Tube & Berger Interview
The German duo talk about their new album 'We Are All Stars'
Swiftly soaring to the top of dance music’s hierarchy whilst mesmerising dance floors across the globe with their unique blend of house and techno, Tube & Berger are on fire right now. With their new ‘We Are All Stars’ album just released they recently smashed out a huge Essential mix for Radio1’s Pete Tong in February. Best selling artists on Beatport with their own acclaimed Kittball label, check out the new Teenage Mutants ‘Monastir EP’, which is ready to fire up their London show ahead of a huge summer adding pivotal performances to festivals across the globe. We caught up with the German duo ahead of their gig at Egg London this Friday.
What are you doing right now?
Recovering a little from our album Launch week, three parties in four days, Cologne, Berlin and Dortmund, tougher these days than it used to be, and producing an extended mix of our latest single ‘Dust Feel’ .
Can you tell us about starting out in a punk band. What was it called and did you release anything that we can hear now?
We formed a band when we were 15… the Toxic Teens, ha ha, and were inspired by old school bands like The Ramones and The Pixies and then newer bands like Green Day, Bad Religion, Offspring etc. I (Tube) played bass and went on to play guitar and Marko was on drums and we played live shows in our local area which had a strong scene.
When and why did you make the jump to electronic music?
In 1996 Daft Punk’s ‘Homework’ album showed us an incredible fusion of sounds and that it was not impossible to be a raver and a punk rocker simultaneously! The album’s roughness, grooves and sounds were mesmerising and we listened to it over and over again. Their music is mind-blowing… We’ve never met them but have seen them play a few times and they impressed with their visuals. A few weeks later we’d dived right into techno and house and started our own electronic music journey. I would have to say we also liked electronic bands like the Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and The Prodigy who really seemed to embody that punk attitude we related to and made a killer live impact.
Tell us about when and how you met Juliet Sikora. Why did you decide to start Kittball Records with her and what qualities do you both bring to the running of the label?
We formed the label and our uncle, Marc Romboy of Systematic fame, helped us and things were going ok until the vinyl market collapsed. Things were taking off for Tube & Berger so we focused on that and then when we met Juliet Sikora she talked about the label and said she could help us run Kittball on a day-to-day basis. She put some structure into the label and we’re all joint A&Rs, but last year both Marko and I became daddies so it’s been great to be able to rely on Juliet.
You changed your early style to deep house. Why was that? Would you ever consider changing again?
We were not comfortable during the minimal techno hype and were very glad when it was no longer frowned upon to incorporate vocals and melodies into tracks. A few years later this style became known as deep house, and we were able to shape this scene rather than running behind it as we had come from a more electro house style than minimal. However, even when the deep house bubble grew to full size, we never saw ourselves as a 'deep house act'. We somehow always do something that 'falls between two stools', as you say in English. In the years since we began as DJs we have seen the underground club sound evolve from electro house through to minimal techno through to the deep house boom, and now it seems tech-house and techno reigns supreme. Throughout all of these transitions and scenes we have always tried to sound like Tube & Berger but with one eye on what’s happening.
What's next on the release front for yourselves and the label?
We’ve got our third compilation ‘It Began In Africa’ coming out soon, which is a charity driven project and features the Africa Children's Choir. We cleared the rights to use the choir’s vocals and we’ve had some amazing remixers come on board ,which have done really well on Beatport, Amazon etc. and we’ve raised enough money to build most of a school in South Africa. It was five years since the last album and this one will be even bigger and raise even more money (we hope). There’s also Juliet Sikora’s debut album, which is starting to take shape nicely, and we’re already touring the Kittball label showcase with the three of us. We are super excited about Jupiter Ace who we’ve just signed for his first single and also the unique Paji, who plays violin with a house flavour and is great live.
Name three tracks that sum up what you're likely to play at Egg.
Jupiter Pace - 'The Beat'
Simple name but the tune is an absolute smash. Tech House par excellence by a brand new and talented artist. Proud to have him on our label Kittball.
Tube & Berger - 'Dust Feel' (feat. Richard Judge)
Definitely one of the songs on our album that made us think, this is a magic moment. Yes it's got an ear worm vocal but it's also deep, intense and yes we still get goosebumps when listening to it.
Pleasurekraft - 'Bellatrix'
Our friends from Pleasurekraft are brilliant producers, friendly human beings and Kaveh especially is a great cook. What these guys are cooking in the studio is called cosmic techno and always finds its way into our record boxes. 'Bellatrix' is an intergalactic masterpiece. Full support on this one. We hope they'll invite us to dinner again someday...
Tell us about your new album 'We Are All Stars'. How long was it in the making and who are some of the guests?
Our studio is in Solingen, between Dusseldorf and Cologne. Richard Judge he became a friend whilst making the album as he came over and his three songs were written from scratch and were produced in the old school way, as they came out of jam sessions. It was different writing this album to in the past (our last album was five years ago) where we started out with finding beats, grooves and samples. With this one we had loads of ideas and wanted to incorporate all our ideas with live musicians. We could have put an album out with 25 tracks on it but our team said you can’t really do that. For us, an album is a real work to listen to from the beginning to the end… It’s an old fashioned idea but we think it’s a good thing. With White Lies, we’d remixed one of their singles but we’ve never met them – everything was done over the net. They instantly agreed to do a song for us on the album and ‘Lucky Shot’ started as a rough demo, which then got the Daft Punk inspired makeover but everything’s different. ’Quiet Time’ really resonates in the hectic times we live in and we’re really looking forward to meeting up when we do the video. We knew the Berlin band RBBTS and met them, their singer has a great voice. The only downtempo track on the album ’Automatic People’ is raw and gritty but has a common theme with the White Lies. With the album it just became bigger in its outlook as we worked on it and it’s something you could listen to in the car or anywhere… it’s more than a collection of songs.