It is impossible indeed inevitable when speaking of a more melodical approach of electronic music to not come across the names Martin Stimming and Marcus Worgull. While the latter has cultivated a tight relationship with Innervisions and basically been a label’s mainstay since day one, Martin Stimming, the Hessian in Hamburg, has made a career as a producer and live-act since firstly appearing to a wider audience in the mid-noughties with releases on Diynamic. Meanwhile the artist, who gasps for a breath of fresh air in the second biggest German city, can call releases on Pampa or it’s sub-label Hart&Tief his own, has teamed up with pianist Lambert for their Exodus album and, as the Corona pandemic strikes artists hard with a low or non-existing income, currently works on new material, partly leaving the “boredom“ of the 4/4 based club music. Marcus instead spends his time to follow his Reggae/ Dub passion and finalizing some remixes at the same time. In the mean time their first single, Eiger Nordwand, was released on Henrik Schwarz’s Sunday Music Records and gives people the opportunity to dig a bit deeper into the artists’ diverse yet common musical approaches. That not being enough Torture the Artist caught up with Marcus and Martin on the phone shortly before the release to speak about their friendship, the Spotify-effect, the Alps and Australia as well as the current impact of the pandemic on them.
We can easily realize now, that a lot of things within the system we considered or called “normal“ before simply were not working well at all. (Marcus Worgull)
Torture the Artist: Hello and great to have you again – this time not in a solo-interview but together. It’s kind of difficult to ignore what’s going on “out there“, so how are you in these days and what changes did you have to make or did you have to undergo in your everyday life?
Marcus Worgull: It might sound strange given the current situation, but I’m pretty good to be honest. I’ve got lots of time to finally do the things I usually cannot dedicate myself to, meaning my girlfriend and music. Normally we – due to my profession – do not have as much quality time together but because of Corona this has changed and I enjoy it.
Stimming: I am a bit annoyed because of the current situation. My wife works during the day time, so I stay at home and take care of the kids, who are really young and would actually be in day nursery otherwise. So by implication this means I cannot work in the studio, simply because they are still very young, and I need to watch and entertain them. Anyway, I wish I could work a little bit more on music than I can at the moment and it’s a bit frustrating – not the part about spending time with my kids but the situation itself. Also I’m a bit worried when we can actually go back to the ordinary routines, because this will definitely take some time.
Torture the Artist: Marcus, don’t you have kids too and do you have to deal with similar problems like Martin?
Marcus Worgull: I do have a son but he’s already in his mid-twenties and not living at home anymore. He’s studying law and will be taking his exams shortly. So the situation for me is quite different than Martin’s. Also and by all means I can say that my son is a “a source of joy“.
Torture the Artist: What is something you do now (regularly) that you did not before Covid-19?
Marcus Worgull: As previously mentioned, I do have a lot of time now, which is unusual for me, but I wisely use it to listen to and work on a lot of music. What I definitely do not do is listen to or watch the news a lot or let’s say barely, because it’s just depressing to be confronted with all this negativity or numbers of infectious people and deaths all the time – and you can have that basically 24h a day.
I’ve developed a stronger appreciation towards certain vocations. (Stimming)
Torture the Artist: How has the crisis affected you Martin?
Stimming: I’d say I’ve developed a stronger appreciation towards certain vocations, e.g. nurses, caretakers, teachers etc.
I always considered music as a sort of a luxury for the mind. (Stimming)
Torture the Artist: As artists you are working in a profession not directly relevant job for the system but surely in a profession to keep people sane, so basically you are providing mental health but at the same time you are not paid for it properly.
Stimming: Let me pick up on that, I always considered music as a sort of a luxury for the mind. That being said it means that it is something non-essential. You cannot outlive an apocalypse without groceries or medicine but surely without music. Not saying that this is a zombie apocalype though.
Torture the Artist: What do we have to learn from dealing with artists these days and what measures do you wish to be put into practice?
Stimming: I’d say the payment model has proven to be unsuccessful. A DJ playing in front of 15 people but paid a couple of hundred Euro is just not working, in my opinion.
Marcus Worgull: I believe after Corona things will relativize themselves, like fees becoming less. probably and all the pomp will disappear – at least for a while.
Stimming: Yes, I mean there is this little Spotify-effect, like producers being paid some bits at least. But the parameters have to furtherly shift towards the artists providing the music to people though. Generally it is to say that quality arts have to be paid equitably and that we as a society have to become more aware of our responsibilities towards the arts and the people behind it, let it be musicians, journalists etc.
It still could be a sort of escapism. (Marcus Worgull)
Torture the Artist: Also the crisis will wash up new means of income. Currently all social media feeds are filled with live-streams. Would something like virtual reality clubbing, an advanced way of the live-streams at the moment, be of any interest for you?
Stimming: Under current circumstances I’d say not at all. Mainly because the technical development is not ready to create a surrounding, which covers all human senses. You cannot smell or taste the club-atmosphere. So it’s very limited at the moment since the virtuality is not satisfying.
Marcus Worgull: It’s not something I actively follow at the moment but it surely is a different approach of clubbing. And I can see people enjoying it or at least be curious about it. We all know how it goes, once something new is there and some people tell you about the experience you become a bit stoked and want to get a look at it yourself. Like back in the days no one could imagine what we are able to do now, the way we communicate etc. So why should virtual reality clubbing not something that can become part of our lives.
Stimming: I think virtual reality clubbing offers a different or another perspective of the artist.
Marcus Worgull: But it still could be a sort of escapism, which is one of the major abilities night has to offer.
