Decoded Magazine gets a chance to catch up with Arndt and Marko, both of whom have marked their legacy in the music circuit of Germany, and all around the world. Driven by the challenge of giving electronic music an organic and “live character”, and then came “Straight Ahead” featuring new wave legend Chrissie Hynde climbed straight to the top of the US Billboard Dance Radio Charts and there’s been no looking back since
Wanting to have the freedom to pave their own musical path and not have to bow down to a major label dictatorship, or be lured by money-grabbing managers, the two decided to establish their own label “Kittball Records”, with their friend and colleague DJ Juliet Sikora. Kittball is riding an enormous success wave and finds itself among one of the top ranking Techno and Deep house labels.
The three ‘Kittballers’ are also responsible for the “It Began In Africa” charity project. The project, which helps young African musicians, has released two compilations and received massive support from artists such as Timo Maas, Ida Engberg, Format B and Pirupa.
From the days of “Introlution” to their latest – “We Are All Stars”; running one of the most exciting labels in dance music, to how they met and down to their latest album offering titled – give it up for Tube & Berger.
Hey Arndt and Marko, We’re very excited with the new album out on BMG & Kittball. Overall are you happy with the package?
Yes, really pleased. The album is a nice mixture of our traditional club grooves, songs, downtempo electronica and indie vibes. We definitely didn’t want to make this album just about Beatport and club tracks. It’s something we both wanted to try to do.
Going back to the beginning how did you two meet?
On the school bus in our home town of Solingen. We did not like each other at first but realised we shared the same passions for Punk Rock, beer, girls and raving!
Excellent ha. Who were some of the bands that influenced your musical tastes to what it is today?
We are both from a rock fan background. Both into punk and psychedelic rock. Faith No More, Misfits, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Pink Floyd, The Who etc…
We even wrote an ‘ironic’ tribute to our past for the album called ‘Rock N Roll Until We Die’! Hopefully people will hear it as it was meant to be – a fun track.
What instruments have you both taken to learning yourselves?
Tube – Guitar: Bass & Lead
Berger – Drums & Keyboards
Tell is about the early days of your DJing and production career, which clubs you played at and were you two always playing this style?
We started in the local clubs around us in the Dusseldorf region. When we first moved from Punk Rock to dance music, our set-up featured us DJing on turntables and a laptop plus a vocalist and a scratch DJ on stage with us. We started as a kind of electroclash live electronic DJ/band then we moved more into Electro House after visiting Ibiza. We tried to make Minimal Techno but we always had too much melody! So it was perfect for us when the ‘Deep House’ boom started as we fitted right into that scene.
What do you like about the German music scene? Do you think it’s always been heavily inclined towards Techno and of course trance and other harder styles of dance music?
The German scene has thrown up lots of great artists since the 80s. It is one of the most important dance music / electronic music scenes in the world. I guess that the Germans were the first country outside Detroit to really take hold of and shape Techno. I think it fitted into the whole ‘machine-music’ ethos of Kraftwerk and the aftermath of the Berlin Wall coming down - and maybe as a country we did not have the same Reggae, Funk & Soul and Hip Hop roots as the UK which has made all Black music styles and Bass in particular such a important thing in that country’s dance music culture.
Trance started as a very cool melodic off shoot of Techno back in Frankfurt in the early 90s. It was the Dutch who cheesed it up LOL! At the moment it is good to see the ‘melodic techno’ side coming back so that in Germany we have both that and the traditional hard style again.
Having been around the scene for years now, could you guys try and break it down as to when was the moment you felt you both had arrived as Tube & Berger, the fan following and adulation, a moment where you guys looked at each other and said mate this is it, this is what we wanted?
I guess it sort of happened twice. Firstly, with our first release ‘Straight Ahead’ Featuring Chrissie Hyde which was a hit in 2003 and picked up by Sony UK. Then next with the Deep House boom of 2012-2014. We were very lucky to have hit after hit on Beatport in this period and achieved x4 #1’s in the Top 100. I think only Dusky and Hot Since 82 have done as well! I suppose the culmination was ‘Set It Off’ being made Essential New Tune and signing it to Pete Tong‘s label FFRR.
