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Summer, Sounds and new Studios: A positive conversation with Ali Schwarz

If European electronic music has a place in your heart there’s a very, very good chance the name Tiefschwarz is wholly familiar.


By Spotlight

Straddling decades and sounds, the brothers in question have built a reputation for quality beats and bleeps that, at one point or another, touched on house, electroclash, and techno, to name but three canons.

In short, successful releases have been something of a norm for Alexander ‘Ali’ and Sebastien ‘Basti’ Schwarz, to call them by their individual names. There was the single Money, something of an anthem in itself, and that debut album Ral 9005. Arriving as the millennium struck via Four Music, it wasn’t too long before Derrick Carter and Luke Solomon made it more widely available on Classic.

Those references barely scratch the surface, as anyone who has heard second LP Eat Books, remixes for the likes of Roxy Music, and Depeche Mode, or their output on Souvenir, the imprint they founded in 2008, will know. A label fertile in creativity, one listen to the recent In The City #2 compilation, which showcases some of the finest fresh faces on the roster, cements its place in the contemporary dance landscape.

Then, of course, they also DJ across the globe, and not least here on Ibiza, where they recently delivered the goods for Pete Tong’s party at Pacha. As such it can be difficult tracking them down. Keen to catch up though we endeavoured to do so, and thankfully Ali was on hand to pick up the phone. In between shifting studio gear across Germany’s capital, and packing for another trip to our wonderful island with a forthcoming date at Sankeys, he explained how the shift in focus from Berlin is a good thing, and why 2012 is a great year for music.

Hi Ali, how are you today?

I’m actually pretty good today. We’ve just moved studios last week and this week, so it’s a new environment for us, and a new start. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun to be in a new part of Berlin.

We have moved from Prenzlauerberg to the border between Neukolln and Kreuzberg, which is a great area with great people. Lots of DJs and artists are around here, it’s very relaxed. I also live quite close, so I can take the bike to work. It’s perfect really.

Sounds very nice. You were over here for Pacha recently, how did that go?

Oh it was great. The party was with Pete Tong, and to play at Pacha is so much fun because the sound is incredible. You’re surrounded by people too- behind you, above you, left, right, everywhere.

Plus the sound in the booth feels like an extra club just for you. We’ll be over again on August 8th to play Sankeys, which should be great too, and then we’re playing with Pete Tong again for the Amsterdam Dance Event, which should be good.

How have you found Ibiza this year?

I think it has been getting better and better for the last few years now. The diversity of music is incredible, and it’s amazing how many different events are successful there at the moment.

There are so many strong line ups, so many new parties and events. The music on offer has such a rich variety, from the more Minus style stuff to Hot Creations, Cocoon, DC 10’s parties- it’s all quality music though. That’s the main thing.

The dance scene on the whole is amazing right now. There’s stuff with big vocals, then great techno- everything is there at the right time, and being successful with it. I think it’s a really interesting phase things are in right now, and a very positive one.

Do you think the parties are there to match the music, internationally?

I think what’s happening right now is that where before there was this big focus on Berlin- Berlin techno, Berlin house, whatever- then the attention went back to London a little bit, but now it’s a worldwide thing. Or at least that’s how it seems to be.

North America is growing, South America is really interesting right now. And you get productions from all those places sounding unique. It’s not so much the attention on one place and one style. Berlin and Germany will always be important, and still have huge scenes, but it’s bigger than that.

Of course it always has been, but the focus has changed. London is super-interesting right now for sure, but there’s also great music coming out of France, South and North America. And yes, the events are amazing in some places too. Visually, and sound wise people are making an effort.

Do you think Berlin has benefited from less attention?

Absolutely. It’s never good if you focus on one spot for too long, it makes people lazy, lame, arrogant, and basically think they’re the shit all the time. It’s good to be back and forth, up and down.

People will always visit to party from all over the world. It’s just more of the content at those parties is coming from out of town. The city is still one of the most liberal places on the planet. I travel a lot, and experience a lot of metropolitan areas and I’ve never found anywhere like it.

In terms of Souvenir, your latest compilation was out last week. What’s the big idea behind that?

It’s our second compilation and we basically wanted to give a platform to new talent, and people who have just entered the Souvenir horizon. We also wanted to open up a little genre-wise, so it’s not only one style. This shows the whole of what we’re about, from catchy house to techno. It gives an overview of the label.

We had noticed there’s no Tiefschwarz track on the album...

Exactly. It was made to present new talent, so we were fine to step back from it in that respect. Immediately after this we have a single out, which will be Souvenir 48. Then we have a new project called Strangers In Heaven, with Sierra Sam, who’s on In The City #2.

He’s part of it with Cesare & Disorder, so that’s the next release, then Souvenir 50 will be another Tiefschwarz single, a look back at some older work with new ideas too, but basically we have plenty of other things coming up too. It’s a really exciting time at the moment.

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