In Conversation with… Tube & Berger
Germany’s Tube and Berger are one of electronic dance music’s biggest selling acts who’ve written their own story over the last decade, with an array of releases on prestigious labels such as Suara, Toolroom, Defected and FFRR, headlining gigs at some of the world’s finest venues and notching up over 26 million YouTube and 11 million Spoitify plays for their seismic underground anthem ‘Imprint Of Pleasure’.
One of Beatport’s biggest-selling acts, the duo of Arndt Roerig and Marko Vidovic return with their new album ‘We Are All Stars’ which has been slaying dance floors for the title track. Not ones to follow trends, they inject a refreshing ‘indie’ streak into the new collection of songs which sees them working with a host of artists including post punk band, White Lies, Richard Judge and RBBTS, and some are already calling this Live style mix ‘indietronica’.
With headline sets already confirmed at the Tomorrowland Festival and at Eric Prydz new Ibiza residency at Hi Ibiza this summer, Tube & Berger couldn’t be more excited about this new phase of their career and their Kittball label showcase currently touring the world with fellow label manager and fast rising DJ/Producer Juliet Sikora. We catch up with Arndt Roerig ahead of the brand new album ‘We are All Stars’ release (listen to it on the player below) and their Live show at Egg London on Friday May 26th.
Great to speak to you and can you talk us through the new album ’We Are All Stars’ which is out May 19th on your own Kittball via Embassy One label?
It was quite a journey from where we started ideas wise and where we ended up. It changed along the way starting off more clubby and beat-driven and we went on to produce around 40 tracks which we had to chose 12 for the album and as the production process went on, it veered off into our own writing, being focused on melodies and writing new songs with collaborative artists. We found our own style and way and it’s a mix of all our influences. Someone came up with the term ‘indietronica’ and that works for us too.
Are there any standout tracks or personal favourites from the album?
It’s really hard to pick a favourite as we’ve listened to the album so many times – lol 🙂 It’s really hard to pick one, the singles already released including title track, ‘We Are All Stars’, ‘Ruckus ’ and ‘ICMF’ – we didn’t think they were the strongest tracks but they’ve been hammered by an incredible amount of leading DJs and have topped the Spotify and Beatport charts which has been amazing. They’ve has a positive vibe so looking good for the album’s release this Friday May 19th. It’s been pretty hectic as BMG just signed the album for the world excluding Germany and Scandinavia and they’re really behind it so it’s been intense. Our next single ’Quiet Time’ with the White Lies is different again but there’ll be remixes including a drum & bass one and there’s ‘Dust Feel’ with Richard Judge which again unlocks a different vibe…
How did producing the album work with the different collaborative artists – did you work together in your studio or was it working via links and files?
It was a bit of both really. Our studio is in Solingen, between Dusseldorf and Cologne, and with an artist like Richard Judge, he became a friend whilst making the album as he came over and his three songs were written from scratch and were produced in the old school way as they came out of jam sessions. It was different writing this album as in the past (our last album was 5 years ago) we started out with finding beats, grooves and samples where as with this one we had loads of ideas and wanted to incorporate all our ideas, live musicians, and we could have put an album out with 25 tracks on it but our team said you can’t really do that. For us an album is a real work to listen to from the beginning to the end…it’s an old fashioned idea but we think it’s a good thing.
With the White Lies, we’d remixed one of their singles but we’ve never met them – everything was done over the net. They instantly agreed to do a song for us on the album and ‘Lucky Shot’ started as a rough demo which then got the Daft Punk inspired makeover but everything’s different. ’Quiet Time’ really resonates in the hectic times we live in and we’re really looking forward to meeting up when we do the video.
We knew the Berlin band RBBTS and met them, their singer has a great voice. The only downtempo track on the album ’Automatic People’ is raw and gritty but has a common theme with the White Lies. With the album it just became bigger in its outlook as we worked on it and it’s something you could listen to in the car or anywhere…it’s more than a collection of songs.
Any musical Inspirations while you were working on the album?
For this album we’ve got to mention Tame Impala from Australia, whose last album was really inspiring and a new German guy, Roosevelt, who’s really good and o f course Daft Punk.
Who and what were your main influencers as you began your career?
We formed a band when we were 15…the Toxic Teens haha! and were inspired by old skool bands like The Ramones and The Pixies and then new bands like Green Day, Bad Religion, Offspring etc. I played bass and went on to play guitar and Marko was on drums and we played live shows in our local area which had a strong scene.
What were the pivotal turning points in your early career?
It was 1996 and Daft Punk’s ‘Homework’ album showed us an incredible fusion of sounds and that it was not impossible to be a raver and a punk rocker simultaneously! The album’s roughness, grooves and sounds were mesmerising and we listened to it over and over again. Their music is mind-blowing…we’ve never met them but have seen them playing a few times and they impressed with their visuals.
A few weeks later we’d dived right into techno and house and started our own electronic music journey. I would have to say we also liked electronic bands like the Chemical Brothers, Underworld, and The Prodigy who really seemed to embody that punk attitude we related to and made a killer live impact.
We are working on our live show which will fuse the last 20 years together mixing all the elements up and again be an unforgettable high impact live experience.
