Each of them could easily stand on their own – musically. But Iron Curtis and Johannes Albert decided to go back to the studio together and produce their second LP Moon II. Whilst their debut Industrie & Zärtlichkeit was released under their Moon moniker the artist duo now decided to turn their Moon fascination into ten droplets of nectar. And the MySpace-friends don’t disappoint with those vitamin-rich tunes that they harmonically produced by using the Casio CZ-3000. Shortly before Moon II drops the artist duo, whose had a record with labels like Permanent Vacation, Uncanny Valley, Tamed Musiq, ://about blank and, of course, Johannes Albert’s Frank Music, on which the album will be released, spoke to Torture the Artist about Leftie (at heart), subcultures, tech-gear, scaring away pigions and (alcoholic) beverages. Additionally, Albert and Curtis or the two Johanneses, namely Johannes Albert and Johannes Paluka, mixed and compiled the latest art:cast, an eclectic piece of music taking the listener on a journey through House music and connects one with the musical mindset of the duo.
Your kick drums are still haunting me…
Torture the Artist: Hello guys, tell us something about your day.
Johannes Albert: I went to a friend’s place today, and we had some self-made hummus and coffee. Now, I’m in the studio but didn’t really feel like making music, so I phoned another friend. Good times huh?
Iron Curtis: Today is my day off from work and I had an extended breakfast. I struggled to limit my news-intake but exercised for mental hygiene. Also, I had time to record a long-overdue podcast. Might ask you out for a drink later today, Johannes…
Torture the Artist: What’s a track (from your upcoming album) that best describes your current state of being?
Johannes Albert: Portal Vision
Iron Curtis: Leftie (at heart)
Torture the Artist: Moon II is your second album and also the alias under which you produced your first album. Industrie & Zärtlichkeit, which was also released on Frank Music. What role does the moon play in your lives, and what is that seems to fascinate you about it?
Johannes Albert: Well, the moon, the moon. The bright side, the dark side. It’s a fascination in everyone’s life, right?
Iron Curtis: Right! And not to forget that the Earth – as we know it – wouldn’t exist without the moon.
Torture the Artist: Nena favours moon water, what’s the beverage of your choice?
Johannes Albert: Crémant x Apfelschorle
Iron Curtis: Cocktail d’amore
Torture the Artist: You both live in Berlin, but initially you are from Bavaria. Where and how did you ‘walk’ into each other and when did you decide to make music together?
Iron Curtis: We first met on Myspace, around 2009. And then ran into each other in Berlin shortly after. Johannes moved into my old flat in Karl-Marx-Str. And since I stayed in the very same building, we became neighbours. This commune-like setup lasted for many years – the glory K.M.S. years as we used to say. By the way, your kick drums are still haunting me…
Johannes Albert: And I am sorry, not sorry! The question instead is – why wouldn’t we make music together? We always shared a similar vision of (dance-not-dance) music without boundaries. It would have been a total waste not to create something side by side. I am more than happy we did.
Iron Curtis: Word!
Let me be your fantasy. (Iron Curtis)
Torture the Artist: What was the pickup line for your musical relationship?
Johannes Albert: Music sounds better with you! And only you.
Iron Curtis: Let me be your fantasy.
Torture the Artist: What’s everyone’s task in the studio?
Johannes Albert: Organising the beers from the late shop.
Iron Curtis: Scaring away the pigeons and causing complications in the arrangements.
It doesn’t matter in which environment we make music, we would always end up getting into this workflow of shooting out idea after idea. (Iron Curtis)
Torture the Artist: The track titles from Moon II leave, fortunately, a lot of room for interpretations and secret studio mysteries. Let’s reveal some of them. Why does Studio Brisante describe your relationship in the heat of an explosive studio moment?
Johannes Albert: There is no plan, it’s all done very instinctively. One of us would do a beat on a drum machine, e.g. the 606 while the other would hit notes on the CZ-3000 synth. We record everything. After a short while, we stop and do another one — the most refreshing way of making music actually. I specifically mean the “we stop and do another one” part.
Iron Curtis: There’s so much trust in each other’s taste that we don’t need to talk much. Occasionally, one would shout “Ah that’s it. Play that again” or “Nah, less trance” but that’s it. It doesn’t matter in which environment we make music, we would always end up getting into this workflow of shooting out idea after idea. And I can only second that this is the ultimate joy in the music-making process – period.
(Sub-)culture can only exist when space is available. (Johannes Albert)
Torture the Artist: Leftie (by heart) reveals a political direction. In times of a pandemic and the racial incident in the US. What’s a stand you want to take these days, and what do you want to speak up about?
Johannes Albert: “Leftie by heart“ is actually a quote from “The Crown” series. At some point in the 60s or 70s, Prime Minister Wilson would tell the Queen he thought she was always a bit of a leftie. We have a soft spot for this series, I guess? While being on tour in South Africa – a country that suffered and still suffers so much from its colonial history – we watched an episode every night.
