Welcome to the first of our new podcast and download series, In The City: Artist Focus.
To kick things off, we thought it only natural to start from the very start and delve straight into the work of label owners Ali and Basti Schwarz, more commonly known as Tiefschwarz. In the pack, you can enjoy three exclusive free downloads from the guys along with a very specially recorded mix.
Where is your favorite city?
We would say New York, Tokyo and of course Berlin. Our beloved hometown. We could talk for hours about our life here..! And Usedom, a beautiful island north of berlin in the Baltik sea is also an amazing place to be. Pure nature-power :)
Where is your favorite place in Berlin?
Definetly at home. When you re travelling so much you love to come back home to enjoy peace and quite. The best way to re-charge your batteries. Besides that it’s very hard to name just “one” favorite spot in Berlin – there are just too many amazing places.
What is the story behind “In The City”?
Well.. “In The City #3” is again an overview of most of our Souvenir artists + friends. The compilation contains twelve exclusive tracks devided on 3 vinyls over 2 month and a continious mix by Re.You. Along with the release we’re all very happy to play our “In The City” tour all over Europe etc.. So we all bring us together as label mates and celebrate “In The City” on the road!
In the inside..
01. Spektrum – Kinda New (Tiefschwarz Mixes / Vocal)
02. Tiefschwarz feat. Daniel Wilde – Time & Space
03. Tiefschwarz deat. Mama – Dominate My Sensations (Dub)
Italian housemeister Francys talks about his recent release on Souvenir plus..
Hi Francys. You’ve started off with the track ‘Trust Me’ headed by vocal phrases & synth effects trough the percussion that make the track such a fascinating listen. How did you manage the sound to get this mesmerizing level of detail?
Well let’ say i’m a perfectionist, I use to spend much time on a track especially when I want to create something more for listening, I work in a very peculiar way in all the little details, because I think this is the key for a good result “the little makes the big”!
I Usually start from the drums, then I play some synths, add vocals and everything needs to give the sense of atmosphere, that in case like this is one of the most relevant things.
I spent so much time making the “details” for Trust Me, as I worked a lot on the arrangement, i just wanted it to sound as more as organic as possible, using the right elements and the right effects, the hard thing was not to fall in a too busy thing, but let the various parts flow harmonically together.
‘Silver’ still finds this confident feeling but in a deeper way. You play several instruments / effects as well as composing and arranging this track to a complete harmony. What inspired you to create this sound?
As I said the atmosphere for me is one of the most important thing in a track, I love to try new fresh introspective things in my studio, I like music in all its shades even in the dub and ambient way.
During the production I always used to record some sounds from the environment and made my own sound library.
I think my music comes out from the deepest dark side of me, but dark means beauty and can reveal the infinite space inside, so think this track like a window on an unexplored world where everything inside lives in armory,like night and day,sounds and noises, men and machines.
‘Solitude’ seems to spin faster and faster. You dropped out the “Trust Me” guideline and push forward a deep-minimalistic-voiceless sound. A way to eventually say “don’t trust me”?
Yeah, you got the point! Solitude is kind of a “negative” of Trust Me.
I was alone, in a strange anxious mood and my thoughts were spinning on these sounds, but I wanted to punch forward a bit to create something usefull for the dance floor but always leaving a deep smooth and dark minimal feeling. Yes a way to say “don’t trust me”..you can expect everything.
You rounded off this masterpiece with ‘Water Woman’ which brings us to these ambiant tropes. You change in tone revealing an ear for more involved structures than 4 tracks might suggest.. How did you get ëtill that point? How did you start composing music?
Water Woman is a symbol of the synthesis of my sound, from the hard old school influenced beat and the dub bassline to the sidechanined pads and piano keys. I’s the compromise between the cold digital sound and the warm human touch.
When I was 15 I used to listen lot of music and this brought me to meet house and techno…it was love at first sight, I decided to try with mixer and turntables, after that I felt the need of fully express my self through music and thanks to a computer I started to use some sequencers and samplers.
Thanks a lot and good music to everybody!
Fischer & Kleber shared some behind the scene stories about their latest release on Souvenir Plus.
This EP gave an impression as if it was expressing the four seasons, starting off with the track “Air” with its winter atmosphere..
Kleber: Well, we didn’t construct the EP that way, but It is a nice interpretation for it! So if “Air” feels like winter, then “Wonderful Life” would be our spring, reflecting the darkness and beauty of the winter paired with the colours of spring and the hope for “Warmth”! It is even reflected in the title! “Wagner” would stand for summer, with it’s sweaty and tropical groove, evolving into a big thunderstorm with a happy end! And finally “Euphorium” feels like fall. Things get dark and gloomy and the coldness supersedes the warmth of summer. In the big break, all the bright colours of fall are shining through!
