Filed under: Interview
Formed in 1996 by brothers Basti and Ali Schwarz, Tiefschwarz now seems stronger than ever. Despite a rigorous tour schedule involving almost every country imaginable the duo have still found time to record and release their new album, Eat Books. Amongst all this mayhem they have remixed every new track under the sun, re-working tracks from artists such as Kelis and the Rapture. Their remixes have been tearing up dancefloors everywhere and most notably their take on Spektrum- Kinda New inserted the Schwarz brothers firmly into the mainstream. However, this mainstream glory isn’t something that the brothers tenaciously covet. Despite being serious about their productions Tiefschwarz show a refreshing nonchalance concerning the success of their work.
“If the album is good that’s fine but it is not the end of the world.”
Behind the decks the brothers display the kind of enthusiasm that can spread through a club faster than a bad case of herpes. Some fifteen years of experience made glaringly obvious as they manipulate the masses with an infusion of electro, techno and rock. We chatted to the boys backstage about their new album, Ibiza and just what exactly influences this charismatic duo.
Interview & Introduction by Nick Lawrence
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : So you guys just finished your set. You seemed to be really enjoying yourselves, how was it?
Basti Schwarz : Scheise, terrible, awful. I’m sweating all over.
Ali Schwarz : It was really good. It was really good. People screamed and everything so it was good.
HRFQ : How many times have you been to Japan?
Ali: It’s our first time. Our premiere.
HRFQ : Really? Where else are you going? Tokyo and anywhere else?
Basti : Taipei tomorrow. Yeah we are playing in Taiwan tomorrow and then coming back. Then three days of a little tiny holiday and then that’s it.
HRFQ : How are you finding Japan so far.
Ali : Good.
Basti : We came back from Brazil, from the other side. Brazil is like big as well. But it’s kind of a really relaxed atmosphere here in Tokyo. It’s big and the people are really calm and nice to each other.
Ali : They know how to behave.
Basti : Compared to other cities it’s amazing. It is such a huge area.
Ali : Especially at night.
Basti : I think Zen Buddhism does a lot.
HRFQ : We had a look at your bio and apparently Tiefschwarz means “deep black” is that correct?
Ali : Yeah that’s correct.
HRFQ : So it comes from your family name and deep house. Ali you started a club in 1990 in Stuttgart that was one of the biggest deep house clubs in Germany.
Ali : Not in the beginning. In the beginning it was only about quality music. Like from jazz to techno to breakbeat or hip hop from house to whatever. It was all about quality music. After that we decided to have a real deep house, house club. Strict rhythm, new groove whatever and we invited a lot of the American heroes at the time. We ended it in ’97 and after that we started traveling.
HRFQ : So what would you say is your major influence? Is it deep house?
Ali : I think our major influence is our love for nightlife and music in general. It’s not like… Well of course he’s (Basti) a drummer and we both love music and we have so many influences. He (Basti) was listening to punk a lot and I was listening to new wave blah blah blah and we both love David Bowie. So I mean every kid has the same. It’s nothing special what we have to tell about that. I mean we are into music and into nightlife but finally we decided to go into the more professional side and then we started DJing.
HRFQ : So on all these different music styles, your latest single has Matt Safer from the Rapture on vocals, also on the album is Tracey Thorn from Everything But the Girl and tonight in your set you played Bloc Party. Is this something you are doing purposefully, trying to bring rock and dance music together?
Ali : Yeah why not? I mean the doors are open. You can mix anything that you want. Rock and techno, techno and rock, reggae and rock, classic and rock, classic rock, rock rock and techno. I mean you can mix everything. We played a lot of different styles tonight. Some electro stuff some techno stuff and some rocky stuff. So everything is open.
HRFQ : Especially in Ibiza with the rock theme at Manumission,
Ali : I think it is going down already again.
Basti : Hopefully.
Ali : I mean the rock influences, it’s kind of the last little bits and pieces. It’s like this wave coming up and down. I think for example the Bloc Party mix we played tonight is a techno mix. It has nothing to do with rock and roll anymore. Ok it’s bits and pieces to recognize the track but it is a techno track. The same with some other tracks we played. The rock influence, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it anymore you just have to be careful of the way you do it. More tricky and more careful. It’s not like guitar and it’s all good. It’s more delicate, different and difficult. Like three or four years ago it was bring a guitar in and everyone is screaming. It’s already changing now. I think minimal is more interesting now than before.