For the years that followed we played so many gigs and had crazy times on the road all over the world
….and has your musicality changed since back then?
Yes for sure. club music always evolves. You can’t stand still, even when we were having the Deep House hits we always wanted to return to the live band scene at some point and so we have learnt to steer a little more in that direction as the Deep House thing ended and Techno took over.
But now we have made the album and we are seeing great melodic underground tracks coming out that make us really have the feeling to make some more club bangers again. Maybe we got the difficult rock album out of our system and nowback to the club tracks! Very Tube & Berger behaviour – do the opposite and onto the next!
Tell us about your new album – “We Are All Stars”, where did the inspirations come and how long did it take for you both to complete the entire spectrum of the compilation?
Well as above – it is our roots. So, we always wanted to try to fuse the two sides and become a live electronic band, but do not get us wrong, we love DJing and club culture too! There will always be the balance in Tube & Berger between the two sides.
All the collaborations have been different. Kyle was a singer we knew from a remix we did of his track with Junge Junge. He became a friend and we realised we could make music together. White Lies’ manager is a friend of our manager and we did a remix for them two years ago. It seemed natural to ask them for a collaboration on our album. RBBTS are a new Indie-tronica duo out of Berlin. As they have just come out of indie bands and wanted to make electronica, it fitted us really well. Kingdom are Australians like Kyle who have an amazing ethereal vocal style, and Richard Judge is already well-known and someone we always like to work with. He’s pretty much part of the family!
The idea for the title ‘We Are All Stars’ comes from everyone being a star in their own right and also that everything in the Universe is made up of the same matter. So we are literally, all stars!
What kind of method do you guys go by, sit in for hours at a stretch or put your heads in as and when time permits from your other commitments?
Sit in for hours at a stretch. Hours and hours – days and days even. We basically took 3 months off from touring to make this Album.
Talk us through your collaboration with Richard Judge, what were the specific ideas behind your music meshing with his talents as a musician/ singer?
Richard has became a great friend and collaborator since we worked with him on ‘Disarray’. He features on 3 tracks on the Album. He found that his great storytelling lyrics and vocal really fitted our tracks especially on the ‘wide screen’ melancholy ones.
What is the working ethos of Kittball as a label, give your fans a lowdown on how you guys steer the imprint and do you guys share activities of running the show on a daily basis?
There are 4 of us in Kittball. T&B plus Juliet Sikora and Paco. Juliet does most of the back office side, Paco organises the live business and the artworks and we all do the A&R.
Are there any fellow labels at the moment, which have your attention in terms of the quality of music coming out from them?
You’ve gathered thousands of followers and fans, some of the younger generation who want to emulate you two. Any advice that you’d like to impart to these upcoming talents that gets in to the music business but should be for the right reasons?
Never give up! It is a super tough business. Very competitive and there are going to be highs and lows on the journey. Try and enjoy the highs but remember that they might not last forever and don’t let the lows take you out.
Lastly, what are your plans from here, any projects and gigs coming up in the second half of 2017 that you both are excited about?
World tour supporting the album. We are excited about our remix album and making some pure club tracks again. We might pop up on a few of our favourite labels too.
‘We Are All Stars’ is available via Kittball Records and BMG – Out Now
01. Burning Road Feat. Kingdom
02. We Are All Stars
03. Dust Feel Feat Richard Judge
04. In The Name Of
05. White Lies vs Tube & Berger – Quiet Time (Shadow Of Myself)
07. Automatic People Feat. RBBTS
08. International Corporate Motherfuckers Feat. Kyle Pearce
09. Rock N Roll Until We Die Feat Richard judge
10. Tube & Berger Feat Richard Judge – Ruckus
11. Lucky Shot