In the wake of new albums from both Martyn and Modeselektor, we here at XLR8R thought it might be fun to initiate a conversation between the veteran artists. What began as a casual chat pretty quickly became a lengthy discussion, so we've elected to run the whole thing as a five-part series throughout the week. Part one went up yesterday, while the second chapter is below. Read on to see what the Dutch producer and German duo of Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian "Charlie" Szary had to say about their evolving styles, getting older, the Hessle Audio crew, and why Marcel Dettmann is the best at what he does.
XLR8R: Martyn, it seems like your music is getting a little bit closer to what could be called techno, while Modeselektor, you guys seem to be moving away from it and trying more and more new things. Are you guys jealous of each other?
Gernot Bronsert: I'm afraid of him.
Martyn: I must say, I think Modeselektor has a really strong live reputation. I've seen them live a few times and I think the music they make is also very, I wouldn't say aimed, but it's definitely very influenced by playing live. That's also why I think it's really quite varied. Is that right?
GB: Yeah, that's right.
M: I've been playing live a little bit this summer, and I notice how big the importance is of tempo changes and switching stuff up and sort of working the music as if it were a real concert, instead of just a DJ set, where you can just sort of stay the same tempo most of the time. So I can now totally see how Modeselektor are developing musically. Because if you play a lot of live sets, then your music changes gradually as well.
GB: I think the main difference maybe between us is... I need to start from the beginning. When we started making music, we really liked the hard break stuff, the Detroit techno stuff, drum & bass, and IDM and everything. We liked everything. But we never tried to be something, we didn't want to copy something. I could never make music like Martyn, for example. Martyn is deep. I think he has the perfect range between deepness and pop. It's not too deep, it's the perfect middle. We never tried to be this. I grew up in techno. When I was young, I wasn't listening to Nirvana and punk music or hip-hop a lot. I was listening to Underground Resistance and this was my music. And I really wanted to get away from it already in the '90s. I was always looking for new things, but I never stopped dancing to techno music and I never stopped buying techno music. For me, it's impossible to beat guys techno-wise, like Martyn, or Shed, or Maurizio, or Marcel Dettmann, or all of the other amazing techno producers. Techno is kind of a game, like playing a game. It's pretty Black-music influenced. It has still a little battle effect. It's all about who makes the grooviest beat and then you have just a few guys over the years who can hold a certain level. I really like that... it's like breakdancing.
M: You're just a hip-hop guy, that's why you think it's a battle. But it's not a battle.
GB: No, it's not really [a battle], it's a positive battle. That's the good thing, that's the difference between techno and hip-hop.
M: I must say that I don't really look at other people all that much. I love stuff that Ben Klock is doing, or Shed, or Dettmann, or any of those people, but it's not like when I hear a new thing I'm like, "Well, I need to make that better," or, "I think I can do that better."
GB: Just yesterday, Marcel [Dettmann] came to our studio, and he played us a few new songs and they were so simple but so great at the same time. I could never do this, you know?
M: Yeah, but I like it. Every time I hear something, I have exactly the same thing, like "What he does, he's so good at it, I could never do that," so I just leave it alone. I don't even want to try anything in that direction, because Marcel is just the best one in that vibe. You know if you see a very dark Berghain, and you hear Dettmann's music, there's no way you can make that better.
GB: Yeah, I know.
M: I must say one more thing. The word that I hate most is "deep." I don't know, I just have a sort of negative vibe with the word "deep." It always sounds...
GB: I don't mean deep house and shit, I mean...
M: But I always think that if people call my music deep, it means that people think that I have thought of this music before I make it, you know what I mean? If you make "deep music," it means that you think about something and then you make it.
GB: No, no. I see it in a totally opposite way. Totally. For me, deep techno music has always... I mean real deep shit always has a live and session character. I think your music has this. It sounds "easy."
GB: It sounds like it was made in one session, and that's what techno is about, catching a moment and holding it and making something out of it. Techno is nothing else but making gold out of shit, you know? You have cheap equipment and you make great shit with it, you don't need an orchestra or a band.
M: You mean it's intuitive?
GB: Yes. For me, that's deep music.
M: Okay. Yeah, I understand.
GB: I think that you are more into techno and house than I am. I'm really crazy, I actually hate music. [laughs] But I love music at the same time. I saw the coming of techno and then I saw the fall of techno. And then I saw the comeback of techno, and when they started celebrating in Berlin in the late '90s, early 2000s, the new rave thing, partying for 72 hours and all these tracks with a 10-minute length. But this was all nothing new for me, you know? It was something I quit years ago, and I think it's all about the experience we have, and maybe you are right and we are old.
XLR8R: With all of you guys in your 30s, does it affect your process of making music that is so oriented around partying and youth?
M: No, not really. It's weird, because I don't think if you make music, you necessarily have to be in the same group of people that the audience is. There are lots of musicians that are very old, but then their audience is 18 years old, it doesn't make a difference. I don't really enjoy raving anyway. I only did when I was very, very young, but I got bored of it quite quickly. I just wanted to get into making music and DJing and organizing nights and that sort of stuff, and just bring the music further that way. So it's really only in places like Panorama Bar that I will really stay for 10 hours and just rave, you know? There are very few clubs that I would do that at.
GB: I think we are very similar.
M: You are also old.
GB: You know, when I was listening to the early Hessle Audio releases, I never thought that these guys were that young. Did you know that? Did you know how old they were?
M: I met them in the beginning because I did a [TRG] remix for them, the "Broken Heart" remix. That was on Hessle Audio. I played in Leeds and they said we should meet up and get some dinner, and then I sat there and they were all half my age. They were like 18 or 19 years old.
GB: When this record came out, we booked them all for a party in Berlin. We used to have our own night, just three or four times a year, and we booked the whole floor with Hessle Audio, and we invited them all—Ramadanman, Pangea, Ben UFO, Cosmin TRG. And the driver who was supposed to pick them up from the airport, he couldn't find them, and then I called [the Hessle Audio guys] and they said, "No we are here, we are in front of Gate 8, but the driver is not coming." And I said to the driver, "They are standing directly in front of Gate 8." He said, "No, there's just this bunch of little boys."
GB: When we were listening to this [Hessle Audio] stuff, we didn't know, because this music, it sounded so experienced. It's not a question of the age, it's something different, I don't know what.
M: Yeah, it's strange also that nowadays you can see all these people going back to even earlier sounds, like everyone now all of the sudden is influenced by Chicago house, and by the sort of 909 thing. It's very strange how it sort of started as a spin off of dubstep and now everyone's making Chicago house all of the sudden, the more cheesy the better it seems.
GB: Yeah, there's a Pearson Sound bootleg of "Deep Inside." For me, the sample is a no-go area, I would never use a sample like this. But they can do it, you know?
M: Because they are so young, they don't even...
M: I was actually in the room when that tune was out and I was raving. So for me, it's like a holy tune. I would like to play it, but I only play the original because I can't stand playing a sort of a spin-off.
GB: I bet you smelled your past when you were listening to the sample. You know what I mean? When you are listening to music and you get all these memories and you connect to a song... I just had a listening session with Doc Daneeka and Benjamin Damage and I introduced them to Maurizio's music and they had never heard of it before, and when I played them all the old tunes I have here on my computer, I had so many memories. For example, I have a song I grew up with, "Domina" from Maurizio, [and when I hear it] I smell my parents house. Just for a second, but I smell it. These guys, they don't have it with this [older] music. They grew up with jungle and drum & bass I think.
Click here for part three of B2B: Martyn and Modeselektor.