ART:CAST #38 & INTERVIEW The/Das

With their two albums, ‘Freezer’ and ‘Exit Strategies’, The/Das have represented their musical versatility, their way of finding various approaches to music and implementing current personal influences into their creative production processes. While ‘Freezer’, which was released on Sinnbus, mainly focused on song structures and could be described as an Electronica album with pop-influences, The/Das took a different path with their sophomore album ‘Exit Strategies. The latter depicts a strongly clubby approach as the duo exchanged song with track structures that smoothed the way to club culture and therefore was released on Dj Tennis’ label Life And Death. The afore described different approach to music is not equivalent with the artists throwing their former musical past over board but rather depicts The/Das’ goal of becoming more involved with DJing – a passion they’ve shared simultaneously while acting as a band or producer collective. Hence their art:cast concentrates on a heavy deep vibe borrowing soundscapes from their latest album but transferring them into a DJ-set context. The result is an approach that is detached from recent musical conventions within the scene and puts music first while maintaining and emphasizing a groove that on a technical rather than on a musical side is common in the R&B scene. The/Das manage to compress a whole later summer day into the one hour lasting art:cast and transport the beauty of the blue hour that slowly rings in the night. Ultimately their deep take on the art:cast is the execution of the sweat on the wall dripping in strict time.

Love you all, see you dancing soon.

Torture the Artist: Hey Fabi, tell us something about your day.

FabiI’m just coming back from a meditation retreat in Stolpe near Angermünde; lots of headwind biking uphill and past lovely lakes, now answering your questions, sitting on the RE train back to Berlin listening to a group of travellers’ stories about lakes and headwinds and stuff. And, oh no folks, a meditation retreat is not like a spa weekend, haha, it’s actually kinda exhausting, all those weird images floating around when meditating and constant mantra-mumbling and all that stretching has made my brain all gooey and muscles wobbly and words loooooongly.

With changing constellation the music of The/Das keeps changing.

Torture the Artist: ‘Exit Strategies’, your most current album, was released last year on Life And Death and was a more clubby approach to music compared to ‘Freezer’. Are you going to continue working on this more dancefloor oriented style or will you seize on the musical approach from ‘Freezer’?

FabiExit Strategies’ was the result of Philipp and me exploring the range of our common musical interests, just like ‘Freezer’ was the result of mine and Anton’s favourite moves. To be a bit superficial Philipp has a great ear for everything House whilst Anton likes a bit of Toto here and there. With changing constellation the music of The/Das keeps changing, also The/Das started as just a thing and empty page if you will, it’s been a bit confusing for music biz people here and there but all too logical for us. The/Das seems to be more of a playground kinda thing – great if a collaboration leads to an album, also ok if it produces ‘just’ one new track or song. Right now there’s a bunch of new material flying around. Soon there should be another one of those The/Das-like moments when someone very The/Das decides: ‘Let’s make an album!’ or ‘Let’s make a new EP from this stuff!’

Don’t get lazy once your album is done.

Torture the Artist:Except for a remix by DJ Bone for ‘Drug Dilling’ no further remixes of the album have been released. Are any other artists going to put their hands on an album track?

FabiWhen we finished the album 2.5 years ago and while waiting for Life And Death to organize the when and whereabouts of the release, we came really close to Pional and Dorisburg contributing a remix, but just like Galcher Lustwerk it didn’t quite work out for they seemed to be finishing their own new album. To be perfectly honest, after that we got a bit disheartened and bored by the process of asking around – def a good lesson learned there: don’t get lazy once your album is done; keep asking around haha.

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Torture the Artist: When we spoke last year you said that both of you love to DJ as much as performing live. Has the album helped to become DJ-wise more active, if that has ever been the goal, and implement the The/Das-sound in a wider club-context?

FabiI think we played a bit more live-gigs than DJ-sets, but yeah we enjoyed a couple of super nice trips into foreign party communities, like Beirut, Dubai of course and Madrid. We played less DJ gigs in Berlin for sure, something that needs to change a bit, for it’s just too much fun to try out stuff playing at home.

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Torture the Artist: As DJs with the experience of producing music for quite some time, what’s a current track you would like to remix or edit to play in your DJ-sets, and why?

FabiFor DJing it’s nice to keep editing all kinds of music so it works in a set, a remix as a favour to another artist is a totally different kinda animal. Like that I’ve been thinking a couple of days ago ‘1%‘ by Aisha Devi would be super interesting to remix and rearrange, just to figure out if there’s a good way to keep the tension going after minute two, instead of dropping into this rather chaotic (super nice and respect and everything of course, but still for my test a bit too chaotic) part. Like that I’ve been dreaming of doing a proper remix of Laurie Andersons’s ‘Poison‘, but mostly it’s fun to just edit tracks here and there to keep our DJ-sets fresh.

Philipp, what’s the name of that Pal Joey track you’ve been playing lately, was it ‘In the club’ or ‘step right up’?

Torture the Artist: What’s a track that gets every party started?

FabiPhilipp, what’s the name of that Pal Joey track you’ve been playing lately, was it ‘In the club’ or ‘step right up’ – anyhow this track not properly mentioned above might work if the vibe is housy and loose, also good to drop something like Tito Wun – NeEdit (The/Das Edit) or Francis Bebey – Coffee and Cola (Young Marco Mix) if the party is drifting towards song and dance. In a bro-techno environment those hints might get you fired though, so please stop reading right now, hahah. Reminds me, the last time Sweely – On The Run started the party nicely, hence I include this mid-oldie (2016) into this very mix.

Torture the Artist: You are responsible for our latest art:cast, what musical idea do you wish to accomplish with it and how does the mix differ from one of your DJ-sets?

FabiI wanted it to be like a compressed version of a 4 h set, with that feel of immediacy of an ‘actual’ DJ-set. It’s summer in Berlin, everything and everybody seems to be very alive, so yeah liveliness was a natural focus for this mix, too. I recorded the mix in the morning hours in our studio, dancing and sweating along like I would in a club, it was fun to open with a couple of sneaky groovy House tracks pass by a few sweet vocals then head into more trippy then darker territories and close with something almost Euro Dance – it felt right for the kinda of night that it was: still hot from the day with just enough of a breeze to let go and sir-dance-a-lot.

I’d be happy to know that the dance floor can enjoy a The/Das set and each other without being distracted by the DJ’s ego.

Torture the Artist: Every mix/ set tells a story, what story does your art:cast tell?

FabiI think serious or ego driven sets and DJs can cause the crowd to be a bit too sticky and serious and seriously ego driven. I’d be happy to know that the dance floor can enjoy a The/Das set and each other without being distracted by the DJ’s ego. In this regards the mix tells a fun story of enjoying ourselves and bouncing around between loud speakers as well as sub-genres freely and happily.

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Torture the Artist: Where could you best imagine your art:cast being played, e.g. in which surrounding, country, city or situation, and why?

FabiI tested the mix racing my bike up and down Berlin streets already and it was a lot of fun, hope you can give me feedback where and when you enjoyed listening to the mix pronto! <smiles>

Btw. at Fusion there was a band closing with the words: ‘Love you all!’ A bold statement!, is what I thought to myself – I’d like to try that too one day!, is what I thought to myself – so here it is: ‘Love you all, see you dancing soon.’

Interview by Holger Breuer