This planet is upside down on so many levels right now. And we need to stand up against racism and inequality – always! – and need to take care of nature – more than ever. Personally, the whole capitalism thing stinks on so many levels. On the other hand, I’m one of these super privileged guys who were lucky to have been born into a wealthy country. I’m well aware that I profit from all this crap myself each and every day. But it’s like you said recently, Johannes, music has always been political and so are we.
I just listened to an interview with Sharon Dodua Otoo on Deutschlandfunk. She’s an author from London, living in Berlin. She recommended this website https://afrozensus.de/ to make black voices heard. It’s specifically about people with African origins living here in Germany.
Another topic, we’ve been vocal about for many years is “Mietenwahnsinn”. It’s not a secret that nearly every major city is selling out super fast and crazy. I would hope for more communities to rebuy their inventory and make room for people with lower income. (Sub-)culture can only exist when space is available. We don’t need malls, we don’t need more hotels, we don’t need any more lame office spaces.
Torture the Artist: Hurting and Joyride are not only a contrast in general but also track number five and six. Why did you oppose these two tracks and to what situation (from your lives) do they refer to?
Iron Curtis: Hurting came together by chance: Our friend Marc (FM) paid us a visit in the studio during one of the album sessions. He showed us a couple of recordings on his phone, like him whistling along while walking down the street. The second recording contained the very vocal bit that then made the cut and gave the track its rather sorrowful title. For me, Hurting is a clumsy tribute to James Stinson’s Sorrow & A Cup Of Joe – an uber-classic that influenced me to such an extent that there are no appropriate words to describe it. To be honest, I realised the stark contrast in the titles just as you pointed it out!
Johannes Albert: Well, Joyride is indeed that kind of happy tune to lift your spirits. The title is a nod to the great Jazz/Pop group Matt Bianco. Their tune of the same name played on the radio the other day, and I had to note it down into my phone immediately. I always have this list with potential song titles. You should listen to the song right now.
It’s early morning, the day is dawning
And the sunrise
The birds are calling, it’s time to open your eyes
Well baby get up, put on your make-up
Look out the window, there’s not a cloud in the sky
The world is turning, the city’s burning
And why can’t we be more discerning?
We’re going somewhere where I can find peace of mind
Torture the Artist: What’s the/a synth-sound that describes your friendship?
Johannes Albert & Iron Curtis: Casio CZ-3000 – sound file
Torture the Artist: Whose studio would you sneak into, and why?
Johannes Albert: It’s a mix of Omar S and Kosi I think. Why? Because Alex O Smith’s records sound so crazy tight, so dope and so loud I am just so curious how he gets his tracks so fat. And I would love to see how DJ Koze is taking care of his weird effects and stuff. This will stay mysterious …
Iron Curtis: If I could turn back the hands of time: Prince’s Paisley Park in 1982.
Torture the Artist: What’s a phrase you have tried, to get attention for one of your releases on your social media, ranked in order of their effectiveness?
Iron Curtis: “Downloaded for DJ superfamous.”
Johannes Albert: “The least selling record ever.” Works every time!
Torture the Artist: What’s something you definitely do not want to read about Moon II?
Johannes Albert: “It sounds like polished chrome.”
Iron Curtis: …and as I can’t stand the sound of the CZ-3000…”
Torture the Artist: Is Canggu Laundry Club a reference to a trip to Bali and how much irony lies within Iron Curtis’ preference of doing the laundry at home? (not so serious question)
Johannes Albert: Yes, it’s a reference to a Bali trip. I went there to play, and a rainstorm came up, and everyone got washed away in the middle of my set. Maybe I should open a club one day and name it Canggu Laundry Club? Johannes, do you want to be my door guy?
Iron Curtis: Ha! I’ll be your handyman!
Torture the Artist: What’s the biggest lie you have ever told, and what was its purpose?
Iron Curtis: In this delicate matter, I would kindly refer you to my ex-partners.
Johannes Albert: “I’ll be home soon…”
Torture the Artist: What’s something that (musically) ultimately seduces you?
Johannes Albert: Any chord on the Fender Rhodes. Full stop.
Iron Curtis: TR-606 toms and hi-hats. On repeat, for days and days.
Torture the Artist: What (tech) gear did you enjoy using for Moon II and shaped the album?
Iron Curtis & Johannes Albert: Casio CZ-3000
Torture the Artist: What’s the worst outfit your parents made you wear as a child?
Iron Curtis: I was responsible for worse outfits when I was able to choose my own.
Johannes Albert: Boots were involved probably.
Trouble will always find you! (Johannes Albert)
Torture the Artist: What’s the thing most people think they understand about being an artist but don’t?
Iron Curtis: That talent is the only thing you need – while it’s actually persistence and a great deal of resilience for frustration and despair.
Johannes Albert: That it is easy in any way. That things come naturally. That things are easier. Trouble will always find you!
Interview by Holger Breuer
All pictures by Jana Marei and Tina Franke