Filed under: Interview
Listening to the new album “Idealism” from the duo of Digitalism you could be forgiven for thinking these guys come from deep within the French house scene. But in fact they claim Germany as their home but don’t deny their influences from across the border. Not afraid to be called pop and not particularly fussed about genres, Digitalism claim to just make music that they’d be interested in buying.
HigherFrequency go the full rundown from this very busy pair as they forge down the debut album promotion trail.
Interview & Introduction by Nick Lawrence(HigherFrequency)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Did you have an overall goal in mind when creating your debut album “Idealism”? Is there any message, meaning or theme behind the project?
Digitalism : We thought about “Idealism” as about a book or a movie with a story from the beginning to the end, with a homogenic content that’s got a “Digitalism signature”, split into different chapters (the songs). So, it was never supposed to be just a compilation of tracks. Also, we didn’t want to produce an album around the singles that we’ve released so far. We’ve been listening to lots of soundtracks over the years, and very often we think in movies or have scenes and images on our minds when we compose our music. We love traveling and discovering new worlds. F.i. there are stops in Cairo (Digitalism In Cairo), parties on a cast-away spot of the earth (Pogo) or adventures on Jupiter (Jupiter Room). It’s all about those things we experience everyday, but that requires you to be open-minded. We want to stimulate emotions with our music, let people dream, let them dance to it as well as listen to it on the radio or on the road. We’d like to encourage people to head towards their aims and ideals. Staying average or in routines keeps you from seeing the “Big Picture”. We want to euphorize. People should have big visions.
HRFQ : Listening to the new album there are a lot of tracks like ‘I Want I Want’ and ‘Pogo’ which crossover back and forth between genres. Is Digitalism trying to make electronic music for indie music fans or indie music for electronic music fans?
Digitalism : We didn’t plan how our music should sound like and who we want to appeal to. The only guideline we gave ourselves was to create music we would personally 100% like and buy at record stores. We’ve been working in record sales business some years ago and were fed up with songs and tracks that bored us, so it was a logical step to create the music that we’d love ourselves. When we set up our first studio five years ago, we only had little money. The only space we could afford renting was within a WWII bunker. No windows, no daylight, no oxygen, no nothing. That’s why our music might sound rough and edgy. And we always used all instruments lying around there (like drum sets or guitars from other bands that we shared the space with). In the end we might be an electronic entity or formation with band attitude. You always can include song structure in electronic music and machine sounds into indie stuff. And all those genres included are loud, that’s what we like!
HRFQ : There are a few people now like the Klaxons, Erol Alkan and the presets etc who also seem to be championing this indie dance music crossover. Is this something you all sit around together and plan or is it just happening naturally?
Digitalism : This is all a natural thing. We didn’t know each other before we started doing music. But we all love mixing and merging the genres, taking the best out of it. We’re all pretty young and need lots of action, and despite ourselves, lots come from a band background and discovered the possibilities that electronics provide nowadays. With Digitalism it was the other way round, we come from an electronic club background and sought up a certain garage band attitude, a bit of silliness and punk. So, basically there’s no global masterplan, although all of us are in global exchange a lot. A huge coincidence maybe?.. Or just consense about the fact that something should happen.
HRFQ : Already the first three singles from the album have had great success, was this something that surprised you or did you know you were creating something pretty special at the time?
Digitalism : Actually we were totally surprised by the reception. We tend to produce and write very quickly, because we get bored from things very easily. We’re quite impatient. Zdarlight took us only one evening to create, and like lots of times, it came up by accident. That day we just wanted to check out some newly acquired mixing skills. The song was haunting around for half a year or so until a friend of us played it and said it’s massive on the dancefloor. We didn’t expect it to be so big! Idealistic was originally supposed to be a B2 track for a bootleg vinyl. Fortunately, the guys who were supposed to press it said we should forget about that bootleg and give Idealistic an own release. If we’d have more time to think about everything that’s happening around us at the moment, our heads would explode we guess.
HRFQ : These three singles have been released together as “The Twelve Inches EP” including some of your own remixed versions. Once the album has come out are you intending to get a lot of other artists in to remix your songs?
Digitalism : We are not sure about it yet. So far, we didn’t have any other artists remixing our songs. We always had such a huge output at our studio that we had tons of different versions or interpretations on our own. Digitalism think in strong images and try to put a whole universe into each song. This is also why all our songs’ titles are very short and visual, like scenes or objects that symbolize something huge. This image could get blurry if you do too much around it or just commercially try to do the “usual few remixes” for the release. So far, Erol has done the first work-from-the-outside for us, by editing Jupiter Room (this is out now on Kitsuné, on the Digitalism – Terrorlight EP). That’s a killer! We’re really conscious about choosing people who could work Digitalism tunes. A song and its release is like a gem and no routine for us.
HRFQ : In a recent interview Gildas from Kitsune commented that he doesn’t believe it is necessarily a bad thing to be “commercial” or “poppy”. Do you agree with his point of view?
Digitalism : Oui! If your music happens in radio and TV stations, you might consider it “poppy”, but that’s fine, as long as you didn’t make that music for this reason originally. We don’t mind if lots of people, who f.i. only listen to radio music, get a chance to listen to Digitalism sound. You limit your universe if you insist in staying too underground. We have bigger visions than that. But of course we don’t write music to deliver for the pop industry, rather to tell people about us and our universe and thoughts.
HRFQ : You have previously remixed Daft Punk and some of Digitalism’s sound comes from the same school as not only Daft Punk but Cassius and others. Although you are both German, how heavily have you been influenced by French house?
Digitalism : When we were DJing end of the 1990’s, we played these kind of records quite a lot. We were more into this bit respectless, inventive machine sample style of music than in typical vocal garage tracks for instance. Both garage and French House were dealing with Disco elements, but while garage was more taking over the soul and R’n’B aspect of it, the French were more emphasizing the funk and hip-hop side. This is what we were more into. And since we discovered dance music beginning of the 1990’s, we loved the fact that music can run through looped. That sounds like the ending of a very cool track always, like a final run.
HRFQ : You will be performing at this year’s Coachella festival and you also do a lot of club tours like the one you’ll be doing in Japan. Do you feel more at home in the outdoor festival environment or do you prefer being locked away in a dark club?
Digitalism : Both worlds are simply amazing for us. You get so much adrenaline in front of 10000 people on festivals and nearly cannot see where the audience ends, and if they’re into what we play on stage, it can be the best thing on earth. So far we always had really good times and very nice, rocking crowds on the festivals we played. On the other side, you’re always pretty much separated from the crowd on festivals, because it’s such a huge setup there. The link or connection to the audience and the people can be more intense when you play in smaller venues right in front of the crowd, because you’re not somewhere farther away from it.
End of the interview
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