Electronic music duo Digitalism, otherwise known as Jens “Jence” Moelle and İsmail “Isi” Tüfekçi have been leading the way in the electronic music scene over the last decade, not only in their native Germany but all over the globe. We recently caught up with the eccentric pair to discuss their roots, their thoughts on Hacienda, why they are in Japan and electronic music in general. Digitialism, will headline The Hacienda Oiso Festival this weekend making for a must see if you are in the area.
MIKE BURNS / Hi guys, hows it going? How’s 2013 been so far?
DIGITALISM / Great, thanks! It’s been warm and sunny for us because we spent the first part of this year in Florida and California, and we had some time off touring, so we could actually work on new music. Right now we’re back on tour and enjoying all the new stuff that we can play. So fresh.
MIKE BURNS / Last year saw the release of your DJ Kicks compilation, which you cited as allowing you to get back to your roots. What exactly are your roots?
DIGITALISM / Our roots lie in the record store where we met a long time ago. We used to tape a lot of Dance music when we were young and then started DJing when we were old enough. That’s how got into making music. There was a time when we would hang out
in the record shop every day after school, browsing vinyl, discovering new music and
practicing skills on the turntables. After a while we felt like there was a vacuum of a
certain sound out there that we just couldn’t find, so we started making it ourselves. Of
course, we also bumped into the DJ-Kicks compilations, they’re in our vinyl shelves at
home now. Our own take on this series meant that we went back in time to list all our
favorite 12″s, producers and labels, and also placed some new music on there, just like
we used to do it when we went out on weekends to DJ.
MIKE BURNS / How did the process of creating the DJ Kicks compilation compare to making your own albums?
DIGITALISM / It’s a different language that you use. Instead of composing you compile. The DJ-Kicks was not meant to be something like a new book that you write, but rather an autobiography, a portfolio of our sounds. We wanted it to reflect our entire musical
spectrum and our past as DJs, thus the track selection. A studio album usually takes
us a few months, but the DJ-Kicks was done in almost 6 weeks only. When we got
the call from K7! Records, we were already in the middle of producing new club
tracks, which we wanted to include on the compilation, and the rest came about real
quick. Fortunately we didn’t have many problems with clearance, which can be a pain
sometimes. As for the new tracks; it was easy to write them because they weren’t meant
for any particular context. That’s why even two old tracks found their way onto this
compilation: They just wouldn’t have fitted into the stories of our two former albums.
MIKE BURNS / There was a four year wait between your debut album Idealism and the follow-up I Love You Dude. Are you planning to keep us waiting that long for album number 3? What and when can we expect something?
DIGITALISM / There’s a right time for everything. A second album always takes a while to finish, but once you’re through that process, you feel like you can do anything. Just watch out.
MIKE BURNS / You’re set to DJ at the Oiso Hacienda Festival in April, are you looking forward to it? Is Japan a place that you particularly enjoy touring?
DIGITALISM / Yeah of course! We’ve been to Japan so many times and have a very special connection to the country. For Digitalism, it’s always been great there, and we have a lot of friends in Japan. That’s also why we chose to make a special edition of “I Love You, Dude” just for Japan, including a special dedication. It’ll be great to come back finally. It’s just been over half a year, but we missed it a lot already.
MIKE BURNS / You included Hiroki Esashika’s classic Kazane on your DJ Kicks compilation… What are your thoughts on the Japanese music scene, and how does it sit alongside the scene in Europe?
DIGITALISM / There’s a couple of acts that we really like and know for a while now. Well, we never met YMO, but we’ve been friends with Shinichi Osawa for quite some time now and keep on playing his stuff in our sets, and we really enjoyed Mop Of Head the last times we came over to play live. There’s really talented people out there, but we don’t know everything about the scene.
MIKE BURNS / How does touring and performing as DJs compare to doing it live?
DIGITALISM / Coming to play a DJ set is much more versatile. We don’t have to bring all the crew with us, don’t have to soundcheck or even rehearse things before a tour, and we can play whatever comes to our minds that night, including new favorites and new ideas that we’ve just been working on. It’s a great way to test new matrial and develop it. That’s exactly how we started and how our albums came about. Of course playing live is great too because we have the complete production with us and can perform on stage.. It’s our favorite workout. We use a lot of sweat at each gig.
MIKE BURNS / Do you change your approach to your DJ sets depending on factors such as location (eg. Asia v Europe) and venue (eg. Festival v Club)? If so, how?
DIGITALISM / For sure. Of course there’s some things that are essential for our DJ sets, so we make sure we play them regardless, but a two or three hour club set will certainly be different to an hour peaktime festival slot. We have more space for music then and can build more dramaturgy. We like to include regional music too sometimes… The Japanese know what we’re talking about.
MIKE BURNS / Who and what would you say have the biggest influences on your music?
DIGITALISM / A guy called Gerd Bischoff who was a radio DJ in Hamburg in the 1990s is one of them. He hosted the weekly Dance Charts and would play all the underground 12″s. And then the good old Commodore C64. We grew up with it and its games, and the soundtracks to them were amazing. It’s like diving into another world.
MIKE BURNS / You have previously said that Daft Punk have influenced you… what are your thoughts on their rumored return and how do you think they will they fit into the current climate?
DIGITALISM / Oh, don’t worry about them — they’ll fit perfectly into the current musical landscape because you can be sure they will have made something genius that again will show people how narrow-minded some of the production is out there. We’re excited about the new album of course.
MIKE BURNS / Is the original Hacienda and the acid house movement that it pioneered something that influences your approach to making music?
DIGITALISM / Not really, because our time (both growing up and as producers) came after the Hacienda Time, but at one point we really got into all the UK post-punk music and Factory Records. The Hacienda was the child of all this, and thus we feel very strongly about it.
MIKE BURNS / How is the Hacienda looked upon in your native Germany, a place that has also championed such a rich house/techno scene?
DIGITALISM / People think of it as legendary, but then also, the German scene has had its own “Haciendas” probably.
MIKE BURNS / From the current festival line-up, are there any artists you’ll be hoping to see perform? How does it feel to be billed alongside such iconic figures as Peter Hook and 808 State?
DIGITALISM / Oh yeah! On our night we’ll hopefully get to enjoy 808 State, and it’ll be nice to see Delphic and Soulclap. Plus there’s some names on there that we’ve not heard of, so it’s worth checking them out. The next day we have to leave to the US already, so sadly we’ll miss Peter Hook and the Happy Mondays.
MIKE BURNS / Where do you see dance music going in 2013?
DIGITALISM / More conscious. After the whole “EDM” debate, it’s probably come to the point where Dance Music accepted itself globally again and is ready to dive into more diverse genres again. It’s a great moment.
MIKE BURNS / Finally, what can your Japanese fans expect from your set at Hacienda Festival?
DIGITALISM / A lot of energy and new music!