The two friends have been spinning together for over 15 years; they founded the world-conquering Get Physical label with friends Peter Hayo, Thomas "DJ T." Koch, and Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger of Booka Shade in 2002; and that same year, they started producing as a team, collaborating to create a style of austere, spacious and melodic dance music that owed as much to trance (albeit a stripped-down form of trance) as it did to house and techno. Flash forward to 2015, and M.A.N.D.Y.'s Philipp Jung and Patrick Bodmer are still together, and though they've largely ditched their trance-tinged inclinations, they're still going strong, as is Get Physical itself. The label's very longevity has elevated it to "iconic" status—but it's still got a long way to go before it catches up with Transmat, the hugely influential Detroit techno label founded by Derrick May in 1986 and originally housed on the city's Gratiot Avenue alongside Kevin Saunderson's KMS and Juan Atkins's Metroplex. The two labels will be joining forces at the upcoming Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) on October 18 for second edition of the Transmat Gets Physical bash, with M.A.N.D.Y. and May joined by none other than Atkins, along with the WhoMadeWho DJ team, System of Survival and many others. In the run-up to the party, we caught up with M.A.N.D.Y.'s Jung at his Berlin flat to talk about May, the lasting influence of Detroit, and the importance of ADE itself.
It must feel great to be playing alongside Derrick May and Juan Atkins, couple of guys who have undoubtedly had a huge impact on your music.
Oh, totally! I’d never met Juan, but I’ve met Derrick—we’ve played together a few times in the past, and now that we are doing the Transmat Gets Physical events. We’ve already done one at the Rex Club in Paris. Derrick is such a lovely guy; he does it with the same passion that he probably started with. It’s so nice to see that after all these years, he still so dedicated to his job and is so into the music. That’s very inspiring, and is great for others to see. We’re very excited to have the chance to do this again at ADE, with a couple of his acts and a couple of our acts joining forces. And we hope to keep doing this in the coming years—we get along super-well with Derrick.
One thing that I love about Derrick is that he’s very opinionated, and that he’s not afraid to express those opinions.
Yeah, he’ll give you shit if he doesn’t agree with you! And he can take shit as well, which is great.
"The way Derrick mixes is so incredibly dynamic; he’s really working. It’s like he's handcrafting a set."
May and Atkins, and the electronic music in general that’s come out of Detroit, has obviously had a huge impact on what’s happened in Berlin—and I’m guessing it’s had an influence on everyone involved with Get Physical.
That’s most definitely true—and not just of Berlin, of course. I think all music has been influenced by these guys. And they are still having an influence—look at a guy like Kevin Over, who’s a young kid who’s releasing on our label. He was playing for us just last Saturday, and started at eight in the morning—the normal Berlin time—and it was exactly like what they were doing 25 years ago, but with a 2015 approach to it. It was so good to see things translated into our time. It’s very refreshing; it means things aren’t standing still.
I know that you come, at least in part, from a trance background—and you’ve said before that you left that sound because it did get stale.
Yeah, we all came from there in the early ’90s. That’s when trance was called trance because you’d trip to it. But there hasn’t been any evolution in trance for a long time, and I guess that’s why we all got sick of it. But guys like Derrick and Juan are always pushing it. I mean, the way Derrick mixes is so incredibly dynamic; he’s really working. It’s like he's handcrafting a set.
You’re doing this party as part of ADE, which is one of the biggest gatherings on the dance-music calendar. How important do you think it is to have something like ADE, where pretty much whole scene spectrum—producers, DJs, industry types, various insiders, representing such a wide range of sounds—come together? Or do you look at it more as just a fun thing to do?
I honestly think that ADE is the best one of all of this kind of thing. People actually get together to communicate with each other, and not necessarily just get fucked up all the time. From the business side, it’s great: You have this one place where everyone comes, and you don’t even have to set up meetings. Everyone you want to talk to is just there, and you can just chat with them. At similar events—like Miami, or MIDEM in the south of France—they’re just about the parties, and whose lineup is the biggest. It’s just too much; everyone is stressed out. ADE is a bit more calm. And the panels are really interesting and well-curated, you know?
You don’t quite have the longevity of Transmat yet—but still, Get Physical’s been around for almost a decade and a half, and M.A.ND.Y. has been around for even a bit longer. Did you have any clue back when you started not only that you’d still be going, but that you’d also be playing alongside your heroes?
I probably should have thought about it! [laughs] But we never took ourselves serious enough to even think like that. I mean, you take what you do seriously, but you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously; that’s one of the foundations of a long career, I think. I’m always aware that we are very lucky. It’s not just the talent—it’s being in the right place at the right time, meeting the right people, and a lot of that is luck. Of course, it’s also a lot of work—it’s an every-fucking-day job—so you have to be ready to do that. But to have the freedom to present our sound without changing too much over the years—to still do what we like—we’re super-fortunate. And very happy!
Transmat Gets Physical is at Westerunie in Amsterdam on Sunday, October 18.