German duo Kollectiv Turmstrasse has churned out a large number of impressive, emotive, one-of-a-kind works. The prolific producers pack incredible DJ skills and a great live show, which they’ll be bringing with them to next week’s Diynamic Festival in Amsterdam.
Their 2012 EP, Ordinary, reenforced their status as connoisseurs of beautiful dreamy, yet deep, sounds. The softness and sweetness of their art are parallel to Monet of painting fame, but with a surrealist, out-of-this world edge that can only be incorporated from musical escapism.
Here is what the duo had to say about musical journeys, playing around the world, and finding new sounds.
First things first, tell us a bit about where you are at creatively these days? Emerging from winter can be quite an inspiring and motivating time.
After the long winter, which we survived very well this year, we are quite creative and motivated. We answer interview requests directly and fast, we prepare some podcasts, we are planning upcoming gigs and shows. On the other hand, the label work increases, we spend more time in the studio, new tracks and ideas come up, we finish many ideas and some remixes we’ve already started…
How’d you guys first hook up?
It’s been a long time. We both know each other more than 16 years now. This is more or less the short version: We were at the same party and were playing a gig in the region where we both grew up. These events were extremely rare at that time and you had to go by car for many hours to enjoy electronic music. When we saw each other the first time and we talked, the chemistry was directly right. We have to mention that it was not so easy to find like-minded people at that time so there was no other choice than liking each other.
What’s the story behind the name Kollektiv Turmstrasse?
After we met the first time, we decided fairly quick to move together. At the time, you had your first own flat, and you moved out of your parents home to make your first own exciting experiences. 16 years ago we never thought that we will do this together as professionals, to play in clubs and travel around the world. Our first flat was really nice, you could do what you want. The said flat was somewhere in a small city, right in the middle of nowhere, and there was one street with the name “Turmstrasse.” This was the course of our story.
What is your creative process like? Are you in the studio together most of the time or do you work separately and then collaborate back and forth remotely?
It’s hard to describe the process and progress of our music. There are times when we both have amazing ideas and on the other hand you have weeks while sitting in the studio and you are stuck…We both realized that one reason for this is how often and how much we travel. After a hard weekend it’s really hard to finish something — what you’ve started the week before… After more than 10 years of living together and sharing one studio together, we definitely know each other and we are a good team for sure. Really often you have to decide when you are more than one person who takes care of different things. Nico is the creative head and takes care about the music stuff, in the meantime Christian is more the organizational talent, but both together are Kollektiv Turmstrasse.
Germany is clearly one of the most influential spaces of dance music. What does it take for young DJs and producers to stand out there?
Years ago we would have answered this question in a different way. Nowadays we think it’s not enough to make good music. You also need a lot of luck. There are so many young and good emerging artists, that the music of the new artists goes down. When you want to stand out you need to be well thought out on the social networks. You need to make sure that the people will listen to your music, the job of the label was to build up the artists, but this is something we really miss in this area.
What’s the scene like in Hamburg? Is the feel quite different from Berlin in terms of the musical production that comes out of there?
Hamburg, Berlin or Amsterdam, there are not so many differences in the current, local scenes. A club is a club and a good track, a band or a DJ, if he is from Hamburg or Berlin, [the sound] also works in Amsterdam. Every city/region has its own charm and also the unique people and artists who live there. It would take too much time to diversify all the little details and differences. But it’s super nice to write music that connects, and that actually, there are no differences.
What was the scene like where you grew up? (I believe you’re from a small town there, correct?) How did the music there inform your direction as artists?
From 1995-2000, when we were living in the “Turmstrasse,” there were some electronic events 1 or 2 times a month in within a radius of 200 kilometers. We were happy that we saw almost everything and everybody who is anybody in the DJ scene. Once a week we went to our vinyl store of confidence, who gave you all the latest music and vinyls from overseas. In retrospect of those times, we have to say that it was not as easy to meet people or spot new music as it is today. But maybe this was also something exciting and captivating for us.
You’re playing Diynamic Festival in a couple weeks. What have you got planned? Are you bringing your live show? If yes, can you tell us a bit about the set up?
OK! Now comes the short technical part, here we go: take 2 x laptops, 2 x iPad as a controller, 2 x Audio Interfaces, 1 x DB4 as a mixer. All this stuff has to be small enough; compact and suitable for the hand luggage. As a DAW, you use for sure Ableton. 600 Clips and 8 traces. We do not synch per midi, we only sync with our sense of hearing. We often describe our Setup as a DJ-Live Hybrid solution. After that you have to put two guys behind it and ready is the construction kit of “Turmstrasse.”
Favorite hardware or DAW plug in?
Ableton and Novation Super Nova!
I’m really loving the sounds coming out of your label Musik Gewinnt Freunde. The latest VA was melodic and sweet, yet heavy on the right sounds and you have great artists like H.O.S.H, Alex Q, Solomun etc on your roster. How has it been to run the label? What sounds are you after? Anything coming up we should know about?
Our label Musik Gewinnt Freunde has arisen from a whim. There wasn’t a plan or target to start a label. Et voila – now we have one but it was always important for us to work without strain and compulsion and it’s also important for us to keep the friendship going with our artists. We prefer to work together with people where the chemistry is right from the beginning. Musically we really often have tracks with melodious and harmonic vibes. A good example is our upcoming EP, Meeting Sea, by the artist Ferrein. It includes a remix by Robag Whrume.
Drink of choice?
Place the peach, mango, soy milk, and orange juice into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Pour into glasses to serve.