Interview time again! We sat down with Schlachthofbronx’ own Bene and Jakob to talk about Bavarian brass music, Bounce, Cosmic Music and the pleasures and pains of playing big festivals. Constantly touring and blessed with a strong media exposure, these guys are on the forefront of Europe’s bloooming Global Bass scene. They are big ravers and have an extremely nice sense of humour – awesome combination for an interviewpartner!
Let’s start with the unavoidable intro-question: who are you and where are you from? [laughter]
Bene: Hello, my name is Bene of Schlachthofbronx and I am from Munich.
Jakob: I am Jakob, part of it too, and come from there as well.
When you look back on the past year 2010 – what are your highlights? Regarding festivals? Or what was the most important thing happening for you?
J: Well, basically it was our first summer really playing festivals, to be honest. But it was the bomb! We had so much fun playing for such big audiences.
B: And I think we had not a single festival that was really shit, where you think, oh my god, I want to go home. Of course, playing festivals is completely different than club nights: you arrive, and with the moment your feet touch the ground you are caught in a clockwork […]. Dour in Belgium for example: we arrived relatively late, then it went klack-klack-klack and everything was over and we were on our way back to the airport hotel. And then you played in a tent for 5000 people and didn’t actually realize it.
J: But of course it’s heavy fun anyways, even when you are in such a machinery yourself, what most people don’t actually notice. It’s great to play for a bigger audience and the people are way more open-minded at festivals than in clubs. There you have particular styles, this club has only that and these guests, that’s all a little bit more deadlocked. And as a matter of principle at festivals everyone is a little bit more spaced out, holidays you know.
One of the highlights was definitely Roskilde. Denmark always greets us with arms wide open, and this festival is the shit anyways.
B: This Roskilde thing was unbelievable.
Your live performance is pretty lively and you produce albums. Do you see yourself as producers, as live act, as DJs?
B: Thanks! I think nowadays it’s pretty difficult to get attention for someone who is only a DJ, who „just plays songs“, because everything is quite replaceable. You have to have a very strong, very unique performance to impress someone. And even that: you don’t even have to try to put acapella XY over beat Z, that’s what every dork does on secondary school parties.
It was always one of our goals to make music we would like to play live. That’s one of the reasons why we mostly or almost exclusively play our own stuff, when we play. It’s made for that! Insofar I see it as a hybrid of DJ and producer that feeds itself.
And we plan to perform really „live“ this year. We already tried to play with a complete brass band (a German „Blaskapelle“), but it’s just not possible to go on tour like that.
J: It’s even hard to bring together 20 people at an appointed time.
B: That would be a travel party of more than 20 people…
J: …Or even try to get them out of Bavaria!
B: It costs. That is just possible with busses, visa, rae rae rae… No festival will pay for that, they will prefer to pay for somebody else. To get a hundred Euros out of that for everyone is not accomplishable. In that respect we don’t know yet how this live thing will look like.
But to put it short: both (live and producing) are equal. We also work with other people. That’s really great: to work with other people who have a completely different approach.
You already mentioned it: your thing is somehow this Bavarian folkloric element. It might not be surprising to throw in the brass band (Blaskapelle). But nevertheless you have achieved a sound that opens up extremely in every direction. How does that go together? I mean, the average Bavarian likes to stick to what he already knows [laughter].
B [Bavarian accent]: Yes of course. No, the thing is: it’s not a dogma for us to work with elements of Bavarian folklore. But we work with everything we like at that particular moment. For example we have about 30 sessions lying around which we don’t dig that much anymore right now. We let them alone for like half a year now and do what we like to do now, because it doesn’t make much sense to force anything. Insofar it would be bullshit to deny that we come from Bavaria. Why so?
J: And we really don’t have a tuba in every track, like: Hey, we are Bavarians…
B: What really bores me for instance is every kind of Gypsy House. This whole Balkan thing is totally OK, but since 2009 it has been inflationary used. We never play Balkan beats.
And how about the brass music? Is the reception different in Germany and abroad? For example do you think that they read it as a Bavarian thing in Germany and abroad rather not or the other way round?
B: Out of Germany this Bavarian chi-chi is much cooler. There is always an outside and an inside view, also for „the Germans“.
J: Which anyway all wear Lederhosen and shout „Humptata“ all the time…
B: Exactly. And eat Bavarian veal sausage. „The Germans“ you know.
And in Germany it’s more like „nooo, I don’t want to be like that“ – of course nobody wants that. But abroad they are more like „how fun, someone is yodeling over autotune, what’s up?? Insofar you can’t generalize it, it depends on the particular evening.
J: We also had fun recently playing at Oktoberfest. We played in a tent together with a Bavarian brass band – that was mad fun. But you won’t find that in a typical beer tent. […]
B: After us a brass band played, Blaskapelle Josef Menzl…
J: …when they came on stage, some of them were murmuring: „Lads, I am so ashamed of, so ashamed of you“ [laughter].
B: And that’s a brass band with Youtube videos where they sing „Schied ei“ („Pour in“, Bavarian classic) on the melody of the Pet Shop Boys’ „Go West“ […].