Fischer: It was important to us, that the EP would not just be 4 common club-trax put together! We wanted a sort of diversity that would make sense to us and reflected our love for music & sound in general, independent from the rules of “what works best in the club”.
There was a good combination of melodies, vocals, baselines, and the effects on the punchy track “Wagner”. Do you guys have a specific part to take when producing music? Also speaking of the track, is there a reference to the composer Richard Wagner?
Fischer: There are no necessary rules for Who’s doing what, but our history sets the general working-field automatically. Being a guitar-player / Composer, Niklas (Kleber) is the general man for harmony, melody, textures, colours etc. Being a drummer / sound-engineer, I’m the general man for beats, arrangement, mix, effects etc. But as I stated before, there are no rules!
We make music together for 15 years, been on the road together a lot, with different projects, so we trust and know each other 100%. For me, trust is one of the key-aspects of making music together.
Kleber: Actually the title is not a reference to “Wagner” the composer, but a reference to a friend who is carrying the same name. We sampled the piano and the chopped up vocals from a track he wrote.
‘Wonderful Life’ is on a slowest tip, with its heavy vocal crawling on the melody. At some point it gave a feel of a Baroque music. Do you get a large inspiration from a classical music?
Kleber: Every kind of music and sound & noise in general is an inspiration for us! Both of us have several other bands/projects, playing different styles of music, which is really important to us. In this case, the sound of the viola di gambas inspired me to sing the dark vocal-line, which holds controversy within, calling Life wonderful, but also asking why it is so sad!
Fischer: We love controversy in music, or let’s say in art in general! Which is also the key for this track, connecting deep electronic & percussive elements with a baroque & symphonic vibe. These opposing elements combined, create a sort of controversy that makes music exciting and unique for us.
‘Euphorium’ boosts the EP with its well balanced tempo. Since this is the most club-feel track in the entire EP, this release gives an impression as being more matured compared to ‘Minas’.
Fischer: I wouldn’t put it that way necessarily. We make music in the moment! So it’s possible that our next thing will be a straight up club-feel again! :) We don’t know because we don’t plan or analyze these things. Music is way to important to us, we try to stay pure with it. That’s one of the reasons we enjoy releasing on Souvenir Music. Freedom of art, Controversy & Uniqueness are appreciated and celebrated here, which is exactly our way of celebrating music & art.
Kleber: The first time we played Euphorium live, was on a Souvenir Label Night at Watergate in Mai 2012. It was one of the best tracks within our set! The vibe was great, when I started playing the Mandoline-Textures over the pumping Bassline that Rob (Fischer) had created! With this energy in mind, we immediately locked ourselves in the studio, when we returned home, and recorded the track Live in the studio :)
After nailing a life-take together, we started editing and adding details & textures, and pretty quick it was done!
To kick things off seems like we have to ask how you managed to craft such an intimate sounding record. Every vocal snippet on the EP seems to convey a message…
For “Insanity” I worked together with LIA. She has a very good taste in music, so I asked her to do some vocals for my track. We only had contact via mail as she doesn’t live in Berlin. It was a bit complicated but I really love her voice on my track. It makes it more special – like an insane journey.
For the “Closer” track I worked with Vonda7, DJ based in Berlin. She did some rough vocal phrases and I just chopped and looped it. Come closer. I think it’s quite catchy.
‘Insanity’ seems like such a fitting name with its syncopated, tribal drums is underpinned by a hypnotic bass and mysterious female voice. It’s pure sexual energy. What were your working methods to achieve this?
I worked quiet a while on this track. The sound is very rough and together with the voice it’s kind of mystical. It’s always the same procedure with my productions. I work on some layouts and while traveling I get more ideas. I worked very long on the background atmosphere and of course on the bass tone.
‘Lonely’ continues on in a more introspective manner. That feeling of being in club and closing your eyes in the crowd..
Yes, I wanted to create a slower but more intense track. At the moment I like “Lonely” the most. This dark atmosphere is perfect for club nights!
‘Closer’ is more on a house tip, opening things up a bit after Insanity’s claustrophobic feeling. Is the choice of syncopated rhythms prevalent throughout the record deliberate? And tell us a bit about Amine as the remixer?
Yes, the syncopated rhythms are the engine of this EP. I wanted to create a complete journey. From a1 to b2!I met Amine at a gig in Heidelberg. He’s pretty cool, so I just asked him if he could do a remix for me. It’s good to have him and his partner DANCE on board. They’re giving a totally different vibe to “Closer”… And it’s great to have a totally different remix. Otherwise it could be boring for the listeners.
I’m happy with this EP. I hope the people also like it!
