Brothers Ali and Basti Schwarz have had more than three decades to build a widespread loyal following under the Tiefschwarz banner. Which is still saying a lot, considering the pair's relentless stylistic mutations over the years.
From the mellow deep house of their early DJ days in
Take Left, the duo's fourth long player, which dropped on Berlin's iconic Watergate Records this summer. Spanning the gamut from soulful, contemplative downtempo numbers to functional if deep-thinking dance-floor tools, the album defies predictability in typical Tiefschwarz fashion.
Hear for yourself on Thursday, when they serve it up in the flesh at Do Not Sit on the Furniture. But first, find out what Ali Schwarz had to tell us about the new album, the Berlin techno scene, and the pair's evolution as producers.
New Times: Did you have a special concept in mind before you set out to produce Left? How did you approach writing and developing the album in the studio?
Ali Schwarz: There wasn't a special concept — it kind of happened all during the making. Things made it kind of special, though. We basically produced all by ourselves, for the first time — no other coproducers were involved; also the coincidence of meeting Khan, our main singer on the album. We knew him for quite awhile but bumped into him by accident in Mexico City two years ago. We spent a fun mescal night together and asked him if he'd be up for singing over the first couple of layouts we'd just finished at the time. He said yes and delivered 100 percent.
Many of the tracks on Left have pop song structures, even veering into jazz and soul territory. Was it your intention to write a proper song-oriented album meant for home-listening and not strictly just the dance floor?
Again, that all kind of happened more or less by accident. Also, Khan's voice gave this cool pop touch to it on some of the tracks. We love to cross borders and always try not to bore ourselves with our own music. It's still electronic dance music, but it's true: It's not all techno.
Left is your fourth artist album to date. Do you think this album marks a progression or evolution for you as producers? How was the creative process different than on your previous albums?
On the first three albums, we always worked with a partner. It's great to do that, but it doesn't necessarily make things easier — sometimes you have to deal with ego problems or just different tastes. To do it yourself goes deeper, somehow. It was also a very good experience for us as brothers. Anyways, we're really happy and proud of the result — was still a lot of work, though, with all the ups and downs that come with it.
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Left was released by the label of Watergate, a club you've been closely associated with for over a decade. What can you tell us about your relationship to Watergate? What do you think makes Watergate such an iconic institution on the global electronic dance music scene?
Watergate is basically a family business — not a real family, but it feels like it. We love the people who work there, and there's always a very straight and honest atmosphere when you deal with them, no matter what. So Watergate became our resident club, our booking agency, and in the end also our record label. It was kind of the logical step forward. It's hard to survive in this club and nightlife world, especially in Berlin, where you have so many opponents, but Watergate found a perfect mixture between credibility and necessary commercial success without being too commercial in their booking and release politics and decisions.
We're excited for your album release party at Do Not Sit on the Furniture on Thursday. What can we expect?
We're very excited! We've been friends with Behrouz for a very long time and can't wait to play his lovely little joint in South Beach. Behrouz is
Tiefschwarz with Surreal Flight. 10 p.m. Thursday, November 12, at Do Not Sit on the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-450-3809; facebook.com/DoNotSit. Tickets cost $10 to $15 plus fees via residentadvisor.net.