J: I heard Josef Menzl himself is open for such a sound, but his homies are a bit more conservative. Just as an explanation.
B: Watch this video!
As you said, you played for quite massive audiences last year. What would you say, has 2010 been an important year for this sound, call it Global, Tropical or whatever Bass? As well in terms of media coverage, regarding the audience and the events?
B: The media coverage is hard to assess, as we are always supercritical. Is it something the people regard as uncool or not? It’s always a difference what is cool for you, what is cool for the people and what is cool for the media.
Other way round: Is our sound arriving in the Mainstream?
J: Somehow you think that all the time, but it never really happens. To be honest.
B: I am not afraid it might have become uncool or might have arrived in the Mainstream. Of course you notice that there are much more parties that have opened up in that direction or do something similar. It doesn’t always necessarily have to be the bad-ass Global Bass party.
J: It’s more like that people you would never have thought of will play such songs now. Not exclusively, but 2-3 tracks per evening. But that shows people become more open-minded. If this is a general trend or just a short phase for some, you never know.
B: And you see that more people attend such events. The interesting thing is, that many very young people dig this sound. […]
It’s obvious when talking about music like Tropical Bass that it’s a quite broad term – one night you are on a Roots Reggae party, next day it’s more like a Tech House party. Do you have a relatively similar or identical set every night or do you handle this flexible?
J: We can adapt to a certain degree. And the people perceive us totally different: depending on which of our tunes they know we are either the Bavarian „Schallalala“-Party guys with boom or the Tropical Bass whatever or the Dancehall dudes. And depending on how the people perceive you, you will get booked. On the other hand will we try to entertain the people with the stuff we like, no matter where they come from. You always can pick them where they are right now.
B: We have some fix points in our set, especially things like our new Bounce stuff. Nobody knows that, so I can play it like it is. Right now we realize that we rather go in the extremes than just fill gaps. For tonight we brought 3 Ghetto-Tech-Baltimore-Juke tracks at 165 bpm, for example. That’s strong stuff for the people, they are not used to that.
J: Meanwhile we also have a little Soca set, which works perfectly, even in the Bavarian countryside where the people don’t even know how to even spell the word Soca.
B: You just say „jump, left to right“ and there they go. After that you really can play what you want.
The main point for us is to not get bored when we play. Even though we hear it every weekend so often. So we did re-edits of some album tracks for example: the main elements are still there, the melody is still there, but the pace totally changed.
So your sound is constantly changing. The direction is always similar, but you are always on the latest hype, check how it fits… What is your musical background, where did you get such an open mind?
J: I started with Hip Hop, and then I worked myself through the genres and finally arrived where you listen to what you like right now. Which can be a lot…
B: I started with… no, I won’t start with the first CDs… I started Djing with really heavy mayday Rave, then Gabba – I also emptied a complete school gym with that at the most important school summer festival.
J: I think if you haven’t done that with 16 you are not a DJ.
B: It was earlier. My mother picked me up at 10…
After that came stuff like Misjah & Groovehead, the first X-Trax “Trippin Out” – that was like wow and ca. 1995. And then there was this musical phenomenon between Augsburg and Rimini, called Cosmic Music. Other people say it’s quasi Worldmusic for Poppers, or for those who are familiar with the area around Munich, Starnberger See. There was a 110-117 bpm dogma where everything was plugged in – from Bob Marley and Alpha Blondy to Italo Disco. I did that a lot because it was really ambitious to play: we were two DJs with 6 turntables and a sampler. We also had one of the first CDJs and a keyboarder. Which is totally funny in retrospect, that’s so much like a wedding band!
Last year you played at the Wasted Youth party here in Berlin, which was very much an Underage Electro Rave. It was remarkable how you changed styles and paces, from Electro banger to Oldschool Dancehall to Tribal and back. It was awesome to see how you are able to play with the audience.
J: As we said, on the hand we don’t want to bore someone. On the other hand the people today have a totally different perception of music than 10 years ago, not at least because of using iPods and the internet. So you have to cater them different.
Amongst others you release on Man Recordings, which has a quite sharp label profile. What caused you to join them?
B: Up to now it’s the only German label that has the surrounding for the music we produce and can handle this well.
J: Of course back then they were informed by Baile Funk and the focus on Brazil. But if you look at the latest releases you see an opening and that they pick up different facets, because there is a relation or it is just interesting.
B: All those regional born musical styles, be it New Orleans Bounce, Tribal Monterrey, Rio Baile Funk or whatever, are a great source of inspiration. And it’s unbelievable cool to see their development. Insofar Man Recordings is super for us.
Speaking of releases – what’s on the agenda for 2011?
B: Well, this year will not only see a Man Recordings release, but there will also be a release on Mad Decent in spring.
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B: Like it seems now, there will be something else – should we say that now?
J: We will release Soca tracks.
B: On Mixpack, which is a quite cool Dancehall-Techno-Bounce label.
Then there will be some New Orleans Bounce inspired stuff, which just features such „Tatatatata“ tracks.
J: And remixes and other stuff too – you see we were not lazy.
B: And everything is party-approved by the last festival season, which means everything that not bangs will not be released.