Let’s first talk about the track ‘Montre’. How did you come to work with Vargas?
Well, Vargas is actually one of my good friends, Oscar Quiroz. The same guy I used in my other Souvenir track, ‘Fortuna feat. Quiroz’. Oscar is born in Mexico, but has been quite around – France is one of the destinations, and he speaks (and sings obviously) French very well. His voice on ‘Fortuna’ came out perfectly, so I thought it would work with him singing in French on my next project, which I think it really did. To avoid any kind of confusion because of the French lyrics, we decided to give him a different alias, ‘Vargas’.
‘Montre’ flirts between the sensual (particularly the vocals) and a chillier atmosphere. It almost sounds like a modern tango?
It could be a modern kind of Tango, I wouldn’t know But the idea was to make it sexy and cheesy without losing its drive. The drop makes up for the long sensual break I think. I’m confident
‘Turning Point’ is much more direct with the rhythm taking centre stage. How does your previous career as a drummer influence your production methods?
Working with drums/drum machines is one of the best parts for me, it brings me back to the days where I was a rockstar in my own band (I wish) . In the beginning I used a Spanish vocal as a main part of the track, but it came out too latino so I removed it, and continued the track with percussive elements. And with the chunky bassline it doesn’t get too balearic.
‘Leftroom’ ends the EP quite violently. A deep voice accentuates the chunky, icy chords. The song nicely heralds the arrival of winter. How does the Danish climate influence your music if at all?
Denmark is cold about 8-9 months a year, so if I adapted my music inspiration with the weather conditions, I would release some really sad tunes Long time ago I bought my microkorg, which I haven’t used in a while. So I decided to do all the synth parts with this particular synth. All the sounds made me go in a aggressive and evil direction. Thats why the track came out so deep. FYI the vocals on ‘Turning Point’ and ‘Leftroom’ are made by me Another experimental thing I had to try.
How are you feeling since the release of Souvenir+ 16? Have you had a chance to try the tracks out in a club?
I already played the tracks in my sets, and the feedbacks from the dancefloor are always so good! I’m really happy for this, now I can’t wait to try the stuff mastered!
The EP is really upbeat. Was it a conscious decision to crank up the tempo?
I was in my studio working with my drums, looking for a strong groove. When I found what I wanted, I put some vocals, and the combo was really nice!
What was the inspiration behind using a Michael Jackson vocal sample on ‘Always with Me’? The track title implies a tribute perhaps?
Yes! ‘Always with Me’, because I love Michael Jackson since I was a child, his voice gives me a lot of inspiration: he open my mind to make music. So I tried to put his voice inside my track, and finally I found a really good combination.
There is a lot of attention paid to the drum programming and bassline, particularly on ‘Feel the Reaction’. Is this a reference to your family background (Benin) and a desire to connect your African roots with your love of house music?
The African rhythm is inside me, because my father teaches me a lot about African groove and percussions… And for sure I will come back soon to Benin because the real groove is there! X
Welcome back to Souvenir! How do you feel this EP differs from your previous release on our ‘In The City 2’ Summer compilation?
Yes, luckily is not the first release on Souvenir and we hope will NOT be the last Musically we changed a little bit our style than our previous 2 tracks on “In The City #2″ compilation. In this release we play a little more with synths, we changed the bassline, more deeply and we raise 3 or 4 BPM.
You guys run your own label but last year was a little quieter production wise. Would you say this year you’ve found new musical inspiration?
Follow our label and follow its musical evolution is important for us like follow our personal releases, so in 2011 we preferred to run mostly our label to understand what was the sound to produce and play. After that in 2012 we come back with new musical ideas and new release and we hope that Souvenir +16 can be a launch for this new sound!
Souvenir+ 16 features some particularly hypnotic grooves. How did this come about?
For us this sound it’s a natural evolution of our musical trip, a maturation of our sonorities. We hope the people can appreciate it!
What makes your two contributions seriously pop on this EP are the driving vocals. How do you come across new ideas and sounds?
The voice for us is like a supplement thing that make complete a track! Sometimes we listen to incredible tracks that however missing a little thing that can make that track a real bomb. Usually we missed a huge vocal. Every day we spend several hours in our studio to try to find new original ideas. Originality for us it’s a factor that can never miss and then the originality in the voices in our track is like a ticket to take off in our musical dimension.
More important than the parties, the plane rides, the magazine covers or the money, every great DJ is first and foremost, a collector. A discoverer of music. A traveller weaving through a sea of new sounds and honing down the multitude of records to those that matter most. It’s this drive for sonic exploration that’s responsible for Souvenir, the Berlin label spearheaded by Tiefschwarz and their french partner Arthur Vélasquez. In little over a year the label has...