Moderat: Modeselektor + Apparat = electronic perfection

The trio of Modeselektor and Apparat have once again teamed up to create electronic perfection in the form of Moderat, their debut full-length album. While both acts have careers of their own to keep them busy, late last year they found themselves with a little time on their hands and decided to jump back in the studio together – the same Berlin studio where David Bowie put Heroes to tape, no less.

“When we started Moderat it was more some kind of fun live project,” the project revealed to ITM. “That was before our solo projects went off. We played totally improvised gigs together. It worked pretty well live, but when we tried to do this EP it was pretty tough. It took ages. It’s not always easy sitting in the studio with 2 other guys.” Eventually though, life found a way. “We knew we would do a full length album one day, despite of it… But our solo albums went well. After Walls and Happy Birthday!, we felt like taking a break would be good. We wanted to do something different and Moderat was just perfect for that!”

ITM finds out more about one of this year’s most exciting dance music unions.

How long did the album take to make? What was the process for working together in the studio?

We started to collect song ideas in 2007. That was right after we decided to do the album. Each of us had unfinished songs which we couldn’t finish on our own, and so we hoped another one would reanimate those dead ideas. We produced some new ideas as well and by the end of 2007 we met and picked the best ideas to have something to start with. We spent most of 2008 together in the studio to work on these ideas. It wasn’t like being in a band where the drummer would be in charge for his thing, we are three producers and each of us had different ideas about every little detail. We had endless discussions. Sometimes we talked more than we made music…

How did you meet in the first place and how the working relationship developed?

We met at some kind of label showcase party in Berlin 10 years ago. Apparat played for Shitkatapult and Modeselektor for BPC. Modeselektor didn’t even have a record out on the label but Ellen Allien liked them so much. Apparat met Ellen the same night and she tried to sign him for her label too. All of us instantly noticed that we had a lot of things in common and started inviting each other to our parties.

Later we started playing live shows together which was pretty much the start of Moderat. Gernot and Szary had a lot of analogue stuff and told Apparat that they “play noise”. Apparat played with an early powerbook, a futuristic motormix controller and custom made software. Gernot called it “girl-electro”. We really liked what the others did. Plus Modeselektor were really into the technologic side of Apparat’s set. At this time people were like “Wow, so much sound with just one laptop” when they saw a laptop set! Well, we started working on our live setup, Apparat integrated some analog stuff again and Modeselektor switched to his software, which they still use now, 8 years later. Of course it grew over the years. One of the Modeslektor guys always called Apparat after a set to talk about what we can change and how to improve the software…

When did you first decide to start playing together, and what were those first shows like?

It was around 2000. We used to play live shows together. 3 people on stage, no plan, just syncronized computer jams. We never really managed to capture this improvised sound on a record. Then, at some point we really forced ourselves and it was really tough.

After completing quite different solo albums recently, how did you combine musically and decide on the overall sound/feel of the album?

It might sound weird but for us all those records aren’t really sooo different. Of course they got some extreme Modeselektor or Apparat tracks on it but they also have some similarities and we were trying to start from there. People mostly compare our recent work and don’t see the whole thing. We were trying to come up with a new sound that isn’t just Modeselektor and Apparat. In the end you can, of course, still totally hear both of us, so maybe we didn’t succeed with our intention … But hey, we made a good album!

How do you plan to deliver the Moderat live show, what is the planned set up on stage?

At the moment we are setting up the live show. It doesn’t make much sense to have 3 laptops on stage. It’s kinda boring and you simply don’t need it. Instead we are going to look at every song and think about an individual approach to its live version. We´ll send this idea to the Pfadfinderei guys and they shoot videos for it, produce images, program lights and whatever. On stage it’s going to be 5 of us. Us 3 doing audio and 2 guys from the Pfadfinderei being in charge of video and lights, playing in a special stage setup.

Its gonna be something new for all of us and it’s pretty exciting as none of us has ever been involved in this kind of production. None of us has ever done something like a “show”. We wanna do more of a concert than a club show. Our live PAs have always been pretty improvised. The Moderat show will definitly give us room to improvise too, but we will rehearse the whole thing until everyone exactly knows when to do what. I’ve never rehearsed for an electronic show… Weird…Video is a really important part of the show. We’ll do a special stage setup with 3 screens. Perfectly synchronized sounds and pictures. Its gonna be an audio/visual thing.

Moderat’s Moderat is out now on BPitch Control, distributed in Australia via Stomp.