HRFQ : Also on the album a lot of vocals and tonight in the set a lot of vocals. Is that the way forward?
Basti : No I think like…
Ali : We played a lot of vocals tonight?
HRFQ : We think you did.
Ali : I think we didn’t. Actually two or three tracks.
Basti : Ah maybe four or five.
Ali : On the album it was a different story. See an album is an album and a club set is a club set. An album is kind of like what do you want? Do you want a situation where you are sitting in your car or do you want a night with your friends? Or you are sitting on the toilet or whatever. You are listening to something. In a club it’s kind of listening to one track after another. We didn’t do a club album. That was for sure. Anyway that’s the difference between a club night and an album. So I don’t think we can compare our set to our album at all. It’s more about the remixes that come out from the album. For example, a remix we played tonight Tiga has it in his hit list at number one. So it works it’s the time that people are remixing us so it’s totally fine. It has nothing to do with that we are trying to be songwriters or whatever.
HRFQ : So the album, Eat books, how has it been received so far? What has the reaction been?
Ali : Good. Like controversy but in a good way, in a positive way.
HRFQ : And your first album was in 1999 I think.
Ali : ’99?!
Basti : No, 2001.
Ali : No, no, no, 2000.
HRFQ : Ok, 2000. Why so long between albums?
Ali : Because we did about 200 remixes!
Basti : That was the thing. We changed our sound we changed everything. Like you know, after the first album we just discovered clubs more and more. We got so many offers to do remixes and it took us a while to do all of them. We refused many more. I mean it was really good to have all these kind of remixes. We crossed the border. We said ok we are not deep house anymore. We changed and it was really good to change because we are free now and we can do whatever we want. That was very important.
HRFQ : Your remix of Spektrum- Kinda New has been nominated for a House Music Award.
Ali : It won two awards already.
Basti : I think three.
HRFQ : Was it a favourite track of yours?
Ali : It just happened. I mean if the media takes care of you then you are lost anyway.
HRFQ : Do you think that is something that is likely to happen with Eat Books, that it will cross over into the mainstream?
Ali : I don’t know, we have a couple of singles coming out. Like the Matt Safer track is coming out and we have two or three underground releases planned like only club releases. You know we are already thinking about the next step. If the album is good that’s fine but it is not the end of the world.
HRFQ : You guys have been producing and DJing for a while now and we saw you in Ibiza this year.
Basti : Where?
HRFQ : Cocoon club.
Basti : It was good. It was an amazing set. It was really good.
HRFQ : We thought you were really enjoying it.
Basti : I enjoyed it four nights in a row! I came home Thursday morning…
HRFQ : What do you think of the Ibiza scene at the moment? What was this season like?
Ali : It is getting better. The last years it was really crap. All the Pacha stuff, I don’t want to drop names but now it is getting better. DC10, Cocoon and Space and I think in the next few years it will get better and better and better.
HRFQ : So you think all the talk of Ibiza reaching it’s peak already.
Basti : I think it’s coming back. It reached the low point a few years ago. Now it’s getting better.
HRFQ : What about German music? In Ibiza and Japan it’s really popular. Everywhere it is really popular. Being German, what is your take on this?
Ali : I think it is better than ever.
Basti : It’s a big wave. It’s not a German wave it is a European wave.
Ali : It is a very German wave.
Basti : Yeah I know from Germany there are so many good DJs, so many good producers but in the whole bunch of things I think the European style is really good. France, Spain, Germany and England. It’s a big wave.
Ali : But production wise Germany is ruling.
Basti : Production wise, yeah.
HRFQ : You are doing a lot of touring at the moment, where is your favourite place to play?
Basti : Hard to tell. We played at San Paolo last week. It was incredible. There were about 12,000 people there screaming. And then we played in Portugal. Portugal is really really good, Italy is really really good and England is really really good. Everywhere is really really good. Our special place, our special club, our favourite club in the world is in Frankfurt, Offenbach. It’s a club from Playhouse, Robert Johnson. Last time we played ten hours.
HRFQ : We did an interview with the owner , ATA.
Basti : (laughs) ATA? Crazy ATA. I love him. Hi ATA!
HRFQ : He loves Japan.
Basti : Yeah I know. Me too!
HRFQ : So just to wrap it up have you got a message for your Japanese fans?
Ali : Invite us again please!
Basti : Eat fish and chips!
End of the interview
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