Modeselektor was around long before EDM became trendy.
Modeselektor was around long before EDM became trendy.
Photo by Jakob Hoff

Berlin Duo Modeselektor Returns to Miami for the First Time Since 2008

These days, the mashing of hip-hop, pop, and the various forms of dance music seems pretty standard. But back in the early 2000s? Not so much.

Perhaps that's why when Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary formed Modeselektor and decided to take techno and breakbeat for a ride by incorporating hip-hop tropes, they seemed to attract attention from both techno purists and average listeners looking for a more accessible entrance into dance music. "Hip-hop has always had a strong influence on what we generally call pop music," the duo admits via email. "It was different with techno and electronic music, though — genres didn't mesh well in the past. We started doing this pretty early."

In 2005, Modeselektor released its debut album, Hello Mom!, which quickly become a dance-floor standard with cuts such as "Dancing Box" and "Silikon," the latter getting a boost in popularity when Thom Yorke of Radiohead highlighted it on an iTunes playlist.

But what would really solidify the duo's influence on dance music was 2007's Happy Birthday!, featuring the jittery delivery of "200007," the frenetic urgency of "Sucker Pin," and the techno-pop marathon "Black Block." It came at a time when the French touch was at its peak and European acts were beginning to gain attention from American audiences who, for so long, thought of the many styles of dance music as a niche thing. (For better or worse, this evolved into the beast currently referred to as EDM.)

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If Modeselektor had wanted to, it could have probably blended into that group of European DJs and producers who cashed in on EDM's rise. However, instead of going pop, Modeselektor kept doing the kind of glitchy electro and techno music that made the duo popular in Germany and continually reinvented itself with each new release, even exploring new territory with a side project — Moderat — with electronic musician Apparat.

"Moderat is really different from Modeselektor," the duo explains. "You can call Moderat our 'indie project' where we have the freedom to try new things."

And despite their reluctance to make Miami a regular stop on their tours (they blame their "supertight" touring schedule), the two still have a Miami connection through Otto von Schirach, who has collaborated with them twice, most recently on "Evil Twin" from 2011's Monkeytown. Von Schirach also released his 2012 album, Supermeng, through their label, also named Monkeytown.

"We've known Otto for quite a while. He has become really important for the scene here [in Berlin]. Today it seems like he's identifying more with Miami than in the past, which is great and really important for Miami."

In the end, what we've come to expect from Modeselektor is not to have any expectations at all. The duo makes some of the most bonkers yet enjoyable music that doesn't take itself too seriously. And despite its pop and hip-hop leanings, Modeselektor remains somewhat of an underground secret in the States — which means more tickets for us.

Modeselektor, with Hardline and Santiago Caballero. 11 p.m. Wednesday, February 3, at Trade, 1439 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-6666; trademia.com. Tickets cost $18 to $30 plus fees via residentadvisor.net. Ages 21 and up.

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