Tensnake: “People should listen to more good music!”
What is there left to say about Tensnake? Apart from being one of the nicest guys in the scene the Hamburg native’s House sounds are drenched in the soul styling’s of the city where he quickly formed a big reputation for being one of the worlds leading purveyors of disco both in its ‘Nu’ format and original 80’s boogie. Then came the release of the huge ‘Coma Cat’ which stormed dance floors the world over and firmly established Tensnake in the upper echelons of DJing and now we have his hotly anticipated debut album ‘Glow’, packed to the brim with all star collaborations set to drop next week.
In a recent conversation with Tensnake the producer told us more about his plans for the album, the rest of the year and why people should listen to more good music. After enjoying the first few singles to land from the album we’re excited to see just exactly what he has been up to in the studio in full and thought now was the time to sit down with Marco for a chat about unusual smoothies amongst other things.
Hey Marco. Thanks for talking to us this afternoon it’s good to see you again.
It’s been too long! SW4 right? I remember the rain that day was so heavy and everybody was hiding in the tents or backstage or in the tents which was good for me as I was DJing inside one of them.
Yeah it was crazy weather, which is the sort we English like, purely as it gives us something to talk about…
You do talk about the weather a lot and drinks. What have you just ordered?
I’ve just ordered a Veridian as per your recommendation…
That’s the one with kale juice? I’m not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend it unless you like the taste of grass as that is what it tastes like. Do you like the taste of grass?
If it’s good enough for cows then it’s good enough for me. I’m more worried about the colour as it looks like the type of stuff that would turn you into the hulk! Weird drinks orders aside let’s talk about the new album. ‘Glow’ has been generating a massive amount of hype since you first announced it and I think part of the reasoning behind that was the excitement people felt when reading the tracklist. There are a lot of very interesting sounding collaborations on there with Fiora making several appearances. Does it feel like a collaborative album?
I never set out to make it that way it just happened that way. It was an organic process as me and Fiora first started working together with the aim of collaborating on one song which was ‘See Right Through’ after I sent her the backing track which was pretty boring. It was basically just a tech house loop with some chords over it and she sent me back the vocal she had recorded in Berlin at her home and I was quite impressed with what she had done. She had taken the project to a whole different level. I liked her lyrics and her voice so we decided to do more, she came over to Hamburg and then we ended up doing half of the album together! I think what she adds apart from her voice and melody is the lyrics. They really mean something and that isn’t always the case on dance or pop music. I personally don’t care so much about lyrics so it’s nice that she could add that dimension to my work.
When we first heard the opening singles that were going to be making it onto the album such as ‘See Right Through’ and ’58 BPM’ the first thing we noticed was that there was an emphasis on song writing as opposed to track building which is normally the case on many electronic releases. Was it important that these were songs rather than tracks?
Absolutely. You’re 100% right and the whole intention and purpose of writing the album was to not put 6, 7, 8 club tracks together plus Coma Cat! [Laughs]
The idea was to move on and I wanted to make an album that people could listen to at home or before they go out and maybe even on some dancefloors before they come home again! For me it was more important that the songwriter/producer side really took over when making ‘Glow’.
Cool. 58 BPM was quite a bold statement in regards to it was very different to what people perhaps expected of you in that it was disco dancefloor fare. I remember when we first played it in the studio it was quite an odd experience as despite the lyrics each person within the room seemed to take a different vibe and interpretation from it. What does the track mean to you?
That song was 100% written by Fiora so she played me a demo version of that which it was very minimal in the way she produced it with a very simple drum loop and a background pad that runs throughout the song which instantly reminded me of an old Prince ballad. I was instantly inspired and told her I would really like to have this on my album and she was like “I’m not sure” because she wanted to keep it for herself for her album.
So it nearly never made it on to Glow then! I personally felt like it sounded as if it had formed part of a soundtrack as the way the chorus comes in is very ominous. It feels as if it’s building towards a fairly climatic scene.
That’s cool. Well it was a statement as it is probably the most opposite of what I have done before. For me it was important that this would be the first part of the album to see the light so I released it on white label only first with next to no promotion and whilst people were confused initially I think they are now aware that I’m doing something else and that they don’t have to look at something I make as a club album or whatever.
Obviously we’re all aware of how you hooked up with Nile Rodgers but how did you come about working with some of the albums other collaborators such as Jamie Lidell and MNEK?
MNEK did a song called ‘Spoons’ with Rudimental and Syron who I did ‘Mainline’ with on Defected and I really liked what MNEK had done so got in touch with him. I didn’t know back then that he was such a good writer! It was only later people told me “There is this kid who is writing all these incredible songs!” The two songs I did with him probably have the least song structure compared to the rest of the album and you can hear him very much in the background which is very different to a lot of the other material he has released in the past few months.
Jamie Lidell was the last collaborator I reached out to as he’s on a song that we did with Jacques Lu Cont (Stuart Price) which I produced in LA after the winter music conference. Me and Stuart both agreed pretty quickly that it needed vocals and again it had a Prince-y vibe so I was thinking about who to approach and being a big Jamie Lidell fan both as a vocalist and a producer so thought he was the guy we needed to get. So I got in touch, he was up for it and then he absolutely nailed it. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album.