memories on Suol Records. The video is directed by Jürgen Branz and Sebastian Onufszak.

Remember, Daniel Bortz is the guest on this week’s EB On Air, broadcast on Flux FM from 10 p.m. (CET), Thursday 17th October. You can hear a previous Mix of the Day by Bortz here.

Daniel Bortz’s Patchwork Memories is released on October 18th via Suol Records.

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Blondes’ Ambition: An interview with Blondes

The neo-kosmische house pulse of Blondes has made their second album Swisher one of the most talked about records in the underground recently. D. Strauss met them in Berlin before their Panorama Bar appearance. Photo, left to right: Sam Haar and Zach Steinman of Blondes, by Tania Castellvi.

 

Sam Haar and Zach Steinman, otherwise known as the nü-kosmische duo Blondes, graduated from the Lena Dunham-endorsed Oberlin college a decade ago and one can witness a jokey conceptual side in their naming of A and B sides (“Business” backed with “Pleasure,” “Hater” the reverse of “Lover”). Live, the oft-improvising duo privileges actual trance over the EDM version, with Swisher (RVNG), their latest full-length, embracing the early eighties German sounds of “Love on a Real Train”-era Tangerine Dream and Manuel Göttsching’s proto-techno E2-E4, fitting in nicely with the current kozmik zeitgeist of Lindstrøm and the like, though sporting a less disco-y approach.

 

Considering your backgrounds, how does conceptual art figure into what you do?

Zach Steinman: I think we actually do have a conceptual art approach to our process but I don’t wanna get too lofty. In college, we were in a band called Misty and it was all percussion, and it was sort of set up to…

Sam Haar: It was a drum circle [laughter]. It was sort of like a taking from Sol LeWitt. The beauty of this idea was that you could just do whatever you want with it and it would be whatever it is. It was kind of like, you just set up the rubric and then worked within it, and I think our project uses the 4/4 bass drum much the same way. “Class,” off our new record, is probably the only track that doesn’t have a straight 4/4 bass drum at some point. It is about limitations but also about the ability to set something up that can never be really, totally fucked up. Because the constraints give you the freedom to work.

As long as you have a house beat going underneath you can do anything that you want on top of it.

SH+ZS: Basically.

Would you consider your work more headphone than club music?

ZS: I don’t know how people react. It’s funny ‘cause either people will say we’re really good live and really not exciting to listen to on recording, or it’s the opposite.

SH: “Can’t see how this works in the dance club.”

ZS: Yeah! “Doesn’t work as dance music.”

SH: We definitely set out to be doing live electronic playing—you know, synths and stuff. But it always set out to be dance music, or at least to have this sort of metronomic thump.

ZS: Right. And there’s just something about the ambience surrounding dance music that’s always been attractive to us.

The idea of having an immersive experience.

ZS: Well, yeah, there’s nothing like it, really.

When I was first reading about you guys the term “lo-fi” was used a lot.

SH: But we kind of came out of that world, so yeah.

ZS: We’ve also definitely been influenced by the worlds of experimental or noise music.

SH: Yeah. Our first shows, we were playing our friend’s sort-of warehouse loft, where they would have noise shows.

A Black Dice approach?

SH: Not that, but there’s been a lot of shows in Europe with people who were just with tables full of gear, making shit happen. We were sort of coming up in that scene, I guess. But doing sort of a dance music version of it.

So you were subconsciously trying to create dance music in contrast to what was going on?

SH: It was communities of friends, basically.

And you had DFA, where they’re trying to somehow bring dance music to crowds that don’t normally dance.

ZS: Yeah. We were definitely into DFA.

SH: Gavin Russom was huge.

He was living here in Berlin for a long time. But he also seemed to have this moment where he moved from ambient sound to a more populist approach. He created a public personality that’s completely different from his mad tinkerer era. It’s as if he became a Scientologist.

SH: Yeah, I remember that’s when he was doing these whole repetitive acid lines, and he would just like open and close a filter for ten minutes, and it was a really religious experience.

ZS: It was also the same time we got into Manuel Göttsching and E2-E4, so those were two things that really influenced us. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that we also first heard E2-E4 in this art installation at Peres Projects. Here in Berlin. In a room with, like, this neon pyramid that spun, and E2-E4 in the background.

You guys lived in Berlin for a bit.

SH: Just for a few months in 2008. I’ve been into kosmische and krautrock for a long time. Well, before we were in college and discovered, like, Neu! and stuff.

ZS: We actually didn’t make anything that was ever released while we were here.

That motorik, rhythmic thing is more Kölsch, whereas Berlin kosmische is floaty.