Stimming: The intersocial actions prevail music though, and the intersocial aspect is not yet well-marked.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of music, your music now. You are about to release an EP, Eiger Nordwand, on Henrik Schwarz‘s label Sunday Music. How did this come about and when? Did you work remotely on the track?
Marcus: We were together in the studio for the EP… mostly.
Stimming: Eiger Nordwand surely has something to do with the Alps. I’ve lived there for some time and the track captures this feeling of freedom to some extent, this fresh breath of air, the clearness. And as Marcus said we worked together on the track. We, the two lonely wolves, who increased our skills.
Marcus: Actually I enjoy working with another person in the studio, because it’s a different approach to music and the procedure of producing a track. You speak about or you have to speak about elements that have to be or do not have to be in the track. Maybe it’s a bit more complicated in the end because you are discussing certain things more intensively, especially those little things, which are super important to me.
Torture the Artist: Are you both into climbing or did you both climb Mount Eiger in Switzerland?
Marcus Worgull/ Stimming: No!
Torture the Artist: Is Cjewman a reference to a voicetail modul, which is kind of a resonator and the company Cjewman produces one named RES 4 or what is the tale that comes with the track?
Stimming: Cjewman is a synthesizer, the so-called S1 from a Swedish manufacturer, which we used for the track. I must say it was quite pricey but usually you never do wrong with these high quality products simply because they sound good or you can do things with them that you usually cannot do. In this case, the synth made easy things (sound) so damn good.
Torture the Artist: What’s Marcus and what’s Martin in those tracks?
Marcus Worgull: I was late for our studio session in Hamburg and Martin had already started the bass line or the groove for Cwejman’s Tale, so fairly spoken that one is more Martin than Marcus’ approach. I must admit that it bothered me a bit at first, but after everything had been added I’ve come to terms with it. Still felt a bit weird just sitting next to him instead of contributing something to the track in the first place. <laughs>
Stimming: Eiger Nordwand is more Marcus, so it’s even!
What happens in Down Under stays in Down Under. (Stimming)
Torture the Artist: The EP is the result of an eleven year long lasting friendship, how did you get to know each other?
Marcus Worgull: We went on a Beck’s tour in Australia for a couple of weeks, meaning Martin, myself and Justus Köhncke and we all had a pretty good time Down Under.
Stimming: Three rock stars misbehaving. <laughs>
Torture the Artist: And the drink describing your relationship best is beer?
Stimming: <laughs> I guess. If we all met now – Marcus, Justus and me – we’d definitely have a good time, drinking a beer and telling the old stories.
Torture the Artist: What kind of stories would that be?
Stimming: What happens in Down Under stays in Down Under. <laughs>
Torture the Artist: I thought that only applies for (Las) Vegas?!?
Stimming: No, indeed that’s the first thing you are being told when you are either on your way to Australia or right when you get there.
We’ve had our two or three moments. (Marcus Worgull)
Torture the Artist: What characterizes your friendship and what do you worship/ appreciate about each other?
Stimming: I pick up the phone when he’s calling me. I think that explains it all. I mean it’s not this kind of friendship that you speak to each other like every day or week, which is a habit hard to maintain anyway in our profession, but as initially said whenever Marcus rings me, I answer the call.
Marcus Worgull: I totally agree with Martin on that one. We have a pretty good relationship that we cultivate. We’ve had our two or three moments that tightened it and it’s this kind of relationship that goes a bit further and is not based on DJing and music only. Martin is an honest person and that, I appreciate a lot.
Marcus Worgull: And a bit stubborn. <laughs>
Torture the Artist: Martin, what’s an experience or moment with Marcus you’ll most likely never forget?
Stimming: That one day when we were at my studio in the Sternschanze in St. Pauli. We have a fully automated coffee machine there and Marcus wanted a freshly brewed one. Unfortunately the machine asked for new water and Marcus, the man of action that he is, got some and filled it into the machine. However, he did not fill it into the water tank but the compartment for the coffee beans and thus “cleaned” the entire machine. Luckily, once the water had dried it worked again.
The current situation basically mean that I am free from outer compulsions and enjoy some more artistic freedom. (Stimming)
Torture the Artist: Do you still dig music at the moment, which you could possibly play at a club or does your musical selection change towards music that’s designed for home-listening?
Marcus Worgull: Usually I listen to all kinds of music at home and I got this preference for Reggae/ Dub music. I’d say I dig the same music at the moment as I had before, just that I have more time now to even finish some more music, like I’m also working on some 90bmp dubbish and Reggae influenced stuff. When it comes to preparing myself musically for gigs, I usually do that on the days before they happen.
Stimming: Honestly speaking, I’m a bit tired of straight 4/4 beats for a simple reason, throughout my career I’ve produced nearly 160 tracks that are four to the floor, so the time is now to produce some other and new things, mostly aiming at concerts. Also a new Stimming x Lambert album is ready and I’m working on my own new album. This and the current situation basically mean that I am free from outer compulsions and enjoy some more artistic freedom. So my music will be more electronic, more groovey – I used to be a drummer, too back then.
Torture the Artist: Do you have more finished tracks or toilet paper in stock?
Marcus Worgull: <laughs> Toilet paper – we have a lot.
Stimming: Of course toilet paper, which is kind of sad that people go crazy about it at the moment.
Marcus Worgull: Indeed. What I truly want to add to all this and what we initially spoke about, the cuts this crisis caused and will cause. I think it is also a chance or an opportunity for us, for the entire society and maybe this crisis can lead to something positive too. Maybe it’s not all about money out there but other and more important things. In a way we can easily realize now, that a lot of things within the system we considered or called “normal“ before simply were not working well at all.
Torture the Artist: Thanks for this Marcus and thanks to you both for this chat.
Interview and translation by Holger Breuer