Listening to electronic music on an incredible sound system in the right atmosphere can be a near religious experience. Watching a DJ spin records or work a laptop, however, can get boring quick. The Berlin-based electronic duo Modeselektor are an exception to the rule. Since 2002, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary have been creating bleeding edge experimental and dubstep-infused techno—and wooing crowds by dancing and
headbanging while twiddling the knobs. For Electronic Beats, Modeselektor agreed to go back to the basics.
A as in AUTOBAHN: Kraftwerk famously sang: “Wir fahr’n, fahr’n, fahr’n auf der Autobahn.” Cruising the German motorways can be a mind-blowing experience and the Autobahn is by far our favorite place to be in Germany. Nothing compares to listening to loud music and whiling away the kilometers. It’s incredibly meditative. If you ever happen to visit Germany, rent a fast car, pop in Kraftwerk, and turn up the volume. (See also: “D”, “L” and “P”)
B as in BASS: Bass is our religion (see also: “E”). Bass, how low can you go? Bass is maternal. Bass is the place. Bass is an endless universe. Bass is something you can easily get addicted to. By the way: Has anybody coined the term “bass continuum”? If not, you heard it here first. While working
on our new album Monkeytown (see also: “M”), we’ve once again discovered hitherto unknown regions of bass that will transport listeners. (See also: “K”)
C as in COCAINE: Anybody who’s heard the American country tune “Cocaine Blues” knows how catchy it is—especially the chorus: “Cocaine, all around my brain.” But we’re not country singers. We do electronic music. We don’t do cocaine.
D as in DEUTSCHLAND: Here are our top three Autobahn routes in Germany (see also: “A”):
1. Hamburg, A7, southbound. After entering the Elb Tunnel, you pass under the river and drive about three kilometers before emerging into the best view of the Port of Hamburg in the entire city—an unforgettable panorama of the docks, container terminals and huge vessels waiting to be
2. Hof, A9, direction Leipzig. Once you’ve crossed the former inner German border, you’re living in the fast lane (regardless of which lane you’re using). It’s like playing Gran Turismo X, only real. The three-lane highway boasts long, tender curves through an endlessly hilly landscape.
3. Berlin, A100, eastbound. This one’s for the evening: enter Berlin’s urban freeway from the north, pass by the futuristic International Congress Center and then submerge in an ocean of neon light.
E as in 8-bit music: An incredible sonic energy emerges when reducing sampling bit depth. Everybody likes 8-bit sounds because they remind you of your childhood. Today, you can pimp 8-bit chips and samples like you
wouldn’t believe. But in the end, it’s like an old toaster: you can fiddle with the knobs, but the toast always comes out really dark. Only sometimes it’s the only thing you want to eat. (See also: “B”.)
F as in FINANCIAL CRISIS: On the occasion of the
international financial crisis the two guys from Modeselektor, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary, decided to found their own label, Monkeytown Records, to create a platform for befriended artists.“ (See also: “U”.)
G as in GENTLEMAN: Ask anybody: Modeselektor are gentlemen. To quote John Walter Wayland: “The true gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will (. . .) whose self-control is equal to all emergencies (. . .) who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty (. . .) whose deed follows his word, and who appears well in any company.”
H as in HEALTH: We both take yoga lessons from a Nepalese Kundalini yoga master who smokes sixty cigarettes a day. And there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold beer after yoga.
I as in INDEPENDENCE: As musicians, independence is hugely important to us. That being said, complete independence is usually out of reach. But that makes it even more desirable.
J as in JOINING FORCES: That’s what we do all day, every day. We have a truly symbiotic relationship. Gernot is like a Jedi knight: energetic, up-front and loyal. Szary is similar, but can be said to exhibit more self-control. He also stays in closer contact to Yoda. As long as nothing fucks with our system, working as a team always yields better results than working alone.
K as in KNOWLEDGE: We’ve recently invested lots of time and energy in increasing our knowledge of bass—specifically by listening to loads of Chicago juke. It’s been enlightening. There are worse things in the world than being lost in bass. (See also: “B”)
L as in LIMITS: There are no speed limits on the German Autobahn. (See also: “D”)
M as in MONKEYTOWN: According to our press release, our new album, Monkeytown, is “fucking awesome”.
N as in NINETIES: The nineties were incredibly memorable for our generation, although we’re sure the noughties will be remembered fondly. But it was the nineties that ushered in so many great innovations—along with some pretty bad ones. We fondly remember the techno revolution, the Deutschmark and low gas prices (see also: “A”). On the shittier end of the spectrum were colorful tapered jeans, slow modems and the Love Parade™.
O as in OSTGUT: Now we’re in dangerous territory. They had the best sound system in the world, and many a fine DJ played there, too. Everybody knows the Ostgut dance floor was the perfect backdrop for a family photo.
P as in PARIS: The Parisian Périphérique motorway is impressive, but not as nice as floating along the Autobahn in Germany’s Ruhr region, pleasantly gliding from one city into the next. (See also “D”)
Q as in QUO VADIS, TECHNO?: What do you want? We see a very bright future for electronic music. It’ll undoubtedly include Maurizio, UR, Paperclip People, and Roland Einflugschneise.
R as in RADIOHEAD: Cool band and one of the few real visionaries from the nineties that successfully changed gears in the noughties (see also: “N”). The common thread that runs through their work is an endlessly innovative appraoch to music. We’ve got to give credit where credit is due. And, of course we owe the band a lot for their support.
S as in SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN: We usually don’t have a plan … unless we’re forced to play a really short set. Then we really have to be careful with what we choose and how we drop it.
T as in TABLET-PCS: In the past, we’ve worked with Lemur tablet PCs and expensive controllers. But if you do wild live shows like us, forget about all this Rolls-Royce digital crap. When people started spraying us with champagne in the middle of our sets, we decided to look for other options. Really, you don’t want to ruin your expensive touchscreen computers by drowning them in alcohol.
U as in UNDERGROUND: For some, it’s just a subway system; for others it’s 50 Weapons. (See also: “F”)
V as in VINYL: Nowadays everybody expects you to DJ from your hard drive. Sometimes, clubs won’t even provide you with proper turntables. It seems like vinyl has become, first and foremost, a collector’s item—trophy stuff you can show off to your children and children’s children.
W as in WORLD WAR II: Before World War II, there was the World Wide Web.
X as in XOXO: LOL ? This is a good example of the brutalization of language by social media platforms. Someone save our sense of case sensitivity!
Y as in YOUTH: You can’t judge youth by a person’s age. We’re youngsters. And in ten years, our children will be, too.
Z as in BERLIN ZOO: There are loads of urban myths about Berlin’s Zoo Station—from Christiane F. and David Bowie to Nick Cave . . . Leaving the subway at Zoo Station used to be a pretty trivial affair: you’d rush through all the riff-raff in order to go shopping at the nearby Ku’damm boulevard for clothes or sneakers or whatever. Sometimes we envy those who lived in West Berlin in the seventies. They were definitely immersed in an atmosphere like no other of its kind. ~