Modeselektor (Live in New Delhi)

All things hip and groundbreaking emerge out of fringe and sub cultures around the world. As the wall between East and West Germany collapsed in 1989, marking the end of an era that the ‘deustchkind’ desperately wanted to forget, a musical uprising fuelled by technology was on its way to provide the ‘zeitgeist’ to millions of young people across Europe. Four decades of the cold Weimar suppressed environment that gnawed deep into the youth emotions, turned into a vagrant and all out force to re-create and share freedom via underground parties and all-night gatherings (mostly illegal) across Germany. Rising out of defunct warehouses, housing complexes, factories, parking lots and anything that offered space and scope for loud sound systems, psychedelic lights, home grown music, drugs and intoxicants that fuelled these beat and sound rebellions. Techno music and the electronic sound revolution spread like a virus forming various dance cultures (a 'movida' of sorts)across Europe, with Berlin emerging as the new Mecca for thousands of musicians, DJs, enthusiasts, record labels, night clubs, studios and festivals.

“I was 12 years old when the wall came down and we didn’t have a clue what was going to follow” recalls Gernot Bonsert, one half of Modeselektor, “All we wanted as kids was to explore new things and music and parties.” Inspired by the first wave of techno and acid music from Detroit, San Francisco and Chicago (a similar uprising set against the automobile industry collapse of Detroit in 1986 and the concurrent rise of electronic music culture popularity) Gernot and Sebastian Szary formed Fundamental Knowledge in 1996. Powered with turntables, a drum machine and some efx, the duo set out to carve a dance sound which remained obscure yet futuristic with shades of hiphop, acid house and the native German synthesizer sounds.

Success and acclaim was not the focal concern of this duo. “The most important thing those days was to live with the spirit of the parties and we were making techno music that was our own, ” emphasizes Sebastian Szary.

•How did Fundamental Knowledge become MODESELEKTOR ?
Szary: We were using a Roland Echo-machine which has a button called the MODESELECTOR. The word meant something fundamental to us. It was around 1999, we met Ellen Allien who signed us to her native label BPITCH. The scope and projection of our music started to change around the turn of millennium. Visuals, installations and a larger sound rig to travel around the world with. MODESELEKTOR was in!

• Who all have you been collaborating with recently?
Bonsert: Modeselektor is often associated with IDM genre along with other artists such as Apparat, Pfadfinderei, James Holden, Telefon Telaviv and St. Paul Hillair. There’s Moderat – a musical collaboration between Modeselektor and Apparat with 2008 album MODERAT and Pfadselektor – a music/visual collaboration with Pfadfinderei (Italy). We have also produced sound installations at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Barcelona and lectured at the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart. These collaborations are of an eclectic nature in contrast to the festivals and venues that we perform otherwise.

•What about the collaborations with Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Sasha Perera, Puppetmasta and Maxillo Park ?
Bonsert: Thom has been very supportive of our music since 2002, and eventually we met to create a song (White Flash) on our second album HAPPY BIRTHDAY. We have had various sessions with Puppetmasta, Maxillo and Otto Von Schirach, which re-enforces the hiphop sense of Modeselektor. Paul Hillaire remains a close partner with us on various songs and performances since 2005. We choose to stay out of the remix realm and the collaborations are more natural than commercial assignments.

•What is Monkeytown Records all about?
Bonsert: We have been a part of Bpitch since 2000, which resulted in two albums, a dozen DJ mixes and several tours across the world. We felt the need to include a larger pallete of our friends remixes, songs, visuals and sounds onto a fresh label which would be fuelled by the success of Modeselektor. Thus, Monkeytown Records was born, to create a platform for befriended artists. It’s a venture to step outside the usual record selling business.

•How do you feel bout the global music industry crisis?
Szary: It is a time of change. Anyone serious about music and the progress within will have to look for newer ways to carry out business and distribution of music. New tools and ideas will show us the way to a new music order in the years to come. Technology is a bane and boon after all. We are constantly dwelling into new media and technology inspired by underground forces in Germany, UK, Japan and anywhere else that we might be at. The old world order started collapsing almost a decade ago and now we witness the effects of change. Music will eventually become a free commodity and media.

•What is the future of Techno?
Bonsert: We receive hundreds of online links, demos and singles to every week. Some of the underground music and evolving sound is very exciting. Techno is an essence to many people’s lifestyle and entertainment. I’m sure future players will re-shape the sound of the genre. Today, Berlin seems at a point of saturation compared to the anarchy and chaos that fostered German Techno and Minimal in the ‘90s. Dubstep has been a major force to sweep European dance floors since 2005, which has effected and inspired our music as well. It has inspired us to shed some of our techno roots and dwell deeper and harder and …..

(Bonsert makes a hasty exit with a thank you smile and handshake. It’s show time.)


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