Exclusive: Digitalism Hope to Play a Show on the Moon
Beginning as two friends meeting at a record store, Digitalism has now grown into a veritable electronic sensation. Comprised of Jens Moelle and Ismail Tufekci, the pair have assuredly made their mark in the world of electronic music, thanks in large part to a stellar resume of remixes completed for the likes of Daft Punk, Cut Copy, and even The White Stripes. That of course does not even touch on their own compositions; with two albums under their belt already, 2007’s Idealism and 2011’s I Love You Dude, the duo are in the midst of preparing for the arrival of their third full length, Second Chance, due out later this year. Milk Made’s Ana Velasco spoke to Moelle about their longevity, their plans for the future, and their hidden desires to become world class chefs.
So 2014 was your ten year anniversary, and I was wondering if the title ‘Second Chance’ has anything to do with this. Like a new chapter or a new decade?
Yeah, that’s a good question actually! Not really though, not the title itself. I mean, it’s not like the big ten year anniversary or anything. Musically, it’s a mix of our last two albums, plus three years on from then.
That’s awesome. I really like the song, and I like that the EP features remixes. I was wondering, when someone remixes a song of yours, do you feel like it’s a continuation of the song that you began or do you think each song changes to become a project of its own?
I think nowadays, people tend to make a lot of stuff their own. For example, when people remix something, that’s what we used to do. We just thought of a material that we could work with when we got the original systems. But now, people want to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower to make it their own. They can’t leave without taking a picture that’s been taken five billion times already. In a way, it’s a part of a big thing we come up with when we ask people for remixes. People do whatever they want remix-wise, but it’s still part of something because we chose which remixes we want. We always make sure that the overall package is something that makes sense to us, that no two remixes sound the same. It’s kind of our break time. So yeah, they always take it to some other level or something, which is good because that’s what you want from a remix. Otherwise you should just ask your intern to do it.
What area do you think you’ve grown the most or do you find your inspiration has changed drastically from when you first started to now?
No, not really. I think our main focus, like what really drives us, is that we can’t find exactly what we want to DJ a lot of the time. We’re really picky, and that’s why we started making music in the first place, so that we could use that music in DJ sets. We still kind of do that a lot. We’re coming from Hamburg, which is in Germany. It’s a city with a seaport where ships from around the world bring goods and unload stuff. The motto is that it’s the gateway. When you’re from Hamburg, which is the biggest village in the world because it’s a big city, but it feels like a huge village, you know? So when you’re from there, it’s not like when you’re in New York or London hanging out and there’s a big scene for what we were doing back then. There was nothing, so we just imagined it in our heads. That’s always been our motivation really, imagining things and traveling. Our music’s very soundtrack-y. Painters, they paint a scene with colors, and we want to do the same thing with our sound. We always try to describe scenes with our sound. That’s why it’s so hard to write lyrics because most of the time, we like to try and let to the sound speak for itself and people can put stuff into it, and interpret their own meaning.
You guys met at a record store, right? Did you bond over a specific album? How did you start talking?
Yes! When I was working there I would go every day after school, and make some money. It was very easy. He would come around to my record store, and we came to talk to each other, and we were both really young so, we just basically started our vinyl collections together at the same time.
Cool! Did you guys picture that this is where you would be ten years ago?
No! We didn’t have any plans, we just glided from one thing to the next. We would DJ together, and we would say, “We could do with a little of this or that kind of music. If we can’t really find it we’ll just make it ourselves.” And then other people wanted to play it, and we started releasing records and made an album. We weren’t really ambitious, we just wanted to make music.
Is there a source of inspiration that would be surprising for anyone to hear?
It’s hard to say. I mean, we listen to a lot of hip hop, so maybe that’s not very obvious. We grew up in Germany in the 1980s, 1990s, with a lot of trance. Obviously we love the big sound check composers. I grew up with a lot of 80s videos games and stuff, which also meant that you were diving into some different world there, and there were many sound bites and stuff. But yeah, hip hop is another influence, but obviously not pop music.
If you were to play a concert anywhere, where would it be?
I don’t know! We always have different top ten lists of what we want to do or that we find interesting to us. I mean, it’d probably be cool to play on the Moon, but it would have to be indoors because there’s no air and sound can’t travel. Then you could see Earth while you’re playing. But, you know, since it’s been winter, we’ve really been looking forward to playing outdoors. That’s always a nice thing to do, but once you’ve done one thing too many times, you’re looking forward to playing dark and dirty venues.
If you could do something entirely different other than being a musician, what would it be?
I think I would have had a crack at cooking. I tried my best, but I’m not really good. But I am a person, you know? It’s very meditated and very relaxing. So maybe I’d be a chef.
Second Chance is out now through Toolroom Records.