Pivotal moments in our electronic music career of course happened around 2013-2014 with our ‘Imprint Of Pleasure’ track, a B-side on Suara that went on to explode everywhere and is probably our biggest underground electronic dance hit to date. Radio 1’s Pete Tong made it an Essential New Tune and went on to sign it to FFFR, and it went on to be a Beatport No 1 remaining in their Tech House Top 100 for over a year and clocking up over 26 million Youtube hits and over 11 million streams on Spotify.
A year later ‘Set It Off’ came out which Pete Tong also signed to FFRR and went on to chart all over the world and Tube and Berger became a worldwide phenomenon and we toured our asses off for two years meeting some really great people along the way.
The first time we played Tomorrowland Festival was also an epic moment and so crazy. The organisers put so much into it…it’s a huge production and an outstanding atmosphere that gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.
We’ve also played in Brazil quite a bit and the Green Valley Festival was off the hook. People in Brazil are so into it and they really let rip…I think it’s to do with the sunshine all year round and their huge open air clubbing spaces and beaches which is so different in a way from Europe.
You’ve been in the electronic scene for over a decade and can you tell us how you first started out?
We went to our first rave and never looked back. There was the Atomic Club in Cologne and Poison in Dusseldorf, which are now sadly both closed but they were proper rave clubs with DJs like Steve Mason (who just disappeared) playing all kinds of electronic music, and it was all night dancing under the strobe lights and through the smoke.
Are you looking forward to premiering your album cuts at Egg London on Friday May 26th and what do you make of playing in London?
Of course, it’s always pretty wild there and their sound system and set up is impressive. In all the biggest European cities, clubbers really go for it and party hard. Like in some places it ends around 3am when really that’s the time the jam starts happening. London is one of our favourite cities and we’ve played over 50 shows there and it’s always a great vibe and can’t wait to tear it up again.
What’s coming up for you in terms of touring and working on your own events?
We’ve just set up our own party Hirsehen in Dusseldorf, which means ‘deer’ which is kinda weird but the idea behind it is ‘into the wild’ and ‘let the beast out’. We decorate our spaces with forest greenery and so forth and it’s on during the week so we’re just building it up and we’re really enjoying it.
We’re also touring our Kittball label showcase mainly around Germany and Belgium and playing Festival stages including the incredible Tomorrowland, where we play on the Antz Ibiza stage. We’ve also confirmed a couple of dates with Eric Prydz at his new Hi Ibiza residency on Tuesdays.
What DJ/Producers are catching your attention on the dance floor?
Jupiter Ace who we’ve just signed for his first single and also the unique Paji, who plays violin with a house flavour and is great Live. Of course there’s the new guys like Latmun and Detlef, who’ve got a real fun vibe, their stuff can be really wild.
What’s the key to your success?
We’re both different personalities so we balance each other out on musical tasks and if one’s not good at something then the other one sorts it and it works for us. Also we never give up, you have to persevere and also you’ve got to love what you do. We’re always trying to push ourselves onwards and to make music that we really like. We still really love DJ-ing but we’re also setting up the new live act of Tube & Berger and it’s going to mix acoustic, analogue, live instruments and singers and we’re excited to see this come together.
While we were making the album we bought ourselves a Sequential Prophet 6 synth and sequencer. It’s very retro but very modern at the same time and has a mixture of old and new sounds and is just so fascinating to work with.
What is your DJ set up when you play and do you have a favourite format and why?
In terms of DJ-ing we started using Ableton in our sets very early on alongside vinyl, and it’s great for mixing up samples, loops and we still use it because it adds that live element which is amazing for any DJ to be able to respond to the crowd and switch it up and mix on the fly. Ours is a hybrid live set where we incorporate live elements to give it that special ‘in the now’ feeling.
How did your label Kittball come about and can you please tell us a bit about the history of the label and what you feel are some of its finest moments?
We formed the label and our uncle Marc Romboy of Systematic fame helped us and things were going ok until the vinyl market collapsed. Things were taking off for Tube & Berger so we focused on that and then when we met Juliet Sikora she talked about the label and said I can help you run Kittball on a day-to-day basis. She put some structure into the label and we’re all joint A&Rs but last year both Marko and I became daddies so it’s been great to be able to rely on Juliet.
What does the future hold for the label?
We’ve got our third compilation ‘It Began In Africa’ coming out soon which is a charity driven project and features the Africa Childrens’ Choir. We cleared the rights to use the choir’s vocals and we’ve had some amazing remixers come on board which have done really well on Beatport, Amazon etc and we’ve raised enough money to build most of a school in South Africa. It was 5 years ago since the album and this one will be even bigger and raise even more money (we hope).
There’s also Juliet Sikora’s debut album which is starting to take shape nicely and we’re already touring the Kittball label showcase with the 3 of us.
Any tips for budding djs/ artists?
Never give up and remember your ideas are the most important thing you bring to the table. Don’t copy anyone really…I mean there’s nothing new and we all start off emulating or sounding like other people but really you just have to find your own style and your own sound and that takes courage and imagination.
Don’t follow trends too much either, it was all Deep House a couple of years ago and now it’s all techno again.
Everyone’s a DJ now so there’s nothing special about being a DJ these days unless you have your own productions out there to help make you stand out and give your sets an exclusive edge. We’re moving more in the live direction with the whole band set up and also through our hybrid DJ sets which incorporate a lot of live elements for the best possible clubbing experience for us and the clubbers.