SH: I found the Neu! stuff to be really floaty, though. I don’t know, maybe I’m betraying my lack of understanding, but I think the metronomic, kind of pulsing, moving forwards slowly, sort of jamming out and slowly unveiling—I saw that in all those different groups, and then really got into that. And then I was into Basic Channel for a while. I was really into Pole in the early 2000s. And ˜scape Records. I was feeling Ricardo Villalobos a lot. We were living different parts of the States before then. I was living in California, he was living in New York. And we had been talking about how we wanted to start a music project.

So, you conceived the act before you created the music.

SH: Yeah, we were, like, we wanna make music together again. And then we just had to figure out what that was going to be.

ZS: Then we were all, “Yeah, let’s meet. Let’s go to Berlin, and—I don’t know, work on something there.”

SH: “It’s cheap.”

There’s a strain of minimalism that runs through your influences. Were you also interested in the originators of the genre, such as La Monte Young?

SH: Yeah, I’ve always been into that, but more conceptually. La Monte Young was really into the physicality of it, really into the phenomenon of it.

He’d play for 24 hours and some people would stay for it all. While Blondes is almost a rejoinder to the pummeling ideology of dance music as a whole.

ZS: I’m not sure exactly which pummeling you’re talking about: whether it’s like the EDM pummeling or the techno pummeling. Are you saying it’s not durational music?

The communal experience of Blondes is separate from the dancing. Of course, I don’t know if you hear that in what you’re doing.

SH: I don’t know. To do something that’s just a “dancing experience” says to me that it’s just like handing something in, like a form or a language that people are preconditioned to understand as a dancing thing. We are just taking the individual forms and manipulating what we have, so it’s much more about the actual process of that transformation and building something out of that. But we still do the big builds, and tension release, and pound out some stuff. It doesn’t mean you can’t dance to it.

ZS: I mean, you can, but what makes it cerebral is that you’re listening to every little thing as we do it. All these things happen at once and then it’s changed—it’s like a slowly evolving sort of structure to a lot of tracks, whereas I feel like most dance music is a little dictatorial.

Where is the line drawn between composition and sound design?

SH: When we play live right now, we’re mixing every element there on the board, or two small boards. You can’t really hear what’s going on, stuff can kind of get away from you.

ZS: Yeah, we kind of need the immersive environment ourselves. We’ve been toying with the idea of playing in the front of house.

SH: Where the guy sits that normally mixes the band, because they have the best sound, they’re sitting in the sweet spot of the whole sound system, and why are you up on the stage?

Maybe the audience should be there.

SH: [laughs] Yeah, and you’ll see it—it’s like a tradition of electronic-acoustic music. The composer will sit at the back and he’ll dim the lights so he can mix properly for the sound system. In some ways, yeah, we’re toying with the idea because we don’t really feel like a stage act, we feel more like a sound system act, you know?

ZS: The performance is not as important. It could actually be interesting to have no one on stage and just lights going, and us in the booth. Like sensory, sensual formalism.

Do you see yourselves perhaps disappearing? Daft Punk manages to put on a show somehow and yet anonymize at the same time.

ZS: There is a history of that with Orbital or…

SH: Kraftwerk too. Behind the screen, with the robots around it.

But Kraftwerk is essentially a comedy act.

SH: What’s interesting to me more is Berghain. You go there and you don’t see the DJ. He’s not on a big stage with lights on him, you know? He’s just kind of in a DJ hole off to the side. You’re not staring at the DJ—you’re experiencing the sort of sonic environment and the music and you’re dancing and that’s kind of what comes out to you, too. Some people might like seeing us turning the knobs and seeing how and what we’re creating, you know? But I don’t think it’s necessary. I think the main reason I want to do it is to have the best spot of monitoring the sound system, because what we’re doing, we’re spending all this time turning knobs, adjusting sound and we’re not even in the best spot to hear it.

Watching electronic music live can be an alienating experience: it’s like watching a movie. Or filming a movie. I get the sense that you’re trying to create a sense of group connection when you play live.

ZS: Yeah, for sure. I think there is definitely some sort of psychic feel to it. You can kind of sense it—we’re not really even looking up a lot of times, but we can kind of just feel between hearing what you’re playing and then how that’s feeling and then seeing the audience—how the general reaction is.

SH: Especially when you’re like building with loops or developing grooves, and it’s really transforming them and developing them and taking them places and discovering new places. We were talking about this before; everyone’s kind of on a journey together. Like, we’re on a journey, and we’re trying to figure out what we’re doing up there too. [laughs]

So you’re as confused as they are.

SH: [laughs] In some ways, yeah. They’re gonna be, like, “Oh we’ve found something!” and we’ll be, like, “Oh, let’s work with this and twist this into something,” and when we’re all in that together it, can be this really creative spirit.

ZS: Usually, if we’re happy, people will be. It’ll be good. ~

 

Blondes’ Swisher is out now on RVNG Intl.

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