From the most unlikely of starts – wanting to punch each other’s heads in riding the same school bus – Arndt Roerig and Marko Vidovic aka Tube & Berger have forged a glittering career in House music. The German duo’s first breakthrough came with their 2004 hit ‘Straight Ahead’, which featured the vocals of Chrissie Hynde and shot straight to the top of the Billboard Dance Radio Chart.
Since then, and with a list of hit tracks, studio albums and incredible live performances behind them, the plucky twosome and DJ friend Juliet Sikora set up Kittball Records; a shining star of top quality house music which has recently celebrated 10 years at the top of its game. This month sees the pair head to Sonar Barcelona for their Kittball showcase at Sonar Off Week and a US tour into mid-July.
UK Editor Simon Huxtable caught up with the pair for a chat about Kittball, Sonar and touring…
Hi Guys, thanks for finding the time to chat with us at Decoded Magazine. How are you both? Let’s just quickly talk about you unusual meeting. So you were both travelling on the same school bus…
Yep! We met on the school bus and didn’t like each other at first but we soon found out we were both into the same bands and preferred the same kind of lifestyle. A lifestyle that has nothing to do with studying and used to be focused on drinking beer and chasing girls!
Talk us through your musical influences when you were teenagers. We understand Punk played an important role in your development?
We formed a Punk band called “The Toxic Teenz“ when we were 15 and we were pretty bad. Berger played drums and Tube played the bass.
As Tube & Berger you broke onto the world stage with ‘Straight Ahead’. Can you tell us about the production process and working with Chrissie?
Straight Ahead was originally called “Geradeaus“ and became an underground hit in Germany. Sony UK got aware of the track and wanted us to make an English version. The Sony guys asked Chrissie Hynde of the legendary pretenders to write some additional vocals and she did it. Later we met Chrissie at a gig and she was super cool.
You mention in your bio how the minimal sounds of the mid-00s frustrated you. What was it about that genre that made you so tired?
As explained we both come from Rock music and always loved melodies, vocals and so called hooks. Having melodies and vocals in your tracks was an absolute no go back in the ‘minimal times’. That frustrated us more and more.
Over the course of your career, you’ve had the chance to remix some incredible artists. I wanted to ask you about an old school track I played to death: Lambda – Hold On Tight. How did you approach this remix specifically, and given the chance which other classics would you love to update?
Absolute banger! Marc Romboy signed this track for Alphabet City ages ago and asked us to remix it. There are many classics we’d love to update. For example The Rub by Kurd Maverick, which was absolutely huge in the early 00’s. Our 2016 remix of The Rub will be out on Kittball in the end of July.
Your originals are always pretty eclectic, what’s in store for 2016?
At the moment, we are working on our album like crazy! Planned release date is somewhere between February and April 2017.
Let’s move on to your DJing. We understand you both started on vinyl and have gradually made the switch to using a combination of CDJs and Ableton for your shows. How do you feel about certain club managers now saying they are banning laptop DJs?
Really? So they would ban Marco Carola and Luciano? It’s not about which gear you use, is it? The latest CDJ’s even come with a screen so they are not only looking like computers, they are computers. On our gigs, we do something like a hybrid live & DJ show which is actually real hard work and impossible to sync (yet). If promoters wanna ban us because of using a laptop they are free to do so.
Can you tell us about your craziest club/festival experience?
Well, there are many crazy, funny and almost unbelievable memories. Not sure which one was the craziest. From playing on the helicopter landing platform of a 200 million dollar yacht for 50 people to a dark warehouse in Dublin on St. Patricks Day where the crowd went absolutely bananas. The thing is there are a few more crazy nights but we can’t go into the details here… Sorry!
Talking of crazy times, Off Week has come around again, and we understand you have a show there with Kittball. Tell us more…
We have that pool party with The Hidden People which was great fun last year. This time, we’ll have a bigger stage, louder speakers and more cool acts like Mat.Joe, Superlover, Einmusik, Paji and more.
How does Sonar compare to other festivals you’ve been to?
First of all, it’s the beautiful city of Barcelona that makes it special. Whenever we are in town we love to walk around and just watch the architecture and the busy life in the streets.
Is there anywhere in Barcelona you always go to when you’re in town?
Our friend Coyu, who runs the label Suara lives 15 mins from Barcelona and he knows the best little Tapas places. We need to ask him where that was. Truly amazing food and vibe…
Let’s move on the label. How did you guys and Juliet Sikora first come up with the idea of Kittball?
Originally Kittball was founded in 2005 by Tube & Berger but we soon realised, we need someone who knows how to run a record label properly. Juliet Sikora is a long time friend and she used to work at another label and we knew she wasn’t really happy with her job. We had a conspirative meeting and from that day one, Juliet was the third and probably most important Kittball member.
Who has been the biggest surprise on the label? The artist you gave a shot and it’s paid off.
Without a doubt it’s Paji. His first single on Kittball even went straight into the Beatport top ten a few years ago and he quickly found his very own unique style. His live acts are amazing and the number of his fans are constantly growing.
What’s coming up on Kittball for the rest of this year?
There are some cool releases in the pipeline. Our friends Hanne & Lore just delivered a summer smash which will be released in July. The mighty Purple Disco Machine will show us how to dance in September and as mentioned before we can’t wait to release our 2016 remix of Kurd Maverick’s The Rub.
We understand you’re off to the US and Canada on tour soon. What do you most look forward to when you travel outside of Europe?
Flying Business class. Haha! We decided not to fly business this time because we want to save our money and air miles for later this year. The cool thing about travelling outside Europe is meeting people once a year and have these kinds of friends for a night experience. We love trying local food, local drinks and do a bit of sightseeing wherever we are.
It’s a pretty hectic schedule you have. What do you do to relax between shows?
We both became family guys. It’s simply the best to go for a walk with the babies and see them being happy. We both read a lot. Tube is totally into grim dark fantasy and historical novels. Berger likes science fiction and thrillers a lot.
It’s been really great to chat guys. We wish you all the best for the summer gigs and beyond. I’ll catch you somewhere in Sonar!
Thanks Simon, good to meet you too.
Photo Credit: Oh Mon Dieu