Even though their next album, Monkeytown, isn't due to drop until early October, Berlin electro-duo Modeselektor descends upon Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, August 16th as part of the Identity Festival. A full-blown sensory overload of an event that celebrates electronic music across the country during the final months of summer 2011, the Identity Festival features an exciting collection of worldwide talent such as Kaskade, The Crystal Method, Rusko, Pretty Lights, DJ Shadow, and of course Modeselektor. For those of you haven't heard previous Modeselektor releases, such as Hey Mom or Happy Birthday!, they are widely regarded as sonic chameleons- effortlessly flowing through dance-floor club sounds, R&B, dubstep, rap, and avant-garde experimentalism.
Monkeytown promises to be full of surprises and features guest appearances from various artists including Thom Yorke, PVT, Anti Pop Consortium, Busdriver, among others. Recently, I was lucky enough to chat with the one and only Modeselektor about the impending release of Monkeytown, Thom Yorke, growing up with techno, and more.
M: Contrary to our other two albums, "Monkeytown" has been recorded together in the studio and in one run, so to say. We used to work individually and share files and just be in the studio together now and then - this time it was 100% working side by side on the music. We actually started working on the album a year ago but had a hard time getting into it. We got into the working flow when we were faced with a deadline. So 10 weeks before our mastering date, we really got working, so you could say that we got into the groove a year ago but actually produced it in a 10 week session.
FR: You guys are known for featuring a sound that is difficult to pinpoint yet wholly your own. From ambient to hip hop to dubstep, your sound is clearly inspired by various musical genres, but the songs are structured in a way that keeps them fresh and original. Is song structure something Modeselektor works to perfect? Or is it just a natural outgrowth?
M: Hmmm ... We actually don't really think about our music but just do it. We don't work conceptionally, just bring out what's inside of us. We experiment with some beats or sounds and see what comes out of it until we have a base for a track which we then polish up.
FR: Can we expect a "familiar" Modeselektor from Monkeytown or should we prepare ourselves for the unknown?
M: It's both, but definitely a real Modeselektor album.
FR: You guys return to the states in August with a pretty healthy month of touring. How do you prepare for the live circuit? Do you prepare differently in other countries?
M: We never liked preparing differently for different countries. We used to be afraid of playing certain cities or countries, but realized that this doesn't make sense. So we now treat every city, venue and country the same - just pure Modeselektor power! Maybe it's also because our sound has become kind of international so that we don't even have to think about it.
FR: Is there a favorite place you like to play? A favorite live experience?
M: You can't answer this questions without leaving someone out and being unfair to others - so, no answer on this one.
FR: I recently interviewed Sander Kleinenberg and he informed me that Apparat is the current act making the most interesting souds. Any plans to collaborate with Apparat in the future and release more Moderat material?
M: Apparat? Who is this? Never heard of it.
FR: Do you guys have a current favorite artist?
M: Same like for the other question. Let's put it this way - there are a lot of artists we really admire.
FR: Where did you first discover electronic music? What differences do you notice in the electronic music scene now as opposed to when Modeselektor first began writing music?
M: Well, we basically grew up with Techno. There were warehouse parties and raves going on everywhere in Berlin - and we were in the centre of it. It used to be a big adventure back then - today it's more like an industry. But we never lost the original idea and the romantic kind of love for electronic music - we always try to extend it even more.
FR: Youâ€™ve acquired a pretty strong lineup of guest spots on Monkeytown- including Radioheadâ€™s Thom Yorke among others. Your previous collaboration with Thom, â€œThe White Flashâ€ from Happy Birthday, is actually where I first got into you guys (that tune still packs a wallop). What was it like working with Thom on Monkeytown?
M: Pretty normal. He is very down-to-earth, just a regular guy, human like we all are. He especially came to see us here in Berlin at our studio in order to work on the two collaborations. Over the years he really became a friend of ours.
FR: Any advice to up-and-coming artists struggling to make it in the 21st century music industry?
M: We don't really know if one should get involved with the music industry nowadays. We still believe in good music, music with a soul. This kind of music will always find its way to people, no matter how. Our advice - don't follow any trends, do what you want to do. Always question yourself if you want to do music because you want to become famous and successful in the music industry or if you just want to do good music. It's a big difference.
Monkeytown will be available October 4th in the US. For further information on the Identity Festival, please visit www.IDfestival.com .